Thursday, June 11, 2009

More of the same

Climate change is constantly sensationalized by the media. Check out this glaring example, an article titled Climate change blamed for Caribbean coral deaths.

The first eight paragraphs discuss all the bad stuff that can happen when coral reefs degrade, and mention only a single cause of this degradation: climate change. Yet, if you read through to the ninth paragraph (very few readers finish an article, either on-line or in print), you get this gem: The degradation of Caribbean reefs is not entirely linked to climate change, with disease killing about 90 percent of Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals in the 1970s. Ninety percent!

Now skip ahead to the very last paragraph, where one of the researchers is finally quoted: We suggest that the last period of decline is partly due to climate change, but also due to several other human impacts such as over-fishing and coastal development... If you read those two paragraphs, which mention disease, over-fishing and coastal development as major causes of reef damage, how can you responsibly ignore those and title the article exclusively about climate change?

Read the article yourself (it's short.) I'm not cherry-picking quotes to make my point. This is another clear example of global warming sensationalization. If you just read the headline and a few paragraphs at the start, you come away with the distinct impression that climate change is the sole, or at least the biggest contributor to this damage, when quotes in the article itself belie this conclusion. And while we continue to focus on phantoms like man-made global warming, we don't pay enough attention to problems that are much easier to fix and are proven to have a bigger impact on our environment.

We need balanced and reasonable approaches to solving problems, not doomsaying and histrionics. Just like the abortion issue, where sensationalization by pro-lifers actually leads to a loss of life, sensationalization of global warming actually damages the environment.


At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man the pumps! Check out this article from Bloomberg today Sweet Tea.

The beat goes back to studying for my math quiz.


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