False news becoming routine in the liberal press

This is a story in the Guardian contributed by the US media network Associated Press. It is troubling that the kind of inaccurate (in fact fully misleading) reporting which one expects from the Guardian itself is now becoming normalised in agency reports as well.

The story is about Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Amy Barrett is going through a process whereby politicians get to quiz her on her views. The topic in question here is climate change.

AP reports as if it were something out of the ordinary that:

On Wednesday, Barrett framed acknowledgment of manmade climate change as a matter of policy, not science, when she was pressed at her confirmation hearing by Democratic senator from California.

But of course climate change – at least the response to it is a matter of policy and not science. The decisions are made by (guess what) politicians – not scientists. Also note how AP sneaks in “manmade climate change”. The view of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that climate change is “extremely likely” to be the result of anthropogenic drivers. [1]. This is because the science of climate change is a matter of probability and not simple empirical facts taken in isolation. So it is simply not accurate to assert that climate change is “manmade” as a given fact.

Barrett was responding to a series of questions from Harris, including whether she thought coronavirus was infectious, whether smoking caused cancer and whether “climate change is happening and it’s threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink”.

Harris is Kamala Harris – a leading democrat. It seems strange that Kamala Harris associates climate change with “threats” to the air and water supply. While one effect of climate change is smog – i.e. air pollution this is possibly not the leading problem. It may be that there is a link between climate change and the quality of drinking water but it is not one I am aware of. One wonders how much Kamala Harris understands about climate change – and why the AP has not commented on this rather strange presentation of climate change.

Scientists say climate change is a matter of established fact and that the damage is mostly caused by people burning oil, gas and coal.

Well, yes. The change in global temperatures is a matter of established fact. [1] But again (just like spy agencies) AP journalists convert probablity to fact with surprising ease. The Intergovernmental Panel says that it is extremely likely that fossil fuel combustion is the main driver. [1] Not a matter of fact as AP reports.

This report from AP is based on the Greta Thunberg school of climate change – a wrong understanding of science and an oversimplified grasp of the relationship between science and policy. It is in fact wrong in a rather simple, even babyish, way. Concerning that this level of infantile reporting is spreading to the agencies.

Notes

  1. UN Report on Climate Change

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer