Death to the CBC!

Lorne Gunter recently vented his spleen about the CBC, and the National Post blowhard is clearly feeling a little threatened by the beleaguered national broadcaster.

“The CBC will never be able to exorcize its left-wing missionary zeal – for global warming, for Islam, for big government, Barack Obama, multiculturalism, public health care, human rights commissions and so on. And it could never survive on private donations or ad revenues. So the only thing to do with Mother Corp is to pull down its office buildings and stations and pour salt in their foundations.”

Besides the other perceived sins of zeal for Islam, Obama and public health care, Gunter has the gall to call for the abolition of our seventy-three year old national network due to their comparatively impeccable coverage of climate science.

I am flummoxed by my inability to describe just how dishonest and absurd Gunter’s argument is. Bear with me as I struggle to scale this seemingly insurmountable peak.

Desmog Blog readers know well how we feel about the monotonously inaccurate coverage by the National Post about our scientific understanding of climate change. I struggled to itemize all the factual errors in one single article by Gunter and could not do the subject justice in under 800 words.

On the suggestion of a Desmog Blog reader, I happily nominateChristopher Booker Prize d Mr. Gunter for the Christopher Booker Prize for Bullshit Reportage of Climate Science, sponsored by George Monbiot and the Guardian. Godspeed Mr. Gunter – I am rooting for you.

His employer, the National Post felt it important to send reporters to the climate deniers conference in New York, sponsored by the hilariously unethical Heartland Institute. In contrast, they neglected to send correspondents to either the UN Climate conference in Poznan Poland, or the recent gathering of 2.500 of world’s leading climate scientists in Denmark.

I could go on but you get the point. I make no claim of being a brilliant researcher, but I must say unearthing the abundant errors in the work of Mr. Gunter and other staffers at the Post has been like shooting fish in a barrel with a RPG.

Now why would that be? Professional journalists are typically superb at research, fact checking and correctly citing sources – assuming they want to. In deference to their obvious skills as media veterans, one can only ask the pregnant question: are they instead willfully misleading their readers?

The New Yorker's Mindless Nonsense on Economy vs. Environment

The lead article in this week’s New Yorker by David Owen is a loony display of dishonest economics and a flagrant mangling of science and reason. Entitled “Economy vs. Environment,” (oy, here we go again) the piece presents the false notion that solving the climate crisis will inevitably come at the expense of economic collapse.

Owen claims that - should the U.S. follow Obama and the international community toward a global solution to global warming - the economy might never recover, and even if it did, we’d be fools to retain climate “policies that will seem to be nudging us back toward the abyss.” 

Yes, ghastly poverty and economic ruin are the only outcomes of trying to solve climate change, if we listen to David Owen.  A trip to Davy Jones’ locker for the world economy, says he.

Aptly described by Climate Progress, Owen’s piece is “so bad, so filled with long-debunked right-wing talking points, it would barely qualify for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.” 

Yet there it is, featured in the top pages and pixels of the New Yorker’s print and web editions, in direct contradiction to the brilliant, factual reporting by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert

Others have taken the time to debunk Owens’ baseless claims, so I won’t bother to here.  Head on over to this analysis by Grist.org and another at Get Energy Smart Now!, and don’t foget Joe Romm’s critique at Climate Progress as mentioned above. 

Thanks to each of them for responding so thoroughly to Owen’s insanity so I don’t have to waste the keystrokes on him myself.

Busting the Abundant Coal Reserves Myth

The coal industry’s spin doctors have been droning on about the abudance of coal for the last year, but new research by Dave Rutledge, Chair of Caltech’s engineering and Applied Sciences Division, calculates that the world’s coal reserves may be much less “abundant” than the coal industry would like us to think:

“The record of geological estimates made by governments for their fossil fuel estimates is really horrible,” Rutledge said during a press conference at the American Geological Union annual meeting. “And the estimates tend to be quite high. They over-predict future coal production.”

The coal lobby states that, “within our [US] borders, we have enough coal to last the next 200 years.” But by Rutledge’s calculations 90% of the entire world’s estimated coal reserves will have been produced by 2069.

You can check out a copy of Rutledge’s powerpoint presentation here (4MB powerpoint file): Rutledge coal and oil reserves presentation.

Scientists' Scheme Forced To Walk The Plank(ton)!

Scientists have said that a controversial experiment has “dampened hopes” that dumping hundreds of tonnes of dissolved iron in the Southern Ocean can lessen global warming.The experiment involved “fertilising” a 115-sqare-mile area of ocean with six tonnes of dissolved iron. As expected, this stimulated growth of tiny planktonic algae or phytoplankton. However, the scientists did not count on these phytoplankton being eaten by tiny crustacean zooplankton.

Saying Sorry is Hard to Do (Maybe We Can Help)

Lorne Gunter was wrong.

How can it be? For someone that has spread such a load of manure about climate science, it was interesting he owned up to two token errors in an otherwise typical anti-climate rant last week.

It was such a minor mea culpa however, we thought we should help him with bigger stuff. After all, the National Post has become such a sad excuse for a newspaper they don’t belong to any press council in Canada. This means that the reading public doesn’t even have a professional body to complain to.

So here we go Lorne – a quick jaunt through some of the whoppers in a single column earlier this month. If you or your editors want to take a crack at fact checking or properly citing your sources, there is something called the “internet” that might help. Maybe you can try this on your own next time, assuming that’s something you want to bother with.

On March 9, Gunter proclaimed that William Happer was not a climate denier but an expert on “the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases”. Sounds like he has some valuable expertise on climate change.

Wrong. Happer is not a climate scientist at all. He even said so himself. His main research focus is using MRIs to image lungs.

Is he a climate denier? You be the judge. In spite of having no apparent peer-reviewed publications on climate science, he felt qualified to give testimony to the US senate on the subject.

Real climate scientists were not amused. Dr. Bill Chameides, the Dean of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University wrote an excellent rebuttal to the load of dung dished out by Happer in his testimony to US lawmakers.

Another significant citiation point conveniently omitted by Gunter is that Happer is also Chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, which has received more than $700,000 from ExxonMobil. Of course, a ten second Google search by Gunter might be too much to ask of a professional journalist like himself.

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