The Independent Journal Review, The Blaze, the Wall Street Journal, Breitbart.com, and the New York Post have collectively misrepresented the Global Warming Petition Project eight times since 2008.For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.
In 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published their latest version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). Since then, libertarian and conservative media outlets have played a key part in spreading a false narrative created by the GWPP – that there are more so-called “scientists” who reject industrial climate disruption1 than there are scientists convinced by nearly 200 years of science and overwhelming data that climate disruption is real.
S&R recently identified the following as the top 15 conservative and libertarian news outlets.
Fox News (foxnews.com) Drudge Report (drudgereport.com)
- Independent Journal Review (ijreview.com)
- The Blaze (theblaze.com)
- Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)
- Breitbart (breitbart.com)
- New York Post (nypost.com)
- Newsmax (newsmax.com)
- The Daily Caller (dailycaller.com)
- Pajamas Media/Instapundit (pjmedia.com)
- WND/World Net Daily (wnd.com)
- The Washington Times (washingtontimes.com)
- Western Journalism (westernjournalism.com)
Hot Air (hotair.com)
- National Review Online (nationalreview.com)
S&R has already addressed mentions of the GWPP by the three that have been struck through. The next five most popular news outlets (bold above) are the Independent Journal Review (IJReview), The Blaze, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Breitbart.com, and the New York Post (NYP). Collectively, these five news outlets were responsible for eight separate mentions of the GWPP since 2008 and one notable mention of the previous version of the GWPP, the Oregon Petition, in 2005.
Independent Journal Review
There are over a dozen stories in the IJReview since 2008 where the GWPP is mentioned in the comments (largely without rebuttal), but there is only a single story where the author mentions the GWPP. In a short, attempted rebuttal of President Obama’s 2014 commencement address at the University of California – Irvine, Mike Miller wrote the following:
As for the “liberal plot”? Turns out, it’s not just “climate deniers” who challenge the alarmists:
The Petition Project, which to date has gathered the signatures of 31,487 scientists, found that there is “no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
As S&R has shown, the claim that all the 31,487 signers of the GWP are “scientists” does not withstand scrutiny. Medical doctors, veterinarians, metallurgists, and electrical engineers, among others, were all identified as having equal expertise to climatologists by the GWPP’s organizers. This is obviously absurd. After all, you wouldn’t go to a metallurgist to get a second opinion on a heart condition, and you wouldn’t ask an electrical engineer to operate on your pet cat, so why would anyone expect that people in these fields would be experts on climate science?And even when the GWPP is given the greatest possible benefit of the doubt, 31,487 signatures represents a tiny percentage of the total population of people who could have signed the petition – one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of individuals with the GWPP-identified college degrees and less than one half of one percent (0.44%) of individuals working in the GWPP-identified fields in 2013.
The Blaze was founded by Glenn Beck in late 2012. Since then, it has become one of the “go-to” sites for conservatives and/or libertarians to get their news, and it ranks fourth in S&R’s list of the top 15 conservative and libertarian media outlets. However, S&R was only able to find a single mention of the GWPP in an article on The Blaze. The February 22, 2013 commentary by then-law student Kayleigh McEnany was regarding President Obama’s consideration of the Keystone XL energy pipeline. In it, McEnany repeated the common “scientists” error and wrote “never mind the fact that 31,000 scientists have signed a public petition saying there is no scientific basis for human gas emissions causing catastrophic global warming.”
Unlike most other conservative media sites, The Blaze does not appear to have a large number of comments that mention the GWPP on global warming articles. Whether this is due to the difficulty of searching comments on The Blaze or because comments on the GWPP are moderated is unclear.
The Wall Street Journal
Since May 2008, the WSJ has published nearly 1000 articles and opinions that mention global warming scientists. However, due to the Wall Street Journal being paid access only, it’s difficult to determine how many of the several thousand articles have comments that mention the GWPP. S&R was able to find two articles that mention the petition, although one mentions the GWPP’s previous incarnation, the Oregon Petition.
In 1998, when the Kyoto Protocols were being negotiated, Arthur Robinson of the OISM organized the Oregon Petition. The Oregon Petition was the precursor to the GWPP and represents the first attempt to craft a false, anti-consensus narrative. In 2005, the WSJ published a commentary by James Schlesinger titled “The Theology of Global Warming” in which he rejects the real consensus of climate experts on climate change. Schlesinger wrote that
Much has been made of the assertion, repeated regularly in the media, that “the science is settled,” based upon a supposed “scientific consensus.” Yet, some years ago in the “Oregon Petition” between 17,000 and 18,000 signatories, almost all scientists, made manifest that the science was not settled… [Oregon Petition/GWPP quote removed]
Even in 1998, the Oregon Petition’s signers were not all “scientsts,” but rather a mix of individuals with Bachelors of Science degrees. And as S&R has noted, ” the mere fact someone has a college degree in one of those fields does not automatically grant that person an informed opinion or make them an actual expert. (emphasis original)”The second specific mention of the GWPP is in a commentary titled “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’.” In this commentary, Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama – Huntsville falsely claim that every consensus study to date is wrong (S&R has addressed nearly every one of their arguments at one time or another) and that there is no consensus about the causes or dangers of industrial climate disruption. Bast and Spencer wrap up their argument with a reference to the GWPP:
Of the various petitions on global warming circulated for signatures by scientists, the one by the Petition Project, a group of physicists and physical chemists based in La Jolla, Calif., has by far the most signatures—more than 31,000 (more than 9,000 with a Ph.D.). It was most recently published in 2009, and most signers were added or reaffirmed since 2007.
There are several errors of fact errors with this statement. First, not all the signers are “scientists.” Second, while the Petition Project’s mailing address is in La Jolla, California, the phone number is associated with the OISM in Cave Junction, Oregon. Third, the latest version of the GWPP was not published in 2009, but rather May 2008, and the most recent update in the total number of signatures appears to have occurred no later than August, 2008.The WSJ is an excellent source of news on many topics, but the editorial pages are well known to be a fact-free zone when it comes to global warming. This is likely why Bast and Spencer, two men who have extreme credibility problems of their own, were able to publish such a grossly inaccurate commentary.
According to Google, Breitbart.com has about 9,000 individual mentions of “global warming” on the site. An S&R search turned up found dozens of comments on global warming posts that invoke the GWPP, but only two articles that explicitly reference the GWPP.
The first article was published on September 10, 2013 by Steve Goreham. In an article titled “A Science-based Rebuttal to Global Warming Alarmism,” Goreham describes the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, a group of a few dozen people organized by the Heartland Institute who reject the overwhelming data and nearly 200 years of established science that form the foundation of industrial climate disruption. In his deception-filled article, Goreham writes that “In 2007, the Global Warming Petition Project published a list of more than 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 PhDs…” and includes the standard quote from the GWPP petition card.
The second article was published on January 13, 2016 in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. In this case, James Delingpole invokes the GWPP by writing that “we know that since 1998 more than 31,000 scientists — 9,000 with PhDs — have signed a petition disputing man-made global warming theory.” While it’s obvious that Delingpole makes the usual error calling all the signers “scientists,” but there’s another error too. When the Oregon Petition was published in 1998, it didn’t have 31,000 signers – it had either more than 15,000 or 17,000 signers, depending on the source. It wasn’t until 2008 that the GWPP claimed over 31,000 signatures.
There’s one more oddity in this sentence, too. Delingpole doesn’t link back to the GWPP website. Instead, he links to a Forbes blog by Larry Bell that is essentially a precursor to the Bast/Spencer commentary run two years later in the WSJ. And Bell’s post from 2012 has the same basic problems that Bast and Spencer’s WSJ commentary did. Bell is also a non-credible voice on the topic of climate change. For example, he has failed to properly credit his sources and has falsely claimed that the regulatory cost of climate regulations was equal to the total cost of all regulations to the US economy.
On the topic of credibility, though, Delingpole has even less than Bell or Bast do. Delingpole has a long history of pretending he’s a climate expert and of inventing his own “facts.” The website DeSmogBlog has documented some of Delingpole’s more egregious examples, such as his claim that his degree in English letters makes him more qualified than climate scientists to talk about climate disruption. In one case, the UK Met Office felt the need to correct Delingpole’s false claims in detail, and prior to his jumping ship to Breitbart.com, the Daily Mail had been forced by the UK Press Commission to retract some of Delingpole’s statements as serious errors that bordered on fabrications. Given these serious breaches of journalistic ethics, it’s unlikely that Delingpole would even care that he was making errors of fact in his Breitbart.com commentary. These few examples are the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but they serve to demonstrate that if Delingpole says that the sky is blue, the best course of action is to verify his claim with actual experts before repeating it.
New York Post
Since the GWPP was published in 2008, the NY Post has published two commentaries that mention the petition. The first was in a commentary by Deroy Murdock on May 28, 2008. In his commentary, Murdock accused then presidential candidate John McCain of having “beer-bonged the Kool-Aid on global warming” and wrote that:
McCain should heed the expanding caucus of experts who believe so-called “global warming” is exaggerated, if it even exists. On May 19, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine released a petition signed by 31,072 Americans scientists, including 9,021 Ph.D.s. They reject the idea that CO2 is boiling Earth. So much for climate science being “settled.”
It’s clear from this example that Murdock accepts the false narrative that the GWPP somehow disproves the overwhelming scientific consensus about the reality of industrial climate disruption. And he accepted at face value the GWPP’s incorrect claim that all the signers are “scientists.” S&R has previously found that Murdock is willing to argue using inflammatory language and logical fallacies rather than facts, and this is simply more of the same.
The second commentary was by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin in response to the manufactured and repeatedly disproved controversy nicknamed “Climategate.” On December 2, 2009, Malkin accused Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy from 2009-2011, of stonewalling and standing with “2,500 scientists” who are convinced that climate disruption is real. Malkin countered that “more than 31,000 scientists – including 9,021 PhDs – signed a petition sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine rejecting claims of human-caused global warming (emphasis original).”
By this point, S&R’s first analysis of the GWPP had been published for four months and was relatively well known in the climate realist2 blogosphere, so it was clear to anyone who cared to look that the GWPP’s criteria were absurd and their anti-consensus narrative was false.
The Global Warming Petition Project and it’s precursor, the Oregon Petition, has been referenced by people who deny the reality of industrial climate disruption since it was initially published in 1998. The Independent Journal Review, The Blaze, the Wall Street Journal, Breitbart.com, and the New York Post have all played a part in misinforming conservatives about the GWPP’s absurd claims and in spreading the false, anti-consensus narrative.
But while these sites may be more popular among conservatives and libertarians, they are by no means the most responsible for spreading the GWPP’s misinformation. Newsmax, as we’ll see in the next article in this series, is responsible for nearly a quarter of all the GWPP references by the top 15 media outlets since 2008.
- Industrial climate disruption, aka global warming or anthropogenic climate change, is a scientific theory that climate change is occurring, that industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of those changes, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human societies.
- Climate realists are individuals who are convinced by the nearly 200 years of established scientific theory and the overwhelming measured data that industrial climate disruption is real. Individuals who claim to be realists but who actually deny the reality of global warming are more accurately described as climate disruption deniers, and their use of the term “realist” is a misnomer.