WSJ shutters Environmental Capital blog; Revkin wonders “Green media bubble popping?”

But is there a hidden attempt to “warn mankind about the planet’s impending destruction”? Johnson of the WSJ‘s “Environmental Capital” blog just announced its termination:

After more than two years and over 2,000 posts, Environmental Capital is closing its virtual doors.

Although I didn’t agree with all of the analysis, I’m quite sad to see this “Daily analysis of the business of the environment by The Wall Street Journal” go.

The WSJ obviously has a right-wing editorial board and an editorial page that is a leading source of anti-science disinformation.  But the blog seemed reasonably independent and was certainly a timely source of information on energy and environmental issues.

The NYT’s Revkin tweets:

Green media bubble popping? Say farewell to WSJ’s enviro blog….

Ironically that’s about all tweeting by a science journalists is good for — saying goodbye to another effort by a major media outlet’s coverage of green issues (see NBC nixes TV’s only global climate change show during “Green Week”).

Johnson titled his farewell, “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish.”  For those of you who aren’t SF-humor geeks — and if you aren’t, what are you doing at CP? — that’s a reference to the hilarious book series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyone (based on a radio series).  As Wikipedia notes,

The phrase has since been adopted by some science fiction fans as a humorous way to say “goodbye”….

But the phrase also carries a profoundly ironic underlying meaning given the context and the subject area of the blog.  Wikipedia’s entry on the not-bad film version explains:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Stephen Fry) narrates that the dolphins, the second most-intelligent creatures on Earth, attempted to warn mankind about the planet’s impending destruction, but humans interpreted the dolphins’ communications as tricks. The dolphins left the planet, leaving their final message to humans as “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Was this intentional by Johnson?  You decide.

[Note:  In the book, dolphins are just above humans — mice are the most intelligent species on Earth. Yes, there are many layers of irony for homo “sapiens” sapiens in this parting shot at the WSJ editors, who might just interpret the headline as an innocuous “trick.”]

10 Responses to WSJ shutters Environmental Capital blog; Revkin wonders “Green media bubble popping?”

  1. Wit's End says:

    JR, have you seen Avatar? I would love to read your analysis of the homo “sapiens” in that movie and what they do to the environment. You can’t find a much better allegory for our present predicament.

  2. Chris Dudley says:

    I don’t think I read that blog much but I was sorry to hear of Kate Galbraith leaving Green Inc. She was responsive to readers.

    I doubt that alternative energy reporting is going to slow much but Andy has a point at least as far as reporting on the environment goes. Our crisis is driving out writing that is appreciative of nature.

  3. Stuart says:

    What we need is the Committee to Save the Humans.

  4. cbp says:

    I’ve noticed recently The Australian (also a Murdoch paper) stopped linking the Climate section from the front-page of the website.

    For a year or so they were running some reasonably good CC coverage but since Copenhagen they seem to have reverted to their Howard-era braindead denialism – even stooping so low as to publish a Monckton article.

    Looks like old Rupert is cracking down.

  5. WAG says:

    And the thing that’s interesting is that this seems like this is a bad move for the WSJ from a business standpoint. Maybe Environmental Capital doesn’t generate a positive ROI in the present, but I’ve noticed that many of the commentors on the farewell post work as renewable energy analysts or work in the field of sustainability. Given that this is the fastest growing area of the global economy, it seems like particularly strange timing to punt on the issue. I’ve put a post up on the subject:

    Also note that the second-to-final Environmental Capital post was entitled “Who’s afraid of a clean energy future?” I guess now we know: the WSJ editorial board.

  6. colinc says:

    Joe, great use of a GREAT book jacket/tag-line. I’ve read the first 3 books (ending with the one you’ve cited) more than a few times! BTW, who the hell is Stephen Fry? The late Douglas Adams, THE master (and greatly missed), wrote “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.” Even more poignant, as I seem to recall (been a “while” since I last read it), the only “humans” (besides Arthur Dent) to “survive” a catastrophe (spaceship explosion?) and found themselves on a “primitive planet” were primarily utterly moronic hair-dressers and middlemen! Oh how appropriate!

  7. this is just going to make SolarFeeds stronger! But I will miss the articles…

  8. Jeff Huggins says:

    Except for one or two posts at the very beginning, I don’t think I ever read Environmental Capital. Yet, this seems like a terrible decision for the WSJ from a number of vital standpoints.

    First, doesn’t the WSJ realize that, in the long-term, credibility is vital? The WSJ can’t manage to “hold” credibility, or build it back up, if it ignores key findings of the credible scientific community, period. The WSJ can play its “popularity contest” in the short-run, by trying to tell its audience what the WSJ thinks the audience WANTS to hear, or what Murdoch thinks the audience should hear, but that will not last long and will come to a crashing and embarrassing halt.

    And, how can the WSJ hold that American business, education, and etc. must maintain scientific and technological leadership (for the sake of competitiveness and etc.) while holding, at the same time, that the leading scientists are wrong on climate change?

    And, given that energy and sustainability-related matters will be huge growth areas in the upcoming future, how can the WSJ neglect those areas?

    The WSJ seems to be digging itself a deeper and deeper and deeper hole, and it takes a LONG time to regain credibility once credibility has been lost, if it can ever be regained.

    Farewell Environmental Capital,


  9. Wit's End says:

    Hey Jeff, excellent point. WSJ and other most other economic forecasters missed the bursting bubble in their eagerness to prop up the giant ponzi scheme. You’d think after that, if they had any integrity whatsoever, they might challenge the core belief system rather than cling to the fantasy that we can continue to grow and grow and grow, and USA can somehow maintain hegemony, but of course, they are still complicit.

    What they should be examining – and never do – is a cost analysis between transitioning to green energy COMPARED to adapting and mitigating to a changing climate. What will those be? Droughts, floods, famine?

    Of course, no one earthquake can be attributed to climate change any more than a particular hurricane. However, it would behoove us to take note, we can expect more of both. And as usual, those least prepared, without a strong infrastructure and emergency resources, will suffer first and most, like Haiti.

  10. Andy Revkin says:

    Aw, I think science journalists can do a lot by tweeting, Joe (including disseminating your thoughts sometimes). A sampler:

    Joe Romm @climateprogress challenges @wattsupwiththat for yelling conflict of interest at Gore/Pachauri:

    Obama pushing priv-pub ‘educate to innovate’ plan Congress shows no sign of helping on Re-Energyse

    World’ll probably need hail-mary all-nighter to avoid overheating: Slacking before finals?

    [JR: I certainly agree that one can use Twitter as an old-style news ticker, to push out stories, including one’s own (as I do here). I just wouldn’t use them for trying to advance a debate on a complicated subject. More on that this weekend!]