Monday, October 26, 2009

Why We Don't Trust The News

If you like your "news without a perspective" (hint hint jab jab) then this should tickle your funny bone. The other day, the group promoted climate change protests around the world and these protests were, of course, much talked about in virtually every news source available (contrary to the claims of The Nation, which tried to claim they were the only ones giving the subject any play - sound familiar?). In fact, for a couple days, it was more than a little difficult to get away from news sources falling over themselves to see who could praise this group the highest. So much for news without a perspective.
That's not my point here, though, but it does play into it. I have two quotes from two different news sources, both making the same basic claims. I want you to pay attention here and see if you can play Spot What's Wrong With This Picture.
The Nation quoted founder Bill McKibben: "Glaciers and sea ice are melting, drought is spreading, and flooding is on the increase because our planet has reached a proven unsafe level of CO2 emissions," while The Christian Science Monitor quoted Rose Braz of the Center for Biological Diversity: “The Arctic is already melting, sea level is already rising, and polar bears are already dying.”
Isn't that cute? They both said the same thing, though Ms. Braz apparently forgot to mention those pesky droughts and floods. (How exactly do you have increased flooding and increased droughts at the same time with the same cause?) They wouldn't be parroting talking points, would they? Of course not. Liberals hate it when you parrot talking points, don't they?
Both of these "independent thinkers", however, get points removed for making the highlights of their respective speeches items that are patently and demonstrably false. That polar bear story was debunked the day after it came out (out of approximately 20 distinct polar bear communities, the "researchers" only counted 2 and claimed that this was representative of the whole). There has been zero documentation of increased flooding or droughts attributable to climate change anywhere in the world (the computer models predict these increases but that is not the same thing as claiming they are already happening). There has been zero documented increase in the rate of sea level rise (the global sea level has been rising for thousands of years - computer models predict that it will rise faster but, again, this is not the same thing as showing that it is already happening). In short, the only part of these two remarkably similar speeches that actually relates to the real world is melting arctic sea ice and even that is a case of it's melting over here but not over there.
To put it bluntly, both of these people made major claims that are not currently supported by evidence or facts. Yet neither news source so much as mentioned that these claims were controversial. They printed them as fact and didn't offer even a hint of corroboration or fact checking. But these are real news sources, right?
While doing some research for this one, I came across an interesting little factoid that should make you scratch your head. Those people who are talking about sea level increases state that, when the glaciers were melting at the end of the last ice age, the sea level increase rate was approximately one meter per century. According to their predictions, they expect this same sea level increase rate as a result of global warming. Keep in mind that, during the ice age, Manhattan was under one of those glaciers and try to figure out how melting ice sheets less than a tenth the size they were then are going to cause the same sea level increases they caused then.

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