A new Media Matters report examined how frequently recent print and TV reports from major outlets--CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Washington Post, and others--mentioned climate change when they reported on wildfires. The answer: not very frequently. Between April and July, just 4 percent of TV reports and 9 percent of print reports mentioned climate change in their fire coverage.
That actually turned out to be an increase in frequency, albeit a small one: a Media Matters report from last summer put print coverage mentioning climate change at 6 percent, with TV coverage at a mere 2 percent. Any increase is good, since large wildfires have become more frequent and are expected to become even more frequent. (It's important to remember climate change isn't the only cause of the increased frequency, but it's a huge contributing factor to wildfires, and extreme weather in general.)
The report raises some difficult questions, like: What's the ideal frequency of mentioning climate change? Do breaking news stories get a pass, while the majority of follow-ups should mention the relationship? Should only certain stories mention it? But if viewers or readers miss learning about the connection because they blink, it's time to take it up a notch.
"...Climate change is a major contributing factor to wildfires, like the blaze in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters this week...", Colin\PoPSCi, this sentence is written like a bold clear fact; would you please prove this with a clear certainty and show your sources.
Second, why would a local reporter, making the news have in their mind all the global science of the world to make the claim that the particular fire they are reporting on is caused by global warming?
I suspect when a reporter tells the news of a fire, they are speaking of what is immediately happening and how this affects us socially now. Yes they are reporting the human interest part of the story with what they know and immediately observe.
So, if a change of less than 1 degree C causes extreme increases in wild fires, then when the Earth was 10 C hotter (most of its existence) it must have constantly been ablaze!
Al Gore did the same thing with Hurricane Katrina. He predicted that global warming would cause a steady increase of hurricanes and Katrina was just the tip of the iceberg. He was wrong and so are you.
Please don't use our dead firefighters as a propaganda tool.
Best news about climate change hysteria I've heard in ages!
"Oh no! The mythical, unscientific consensus is losing its grip!"
Now let's see some articles and blog posts about actual science.
Pardee, you don't ever see anyone using what "Al Gore said" as support for global warming/climate change. He is merely someone who has brought it into the public's attention a little more. AGW isn't a new concept and the evidence supports that our climate is changing. Animal migration patterns are changing because of it as well.
My personal experience lately has been that we've had record high temperatures into the mid 100s and then two days later we were having record low temperatures into the high 50s low 60s. This is in July. In Texas. I could go on about the record temperature swings we've been having over the past year alone... Anecdotal evidence? Sure, but y'all ignore what the experts on the matter say and listen to the talking heads on conservative radio, so what the hell...
Even if climate change is occurring, how can we know it's man made this time around. Whatever happened to the hippie's mantra "question authority?".
we can barely predict that it's going to rain in an hour but determining that wildfires are a direct result of climate change brought on by human consumption is a piece of cake. Point me to these experts now.
Remember the issue here is that it cannot be disputed that the planet is warming. We've been recovering at a rate of ~1.5C/century since the last mini-ice-age. And that warming rate seems to be modulated by a 60year-period sinusoid.
And that model holds for the last 120 years, and it fits with us peaking on the sinusoid about now. Funny how that 16-year stasis seems to line up well with it.
Leveling out after warming for thirty years is OBVIOUSLY going to give us record high temperatures. And until the average global temperature - that's climate - cools a bit, we're going to keep on randomly jumping up to record highs - that's weather.
This issue is that CO2-driven, man made global warming (AGW) is often convolved with the natural warming we're undergoing, with little evidence of proportionality between the two. When was the last time someone preaching about AGW actually gave quantities and values for CO2 emissions, tied to CO2 warming, tied to solar intensity etc? I'm not saying they're absolutely right or wrong. But when was the last time a news report gave a full accounting of the values in play for CO2 concentrations, warming, and the magnitude of the positive-feedback assumptions being made? I can't imagine why advocates wouldn't want to use quantities - the only thing that makes science science - to disprove science-deniers. Food for thought.
And all of this is unproductive - on both sides. Warming could still be dangerous. One side thinks we're causing it, the other thinks it's happening naturally, and both sides have subgroups that disagree on the magnitude. But suppose for a second that warming is problematic. Either A) Man will not stop CO2 emissions for the next century or so, or B) CO2 is a minor factor, and stopping all CO2 emissions wouldn't keep the planet from getting warming than we'd like.
Either way, we need to look for cheaper, more potent solutions. It will expose the fanatics who just like to think people = evil, and offer a common ground between the majority on both sides that just care about a potential danger, and want a solution.
Wild fires are negatively correlated with recent civilization. Mankind used to, and primitive cultures still do extensively use slash and burn as a method of corralling livestock and clearing for crops. We've stopped lots of that. Wild fires are much less common.
Controlling fires has caused a lot more fuel to build up in spots that would normally be cleared by periodic man and nature induced wildfires.
The soot from wild fires tends to cool the land, but its a very complex phenmonena. It doesn't always do that. Locally it can also heat, it depends at what level the soot resides in the atmosphere. Reforestation after wild fires tends to cause mini ice ages and very cold summers.
Overall wildfires and mankinds historical use of fire are neither a forcer or effect of wild fires. The overall forcer is related to orbital ellisidity and the angle the sun hits the north at 65 north lattitude. Wildfires are small order effects.
Global warming (often called "climate change") is not a significant contributing factor to wildfires; heat waves and drought are. And heat waves and droughts in the western United States are caused by--wait for it--the interactions of El Niño and La Niña, known as "Pacific Decadal Oscillations".
See here for a 2009 video of how cooling in the Pacific creates droughts:
See here for an explanation of how the recent heat wave in the western United States is caused by stationary high pressure systems due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation:
Also, there is no evidence whatsoever that global warming contributes to increasing extreme weather events. Interestingly, historical hurricane, tornado, and other violent storm data show that we are experiencing a lull in violent storms.
It's telling that Media Matters and our man on the street, Colin Lecher, are less concerned with the facts of how droughts and extreme weather are generated (as any meteorologist could explain), than that journalists aren't taking enough advantage of the newsworthiness of wildfires and violent weather to promote the doctrine of the man-made global warming religion. Sensible people like to stick to the facts.
Since when is `Media Matters` a reference for science, I come to Popular Science for SCIENCE, not an `OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING` rant. This isn`t science in any way, shape or form.
Can someone please show some editorial control since this isn`t fact based, but an op-ed in disguise.
Science based factual reporting please, minus the bias, thank you.
Privat33r said it correctly. The problem is the lack of controlled burns and forest-clearing. There is too much fuel on the ground.
@Frosttty: Yeah, the Earth is warming. It has been for 100,000 years. And we have seen an increase in CO2 over the last 150 years, but we are still near record low CO2 if you look long term.
The problem is the data is misrepresented. If you look at the long term, CO2 has been 12-16 times higher than it is now. That period was warmer, but more importantly, our climate was MUCH more stable.
Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It's a necessary component to life on Earth. Unfortunately, the natural processes on our planet sequester and bury carbon. Eventually there will be too little to sustain life and we'll end up like Mars. We're already CO2 deficient compared to 150 million years ago, and critically low compared to the Cambrian period. The reason we're freaking out is we're using data from 150 years ago as our baseline.
I am not claiming Gore to be an expert. He is a con artist. He's in it for the money. I brought Gore up because he wrongly predicted that hurricanes will only get worse, just as Colin has predicted that fires will only get worse. The liberal media latches on to loss of life and tries to use the emotion evoked as leverage for persuading people to their point of view ("Let no serious crisis go to waste." -Rahm Emanuel) instead of trying to use unbiased facts.
Facts... facts like the Ordovician period had CO2 at 15 times pre-industrial levels (4200 ppm) and the mean temperature was only 2 degrees C higher than it was today. They also had an ice age towards the end while CO2 was increasing.
It's impressive really - the number of people who post on this site who are so completely set in the belief that humankind has not had a significant negative impact on the current global climate. What's more - the quality of arguments made against man-influenced global climate change are so lacking... I wonder, are you all really that unable to fathom the influence that man has on his environment... or are you just paid by someone to spout your nonsense on forums such as this one? There's always the 'troll' option too I suppose.
Please - do us all a favor... if Pop-sci articles frustrate you so much... just go away. Stop posting on this site... stop reading this site. I'm sure there are plenty of religious sites out there where you can talk about how great god is and how nothing bad could possibly happen to this planet because god said nothing bad would happen after 'Noah'. Leave science to those people who prefer to hold faith in the observable, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Primitive mankind was certain they were controlling the weather. Only recently have we developed doubts.
I'm not so happy about a lot of what we're doing with environment, but there is no such thing as environmentally freindly or carbon neutral. Those presuppose we know how things work. We don't.
We do know that we're in an interglacial. It is supposed to be warm. This should go on for 12 to 20 thousand years. An interglacial usually melts the north polar sea. It has for the last four interglacials. They regularly occur every 100 thousand years. The north pole melting. We haven't melted the north pole yet. What is different this time ???
We likely have effected the climate in the last 2000 years, but that's generally thought to have been to cause mini ice ages.
Now if you'd like to say "Science tells me different" I'd have to guess that science might not be talking through you any more than it is for me. No one speaks for science, and those that know things aren't commonly using terms like that.
scinsd, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm a paid lackey of Koch Industries, FOX News, the Republican Party, OPEC, and the NRA. Just kidding.
You may want to be careful accusing us skeptics of being religious fanatics. After all, we follow PopSci--a site devoted to science and technology--because we enjoy a lot of what they post; just not the faith-based, anti-science stuff like global warming alarmism.
If you take time to dig into the arguments that global warmism is based on and learn how they come to the conclusion that humans are the primary cause of global warming, you soon realize that there's virtually no evidence to support it.
The main argument is that human industry produces prodigious amounts of CO2 which traps heat and increases global temperatures. This theory was promoted and quantified by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius back in 1896. Arrhenius, by the way, thought it would be a good thing to warm the planet to prevent another ice age. Other scientists were skeptical that human CO2 could have such a profound effect.
There are all kinds of problems with this theory, but the most important is that current observations and data from paleoclimate (ancient climate) studies show that CO2 lags warming by hundreds or even thousands of years. It seems that warming increases CO2 saturation, not the other way around.
But can increasing CO2 cause warming anyway? Yes, in a closed environment; but it's a logarithmic relationship, which means you have to double CO2 to get a modest temperature increase. The global climate model (GCM) simulations have all made the assumption that CO2 causes warming, then the warming causes glaciers to melt and other things to happen which accelerate the release of CO2 into the atmosphere which in turn increases warming. It's called a positive feedback. The trouble is, measurements have shown the real world doesn't behave this way. In fact the climate models have all significantly overstated warming compared to actual measurements. It appears that CO2 may actually be a negative feedback; at least the real world seems to behave that way.
An important thing to note is that the earth warmed and cooled all by itself long before humans had any impact. Ice core studies show the earth has gone through several warmer (and colder) periods in the past million years. Why? No one knows. There are several theories, but none of them has been proven conclusively.
What does this mean? It means that if climatologists don't understand the mechanisms that caused warming in the past, they also don't understand what will cause warming in the future. To say "the science is settled" is the most arrogant nonsense. That's not a scientific statement, it's quasi-religious dogma. The science is nowhere close to settled.
Science says increasing CO2 may cause warming, but no one has been able to measure how much human CO2 emissions have increased warming, if at all. And frankly, human emissions are calculated to be only about 4% of total CO2 emissions each year. Nature generates about 96% of CO2 emissions every year. And human emissions are expected to tail off all by themselves in the next 50 years because the population is expected to stop growing and we continue to get better (regardless of government regulations) at creating and using energy efficiently, which is the primary source of human CO2 emissions.
So that's why I'm a skeptic. There is no "settled" science that human CO2 emissions contribute significantly to global warming. Until there is, we have no business calling for expensive regulations and government policies to limit CO2.
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Media Matters is a hyper partition activist group that is only taken seriously by those who dwell in in the fervor swamps of the far left. Articles like this have no place in a serious science magazine.
As a geologist, I came into the field with my doubts about Man made global warming. Here are some facts. Hard facts, I have seen and cataloged with my own eyes from ice cores. Global temperature goes up, atmospheric CO2 goes up. One thing many people forget, fossil fuels are naturally trapped hydro carbon, and would be released anyway. But, the point is that we are releasing C02 at a high rate and the best scientific theories on the planet, political or not, are saying that C02 will cause a warming effect. Now with that said. SHAME ON YOU POPSCI. This is bad science to make such inferences, then to make the media hype something that isn’t standing on solid scientific ground. The worst part is science and politics shouldn’t mix, politicians should only make sure that scientist have enough money to do research. Report good science please. This is political garbage.
Less Money On War more Money on Science
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Yes on a simpler note of observation, with summer and the hot weather it can bring forth forest fires and this has been observed in weather history for a long time. It does not mean they sky is falling or is associated with global warming, but only with hot weather, dry heat and the extra sun rays hitting the ground brings more fires.
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I can't believe this. Media Matters is a science truth outlet. Media Matters is a biased to the left, way to the left. The research on this matter is biased and they never go back to the days of when it was the left warning of a "coming global ice age". Popular Science can do better than this. Get some real data and not this left wing garbage.
Horrible, non-science article. Starts with an unproven conclusion, then continues with statistics about how often new organizations are buying in to it. 98% politics, 2% science. Drivel.
Global warming causes minority lawyer to become President.
Global warming causes twinkies from being made.
Global warming gives me gas.
Global warming causes higher taxes on my electric bill and makes my bill higher than last year, even though I used less power.
Global warming gives makes for more media.
Global warming gives PoPSi something more to post about.
Global warming makes for higher taxes and a stalled government.
Global warming creates terrorist.
Global warming causes the government to become bigger or at least its legistlation and increase in taxes.
Global warming is making Kim Kardiashian butt and lips grow.
Global warming makes higher prices for everything, despite a slow economy and long term unemployment.
Wow. I hope Colin's boss reads these comments because everyone hit the nail on the head. This is blatently a propaganda piece that has no science in it whatsoever to back up these claims, and it's in a science magazine. I really enjoy this site, but i'm thinking that I'm gonna try to find a better one that reports real science and then gives me evidence and reason that it's it real science. You know, the little things we were taught in elementary school like the scientific method. Ridiculous.
Update to some of my above comments, please add "LoL", thank you.
Will you please stop with the global warming propaganda? You do the same thing in your print magazine, which has made me decide not to renew my subscription.
The IPCC is a political organization. Consensus is not how science is done. C02 and temperature levels have been much higher in the past before humans existed. Ice core samples of the past 750,000 years of climate indicate that increases in Co2 levels _follow_ increases in temperature, they do not cause increases. There have been no increases in global temperature in the last 16 years.
Please stop with the junk science will ya?
Reporters Aren't Drawing The Connection Between NIBIRU And Wildfires
A Media Matters analysis shows just 4 percent of recent TV reports and 9 percent of print articles mentioned NIBIRU when reporting on wildfires.
NIBIRU is a major contributing factor to wildfires, like the blaze in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters this week. But is that connection being made in news reports?
A new Media Matters report examined how frequently recent print and TV reports from major outlets--CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Washington Post, and others--mentioned NIBIRU when they reported on wildfires. The answer: not very frequently. Between April and July, just 4 percent of TV reports and 9 percent of print reports mentioned NIBIRU in their fire coverage.
That actually turned out to be an increase in frequency, albeit a small one: a Media Matters report from last summer put print coverage mentioning NIBIRU at 6 percent, with TV coverage at a mere 2 percent. Any increase is good, since large wildfires have become more frequent and are expected to become even more frequent. (It's important to remember NIBIRU isn't the only cause of the increased frequency, but it's a huge contributing factor to wildfires, and extreme weather in general.)
The report raises some difficult questions, like: What's the ideal frequency of mentioning NIBIRU? Do breaking news stories get a pass, while the majority of follow-ups should mention the relationship? Should only certain stories mention it? But if viewers or readers miss learning about the connection because they blink, it's time to take it up a notch.
Maybe if the wildfire shot someone or slept with a famous person...
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