Media

A Fair and Balanced Look at Climate Change?

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 09, 2007

I was feeling pretty irritable yesterday after reading an opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator on climate change.

The article is so fuzzily argued it doesn't even qualify as sophistry, since I don't think it could possibly mislead anyone. It's the kind of article that newspapers publish when they follow the logic of Fox News' "fair and balanced" mantra: for every convincing argument, attempt to find its logical opposite and give it publicity to avoid claims of bias.

In this case, the convincing argument is the monumental evidence of climate change. Its logical opposite - which is also the opposite of logic - is that nothing's really changing at all, it's just a spot of bad weather:

What is the dreaded "climate change" anyway? Well, I think there is a better, simpler word for it. It's called weather and it happens all the time. This is a living planet and as such is constantly changing. For it to stop changing would mean the planet was dead for heaven's sake.

But it was this gem that really got me wondering what the Spectator's editors were thinking when they decided to run the piece:

Why shouldn't we eliminate carbon dioxide? Isn't it poisoning our world? Well, what do you think plants breathe in? Carbon dioxide. And what do they breathe out? Oxygen. We consume the oxygen that comes from plant life. If the plants are deprived of what they need, what will happen to them? They will suffer and ultimately die, of course. And what happens then? We're next. And so is every other creature on this Earth.

That bit was going to be the focus of this blog post. But someone else beat me to it. A letter to the editor published today makes short work of this argument:

The writer implies that reducing CO2 emissions will deprive plants of what they need to survive. How did plants survive for the millions of years before humans started to artificially produce CO2? What a desperately flawed ecosystem it must have been before we came along.

So perhaps I owe some gratitude to the editors at the Spec. After all, if they hadn't published Langdon's original, it would never have been so savagely rebutted just one day later.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2007 at 12:25:30

Looks like a ridiculous article. But it's not entirely surprising. With all the 'one-sided' press climate change is getting, it's to be expected that some of the more weak willed media outlets will subject their readers to this 'balanced reporting'

I was in England recently, where climate change appears to have been much higher on the agenda for longer, than it is over here. But I noticed that even there the backlash is starting. Or at least trying to start.

I read a 2 page spread about how much the Labour government's environmental policy was going to cost. And an opinion piece explaining that this was all quite unnecessary. But, despite this, I didn't detect any flagging enthusiasm from the people about the governments policies.

I think that people accept there will be a cost to these policies, and they know that these policies are the right thing to do. If only we had a government (and a media) that had the will to see these changes through, instead of second guessing what is now widely accepted as fact.

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted May 10, 2007 at 10:32:28

Amazing that the original editorial seems to refute the very idea climate change, dismissing it as 'weather'. Most people by now have accepted climate change as a reality, and tend to disagree only as to the root causes. Margaret Wente in the Globe is another opinion writer who goes to great lengths to justify her SUV.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2007 at 11:41:38

Heh heh, Margaret Wente's track record for being on the right side of big issues isn't exactly stellar. Her uncritical, fawning support for the US invasion of Iraq - and her vicious attacks on anyone who disagreed - should go down as one of the great moral failures of the Canadian media establishment.

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By farmer6re9 (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2007 at 19:20:08

The writer does make a good point:

"In my humble opinion, our resources would be far better spent on finding ways to clean up the chemicals that truly are the threat to our very existence and on finding ways of creating products that can be easily and totally recycled."

This morning was trash day in my neighborhood. We placed our three bag limit and three full blue bins. Our immediate next door neighbors placed out one and three blue bins respectively, totalling seven bins for three homes. Of those seven bins only two of my three were collected and none of my neighbors were picked up.

What is a citizen to do? I'll tell you what, I ran outside with another trash bag and dumped my rejected blue bin into it. I don't know how my neighbors are going to deal with rejection but I'm pretty much fed up with the whole shebang.

I admire men like Gore and Suzuki for doing what they do, but at the same time I know they're paid handsomely for it. My family and my neighbors pay for doing their part, is an OOPS at the curb on collection day. I'm not at all surprised why so many don't give a hoot and that some have the guts to say what a farce it has become.

Seriously, do any of you really think we're gonna avoid a meltdown? Let's see how well we keep our cool THIS summer...

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