As the Economist incautiously allowed, the drafting of the latest IPCC report was all about messaging. And it’s striking that the mainstream press, famous critics of the rich and powerful, all seemed to have the same messaging memo: neither doom nor complacency, but optimistic urgency. Hence The Guardian’s “The new IPCC report offers not only hope, but practical solutions. Governments that have signed off on it must now act”. And the New York Times. And Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, the Albuquerque Journal and everyone in between. Which for some reason gives the impression not of vigorous independent thought but of its habitual absence.
The New York Times “Climate Forward” certainly got the memo: “That’s what I find most valuable in the new report this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It tells us the world already has many of the tools required to shift away from fossil fuels and slow down climate change quickly. It’s doable, in other words. It’s just not getting done.” And over at the New York Times, but in this case “The Morning“, we learn that
“Among the headline-grabbing wildfires, droughts and floods, it is easy to feel disheartened about climate change. I felt this myself when a United Nations panel released the latest major report on global warming. It said that humanity was running out of time to avert some of the worst effects of a warming planet. Another report is coming tomorrow. So I called experts to find out whether my sense of doom was warranted. To my relief, they pushed back against the notion of despair. The world, they argued, has made real progress on climate change and still has time to act. They said that any declaration of inevitable doom would be a barrier to action, alongside the denialism that Republican lawmakers have historically used to stall climate legislation. Such pushback is part of a budding movement: Activists who challenge climate dread recently took off on TikTok, my colleague Cara Buckley reported.”
So you admit it’s a campaign. But why would the press be participating in it rather than reporting on… sorry, a question from a long-vanished historical era. Indeed right before the latest IPCC report staggered across the finish line, The New York Times ran a primer on the party line including that it was the voice (what else?) of youth:
“‘OK Doomer’ and the Climate Advocates Who Say It’s Not Too Late/ A growing chorus of young people is focusing on climate solutions. ‘“It’s too late” means “I don’t have to do anything, and the responsibility is off me.”‘“
Not just youth, of course. Also the young at heart. So here’s the venerable Economist. “In one sense, the IPCC’s most recent findings are a cause for optimism, reiterating the idea that Paris goals are achievable, albeit difficult, so long as the right action is taken. The question, as ever, is whether it will be.” As ever.
The Albuquerque Journal even furnished a handy “No obituary for Earth: Scientists fight climate doom talk” compendium of climate alarmists saying their earlier statements that it was now or never had somehow misled people into thinking it was too late were of course not to be taken seriously, unlike their latest pronouncements, included “While he sees the increase in doom talk as inevitable, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said he knows first-hand that people are wrong when they say nothing can be done: ‘I work with people and I’m watching other people and I’m seeing the administration. And people are doing things and they’re doing the right things for the most part as best they can. So I’m seeing people do things.’” And when people are doing things, and watching people do things, well, things are being done by people who do things.
It’s not just @ClimateOfGavin among the giants. Here’s the Mann himself, from the same article: “Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said scientists used to think Earth would be committed to decades of future warming even after people stopped pumping more carbon dioxide into the air than nature takes out. But newer analyses in recent years show it will only take a few years after net zero emissions for carbon levels in the air to start to go down because of carbon being sucked up by the oceans and forests, Mann said.” So um the science isn’t settled after all?
Well, of course it is. It says we must act now or else. Always has. Always will.