I am not the kind of guy to get all worked up over global warming. Nor am I the kind of guy to dismiss it entirely. I think there are good questions about how much the earth will warm, how much is humanity's fault, and what we can/should do about it in either case.
That being said, this article from yesterday's Post-Gazette strikes me as a shrieking, sky-is-falling entry in the debate. It's all about how Pennsylvania's climate is going to be like Alabama's. It also includes an obligatory reference to New York City looking more like Venice 100 years from now. Check out the lede:
Without major reductions in heat-trapping gas emissions, Pennsylvanians can say goodbye to ski resorts, snowmobiles, brook trout and eastern hemlocks, and expect many more heat-related health problems by the end of the century, according to a study on the effects of climate change on the Northeast.
Well, gee. A study? I guess we're in trouble, then. How much? Lots:
Leading scientists agree that the planet's climate is warming and that emissions from a variety of human sources have likely caused much of the change. Yesterday's report localizes those findings and details the effects in the Northeast of continuing emissions of heat-trapping gases, concluding that winters could warm by 8 to 12 degrees and summers by 6 to 14 degrees above historic levels.
Holy crap. Fourteen degrees? Al Gore and his buddies at the UN are predicting 3 degree. OK, sure. This is "global" versus "local," and I bet there are some Celsius versus Fahrenheit issues, too. But man. Fourteen degrees seems like a lot.
Granted, people at the Union of Concerned Scientists know a lot more about clouds and ozone than I do. But come on. There is not one dissenting voice in the Post-Gazette article. I am under no delusions about the "objectivity" of the press. And I doubt the press would be better if it were entirely objective. Here, though... seriously. These people are predicting that the local impact of global warming will be far, far worse than predictions coming out of places like the UN. And there are people disputing THOSE predictions. Moreover, the Union of Concerned Scientists is not an entirely uncontroversial group. Poke around a little.
That doesn't mean they shouldn't have a voice. But maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea not to start of articles articles based on their research like this:
Without major reductions in heat-trapping gas emissions, Pennsylvanians can say goodbye to ski resorts, snowmobiles, brook trout and eastern hemlocks, and expect many more heat-related health problems...
If a business group came out with its own report, would it be a good idea to start the article like this:
Global warming is a bunch of nonsense. You should buy a Hummer and drive it all the time. When you are not driving it, you should put it up on blocks and put a brick on the gas pedal. You should live in a McMansion, open all the windows and keep your climate control system running at full blast. So says the Union of Relaxed Scientists, a public interest group.
No. It wouldn't be a good idea to start it like that. Especially if you were not going to offer any insight into who the group is or what it does.
I am not the only one asking about how these things get covered, by the way. What timing.