Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NPR Calls Jim Inhofe What He Is: A Climate Science Denier

Thanks to a great catch by Mark Boslough at Huffington Post, we learn that National Public Radio has correctly switched from calling Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) a climate "skeptic" to calling him what he is: A climate science denier.

Maybe other reporters will finally do the same?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pro-Keystone XL "Centrism" Won't Stop Global Warming

Refusing to make hard choices on dirty energy and wishing Republicans weren't crazy won't save us from climate destruction.

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Climate Ignorance Makes News Boring: The Washington Post, Mars & Chocolate

Cocoa podsWhich is a more interesting story:
  • Industry threatened, for some reason, and hopefully they'll figure that whole thing out
  • Industry threatened, identifies problem that menaces all of us, and decides to becomes leader in fighting it, political consequences be damned
Today's Washington Post article on Mars, Inc. facing a looming chocolate shortage never once mentions global warming, even though the climate threats to chocolate production are clear and Mars is a leader on confronting climate change and its threats to the chocolate industry.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hot Water Again Halts Maine Shrimp Season & Again No One Will Say Global Warming

ArrivalOfMaineShrimp-SacoMaine'sCampEllis(Feb10-2011)1From moose to puffins to lobsters, global warming is devastating Maine's wildlife, seafood and economy. Why is it so hard for media to say so?

The latest bad news is hitting Maine's shrimp fishermen:
Federal regulators shut down the commercial fishing season for northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine for a second straight year on Wednesday, citing concerns about the declining population and warmer ocean temperatures.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Northern Shrimp Section voted to cancel the upcoming season, a year after the section closed this year's season for the first time in more than 30 years. A technical committee that advises the section recommended extending the moratorium for another year.

The "depleted condition of the resource and poor prospects for the near future" warrant another closure, the committee reported, adding that "long term trends in environmental conditions" for the little pink shrimp are unfavorable. The amount of the shrimp's population that can be fished is at an all-time low, regulators said.
The Associated Press blames "warmer ocean temperatures" but never directly references global warming, never mind connecting the dots to carbon pollution. It did the same thing last year. The Portland Press Herald repeatedly ignored the climate connection in its news coverage, but did editorialize on it.

The connection to climate change is crystal clear. September ocean surface temperatures were 1.2 degrees F above the 20th century average, "the highest on record for September and also the highest on record for any month," according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Associated Press reporter Patrick Whittle clearly understands the connection between carbon pollution and warmer Gulf of Maine water because he's reported on it before. But global warming is most often treated as its own, separate story and not mentioned in news coverage of climate impacts. Also, I notice that the URL for that story hints his title once called the Gulf of Maine a poster child for global warming. That's since been softened to "Warming Gulf of Maine imperils lobster, fish catch" and the climate connection isn't made explicit until the story's 6th paragraph.

So why didn't the latest coverage of the shrimp shutdown mention global warming? The press release from the 15-state Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission didn't make any mention of climate change, and the AP didn't make the bridge for its readers. A similar story played out last year when the Massachusetts Port Authority issued a report on sea level rise - Massport wouldn't say climate change and reporters wouldn't connect the dots.

What that means is it's not just about the science. Media outlets are requiring a multi-phase scientific and political approval process:
  • The scientific evidence must be iron-clad
  • Scientists must be willing to face threats from Tea Partiers
  • Regulators must be willing to put their jobs on the line in the face of politically-motivated attacks 
Then MAYBE reporters will connect the dots. And that's if media owners will let journalists report on global warming at all. Hubbard Broadcasting directly funds climate science denial. In Maine, two news anchors at WVII and WFVX in Bangor quit on-air, saying climate science-denying station management kept inserting politics into news coverage.

The next time you see a poll on how many Americans accept climate science, imagine what the numbers would look like if the media actually connected the dots to climate change in every story like this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interstellar: Climate Chaos May Not Mean Scientific Enlightenment

Interstellar spoiler alert: Ignoring climate change fails to make it go away.

My wife and I saw Interstellar in Imax 70mm last night and you should too. It's flat-out the best theater experience ever, a 2001 for the digital effects era.

Interstellar is cli fi (climate fiction), seeing a not-too-distant future - maybe late in this century - in which the climate crisis has spiraled out of control. Humanity is reduced to subsistence farming, eating mostly corn, the last thing left that will grow in the heat, drought and extreme storms. The fate of people in coastal areas and big cities is left unsaid, with only passing references to crumbling militaries and failed governments. Crops fail and soil blows away in super-sized Dust Bowl storms, making air pollution a daily, lethal threat. Our choice is life in the stars or life underground.

Climate activists often express hope that increasing evidence of climate impacts, such as superstorm Sandy, will awaken the apathetic and the deniers to the need for action. But the movie hints that dealing with a climate crisis wouldn't necessarily translate to instant, universal scientific acceptance.

To keep Americans focused on the desperate fight to grow food, students are told the Apollo missions were faked. Director Christopher Nolan hints the move isn't strictly practical, but also a political adaptation to the chaos, tinging the scene with Tea Party fervor:

"We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars," laments Matthew McConaughey's Coop. "Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."

It's a fantastic film, but I'd rather count on solar panels and wind turbines to save us from industrial carbon pollution now than wait for the wormhole to appear.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Our New Ice Age

Funny how TV news is warning of the impending return of the glaciers when I just killed a wasp because it's 57 on November 11 and we haven't had a hard freeze yet.

I don't doubt that "cold somewhere" is interesting, but "warm everywhere" is the much, much bigger story that TV news continues to completely ignore.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In Defense of Straight-Ticket Voting

ProofI often hear people say they don't vote because they don't know who to vote for. Don't be afraid of voting straight-ticket. People talk about it like it's a brain-dead way to vote, but that's completely wrong - it's sensible! Political parties are more ideologically aligned than ever.

So if you want government to do more on helping the working class, fixing roads & bridges, and climate action, vote Democratic. If you want lower taxes, fewer rules for businesses & more rules for who you're allowed to marry, vote Republican. If you think both parties are irredeemably broken, vote for all the 3rd party candidates you can.