Sunday, January 24, 2016

Guest Post: News Media Bias Against Science

There are still a number of news media outlets that chose to support climate change denialism. This is done in a number of ways. Some simply don't allow any credible science to appear in their pages, while others suppress science and promote the pseudo-science (see Fox News). Others, such as in the example below, print the scientific viewpoint but do so in a manner to indicate it is faulty. The below guest post consists of exchanges of letters between a reader and the opinion page editors of the Duluth News Tribune and the Superior Telegram. Both of these newspapers have previously supported the anti-science positions of climate change deniers.


(Note: Chuck Frederick and Shelley Nelson are, respectively, the opinion page editors of the Duluth News Tribune, and the Superior Telegram)

Good Morning Chuck and Shelley,

Today's Tribune (January 7, 2016) ran a puzzling local view article written by a well educated person having a PhD in aquatic ecology, and was also reviewed by another well educated person with a degree in climatology, who is an assistant professor at Large Lakes Observatory, in Duluth.

What was puzzling about this guest post column offered by Duluthian David Gerhart, is that it lists a number of very solid and valid scientific reasons why the concentration of Earth's CO2 levels is much greater now than it was 800,000 years ago, and also that today's rise in global mean temperatures is not due to the orbit, or the intensity of our sun--actually the sun is delivering less energy to the Earth than is has previously, and would actually decrease the Earths temperature if it were truly driving global warming. The article also makes readers aware of the fact that the Earth goes through normal glacial cycles that scientist have known about for many, many years and are now trying to prudently warns us about the fact that Arctic areas are continually loosing ice mass and that this will directly affect future sea levels---so why is all this very valid and very well known scientific evidence, presented directly beneath a cartoon showing an ad for a Godzilla movie, and another movie depicting a giant glacier, with the caption, "Run for your lives! It'll melt in 1000 years?"

Why are you depicting actual science in such a way, as to imply that those who are warning others about man-made global warming, are nothing more than hysterical alarmists worried about something which might happen 1000 years in the future? In truth, most scientists project only a 3 to 6 foot sea level rise by the end of the century, which in itself will pose a problem to many large populated communities occupying coastal areas that are already established near sea level. And, no climatologist, or scientist in any related field, has ever encouraged us to panic about what might happen a full millennium in the future!

When the Arctic ice cap and the Greenland ice cap melt, they not only release more water into our oceans, but the loss of snow and ice in those regions will prevent large amounts of sunlight from being reflected back into space---also increasing temperatures averages. Then there is the fact that since the actual Arctic land surface contains vast amounts of accumulated methane gas, which may be released into the atmosphere relatively quickly and, if so, suddenly increase the rate of global warming. That's because methane is one of the most potent green house gasses in regards to heat trapping properties!

Why then do you present actual facts provided by qualified experts, and then simultaneously run a cartoon implying that all this climate stuff---(my words)---is nothing but hysteria? If this is what journalist call balance, it's only because most of you are sadly misinformed or uninformed about the real problems posed by climate change and the fact that we must begin taking aggressive actions NOW to reduce emissions world-wide. Unfortunately, when the news industry knowingly or unknowingly distorts or prevents real knowledge from being available to the public that only reinforces the environment of political paralysis created by legislators who are in the pockets of large oil and large coal. So preventing real information from reaching voters is tragically closing the limited window of time which we will need to make big changes---if our future Earth is to be a comfortable and safe place for our progeny to live! You may not realize it, but the FALSE BALANCE, you feel you must provide, is not only contributing to the problem, but also preventing the necessary political will required for us to successfully deal with the real problems created by AGW and its attendant effects on our climate.

Peter W. Johnson

(from Chuck Frederick, Duluth News Tribune opinion page editor).

We provide space on our Opinion pages for all viewpoints. It's not so much a desire for balance as for allowing the expression of a diversity of views, reflecting the entirety of our community. I know there are those who feel anything critical of or even in question of global warming should be suppressed, rejected --- and not published. I know you won't agree with me, but I don't feel we're at that point yet in this debate. I think the need for conversation remains relevant.



The articles you and other Newspapers usually run provided by deniers of global warming, usually contain grossly inaccurate information or misinformation which comes from faulty scientific analysis or deliberate use of cherry picking or other ways to distort information. But no matter how technicality sophisticated some of it may sound, the issues they raise have virtually all been examined and eliminated by truly educated and by truly informed scientists. The distorted claims and inaccurate data provided by the deniers you publish are like similar distortions made by "experts" employed by tobacco companies who swore in front of congressional committees that tobacco smoke posed no risks at all for causing cancer---along with numerous other false bits of information. Just like those lies, the falsehoods being currently circulated by AGW deniers will eventually be exposed and rejected politically, but in this case we have a very limited period of time in which to enact effective measures to lower CO2 emissions. That's why it is so unfortunate that most members of the press do not grasp the true importance of real scientific evidence and usually do not even believe writers like me.

One would think that even as you allow such misinformation and distortions of facts to be printed that at least you would not place the knowledge of valid and qualified scientists directly beneath cartoons portraying the information they provide as nothing but hysteria offered by supposedly "mistaken" PhDs who have spent decades studying this problem. Outside of the few scientists employed by CO2 producing companies who deliberately distort the message of real scientists and studies done by supposed experts who have no real qualifications to know what they are talking about, or by those whose work has been solidly rejected by their peers, there is virtually no evidence at all confirming the falsehoods they circulate. This is really not a case of one opinion verses another---it's a matter of purposefully false information being distributed by special interest groups who know they will benefit financially from distorting the massive evidence about the real effects of man-made CO2. Eventually you and other news outlets will realize that. But the frustrating thing about all this is that because of the false balance, (or diversity of views) you think you must provide, that realization may come to you only after it is entirely too late to do anything about it.

Peter W. Johnson

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