Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room.
One week ago, tropical cyclone Nargis struck Burma, tracing an unprecedented path of devastation across this poor nation of 55 million, called Myanmar by its military dictatorship. On May 6, Jeff Poor wrote for the Business & Media Institute a story entitled, “Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a ‘Consequence’ of Global Warming,” which was subsequently linked on the Drudge Report. Poor claims:
Using tragedy to advance an agenda has been a strategy for many global warming activists, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to tie the recent Myanmar cyclone to global warming.
Poor wrote that Gore said in an interview on National Public Radio, “The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China — and we’re seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming.” Listen:
In fact, the audio clip has been doctored and the conclusion that “Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a ‘Consequence’ of Global Warming” is false. Here are the facts:
- Gore Said Myanmar Cyclone Is Not A Consequence Of Global Warming. The BMI headline ignores that Gore says in the interview that “any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming — we’ve always had hurricanes.”
- Gore Properly Described Relationship Between Storms And Global Warming. In the interview, Gore discussed Nargis and the devastating storms that struck China in 2006 (Typhoon Saomai) and Bangladesh in 2007 (Cyclone Sidr). He goes on to say that “the emerging consensus” among climate scientists is that the “the trend toward stronger and more destructive storms appears to be linked to global warming, and specifically to the impact of global warming on higher ocean temperatures in the top couple of hundred feet of the ocean, which drives convection energy and moisture into these storms and makes them more powerful.”
Above-Average SSTs In Bay of Bengal on May 1
- Story Presents False Clip Of Interview. The audio clip included with the online story includes two segments that have been spliced together, out of order, to mislead the listener as to Gore’s actual meaning. The actual transcript (see below) makes it clear Gore was saying that the “consequences” of global warming we’re seeing was the melting of the polar ice cap, which is unequivocally due to anthropogenic climate change.
- Business & Media Institute Is Part Of Right-Wing Message Machine. BMI is a right-wing “free-enterprise” front group that is part of Brent Bozell’s conservative media machine, the Media Research Center.
The actual transcript reveals that Gore was speaking in response to a question about conservative pastor John Hagee’s claim in a 2006 interview with Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”
Poor’s story is being amplified and further distorted by the right-wing media machine. Friday morning, the Fox News “Fox and Friends” team covered the devastation of Nargis by attacking Gore’s “ill-advised” comments, claiming he is “in hot water again with climatologists.” Steve Doocy hosted Dr. William Gray, who has claimed that human-caused global warming is “a big scam.” Here are Doocy’s two questions to Dr. Gray:
Al Gore says that the cyclone that’s killed a lot of people is linked to global warming. Is that accurate?
When Al Gore says the big cyclone has killed all those people because of global warming, that’s, according to you, just wrong.
The people truly guilty of “using tragedy to advance an agenda” are Pastor Hagee, Jeff Poor, Matt Drudge, Steve Doocy, and their conservative ilk.