Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Global warming hysteria: Read between the lines

Posted by sanityinjection on May 27, 2009

A quick example of how important it is to read articles concerning climate change carefully. The media is fully invested in helping to sensationalize and panic the public around the world. Thus, they do their best to make things sound as dire as possible, even when they are not.

Case in point is this article from Reuters, which reports on the possible consequences of the continued melting of the Greenland ice cap on sea levels for the northeastern cities of North America:

 http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE54Q4SY20090527?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&rpc=22&sp=true

The key is that the sea level rise and its associated negative consequence will happen only if the Greenland ice continues to melt at present and would take place over several decades. The story doesn’t empahsize that, though. If you don’t read carefully, you might well think that Boston and New York will be underwater within years.

In fact, it is only right near the end of the story that the author rather quietly admits that the scientist who made these findings considers it possible but “unlikely” that current melt rates will continue for the next 50 years. In other words, the whole story is based on an extreme scenario rather than what the scientist actually expects to happen. Because it makes for a much more exciting story.

Which would be no big deal, if it were just one story. But what I’ve just illustrated for you has occurred over and over again at major news sources over the last several years. Most people are not going to take the time (and quite frankly, can’t be expected to) to critically analyze every news story they hear on this issue. So the drumbeat of hysteria has its desired effect: if you hear something enough, eventually you start to believe it, whether it’s true or not. Call it the “Al Gore” effect.

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