Sunday, February 24, 2008

Beware the History Channel!

As I was preparing to write a post on Bristlecone Pines and their corruption of the Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph, an episode of “Mega Disasters” came on the history channel, and the sentence, “The clock is ticking towards the next climate catastrophe that could effect the entire planet…” caught my attention. The show predicts a climate freefall, specifically, a massive drop in temperature in the coming decades that could spell chaos for Europe and the United States. The show is implicitly referring to the idea of a climate “tipping point,” where temperatures change enough that the circulation of the oceans change, pockets of greenhouse gases trapped in the Earth are released, etc.

Here are a few statements made in the show that epitomize the fear-mongering media at its worst.

“Some scientists predict a ten degree drop in some areas.”

“Raging ice storms with high wind velocity [would] batter New York.”

“Berlin [would be] a snowbound relic of the past.”

“Some scientists predict that this sudden change in climate could occur in our lifetime.”

“Massive blizzards and severe storms could become the new norm in weather in the U.S. and Europe.”

“England, France, Germany might begin to resemble Alaska, Canada.”

Yet, the narrator quickly concedes that “Many climate scientists now discount this potential big freeze.” He never brings up this fact again, and unless the listener was paying very close attention, the rest of the show would make it seem like this idea of massive temperature reversal in the coming decades is accepted in the scientific community.

Later in the show, the narrator states that some scientists disagree. I was expecting that the History Channel would go on to explain the rarity of such an argument in order to maintain some sort of professional integrity; I was mistaken. According to the narrator, those scientists who disagree might contend that the effects will be much harsher in the world outside of Europe and North America.

Now, I’m not arguing that the History Channel has an environmental bias (this show actually attributed the Little Ice Age to weak solar activity!); I would merely like to point out the alarmism that it unintentionally spreads to get more viewers. The hour before this show featured the projection of a global depression and disintegration of civilization (as evidenced by a montage of chaotic videos in the History Channel video library) if we do not change our fossil-fuel dependence within the next few decades. The next hour featured the inevitable tsunami that will destroy the West coast of the United States.

The History Channel is seen as a reliable authority on both historical and modern issues. In my opinion, it loses all credibility when it runs programs like “Mega Disasters” that pay no attention to the science and too much attention to ratings. The theory being presented in this specific episode is not accepted in the scientific community. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (the Environmentalist’s holy text) predicts a 2.0 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in temperature in the next century . . . not very compatible with a coming ice age. So if the environmentalist community doesn’t buy in to such a proposition, and no skeptic would ever suggest a coming ice age without a large change in solar output, who exactly supports this theory? The media - because its knows how many viewers it can lock in place with a scare show like that.

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