Climate Change: Fueling the "Debate"

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Newsweek Now Decides Climate Change is Real

The title of Newsweek's current article, "The Global Warming Hoax", makes me wonder if Newsweek is still trying to appease all audiences, despite overwhelming evidence of climate change. The provocative title and cover photo with a giant burning sun gives the impression of a magazine intent on feeding the fire of debate. Inside, Sharon Begley coolly focuses on the deception of climate change by its deniers, who she says are running amok:

"....outside Hollywood, Manhattan and other habitats of the chattering classes, the denial machine is running at full throttle -- and continuing to shape both government policy and public opinion."

In the 4000+ word article, Begley profiles a cabal of naysayers', who say that global warming is false, unproven or unimportant. The article features the usual suspects, ExxonMobil, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, James Inhofe, Fred Singer, and Richard S. Lindzen. Its well worth reading if you haven't heard the denier's tall tales or want to read them again. Perhaps you went out and bought a Hummer after reading Richard S. Lindzen's 1000 word opinion featured just last April in Newsweek, fatefully titled: "Learning to Live With Global Warming, Why So Gloomy?":

"There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators -- and many scientists -- seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes...Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now..."

Earlier this year, to be fair, Newsweek published an article from "the other side", about the the Union of Concerned Scientist's report on ExxonMobil's lobbying campaign.

The 50% Solution

It's not clear whether Newsweek's "balanced" coverage is in deference to its readers or its advertisers or both. This newest article comes at a time when ExxonMobil itself acknowledges climate change. "With its change of heart, ExxonMobil is more likely to win a place at the negotiating table as Congress debates climate legislation"

To Begley's point, the deniers still thrive in their slowly closing circle of lies. In fact they have now have been invited to the negotiating table. Those media outlets which broadcast the deniers articles also thrive. The Financial Times featured an editorial last week titled, "The Steamrollers of Climate Science", by Clive Crook, arguing that the IPCC and its reports were tainted by "pervasive bias"..

He acknowledged that it was written by numerous scientists, but wrote as if the IPCC was actually just a few scientists, four maybe -- Ian, Paul, Chuck and Cliff (IPCC). He recommended that "if governments are to get the best advice, they need information and analysis from an open and disinterested source". Who did Clive Crook have in mind? He quoted the opinions of David Henderson, affiliated with the Marshall Institute, Fraser Institute, and Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) (all funded by ExxonMobil).

Today, the Financial Times published two letters to the editor, one in complete agreement with, one disagreeing with his editorial. The rote, 50-50 solution that heedlessly denies the evidence.

Oil in The Melting (Shhhh!) Arctic

The climate change deniers ought to be experiencing cognitive dissonance that would compete with the "wind-induced" mechanical resonance that brought down the Tacoma-Narrows bridge in 1940.

While the denier editorial business thrives, last week Russia planted a flag in the Arctic, staking out future Gazprom profits, accessible with the melting waterway and the capital of foreign oil companies. The Financial Times itself reported on the opportunities in the Arctic and on various companies and countries chances of competing for oil in the article: "Arctic Ice":

"in a dreadful circularity, global warming, helped along by the burning of fossil fuels, is causing the Arctic's ice sheet to recede -- making any oil and gas there easier to access.

Spiegel, the German newspaper, wrote, "How much truth is there to the dire warnings of melting polar ice caps"?, asks the German newspaper Spiegel, in an article on the French Oil Company Total, a sponsoring explorer to the artic. The French company's stated purpose is to "measure the arctic melt" (and perhaps to send back pristine images for public relations efforts). Total is also working with Gazprom on Russian gas reserves in the arctic. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States currently claim parts of the North Pole.

The Heritage Foundation noted that "a quarter of the world's oil", may be under the caps, and "if the ice caps melt and shrink", the newly available resources will fuel foreign "tension".

Is global warming real? No it's not, say deniers, but then they add that whoever gets to the Arctic and its oil as the ice melts wins. If you're dizzy from snapping your head around to follow first the one side of their argument, than the other, simply follow the money for the truth.

Or do we know the truth and just want to drive around in our SUV's a while longer?

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Acronym Required previously posted about climate change with:
"Cars, Buying Cognitive Dissonance"
"Green Spirit"
Communicating Climate Change
"Sea Change or Littoral Disaster"

1 Comment

What's really frustrating about science coverage -- really any coverage -- is this supposed need for "balance". It creates the impression that the editors and chiefs of these publications have not a iota of sense, or memory from week to week. So, this week, Newsweek runs a piece favorable to global climate change - whither next week?? They're trying to keep everyone happy by refusing to take sides, because they're afraid of lobbying groups pestering advertisers. While this is bad, if the new titans of our supposed gilded age get their way, we'll all be nostalgic for the days when media faced this dilemma.

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