I want to highlight two stories that show how some parts of the media distort the truth on climate change.
The first comes to us via Bishop Hill and it recounts the story of an encounter between a skeptic journalist and a reporter for the Toronto Star. As can be shown in the video, the Toronto Star reporter flat out lies in the article she wrote on the subject. It turns out that the skeptic was not the bad guy and the reporter was not the good woman. The 9-year-old kid comes off okay, though.
The second example is from the Guardian, the UK’s self-appointed (or self-anointed) champion of climate activism.
Google News returns 66 articles covering a new paper in the journal Science. The paper is titled,”Sea Level Rise Due to Polar Ice-Sheet Mass Loss During Past Warm Periods.” I didn’t read them all but I read enough of them to know that the Guardian missed something that others did not.
The paper shows that in past warm periods, much of the ice melted from the polar ice caps and Greenland and contributed greatly to sea level rise, as much as six meters more than current levels. This is not exactly news–we’ve known that there were ice-free periods on Earth where the seas were much higher.
But other articles on the paper and its subject managed to provide some perspective. As CBS News reported, “The ominous aspect to this is that CO2 levels are continuing to rise, so we are entering uncharted territory,” Clark said. “What is not as certain is the time frame, which is less well-constrained. We could be talking many centuries to a few millennia to see the full impact of melting ice sheets.”
That’s something the Guardian neglected to mention. They’re happy to write, “Dutton’s analysis was able to get better estimates of the upper bounds of sea level rise. And those results don’t bode well for the world’s coastlines as they showed that sea levels were up to 42 ft higher than the present.
But there is no mention of the time frame. This is what the Guardian says: “The big outstanding question — and the one that’s most relevant to people living along the coasts — is just how long it could take sea levels to rise to such great heights. The process isn’t linear. It’s currently accelerating and that trend is expected to continue.”
So, something that has happened repeatedly before and may happen 3,000 years in the future if nothing else interferes with the climate is presented as a man-made event that could happen at any time.
It is clear that many media organizations have made an editorial commitment to support activists advocating robust action on climate change. I have no objection to that–privately owned media companies are entitled to have a point of view, although it is usually better off in the opinion pages rather than coloring beat reporting.
However, stories like this are at best an advertorial for activists beating the drum for an outlier view of climate sensitivity. At worst it is propaganda.