Thursday, January 6, 2011

Getting the year off on the denialist foot

A little late, but it has to be mentioned how the Herald published some intellectual excrement from Cory Christofferson this past Sunday. They were not the ones either, as you can search the interwebs and easily find the same thing under at least the banner of the Bismarck Tribune and the Jamestown Sun.

Basically Christofferson cites snow in Germany, snow in Grand Forks, and unspecified "headlines such as these" to ask whether "God is making fun of Al Gore and the global warming nuts". Yes! A denialist ignorance hat trick of (1) using a couple instances of local weather to speak on climate, (2) conflating snow with cold, and (3) mocking Al Gore!

Really? Did the Herald not have a little graphic or clip art of a steaming pile of manure they could have run in that space instead? It would have basically been the same thing in terms of content but would have saved a bit of time on editting, assuming anyone with half a clue actually reads stuff like this.

Clearly the greater imperative for newspapers in North Dakota, including the Herald, is not to convey accurate information but rather to serve as publisher of garbage in order to concoct a sense of "balance" between on one hand information based on massive evidence and on the other hand, like from Christofferson, faulty ideas couched in politics and ignorance.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Death panels

This past week the Herald graced us with more cheerleading for long-term climate devastation from George Will. In this case though Will was not directly denying climate science. Rather he was falling back to the line of defense that there is no alternative to copious burning of coal and the resulting dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and oceans.

Will talks about some history of coal usage, how integrated its burning for energy is in global society, and how relatively cheap it is as an energy source to run much of our world. He does that all to establish massive coal burning as a necessary and unavoidable characteristic of the world in which we live regardless of the consequences, which he does not really think are bad. One can easily think of the sort of columns Will might have written 150 years ago discussing slavery had how integral that system and resulting "cheap" energy were to the economic system and prosperity of the day.

Last week the Herald had one of those point-counterpoint on whether the EPA should be able to work to limit greenhouse gases emissions. Of course it was not a climate scientist opposing action, it was a Professor of Finance and Business Economics (who is also a scholar at the climate change denying AEI). As is so often the case it is a bean-counter argument calling for inaction on climate.

Yet when there is even a perception of using cost arguments to urge inaction in health care, there are screams of bloody murder. Try an internet search for "bureaucrat between you and your doctor". I got 209,000 results. The apex of that came with the claims of "death panels" going to decide whether granny gets treatment or just dies between it is not worth the cost.

Why do so many people bristle at the idea of the doctor saying treatment is needed but the bean-counter nixing it because of cost concerns, then accept an economics argument (that is not even good but actually backwards) when the science says continued greenhouse gas emissions will wreak havoc on our world?

If anyone wants to really worry about death panels, they need look no further than the George Wills and the American Enterprise Institutes of the world. They are the ones using whatever disinformation or excuses they can to avoid actions to limit our disruption to climate. Typically those excuses center on supposed costs of action and give no consideration of the tremendous costs of inaction. Their warped bean counting is the rubber stamp set to approve a brave new world rather different than the one to which we grew accustomed.