National Post continues war on climate science

Peter
Peter Jackson
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Well, Mr. Obama sure has egg on his face.

The U.S. president announced funds for drought-stricken California last week. Eager not to lose an opportunity to blame man-made climate change, he threw a little I-told-you-so in for good measure.

The severe dry spell, he suggested, is a sign of what to expect across the country as global warming takes hold.

Not so fast, say climate experts.

It turns out the phenomenon in California is not unprecedented. There have been similar severe droughts in the past, with little to suggest global warming has played any major role.

In fact, a New York Times article notes that scientists predict many regions, including California, are expected to get wetter rather than  drier.

What’s more interesting about this story is not so much what it reports, but where it was published. It was reprinted this week in Canada’s National Post.

The Post, for dubious reasons, has taken a clear editorial stance on climate change. It has decided to ignore coverage of the phenomenon other than to take periodic potshots against the science and scientists. Those are left to the terminally biased pens of career denialists such as Lorne Gunter and, as of late, Rex Murphy.

Actually, there’s no real mystery. The Post is unabashedly in bed with Big Oil. Murphy has been pumping up oil-friendly audiences at speeches in Alberta. He’s on a mission to polish the image of the oil sands — in print, in person, any way he can.

Add to this the curious relationship that’s bloomed between Postmedia News and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and you have a good sense of what’s going on.

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Observer and others reported on a Prezi presentation called “Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Postmedia 2013 Energy Channel Sponsorship.” The collaboration, says the Observer, surfaced on Twitter the same day that Postmedia downsized its parliamentary bureau in Ottawa and laid off prominent environmental journalist Mike De Souza, among others.

According to the Postmedia presentation, newspapers would work in partnership with CAPP to put the spotlight on Canada’s oil industry. Where objective reporting fits into that scenario is hard to say.

Back to Obama, The Post no doubt picked the New York Times piece because it appeared to downplay global warming and embarrass the president at the same time.

Perhaps they missed this little gem further down in the story:

“What may be different about this drought is that, whatever the cause, the effects appear to have been made worse by climatic warming. And in making that case last week, scientists said, the (Obama) administration was on solid ground.”

What most denialists seem to miss is that there is no cabal among climate scientists to stay on message no matter what the evidence. The science evolves and shifts according to the evidence that arises.

Britain is being walloped

by unprecedented floods at the moment. It’s tempting to attribute it to climate change, but the actual cause is likely quite different.

The Guardian’s science reporter, George Monbiot, points the finger of blame at unchecked farming practices. Travelling along the Thames river, he witnessed mile after mile of fields razed flat for farming, some stretching all the way to the water’s edge.

“Muddy water sluiced down the roads. A few score miles downstream it will reappear in people’s living rooms. You can see the same thing happening across the Thames watershed: 184 miles of idiocy, perfectly calibrated to cause disaster.”

The message? It’s OK to be skeptical. Scientific inquiry depends on it. Events that don’t fit the big picture have to be counted and incorporated. But denial is not skepticism. It is blind adherence to a pre-determined idea. The big picture is ignored; only the wrinkles get attention.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email: pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: National Post, New York Times, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Postmedia News Vancouver Observer Association of Petroleum Producers Postmedia

Geographic location: California, U.S., Canada Alberta Ottawa Britain Thames river Thames

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  • Cashin Delaney
    February 20, 2014 - 00:32

    The problems in England with flooding seem to be a much larger, ongoing version of the problems in Badger, or Fortune. Climate change has become the scapegoat for everything from poor dam custodianship to damn poor town council unable to get a backhoe; [http://atlanticadaptation.ca/sites/discoveryspace.upei.ca.acasa/files/DEC_Environment_Binder_Chapter1_0.pdf] "Many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador have been built in flood sensitive areas along the coastline or near rivers and streams, and as a result, have had to cope with flooding. Floods are one of the most common natural hazards in the province and often the most costly. Due to climate change, the *occurance* of extreme precipitation events that result in flooding is expected to increase." Does spelling all the words correctly {occurance/ occurrence is something an uneducated defender of their homeland from fracking-spin would be chastised for on open line; I don’t mind reflecting back at pretenders to science, and absolvers of gov’t) in the first paragraph matter? Is there any augmentation of argument via grammar-bolstered-credibility? Not for me, but I don’t mind highlighting mistakes as VOCM do publically mock some mother with spelling mistakes on a protest sign. Climate changes over time and we are on a much more galactic trip than most realize. All students of Grade 4, by now, know that the Earth “revolves” around the Sun, but what is the Sun doing whilst this is happening? Revolving around something else, which is revolving, revolving until us dizzy denizens pick a center reference. We are cork-screwing through space, in one manner of conception. Change is the only constant of our lives on planet Earth. The only static processes are the ones made firmly ideal and Platonic by our mental conceptualizing. Everything is in a flow state, even the deepest rock. Everything contains life, even miles down inside rocks, and as far down as we can test. I still have not been able to reconcile the logic of us building MF to save CO2 emissions at the expense of fish, Lake Melville, etc, and no one has challenged me successfully, only successfully ignored my questions, or reframed the debate to jobs, emissions targets etc. Yes, global cooling and warming are real. Climate change is real. We have too much gasoline emissions being pumped out. Yes. My main contention is that since the Earth Summit of 1992 in Brazil we have seen the ramping up of a type of green ponzi scheme that uses climate change fear-mongering to manipulate peoples lives toward dealing with pollution emissions (dirty chemicals) indirectly through CO2 (within our exhalations) control. I could make the joke that in the future, inhaling is free, but exhaling will cost you. Actually, I like to make a lot of jokes about global warming, because it has reduced even the likes of Gwynne Dyer (who at least somewhat admitted it in his two-piece treatment of volcanoes and ‘greenhouse emissions’ (OK, lets ban greenhouses!’)) and the venerable Rex Murphy to blathering, unknowledgable idiots. Forgive me if I lean a bit more toward the Richard S. Lindzen explanation of the alleged scientific consensus of global warming rhetoric, as opposed to Al Gore and Robert Redford, and their army of passionate believers, OR Murphy and other Big Oil patsies, all trying to feather a nest. Like most things in (North?) America, you are either with it, or against it. So, look at what we have manufactured with this bipolar mentality. Defenders of indigenous cultures and their river-sustained lifestyle are branded supporters of BIG OIL if they stand in the way of hydro development. Peter Jackson, Rex Murphy, Gwynne Dyer are not smart enough to figure this out?, or don’t care to report on the angle?, because they are compromised to BIG MEDIA, or to BIG OIL? The Telegram will NEVER speak of methyl-mercury for sky carbon credit-trading Enron-style systems of pollution propagation via indulgencies sold by the ‘Green Church of CO2 vilification’ which push the onus of lifestyle change onto Brazilian Amazonian Indians, and British-Inuit Metis, to name a few, rather than those actually polluting us with bitumen sand production supported by poor mass transit, GMC bailouts (talk to the few who own Chevy Volts). Demand must be checked with education. There is no other way. It is same to see CO2 being the justification for ‘field eugenics’ being practiced on Indians barely hanging on to their homes. Stupidity is the blame, not big media, big oil, or big hydro. Big Media wins either way, Big Oil is kept going, Big Hydro is like gold, keeping Big Oil absolved. There is no losers….. oh yeah, those little Indians. Even the little Indians (Innu)now, are catching on to the game, abd selling out for $ “George Monbiot, points the finger of blame at unchecked farming practices” and others look further down the river and to government f-ups of post-roadwork drainage, dredging and removal of material at the river basins. Jackson is too compromised to do this topic justice, in my opinion. But I am a dyslexic troll, so….

    • Just sayin
      February 21, 2014 - 12:44

      That was long winded..... I like your reference to Rex Murphy as an idiot, as I just wonder how a Nflder who must be knowledgeable about the accomplishments of Capt Bob Bartlett in the North, and 90 percent of the then permanent ice that he encounterd is now gone......so how can Murphy deny the effects and changes going on and the cause?

    • david
      February 21, 2014 - 14:32

      Rex Murphy is an exceptionally smart, well-educated individual who has shown he is not one who bows to mobthink or let 'political correctness du jour' censor him. Given that context, what other, remotely possible explanation might there be for his opinion not agreeing with your own? Any idea?

  • Charles Kennedy
    February 19, 2014 - 22:41

    Will somebody please explain to the deniers of climate change the difference between climate and weather.And while they are at it explain to them about micro and macro evolution.

    • Chantal
      February 20, 2014 - 09:05

      That would be like fixing wheels to a tomato: time-consuming and completely pointless.

  • Peter Jackson
    February 19, 2014 - 14:55

    David, I was hoping you might have had a point to make. Now you're just being sadly ill-informed. If you think global warming is supposed to mean a uniform rise in temperature across the Earth, you clearly don't know the difference between weather and climate, nor have you read a single, solitary synopsis of the science. All you seem to have is venom.

    • david
      February 19, 2014 - 16:28

      I didn't imply it would go up uniformly.......that is either an outright lie, or simply poor reading comprehension.....you choose which. And the personal attack is no shock....I certainly expect no better.

    • Peter Jackson
      February 19, 2014 - 20:07

      Then please explain what you meant by this: "A warming theory that can account for the inconvenient reality that, while the (note that word) is warming, some places (non-global, perhaps?) are --- in abject contradiction and lacking any logic ---- getting colder ?!"

    • david
      February 19, 2014 - 21:29

      Read it slowly if it helps......my point is perfectly clear and consistent. As someone who has not yet seen any conclusive evidence of this alleged phenomenon, it would certainly be intellectually inconsistent of me to have an intractable opinion on whether it would or must be 'uniform' across the world of not. But the proposition that GLOBAL temperature is increasing precludes ----- necessarily and by definition ---- that ANY region could be doing the very opposite at the same time. Such a scenario is much more likely (and very simply) explained as temperature variability, not a net change in the planet's hotness. We figured out a very basic version of this 'phenomenon' many ears ago ......and came up with the word 'seasons'. Australia hot, Canada cold....6 months later.....Canada hot, Australia cold.

  • david
    February 19, 2014 - 13:26

    I strongly suggest you watch the following rebuttal by the world's foremost genius on climate change, George Carlin : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB0aFPXr4n4

  • Mondo
    February 19, 2014 - 10:48

    Just imagine how much better informed Canadians would be about this important issue if Stephen Harper wasn't able to muzzle our scientists!

  • david
    February 19, 2014 - 10:04

    FYI: After all the times you watched that collection of stock footage of chunks of glaciers carving off and falling into the ocean.....the de facto video logo of the global warming crowd.....how many people do you think are up there this winter, filming the (video-unsuitable) thickening and spreading of those very same glaciers? It's been an epic winter for glaciers, polar bears, seals.....so we'll ignore this one. Doesn't fit the narrative, doesn't get the cheques moving.

    • Dr. Rae
      February 19, 2014 - 11:09

      Almost no glaciers on this planet are growing, one of the only exceptions being some glaciers in the Antarctic, which are growing as predicted by global warming theory. Check out NASA'a Global Ice Viewer at: climate.nasa.gov/interactives. Even if you are correct about this being an epic winter (despite record high temperatures in Alaska, Russia, etc), one winter's weather does not alter the trend, and scientists do not ignore the growth, they add it to their data and understanding grows.

    • david
      February 19, 2014 - 12:24

      Not all glaciers are growing, but a few are. Though I do not know that firsthandf, it sounds quite reasonable. So? What global conclusion can you arrogantly come to? Here's a fun fact for you : The Atlantic Ocean is eroding beaches and advancing in some areas of Texas, and depositing more sand and growing the beaches in other parts of Texas. But if you only look at the beaches you prefer, you could easily convince everyone they're all in imminent danger and should wear a snorkel to bed.....and make some good money selling snorkels.

    • david
      February 19, 2014 - 12:48

      Dr. Rae: "....some glaciers in the Antarctic, which are growing as predicted by global warming theory...." Well isn't that outrageously and suspiciously convenient?!? A warming theory that can account for the inconvenient reality that, while the (note that word) is warming, some places (non-global, perhaps?) are --- in abject contradiction and lacking any logic ---- getting colder ?! Wow...if someone wanted to get a movie made with that kind of hole on the plot, good luck pal!

  • david
    February 19, 2014 - 09:38

    Climate science is an oxymoronic term meaning "bad weather fixation". It is a pop culture symptom of being unable to think rationally and easily duped. It is the biggest current danger to our society. And because the only antidote is the ability to think rationally and independently, our society is doomed. Be good to us, China....we were once ambitious and bright people.

  • Chantal
    February 19, 2014 - 07:21

    The National Post has about as much journalistic integrity as Fox News. Well, perhaps a little less.