Sunday night millions of people were watching what seem to be a reasonable hour of television devoted to environmental issues, ending with a fascinating, if not terribly original, story about the melting of the Bolivian glaciers and its likely impact on that country. And then they got to this amazing exchange:
Here is the transcript:
[I don’t have the name of the Bolivian — if anyone does, please put it into the comments sections — so I will call him RB for reasonable Bolivian.]
NBC: Late last year, Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed his own controversial solution — taking industrialized nations like the United States to court to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions that many scientists believe is fueling global warming. But not everyone agrees greenhouse gases are to blame for global warming. Some scientists argue that the planet has been heating and cooling for centuries. Other people, other scientists who say, it is part of the normal ebb and flow of climate change.
RB: Greenhouse gases are the main driver. The scientific community has a consensus on that. It is man-made.
NBC: You say there’s a consensus, but other scientists would disagree with you.
RB: A few, a few.
NBC: It is highly politicized.
RB: It has been highly politicized. That I agree.
NBC: Whatever the cause, there is no doubt that global warming is a reality. And in Bolivia, it may lead to water shortages, disease and possible power outages.
Next time someone asks me if big media’s coverage of the environment and global warming has gotten better, I’m just going to direct them to this clip.
What a disgrace to journalism. I thought the media was moving beyond this nonsense, not bothering to waste the viewer’s time by actually quoting the discredited ideas of the global warming deniers. But that doesn’t mean that reporters should take it upon themselves to spread the disinformation and save the deniers the trouble. At least when a denier was put on the air, he or she didn’t have the independent credibility that an NBC reporter has — or, I should say, once had.
Note to NBC: If global warming is not caused primarily by humans (which is to say, if the scientific understanding as described by the IPCC is utterly wrong), but is just the random ebb and flow of things, then your story is kind of pointless, since 1) we might just start randomly cooling tomorrow and 2) there isn’t anything we can do about it. I guess it would then just qualify as a pointless feel-bad story.