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Double Standard Watch: AP doesn’t question Clinton’s claim that GOP is responsible for bad weather June 16, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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Clinton's claim that GOP policies will lead to more severe storms has been all over the news this week. Many newspapers throughout the country reprinted the one-sided AP article word-for-word, which enabled Clinton's claim to go unquestioned. The AP didn't disclose that some scientists still question whether global warming leads to stronger storms like Katrina. Nor did it question whether there were severe storms and hurricanes when Clinton was in power.

Yet it is possible to write a more balanced article on the subject. This review of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is generally favorable to the movie, but it is honest enough to question the oft-repeated claim that GOP policies lead to stronger hurricanes:

"But the movie is misleading on two key points – perhaps leaving the impression that the science is settled when there is still a vigorous debate.

Start with the promotional poster, in which a swirling hurricane emerges from the top of a power-plant smokestack.

Then, within the first few minutes of the film, there are images of last year's devastation from Hurricane Katrina.

The implication: Man-made pollution causes hurricanes. Gore does not actually say that in the movie, but he does say global warming leads to stronger hurricanes.

And many scientists agree with him. But many do not."

What about those GOP policies that Clinton claims are creating bad weather? The AP article didn't note the exact policies that are supposedly responsible, but a reasonable guess would be Kyoto. Bush was widely criticized throughout the world for not accepting the Kyoto treaty. Would ratifying Kyoto really have protected us from stronger storms like Katrina? That's implied by Clinton's statement and by the hurricane images in An Inconvenient Truth, but the truth is more complex.

"Toward the end of the film, Gore waxes upbeat. One slide quotes Princeton University scientists Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala, who wrote in the journal Science that 'humanity already possesses' the know-how to tackle the problem.

Gore then quickly displays a colorful graph showing how the United States could reduce emissions over the next 50 years, borrowed from the Natural Resources Defense Council. And he mentions that most other industrialized countries have approved the Kyoto accord that aims to reduce emissions to pre-1990 levels.

What he doesn't say is that Kyoto is a short-term fix that will have no measurable impact on climate. The reductions proposed in the colorful graph would have an impact, but he does not spell out how big they are.

And they are big, according to the NRDC. By 2050, U.S. emissions would need to be 50 percent lower than projected to match Gore's graph.

That would include increasing average vehicle mileage to 54 miles per gallon, up from 24."

Gore didn't mention the enormous economic impact Kyoto would have on the United States or that countries like Canada are reconsidering their stance on Kyoto. Nor did he disclose that Kyoto might not be an effective solution.

When reporters publish claims that the GOP is harming the weather without questioning whether global warming really does strengthen hurricanes or whether Kyoto is actually the right solution, they do a disservice to their readers.

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