Although it didn’t get a lot of publicity – conceivably for what will end up being obvious reasons – there was a conference held last weekend by a bunch of “environmental lawyers.” Not so surprisingly, the topic of global warming was – forgive the pun – a hot one.
Yet, maybe most fascinating was that the conference’s sponsor, the American Bar Association, actually invited members of the press – mostly believers with apparently only one skeptic I might add – to address how the views of global warming alarmists need to “percolate through the media pipeline and into general public awareness.”
One such media member seemed so disappointed about the public's lack of concern about this issue that she actually stated: “We live in a country where more people care about the death of Anna Nicole Smith than the death of a planet.”
What a shock, huh?
As you might imagine, much like the cataclysm predicted by soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore, these lawyers were quite concerned for the future of our planet. As reported by the Summit Daily News (emphasis mine throughout):
Global warming is the hottest story of our time, and it will get even bigger as the full implications of melting ice caps and rising sea levels percolate through the media pipeline and into general public awareness, a panel of journalists said last weekend during the American Bar Association's environmental law conference.
The discussion was focused on how the media has covered the story and whether or not public perception of global warming has changed in recent months and years. Among the questions the panelists tried to answer is why it has taken so long for the story to reach critical mass.
In other words, folks, why isn’t the public buying into the junk science hook, line, and sinker? The article continued:
Most of the panelists credited Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," with helping to generate attention. The Democratic takeover in Congress has also advanced public debate, the panelists said. And even though the basic global warming science — heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere — is "third-grade" stuff, according the Wall Street Journal's John Fialka, the issues have been clouded by a massive, industry funded propaganda and disinformation campaign aimed at creating uncertainty.
But now the issue is taking center stage, and journalists must help explain the evolving story in terms that readers can understand, by showing them how the impacts will affect their lives, the panelists agreed.
Fascinating. So, because people aren’t buying this premise, it is incumbent upon journalists to scare them into believing it. Isn’t that special?
"We live in a country where more people care about the death of Anna Nicole Smith than the death of a planet," said moderator Judy Muller, a long-time NPR contributor and associate professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism.
The challenge at this point may be explaining the full import of global warming, said ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore, who's been reporting on the issue for more than two years.
Blakemore, who has covered numerous wars over the years, said global warming is the most challenging story he's worked on.
"It's surreal to have pre-eminent scientists tell us very seriously that civilization as we know it is over," Blakemore said. "The scale is unprecedented. It touches every aspect of life."
Preeminent scientists have claimed that civilization as we know it is over? When did that happen, and what are these scientists’ names?
Yet, maybe more amazing was that as these geniuses discussed the existence of a so-called scientific consensus on this subject, nobody noticed the delicious hypocrisy in only inviting one skeptic to speak at the conference:
Only one of the panelists, Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Sean Paige, took a contrarian view.
Paige, the only panelist who wasn't prepared to jump wholeheartedly on the global warming bandwagon, said a decade of sensationalistic coverage of environmental issues has resulted in a cry-wolf syndrome.
"Maybe the wolf is at the door now," Paige said, referring to global warming. "But the public has tuned out. We (journalists) haven't been skeptical enough of the environmental anxiety industry," he said.
"And nothing focuses the mind like an impending tidal wave of regulation," said Paige, referring to the potential for top-down federal rules to regulate greenhouse gases from a Democractic Congress.
Paige, describing himself as a layered skeptic, said there's still room for a global warming debate.
"What can be done and what will it cost?" Paige asked. Journalists should be asking whether it's really wise at this point to pour massive resources into prevention when the money might be better spent on adaptive measures. Paige said it's not clear that capping greenhouse gas emissions, for example, will make a meaningful difference in curbing the warming trend.
The one lone voice in the wilderness continued:
Paige also said he sees a form of eco-McCarthyism on the rise, with the fixation on "consensus" leading to a muzzling of dissenting voices.
"Let's silence everybody who doesn't agree," Paige said, characterizing the mood as he perceives it and claiming that there are legitimate scientists out there who have valid questions about the state of global warming science. But those voices are not being heard, he said, expressing concern about the potential loss of civil liberties in the rush to find a solution to the problem.
Of course, the alarmists weren’t having any of this, and quickly blamed all the problem on – guess who before I give it away – President Bush and the Republicans:
"We had a chance to have a reasonable debate," Linden replied. "Instead we had denial. The Bush administration and a Republican Congress had years and years to frame a response to global warming that doesn't involve government regulation," Linden continued.
But that never happened because the Republican leadership never acknowledged that global warming exists, said panelist Margaret Kriz, who covers energy and the environment for the National Journal.
"The people who set the agenda didn't believe, so for all practical purposes, it didn't exist," Kriz said, singling committee chairs like James Inhofe, who loudly claimed that global warming was a hoax, using his leadership role on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as his pulpit.
How many people guessed correctly?