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Thursday, June 08, 2017


News flash: President Trump withdraws from the Paris climate accords. Why all the fuss? The accords were little more than an anti-capitalist transfer of wealth. This scheme would move billions of dollars from the US in order to incentivize other nations who kind of agreed to maybe cut some carbon emissions hopefully starting in 2030. This is as phony as the Iran nuke deal.

As the saying goes, “There is nothing new under the sun” – no pun intended.

Compare this news flash from over 100 years ago. “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again.” That was the headline in the New York Times, February 24, 1895.

Today the hot topic, again pardon the pun, is global warming. Forget the allegations that climate change is manmade. One need not shy away from controversy particularly when provoked by the media. That said, a kinder, gentler approach to climate change, may not be possible.

News reports by the mainstream media about climate change is a story in itself and one, unfortunately, with a very checkered past. The Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute (BMI) released a report a few years ago detailing an analysis of print journalism’s coverage of climate change spanning 110 years. BMI examined climate coverage in over 30 publications from the 1850s through the early 21st century. They used Lexis-Nexis to search for recent climate stories. They used the Library of Congress for older stories. For much older newspapers they used ProQuest.

Like today, an “overwhelming” number of scientists predicted impending doom due to global warming or cooling depending on the current fad. They predicted a new ice age as recently as 30 years ago. Since the late 1800s journalism’s reporting of catastrophe brought on by climate change has vacillated four times between global cooling (1895 - 1932) to warming (1929 - 1969) then back to cooling (1954 - 1976) and again back to warming (1981 - present). Confusing?

During the 1970s hype over fears of global cooling alleged that the world’s food supply was in danger. Today, you guessed it, hype over fears of global warming allege that the world’s food supply is in danger.

What about glaciers as a measure of climate change? Global warming and cooling advocates have both used the glacier argument freely to bolster their cause.

Today, advocates of manmade climate change proceed as if this were something new. Yet, earlier advocates were making the same argument in 1938 -- just before journalists announced the onset of a new ice age.

Citing the BMI report, here are examples of New York Times headlines:

            -- ”MacMillian (an Arctic explorer) Reports Signs of New Ice Age,” September 18, 1924.

            -- ”America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records 25-Year Rise,” March 27, 1933.

            -- “Scientists Ponder Why World’s Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable,” May 21, 1975.

            -- ”Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming,” December 27, 2005.

Again citing the BMI report, here are a series of major stories appearing in Time Magazine from the same periods:

            -- “The discoveries of changes in the sun’s heat and southward advance of glaciers have given rise to...advent of a new ice age.” Sept. 10, 1923.

            -- ”...weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer.” Jan. 2, 1939.

            -- ”Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.” June 24, 1974.

            -- ”(S)cientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening, and almost nobody questions the fact that humans are at least partly responsible.” April 9, 2001.

BMI’s report concludes with a recommendation for re-emphasizing three guidelines held by the Society of Professional Journalists.

            --Support an open and honest exchange of views;

            --Give voice to the voiceless, especially those holding “unofficial” views; and

            --Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting.

Beyond these professional guidelines, the BMI report suggests the media must not stifle debate, or bury the associated costs related to an advocate’s proposals or misapply statistical evidence.

In view of the growing influence of the alternative media coupled with print journalism’s shrinking readership, the last thing journalism needs is a credibility crisis.

Enter Donald Trump the pragmatist. He questions whether the Paris climate accord is a good deal. His conclusion: No. Stop the outflow of billions of dollars until America negotiates a better deal. He never said climate change was a hoax. He simply wants to renegotiate a fair deal.


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at P. O. Box 337, Stanley, ND 58784 or (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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