On the Heat Wave, CBS Is Among the Worst
As I’ve mentioned on this site a few times, I’m a regular watcher of CBS Sunday Morning. My favorite segment is the nature one at the end, which goes from about 30 seconds to 45 seconds. But there are also other good segments. Steve Hartman is my other favorite: his typical story is a heart-warming one about someone doing something wonderful for someone else, often a stranger.
On issues like climate and global warming, though, CBS has no balance. It doesn’t present the issue as if there is any disagreement among scientists and it typically shows spokespeople who take among the most extreme views, like the idea that if we don’t do a lot now, we will have big trouble within a few years. There is little to no basis for that view.
Its August 6 segment on the recent heat wave, which was the lead story, was no exception. Even worse, there was an added wrinkle, which would be noticeable to people who closely follow Biden administration policy.
Before I get to that, notice how host Jane Pauley leads off. (You have to watch the first few seconds of the video to see this; it’s not in the transcript.) She states:
Politicians may still debate it but it’s getting harder and harder to deny. With temperatures climbing to new heights everywhere, something’s going on out there.
Pauley tells the reader that the debate is between politicians. Unstated implication: there’s no debate among scientists, which is false.
It then segues to David Pogue, who completely buys into the idea that this latest heat wave is an indicator of global warming and that global warming is a crisis.
Near the end of the segment, Pogue gets into what the Biden administration is doing to deal with heat waves. Here’s an excerpt:
Last month, President Biden announced some small steps toward adapting to dangerous heat, like expanding access to drinking water, improving weather forecasts, and setting up a heat alert system. But Guardaro maintains that there’s much more to be done. City planners should develop heat infrastructure (like cooling centers and strategic greenery), and the federal government should start taking heat as seriously as it treats other climate disasters. For example, FEMA has never declared extreme heat as a disaster.
Do you notice something missing? I did. One major thing the Biden administration is doing is making is more expensive for people to adapt to dangerous heat. How so? With new regulations limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), an ingredient in many air conditioners. The Competitive Enterprise Institute spells out the problem here. (Disclosure: I give a small annual contribution to CEI.) Ben Lieberman, writing in 2021, stated:
If finalized in its current form, the proposed rule would reduce future supplies of HFC-410a and HFC-134a and raise prices for them. As we note in our comments to the agency, doing so will increase air conditioner repair costs. Any system that loses refrigerant from a leak—a common occurrence—would have to replace the lost refrigerants with the increasingly scarce and costly supplies of HFC-410a and HFC-134a.
Worst off would be low-income households, some of which can barely afford air conditioning as it is. And the current western heat wave’s victims are mostly those lacking access to air conditioning, which further underscores the need to keep it as affordable as possible.
Nonetheless, the EPA’s lengthy analysis of its proposed rule ignores the impacts on homeowners and car owners, not to mention businesses that rely on HFC-using air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
What if, instead of repairing your old residential air conditioner, you decide to buy a new system designed to use one of the supposedly climate-friendlier alternative refrigerants? Expect to pay more, especially for a system using one of the patented new refrigerants that cost several times more than the HFCs they are designed to replace.
But once again, the EPA turns a blind eye to these costs, insisting that these new systems will be better and cheaper overall, without ever explaining why manufacturers and consumers preferred HFC-410a in the first place.