The Washington Post is establishing a firm 21st Century tradition: when it comes to Global Warming, take guidance from Faux News, “Fair and Balanced”.
Multiple times in the pastweek, both in reporting and on the editorial page, The Washington Post continued a seemingly iron tradition of coloring Global Warming science by ensuring that skeptics and deniers have their say as well, without providing any indication to the ‘regular’ reader that serial skeptics received a silver platter invitation to the Post‘s pages to spread their deception.
Earlier this week, two Washington Post articles demonstrated, yet again, the Post’s editors’ dedication to modeling Post reporting after Faux News when it comes to Global Warming: “Fair and Balanced” over objective and truthful. In what were otherwise quite interesting and even valuable articles to read, the Post inserted material from Global Warming deniers and skeptics to assure that they had ‘both sides of the story’.
Sunday’s Higher Learning Adapts to a Greening Attitude, two notable skepics each had a paragraph: Donald J Boudreaux and Richard Lindzen (for a bit of my perspective, see Newsweek: J’accuse …). These two are quoted with their serious sounding titles (which make them sound more authoritative than anyone else in the article. Any context provided about how they’re among the normal talking heads brought to the table to provide the “other side” to the overwhelming majority of scientists who have looked at the Theory of Global Warming, tested it, and found that (sadly) it passed the tests? Of course not.
Monday, in an article about Jim Hansen’s 20th anniversary of speaking out publically on Global Warming issues, Turning up the Heat on Climate Issue, James Inhofe (R-Exxon) was given a couple paragraphs to comment. Any indication that Inhofe is the most virulent global warming denier in the Congress and that he has called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”. For Inhofe, in essence, Global Warming is the latest Black Helicopter craze of UN conspiracy to take over the United States (and the globe).
Yet again, “Fair and Balanced” Washington Post threw into the trash the concept of objective and truthful reporting when it comes to Global Warming.
Have you noticed? Right now, much of Iowa and the Midwest is suffering through a 500 year flooding event. Does it seem like 100 and 500 year events are becoming ever more frequent? If your answer is yes, your impression fits with the scientific analysis. Now, we have to be careful (extremely careful) in the face of denialist tendency to pounce on a single apostrophe or word out of place, but looking toward the changing weather events and their real impacts, you have to be a fool not to be scratching your head wondering whether there is something larger going on here. Now, as per always, it is near impossible to state that Iowa floods are hitting due to Global Warming. It is, however, reality that these floods are within the predictions for the types of weather events and extremes to be expected with ever increasing Global Warming.
As written for last year’s wildfires,
When discussing any particular disaster and its relationship to Global Warming, one needs to be cautious, to avoid saying “Global Warming caused X” as it is quite difficult to show a direct cause and effect relationship with a global trend to any particular activity. Thus, stronger storms are correlated with rising temperature which correlated with a storm like Katrina. Did Global Warming cause Katrina? Who knows? Was Katrina’s strength, differentiation from past storms, within what Global Warming analysis/modeling suggests could happen? Yes.
Well, be careful if anyone says that Global Waming “caused” the California fires. On the other hand, it seems clear that Global Warming is a contributing factor to the conditions in which the storms have occurred.
Repace “California fires” with “Iowa floods” and this statement remains true.
“Just wondering,” that’s all. Sort of like George Will’s “Questions for McCain” where Will is “just wondering,” of course, not necessarily showing that he is an imbecile when it comes to science.
Peripatetic John McCain, the human pinball, continues to carom around the country as his rivals gnaw on each other. Although action, not reflection, is his forte, perhaps he should go to earth somewhere, while the Democrats continue the destruction, and answer some questions
While we might ask what “destruction” means or search for that dictionary definition of “peripatetic” (traveling from place to place), Will’s concept of “questions” meriting response is what is of interest. A number of these questions relate to Global Warming, that arena where John McCain seeks to set himself apart from the reality-denying majority of Republicans.
When considering the reporting on Climate Change, there is a real problem. Is this a “science” or a “policy”/”political” issue? If the first, then there is a different approach than if the second. “Science” reporting will have respect for fact and truth, with “objective” being associated with truth, with the more serious effort to pay attention to the substance over the style (even if the style of reporting might be done in a way to attract/keep readers … most important is not necessarily reported over (perceived) most interesting). “Policy”/”political” will have more cautious wording to provide “objective” reporting that seems not to take sides. There will be a search, an effort to provide “balanced” reporting, even if that balance leads to distortion against objective facts and what science tells us about Global Warming.
Sadly, when it comes to Global Warming, too much of the reporting is driven from the “policy”/”political” angle, with “fair and balanced” seeming to be the motto, rather than true and truthful. And, we see that in press reporting on George W Bush’s mockery of a speech related to Global Warming earlier this week. Such as in the Washington Post article that seemed to go out of its way in caution. For example, Bush’s “target fell well short of what most leading scientists say is needed …” Well, quite simply, which “leading scientist” believes that George Bush’s is even near to what is required? Silence is the response, because there is none.
William Douglas at McClatchy seems to have navigated this with greater ease. The title captures the article’s substance:
Bush sets climate change goal; scientists say it’s too little
The Wall Street Journal prides itself as America’s business newspaper of record when, in fact, the editorial board clearly seems to have an anti (sensible) business agenda. Amid the booming “green” business market, they went forward and held what sounds like it was a highly interesting conference last week: Eco:nomics. Amid all of the interesting panels, presentations, and discussions, there is an interesting backstory that the WSJ is unlikely to front page: business leader after business leader rejected the idea that dealing with global warming will have devastating impacts on the economy.
Eco:Nomics attendee David Roberts, of Grist, has done a quite insightful and downright witty post on Eco:Nomics: The decline and fall of the ideologues, subtitled “Delayers and doomsayers receive a chilly reception from pragmatic business leaders.”
Monday’s Washington Post business section has an excellent set of articles examining local green businesses. They provide a window on those pursuing green productivity for, it seems, ethical/moral issues first (and financial as corollary) as per Honest Tea and those who started entirely with financial reasons (with any environmental/ethical/moral issues secondary, a corollary) as per Marriott (article subtitle: “Marriott Transforms Its Penny-Pinching Measures Into a Conservation Ethos”).
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Well, yesterday the International Panel on Climate Change released a quite serious report (pdf), stating that global warming is unequivocally occurring, that humanity is a leading factor, and that major action is required (ASAP) or the damage will go from serious to, well, potentially catastrophic.
So, where is this covered? For the Washington Post, page A3 Saturday.
Sunday, an excellent follow-up article … page A10.
World as we know it to end, see inside …
Truthiness too often reigns in reporting and editorializing re energy issues. Sometimes it is simply energy illiteracy, a lack of knowledge. Sometimes it is failing to understand some complexity or fundamental factors at play. Sometimes, clearly, and likely often, it is malicious and malelovent, seeking to mislead, confuse, and sway with false information. And, well, sometimes it could simply be from sloppiness.
“There are still people who believe the world is flat … you don’t go and search out people who believe the world is flat and give them equal time.”
Al Gore was on NBC yesterday and ripped the media for providing a platform for “outliers”, people who merit being taken as seriously as card-carrying members of the Flat Earth Society. People who, rather than being given soap boxes in major newspapers, in Congressional hearings, on TV programs, should be laughed into marginality.