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All bad all the time

30 Sep 2020 | OP ED Watch

Another reason it’s hard to make sense of the supposed science behind climate change is that all effects of climate change are bad and all bad things are the fault of climate change. For instance NBC just shrieked that “Hurricanes, floods and wildfires imperil hundreds of hazardous waste sites. But the Trump administration won’t talk about the rising risks.” In a news story, be it noted, not opinion or even that famous fudge “news analysis”. Boo Trump. Orange man bad. Meanwhile the National Post, channeling Reuters, blamed the natural death of over 300 elephants in Botswana on humans: “Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year… Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.” Well yes, because man-made warming favours everything harmful or disgusting while driving everything cute or useful right off a figurative or literal cliff. Which is why if there’s a bumper crop in, say, New South Wales, it’s just weather.

It seems that news outlets have lost perspective and, with it, credibility. For instance that NBC “news” story above was published “in partnership with InsideClimate News, a nonprofit, independent news outlet that covers climate, energy and the environment, and the Texas Observer, a nonprofit investigative news outlet”. Which sounds a lot like advocacy.

As for that crop story, we just heard from the climate-hair-tearing Guardian no less, that “Australia prepares for bumper harvest as rain boosts NSW winter crops 300%”. Eh? Where’s this new normal of crop failure stalking the planet? Well, see, the clouds didn’t get the memo so “Fuelled by above average rainfall between March and August, winter crop production in the state is predicted to rise 49% above the 10-year average to 2019-20. It means Australia’s overall production will increase by 60% year on year, raising hopes that the industry will drive the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery. The wet winter has helped drag much of the state out of prolonged drought…” The implications for climate being precisely nought, as good things are weather.

We are not kidding. The story literally did not contain the word “climate” though the banner underneath said “41 days to save the Earth” because “On November 4, a day after the presidential election, the US will formally withdraw from the Paris agreement on constraining global heating.” Whereas the predicted permanent drought back when south Australia was dry? Climate, obviously.

To be fair NBC, which is now giving outlets like the New York Times and the Guardian a run for their lack of money on alarmism as news, actually praises “well-earned skepticism” about climate generally and the California fires in particular. Unfortunately it’s only skepticism that this spurious connection “does little to bring about the kind of broad and long-term change necessary to fight climate change.”

“When Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week that California would ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, he left no doubt about why he was issuing the order now. “Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse,” Newsom, a Democrat, said in his announcement. It was the clearest sign yet that this year’s destructive wildfire season had shaken up the debate over what to do about climate change.” The network then committed the venerable journalistic sin of conceding that time may tell: “And there may be more change to come, especially if a new sense of determination can carry forward after the season is over.”

After which it threw science into the dumpster, quoting California League of Conservation Voters CEO Mary Creasman that Newsom’s announcement “would not have happened if California didn’t live on Mars for a day”. If this journalist had Google on their computer they could have blocked that metaphor by searching “Mars surface temperature” and discovering that the red planet is a place with no fires at all and according to NASA an average temperature of -81 degrees F as against Earth’s balmy 57 F. (For non-Americans, -63 C and 14 C.)

“Idiot claims wildfires resemble Mars” would actually make a pretty good headline. But not one you’re going to see nowadays, unlike endless variants on “Sky on fire, orange man bad”.

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