Bush, Iraq, and Global Warming at Center of Bangladesh Cyclone

On Monday, NewsBusters asked, "How soon before someone in the media blames the cyclone in Bangladesh on global warming, the war in Iraq, President Bush, or all of the above?"

On Saturday, the Boston Globe's Derrick Z. Jackson came very close.

In his column entitled "Hesitance on the Warming Front," Jackson was quick to blame everything but nature for the planet's most recent natural disaster (emphasis added throughout):

AS THE United Nations released the strongest report yet on global warming, a cyclone barreled up the Bay of Bengal. The death toll has already passed 3,000 and is expected to climb to about 10,000. A 4-foot-high storm surge swamped the coast of the sea-level nation. It was a preview for the rise in sea levels in the years ahead.

Predicting that global warming will result in a likely increase in tropical cyclone activity, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said, "Coastal areas, especially in heavy populated megadelta regions in South, East and Southeast Asia will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea. . . . Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrheal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise."

Honestly, one has to wonder if Jackson even read the IPCC's most recent synthesis report, as the Summary for Policymakers released last Saturday clearly stated (emphasis added):

There is observational evidence of an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, with limited evidence of increases elsewhere. There is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones. It is difficult to ascertain longer term trends in cyclone activity, particularly prior to 1970.

As you can see, this is another example of journalists either not understanding what they read, or just plain making things up. After all, this report discussed "observational evidence" of increased tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic.

BUT, it admitted: there was limited evidence of increases elsewhere; there are no clear trends in the annual numbers, and; ascertaining longer term trends in activity is difficult.

Not exactly what Jackson presented to his readers, is it?

Speaking of which, somebody should present Jackson with an atlas, for Bangladesh isn't in the North Atlantic.

Was this ignorance, or a willful intent to misinform his readers? Regardless of the answer, that wasn't Jackson's only use of inflammatory hyperbole:

You can easily guess what the Bush administration thought of these developments. It did offer $2.1 million in emergency aid to Bangladesh. But beyond that, the same nation that waged unilateral war on Iraq complained that the European Union's action is unilateral.

In the end, it's all about Iraq, isn't? But there was more:

Abroad, the Bangladeshes of the world are clamoring louder than ever for action. IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said "What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future." It would be easy to assume that one of those two or three years will be wasted by Bush. But if Arnold "Hummer" Schwarzenegger can be moved on the environment, perhaps the White House has a tipping point toward sanity. In dire scenarios of climate change, many islands will be swamped. The White House is the last island of ignorance in a fast-rising sea.

Awfully tough to point such an accusatory finger, Derrick, when your knowledge of the document in question is clearly suspect.

Honestly, is there any integrity left in the journalism industry?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.