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Climate porn fails to titillate

10 Apr 2019 | OP ED Watch

In the Toronto Sun Lorrie Goldstein says “climate porn” doesn’t work. Which seems especially pertinent in Ottawa where a report that Canada is warming at twice the global rate coincided with a modern record for consecutive days with snow cover followed by more snow. Then there’s the great polar bear die-off including the infamous “This is the face of climate change” misrepresentation which our environment minister eagerly retweeted (from Beijing). But a major problem is that it’s either false or overhyped, like a story “Swift action needed to protect infrastructure against rising seas, experts say” that actually says we might need to build two- or three-foot walls in a few places by 2100 unless we panic and shut down our economy instead.

Porn is not too strong a term. For instance on the Daily Kos, an extremely popular left-wing American website, an April 1 article (the same day as Canada’s new carbon tax and the twice-as-fast warning) howled “A glacier the size of Florida is on track to change the course of human civilization”, dubbed the Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica in question the “Doomsday” glacier and said its imminent collapse would drive sea levels up not just two feet on its own account but, by releasing four other glaciers it’s currently holding back, another 10-13 feet. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. The whole thing is of course massively overblown and the scientists quoted in the Kos piece actually said it would take centuries to flow and that we’ve only just developed the capacity to monitor the glacier with satellites meaning whatever it underwent in the past we just didn’t know about.

The same is true of Al Gore’s endless claims that the evening news has become “a nature hike through the Book of Revelation” because there’s weather. Or David Attenborough’s walruses plunging off a cliff to their deaths due to climate change when ironically it seems they were chased off the cliff by polar bears too dumb to know they were extinct. It has an irresistible immediate impact but eventually people don’t just feel jaded, they feel lied to.

It’s amazing how often the press use “experts say” to try to slip something past us that doesn’t bear examination. Just stop it.

If your cause is so compelling, tell the truth and count on us to get appropriately alarmed. If it’s not, what are you doing showing all these deceptively lurid images?

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