Global Warming: The Times’ Two Views Of Beauty

By April 24, 2006Global Warming

Interesting article in Sunday’s NY Times by Andrew Revkin, ostensibly looking at both sides of the global warming debate but in the end, not really. Still a valiant effort, just fell short, that’s all. Among the accompanying graphics are two headlines — one from 1932 and one from 1956 — talking about global warming, as evidence that it’s “been a concern for several generations.” Notably absent are the Time and Newsweek covers from the 70’s touting global cooling, a big “oopsie” along the enviros’ road to stoke the global warming hysteria.

And, speaking of the hysteria, another interesting fact in this article: after a virtual carpet-bomb of scare and disinformation on the topic over the last many months, the issue is till not of concern to the public. Revkin notes that in a recent Gallup Poll that asked respondents to rank 10 environmental problems, global warming ranked 2d from the bottom, bested — or worsted – only by acid rain. This is an incredible statistic, given the fire hose of information that has spewed from CNN, ABC, Time and AOL over the past many months. It also struck us as all so wonderfully provincial, this notion that we can somehow control all of this here in the US of A, when China and India are emerging powerhouses, with much less regard to the environment than our leading efforts here.

In any event, a better article — in the same section of Sunday’s NY Times — was from John Tierney, entitled, “Cheer Up, Earth Day is Over.” In it, he notes that the air is getting cleaner (has he been reading the blog…?), that the amount of forest land in the US has not been shrinking, and that the US is actually leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that outpaces efforts of signatories to the vaunted (but ultimately ineffective) Kyoto Protocol. Tierney notes the impact of technology — pioneered and invented by US manufacturers, by the way — and notes that both cars and power plants have become cleaner as a result. Tierney also points out the issues with India and China, but touts the efforts of the US in helping the two countries generate cleaner electricity, in the end having a far greater impact on the global environment than Kyoto.

There is no doubt that the energy and global warming issues are flip sides of the same coin. At the end of the day, we ought to be guided by science and results, not hysteria. Judging from these two criteria, the global climate picture brightens dramatically. It just doesn’t make for very good headlines.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • TokyoTom says:

    Pat, you must be elated to see that climate change is so low on the list of American’s environmental priorities. But if so, isn’t your constant posting on it likely to be counterproductive?

    You have a good observation in your comment that surely it is “wonderfully provincial, this notion that we can somehow control all of this here in the US of A, when China and India are emerging powerhouses, with much less regard to the environment than our leading efforts here.” But haven’t you reached the wrong conclusion? If what we have to worry about most is GHG emissions from China and India (as well as economic and social instability and regional resource damage caused by their ineffective envrionmental policies) – a concern which I completely share – then shouldn’t our policy be to persuade China to accept some meanigful obligations under Kyoto or some other pact, to avoid a global race to the bottom? If we did an exclusive deal with them, we could get a firm grip on their growing market for advanced, clean energy and sequestration technologies, as well as a favored position in buying GHG reduction credits.

    Right now, we are simply providing limited subsidies to these countries – are you in favor of these continued subsidies? Why can’t we use a Kyoto stick as well, and put up tariff barrieres to the extent they are not meeting agreed CO2 limitation targets?