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"60 Minutes" Rejects "Balance"

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyFebruary 22, 2006 6:08 PM


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Brian Montopoli, of CBS's "Public Eye," talked with Scott Pelley recently about his "60 Minutes" global warming special. Pelley explains that he deliberately did not talk to those voices who remain skeptical of the science: "It would be irresponsible of us to go find some scientist somewhere who is not thought of as being eminent in the field and put him on television with these other guys to cast doubt on what they're saying." My own belief is that Pelley is being a tad too dismissive--a better approach might be to include the existence of the skeptics but also to contextualize their viewpoint so that the audience understands just how far outside of the mainstream they are.

In any case, Pelley says one thing I definitely don't agree with:

The Reagan administration, Pelley points out, was initially dead set against acting to reduce chlorofluorocarbons, but as the evidence that they were damaging the environment became overwhelming, it came around. He believes the Bush administration might be reaching a similar "tipping point," thanks to the "remarkable unanimity" among scientists on the impact of global warming.

I'm afraid that Pelley is way too optimistic if he thinks this analogy is going to hold. From a policy perspective, dealing with CFCs was massively easier than dealing with global climate change. And Reagan's EPA at the time was run by Lee Thomas, who actually went against the grain in the administration in pushing for the Montreal Protocol. If we have such a rebel administrator in the Bush administration on global warming, that person has been remarkably silent thus far.

So no, I'm very dubious that any action on global warming will be taken with Bush still in office. That's why I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's a 2008 campaign issue.

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