Questions of the Day: Is this just a desperate attempt by The Washington Post to drive traffic to its website, by publishing outrageous crap designed to stir controversy? Is it just a coincidence that Marcus Brauchli, the Post’s new executive editor (as of September 2008), had been the WSJ’s editor, and that Raju Narisetti, who was named a managing editor at the Post in January, had been a deputy managing editor at the WSJ? You can ask the Post Ombudsman, Andy Alexander, for his answer by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-334-7582.
Fred Hiatt keeps delivering self-inflicted body blows to the dwindling reputation of the Washington Post editorial page — see Editorial page editor Hiatt just recycled a right-wing WSJ op-ed by Reagan’s chief economist Martin Feldstein. It’s déjà vu all over again today, but now with a Lomborg op-ed as the piece of recycled garbage.
Just last month, the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page ran a disinformation-filled piece from Lomborg (debunked here, “The Bjorn Irrelevancy: Duke dean disses Danish delayer“). It had lines like:
… agreements to reduce carbon emissions are costly, politically arduous and ultimately ineffective….
But his research demonstrates the futility of trying to use carbon cuts to keep temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)….
Hiatt, who is as zealously anti-environmental as he is pro-recycling, apparently feels that Lomborg’s lies aren’t getting a fair enough hearing in the media, so he runs a piece titled, “Costly Carbon Cuts” with lines like:
… many politicians are vowing to make carbon cuts designed to keep expected temperature rises under 3.6 degrees (2.0 Celsius). Yet it is nearly impossible for these promises to be fulfilled.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, wait a minute, Joe, Hiatt’s version of Lomborg’s piece is completely different than the WSJ’s because he forced Lomborg to put temperature in Fahrenheit with Celsius in parentheses like a real American editor, not the reverse, like those world-government, Europhile types at the WSJ ed board. But I digress.
Lomborg has done the denier two-step with Hiatt — going straight from denying the problem to saying it’s hopeless to even try to solve. And I’m sure future generations, if no one else, will note that if we don’t keep total warming below 3.6 F or 2 C, it will be because of people like Lomborg and Hiatt who are devoting all of their efforts to convincing opinionmakers that it can’t and shouldn’t be done!!
I’m not going to waste time debunking Lomborg yet again [see “Lomborg skewers the facts, again” and “Debunking Lomborg — Part III and “Voodoo Economists 4: The idiocy of crowds or, rather, the idiocy of (crowded) debates“]. But I’m happy to feature the work of guest debunkers (see “Lomborg’s main argument has collapsed).” And you can read a good critique by Grist’s Miles Grant of what the Post and Lomborg have done here.
But I will acknowledge there is something in this piece that I haven’t seen before — Lomborg’s (non)apology for coal:
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.
No need to have any discussion whatsoever of climate impacts, say that pesky 6,700-page report by world leaders concludes that climate change means “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse.”
And certainly Hiatt would never require Lomborg to explain that the international deal they are trying so hard to kill doesn’t require “drastic carbon cuts” for the developing world and certainly doesn’t require a “radical halt” to their coal use — or that both China and India have announced their intention to restrict the growth of carbon emissions and aggressively pursue clean energy.
This isn’t about the truth — and it’s not about exercising editorial judgment that Lomborg deserves some of the most precious space in the media world, the op-ed page of the Washington Post. No, it’s strictly about generating attention — for the faux environmentalist Lomb
org and the faux editor Hiatt.
Or perhaps the reason the Post is recycling the WSJ’s garbage is that it’s now being run by the folks who used to run the Journal.
What do you think?