Is there any media outlet that enables global warming denial more effectively than the Washington Post? After today’s op-ed from one of the top deniers in the world, the latest in a long line of denial op-eds, you have to wonder.
While Fox “News,” Rush Limbaugh, the Wall Street Journal, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review all deliver daily doses of denial, they’re all expected to. The Washington Post, on the other hand, somehow is known as a flagbearer of the fictional Liberal Media Establishment despite having a center-right editorial page editor and more conservatives than liberals on its op-ed roster.
So when the Washington Post runs an op-ed from a character like Bjorn Lomborg, it takes on an air of authority with the Beltway crowd that Lomborg clearly doesn’t deserve. Today’s Lomborg op-ed is only the latest in a steady stream of embarrassingly error-ridden denial screeds in the Post, the most recent from George Will and Sarah Palin.
Look, I could give you a rundown of how Lomborg has built a lucrative career on being a global warming denier. But DeSmogBlog has already done that better than I ever could. All I can tell you is that if Bjorn Lomborg was around at the time of the Apollo project, he’d be sitting around saying, “It’ll never work. I don’t know why they’re bothering. And who cares about the moon, anyway?”
Of course, you can’t just come right out and say that global warming’s not so bad. Makes you seem insenstive to the drowning people in places like New Orleans and Bangladesh and you just will not get invited to the best dinner parties if you give away the dirty little secret that global warming deniers could not care less about poor people (or middle class people or anyone who’s not super rich and just making a killing off high energy prices).
So instead, you have to come up with all sorts of phony baloney numbers (like, say, $50 trillion) to pretend that climate action is more trouble than it’s worth.
Lomborg almost makes it through the entire op-ed without revealing his blatant shilling for dirty, polluting fuels. But at the end, he just can’t help himself. He practically climbs on top of his chair to shout, “I LOVE COAL! OR MORE ACCURATELY, COAL’S CHECKS!”:
Today, coal accounts for almost half of the planet’s electricity supply, including half the power consumed in the United States. It keeps hospitals and core infrastructure running, provides warmth and light in winter, and makes lifesaving air conditioning available in summer. In China and India, where coal accounts for more than 80 percent of power generation, it has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
There is no doubt that coal is causing environmental damage that we need to stop. But a clumsy, radical halt to our coal use — which is what promises of drastic carbon cuts actually require — would mean depriving billions of people of a path to prosperity.
You see? Bjorn Lomborg isn’t against ALL forms of clean energy and climate action. Just all the EXISTING ones. Why can’t we talk about forms of clean energy that don’t exist, like “clean” coal?
But come to think of it, when it comes to climate action, advocating for things that don’t actually exist means Lomborg fits right in on the Washington Post editorial page. Their editorial board has spent the last two years fighting against the existing global warming pollution cap-and-trade bills moving through Congress, instead advocating a non-existent carbon tax (or as my boy David Roberts more accurately & hilariously calls it, the Alternative Universe Carbon Tax Pony Bill).
Want a better read? Go check out the New York Times‘ editorial page, with two brilliant columns in the last two days from Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman. Then leave a comment thanking the Times for its climate columns. Better yet, write a letter to the editor. In a denial-filled debate, the voices of reason need all the support they can get.