Current Events

Meme Fact Check: Good Morning America’s 2008 Predictions for 2015

Meme Fact Check: Good Morning America’s 2008 Predictions for 2015
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A popular meme suggests that in 2008 ABC’s Good Morning America made dire predictions for the year 2015 which were far from accurate. Today we’ll take a closer look.

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Let’s first take a look at the popular meme which has circulated heavily in 2015.

climate change meme

In June 2008, ABC’s Good Morning America predicted the following consequences from climate change, by June, 2015:

  • New York City will be underwater
  • A gallon of milk will cost $12.99
  • A gallon of gasoline will cost $9

“Global warming: it is a hoax. It is bad science. It is hijacking public policy. It is the greatest scam in history.” John Coleman Founder, The Weather Channel.

Although the topic of the meme is far beyond the scope of this article, we will attempt to verify the specific statements in the meme itself.

Analysis

Did Good Morning America make predictions in 2008 regarding the year 2015?

The meme begins by suggesting that Good Morning America made certain predictions for 2015 regarding climate change back in 2008. The “predictions” were in fact shown in a June 2008 Good Morning America segment promoting an upcoming ABC special entitled Earth 2100. That special was originally slated to be aired in September 2008, but it was not broadcast until June 2009.

Stating that Good Morning America itself made the predictions in the teaser for Earth 2100 does not seem accurate because ABC developed, funded, promoted, and aired it. Thus, it would seem more reasonable to look at the network if one were to assign blame for the “predictions.”

Earth 2100 is told in part through a fictional character named Lucy who was born in the year 2009. She tells of significant events of her life, highlighting the years 2015, 2030, 2050, 2085, and 2100. Host Bob Woodruff begins the program by stating that the events portrayed were “not a prediction about what will happen, but what might happen.”

The Good Morning America segment was an early showcase for user-generated videos that were meant to create a timeline of consequences of climate change and population growth throughout the 21st century. These viewer videos were were intended to supplement – and in some cases be included – in the final film. The Earth 2100 website (which is now offline and not archived by the Internet Archive) asked users to “use your imagination to create short videos about what it would be like to live through the next century if we stay on our current path.” The website also stated:

Your videos will be combined with the projections of top scientists, historians, and economists to form a powerful web–based narrative about the perils of our future. We will also select the most compelling reports to form the backbone of our two–hour prime-time ABC News broadcast: Earth 2100.

Predictions for 2015: New York under water, $12.99 milk, and $9 gasoline?

The predictions regarding $12.99 milk and $9 gasoline were included in the GMA segment. They were taken from user-submitted videos that did not make it into the final Earth 2100 presentation. A graphic showing New York City being engulfed by water was also included in the segment, and was accompanied by a voice-over which stated, “How much will sea level rise? We don’t really know where the end is.” The segment in the final broadcast regarding New York being underwater was actually set in the year 2075, not 2015 as implied by the GMA clip. (See the 58:45 mark in the video above).

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Experts in the 2008 preview offered additional predictions for 2015 which included more floods, more droughts, more wildfires, and more intense hurricanes, which would be considered mostly inaccurate by the end of 2015.

In the final version of Earth 2100, it was suggested that gas prices in 2015 could be double or triple that of 2009 prices, which would lead to higher food prices, commonplace gas theft, and gas shortages. This certainly was not the case in 2015, as gas prices throughout the year were generally lower than 2008 (when the GMA segment aired) and about the same as 2009 when the final special ran. The special did hypothetically state that the summer of 2015 was “one of the hottest in history” which was actually reported by the media in September 2015.

Did John Coleman call global warming a “hoax” and a “scam”?

The meme ends with a quote by John Coleman, a weatherman and co-founder of The Weather Channel, who has been an outspoken critic in the global warming debate. Below is an example of Coleman’s take on global warming. The quote included in the meme is representative of Coleman’s stance on the topic.

Coleman has his share of critics, including current CEO of The Weather Channel David Kenny, who said of Coleman, “We’re grateful that he got us started 32 years ago. But he hasn’t been with us in 31 years. So he’s not really speaking for The Weather Channel in any way today. I think we can all be proud of our resumes, but I would prefer people use the credentials they have today, not the credentials of three decades ago.”

Bottom Line

The graphic which claims Good Morning America made certain dire predictions in 2008 for the year 2015 is somewhat true. Of the three “predictions” in the GMA segment, two were user-generated and not used in the final broadcast. The third “prediction” – regarding New York being underwater – seemed to be set in 2015 for the 2008 segment, but was actually set in the year 2075 in the final 2009 broadcast.

Thus the meme cites three predictions for 2015 in the 2008 Good Morning America segment that did not actually appear in the final special. It would appear that the 2008 segment could be seen as more inaccurate in its predictions than the 2009 final product.

The final quote from John Coleman, co-founder of The Weather Channel, is an accurate depiction of his view of global warming.

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