Politics is complex. Thereâe(TM)s so much going on, so much to report on, so much to explain, and the average reader has a limited attention span. This is why Paris Hiltonâe(TM)s driving record makes page one, while the Conservative government of Canada hiring a Chief of Staff who has denied global warming exists, compared Ottawa to Nazi Germany and been quoted as saying that itâe(TM)s "high time that Muslims show the world that theirs is a religion of peace rather than a religion based on threat, intimidation and terrorism," warrants only passing mention.
Yes, thereâe(TM)s a lot of ground to cover in the world of political reporting, but when something is missed or someone gets an issue wrong, people donâe(TM)t tend to die as a result.
But thatâe(TM)s not the case in all areas of journalism. Environmental reporting, for example, is an area that tends to get left to Larry the Weather-Guy, even though itâe(TM)s a beat that documents our impending doom.
âeoeExpect tsunamis, long-term drought, flaming rivers, birth defects and highs of 265 degrees overnight. And a big hello to Doris McClintock from Flin Flon, who turns 99 years old today!âe
Weâe(TM)ve had about five years of solid âeoehe said/she saidâe on the topic of global warming in the North American media, and though youâe(TM)d have to be a flat-earther to still deny that thereâe(TM)s a problem, all that hemming and hawing could âe" and should âe" have been put to rest with one simple, undeniable statement: If climate change doesnâe(TM)t exist, and we spend lots of money cleaning the air, water and land, in the end we still have clean air, water and land. But if climate change is real and we do nothing to stop it, we die.
That, right there, should be the start, middle and end of every environmental debate. No oil-company lobbyist could defeat that logic, and no environmentalist has reason to. And yet, who among us has ever seen those words spoken by a TV reporter, or heard them out of a radio personality, or read them in big print?
Earlier this month, Philip Mote, a climate researcher from the University of Washington, and Georg Kaser, a glaciologist from the University of Innsbruck, put out a report that could have been titled, âeoeAl Gore got something wrong in a slideshow.âe
In essence, their work suggests that Mount Kilimanjaro, the oft-mentioned example of a shrinking glacier in Goreâe(TM)s film, isnâe(TM)t actually receding due to global warming but because of a unique topographical situation that prevents new ice from finding purchase.
On this point, there is little dispute: Gore got one wrong, but the scientists behind the report take great pains to say he could have used any of thousands of other ailing geographical landmarks as a replacement example, and heâe(TM)d have been right on the money.
They even put out a press release to say so. And Hell was thus unleashed.
The enviro wonks walked into a threshing machine of PR lies and distortions and copped a beating from all sides. Though Mote and Kaser took every possible opportunity to reiterate that global warming is real, their words were misrepresented and misinterpreted by lazy journos, empty-headed pundits and oil-industry biostitutes, so as to put forth the image that Al Gore is a big unreliable poopyhead, who eats panda-burgers and smokes lead cigars in his Hummer.
Take this Fox News article, penned by Brit Hume, former Republican speech-writer and now nattering nabob of negativity on a news network so widely discredited everywhere but the U.S. that you basically have to buy the cable package that includes Al Jazeera just to get it on your Canadian TV screen. Nowhere in the piece does Hume mention that Mote and Kaser believe global warming to be a major problem. Rather, he repeats the keywords and framing that all bought-and-paid-for journalists and orc-like lobbyists love to throw out: that âeoeglobal warming isn't the causeâe and âeoefluctuations are nothing new,âe before finishing with the overarching tenet that Al Gore is fat and didnâe(TM)t invent the Internet; praise be to Jesus Christ of Corporate America.
Of course, to misuse scientific research in such a way, especially at such an important time in our modern history, is weak âe" the kind of thing that should get journalists thrown out of the Press Club and banished to... well, whatâe(TM)s worse than Fox News?
But what is even weaker is that the Left (or as we often call ourselves, the reality-based community) was right in the thick of that same intellectual dishonesty, spinning harder than the corpse in Tommy Douglasâe(TM)s grave as they called Mote and Kaser tools of the oil lobby and/or naÃ¯ve idiots who will have blood on their hands when the seals become desert-dwellers and Nunavut becomes a Club Med.
Man, talk about shooting the messenger! All these guys wanted to do was make a minor point about the legitimacy of image #962 in Al Goreâe(TM)s slideshow, and suddenly they were being accused of taking a paycheck from Exxon. Itâe(TM)s an embarrassment for all concerned, mostly because none of it matters, and serves only as a diversion from what really does.
But what if the point wasnâe(TM)t a minor one? What if the point was that the production of the batteries and twin engines used in the Toyota Prius require such metals as nickel to be mined in great quantities, which devastates the environment even before the finished product has had a chance to give you great miles-per-gallon? Should we not talk about that, lest we harm the environmental cause?
What if the inconvenient truth was that too much soy causes health problems in children, or that free-range organic eggs have limited health benefits, or that the energy required to recycle your plastic bottles is far greater than that required to incinerate them? What if removing fluoride from the water causes a great rise in dental problems in children? Do we not talk about it, lest we help out the âeoeother side,âe whoâe(TM)d love nothing more than to discredit the Prius, soy milk, recycling and clean water? And if we do talk about these things, will we be branded as traitors by those we call allies?
This isnâe(TM)t how itâe(TM)s supposed to work. When youâe(TM)re on the side of right (as opposed to The Right), you have to question everyone and everything âe" not just the other side, but your own as well. If weâe(TM)re to hold the corporate world to a standard of truth that requires them to be honest and open about the potential death of our world, shouldnâe(TM)t we hold ourselves, and our allies, to that same exacting standard?
The small details like those of the Kilimanjaro question shouldnâe(TM)t be something a scientist fears bringing to the public, because we, the people, should have the smarts enough to be able to say, âeoeThanks for that, Brainiac. Duly noted.âe
And if some representative of Death Inc. dares stick his or her head up in the press to abuse and misuse that information, that head should be taken off with outrage, righteousness and the sort of factual counterargument that leaves him or her lying in the dust.
In the end, give me honesty, or give me death. Because, frankly, as far as the environmental debate goes, those are the only two options we have.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.