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Posted at 8:30 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

One thing those taped NPR execs probably didn't get wrong

By Stephen Stromberg

The Washington Times is trying to expand the National Public Radio secret video story, which just brought down NPR's chief executive. The Times claims that, on a tape made by conservative activist James O'Keefe, NPR fundraisers "compare deniers of climate change to birthers and flat earth believers," as they explain that NPR's Science Desk accepts that "climate change is happening," but that its Washington desk covers both sides of the political debate on the issue.

But, unlike some of the other outrageous material in the video, these statements are easily defensible. Those who deny the basic fact that the Earth has experienced a warming trend over the past several decades are screaming against gigatons of formidable evidence -- land and sea thermometer readings, animal migration patterns, shrinking glaciers and sea ice, longer growing seasons, and so forth. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote last year, "If the land surface records were systematically flawed and the globe had not really warmed, then it would be almost impossible to explain the concurrent changes in this wide range of indicators produced by many independent groups."

It is reasonable for a news organization to say, and it's fair to interpret the NPR fundraisers' meaning to be: Warming is a fact. The science still isn't 100 percent clear on precisely how much an additional unit of anthropogenic carbon dioxide contributes to this -- though "not at all" almost certainly isn't the answer -- or exactly what the varied consequences will be. Yet there's a political debate related to this trend that we must cover with reference to those who disagree with scientists on these and related points. My anecdotal experience with NPR climate change coverage is that it generally conforms to these sensible guidelines.

Of all the things to get exercised about in O'Keefe's latest Borat-esque trap, this seems to be the least concerning.

By Stephen Stromberg  | March 9, 2011; 8:30 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

NASA satellites prove that the earth has warmed over the 32 years since they were first launched. The science is unassailable. Since 1979 the average earth temperature has increased 0.2 degrees. At that pace by 2131 the temperature will be up a whole degree. That is very scary.

Posted by: jy151310 | March 9, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

The earth has been warming since the "peak" of the little ice age (~1300 - 1850).

It's the "man-made" portion that is in dispute.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | March 9, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg, if your takeaway from the NPR exec's comments was that climate change needs some defending then you really missed the point.
Schiller's comments were about a person who'd claim to be open-minded labelling conservatives with absurd but commonly-used stereotypes.

Posted by: slatt321 | March 9, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The NPR exec was telling the truth when he said that Tea party Republicans are racist gun nuts. Plus we can add to the Republican list of biases, the resurfacing of RACIST anti semitism...

Posted by: ODDOWL | March 10, 2011 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I guess what confounds me about this entire episode is that conservative law makers, pundits and voters spends countless airtime hours, blog inches and floor speeches spewing some very hateful and derogatory speech at those they consider their enemies with litterally no consequence. Were Mr. Schiller's remarks out of line? I leave that to each individual to decide. But this drum beat of off with their heads when Republican's (to include the "tea party") are victims of heated rhetoric stricks me as hypocritical and more to the point juvenile. He called me a name so he must be fired.

Thin skin and vile rhetoric are staples of today's Republicans and it is a pox on all our houses.

Posted by: JDYoung | March 10, 2011 4:32 AM | Report abuse

Agree with an earlier post. No article I've seen or read takes particularly strong issue with Schiller's comments about climate change. In fact, it seems disingenuous to implicitly link tea partiers to birthers and flat earth believers as Stromberg does here. For the record, though, I do agree with Chris Mathews that if they just released a birth certificate that would kill the issue. Why is that such a big thing to ask? Ask yourself: would this be a big deal for you?

Posted by: bg392 | March 10, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

I live in the Northeast, New England in fact. Have the adherents of global warming looked out the window this winter? And how come the melting glaciers in the Himalayas are growing? There is climate change, has been for thousands of years. The issue is what part human behaviour has to do with climate change, and how changing our habits would change anything. Thus far, the jury is out on those key questions. Meanwhile, no one has chosen to work on what we can agree on: we can change our wasteful habits in favour of conservation of our fossil fuels. That would be in the national interest and should yield some benefit in terms of reducing our carbon footprint. That might lead to some data we could trust. To-date, climate scientists have not done much more than foul their own nest by polticising their point of view.

Posted by: sailhardy | March 10, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Several years ago I took a trip to Scotland and one of the places I visited was the Orkney Islands which lie to the north of Scotland's mainland. One of the reasons to visit these islands is to visit some of the remains from people who lived there 5,000 years ago. You can see stone circles, burial mounds, a village, and on and on. When these people flourished, the temperature was 5 degrees celcius warmer than Orkney is today according to the tourist guide.

Posted by: jeffreed | March 10, 2011 7:04 AM | Report abuse

The earth has been warming since the "peak" of the little ice age (~1300 - 1850).

It's the "man-made" portion that is in dispute.

Posted by: kitchendragon50
------------------------
Man is digging up CO2 that is in dormant state and releasing it into the air. Sure, it is not much more energy compared to the normal cycle, but it is more none the less.

At the same time, Man is also reducing the amount of natural vegetation that filters CO2 out of the air.

Think of it like a a closed system like a refrigerator. When Man lets a little more CO2 into the air, it is like leaving the fridge open a tiny crack. When Man cuts down a forest, it is like they are turning the fridge's temperature setting down a bit. Both of these changes may be almost nothing compared to the natural cycle, but it IS a net effect created by Man.

Posted by: Independent4tw | March 10, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Knowledgeable people that question global warming, do not deny global temperatures measured over time over Earth. What is questioned is that ALL of warming is the result of man induced CO2 into the atmosphere. There is just too much evidence to suggest that there are other factors that have more control over Earth's temperature. Remember, there has only been an increase of atmospheric CO2 of 110 parts per million since 1880 which is only .0011%. And most of that is NOT due to man's burning of fossile fuels. It is difficult to believe that our atmosphere is that sensitive.

Posted by: robertkmurray | March 10, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Stromberg you completely missed the point. NPR has an extreme left wing bias. They have become a Rush Limbaugh with a quiet voice. Rush shouldn't receive public funds nor should NPR.

Posted by: judyandnorm1 | March 10, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

The R's trash the D's 24/7,yet you tell the
truth that offends the "Family value crowd"
all hell breaks loose.The M/N corp gop goes
ballistic an will fight for their corps.
They trashed Clinton for 8yrs but followed
the "decider" lockstep while the rich got
richer an bush wrecked the country.W/O NPR
the corp news will get Worse!!Much Worse!

Posted by: domer | March 10, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Yes, just ignore all the bigotry he spewed to focus on the one thing he almost got right. I say "almost" because few challenge the fact of global warming. The real question is the cause and the possible ways to deal with it. There are only two: 1- accept it and adapt to it or 2- make things worse by trying to stop it or slow it down.

Schiller was disgusting on that video. I'd say he was just "buttering up" the potential donors to get the money (which is pretty bad)but he refused the money which means he really believed that stuff. Just proof that liberals are just as bigoted, if not more so, as the ones they claim are "gun toting, white middle America, racists."

Posted by: Douglas4517 | March 10, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

to ALL,

of course there is "global warming" (or to quote BHO, "climate change") BUT the changes are NOT caused by man's puny activities. - instead 'the changes" are caused by the Sun.

as i've said before on this forum, when i was a grad student in the 1970s at Tulane the SAME sort of "climate experts" & "noted scientists" were forecasting a major ICE AGE within 10-15 years.
(did i sleep through that "ice age" in the 1980-190s OR were the "climate experts" & "peer-reviewed climate studies" just dead WRONG?)

it comes down to this: IF you believe the highly dubious THEORY of "manmade global warming" you are "an idiot in search of a village" & are to be PITIED, rather than ridiculed.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | March 10, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Stephen - you and other warmers frequently say warming is a fact - meaning the earth is warming now . This is demonstrably untrue. What does the data show?
Be­cause of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the lack of any Urban Heat Island effect the best indicator of recent trends is the Hadley – CRU Sea Surface Temperatur­e data. The 5 year moving average shows the warming trend peaked in 2003 and a simple regression analysis shows a global cooling trend since then . The data shows warming from 1900- 1940 ,cooling from 1940 – about 1975 and warming from 1975 – 2003. CO2 levels rose steadily during this entire period. There has been no net warming since 1998 – 12 years with CO2 up 6% and no net warming. ( Check the actual data at the Hadley center) Anthropoge­nic CO2 has some effect but our knowledge of the natural drivers is still so poor that we cannot accurately estimate what the anthropoge­nic CO2 contributi­on is. Since 2003 CO2 has risen and yet the global temperatur­e trend is negative. This is obviously a short term on which to base prediction­s but in the context of declining solar activity – to the extent of a suggested possible Dalton or Maunder minimum and the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal and Arctic Osciallati­ons a global 20 – 30 year cooling spell is more likely than a warming trend.
The entire IPCC -Al Gore AGW paradigm is about to collapse in the face of the real world temperatur­e data.
Recent winters have been entirely consistent with a cooling trend. In general cooling brings cold winters - more snow because it is colder .- not because of increased humidity. This year the Gulf of Mexico was cooler and the air from the Gulf less humid than in warmer winters.
The alarmist Orwellian snow equals warming argument is a complete fabrication. Look at the data- Texas is in a continuing drought.
A cooling planet would be much more threatening to food production than a warming one would be . If the cooling trend actually occurs we can expect shorter growing seasons and drought in the earths crop belts.
This cooling is sufficiently likely that we should immediately stop the almost criminally stupid ethanol policy and start storing food crops against likely future shortages.

Posted by: normanpage | March 10, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Since 1979 the average earth temperature has increased 0.2 degrees. At that pace by 2131 the temperature will be up a whole degree. That is very scary."

You are cherry picking a noise-instead-of-signal upswing in a smooth linear trend. Have a look at the longest thermometer record of all, Central England. It shows the context in which this 2-3 decade trend must be placed in: a normal and quite boring warming trend that occurs in most all of the very oldest single site thermometer records. I plotted them in single glance postcard format here: http://i49.tinypic.com/rc93fa.jpg

Stop scaring yourself.

The global average doesn't show any sign whatsoever of rising with the massive industrialization that occurred after WWII. This is dirt simple stuff we are talking about. The hall of mirrors that represents "overwhelming evidence" is getting quite dusty as time passes and the damned temperature refuses to actually bend upwards to break the linear trend that goes back 350 years in the instrumental record that NASA ignores (by cutting all graphs off before 1880 on their GISS web site). Here is the global average as presented by the NOAA: http://i49.tinypic.com/2mpg0tz.jpg

This nose-in-the-air article sets up a straw man, creating a cartoon stereotype of one dimensional tunnel vision impaired "deniers" who bicker about 2-3 decades of noise in the data as if that's their real argument. Pffft! Get real, softie. As in grow up and face real facts. There's no hockey stick in actual thermometer records. That's quite the humdinger for alarmists. That. Simple. Fact.

Then there's the Argo buoys.... That data is hard to find. It's not even online any more. Special request only, you see.

Posted by: NikFromNYC | March 10, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Ah...I found some ARGO data, plotted. It can't be updated to 2010 since the data is no longer published online as a yearly average, only as single buoy records that are clustered here and there and don't themselves contain simple yearly average temperatures, as far as I can tell.

http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/de/argo-m-web.jpg

The oceans are cooling. But five years of data will always contain more noise than signal even though the oceans should show much less noise than the air since they have huge inertia, thermally.

Posted by: NikFromNYC | March 10, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Why these rednecks get such a charge out of npr and their $600,000 of federal support I will never know. Stupid fat rednecks.

Posted by: danw1 | March 10, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

danw1; all,

the PRIME reason that former "old line democrats" are fleeing the Democrat party, by the hundreds of thousands, to become TEA PARTY members, is the ARROGANT, MEAN-spirited, IGNORANT, DISMISSIVE, PREJUDICED & NASTY attitude of leftist/ELITIST nitwits like "danw1". - sadly, the "DIMocRAT leadership" has the same IGNORANT/ELITIST attitude toward MANY democrats.

otoh, for the USA that is a GOOD THING as we TP organizers, in 2012 & in the general elections to follow, will use that "DIMocRATS"/leftist prejudice to assure that NEVER again will the leftists/"progressives"/liberals win any national election.

fwiw, i've been a "community organizer" & "street activist" for over 4 decades & imVho the "DIMocRAT Party" is FINISHED as a major political party forever, as we former/moderate to conservative Democrats are GONE from the party & will remain TEA PARTY ACTIVISTS. = we will NOT return, as we "regular folks" won't go where we are so obviously NOT wanted.


to the "DIMocRAT leadership": just try to win ANY future national election with the leftist "DIMocRAT" minority of "poverty pimps", crooked union bosses, leftist lunatics, bigots, antisemites, Chicago thugs, "homosexual activists" & some just plain common criminals. = 35% is a LOSER in any 2-party election & few "ordinary Americans" trust the DIMs anymore with their government, their money and/or with their FREEDOM.)

just my personal opinions/comments. = i DO NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote of the membership.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | March 11, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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