Climate Change? Another Way the Media Tries to Scare You
A few years ago my family enjoyed the animated movie “The Croods” about a prehistoric family that spent every day fearfully trying to survive. Each morning the father rolled aside the rock from the front of their cave and reminded his family how dangerous it was outside. “Never not be afraid,” he admonished them.
This is the same message we have heard from the media all our lives, isn’t it? But in journalism school I learned one of the media’s dirty little secret: fear sells. When the public is afraid of something we will keep coming back to the media to hear the latest updates so we can prepare.
The media knows this, and so fear becomes the bait to lure you in again and again.
Here’s another little secret I learned in journalism school … the news is not always about the news – it’s also about selling advertising.
You see, media is a business, and like any business, you have to bring in more money than you spend in order to keep your doors open. Remember, most media owners don’t want to just survive; they want to make a whopping profit.
To illustrate my point, in the newspaper business all of the advertising is laid out in the pages first. The remaining space is actually called “the news hole.” Ad sales are the priority.
To the media, the news is a public service with a price. They want to attract as many eyeballs to their product as possible so they can sell more advertising and make more money.
The news is bait to attract those eyeballs. Fear and sensationalism are attempts to make that bait more attractive to the public.
That’s why we must view the news with a critical eye – in the proper use of that term.
That is also why we need to be careful as Christians to guard against fear when consuming the news. It is a trick used not only by the media to gather audience, but by the Devil to disarm Bible-believing Christians. If he can cause us to embrace fear, then he has succeeded in nullifying our faith.
When we lose faith, our prayers are hindered and our desire to stand up for righteousness is doused. We lose our courage when we give into fear – which is the literal meaning of being “DIS-Couraged.”
Knowing this, I have always had a certain degree of skepticism toward the media’s reporting of the global warming scare. I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie and lived through two of the coldest winters on record in 1977 and ’78. At that time scientist warned that the earth could be entering another ice age.
Only a few years later these same scientists flew to the other side of the spectrum and began issuing dire warnings about global warming. I wondered how their predictions – and our climate – could change so fast.
Soon Al Gore climbed on the band wagon with his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth -- and was it ever a fear-fest. The mainstream media loved it. It was a new worldwide threat to add to terrorism and financial meltdown, taking the place of the dying threat of Communism. More fear equals more eyeballs, equals more advertising, equals more money! The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and gained praise from the growing global warming crowd.
But not everyone was singing praises.
Global warming skeptics were vocally critical of the film. MIT physicist Richard S. Lindzen, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal warning that Gore was using a biased presentation to exploit the fears of the public for his own political gain.[i]
Phil Hall of Film Threat gave the movie a negative review, saying "An Inconvenient Truth is something you rarely see in movies today: a blatant intellectual fraud."[ii] Conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a one-hour special, Exposed: Climate of Fear, offering the viewpoints of scientists opposing the mainstream assessment of global warming.[iii]
I watched An Inconvenient Truth as a part of my consideration of the issue, as so many scientists seemed to be sounding a warning. I also knew the Bible warned of cataclysmic changes to the earth’s environment in the last days. I wondered if this could be what the Scriptures foretold.
As I looked across the scientific and political spectrum, I recognized that there was a major division of opinion on the subject. On the one side there were those like Al Gore who believed this was truly a cataclysmic threat caused by man. On the other side were those who agreed the earth was in a warming trend, but were not convinced that it would lead to a catastrophe – and neither were they convinced that the warming was a manmade problem.
Since that time the pendulum has swung back and forth with scientists and politicians jumping from one side to the other. So I remained both open and skeptical.
Then I came across a series of articles by Christopher Booker in the London newspaper, The Telegraph, pointing out the inconsistencies in the global warming theory. Like me, he also debunked the scare tactics used by what he called disingenuous scientists, politicians, and journalist.
In a recent article, Booker gave some good news about the latest global warming research:
That iconic “hockey stick” graph, showing temperatures recently shooting up into the stratosphere, may now have been discredited. … What the graphs do not show is the actual level of global temperature, as it is measured above freezing point. In other words, they leave out by far the greater part of the total picture.
So the respected Canadian environmental writer, Lawrence Solomon, recently had the bright idea of publishing in his Financial Post newspaper column a graph showing the temperature changes of the past 15 years in proper perspective, using figures from the most prestigious of all official temperature records, compiled by the UK Met Office and its Hadley Centre.[iv]
The result, as can be seen here, is startling. By including that huge part of the data usually left out, we see that the line looks virtually flat. The actual changes look relatively so small, compared with those rises and falls of several whole degrees the world survived in the past, that any idea that we are facing catastrophic warming pales into insignificance.
Booker points out that proponents of global warming, like Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.K.’s MET Office, and James Hansen of NASA have all conceded that since 1997 the warming trend has stalled.
Booker shows that it was on a modest rise of temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s that one of the greatest and most expensive fear campaigns in history was launched – with all the terrifying political and economic consequences we see around us today.
Lawrence Solomon recently posted a list of the growing bad news for the global warming crowd in his Financial Post newspaper column:
Arctic ice has made a comeback, advancing so rapidly that the previous decade saw less ice at this time of the year than exists today.
The Antarctic sea ice started growing early this year, and the ice cover remains stubbornly above average.
All told, the global sea ice — including both polar caps — now exceeds the average recorded since 1979, when satellites began their measurements.
According to University of Colorado-Boulder Professor Robert Pielke Jr., one of the world’s foremost experts in disasters and climate change, “Flooding has not increased over the past century, nor have landfalling hurricanes…”
The U.S. is currently experiencing the longest-ever recorded period with no strikes of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane. Similar conclusions apply to typhoons in China, bushfires in Australia, and windstorms in Europe.
Pielke went on to note that the U.S. has seen a decline in drought over the past century, and that “Over the past six decades, tornado damage has declined after accounting for development that has put more property into harm’s way.”[v]
In his own blog, Professor Pielke chastises scientists, journalists and politicians who have misreported certain global warming data – or not reported other data:
I am accusing no one of scientific misconduct. The errors documented here could have been the product of group dynamics, institutional dysfunction, miscommunication, sloppiness or laziness (do note that misconduct can result absent explicit intent). However, what matters most now is how the relevant parties respond to the identification of a clear misrepresentation of a scientific paper by those who should not make such errors.[vi]
Do you see the many ways global warming science can go astray – even by the most well-intentioned people?
The bottom line is that Jesus told us not to live in fear:
"I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, NLT)
At the end of the movie “The Croods” the father has learned his lesson and changes his advice to “Never be afraid.” Whether it’s the threat of global warming, terrorism, nuclear attack, financial meltdown – or even the biblical end of days – we can walk in peace knowing that God is with us and He promises to watch over us as we put our trust in Him. So trust in Him – and look at the news media with a hefty grain of salt.
1. Pray that leaders in the scientific community would be courageous and truthful in reporting the results of their research.
2. Pray that media outlets would report on global warming and other potentially life-altering issues with fairness and balance.
3. Pray that our political leaders will be responsible and truthful in pursuing environmental policy.
1. Encourage gifted young people to pursue careers in scientific research to seek God's truth.
2. Hold politicians and media outlets accountable when they misreport scientific evidence -- or when they refuse to report evidence that goes against their philosophical position.
3. Pray the News! As you watch or read the news, listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray for God's will to be done in a certain issue or event.
My book “Praying the News”, co-written with Wendy Griffith of The 700 Club, gives much more practical advice on how to view media – and how to pray in faith to see the headlines change. Order your copy of “Praying the News”.
[i] S. Lindzen, Richard (2006-06-26). "There Is No 'Consensus' On Global Warming". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 28 December 2006. http://www.epw.senate.gov/fact.cfm?party=rep&id=257863
[ii] Hall, Phil (2006-05-15). "An Inconvenient Truth". Film Threat. http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/8451/
[iii] Beck, Glenn. "Exposed: The Climate of Fear". CNN.com. 2007-05-02. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0705/02/gb.01.html
[iv] UK MET Office. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/resources/hadley
[v] Solomon, Lawrence. “Not Easy Being Green” http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/02/28/lawrence-solomon-not-easy-being-green/
[vi] Pielke, Roger. “Fixing the Marcott Mess in Climate Science” http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fixing-marcott-mess-in-climate-science.html
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