Log in | Jump |

CEJournal

News & Perspective from the Center for Environmental Journalism
This item was posted on March 11, 2011, and it was categorized as Climate Change, Journalism, earthquakes.
You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

And the story in Grist with that headline is what yellow journalism looks like

Explosions at industrial facilities like the one pictured above in Ichihara, Japan; a destroyed village inundated by water; cars and boats swept by a rampaging wave into buildings and bridges — all of this, the editors of Grist would have you believe, “is what climate change looks like.”

That headline is for a story by Christopher Mims. The theory he sketches out is that shifts in the Earth’s crust triggered by melting ice sheets and glaciers “could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.”

This may well be scientifically plausible. But using the threat of earthquakes and tsunamis as a way to bludgeon people into believing that they’d better do something about climate change strikes me as terribly wrong-headed. There are plenty of sensible reasons for tackling climate change. This is not one of them. And making this particular connection simply invites disbelief, disdain — and worse.

Moreover, the magnitude 8.9 temblor that struck Japan was a subduction zone earthquake. It was caused by the inexorable movement of the Pacific tectonic plate as it thrusts underneath Japan at the Japan Trench. (Check out Joel Achenbach’s explanation at the Washington Post.) The Pacific plate is moving at a rate of about four inches per year, but in some places it gets stuck. When it comes unglued, a massive earthquake like the one Japan suffered through is the result.

Could melting ice cause crustal shifts that would help a plate get unglued at a subduction zone? Who knows? Grist’s story doesn’t come even remotely close to providing the evidence to back up such an astonishing claim. As a result, this is terrible, irresponsible journalism.

In fact, I would even go as far as to say that it is yellow journalism.

I’ve emailed Roger Bilham, one of the world’s most renown earthquake experts, to ask him for his perspective on this. I’ll update this post with what he says.

UDPATE: No sooner had I hit the return key to post this piece than Roger Bilham responded. In an email message, I had asked him this question: “Is there any possible way that a subduction zone earthquake like the one in Japan could be connected to such crustal shifts?” (Caused by melting ice.)

Roger is no doubt very busy right now, so he sent me just a two word response, from his iPhone: “Not possible.”

Perhaps there are other scientists who disagree. I don’t know because I haven’t done the reporting. But the point is that Christopher Mims has not done the reporting either.

Before publishing this story, a responsible journalist would have solicited a variety of scientific perspectives on the subject and provided a balanced view of expert scientific opinion. (Actually, given Bilham’s response, I would have simply spiked it.) And responsible editors would not have exploited the misery of others with such a sensational headline and pictures — and all on the basis of such flimsy reporting.

Share
This item was posted by .


You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

This thing has 36 Comments

  1. Mary
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Yee-ouch. But I agree with you. I don’t think “yellow” environmental journalism helps. If you don’t stand on the real facts and science, you have nowhere to go when you are challenged on it.

    And I also don’t need allies who are loose with the truth, frankly. They aren’t trustworthy.

  2. Alan Townsend
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. Yellow indeed. And wrong on so many levels.

  3. spyder
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    If they are producing this level of “a steaming pile of crap,” i can’t wait until they start on the nuclear power story.

  4. gregorylent
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    it’s all one thing, this earth. it is like a table, pull one leg, all the others come along.

  5. Posted March 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Inspired by your critique and others, I added an update to the top of the piece. Hope this clarifies things, though I don’t expect it to satisfy critics of the piece. Curious to hear your thoughts. Here’s the full text of the update:

    Update: The intent of this piece isn’t to attribute today’s tragedy to climate change. Apologies to those whom I misled with the headline. It was meant literally, as in: Tsunamis are inundations of shorelines and therefore have impacts that resemble storm surges, which are one of the most immediate threats of a warmer planet. In addition, climate change may cause tsunamis directly, so it’s possible we’ll someday see more images like this as a result.

  6. Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Christopher: Thank you for coming here to comment. I appreciate it. But a warning before you read on: My critique below is pretty blunt — not to embarrass you, but to stick up for responsible journalism.

    First, the update does not fix your piece, because the overarching problem is that you actually have no story. You appear to have done no actual reporting. Instead, you’ve dug up some quotes from a dusty, two-year old Reuters piece. And you’ve based your claim that there could even be a link between subduction zone earthquakes and climate change on a single sentence at the end of an obscure Chinese news service story.

    As far as I can tell, you haven’t reviewed any scientific literature on the subject or interviewed seismologists, or other experts — or even the people who were quoted in the Reuters story two years ago. How do you know that they haven’t changed their minds based on new research? And how do you know that what they said at a conference two years ago even applies to anything like what happened in Japan?

    Moreover, one of the scientists quoted in the Reuters story said glacial earthquake tsunamis (btw, a phenomenon very different from the Japan tsunami) were “low-probability but high-risk.” Also this: “Added to all the rest of the mayhem and chaos, these things would just be the icing on the cake, . . . Things would be so bad that the odd tsunami or eruption won’t make much difference.”

    Why did you ignore this?

    Lastly, even though you are claiming not to have attributed the tsunami to climate change, your own text says that melting ice sheets and glaciers “could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.” The strong implication is that what happened in Japan could, in fact, have been caused by climate change. And that, by the way, is how many people are reading your story.

    If you got the goods, fine. Go with it. But you don’t. Not even close. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.

    I think your intention with this piece was to use the tragedy to try to convince the public of the urgency of climate change. But the result may, in fact, be exactly the opposite.

  7. Iain Jarvis
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Look climate change can cause many things. This is why I believe in climate change, but not global warming. You have to look at the big picture. The Sun’s influence on our weather, gravitational field, and what is does to the inner core of the earth. Addition our regular weather patterns, Jet streams, El nina and La nina, Tectonic plate shifting, the Conveyor belt, space weather, etc. When Ice in the arctic and antarctic couple of things happens: fresh water, sea water, and methane goes under the water from the currant of the conveyor belt. Also water vapor is sent from evaporated sea and fresh waters, which is the most influence and important contributer to the greenhouse gases. What happens to the fresh water? Fresh water is lighter than Sea water, so it sits on top, while seawater seeks down. In the Atlantic, the water saturation is in favor for fresh water due to increase in heat from the climate. This can alter the changes of the conveyor belt which contributer to the jet streams and climate. If it slows down slightly and water vapor increase. The saturation of the humanity can increase, which can cause fewer blizzards and tropical storms, but bigger and stronger storms. Just like what happen in January and February in the North East United States and most of Europe, which East Europe and the border of Russia are having.

  8. Bob Koss
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Another green site trying to capitalize on the Japan tragedy. They also approve of the Grist article.
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/03/climate-change-earthquakes-tsunamis-alarmism.php

  9. Posted March 12, 2011 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Tom: I appreciate your not pulling any punches. Of all the critiques of this piece, I thought yours was the most dead-on. I’ve updated the piece fairly extensively in response to your objections; unfortunately I think it’s still a bit of a band-aid. I’m not sure what more I can do that will be productive for the discussion it has raised.

    I’ll spare you what I think are the lessons for me as a writer and skip to the larger issue, which is that, as you imply, climate science in particular is an area in which it’s important to take it slow and get it right. I, for, one, will be heeding that advice.

    I’ve posted McGuire’s very interesting paper “Potential for a hazardous geospheric response to projected future climate changes” here, for anyone who is interested in finding out about the relationship between climate change and the geosphere:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/460/2317.full.pdf

  10. Posted March 12, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    And Tom Yulsman’s set of comments is what peer-review looks like, on the best of days.

    It also reveals, at least to me, the importance for journalists to have a story.

    Thank you,

    w

  11. Alan Townsend
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    The world could use a lot more exchanges like this one between Tom and Chris. I think Tom was right in his critique of the piece, but am also impressed with Chris’ handling of it here. Kudos to you both.

  12. Iain Jarvis
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    To Tom and Christ: El Nino and La Nina can increase the rate of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The Thermocline is the increase in heat and pressure. During La Nina which is still in effect, the Thermocline is at higher angle which causes faulting or shifting of the lands. There is no currant proof by NOAA that global warming can cause or create Tsunami. The only physical proof which NOAA recognizes is Ring of Fire and Earthquakes and Volcanoes. The moon can influence the tides and can increase a tsunami. Sometime is by March the 13th (Tomorrow) the moon is suppose to be the closest in 18 years.

  13. Posted March 12, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I am also impressed with how Chris is handling this now. Many if not most people would have reacted defensively. By contrast, I sense that Chris is trying to learn from this.

    That said, the genie is out of the bottle on this one, with climate change skeptics piling on over at Grist and a sometimes nasty — and often not very rational — war of words erupting between people.

    I don’t think there is an easy solution to this. But a good first step might be to issue a clear correction at the top of the piece, stating unequivocally that while some scientists are concerned that there could be some sort of “geospheric” response to climate change over a long time scale, they simply do not know enough to say with confidence what the risks are, and over what time scale they might play out.

    Research has shown that a variety of geospheric responses followed the end of the last ice age. Massive melting of ice sheets and a concomitant rise in sea level of more than 100 meters seems to have been associated with all manner of geospheric mayhem, including earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and “splash” waves. But it needs to be pointed out that scientists have not detected any increase in such phenomena — let alone linked a catastrophe like the Japan earthquake and tsunami to climate change.

    I actually think there is a fascinating and important story still waiting to be told here, but it would have to reported carefully and told skillfully. It would entail considerable background research, starting (but not ending) with McGuire’s paper on the potential for a hazardous geospheric response to projected future climate changes (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1919/2317.abstract), and also a good deal of interviewing of experts — including people outside this very specific research field. For example, I would speak with earthquake experts, such as Roger Bilham here at the University of Colorado. He’s a renown seismologist, and he also has a broad perspective that would be useful for such a story. (Unfortunately, he told me in an email that he will be going to Japan, so I’m not sure how available he would be.)

    Bottom line: Contrition is a great first step. The next one should be to make a clear an unequivocal statement that the current state of knowledge on this subject does not indicate what risks, if any, we face. And then to correct the record with a solidly reported story.

    Chris: Are you up for this? Since I so vociferously and publicly took you to task, I feel like maybe it’s my responsibility to help you on the upside. I’d be willing to read a draft of what you came up with and offer suggestions.

  14. Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Let me hop of the kudos to Chris bandwagon. Seriously, I’m very impressed with his public openness to criticism, and his willingness to make course corrections.

  15. Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    A follow up to my previous comment:

    Whatever geospheric responses might follow from climate change, they will likely pale in comparison to the already well-known risks we face from rising sea levels, changes in weather patterns, extreme weather events, etc.

    So Chris, before starting on a story about this particular area of scientific inquiry, you might ask yourself what the justification for doing it would be. The science is certainly interesting, and correcting the record could be helpful. On the other hand, my editor’s brain is also telling me there could be good reason to correct your story unequivocally and clearly and then move on — especially considering the really scary events that are now unfolding at the Japanese nuclear power plants. The theoretical risks of future earthquakes triggered decades hence by melting ice sheets seem to pale in comparison to the prospect of a nuclear meltdown.

    Any one else have thoughts about this?

  16. Gaythia
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I agree with Tom Yulsman’s skepticism about the lack of justification for pursuing the possible earthquake and vulcanism angle to the global warming story. I am somewhat familiar with speculations regarding Mt. Rainer near Seattle. This is an active volcano weighted down by snow and glaciers. Would warming cause melting that would unweight the volcano, destabilize the system and make eruptions more likely? In the first place, maybe at this particular point on the globe, more snow would fall. Secondly, figuring out what affects any unweighting and possible destabilization would have on probabilities of eruptions would be a complex process. But the main point is, this is an active volcano with a known history of eruptions leading to mudflows in valleys now occupied by towns and cities. In my opinion, the need for concern and action, here, as in Japan, is clearly already apparent.

    The story that I believe would be more interesting and more directly appropriate for Christopher Mims to pursue has to do with developing better interactions between those, such as at venues like Grist and Treehugger that have enthusiasm and willing to work and those who are knowledgeable about the science behind the issues and/or the psychology and sociology of communication techniques. Working to bridge these gaps, and to formulate methods to work together for effective outreach, would be a valuable contribution, I believe.

  17. Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Gaythia: Amen!

  18. Steve Bloom
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    TY: “Whatever geospheric responses might follow from climate change, they will likely pale in comparison to the already well-known risks we face from rising sea levels, changes in weather patterns, extreme weather events, etc.”

    This alludes to what I think is the central point: No, even granting the point in the article, climate change will very rarely look like a tsunami. What it will look like is increased storminess, bigger heat waves, drought, deluges, more sea level rise sooner than most people expect, crop failure, spread of tropical diseases, mass starvation, political instability, widespread low-intensity warfare over resources, economic disruption, ecosystem disruption, and lots and lots and lots of denial.

  19. Steve Bloom
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Actually if I had to nominate a poster child for what climate change looks like, it would be those failing agricultural villages in India with the high suicide rates.

  20. Steve Bloom
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Gaythia, in Seattle’s case Rainier isn’t even the worst of it given what the Cascadia fault will do. In a sane world, Seattle would move.

  21. gaythia
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Steve Bloom has hit upon what ought to be the obvious take away lesson from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami: The Cascadian subduction fault is a threat to the Pacific Northwest. And even the generally well prepared Japanese were obviously not well prepared enough. Coastal areas of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia need to take note.

    The USGS has a good website on this here: http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/tsunami/cascadia.html

    Seattle is a bit inland, on Puget Sound. Much of the downtown and port areas are on fill, however.

  22. spyder
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I think the discourse in the comments is getting to the fundamental points of critical thinking and rational dialog. A little bit of rational thinking seems to go too far when trying to connect climate change with geology. For example, the comments about Mt Rainer might seem to make sense, but whole swaths of volcanoes covered in much thicker layers of ice and the subsequent pressures erupt all the time along the northern part of the ring of fire (Alaska, Kamchatka, etc.). I don’t advocate for responsible journalists to teach critical thinking to the public, but it sure would help if they practiced, with great patience, the forms and processes of it. The discourse between Tom and Chris here is very illustrative of the process, and would, in itself, make for a good story.

    I believe what we can say, with a degree of certainty, is that there is no earthquake/tsunami proof construction that can withstand the largest of the planetary quakes (including reactors). CA has two nuclear power plants built on the coasts, near fault lines. The Cascadia and San Andreas faults are active, as are the Yellowstone caldera and the New Madrid zones. Tens of millions of people live in the regions around them, and practice barely a lick of emergency exercises and preparedness, unlike the Japanese. My personal feeling is that the Grist readers would have been better served, not by the shock piece of coming doom, but by the call for real preparation and training. This should include responses to the litany of the known problems caused by climate change, as evidenced in Steve Bloom’s comments above.

  23. Ben Richardson
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    The United States Coast Guard have notice that Japan is now in between the Euroasian Plate and the Pacific Plate. Euroasian plate was pushed underneath by the Pacific Plate, but by a last second the Euroasian plate made a loop and got tugged, which caused the 8.9 Earthquake. So looking at this in the near future Japan will be completely on the Pacific plate, which there timeline of there clock might increase by 1 hour.

  24. Posted March 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Eli rests his case.

    The damage is done when this crap leaks out of the box, and you can never shove it completely back in.

    (BTW the same thing came up Friday with a student, and the blunt answer was no. Followed by a discussion of how Munich Re uses earthquake damage as a climate independent baseline to see if there are increases in weather losses and how unloading of ice sheets could cause something in Greenland/Antarctica if there is a huge mass loss, but by then there would be more serious issues.)

  25. Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, if there is ANY climate change angle it is that with higher sea levels tsunamis will go further inland so there is a small increase in vulnerability, but the tsunami is the real problem.

  26. Gaythia
    Posted March 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I think that it is worth noting today’s interview of Andy Revkin by David Roberts of Grist in which David Robert states: “When, for instance, you’re trying to appeal to the public to take measures to respond to a threat to public health, you need language that’s emotionally compelling. You need narrative and drama and imagery. Those needs take precedence over the need for scientific precision.”

    See: http://www.grist.org/article/2011-03-14-talking-with-andy-revkin-about-climate-communication-video#c809793

    As I noted in a comment at that post:

    I strongly agree with Andy Revkin, that to be credible, climate change communicators are obliged to be precise and accurate. Fortunately, it is possible to do this while still using language that is “emotionally compelling” and with “narrative and drama and imagery”.

    At this point in time, following the recent episode with Grist’s Christopher Mims, here: http://www.grist.org/article/2011-03-11-todays-tsunami-this-is-what-climate-change-looks-like; I believe that the entire staff of Grist needs to put not only some serious thought into this matter, but is, as an organization direly in need of some sincere efforts at reform.

    I then cited a couple of examples of science writing I find compelling. I suggest that given that we are interested in effective communication of climate change issues, that some serious efforts at inspiring, cajoling or pressuring Grist into acknowledgment and efforts towards higher standards of journalism ethics and writing quality are in order. Because the impact of their work matters to all of us.

    I for one plan to do more with the occasional annoyances of items on their e-mails than give them a quick trip into the trash, and will attempt to respond in detail to them as to what I think the problems are.

  27. Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Gaythia – the Grist people have spent some money to define themselves as “gloom and doom with a sense of humor (r)”.

    This whole episode just demonstrates that Grist is “what it says on the tin”, and accuracy and precision is the last thing on their mind. It has the credibility of a football club’s official magazine.

  28. GrammarPolice
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Tom has given Chris a major and well-deserved journalistic lesson.
    Here’s a minor grammatical one for Tom:
    ‘Renown’ is a noun, meaning ‘fame’ and cannot be used as an adjective.
    ‘Renowned’ is the adjective and should have been used to describe Dr. Bilham.

  29. Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Gaythia

    You gonna do the same thing for Marc Morano??

  30. Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Eli: Marc Morano is not a journalist. And there is absolutely nothing to be gained by my taking him on. He is self-refuting, and anyone who doesn’t see that isn’t going to be convinced by anything I say.

    By contrast, Christopher Mimms IS a journalist. He made one big mistake, but he clearly wants to get things right. I respect how he handled the situation — no defensiveness and with equanimity that I’m not sure I could match. So I hope to be reading great stuff from him in the future. And I’m definitely willing to help if I can.

  31. Susan Anderson
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, Marc Morano has a bigger audience than those who are convinced he’s self-refuting. Witness our current government. Today ClimateProgress, which people love to insult, notes that NOAA’s funding is on the chopping block. Our ability to observe and understand what is going on is being cut off at the source as the phony skeptic movement employs it’s ever increasing bag of tricks to get people to hide from reality. One commenter notes the anti-science contingent wants to take away paper and ink from unbiased science, and keep people’s fingers firmly in their ears when facts are presented. Most people just want something to blame for their difficulties, and are all too willing to shoot the messenger rather than deal with accelerating reality, which is packing quite a punch these days.

    I’d agree that the Mims article is unfortunate and anyone familiar with plate tectonics should know better than to even think this way, but those willing to exploit it instead of considering its metaphorical content are more at fault in my eyes. No amount of self-correction from the author is going to stop the multiplication of hostility and distortion from disinformationalists and their dupes.

  32. Posted March 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Indeed Marc Morano is a charter member of the Journalism/Public Relations Complex. He is as much of a journalist as Jay Carney. You are defining deviancy down again. RTFR

    ———————————
    Morano has held both White House and Capitol Hill Press credentials and was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has attended and reported on numerous international eco-conferences and the 2002 UN-sponsored Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Morano was the investigative reporter for Cybercast News Service in Washington, DC. He has also served as a reporter/producer for the nationally syndicated television newsmagazine “American Investigator.” His reports have included an exposé on the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, an exclusive report on the safety of organic foods, and reports on the endangered species act and property rights. In 2000, his investigative television documentary “Amazon Rainforest: Clear-Cutting the Myths” created an international firestorm.
    ———————————-

  33. Tom Yulsman
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Eli, I really don’t care what Morano’s bio says. None of that means he actually hews to journalistic principles and ethics.

    That’s all I have to say on the subject. I know you’d like to draw me into a pissing match with Morano, but I’m not at all interested. If you think it’s worth it, you do it. Have fun. And good luck.

  34. Posted March 18, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Tom, that’s silly and beneath you. Eli is not trying to draw you into a pissing match with Morano but get you to acknowledge that there are a whole bunch of people out there who are and or who have been journalists, recognized as such by journalists and journalists’ organization, who, as you say, have neither ethics or principles, and you know, they don’t all write for environmental organizations.

    Oh, you just did that, in the comments of course, the ones that no one except the bunny and you ever read, but, OK, let’s move on.

    You came down really hard on Chris Mims, and your discussion was echoed far and wide. And you know, besides the AEI, folk like Eli agreed with you. Of course, Mims is an easy target because he published on a GRIST blog, an environmentalist site. And Mims even came to accept your point, which, as others have agreed, had a real personal cost and speaks highly of him.

    But does Eli ever read anything from you and your coven about folk like Morano when they write porgies? You know, your the ability to alter behavior is not everything. The public (hi lurkers) needs to know who is telling the porgies. And Eli, he hears the birds are still tweeting out there in Boulder, of course, he may have missed some posts at CE. So in the spirit of sharing here is a bunch of fresh liver for you to start on, James Delingpole, a real, practicing chunalist. Your butcher, may, of course, prefer other cuts, but this sort of implausibly deniable asymmetry was one of the reasons Eli was so hard on your buddy

  35. Russell Seitz
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    If any journalistic dereliction is evident , it is the failure of Private Eye’s Street of Shame columnists to report the exodus of tabloid hacks pissed or otherwise from Fleet Street to the pop science press. the cronyism driving the downturn in quality seems as evident among American journals employing Center alumni as at The Daily Telegraph or The Spectator.

    It seems to mater little if the driving ideological force is green zeal or the garbled ignorance of home schooled Tea Partistas. science politicized is science betrayed.

    Yet this incident may paradoxically fail to qualify as such, for in order to actually politicize a scientific question, both sides must understand what they are talking about, and there is no sign of that here, as it appears that post-modern journalism & PR schools no more teach dimensional analysis and fact checking than blog commentators practice those arts.

    The unamused laughter of Damon Runyon, Henry Mencken, and Oz Elliott hangs heavy in the air

  36. Susan Anderson
    Posted March 26, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    If you are short of material (hah!) or even if not, this is worthy of a thorough read. It might provide some “balance” against all this propagandizing that has persuaded journalists bent on avoiding bias to lean to the right and adopt their talking-point attacks.

    “Scoring Cheap Political Points” is just the message they want to replace the warning of our planet’s power and unpredictability, as well as the massive impact of human exploitation as it grows and grows. Actually, the cheap political points from the anti-careful-science contingent outnumber items like the above by a considerable amount.

    http://scholarcitizen.williamcronon.net/2011/03/24/open-records-attack-on-academic-freedom/

    This is carefully and beautifully written. I’d like to see it required reading for everyone calling themselves a patriot, but what a hope!

This thing has 9 Trackbacks

  1. Posted March 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    [...] Tom Yulsman calls the Grist article “yellow journalism.”  Kenneth Green at AEI calls it [...]

  2. Posted March 12, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    [...] text updated to reflect the discussion of the science and the framing in the comments. Thanks to Tom Yulsman for holding my feet to the fire on [...]

  3. Posted March 13, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    [...] lets loose an enormous blast – she has spoken for all of us, amidst the self-indulgent pussyfooting that carefully avoids the central factorum – this is no accident or misstep, this is a [...]

  4. Posted March 14, 2011 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    [...] article was immediately condemned as “yellow journalism” – not by Rush Limbaugh, but by Tom Yulsman from the Center for Environmental Journalism, who noted that the Japan earthquake was of a type that could not have been caused by climate [...]

  5. Posted March 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    [...] “Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like” Using the threat of earthquakes and tsunamis as a way to bludgeon people into believing that they’d better do something about climate change strikes me as terribly wrong-headed. There are plenty of sensible reasons for tackling climate change. This is not one of them. And making this particular connection simply invites disbelief, disdain — and worse. [...]

  6. Posted March 17, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    [...] Mims has edited the post several times, clearly stung by the negative reaction from both the  left and right.  Not long ago, a piece like this would have been trumpeted around the Internet by [...]

  7. Posted March 17, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    [...] Mims has edited the post several times, clearly stung by the negative reaction from both the  left and right.  Not long ago, a piece like this would have been trumpeted around the Internet by [...]

  8. Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    [...] Mims is not exactly an exemplar of good judgment to be calling out Limbaugh for insensitivity when it comes to exploitation of Japan’s [...]

  9. Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    [...] Mims is not exactly an exemplar of good judgment to be calling out Limbaugh for insensitivity when it comes to exploitation of Japan’s [...]

Comments are currently closed