NPR Airs Story On Melting Glaciers Without Explaining Why They Are Melting

NPR aired a story Wednesday about a “plant in the Canadian Arctic that started growing again after being buried under a glacier for 400 years.”

NPR explains why the research team led by Catherine La Farge found this ancient bryophite at all:

She and her colleagues had been looking at what the Teardrop Glacier was leaving behind as it receded. And it recent years it’s been receding rather rapidly.

Rapidly receding glacier?  Apparently, for NPR, the only newsworthy part of that is they found some old moss. If only that bryophyte could be turned into biofuels….

The story ends:

As more glaciers recede around the world, La Farge says we are likely to see more bryophytes appearing and starting to grow again.

Yes, again, the big news about receding glaciers is that they might unleash more bryophytes!

The story never mentions carbon pollution or even global warming. Neither does the NPR’s blog post on the story, which has an even better ending: “In fact, as glaciers around the world continue to recede, we may be hearing a lot more about bryophytes.”

But apparently we won’t be hearing more about why more glaciers are receding or speeding up — or what it all really means for humanity, like say, that whole sea level rise thing (see “JPL bombshell: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050″).

Related Post:

  • NPR (2/13): Remember That Whole Global Warming Problem People Once Worried About?

31 Responses to NPR Airs Story On Melting Glaciers Without Explaining Why They Are Melting

  1. Most Climate Hawks bristle when they even hear the name of Frank Lunntz. After all, Luntz was the pollster, political adviser who defined the current Republican Party practice regarding Global Warming, including switching to the Climate Change meme. But it might be worthwhile to pay attention to his overall view of politics. Based on his company’s long history of polling, and particularly their use of focus groups, he was able to write about “Words that Work.”

    In that book, Luntz says that Americans want their candidates to be “genuine” and that their message must be “aspirational.” When I look at the messages surrounding global warming, including those of McKibben and Romm, they are almost exclusively negative. They tell us the truth that bad things will happen if we don’t change, a message that most Americans don’t want to hear.

    Is there not a way to define a positive future and then map the path that will get us there? I am waiting for the politician that does that.

  2. vjh says:

    Even worse is the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) take on it. Apparently it will help us terraform Mars:

    Plants that managed to re-grow after centuries buried under Arctic glaciers could prove useful for would-be pioneers hoping to explore life on other planets, research from a team of Canadian scientists has found.

    The results of the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest the land plants that form the foundations of many ecosystems are surprisingly resilient and may be a useful tool for the people who have already announced plans to set up a human colony on Mars, researchers said.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Companies like Koch Industries and Chevron are clever. They throw money at NPR, PBS, and the New York Times, and get the result they want. They don’t even have to show up in the producers and editors’ offices, since integrity disappeared from there a long time ago. Self censorship and pleasing the bosses becomes second nature.

  4. Joe Romm says:

    Wesley, first off there are plenty of aspirational messages here, but my guess is your eyes glaze right over them. Related, Luntz was talking about communicating with the general public, which isn’t the audience of this blog.

  5. Martin Voelker says:

    Just went over to that NPR blog to comment, alas this massive oversight appeared to have bothered only one other poster. People, if you want to have some impact, go post. Comments matter – but they matter less here where you’ll be talking to the choir.
    Make yourself heard.

  6. SecularAnimist says:

    Wesley Rolley wrote: “When I look at the messages surrounding global warming, including those of McKibben and Romm, they are almost exclusively negative.”

    Meanwhile, frequent commenter Superman1 reads the same articles by Joe Romm that you find to be “almost exclusively negative” and denounces them as nothing but happy talk from and for “the amen corner”, and accuses Romm of refusing to be truthful about the seriousness of the problem, and insists that what the public needs to hear is MORE “negativity”, hopelessness, despair and defeatism.

    It just goes to show you can’t please everyone.

    Personally, I think that Joe strikes just the right balance between (1) making the seriousness of the problem VERY clear and (2) realistically presenting the solutions that we have at hand NOW, if we choose to implement them.

    As for NPR, I gave up on them last year when they began thanking the American Petroleum Institute’s “Vote 4 Energy” campaign — a partisan Republican pro-fossil fuel propaganda campaign — for its sponsorship of Morning Edition.

  7. I agree about this blog… note, I concluded my comment by saying that I am “waiting for the POLITICIAN…”

    Actually, I think a lot of people are looking for a challenge such as Luntz wrote for Harold Ford’s keynote speech at 2000 Dem. Convention. He asked people to “imagine” a better future and then to start the work to achieve it.

  8. Sasparilla says:

    It would seem so Mike…very disappointing.

    While I was expecting what we’ve seen with things the Koch’s actively had their financial fingers in all along (like PBS’s Nova science show that ignores climate change for the most part) – I’ve been very disappointed with what we’ve seen with NPR in particular…this story is a disgrace on their news operation.

  9. Dave Yuhas says:

    Keep the Koch brothers happy.

  10. Xenophon says:

    You miss the point that there was no glacier covering the plant prior to the peak of the LIA 400 years ago.

    Why was that?

  11. Superman1 says:

    I liked Kennedy’s approach: …’ask what you can do for your country’. We need a 21st century Kennedy who will stand up and issue the challenge: ‘ask what you can do to save the biosphere; whatever it takes; no sacrifice too great; everything on the table; no strings attached’.

  12. papertiger says:

    You mean to say you believe the Koch Brothers own the National Academy of Sciences? This was published in PNAS, not NPR.
    Or maybe you think they bought the Canadian biologist?
    Let’s say they did. Let’s say they bought both of those things.

    Now tell me how on Eaarth could they buy a plant, four hundred years dead and buried, then will it back to life?

    Is one of the Koch Bro’s named Lazarus?

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The fight against climate destabilisation and ecological collapse is a fight against the global Right. All the denialist forces, all the powers pushing environmental destruction and violent hatred of environmentalism, are of the Right. This is essentially a battle for the soul of humanity, between the spiritually dead zombies who worship wealth, power and gain at the expense of others, and those human beings who wish to live at peace and in harmony with life on this planet, and their fellow human beings in particular. So, if it was approached honestly and candidly, as a struggle between good and evil in the human soul, which it undoubtedly is, it becomes the most inspiring message possible. The great problem however is that the good fraction of humanity are frightened to admit that the enemy are, indeed, evil, because they think that too harsh a judgment, too likely to incite even more violent resistance from the Right and being inimical to the idea of human redemption-they’d rather hope to reason with the zomboids than confront them. Unfortunately, the alternative to disempowering the Right and reversing the ill-effects of their dominance is certain human catastrophe, within decades.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The CBC seems to have been ‘Harperised’, ie its soul and its integrity have been surgically removed, to be replaced by Rightwing Groupthink, Newspeak and really existing, Rightwing, political correctness. We suffered the same process at the Government owned ABC, under John Howard, a bald Harper, and more is promised under Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott (a ‘lean and hungry’ Harper). The Right no longer (if it ever really did) tolerates any opposing opinion, even that of science, the supposed jewel of their ‘Enlightenment Values’.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Capitalism, and plutocratic rule, which flows inevitably from making money the sole parameter for judging worth, morality, truth and decency, makes the likes of the Kochs the totalitarian arbiters of everything. The repression of opposing opinion, in this case the truth of science, is growing more pronounced by the day. In the face of the unfolding collapse the rulers will move quickly to some sort of open totalitarianism and overt coercion, with the object of protecting their power and existence, while the rabble will be set against each other, with the type exemplified by denialist trolls, NRA fanatics, ‘preppers’ or racist mobs marching in the UK and elsewhere being swiftly turned into stormtroopers in the type of response the bosses used in Germany and Italy in the 1920s. Needless to say, the process will not end quietly in a fascist dictatorship, but in violent, horrific, anarchy.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Look up the answer, then try, if your brain can grasp it, to understand why that is irrelevant to today’s climatic regime. I doubt that you are up to that task.

  17. GreenCaboose says:

    NPR = Nice Polite Republicans. Reagan and the first Bush administration began populating the NPR leadership with their kind of people, Clinton didn’t bother fixing it, and the Cheney administration converted NPR to a propoganda agency that pushes Republican views in a manner packaged for a left-leaning audience.

    Obama, as is par for the course, has taken a middle road and done nothing.

  18. Dave S. Nottear says:

    NPR is just as much a part of the illness as all of the rest of the media.

    The CEO of Exxtinctionon, British climate scientist, Myles Allen, the Media…

    Homo sapien sapien, the Great Industrial Naked Ape got caught in it’s own “The Giant, Vulgar,Ultimate Monkey Trap.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s the same in Australia. John Howard, in my opinion, our very worst PM, ever, by some distance, stacked the ABC Board with Rightwingers (often Murdoch employees) and the apparatchiki happily accommodated. In came Rudd (The Howard with Hair) in 2007, and, as in most policy, he left the Howardisation untouched. Today the ABC repays that gutlessness by being as ferociously anti-Labor as the rest of the local Rightwing hate MSM.

  20. Superman1 says:

    The messages are negative because the reality of climate change is negative. The climate is deteriorating rapidly before our eyes, and the reporting here reflects that. Sugar-coating these messages to make the renewables investors and their robots happy will do nothing to help solve the problem.

  21. Superman1 says:

    I was, and continue to be, inspired by Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address: …’ask what you can do for your country’. That spirit of altruism and self-sacrifice is, for the most part, absent from these pages. Any suggestion of tightening the fossil belt to save the biosphere is met with cries of ‘draconian sacrifice’. The Pied Pipers of pomposity and pontification would have us believe no sacrifice is required, and we can continue our profligate lifestyle as we convert to renewables.

  22. Superman1 says:

    We need to appeal to our higher natures! ‘Ask what you can do to save the biosphere: ‘whatever it takes; no sacrifice too great; everything on the table; no strings attached’.

  23. Superman1 says:

    “realistically presenting the solutions that we have at hand NOW”. Unfortunately, you have never identified these so-called solutions; all we see are arm-waving proposals with no indication that they will avoid the climate cliff. That is not a ‘solution’; that’s a brochure whose only purpose is to increase the assets of the renewables investors.

  24. Superman1 says:

    Show some details of these supposedly-existing ‘solutions’. In particular, show how they will stay within the temperature ceiling constraint during the transition period. Without such demonstration, you offer nothing of substance.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    No-they are Beelzebub and Belial, if memory serves.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    -and shoot an endangered animal.

  27. mulp says:

    As a loyal NPR listen, I and I’m guessing 90% of other NPR listeners, know that:
    – burning fossil fuels is warming the climate
    – the warming climate is melting glaciers
    – Glacier National Park will soon have no glaciers
    – Glaciers are made of snow, and the snow buries living stuff
    – When the snow melts, buried stuff starts growing again

    Given common knowledge, I found the story interesting because
    – living stuff buried in snow tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago are still able to restart growing
    – we now have a snapshot in labs of what lived long ago to study and compare to existing plant life

    I note also a report of finding liquid blood from a mammoth buried in snow as well.

    To explain that AGW is happening is like explaining that the earth’s axial tilt is the reason the snow has melted and the temperature is getting warmer during every weather forecast.

    Why don’t you attack Fox instead? Did Fox even report the news? It does deny the 6000 year old earth from the Bible segment of Fox’s loyal fan base, so that would be one reason to suppress the news. The other is the general rejection of science by Fox viewers.

    But more important, how could Fox be “fair and balanced” when reporting science without having 3 conservatives offer contrary positions to the 1 liberal scientist reporting the lab results? They would need to turn it into some Obama-Holder conspiracy, and that would be so convoluted it goes over the heads of viewers.

  28. Superman1 says:

    Dave, it’s the old chicken-and-egg question. Do we have a sick electorate because of sick media and sick corporate entities and sick politicians, or does a sick electorate engender sick politicians, media, and economic entities? I think they go hand-in-hand, and that’s why our efforts to concentrate on any one at the expense of any other(s) have led, are leading, and will lead to failure!

  29. Dave S. Nottear says:

    “they go hand-in-hand”

    Yes, it looks like they reinforced each other and co-evolved into this illness we call our culture.

    That brings to mind the Greatest Quote Ever, by Theodosius Dobzhansky:

    “Nothing in (life) makes sense except in the light of evolution”

    The Psychological and Evolutionary Roots of Resource Overconsumption Revisited


    “that’s why our efforts … have led, are leading, and will lead to failure”

    That brings the following to mind:

    “We’re at the level of infants in moral responsibility, but with the technological capability of adults,”

    “There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.

    “It’s not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub.”

  30. Joe Romm says:

    If only. We debunk Fox regularly, but to paraphrase you, saying Fox pushes lies is like explaining that the earth’s axial tilt is the reason the snow has melted and the temperature is getting warmer during every weather forecast.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It would be censorship. Every MSM site I visit simply censors my comments, these days all of them at the ABC for example. I’ve seen plenty of other whinges about similar treatment from other, non-Rightist, commenters. The MSM is entirely run these days by Rightwing ideologues, and they furiously hate and resent non-Rightwing opinion and thought. Just look at the moronic inferno The Guardian’s CiF site has become.