Professor Jonathan Overpeck once complained journalists were too concerned about balance in global warming stories. Now he’s the centerpiece of two one-sided reports based on his predictions of global catastrophe.
"If we don’t like the idea of flooding out New Orleans … we will have to commit soon to a major effort" to curb carbon emissions, a March 23 New York Times article quoted the University of Arizona professor of geosciences.
Wire reporter Deborah Zabarenko went a step further, paraphrasing Overpeck’s New Orleans comment in her March 23 story. "Miami would be a memory, Bangkok a soggy shadow of its former self and the Maldive Islands would vanish if melting polar ice keeps fueling a faster-than-expected rise in sea levels," the Reuters correspondent wrote.
Both Revkin and Zabarenko excluded any critics of Overpeck, such as University of Virginia climatologist Pat Michaels, who says Overpeck’s models are nothing but hot air. Michaels told the Free Market Project that Overpeck’s model is based on exaggerations, not historical trends.
While Overpeck based his computer modeling on a 1-percent per year increase in so-called greenhouse gases, Michaels noted that the "actual annual increases in carbon dioxide in the last 10 years averaged 0.49 percent. It was 0.42 percent in the ten years before that, and 0.43 percent between 20 and 30 years ago."
And while Overpeck warned journalists that the melting was "irreversible," Michaels pointed out that "scientific literature is littered of references to the fact that sea levels were much higher in previous interglacials than in the current one" while "previous interglacials were warmer than the current one."
In layman’s terms — the earth has seen higher sea levels during warmer periods, and they’ve receded since then.
Overpeck himself is far from a dispassionate scientist. In a January 2002 interview with liberal Web site TomPaine.com, Overpeck said his view on global warming was informed by his "own personal science," and that while "scientists don’t like to be alarmists," to sound tentative about scientific conclusions on climate change is "not serving the public."
The professor also lambasted skeptics of global warming theory and the journalists who include them in their reporting.
"You can always find one scientist who disagrees with the consensus, whether for money, politics or their science. And often, the press will give that one scientist as much weight as the hundreds he or she is disagreeing with," Overpeck lamented.
Ironically, that appears to be the case with Overpeck, a lone voice against more than 7,600 scientists who dispute the theory that manmade "greenhouse gases" contribute significantly to climate change.