Sunday, July 10, 2011

Credit where credit is due, hopefully

I am not shy about being harsh toward the Herald for what it publishes that is dismissive of anthropogenic climate change. The last week or so though as been a breath of fresh air with a few op-ed contributions touching on the issue but none trying to sell the case that we do not know anything, that doing anything positive would wreck the economy, etc.

Last Sunday relatively regular positive contributor Dr. Dexter Perkins in calling for limiting coal pollution again noted the problem with climate change and how well-known that is by experts. The next day in Lloyd Omdahl's weekly column he lamented the "present-oriented mentality" that, among other things, ignored the need for clean energy because doing that is cheaper today than taking a longer view and addressing the issue. This Sunday featured a column from Naomi Klein making the connection between our fossil fuel dependence and direct disasters like oil spills as well as climate impacts.

I understand statistics and the peril of making decisions on the basis of small samples. The next several days may feature multiple pieces disputing fundamental science, ranting that a price on carbon pollution is socialist economy-destroying tyranny and the like. But there is one other thing from the past week that makes me hopeful that the Herald maybe gets it on climate change, or at least can get it. It was the day with the dualing viewpoints with pro and con pieces on the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the federal constitution.

That day's editorial dismissed one of the main hand-waved declarations supposed to favor such an amendment, that the government has to be like a household and maintain a balanced budget. The first problem is the fallacy that households must have a constantly balanced budget and cannot take on debt, but the Herald devoted most of the column space literally to a textbook dismissal of the idea that the federal government is comparable to a household when it comes to budgeting. The fact that the column based on such flawed reaching for straws still is published is not so great. But it is nice to see that basic and well-established concepts from actual experts are used to parry political statements attempting to masquerade as evidence-backed arguments.

Maybe just maybe, the Herald will dismiss the similar baseless attempts to sow doubt about climate change. Perhaps they might even decide that their responsibility to inform the public does not mean reciting whatever fossil fuel industry or conservative think tank attack du jour but rather conveying the most accurate information even if that comes from only one side.

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