No Nose for News


By Brantley Thompson Elkins


Ever turn on CNN or Fox and wonder: where’s the fucking news?

For that matter, real news is harder to find in the print media these days. As I write, there is endless coverage of holiday shopping, Tiger Woods’ car accident and whether it has to do with an affair, a celebrity tell-all book that makes Drew Barrymore look bad, how the latest Twilight movie is doing at the box office…

Oh, there are stories about preparations for the Copenhagen summit meeting about climate change, and how strong support from the Commonwealth of Nations may ensure that strong action will be taken to curb greenhouse gases. But from those stories, you’d never guess that there is a controversy over the validity of global warming based on the hacked e-mails of leading climate researchers.

True, it’s been treated as a “gotcha” story by Fox News, which (on this issue) speaks for those who thought global warming was a hoax all along. Liberal media, meanwhile, are trying to ignore the whole Climategate thing, hoping it will go away, while arguing that revelations which cast doubt on the argument that global temperatures are still rising aren’t of any significance, and don’t complicate any issues of public policy.

Nobody seems to actually be pursuing the story. Nobody seems to be interviewing the climate scientists who have come under fire. Nobody seems to be seeking out climate scientists who are neither part of the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) movement nor conservatives who oppose AGW for strictly political reasons just as AGW partisans support it for political reasons. You’d think that independent sources would be essential in coverage of an issue as serious as this, but nooooo.

Most of controversy centers on alleged doctoring of statistics to support AGW, and attempts by the AGW establishment to suppress any dissent in scientific journals. This is not the way science is supposed to be done; it is a betrayal of the very basis of science. There’s just no way to prettify the ugly statements made by AGW partisans, who, thus far, have hardly made any attempt to defend themselves except to claim that nothing in the exposé really affects the basic arguments for AGW, and to denounce AGW skeptics as if they were religious fundamentalists trying to sneak creation science into the public schools.

The methodology used to project global warming trends is too arcane for a layman to grasp, and that is why it is imperative that it should undergo an independent review by climatologists without a political axe to grind. Nobody on either side of the AGW issue seems to be calling for that; for the political Right, the case is closed, and for the Political Left the same holds true – at least as long as its tame media keep the issue off the front page until (hopefully) the Copenhagen summit adopts its program for climate control.

Almost overlooked in all this is… polar ice. Yes, it’s still melting. Bad news for the Maldives, or even the Netherlands, if sea levels rise as a result. AGW partisans may be falsifying global temperature trends by adding fudge factors to actual readings, but it’s hard to believe they could be faking satellite photos of the shrinking ice cap in the Arctic Ocean. If this is happening even though global temperatures, as implied in those hacked e-mails, haven’t actually been rising since 1998… what’s going on here? You’d think that scientists and public policy makers alike would want to know.

As a layman, I can make a wild guess: Maybe smoke from all those coal-fired power plants in China (Remember the Beijing smog that had to be briefly banished for the 2008 Olympics?) is counteracting the impact of more carbon dioxide. Particulate matter in the atmosphere, as from volcanic eruptions, produces cooler weather. Maybe atmospheric circulation patterns keep it out of polar regions. But that’s just a wild guess; chances are it’s wrong. And the people responsible for reporting the news should be turning up the heat and looking for answers – real answers.

While everyone at Copenhagen will be talking about Draconian measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, moreover, other issues are being pretty much ignored. One is the continued deforestation of the Amazon basin, said to be the world’s largest carbon sink, in order to plant more soybeans. Forests and marshes in Indonesia are similarly being despoiled. Does it make sense to try to curb greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time ignoring the threat to oxygen emissions in Brazil and Indonesia? And there are also any number of other environmental issues that are being practically ignored, such as falling water tables and water shortages generally in Asia and Africa where agriculture has become more intensive over the last few decades.

Where’s CNN? Where’s Fox? Where’s The New York Times. Hello, hello…