Washington Post fails in coverage of climate change

The percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has dipped from 80 to 72 percent in the past year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, even as a majority still support a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions. — via Fewer Americans believe in global warming, poll shows – washingtonpost.com.

That’s the first sentence of a report today from the Washington Post that perfectly illustrates why climate change is seen as a political issue, not a scientific one.  It’s also a terrifying thing to read, and one would hope that a Serious newspaper would attempt to set the record straight on the coming WeatherPocalypse.  Ha!  Let’s take a look at some lazy, lazy journalism.

Juliet Eilperin, who wrote the story, provides no facts about climate change, and presents the opinions of people who are completely uninformed about the issue as though they matter, which they don’t.  She could have informed her readers of a recent statement released by 18 scientific associations that:

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” [via]

Instead, she quotes two–count ’em, TWO–idiots whose opinions could not be less important.

Amanda Feinberg, a retired administrative assistant living in South Williamsport, Pa., said she became disenchanted with the idea of human-caused global warming when former vice president Al Gore launched a public awareness campaign with his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“He just seemed a little radical in his views,” said Feinberg, a Republican. “I don’t deny it’s happening, I just think it’s just an evolution of nature.”

Who gives a shit?  I don’t.  I don’t give one shit what Mandy thinks about Al Gore.  I don’t care if she likes The Great Gatsby, or if she understands Calculus.  None of those things are news.  Maybe the guy sitting next to me thinks we should go back to the Gold standard.  Is he an economist?  Nah, he’s just some guy.  Print that shit WaPo!

Lisa Woolcott, another Republican poll respondent, said she doesn’t think that burning fossil fuels is “causing all the global warming…”

Again–don’t give a shit.  Here’s the thing about science.  It’s not a game of opinions.  You could poll Americans and ask them if a brick falls faster than a nail.  If 70% of believe believed that it did that doesn’t make it true, and it would make good legislation to write a “Bricks fall faster than nails” bill to please your moron constituents.

Concerning some, if not most, issues, public opinion should should be taken very seriously and given the proper weight.  There are some issues however–eg, concerning science or civil liberties–when it is the job of the government to protect the masses against their darker (or stupider) natures.  Again, if 70% of people think that employers should be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation, that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.  The same goes for climate change, which is already having noticeable effects in Australia and other regions.

The strategy of energy corporations who fund climate change skeptics was never to prove the established science wrong.  Their goal was to sow doubt among people that there is in fact a scientific consensus–which there is.  That doubt has taken a strong hold in our anti-intellectual society, and reports like today’s from the Post just go to further that lie by reinforcing the myth that the jury is still out on climate change.  It is not.

And for anybody who read Eilperin’s article and says I’m missing the point, she was just writing about public opinion and therefore she’s right to quote public idiots, well… Ok.  I guess.  If that’s an acceptable answer for you, fine.  If you’re happy reading about polls based on ignorance and fear then have at it.  But if you think that the goal of a newspaper should be to inform their readers about anything other than the latest horse race then you have to accept that today’s offering from the Post is an abomination.

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5 Responses to Washington Post fails in coverage of climate change

  1. Mr. Knefel,

    You are quite correct that science is not egalitarian in nature in regards to opinions, some are just much more equal than others. The theory of global warming was first advanced nearly 12 decades ago by the scientific giant Svante Ahrranius. Not everyone can read and understand “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground”
    (Philosophical Magazine 41, 237-276 1896) and far fewer still who could produce it.

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/1/18/Arrhenius.pdf

    However in matters of public policy, and more importantly, in legislative action, all opinions matter. If one wants the laws passed and public monies spent on a particular policy – well – even the opinion of that guy sitting next to you can matter.

  2. fleetlee says:

    I think you make a great point- every time they report on science with a public opinion poll ask the question about bricks falling faster than nails. Public opinion does not belong in the realm of science, only facts and observations that can be proven true or false.

  3. Pingback: John Knefel - Making a Mockery – WSJ Op-Ed shows how bad journalism sows doubts about climate change - True/Slant

  4. Pingback: Surprise! Morons who hate Darwin also hate Al Gore - John Knefel - Making a Mockery - True/Slant

  5. Pingback: Lindsey Graham kinda, sorta believes in Climate Change, if you do, he guesses - John Knefel - Making a Mockery - True/Slant

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