Hot Air at the PBS "NewsHour"
Jude Wanniski
October 23, 1997

\Memo To: Jim Lehrer, "NewsHour"
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Wednesday's segment on Global Warming

Your presentation last night was massively biased toward the global warming idea. The introduction to the segment informed your audience that the science is for all practical purposes no longer in question, which is absolutely false. Whoever produced the segment has been captured by the environmental extremists. How can I say that? Because I've been following this debate for 20 years, and I know what it takes to be objective and what it takes to be subjective. Yes, there was balance, but only after you announced your conclusion did you say there are a few cranks out there who are on the other side of the issue and even there, the opposition came from people who said it would be too expensive to save Mother Earth.

In your panel of experts, you had Katie McGinty, White House council of environmental equality, who knows less than nothing about the science of the issue. She thinks that poor people on the other side of the earth have to wear surgical masks because of carbon dioxide being exhaled on this side of the planet by Jim Lehrer. I insist that you cannot serve the national interest by putting together a program as sloppily as this one was arranged. Ms. McGinty and the Sierra Club PR greenie, not experts on the issue, were "balanced" with Bill O'Keefe, a PR guy from the oil industry. The only way to serve the public on this issue is to have the debates between qualified scientists, who have devoted serious time to assessing the problem. For you to drag out Jim Hansen and the 1988 hot spell in Washington as evidence of global warming and a scientific consensus was the kind of reporting I expect of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings.

If there was the slightest indication that public policy should do something about the threat of global warming, we should do something about it. Arguments that it would be too costly to protect Mother Earth are irresponsible on their face. It is irresponsible for Rep. Bill Paxon [R-NY] to complain about the number of jobs that will be lost because we will protect future generations from floods and plagues and a boiling planet. The only argument against global warming is that there ain't none and there won't be none. Even the idea of taking out insurance against the possibility of global warming is worthless except to maintain some small level of scientific surveillance over the next century or two. The chance that the planet will cool in the decades ahead is as great as the chance that it will warm. How do you take out insurance against global cooling? Require all Americans to breathe heavier, drive gas guzzlers, burn wood fires at every opportunity?

What I am saying, Jim, is that the only "scientific support" for global warming is from the same small class of cranks who have been peddling the idea for a generation, after they got tired of selling us on the idea of a new ice age. I urge you and your producers to read Gregg Easterbrook's book, A Moment on the Earth, the best book on the environment written in this decade, by the best science writer in the press corps. It is not the last word on the issue. It is the first word, the state of the art, before you can feel comfortable giving your audience a sense of what is going on here. You may think that the White House has done its due diligence in seeking out all sides of this argument, but you would be wrong. The same nitwits who 20-23 years ago persuaded the press corps that we were running out of liquid oil and natural gas and we would soon freeze in the dark are behind this idiocy. There should be no compromise with the manic-Malthusians. There is no reason to do so. If the scientists cannot show us the danger, and they have not done that so far, we should not spend a dime on this boondoggle. When these bozos talked us into a world without oil, we took out insurance by buying a billion barrels of oil on the market and injecting it back into the ground, as insurance!! Now we are all up to our ears in surplus petroleum and natural gas. And who paid for this insurance, but the masses of hardworking Americans who pay the taxes for these mindless programs. I'm writing this in an excited state because I did expect Jim Lehrer and his "NewsHour" to cut through the propaganda, and found you only made things worse. In case you did not see it, I append here a memo I wrote to the Vice President earlier this year, entitled Hot Air at The New York Times.