I’m confused by this post on Iraq’s environmental crisis over at The Duck of Minerva. First, to attribute Iraq’s devastated environment to war, as Roger A. Payne seemingly does, is an oversimplification. Even the LA Times article that he plays off of recognizes that.
Then, after tallying up the devastation, Payne concludes:
In IR [International Relations], much of the research on ecology and security has focused on the possibility that “environmental scarcities” contribute to the outbreak of violent conflict. It would appear as if additional research should focus on the environmental harm of war itself — and the difficulty of making critical green choices in a war context.
Um, when it comes to wreaking havoc and carnage on your enemy, what exactly are the “green choices” that might leave a country’s landscape slightly less in tatters?
How pissed is Joe Romm at Grist? Plenty.
Their decision to act more like a journalistic outlet than a one-note activist clearinghouse (in this instance) now makes it harder for him to make statements like this (in bold, of course):
I can’t imagine why any serious journalist would cite the work of The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) “” except to debunk it.
I’m willing to wager that Romm also put in a few angry, hectoring emails and calls to Grist over this. I hope they told him to stuff it.
[UPDATE: Morano insists I got this wrong. See below.]
Not a peep from Climate Depot about this hearing and the climate climate change concerns expressed by former Senator John Warner and military brass. When it comes to mocking so-called climate alarmism, Morano rarely misses an opportunity. Yet this is twice in the past week.
I guess the national security angle doesn’t fit the master narrative he’s trying to convey at Climate Depot. Or he doesn’t want to take pot shots at the miltiary. Probably both.
LATER: In an email to me this morning, Morano writes that, “I posted at least two articles on the vaunted ‘military’ angle you think I am so afraid of. Search my page right now…you owe me a correction!!!”
I know my eyes are in need of new specs but all I see is a link to this blog post with this Morano headline:
“Just When You Thought Global Warming Couldn’t Get More Stupid, In Walks John Kerry.”
And a link to this news story with this Morano headline:
“Laughable: Senate warned US will be ‘dragged into conflict if global climate change goes unchecked.’”
Ok, I did initially see the first Morano headline and I based my argument on the fact that he was mocking Kerry and not Warner or the retired military officials. That was convenient of Morano. As for his second “Laughable” link (which I only just saw), Morano clearly is poking fun at the testimony–that much I’ll grant– but he still refuses to zing the military brass or Warner in the personal manner that he reserves for Kerry, democrats and climate scientists that assert climate change is for real.
As soon as I see him demonstrate that–and he’ll have more opportunities–I’ll be sure to note it.
EVEN LATER: Scanning Climate Depot late Friday, I noticed that Morano links here with this top headline:
Laughable: Fmr. Sen. Warner: “There’s a building base of evidence that global warming is contributing to much of the instability of the world today.”
Kudos to Grist for posting this rebuttal. I actually suggested such a thing yesterday on their site. Probably a coincidence. More likely they acted after seeing the dueling Huffington posts between Romm and TBI.
Anyway, maybe this augurs a new chapter in Grist’s reincarnation as…a more diverse group blog. I wish they never went in this direction in the first place–the blog format. They had carved out a nice niche by pioneering a new, compulsively readable brand of environmental journalism–something that was so desperately needed. What’s happening over there now with the complete overhaul of the site strikes me as an identity crisis.
Personally, I think they’ve squandered their hard-earned credibility by becoming just another outlet for environmental activists. Yes, they have bona fide journalists on staff (and talented ones), but in the new design there’s no real differentiation between them and the Joe Romms and Lester Browns.
I’m all for change, really. Every magazine and website has to reinvent itself to stay current. But in this case, Grist changed from a magazine to a friggin group blog. I mean, jeez, you all were doing essential work, running great packages on environmental justice, the “death of environmentalism” controversy, etc. Nobody else gave such issues an immediacy and fresh take. If you had to become something else, why not morph into an environmental version of Slate? You were already halfway there!
Now what are you? Climate change central, 24/7. Is that the best you can think up?
The print media may be on life-support but they still have the capacity to influence policymakers. Check out this neat catch by Christine Parthemore over at Natural Security. Her post is
a brief tale of two seemingly unremarkable Time magazine articles that appear to have had undue influence on two members (including the chairman) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
BTW, Natural Security is a smart new blog from the Center for a New American Security. I especially love their fresh look at older media, everything from a 1970s sci-fi movie to a 1999 scholarly article on the emerging environmental security discipline.
Anyone notice the Rommathon at Grist these past few days, including this incoherent slime fest? Must be vacation time there in Seattle, because I’ve noticed in the last six months that they’ve generally refrained from cross-posting Romm’s really nasty stuff.
Staffers at print and web mags typically head for the hills about now. Then again, Pielke Jr. does make some of the Gristies excitable.
As I wrote in this story a few years back, most ancient ruins are discovered
after a bulldozer digs up the ground for a new highway, oil pipeline, or strip mall.
It’s called “rescue” or “salvage” archaeology.” It’s an ironic way to advance a science–got to build new stuff before you can find the really old stuff.
The same thing goes for conservation biology, as Natalie Angier describes in this recent NY Times story.
One reason scientists are discovering more new species now than they were a couple of decades ago is that previously impenetrable places have been opened to varying degrees of development, allowing researchers to rush in and sample the abundance before it disappears.
Given the unprecedented pace of species extinctions, I’m not sure biologists think they are “rescuing” or “salvaging” their new finds–other than for scientific posterity.
That sulfurous odor emanating from Climate Progress is Joe Romm’s latest blast against his arch-enemies at The Breakthrough Institute. I’ve heard how Romm censors comments that are critical of him, so I thought I’d test him out. Sure enough, the self-proclaimed son of a journalist declined to approve this gentle rap from me:
I read the short op-ed in the SF chronicle three times. I fail to see how it can be characterized as an “attack” on Obama and Democratic leaders. Civil criticism of policy and proposed legislation, yes, but attack?
Yet an impartial observer, reading the language and tone you use in critical posts of TBI and journalists would have no problem characterizing those posts as attacks, no?
I’m starting to wonder when CP readers will grow tired of your shrillness and tune you out. In that vein, I wonder when your readers will realize how similar you are in style and tactics to Limbaugh and his crowd, as I argue here.
Romm loves to dish it out, often personalizing his attacks in a coarse manner that would earn him grudging respect from the likes of Bill O’Reilly. Of course, like O’Reilly, Romm can’t abide it when anyone is critical of him.
What do Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and liberal climate bloggers like Joe Romm all have in common? They are inveterate media bashers.
Limbaugh has long railed against the MSM; he helped perfect the “liberal media” label into a favorite cudgel of conservatives and an effective meme. Limbaugh is also a slash & burn artist. His fusillades against the MSM are often accompanied by ad hominem attacks on individuals.
Joe Romm is fond of the same tactic. In this recent post, he casually slanders Roger Pielke Jr. as a “denier” while criticizing journalists. Romm knows full well that Pielke Jr. is not a “denier.” But because Pielke is often critical of statements by politicians and scientists that use global warming-related data in a misleading manner, Romm brands him a “denier.” Romm uses the same method to slime The Breakthrough Institute, because they advocate different approaches to combat climate change than Romm–and horrors (!), the media takes them seriously. It’s a twofer: flog the media and your enemies at the same time.
It’s a daily ritual for Romm to find a story (usually in The New York Times) that he detests for some perceived transgression against the climate change cause. To counter a recent story on the transportation costs of wind turbines, Romm makes this ridiculous statement in a post today:
As the NYT desperately searches for any bad news it can publish about clean energy, perhaps it’s time for them to change their motto from “all the news that’s fit to print” to “every silver lining has a cloud.”
Though Sarah Palin uses the MSM as a personal foil, like many conservatives, Palin often refers to the MSM as some monolithic entity. Yesterday, in her departing words as Alaska governor, she said this:
How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin’ things up?
Never mind the odd and self-pitying conflation. There’s that broad brush tarring, the god-dang liberal media in cahoots.
Similarly overwrought generalizations of the MSM (and its motives) have become a staple of climate bloggers like Romm and others. Where conservatives point to ideological bias, climate change advocates charge incompetence or slavish devotion to the principle of objectivity (“false balance”), or in this case, deliberate manufacturing of controversy:
Many media outlets are the arms merchants of the climate change information war. They are under economic siege from shifting reading and viewing habits, competition from the Internet, etc., so they are desperate to hold on to whatever eyeballs and advertisers they can. They’re so short sighted that many of them don’t think about the consequences for the world or future generations or even their own children.
This notion that journalists should operate from a higher ethical plane than anyone else and subvert their professional and personal lives to the climate change cause is felt powerfully by some bloggers. Michael Tobis, who I have come to respect for his thoughtful commentary, loses me on this score. During the uproar over the New York Times magazine profile of Freeman Dyson, Tobis took this ethical responsibility argument to a bizzare conclusion:
If Revkin thinks his family’s comfort is more important than the survival of the planet, if he doesn’t have the cojones to stand up to the publisher and say “kill the Dyson crap or I am out of here” or something like that, he is not doing us much good.
Not doing us much good. That pretty much sums up the mindset of this new breed of media bashers on the left. If a journalist writes a story that is viewed as giving aid and comfort to them–the deniers–then you might as well be one of them. Or, if one of your colleagues writes such a story and you don’t quit in protest, then what good are you?
That narrow mindset–us and them–offers a convenient lens to view every perceived grievance. It’s the preferred lens of Limbaugh, Palin and their ilk. It’s now the preferred lens of progressive climate change bloggers too.
This story by Elisabeth Rosenthal in Saturday’s New York Times unintentionally highlights an issue that receives scant attention in the media. Which is the bigger, more immediate problem: land use (such as deforestation) or climate change? If you want to make things even more complicated, throw in natural climatic events, such as drought.
Rosenthal tries admirably to suss all this out in her front page piece about a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon forest that can’t feed itself anymore. But she ends up writing a mishmash of a story by swinging back and forth between what’s really killing the tribe (deforestation and encroaching ranches and farms) and the similarly tenuous existence of other indigenous cultures around the world (attributed to climate change).
This posted comment to the Times story perfactly captures my frustration with the story.
Until about five years ago (give or take a few years), there was a pretty spirited debate in the ecological community over which problem posed a greater environmental threat–land use or climate change? By every metric, all the evidence points to land use (overfishing, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, water depletion and so on). But now all those problems are subsumed under what is perceived to be the greater existential threat: climate change. (In April, Brendan Borrell wrote a provocative essay for Slate on this attitudinal shift, which I discussed here.)
Fine. I understand that ecologists and environmentalists believe that the reflected light from attention to climate change will fall on those more immediate and tangible ecological concerns. The thinking there is that it’s all part of the same picture. Might as well let the media and politicians focus on the issue that has the best chance to galvanize worldwide environmental action.
Well it looks like that might take a while. And judging from the dire predicamant of the Amazon tribe featured in Rosenthal’s article, time is not on their side. So perhaps if environmental advocates want to save cultures and animal species from actual threats not associated with climate change, then maybe they ought to rethink that strategy of putting all their eggs in one basket.