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Media needs to turn off its bias

| Saturday, June 30, 2001

WASHINGTON - For reasons unknown, the media have turned a blind eye on some pertinent issues surrounding the global warming debate. It is a complicated issue with no shortage of strong opinions. But opinions and feelings are poor substitutes for science and the truth.

I'm not a scientist. However, I have spent several years studying the issue, reading scientific reports and meeting with experts. And I have arrived at several conclusions.

First, there is no convincing scientific evidence that man-made greenhouse gases will cause the demise of planet earth.

To the contrary, hardly a month goes by without a new scientific study casting further doubt on the claim. Studies on the role of the sun, the oceans and clouds acting as a sort of atmospheric heat vent increasingly point to evidence that natural forces continue to influence long-term climate changes.

Second, regardless of how much scientific data are published that call into question the theory and what is measurably happening on all the attendant issues - such as sea-level rise, sea ice density and coverage, vector borne diseases and storm intensity - the major media ignore any science contradicting their beliefs.

It is almost as though climate alarmism has become the basis for an addiction of sorts in which science, uncertainty and measurable data are ignored.

If Americans use media reporting to help draw their conclusions about issues of national policy, it is imperative that the media make every effort toward fairness and balance. In this context, ignorance can be devastating and dangerous.

At the request of President Bush, a National Academy of Sciences panel released a report recently stating ''there is no consensus about long-term climate trends and what causes them.''

As a result of that report - which confirmed what many climate researchers have been saying for years about the lack of scientific evidence supporting the catastrophe theory - the president made the prudent decision to search for an alternative to the Kyoto protocol and focus on gathering more scientific evidence, free of political bias and pressure.

Following the release of the NAS report, media watchdog groups such as the Media Research Center found essentially one-sided coverage - all of it blaming humans for warming.

For example, CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported that ''a new White House study said yes, man-made pollution is heating up the planet,'' completely misstating the findings of the report.

I've had my own experiences with this one-sided media coverage. Early in 1998, I sent a letter to the editors of Time magazine addressing what I considered a terrible error in the science that was published in their ''Earth Watch'' section.

After several weeks of no response, they told my staff that their panel of three ''science'' editors had adopted a policy that since man-made warming was such a major threat to the planet, they would not publish anything that would undercut the theory in the minds of their readers.

I must also deal with the one-sidedness of my liberal colleagues in Congress. In an effort to silence members such as myself who have studied the issues and can point to scientific data disputing global warming scare scenarios, some of my colleagues resort to an unfair legislative strategy.

They introduce a measure supporting the theory, address it on the House floor and then immediately withdraw the legislation before the other side can fully and honestly respond.

In fairness to the American public, and in the name of good public policy making, I urge the media and all participants to allow for fair and open presentations of the important issues in this continuing debate.

The writer, a Republican, represents Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District. He is a member of the House Committee on Resources. Readers may write to him at 307 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.

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