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New York Times Widely Cricitized For Dismantling Its Environment Desk, Eliminating Editorial Positions

By Joe Romm  

"New York Times Widely Cricitized For Dismantling Its Environment Desk, Eliminating Editorial Positions"

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“Keeping Environmental Reporting Strong Won’t Be Easy,” Warns Public Editor

The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated.

InsideClimate News reported in their Friday scoop that the Times insists this won’t affect coverage. But I’m very skeptical, as are a great many others, judging by comments echoing through the blogosphere, twitter, and my inbox.

For instance, the award-winning journalist Peter Dykstra — a 17-year veteran of CNN now publishing the Daily Climate — sent me this note sharing his too-relevant experience:

It’s far from a precise match for our situation at CNN four years ago — we all got fired, not re-shuffled.  And of course, CNN will never be confused with the Times. But CNN similarly assured everyone that coverage would not be affected. One area where a decision like this would likely have the same impact at the Times that it did at CNN:  When you abolish a standalone beat, it sends a strong message to every career-conscious reporter and editor that chasing environment stories is not a path to advancement.

Anyone who follows climate science, solutions, and politics knows that climate change is in the process of emerging as the story of the century — and that’s only if every major country pulls together to rapidly transform the global economy to avoid catastrophe. If the climate silence and inaction continues, it may well be the story of the millennium — see NOAA: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe.

So I also think that, as the still-influential “paper of record,” it sends a very bad message to the rest of the media. That was a point Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, whom the NYT quoted last year as “an expert on environmental communications,” made in an email:

The decision by the New York Times to close its environmental desk accelerates the disappearance of climate change from our public discourse.  Over the past year, the Obama Administration has been silent on the topic, and we have just had a Presidential campaign in which climate change was never discussed.  Now the Times is closing its environmental desk.  Despite their official statements to the contrary, this move will reduce the paper’s institutional focus and capacity to report on environmental issues.

Media coverage of climate change has an enormous impact on both public opinion and the policy agenda.  As the leading U.S. paper, the New York Times also influences the rest of the media.  This act sends an important message that environmental issues no longer justify a special institutional focus. We can only hope that the other news media do not follow the Times’ “lead” in abdicating their responsibility to environmental reporting.

Nobody is terribly happy about this, but some are considerably more unhappy than others. The paper’s public editor has a long column headlined, “Keeping Environmental Reporting Strong Won’t Be Easy.” She quotes a wide range of opinions and concludes:

Symbolically, this is bad news. And symbolism matters — it shows a commitment and an intensity of interest in a crucially important topic.

In real life, it doesn’t have to be bad news. A pod’s structure, outside the major desks – Foreign, Business, National and Metro – by its nature means that the coverage is not integrated into the regular coverage of those desks, which have their own space in the paper and their own internal clout.

If coverage of the environment is not to suffer, a lot of people – including The Times’s highest ranking editors — are going to have to make sure that it doesn’t.

They say they will. But maintaining that focus will be a particular challenge in a newsroom that’s undergoing intensive change as it becomes ever more digital while simultaneously cutting costs.

That was similar to a point made to me by former NYTlead climate reporter and now lead NYT climate blogger Andy Revkin. He is in the “less unhappy” camp — see his post here and Facebook here — in part because he says this as an inevitable trend in the media and that the Times wasn’t singling out the environment. He said “specialized journalism gets hurt first” in any downsizing and the “scramble to become comprehensive and smart on subjects is growing even as the capacity is being dismantled.” We even discussed whether journalism would crash before a livable climate did.

Revkin noted that the recent NYT buyouts focused on management positions like editors, and wrote on his FB page:

I was never fan of standalone environment desk even when I worked for it. Creates a ghetto for the subject and reporters. Environment is not a beat. Environmental impacts are a result of human decisions and actions. I do think it’s a mistake, however, to end position of environment EDITOR. More than ever, the paper needs someone to track, coordinate and vet the environmental content coming through any desk…

The editor in question feels the same way, as the public editor notes:

Sandy Keenan, the environment editor, told me she wishes the decision had not been made.

“Of course, I’m disappointed,” she said. “I’ll try to hold everyone to their promise that the coverage won’t suffer.” She is uncertain of her next move, she said.

Then we have this baffling quote from Elisabeth Rosenthal, “a medical doctor and a 19-year Times veteran reporter,” whos has been part of the environment pod:

“The pro is that you give specific attention to a subject that needs it,” she said. “The con is that it takes the subject out of the mainstream of news flow.” The subject areas “don’t have their own real estate in the newspaper, and that can mean that it’s harder to get attention” for their stories.

“There’s not a lot of news in this area – we’re watching glaciers melting – so there isn’t an urgency to get things into the paper right away,” Ms. Rosenthal said. Integration into the main desks can be a help with that.

In fact there is a staggering amount of news in this area — once you realize man-made warming is poised to transform the nation and the world in the coming decades, perhaps for centuries, and that the impacts are already being felt here and everywhere.

Ironically, the pod seem to have been doing some good. As the Daily Climate reported just one week earlier:

“I ask myself, ‘In 20 years, what will we be proudest that we addressed, and where will we scratch our head and say why didn’t we focus more on that?’” said Glenn Kramon, assistant managing editor of the New York Times.

The Times published the most stories on climate change and had the biggest increase in coverage among the five largest U.S. daily papers, according to media trackers at the University of Colorado.

Climate change is one of the few subjects so important that we need to be oblivious to cycles and just cover it as hard as we can all the time,” Kramon said….

Kramon, the Times‘ assistant managing editor, attributed last year’s uptick in the paper’s coverage to the fruition of a 4-year-old effort to group top reporters on a separate environment desk.

Now that is an amazing quote from an organization that had apparently already decided by then to send that very desk to the junk yard.

‹ Ratsnakes May Join Bark Beetles, Jellyfish, Tropical Diseases, And Invasive Species As Winners In A Warming World

January 14 News: U.S. ‘Climate Assessment Reveals The Full Horror Of What’s Happening To Our Planet’ ›

64 Responses to New York Times Widely Cricitized For Dismantling Its Environment Desk, Eliminating Editorial Positions

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    We’ve been sensing an internal struggle at the New York Times for years now. They will run a decent editorial about climate change, but ignore stories (such as permafrost melt) in the news section, and run a story about weather disasters with false balance included.

    Shutting down the environmental desk is a huge symbolic gesture, as Dystra pointed out, and probably came from advertiser pressure. The Times should instead have added a climate reporting staff, charged with producing regular stories. Dot Earth, the closest thing they have to a climate section, is fine with gas fracking, the Keystone Pipeline, and exporting coal, making it worse than useless.

    The Times deserves to be discarded, and readers should headto other sources. Some of us have discovered Climate Progress and Skeptical Science, and get quality information there. Problem is, readership is too small to educate the electorate. It is critical to pressure our six major media companies to perform. It’s only the world’s future at stake here, and their bad performance is inexcusable and negligent.

    • Michael Berndtson says:

      Mike, excellent point. NYT isn’t really read by anyone that needs persuading. The vast majority of America thinks NYT is too liberal or too elitist – despite its content. NYT probably simply needs to free up some salary to hire Judith Warner back. So she can drum up support for any future war – but in a “mommies for bombing” sort of way. Climate change articles would limit the available space for graphs and figures comparing US fire power to say an Iran or whomever.

      Dot Earth really doesn’t persuade anyone either. But it is a fun blog to read and to participate in the comment section.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Look- this is a rag in a blatant propaganda system. All that matters to the NYT and its owners are, ideological control over society, to be achieved by Thought Control and relentless propagandising, profit maximisation achieved by advertising to elite, not mass, consumers, and personal enrichment for the owners and senior apparatchiki. The future existence of humanity, after the elderly plutocrats have returned to the carbon cycle, is merely an ‘externality’ of no account, whatsoever. To hell with the NYT and its biased ‘reportage’, and let us concentrate on facts and truth. I wouldn’t line my cat’s litter tray with the NYT, or any similar rag.

      • Superman1 says:

        Fossil fuels are weapons of mass destruction. Their combustion unleashes these weapons against the USA (and all other countries), and will eventually destroy their populations. Does not our Constitution tell us the government’s job is to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare” of the USA? Are we not constitutionally-bound to take whatever action is necessary to eliminate these weapons and protect out collective security?

    • Felicity Barringer says:

      Mike:

      Not sure what you mean when you say The Times ignores coverage of permafrost melting in its news sections. Maybe you missed Justin Gillis’s takeout on the subject a little over a year ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/science/earth/warming-arctic-permafrost-fuels-climate-change-worries.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        One story, a little over a year ago? Is that not precisely the problem. This ought to be front page, every day, because it is the biggest ‘news story’ in human history and by very, very, far the most important.

        • Superman1 says:

          Front page; shouldn’t it be the front section, and shouldn’t that apply to every newspaper in the world? After all, it’s only the survival of civilization that’s at stake.

  2. Superman1 says:

    This is completely surreal. Books and studies have predicted that civilization and much life on Earth are incompatible with 6 C. According to a spate of recent climate models, we are scheduled to arrive at 6 C by century’s end. Since these models do not include positive feedback mechanisms, and since we are observing many of these mechanisms already, the models are strongly underestimating when we will reach 6 C. Under business as usual, which seems to be the hard path the world has chosen, we will reach 6 C much sooner than end of century. A story of this importance should occupy the front section of every newspaper in the world every day, and should constitute 50%, or more, of TV content. It is the height of irresponsibility that NYT eliminates the environmental desk, and that almost all the media ignore any serious mention of climate change.

    • Actually, Supe, I don’t think we will, or even need to make it all the way to 6ºC for a collapse of civilization and a major extinction to take place. We’re at just below 0.8ºC, and look what’s going on. (We’ve already put enough carbon into the atmosphere to force 1.1-1.2ºC in the next couple of decades.) Things are coming apart at the seams, and feedbacks are clearly beginning to kick in.

      And of course the Powers-That-Be are trying to ignore the situation, and get the public to ignore it as well. You’re right, it is surreal.

      • Agree. Long before we get to 6C or sea levels wash over Manhattan for good, agriculture will have collapsed, followed quickly by civilization.

        One could see the NYT’s move as a tiny, early manifestation of the oncoming downward spiral, a capitulation to the inevitable everyone-for-himself rout of civilization that climate change will provoke. Throw in terrorism, more guns and ever-more sophisticated surveillance technology concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and the consequences of climate inaction seem pretty obvious.

        I think the truth is becoming apparent: we know where this is going, and we just don’t want to be reminded. It is bad manners, just as it is bad manners to dwell on the inevitability of one’s personal demise at a cocktail party. Better to grab another drink and stand around the hors d’oeuvres and talk about the things we might conceivably influence, like the economy. That’s the metamessage of the NYT’s decision.

        I hope I’m wrong and it’s a one-off. But it does seem like a quiet victory for the deniers.

        • Superman1 says:

          My concern is similar to Sherlock Holmes’ in The Hound of the Baskervilles: why was the hound not howling? We have a ‘black’ community who I’m sure is gathering tremendous amounts of data relative to climate change, especially in the Arctic, and, with its banks and banks of supercomputers, must be generating models that provide some approximation of the positive feedback impacts. One would expect them to inform the President of what needs to be done, and in turn the American people would receive some sort of message. There has been absolute silence! Has the ‘black’ community concluded ‘game over’ and, like the Doctor with the Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer patient, decided not to deliver the bad news? We know the situation is at least as bad as that portrayed by the unclassified literature, which even with its feedback-free models, is still pretty horrific. We also know it is worse when positive feedbacks are added, and it could be much worse. I am getting the uneasy feeling the situation is even far worse than anyone has projected, especially seeing these once-’extreme’ events starting to pile up with 0.8 C.

          • Jack Burton says:

            Given the huge sums of money spent by our so called intelligence community, it is a safe bet that CIA has used it’s billions upon billions of dollars of yearly budget outlays to study exactly where the REAL climate situation stands. In fact, I remember some years back a report issued by CIA on climate change. Also, the US military also studied and issued reports on climate change threats. This was some years back and the reports were noted by the media and easily available in PDF form on the internet. For the last five years or more, we have gone into a strange and complete state of silence from the intelligence agencies and the military intelligence units as regards climate change threats to the US national security.
            The Military report from years back was very bleak and predicted major threats to US security as global warming began to affect agriculture and extreme weather began to ravage cities and farms. That type of information release has NOT been repeated for years now.
            My guess is that they monitor the state of climate and know full well the disaster is not a future event, but a present event. Take just the Sandy event, and the Mid West drought for example.
            The US has moved to impose the Patriot Act, which gives a President the exact same power that a man like Stalin had in the USSR. The military is now training units to act inside the USA. Police across the nation have been militarized. In short, the Powers That Be have made preparation for major breakdowns of civil order in the USA. And have built a legal foundation for extra judicial actions on a par with the old USSR. It seems obvious that there is a reason why they have prepared forces strong enough to crush and disorder inside the USA.
            My gut tells me they know, Obama knows, congress knows, the CIA knows and our military knows. Given the unbounded political power of fossil fuel industries and the fundamentalist religious elements inside the US, I find it hard to reconcile how these groups interact with the military and intelligence establishment. One group knows the facts and seems unwilling to let the truth out anymore, the other group is literally mentally ill and can not under any circumstances accept scientific fact.
            The question is “Who is controlling who in the US political and military structures?”

          • Superman1 says:

            Suppose a foreign power were able to perform climate-modification experiments such that the climate in the USA wreaked havoc with agriculture, transportation, etc. Would we not consider this to be an act of overt aggression and respond, as we have done in the past century with far less provocation, with ‘shock and awe’? If these continual climate-modification experiments were projected to destroy the USA civilization by century’s end, would we not respond with the full force of arms and hit them with everything we have? Pray tell, how does that differ, except for intent, from the present situation (neglecting, of course, the fact that we are a participant in this societal destruction)? Doesn’t our Constitution in fact require that we do everything possible to protect national security? What greater national security issue is there than protecting the life of all the USA citizens?

          • wili says:

            Silence has come from other quarters, too.

            In the fall of 2011, a team of scientists rushed up to study events in the Arctic Ocean after reports from ships there mentioned that the seas were “bubbling as if boiling” with methane. There were then some reports of plumes of methane more than a kilometer wide; this after presentations stating that sudden eruptions of 50 billion ton of methane from the region were possible at any time. (For perspective, humans emit about 35 billion tons of CO2 a year–methane has about 105 times the global warming potential of CO2 over decadal time intervals, according to Schindell et al. 2006.)

            But then we have heard essentially nothing from these or other scientists.

            Since these reports, we’ve had the warmest March by far, insane derechos, continually worsening and spreading drought, heatwaves, other extreme storms, and Sandy to top it off. Oh, and earlier this December the hot to cold record ratio skyrocketed to 132 to 1, irrc.

            And that’s just some of what’s happened just here in the US. Britain has has non-stop rain, the Arctic, in McKibben’s words, is broken, and now Australia is hot as Hades.

            It looks to me as if we have made a sudden turn down into the death spiral. Those who know it’s true can’t bring themselves to inform the general public. The rest are blissfully unaware.

            Of course, all this means is that it is worth it more than ever to fight those most responsible for our current plight–the ff monster-corporations and their minions.

          • Superman1 says:

            Jack and Wili make excellent points above. Maybe we have been misled by the common wisdom, and need to re-think the implications of what we are seeing. The gap between 1) the extremely dire predictions of even the conservative feedback-free models for temperatures later in this century and 2) the complete inaction and silence by the Administration is far too large to be attributed to chaotic thinking or ineptitude. I have dealt with the ‘black’ communities who I am sure are monitoring this situation closely, and they are quite precise in analyzing and finding solutions to problems of far less importance. What type of explanation for the above gap would show a coherent plan?

            Suppose the ‘black’ community has predicted ‘game over’. The Administration, in keeping with the tradition of ‘kicking the can down the road’, would not want to inform the American people of this situation, but would rather transfer data gathering and analysis to the ‘black’ world, while decreasing unclassified efforts. This would explain the absolute silence on the part of the Administration on this issue, and the efforts by the deniers in Congress to take funding away from e.g. Arctic monitoring, and climate studies in general. The deniers may, in fact, be key components of the Administration’s effort to conceal the truth from the American public.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Wasn’t the ‘curious incident of the dog in the night’(the dog that did not bark) in Silver Blaze, rather than The Hound?

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Come on Super-we all know the only logical conclusion to be drawn from the mysterious silence of the elites, and all their actions taken to derail action. They want the ecological catastrophe to happen, and are doing everything they can to make it ineluctable.

          • Superman1 says:

            Mulga,

            I find that hard to believe. They and their descendents will go down with it. If it were someone else’s descendents, then I would have no problem believing it, but theirs, uh-uh.

      • Superman1 says:

        You’re correct, I was just trying to be somewhat generous in my assessment. In personal terms, those who are young children today have little probability of reaching old age because of climate change impacts, and for those who reach middle-age, they can expect to spend much of their time struggling for survival. If the feedbacks kick in much earlier as you suggest, then substitute ‘middle-age’ for ‘old age’ in the above, and substitute ‘prime of physical life’ for ‘middle-age’ in the above. Not a great legacy.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Long before 6 degrees C there will be global war, as starving populations flee hither and thither, and thermo-nuclear, biological and chemical weapons will finish the job. It might even avert the very worst effects of ocean acidification, stratification and anoxia if it comes soon enough.

        • Superman1 says:

          If China et al were to unleash chemical weapons against the USA, we would respond with all our power. Why should we treat the unleashing of the most lethal chemical weapon of all, fossil fuels, any differently?

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Super, looking for excuses to attack China are pretty much the worst thing we could do at the moment. We desperately need global co-operation, not conflict.

          • Superman1 says:

            Mulga,

            The point of my comment was not to have war with China. The point is to treat the issue the way we did in 1962 with missiles in Cuba; remove them from all parties.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Yes, a good idea, Super, but China and the other developing countries will not agree to de-industrialisation while they still have massive poor populations. They will not agree when so much of the historical burden of emissions came from the rich world. They will not agree when rich world pledges of aid never materialise. They will not agree when so much of the emissions come from factories producing for rich world consumption, the rich world having outsourced its polluting industries to low wage regimes. The only way forward is global co-operation to share technology and reduce inequality (which is the major factor behind both economic and ecological collapse)within and between countries. The ending of poverty will drive the demographic transition to smaller families and we must then humanely reduce global population, radically reduce consumption, confiscate and redistribute the tens of trillions larcenously acquired by the kleptocrat elite, and spend a few hundred years repairing the damage of the last few centuries. Piece of cake, really.

  3. Larry Gussin says:

    Their spotty environmental coverage is why I don’t subscribe and instead read the Guardian. This paper takes an approach both broad and deep, cataloging articles on six or more sub-topics: climate change, food, green living, energy, transport, etc. Each topics catalogs several sub-topics: under climate change one sees carbon emissions, climate talks, etc. You have access to a range of writers and areas of emphasis: business, policy, human interest, etc.

    To be relevant, let alone the “party of record,” the New York Times should have forcefully adopted this approach instead of the very opposite. Maybe they will reverse course.

    • climatehawk1 says:

      Have to agree, Guardian is the best.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The least worst, I would say.

        • Larry Gussin says:

          I disagree. The Guardian Environmental section provides a rich, organized outlet for dedicated staff journalists and columnists and for bloggers in a partner network.

          The result is a broad, intelligent, searchable voice; see:

          https://twitter.com/guardianeco/guardianeco-journos/members

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            The Guardian as a whole is less edifying. I must agree with you concerning the Environment section, the presence of Monbiot and others, but the continued, occasional presence of the likes of Pearce and Lynas tips the scales back a little, in my opinion. However, the situation is so dire that all responsible news organs ought to make ecological crisis the over-riding subject of their reportage, which none of them do. Hence my ‘least worst’ observation.

  4. Gil Friend says:

    I don’t know if it’s too late to reverse this, but let’s try. Inadequate climate coverage + the President’s relative silence on the issue + 4 years of not a single scientist on the Sunday morning news & public affairs shows…Do these people really think physics goes away if you put a bag over your head, clamp your hands over your ears and sing lalalalal?

    Petition campaign, anyone? Flood NYT with letters to the editor?

    • Good thinking, Gil.

      I don’t have time to pursue this, because I’m busy writing my own book on climate change solutions. But there is an online petition website where you come up with a cause and submit it. They send emails to their readers, and if a critical mass or people sign the petition, they send it on to whoever it is aimed at. (It’s all free.) Their petitions have had some effect on various Congressional votes, etc. (I wish I could remember the name of the site right now, but if you google around, I’m sure you can find it. There is also Moveon.org, if you can get them behind you.)

      Give it a shot!

    • Artful Dodger says:

      The NY Times HAS been flooded… flooded with advertising revenue from Big Oil. No other explanation is necessary.

  5. Joan Savage says:

    Unless new categories emerge at the Times, the loss of the Environment desk leaves “Space & Cosmos” by itself under Science.

    With their present classification of news, other breakthrough science has to fit under either Health or Technology.

    Does that leave out anything else to do with planet Earth unless it can be viewed as World or Business?

    A classification system is the biggest defacto editorial of them all.

  6. Lisa Wright says:

    Well, it seems the future of journalism lies in “credible news” bought for a price:

    http://www.digiday.com/publishers/forbes-sees-hope-in-sponsor-content/

    “The basic idea is more of an organic system of marketing content,” Levien said. “And it’s presented in a credible news environment where the user is looking for that content.”

    Forbes sells BrandVoice in two ways. The first is selling the right to use the platform based on significant spend around sponsorship, with buy-in starting at $1 million, where marketers buy across print, digital or integrated programs. The second option, for the marketer who may not have a campaign in digital or print, is a monthly fee, with a minimum of six months.”

    • Do you really think that anyone will be able to match the “buy in” funds available to the fossil fuel industry? I would be more attuned to having some 10K of us let @AliVelshi know that he needs to cover the fiscal implications of doing nothing. How much sill it cost us later? How much cheaper will it be to do mitigation now rather than adaptation later?

      • Lisa Wright says:

        My point exactly. The future of journalism and academia for that matter, are at risk of being co-opted by the highest bidder. It’s already happening, and most folks don’t even know it. It’s not just buying commercial time or ad space, it’s buying the mechanism by which information is disseminated. Said better than I can say it here:

        “Does journalism still need a separation of church and state?”

        http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/10/20/crikey-says-111/

        ” If you do not maintain a scrupulous division between the commercial and the journalistic, then readers are entitled to imagine that everything they read carries the taint of cash-driven comment and reporting … that they may simply be reading what someone has paid someone else to write.”

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Journalism and academia were co-opted long, long, ago, totally (well, overwhelmingly) and irrevocably (under the current economic system).

  7. Mark A. York says:

    Really bad sign. It will help to stuff the facts of global warming and its myriad of consequences. Read about how bad it can get in Warm Front, an eco-thriller. The science is real.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIZ3L4E

  8. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    How to deal with tsunami: Cover eyes so you cannot see it, use ear plugs so you cannot hear it. Problem solved, no need to run at all.

  9. dick smith says:

    Some good media news.

    Today, Madison’s Wisconsin State Journal, our only daily paper, announced that “lower carbon emissions” is one one six items on their 2013 editorial agenda. They are the “conservative” paper in town. IMO, significant credit goes to a year-long effort by many members of Citizens Climate Lobby, including a meeting with Journal’s full editorial board a week before their decision.

    Here’s their statement.

    “Lower carbon emissions.

    Wisconsin and the nation just experienced the warmest year on record. Chronic droughts over time would spell disaster for our farmers and economy. The State Journal editorial board called for a spirited response to global warming six years ago. We’ll continue to tout clean energy, efficiency and research. The issue only has become more pressing, with scientists warning more action is needed now to reduce greenhouse gasses from smokestacks, tailpipes and other sources. The United States reduced its carbon dioxide emissions to a 20-year low last year, largely because of greater reliance on cleaner burning natural gas. That should continue. But broader solutions are needed that benefit the environment and economy.”

    Pasted from

  10. David Lewis says:

    Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” seems to describe the situation:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows that the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
    That’s how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied
    Everybody got this broken feeling
    Like their father or their dog just died

    Everybody talking to their pockets
    Everybody wants a box of chocolates
    And a long stem rose
    Everybody knows

    When I presented the evidence for climate change in the late 1980s and early 1990s in various political forums in Canada, I sometimes read this quote.

    What “everybody knows” isn’t “news”.

    • Catch22 says:

      On a slightly more positive note, here is a passage from the Leonard Cohen song, “Democracy”, that contains one of the most concise descriptions of America I have seen:

      It’s coming to America first,
      the cradle of the best and of the worst.
      It’s here they got the range
      and the machinery for change
      and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.

      Let’s hope the best can overcome the worst.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        It ought to read ‘some of the best and some of the worst’, because ‘American exceptionalism’ pisses non-Americans off, not a little.

  11. David F. says:

    Here’s a disappointing article that fails to make the connection with global warming… http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/13/us/great-lakes-low-water/index.html. The alleged government expert claims there’s not enough data to connect the low lake levels to global warming, instead claiming it might be a cycle (a common denier refrain). I may not be an expert, but I know the falling lake levels are precisely what the models have been projecting for the Great Lakes.

  12. squidboy6 says:

    The NYT Public editor failed to publish comments which basically accused them of ignoring environmental problems but without rancor and without bad mouthing them. I am unsure of what to think but the NYT did go right along with a lot of poorly researched and biased reporting about the Iraq War lead up so I can only assume the worst.

  13. Catch22 says:

    Sounds like time to OccupyNYTimes.

    When a major media organization with an apparently progressive and rational point of view begins to show signs of propagandizing such an important issue, it is a very bad sign. It seems to me that there are some fairly evil people who have gained control of the levers of power in our society. They are not rational. They are not enlightened. They are primarily interested in preserving their own power. They may have convinced themselves that by acting in their own self-interest they are acting in the best interests of society. But they are wrong. And their delusions will seal the fate of our grandchildren.

    • Artful Dodger says:

      ‘grandchildren’? No, they hate your children. And they’re not too fond of you, either.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The hatred is of everything ‘other’ to themselves, including one another and, often, themselves. The hate grows out of fear, which is pretty inescapable, particularly in a species with brains still largely programmed to avoid being eaten by lions or hyenas on the savannah.

  14. BBHY says:

    I have long ago accepted that the best news coverage is only available from The Onion, The Cartoon Channel, and Comedy Central.

    Traditional news outlets long ago became simply corporate propaganda outlets.

    • Superman1 says:

      Given their long-term reliance on advertising revenues, were they really ever different?

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Never, as Chomsky and Herman showed in ‘Manufacturing Consent’. A propaganda system dedicated to furthering the wealth and power of its owners.

  15. Noel Kendall says:

    Individually, we can each take action. I’ve switched to an entirely bicycle-centric lifestyle. It’s possible to do, even in Canadian winter.

    While its a pity that NYT is going this way, we can offset the impact by taking individual action. I am sharing as much know-how as I can to help others reduce their carbon emissions.

  16. Time to boycott the NYT and its tiered online subscription. I can get my news from elsewhere, actually have been for quite some time now.

  17. Andy says:

    Despite many of the quasi anarchist posts I’ve read here the NYT happens to do the news better than quite a few of its contemporaries. More balance, journalistic ethics and resources devoted to investigation. The NYT is a business and I want it to survive in its ecosystem and for that I support it with my subscription.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The greatest impediment to saving humanity is the brainwashing of the masses into believing that capitalism is the only system permissible for organising societies and economies. It is, in fact, radically anti-human and mass destructive, as we are learning right now.

  18. Andy says:

    Whether they pay for a subscription or simply lend their eyeballs to the page, readers of any online news organisation vote with their wallets.

    If you pay for your subscription you have a chance of being heard.

    If you read the NYT without subcribing you implicitely support the editorial influence of advertisers, whether you write a letter to the editor or not.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The sentence ‘If you pay for your subscription you have a chance of being heard’, must, if you forgive me saying so, must be the most profound self-delusion that I’ve seen in a long, long, time.

  19. Teeara says:

    Thank you very much

  20. Michelle M says:

    A baby plays hide and seek by closing its eyes. When it closes its eyes, it believes you have disappeared. The same kind of infantile logic is at work here.