22 February, 2010 — MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media
Since November last year, the public has been bombarded with the story of stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, revealing a supposed “scandal” of scientific malpractice, stupidly and lazily named “climategate”. Further media frenzy erupted over an erroneous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change statement that 80 per cent of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. Other climate-related storms in a teacup have been appearing in the corporate media almost on a daily basis. This nonsense is distracting attention from a mountain of evidence that human-induced climate change is accelerating and poses a deadly threat to civilisation.
James Hansen, the leading NASA climate scientist who first warned the US Congress of the dangers of global warming in 1988, gave us his view of media performance on “climategate”:
“The media have done a great disservice to the public. This mess should be cleared up in the next year or so, although the damage may linger a while, because some people who paid attention to sensationalism may not bother with accurate explanations of the truth.
“The impression left from this affair is that there are some parts of the media that care less about responsible reporting than about selling newspapers or other ware. Some of the problem may be honest ignorance, as the quality of science reporting has declined in recent decades. And of course some media are controlled by people who have a political axe to grind.” (Hansen, email to Media Lens, February 18, 2010)
Misleading the Debate on Climate
The excellent Realclimate website at www.realclimate.org, run by authoritative climate scientists, has been diligently issuing rebuttals of the relentless barrage of disinformation churned out by the Daily Mail, the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and, yes, even the Guardian, the self-proclaimed flagship newspaper of the environment. (See Realclimate, ‘Whatevergate,’ February 16, 2010; www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/whatevergate/)