33 Responses to The Economist embraces climate media-ocrity with one inane paragraph
In effort to outdo YouTube-quoting CBS, UK mag quotes a right-wing T-shirt!
It’s getting harder to hide the decline of the media with its missing-the-forest-for-the-tree-rings coverage.
From the BBC to the NY Times to the WashPost, we’ve seen major media outlets abandon journalistic standards. Among the worst was CBS libeling Michael Mann based on a YouTube video “” while reporting his exoneration! And that doesn’t even include the media that just make stuff up, like the UK’s Daily Mail.
You might think the staid UK magazine, The Economist, would be above the sensationalist coverage that gives equal time to discredited disinformers, like The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (TVMOB), or relies on even more dubious unscientfic sources, like web videos. But you would be wrong:
The news that some climate scientists tried to muzzle dissenting voices has spread like the common cold on conservative blogs, fuelling widespread suspicion that global warming is an elaborate hoax. Many climate sceptics are furious. “My Carbon Footprint Will Fit Nicely in Your Liberal Ass,” reads a typical T-shirt.
And with that paragraph, the once-venerated Economist magazine joins the race to the bottom with the speed of downhiller Lindsey Vonn.
1) Just to set the record straight, it was the the Bush administratio who, for 8 years, systematically muzzled government climate scientists from discussing impacts of rising CO2 emissions with the public or the media (see “Climate Science Muzzling Meets the House“). The stolen emails reveal a couple of climate scientists emailing about whether to try to stop flawed analysis from being published, and one scientist emailing about whether to try to keep flawed analyses out of the IPCC reports. The flawed analyses made it in. Ironically, the IPCC is now being criticized for letting a couple of pieces of flawed analysis into the 1000-page final reports.
2) “Many climate sceptics are furious.” Uhh, really? Stop the presses! Clear the front-page! Get me the President on line 1!
Memo to The Economist: The sceptics have been “furious” for decades. Heck, they were furious when they were told by their own scientific panel that they were pushing BS (see Scientists advising fossil fuel funded anti-climate group concluded in 1995: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of GHGs such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied”).
They remain furious over things like the Hockey Stick graph, even though it was vindicated years ago in a thorough examination by a panel of the prestigious (and uber-mainstream) National Academy of Sciences (see NAS Report and here). Indeed, the news story in the journal Nature (subs. req’d) on the NAS panel was headlined: “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph“! Indeed, the one “Independent” critique of Hockey Stick has now been revealed as fatally flawed right-wing anti-science set up. But the “sceptics” are still furious about it. Go figure!
3) “Fuelling widespread suspicion that global warming is an elaborate hoax.” Widespread suspicion? Elaborate hoax? The Economist is simply repeating a flat-earther, birther, conspiracy-theory accusingthe scientific community broadly defined of conspiring in deliberate fraud – and not just the community of climate scientists, but the leading National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and the American Geophysical Union, an organization of geophysicists that consists of more than 45,000 members and the American Meteorological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see “Yet more scientists call for deep GHG cuts“).
The notion of the hoax accuses all of the member governments of the IPCC, including ours, of participating in that conspiracy, since they all sign off on the 20-to-30 page summary reports of the IPCC word for word. And, of course, it accuses all of the leading scientific journals of being in on this fraud, since the IPCC reports are primarily a review and synthesis of the published scientific literature.
It even accuses The Economist of being in on this fraud, since the magazine has reported on the science over the years.
4) The Economist quotes a t-shirt as evidence? ’nuff said.
5) The Economist does not quote a single climate scientist in this nonsensical piece. It never quotes anyone disputing the muzzling claim. Or the hoax claim.
Memo to The Economist: If you feel obliged to report on the anger of the anti-scientific crowd, you still can’t leave inaccurate or inane assertions entirely unrebutted.
RealClimate says in its excellent recent post, “Whatevergate“:
… there has been what can only be described as a media frenzy (mostly in the UK) with regards to climate change in recent weeks. The coverage has contained more bad reporting, misrepresentation and confusion on the subject than we have seen in such a short time anywhere….
… since the emails were released, and despite the fact that there is no evidence within them to support any of these claims of fraud and fabrication, the UK media has opened itself so wide to the spectrum of thought on climate that the GW hoaxers have now suddenly find themselves well within the mainstream. Nothing has changed the self-evidently ridiculousness of their arguments…
Perhaps this is driven by editors demanding that reporters come up with something new (to them) that fits into an anti-climate science theme that they are attempting to stoke. Or perhaps it is driven by the journalists desperate to maintain their scoop by pretending to their editors that this nonsense hasn’t been debunked a hundred times already? Who knows? All of these bad decisions made easier when all of the actually sensible people, or people who know anything about the subject at all, are being assailed on all sides, and aren’t necessarily keen to find the time to explain, once again, that yes, the world is warming….
Eventually, people will realise (again) that the GW hoaxers are indeed cranks, and the mainstream window on their rants will close. In the meantime, huge amounts of misinformation, sprinkled liberally with plenty of disinformation, will be spread and public understanding on the issue will likely decline.
As Energy Secretary Steven Chu said this week, “If you look at the climate sceptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It’s very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want.”
One of the reasons for the dreadful climate coverage is the media’s refusal to draw a distinction between what scientists say based on actual observations and analysis in the peer-reviewed literature and what anti-science disinformers say based on their total lack of knowledge of the science and general willingness to misrepresent the facts or make stuff up.