Newsweek — no doubt still irritated about getting burned by Time on the green front — devotes its cover this week to the "greening of America." Most of the cover story is a recitation of facts and trends familiar to Grist readers. I was happy to see some skepticism sneak into the cheerleading:
… these are thrilling times, the beginning of a technological and social revolution that could vault our society into a post-post-industrial future. … On the other hand, we may just be kidding ourselves. Can bicycles and switch grass really offset the effects — in pollution, resource depletion and habitat destruction — of a billion Chinese lining up to buy cars for the first time? … It’s nice that Jane Cremisi … washes and reuses her aluminum foil and patronizes ecofriendly hotels …. But you cannot save the world with anecdotes. Is the relevant statistic that sales of hybrid cars doubled last year to 200,000 — or that they were outsold by SUVs by a ratio of 23-1?
Unfortunately, that is the sum total of the skepticism in the piece, and it more or less goes unanswered. Still, it’s a nice, optimistic read.
Far, far more annoying is the sidebar about Bush’s record on environmental issues, which reads like a parody of the widely loathed he-said, she-said style of journalism. Have a look at this:
[Activists] accuse [Bush] of relaxing clean-air standards on power plants and refineries, and of blocking Kyoto-style measures to halt global warming.
Now, whatever your political proclivities, surely we can all agree that whether Bush relaxed clean-air standards, and whether he blocked Kyoto-style measures, is a matter of fact, not opinion. What’s in his heart, his motivations, these are matters for speculation. But his record is a settled state of affairs, empirically verifiable. Presumably Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe has the resources and the training to determine that state of affairs. So why would he not share it with readers?
Would Wolffe write that "David Roberts has accused his mother of giving birth to him"? That would be odd. Whether the woman I call my mother gave birth to me can be investigated and verified, via birth certificates and such. So why write that activists "accuse" Bush of relaxing clean-air standards? He did or he didn’t. (Hint: he did.) Grr.