Dr. Drew: Stop the Press to Stop Coronavirus Panic

At Real Clear Politics, Coronavirus Panic Must Stop, Press Needs to Be Held Accountable for Hurting People.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Dr.Drew Pinsky talks with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about coronavirus: “The panic must stop. And the press, they really somehow need to be held accountable because they are hurting people.”

CBS NEWS: “So you’ve seen pandemics over the decades, how does this one compare with everything?”

DR. DREW: “A bad flu season is 80,000 dead, we’ve got about 18,000 dead from influenza this year, we have a hundred from corona. Which should you be worried about influenza or Corona? A hundred versus 18,000? It’s not a trick question. And look, everything that’s going on with the New York cleaning the subways and everyone using Clorox wipes and get your flu shot, which should be the other message, that’s good. That’s a good thing, so I have no problem with the behaviors. What I have a problem with is the panic and the fact that businesses are getting destroyed that people’s lives are being upended, not by the virus, but by the panic. The panic must stop. And the press, they really somehow need to be held accountable because they are hurting people.”

CBS NEWS: “So, where do you think the panic started? Besides the press, like what was the impetus in terms of mass hysteria?”

DR. DREW: “I saw it, there’s a footage of me on a show called The Daily Blast Live a month ago, going ‘shouldn’t we be scared about this?’ and me going ‘no, there’s gonna be as potential for panic here, shut up everybody, stop talking about it, I could see the panic brewing, and I could just see it the way the innuendo and the every opportunity for drama by the press was twisted in that direction. Let me give you an example: so the World Health Organization is out now saying the fatality rate from the virus is 3.4%, right? Every publication from the WHO says 3.4% and we expect it to fall dramatically once we understand the full extent of the illness. No one ever reports the actual statement. We go 3.4% that’s 10 times more than the, whatever five times more than the flu virus and yeah it’s gonna be a little more [than the] flu probably. Still not a bad flu season.”

CBS NEWS: “Right, we’re gonna hear about more cases, more people died.”

DR. DREW: “There are probably several people in this building that probably have it and don’t know it.”

CBS NEWS: “Right, well it was also just the process of letting the public know, the stock market, the number of tests that were available, there was so much happening, I think people were freaking out as a result of that.”

DR. DREW: “I think there was it was a concerted effort by the press to capture your eyes and in doing so they did it by inducing panic. There’s, listen, the CDC and the WHO, they know what they are doing, they contain pandemics, that’s how they know how to do it, they’re doing an amazing job.”

CBS NEWS: “What about the global implications of this because we were talking off-camera about Italy, there’s China as well, there’s some little outbreaks where you should avoid.

DR. DREW: “There are, I would look out where there flus out breaking bad to. I ended up getting the bird flu, I got H1N1 and it was horrible. It was no fun. … There’s certain things having been a physician for almost forty years, there are certain things I just know … and there’s certain things I just know by virtue of all the experience I’ve had and so when I saw this one coming, the corona, I thought I know how this is gonna go, I see kind of what it is and then I saw the excessive reaction the press, so I have to respond and then people, the weird part on social media towards me as people are angry with me, angry with me for trying to get them to see reality and calm down.”

Then there are wise words from Czech Microbiologist Dr Václava Adámková , posted at Lubos Motl’s website Reference Frame Czech microbiologist on the Covid panic  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Well, I would criticize them for purposefully and uselessly manipulating with the populace of the laymen. And the tone in which the news are being presented – there is one case here… Well, there’s one case here, five cases a day or eight cases a day today. It’s 8 cases. During that time, much more serious infectious diseases, viral or bacterial ones, actually kill many more people. And that’s something that is not included in the context of that information. So the announcements seem populist, one-sided, and they resemble a politician’s campaign before the elections when the politician focuses on one topic and he escalates it.

I am not quite a virologist, closer to a bacteriologist. Anyway, coronaviruses have been with us from the beginning. It is a large group of viruses that cause respiratory diseases, runny nose, cough, exceptionally diseases of the lower respiratory tract. But when we statistically test the coronaviruses every year, they cause up to 18% of respiratory infections. No one talks about it. These viruses attack all age groups, from babies to seniors. That’s how things work. Sometimes they appear along with other viruses, most often with influenza viruses. The coronaviruses have always been here, are here, and will be here. When the virus mutates, merges the genes with something, that’s how Nature and biology works. They may do whatever seems good in their context. We see it in flu, too.

I don’t really believe that the Wuhan virus differs. If we look at it from the healthcare perspective, according to symptoms – Covid is mostly about mild symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, especially among young and not immunocompromised people. And even the fatalities described in the context of this virus are compatible with the biology of this virus. Even the other coronaviruses may kill a weakened individual. But the available mortality numbers, let’s accept them, simply describe the reality. In comparison with SARS and MERS, Covid has a much lower fatality rate. Nevertheless, SARS and MERS didn’t get this much attention.

Some 3 months ago, the WHO was just warning about the infectious disease, most likely a viral and not bacterial one, that may quickly spread due to the widespread travelling. The main WHO virologist just made this speculation. It’s interesting that this has happened. It may easily spread, in theory. However, in practice, the propagation of the news occurs much more quickly than the propagation of the virus itself. It is spreading like a computer virus, not a biological virus, because the numbers of infected ones remain low. Around 80,000 Chinese is a tiny fraction of China’s 1.4 billion people. If they published how many people have flu or tuberculosis at the same moment, the numbers would be vastly higher. So I think it is like the propagation of a Trojan horse or a computer virus.

Things You Don’t Hear from Slanted Media

Cora Mandy explains at Real Politics Impeachment Crusade Blinds Media to Trump’s Accomplishments. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

For Americans across the country, Democrats’ and the media’s fixation on impeachment has engulfed the news the public has consumed for nearly four months. Democrats have worked tirelessly to convince the public that President Trump committed an impeachable offense. Unfortunately for them, these attempts have proved to be futile. Recent polling has shown a drop in support for impeachment. Where our country was previously evenly divided, Americans now oppose impeachment 50%-47% and Trump’s job approval rating has remained steady.

Americans see beyond spin and media narratives, but ascertaining what has been going on in Washington behind the sea of impeachment headlines can be difficult. A new Media Research Center analysis found that from the time that Democrats’ impeachment push began on Sept. 24, the evening newscasts on CNN, ABC, and NBC gave the president’s historic economy and trade developments just nine minutes of coverage, combined, out of 1,098 total minutes. Conversely, impeachment efforts and Ukraine received 849 minutes of airtime. That means news on Trump’s economy made up far less than 1% of the coverage.

Devoid of fair and balanced news sources, Americans do not realize just how much President Trump and his administration have accomplished in the face of the Democrats’ baseless impeachment efforts.

For starters, it was recently announced that nation’s average unemployment rate since Trump took office is the lowest recorded in history: 3.9%. The administration has created opportunities for Americans to rejoin the workforce, and as result we have seen a decline of over 7 million Americans no longer dependent on food stamps.

President Trump continues to break his own records: As of January 2020, more than 158,000,000 Americans are employed, the stock market is reaching new highs, and consumer confidence is at the highest in decades.

It’s impossible to refute the strength of the Trump economy. The media knows this and that is why coverage of it is lackluster; but that’s not the only victory by the administration that has been brushed over in the last few months.

Last December, President Trump signed The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act. This bill appropriates funding for rape kit testing, DNA training programs, and the sexual assault forensic grant program. The backlog of rape kits in this country soars well over the tens of thousands. The funds granted in this bill ensure that these kits can be tested before the statues of limitations run out and that victims have a better chance of seeing justice.

President Trump took measures in November of 2019 to outlaw animal cruelty and make the prosecution of offenders easier when he signed The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act into law. This measure provides more comprehensive protections for animals against abuse, torture, and the making or sharing of videos that depict animal abuse. A prior loophole made it difficult to prosecute cruelty cases that crossed multiple jurisdictions, but PACT eliminates this.

President Trump also is keeping America’s youth safer. The development of e-cigarettes and vaping saw a resurgence of tobacco use among children and teens, with one in four high school seniors admitting to vaping. Vaping-related illnesses such as lung disease are on the rise, affecting thousands of Americans. In December of 2019, the administration took decisive action to prevent American children’s accessibility to these life-threatening products by raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The Trump administration is keeping its promise to take care of our military and veterans and to secure our nation’s border. The spending deal passed in December delivered a 3.1% pay raise to military personnel, the largest pay increase in over a decade. Further, it provided over $1 billion in funding to continue wall construction on our southern border.

The spending bill also included paid family leave for federal workers, a measure that will bring the American government into the 21st century. Previously, the United States was one of just two countries out of 170 that did not provide financial compensation during family leave. The Trump administration is leading by example, encouraging private sector companies to follow in its footsteps to make paid family leave a possibility for all Americans.

The media will be in hysterics once more this week as Senate lawmakers set the rules and procedures for the impeachment hearings. While Democrats continue on their unfounded quest to remove a duly-elected president from office, Donald Trump will be busy delivering real results for the American people, despite what you may hear in the media.

Looking forward to 2020

 

Greta’s Sock Puppeteers Revealed

Greta, Greta and Greta? On the left, Svante Thunberg, on the right, Adarsh Prathap Photo: DR. Wikimedia Commons. Facebook

Facebook Glitch Reveals Greta Thunburg’s Father Posting As Teenage Climate Activist
by Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

A Thursday evening software update at Facebook accidentally allowed anyone to view exactly who is posting under the accounts of public figures, businesses and other entities, according to Wired.

The result? For starters, some 3 million followers of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg have been reading posts written by her father, Svante Thunberg, and a climate activist in India who serves as a delegate at the UN’s Climate Change organization, Adarsh Prathap. Thunberg, Inc. claims Greta is still the one writing the content.

Greta, Inc. explained this in a Saturday Facebook post purporting to be the young climate activist.

“Some people have been asking who manages this page. First of all, since last spring I only use Facebook to repost what I write on my Twitter and Instagram accounts,” reads the post, in which ‘she’ says she tried Facebook “early on,” but didn’t like it, so she uses “my father Svantes account to repost content.”

“The rest that is shared on Facebook is reposted from Twitter and Instagram by the guy who founded the Greta Thunberg Facebook page long before I knew it existed. His name is Adarsh Prathap and he lives in India. Since a lot of people thought it was my official page in the beginning I asked if I could co-manage it and he said yes.”

Greta claims to have written all the content posted by her father and Prathap.

In other words, “of course it’s not me silly – you should have known I just ‘co-manage’ the fan page.”

Except – by all outward appearances it appeared to be her page alone.

Facebook’s ‘page transparency’ shows Greta as the confirmed owner – with the only clue suggesting she might have help being a page manager located in India.

See also Update: Children’s Climate Crusade

Includes Bablyon Bee post:  Marionette Strings Clearly Visible During Greta Thunberg Testimony

 

Media Playbook: Matching Trump and Climate Hysteria

Erielle Davidson writing about latest media Trump hysteria reveals the parallels with climate reporting. Her article at the Federalist is The Media Is Always, Always Wrong About Trump And National Security. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The level of breathless misinformation and disinformation spread after Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing by the individuals we rely on supposedly to report facts and offer analysis in a responsible and undramatized manner was stunning. But this isn’t their first rodeo.

No, such grossly hyperbolic reporting for the sake of convincing people that Trump may have created an epically destructive policy quagmire has become the new calling card of the media. The media has shown that they cannot eviscerate Trump with factual, state-of-affairs reporting because those affairs are never quite dire enough for the media.

Similarly, for the sake of avoiding flat-out lying entirely (although it is entertaining to watch the “mistakes” go in one direction), the media is forced to cabin their criticism in fantastic projections.

Trump almost started World War III. Trump almost catalyzed the entire destruction of the Kurds. Trump almost started war with North Korea. Trump almost started a full-blown war between the Palestinian-Arabs and the Israelis. Trump almost devastated the economy by slapping tariffs on Chinese goods. See how much heavy-lifting the word “almost” is doing? It’s utterly bizarre, because these predictions never happen.

The word’s subjunctive quality has become a shield for the media as they predict wild policy outcomes that have no grounding in the facts. When President Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, we were essentially promised insurmountable bloodshed and the irrevocable destruction of any hope at peace in the region. Thankfully, we got neither. But that didn’t stop reporters from sheepishly convincing themselves that, although their prediction never achieved fruition, it still could have happened.

That is the same dance being rehearsed now on Iran. Our firefighting media know the steps so well. The beauty of almost – and its ugly step-child could have – is that these reporters never have to be right for something to be almost true.

By all accounts, President Trump’s performance vis-à-vis Iran was stunningly effective at reestablishing the policy of deterrence (rather than appeasement) in the region. However, media reporting as of late has made it abundantly clear that wild projections of what could have been will continue to far eclipse what actually was. And the only people who suffer from such bombastic “analysis” are those who are forced to rely on it, given most people’s understandably limited knowledge of Middle Eastern geopolitics.

There’s a gross irresponsibility in such “reporting” and signals the ever-growing credibility crisis of the American media. Contrary to what Time magazine published (and delivered as a push notification), there is absolutely no reason you need to “discuss” Iran with your children. The hysteria is based on lies those in the media continue to recite to themselves and are dangerously projecting upon the greater population.

No, perhaps it’s time to “discuss” Iran with our media betters instead of children, if only not to be dragged along through their hysterical meltdowns. Indeed, we would be spared the ahistorical and insufferable nonsense. At least until the next manufactured apocalypse.

How Climate Talk Got Crazy

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts in a recent article provides the historical context necessary to get our bearings straight despite today’s overheated, bizarre media-drenched tirades.

As he explains, climate has always been particular and personal, not global or objective. And that has led us into our current impasse, unable to talk productively about weather and climate. It is as though we can not come to grips with the climate issue because our very language and terminology is itself a prior problem preventing any progress. In brief, the terms “weather” and “climate” are loaded with emotion, but not with clear, definitive scientific meaning. IOW plenty of connotation (heat) and very little denotation (light). Dr. Bernaerts faults scientists for failing to develop a rational framework for discovery and research, and instead opting for an activist agenda which benefits from the ambiguity and misrepresentation.

The article is Weather and climate are everyday slang words and misleading when used by science. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Since the last half of the 20th Century the world has a big problem. Science abuses the laymen terms used since time immemorial: weather and climate. Each term is connected closer to our bodies than our shirts, 24/7 throughout our lives. Alexander von Humboldt (1769 –1859), the great German naturalist and geographer defined climate as ‘all the changes in the atmosphere that perceptibly affect our organs’. According to A.v.Humboldt, ‘climate’ was even closer to the skin of any person than their clothing during day and night. Intellectuals in those days lived closer to nature than academics nowadays.

Climate is the imaginary idea of an individual person from a possible state of the atmosphere, at one place or in one region, about a shorter or longer period of time from own experience or narrative of others or e.g. out of Guidebooks. This means: More than 5 billion adults are living on Earth, and:

Everyone has their own view of climate and describes it corresponding to his own ideas, for the moment or the given circumstances.

During A. v. Humboldt’s lifetime, meteorology was emerging and still at a low level. Now for more than 100 years acknowledged as an academic discipline, scientists remained incapable to tell what ‘climate’ is, indicating their incompetence to formulate terms, without which nothing is explained and is completely useless for scientific research. In the early 20th Century climate was defined as average weather and in the 1930s, the thirty-year period from 1901 to 1930 considered as the baseline for measuring climate fluctuations. Several decades later the prominent meteorologist H.H. Lamb regarded the definition of climate as “average weather” quite inadequate, mentioning that until recently climatology was generally regarded as the mere dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology (FN. 1). Also the well-known F. Kenneth Hare wrote in 1979: You hardly heard the word climate professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman’s word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame (FN. 2).

As a daily slang word, climate is closer to everyones’ skin than their shirts, it is an abuse every time a scientist uses it. This is presumably a major reason that the climate-change debate has been getting more and more hysterical during the last decades.

But the story gets even worse, completey preposterous, when asking how IPCC defines “weather”. The result is shocking; the Glossary of IPCC offers nothing. But IPCC and other institutions, like the recent UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2 – 13 December 2019) in Madrid, do not care.

Even the definition of weather in the AMS – Glossary (American Meteorological Society) does not provide a usable solution, by explaining that:

  • Popularly, weather is thought of in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind, and
  • the “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions, and
  • the “past weather”; of 10 possible conditions.

The AMS Glossary does not clear the matter, as it is superficial on several aspects. Already false is the explanation of ‘popularly weather’. The layman is able to use and explain the current weather in presumably several hundred versions, and ‘popularly weather’ is extremly far away from a transparent and workable academic term, as explained above.

It is naive not to realize that if you define climate as average weather, you have to say clearly what weather is. Weather has to be defined first. Meteorology has always ignored this point or – meanwhile – making nebulous statements about it.

Actually it is fair to say that the layman understanding and use of the word “weather” is closer to the following description:

Weather is a personal rating by any person over the condition of the atmosphere, in its various manifestations, at a certain time, usually for the current situation or in temporal proximity.

With such an explanation the story is close to the understanding in ancient Greek, and how A. v. Humboldt (1769 –1859) approached the matter.

The failure of science is that it uses layperson terms, but cannot define them transparently. No wonder that there now are the movements ‘Fridays for Future’ and ‘Extinction Rebellion’, and a discussion at a hysterical level. But science seems happy with the situation, which they have caused. Their prominence grows, the money is coming in; they are able to influence long term political decisions. The biggest tragedy in the whole scenario is that the undeniable rise in temperatures since the mid-19th Century, is discussed on the most superficial childish level.

Folks, keep your way of using the terms: weather and climate, as you have always done, and do not allow scientists to abuse them for selfish reasons.

See Also Climate Science Was Broken

Climate Science At Work

 

Tipping Points Confuse Social and Earth Science

In the drive to push public opinion over the top regarding global warming/climate change, the media is increasingly filled with references to climate “tipping points.”  For example, some months ago an IPCC spokesperson claimed a climate disaster is now happening each and every week.  And the media abounds with reports to press home the point. Here are some of the current disasters caused by climate change, ripped (as they say) from the headlines.

Birds are shrinking as the climate warms

Climate change-related deaths and damage on the rise

Europe Could Face Annual Extreme Heat Waves Due to Climate Change

Food Prices Expected To Jump Next Year Due To Climate Change

Climate change taking serious toll on human health: WHO report

Climate Crisis Causing Hunger for Millions of Africans

How climate change is causing more premature births

Et cetera, et cetera. (A complete list would provide more than one disaster for every week of the year.)

IOW, as Pys.org reported, all this hype may make this year the tipping point: The year the world woke up to the climate emergency.

Background on the Use of “Tipping Points”

The context for understanding the rise of the “tipping point” notion is provided by a 2018 paper in Environmental Research Letters Defining tipping points for social-ecological systems scholarship—an interdisciplinary literature review. As the title suggests the researchers are not studying the earth, but rather people’s perceptions about the earth. This growing field of environmental psychology confirms how “climate change” muddles social and physical sciences. Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Abstract

The term tipping point has experienced explosive popularity across multiple disciplines over the last decade. Research on social-ecological systems (SES) has contributed to the growth and diversity of the term’s use. The diverse uses of the term obscure potential differences between tipping behavior in natural and social systems, and issues of causality across natural and social system components in SES. This paper aims to create the foundation for a discussion within the SES research community about the appropriate use of the term tipping point, especially the relatively novel term ‘social tipping point.’

We review existing literature on tipping points and similar concepts (e.g. regime shifts, critical transitions) across all spheres of science published between 1960 and 2016 with a special focus on a recent and still small body of work on social tipping points. We combine quantitative and qualitative analyses in a bibliometric approach, rooted in an expert elicitation process.

Historical Analysis and Concerns

We find that the term tipping point became popular after the year 2000—long after the terms regime shift and critical transition—across all spheres of science. We identify 23 distinct features of tipping point definitions and their prevalence across disciplines, but find no clear taxonomy of discipline-specific definitions. Building on the most frequently used features, we propose definitions for tipping points in general and social tipping points in SES in particular.

Being located at the intersection between the social and natural sciences, SES researchers need to tread carefully when borrowing concepts from other disciplines. Such a move often involves the crossing of ontological boundaries, where the metaphorical use of a concept can mask important differences between two objects of study. The two phenomena included in the analogy should be similar in the sense that they can be characterized by common laws or principles. The success of the analogy depends on whether attributes of tipping points in the target domain can be tested and assessed similar to the one in the source domain (Daniel 1955, Gentner 1983). However, SES research pays little attention to whether the presumed observation of tipping behavior in a social system is conceptually equal or (partly) different than tipping processes in an ecological system. It remains unknown whether tipping points in natural systems, such as a lake or the climate, display the same underlying mechanisms as tipping points in social systems, such as in financial markets or political institutions.

The tipping point concept traces its origins back to scientific papers in chemistry (Hoadley 1884) and mathematics (Poincare´ 1885), which refer to a qualitative change in a system described mathematically as a bifurcation. Bifurcation theory is still used today in mathematics, physics, complex systems science, and related fields.

In the social sciences, tipping points originated much later to address neighborhood dynamics of racial segregation in political science (Grodzins 1957), sociology/urban planning (Wolf 1963), and economics (Schelling 1978). Social scientists began to develop similar concepts of social change without the tipping point language. For example, sociologist Mark Granovetter (1978) uses the term threshold to understand the differences in individuals’ decisions to engage in a collective behavior, such as rioting.

Whether or not it can be attributed to Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point (2000), starting around 2005, the term was widely adopted among climate scientists (Russill and Nyssa 2009, Kopp et al 2016) to describe rapid, non-linear change in parts of the climate system. Previously this phenomenon had been referred to with different terminology, such as critical points, but now climate scientists embraced tipping point language, with three papers using tipping point terminology to focus on ice sheet dynamics in the Arctic (Holland et al 2006, Lindsay and Zhang 2005, Winton 2006). A 2008 paper introduced the idea of tipping elements in the climate system, defined as subsystems of the climate system that can experience abrupt change,‘triggering a transition to a new state.’

The historical account of the movement of the concept from its origins in mathematics and chemistry to the social sciences, popular discourse and back to mathematical modeling in the climate sciences raises important scientific questions.

The increasingly frequent use of the concept of tipping points in both the natural and social sciences could be scientifically questionable: sociological and political tipping points might be very different phenomena than climatic tipping points, even if both natural and social systems may be subject to rapid qualitative change. If institutional tipping and ecosystem tipping are different ‘things in nature’— different ontological entities—scientific language should not treat them as the same. Scientific language should clarify rather than veil potential differences between tipping points in different fields.

Phenomena in nature—the objects of tipping point research Different fields of science deploy tipping point terminology to study vastly different real-world phenomena. In the natural sciences (Ecology, Climate and Earth System Science), scholars are primarily interested in the tipping of ecological systems, e.g. the eutrophication of lakes, and of larger Earth System components, also called climate tipping elements (e.g. Arctic ice sheets). This research crosses multiple scales of interest, but focuses on a shared mechanism of change: positive, self-reinforcing feedbacks moving a system into a different stability domain. Key research challenges include the limited reversibility of a system to its previous state and significant predictive challenges related to tipping points.

Conclusions

To conclude, we have proposed a unifying definition for tipping points, building on the most frequent themes identified in our analysis: a tipping point is a threshold at which small quantitative changes in the system trigger a non-linear change process that is driven by system-internal feedback mechanisms and inevitably leads to a qualitatively different state of the system, which is often irreversible.  This definition establishes a minimum set of four constitutive features of tipping points that apply across disciplines:

    • multiple stable states;
    • non-linear change;
    • feedbacks as driving mechanism; 
    • limited reversibility. 

If these four essential characteristics are given, the use of the term tipping point is justified.  However, whether it is possible to apply these tools to social and social-ecological change phenomena remains unclear and is a subject that requires future research.

Our research found that the tipping point concept is applied to a vast array of change processes, ranging from ice sheet dynamics to societal transformations, which might mask ontological differences between these diverse phenomena. Concerned about the pattern of terminological replacement—the use of tipping point language instead of previously existing terms—and its potential effects on the quality of science, we encourage researchers to critically assess their terminological choices and avoid ‘conceptual amnesia’.

My Comment

Besides the issue of confusing natural and social processes, the paper only touched tangentially on three related problems applying this terminology to global warming/climate change.  Firstly, in the natural world there are shifts between multiple stable states, in some cases reversing back and forth in cyclical patterns.  For example, paleoclimatologists have mapped the earth’s oscillations between “hot house” and “ice house.”

Secondly, headlines like those above always portray change as negative and destructive.  In both natural and social tipping points there can be desirable, transformative shifts, not just adverse, gloomy results.
Thirdly, as Brothers Judd warn, there is less than meets the eye in claims of tipping points.  From their review of Gladwell’s book:

As a general matter Gladwell’s Tipping Point idea, like Darwin’s idea of Evolution, is grounded more in literary metaphor than in science. If you ask, as Gladwell does, why Hush Puppies suddenly became fashionable again after years of declining or stagnant sales, the answer must be that they hit a Tipping Point. If you ask why they stayed unpopular for so long, the answer must be there were no Tipping Points during that time. Why did the book Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood become a best seller, while Rebecca Wells’s previous books hadn’t, or other (better) novels didn’t ? One hit a Tipping Point, the others didn’t. But this doesn’t really add anything to our understanding of the human behavior and desires that fueled the crazes nor does it help us to determine how to tip other products and processes in the future. Gladwell’s argument, like all pseudoscience, is a closed loop–if something tips then it hit a Tipping Point; if it doesn’t, then it didn’t. Rather than explaining what happened, the metaphor, once accepted, stifles intelligent analysis. The fact that something happened comes to seem a sufficient explanation and a justification for saying that the process occurred; the actual elements of this theoretical process need never be demonstrated, nor tested; it’s as if the circular beauty of the metaphor precludes questioning its validity.

Finally, as the critique shows, tipping points are like climate change itself:  Applying labels to something that has already happened, with no predictive utility.

UN Goes From Angry Birds to Angry Kids

Is there a pattern here?

2016

UN appoints Red from the ‘Angry Birds’ as Honorary Ambassador for International Day of Happiness

2018

Angry Birds maker’s stock plunges more than 40 percent

2019

Greta Thunberg Warns Adults About ‘The Force Of Angry Kids’

How Dare You!

Benefits from Breaking Media Barons Monopoly

Clifford Humphrey writes at Epoch Times The Mainstream Media Is Not ‘the Press,’ Nor Should It Be. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

President Donald Trump is famous—or infamous—for calling certain mainstream news outlets the “fake news media” and even the “enemy of the people.” Trump’s tenacious criticism of major news outlets is one of the defining features of his presidency.

Few things have upset spokespersons for these outlets more than this political upstart calling them illegitimate. They tell us, though, that their concern is less for their own reputations particularly and more for the freedom of the press generally and the welfare of our republican institutions.

Fair enough. Indeed, Alexis de Tocqueville, famed author of “Democracy in America,” remarked that, in the United States, “the sovereignty of the people and freedom of the press” are “two entirely correlative things.”

But, wait a minute. Aren’t we conflating two different things here? Since when are mainstream “news media” outlets and “the press” the same thing? The president has always directed his ire at a few major media outlets—CNN, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

These mainstream media outlets have come to assume a monopoly of legitimacy regarding what constitutes authoritative news only since the advent of radio and television communication technologies. In truth, though, the First Amendment guarantees freedom for all Americans to publish their political opinions in the public square, in any format.

New Technologies, New Political Conditions

In the 21st century, we’re experiencing a tectonic shift in communication technologies that’s creating a correlative shift in how we do politics in this country. Now, anyone with an internet connection can post a blog, and anyone with a microphone can publish a podcast.

This change, though, isn’t leading us into entirely new, uncharted waters. Oddly enough, it’s taking us back to a condition similar to that of the 19th century, when newspapers were more openly partisan but also more plentiful.

Of course, this new condition poses certain new difficulties, but also certain new opportunities. For example, although it may seem harder to know whose opinion to trust these days, at least we aren’t beholden to an oligarchy of self-authorized gatekeepers who cloak their biases with confident claims of objectivity.

The president’s attacks on mainstream media outlets shouldn’t be seen as an attack on “the press,” but as a criticism of their unjustified monopoly of legitimacy as authorities on political opinion and interpreters of the news.

In fact, by pointing out bias in the mainstream media, the president is helping to create space for other media outlets to report otherwise under-reported news. In this way, the president is actually protecting the freedom of the press.

Freedom of the Press, Revival of Serious Journalism

When Tocqueville was writing in the 1830s, there were already about 1,200 newspapers in circulation in the United States. Thirty years later, in 1860, that number more than doubled to 3,000. By 1890, that number quadrupled to 12,000. In other words, for most of our history, Americans have had more than just a few media outlets from which to get their news.

Tocqueville noticed that so great a number of newspapers guaranteed an equally great number of perspectives, so that, collectively, newspapers couldn’t “establish great currents of opinion.” How different from the monolith of opinion that often emanates from the mainstream media today.

Further, Tocqueville noted that “this dividing of the strength of the press” in the 1830s had two other politically salutary effects. We’re seeing a revival of both today.

First, “the creation of a newspaper being an easy thing,” Tocqueville noticed, “everyone can take it on.” In the digital age of the 21st century, through the agency of social media, podcasts, blogs, and other means of independent journalism, we’re seeing a return to this condition of easy access to publishing.

Second, Tocqueville observed that “competition makes a newspaper unable to hope for very great profits, which prevents those with great industrial capabilities from meddling in these sorts of undertakings.” We who have grown up in the age of the 24-hour news cycle have witnessed the consequences of the industrialization of journalism.

The marriage between journalism and advertising corporatism has birthed the amalgamation perhaps best described as “infotainment.” Newsrooms often resemble gameshow studios. Are we not entertained?

Most of the independent media enterprises that have been successful recently are, it’s true, more partisan, but their success is often a product of the seriousness with which they address their subject. We may even hope that, with the corporate influence somewhat neutralized, we’ll see a revival of rigor and seriousness in the field of journalism.

I’ve argued elsewhere that the media are the guardians of public opinion and that, as citizens in a republic, we ourselves must guard the guardians. In that endeavor, we must understand the new conditions our technologies have wrought, both the difficulties and the opportunities.

Tocqueville called it nothing less than an “axiom of political science” in the United States “that the sole means of neutralizing the effects of newspapers is to multiply their number.” We ought to remember that point, as we witness the dissolution of the monopoly on authoritative opinion that the mainstream media has enjoyed for so many decades.

Further, it ought to give us hope that the freedom of the press is stronger than ever. Let us use our freedom well.

Footnote:  This analysis does suggest hope for freedom of thought and expression.  Still there is the reality noted in the saying:  “The only time you have a free press is when you own one.” (H.L. Mencken).  More recently we have the social media moguls exerting undue bias upon public opinion.

Postscript:  Ned Ryun adds in his article Breaking the Administrative State:

What we are seeing today is vicious regime politics and a struggle over who is really in charge of this country’s governmental agencies. The duly elected president of the United States? Or players inside of that administrative state, along with their mouthpieces in the media?

It is becoming apparent that for many inside Washington, D.C., elections and the peaceful transfer of power are quaint notions of yesterday’s republic. Presidents, administrations, and their political appointees come and go but the permanent governing class remains. It’s not really that much of a surprise that they think they’re in charge, as for generations the administrative state has expanded and more and more power as been ceded to it and to them.

The question for us now as a country is, “Which direction are we going to go?” We really are at a crossroads. We cannot take the tension any longer: we must choose. Either we are governed by an administrative state that is not accountable to the political process spelled out by our Constitution or we return to the constitutional republic intended by the Founders. Fundamentally that is what all of this is about. The tension has broken into the open because Trump has forced the issue.

YouGov Climate Push Poll: Still no Believer Majority

A new internatiional climate change poll shows most European countries as well Anglophone nations are divided between belief and scepticism over global warming claims.  The YouGov poll results are presented in part in the diagram below (H/T GWPF)

Lest there be any doubt:  This is a survey of opinions (beliefs) about global warming/climate change as buzzwords without any meaning defined as a reference for knowing why any response was given.  Further on is a reprint of a previous post describing the tactics for getting the highest possible affirmation of belief rather than scepticism.  Of course, it is important to know what was the survey methodology, i.e. how the questions were put, what answers were offered and/or accepted, and what context (if any) was given to participants.  For the YouGov International Survey the questioning went like this.

Thinking about the global environment… In general, which of the following statements, if any, best describes your view?

The climate is changing and human activity is mainly responsible
The climate is changing and human activity is partly responsible, together with other factors
The climate is changing but human activity is not responsible at all
The climate is not changing
Don’t know

Which countries, if any, do you think have had the most negative impact on global warming and climate change?  (Please tick up to five)

[Most frequently mentioned by Europeans were Brazil, China, India, Russia, USA, and Don’t know]

And do you think that you personally could be doing more to tackle climate change, or are you already doing as much as you reasonably can? Could be doing more/Doing as much as it reasonably can/Don’t know

How responsible, if at all, do you think each of the following are for the current situation with climate change?  Very responsible/Fairly/Not Very/Not Responsible at all/Dont’t know

International bodies (e.g. the United Nations)
National governments of wealthy countries
National governments of developing countries
Businesses and industry
Individuals

And how much power, if any, do you think each of the following have to combat climate change?
A great deal of power, a fair amount, Not very much, no power at all, Don’t Know

International bodies (e.g. the United Nations)
National governments of wealthy countries
National governments of developing countries
Businesses and industry
Individuals

How much of an impact, if any, do you believe climate change will have on your life?
A great deal of impact/ A fair amount, Not Much, No impact at all/Don’t know

Which of the following comes closest to your view?

It is already too late to avoid the worst effects of climate change
We are still able to avoid the worst effects of climate change but it would need a drastic change in the steps taken
We will be able to avoid the worst effects of climate change if we broadly carry on with the steps currently being taken
Don’t know

If you had to choose one, which approach would you prefer governments and societies to focus on more to tackle climate change?

One where we attempt to reduce consumption of resources to slow or halt the negative effects of climate change
One where we attempt to come up with technological solutions to try and counter the effects of climate change
Don’t know

How likely do you think it is that climate change will cause each of the following? Very likely/Quite/Not Very/Not at all likely/ Don’t know

The extinction of the human race
Small wars
A new world war
Serious damage to the global economy
Cities being lost to rising sea levels
Mass displacement of people from some parts of the world to others

For your information the table of Yougov climate questions and responses from various nations is here

Comment:  Note how belief in climate change and its human agency is assumed throughout the questioning process.  As discussed below, using “environmental” and “global” are AGW belief triggers.  And then asking which nations are most responsible for hurting the climate is akin to asking “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Note also that “tackling climate change” presumes humans caused it and can stop it by changing behavior.

Background from previous post The Art of Rigging Climate Polls

Marketing and social influence makers have used opinion surveys extensively to promote awareness, interest and motivation to engage with their products or preferred policies. I have written before on how this ploy is used regarding global warming/climate change (links at bottom). This post is prompted by a fresh round of climate polls and some further insight into how results are created to support a socio-political agenda.

Of course, any opinion poll on climate as a public policy matter is indicating how much of the blather in the media has penetrated public consciousness, and softened them up for political pitches and financial support. And the continuing samplings and reports need to show progress to keep activist hopes alive.

Just yesterday we had an announcement along these lines. Poll shows consensus for climate policy remains strong is published at Phys.org from Stanford U. (where else, home of the belated Stephen Schneider, among many other leading alarmists). Stanford also happens to be my alma mater, but when I was studying organic chemistry there, we knew life on earth was carbon-based and did not think CO2 was a pollutant.

Climate Public Opinion is a Program of Research by the Stanford Political Psychology Research Group (website link) and has done frequent surveys on the question: What do the residents of the United States believe about global warming?

From psy.org article (excerpts in italics with my bolds):

While the United States is deeply divided on many issues, climate change stands out as one where there is remarkable consensus, according to Stanford research.

“But the American people are vastly underestimating how green the country wants to be,” said Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford, about new findings from a poll he led on American attitudes about climate change.

The study was conducted with ABC News and Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization. A representative sample of 1,000 American adults nationwide were polled from May 7 to June 11, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.

The poll showed that Americans don’t realize how much they agree about global warming: Despite 74 percent of Americans believing the world’s temperature has been rising, respondents wrongly guessed 57 percent.

“The majority doesn’t realize how many people agree with them,” said Krosnick. “And this may have important implications for politics: If people knew how prevalent green views are in the country, they might be more inclined to demand more government action on the issue.”

Public belief in the existence and threat of global warming has been strikingly consistent over the last 20 years, even in the face of a current administration skeptical about climate change,” said Krosnick, who has been tracking public opinion about global warming since 1995.

Krosnick has learned from his 20 year experience with this topic, and shares with us some of the tricks of the trade. For example, one paper provides their finding regarding the wording of questions.

1. “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?”

In this traditional MIP question, about 49 percent answered the economy or unemployment, while only 1 percent mentioned the environment or global warming.

2. “What do you think is the most important problem facing the world today?”

Substituting the word “country” with “world” produced a significant change: 7 percent mentioned environmental issues, while 32 percent named the economy or unemployment.

3. “What do you think will be the most important problem facing the world in the future?”

When asked to consider the future of the planet, 14 percent chose the environment or global warming, while economic issues slipped to 21 percent.

4. “What do you think will be the most serious problem facing the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it?”

This time, 25 percent said the environment or global warming, and only 10 percent picked the economy or unemployment.

“Thus, when asked to name the most serious problem facing the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it, one-quarter of all Americans mentioned either global warming or the environment,” Krosnick said. “In fact, environmental issues were cited more often in response to question 4 than any other category, including terrorism, which was only mentioned by 10 percent of respondents.”

Thus it is that survey results are influenced greatly by the design of the questioning process. Helpfully, the Stanford program provides this history of the questions put to participants over the years. Below are the result categories, some showing the evolving form of questioning, and others just the most recent form for brevity. I will comment on the first few, and leave the others for your reflection (my bolds)

1. Global warming is happening. 2012-2013: What is your personal opinion? Do you think that the world’s temperature probably has been going up over the past 100 years, or do you think this probably has not been happening? 2012: What is your personal opinion? Do you think that the world’s temperature probably has been going up slowly over the past 100 years, or do you think this probably has not been happening? 1997-2011: You may have heard about the idea that the world’s temperature may have been going up slowly over the past 100 years. What is your personal opinion on this? Do you think this has probably been happening, or do you think it probably has not been happening?

Fair question with both responses equally acceptable. The earlier form referred to what they may have heard, but wisely dropped that later on. One does wonder what evidence people use for 100 years of reference.

In a separate study Krosnick tested the effect of asking about “global warming” or “climate change” and concluded:
In the full sample, global warming, climate change, and global climate change were all perceived to be equally serious on average. These findings seem to be inconsistent with the claim that people view climate change or global climate change as less serious than global warming. In addition, the distribution of seriousness ratings were equivalent for global warming, climate change, and global climate change.

IMO it is to his credit that he asks about global warming rather than the vacuous “climate change”.

2.Warming will continue in the future. 2012: If nothing is done to prevent it, do you think the world’s temperature probably will go up slowly over the next 100 years, or do you think the world’s temperature probably will not go up slowly over the next 100 years?

Here comes the phrase:  If nothing is done to prevent it . . . The participant gets the suggestion that rising temperatures have human agency, that we can do something to prevent them. As Krosnick explained above, this phrase will help respondents identify the issue as “environmental” and tap their instinct to protect nature. Implanting this subliminal suggestion sets them up for the next question.

3. Past warming has been caused by humans. 2012: Do you think a rise in the world’s temperature is being caused mostly by things people do, mostly by natural causes, or about equally by things people do and by natural causes? 2012: Assuming it’s happening, do you think a rise in the world’s temperature would be caused mostly by things people do, mostly by natural causes, or about equally by things people do and by natural causes?

Now we have some serious distortions inserted into the findings. The end results will reported as “The % of Americans that believe past warming has been caused by humans.” Note that participants have been primed to think warming is preventable by humans, so obviously humans have caused it (logical connection). Moreover, there are the 50-50 responses that will be counted as human causation. The problem is, people who are mostly uncertain and unwilling to say “don’t know” will fall back to the “equally human, equally nature” response.  It is a soft, not affirmative response.

And a further perversion: Those who have said temperatures are not rising are now told to “Assume it is happening.” What? This is no longer an opinion, it is out-and-out speculation. It appears that “Don’t know” and “Not Happening” are disallowed to force a choice with a 67% chance of getting the right answer: “Caused by Humans.”

4.Warming will be a serious problem for the U.S. 2012: If nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it will be for THE UNITED STATES – very serious, somewhat serious, not so serious, or not serious at all? 2012: Assuming it’s happening, if nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it would be for THE UNITED STATES – very serious, somewhat serious, not so serious, or not serious at all?

Again the phrase “If nothing is done to reduce global warming. . .” signaling participants that this is a serious issue, so don’t come with “not so serious” or (God forbid) “not serious at all.” And again, global warming must be assumed to be happening by anyone still unconvinced of it.

5. Warming will be a serious problem for the world. 2012: If nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it will be for THE WORLD – very serious, somewhat serious, not so serious, or not serious at all? 2012: Assuming it’s happening, if nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it would be for THE WORLD – very serious, somewhat serious, not so serious, or not serious at all?

Same comments regarding #4 apply here, only as Krosnick explained, elevating the issue to a “world problem” triggers even more seriousness in responses.

6. Five degrees of warming in 75 years will be bad. 2011-2012: If the world’s average temperature is about five degrees Fahrenheit higher 75 years from now than it is now, overall, would you say that would be good, bad, or neither good nor bad? 1997-2010: Scientists use the term “global warming” to refer to the idea that the world’s average temperature may be about five degrees Fahrenheit higher in 75 years than it is now. Overall, would you say that if the world’s average temperature is five degrees Fahrenheit higher in 75 years than it is now, would that be good, bad, or neither good nor bad?

In the past, interviewers told participants that global warming is defined as 5 degrees warmer, which triggered “bad” as a response. Fortunately, that obvious bias was dropped, and now people are free to say good, bad or neither. Interestingly, this question is not emphasized in the reports, perhaps because it only gets around 50% “Bad”, even in alarmist places like New York and California.

7. The government should limit greenhouse gas emissions. 2012: As you may have heard, greenhouse gasses are thought to cause global warming. In your opinion, do you think the government should or should not limit the amount of greenhouse gasses that U.S. businesses put out? 2008-2011: Some people believe that the United States government should limit the amount of air pollution that U.S. businesses can produce. Other people believe that the government should not limit air pollution from U.S. businesses. What about you? Do you think the government should or should not limit air pollution from U.S. businesses?

Here the older form of the question was more balanced: Some people believe X, some people believe Y, what do you believe? However, the older question was about air pollution which confuses CO2 (natural plant food) with artificial chemicals. The recent question targets “greenhouse gases”, a term nowhere defined. Now the biased question: Greenhouse gases cause global warming, should the government reduce them? Duh!

8.U.S. federal government should do more to address global warming. 2012: How much do you think the U.S. government should do about global warming? A great deal, quite a bit, some, a little, or nothing? 2009-2011: How much do you think the U.S. government is doing now to deal with global warming? A great deal, quite a bit, some, a little, or nothing? 2008: Do you think the federal government should do more than it’s doing now to try to deal with global warming, should do less than it’s doing now, or is it doing about the right amount?

Note the shift from asking about Whether government should do more than now, to How much is government doing now, to present form: How much more should government do.  Compares with: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

9. U. S. should take action regardless what other countries do. Do you think the United States should take action on global warming only if other major industrial countries such as China and India agree to do equally effective things, that the United States should take action even if these other countries do less, or that the United States should not take action on this at all?

IOW, Should the US wait for others and be a follower, not a leader? Duh!

Series of Government Policy Questions

The real reason for the survey is to develop support for government officials to impose climate policies upon the population. The flavor of these is below with few comments from me until the end.

10. For the next items, please tell me for each one whether it’s something the government should require by law, encourage with tax breaks but not require, or stay out of entirely. Each of these changes would increase the amount of money that you pay for things you buy.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by power plants. Favor lowering the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants are allowed to release into the air?

Favor a national cap and trade program. There’s a proposed system called “cap and trade.” The government would issue permits limiting the amount of greenhouse gases companies can put out. Companies that did not use all their permits could sell them to other companies. Companies that need more permits can buy them, or these companies can pay money to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that other people or organizations put out. This will cause companies to figure out the cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This type of permit system has worked successfully in the past to reduce the air pollution that companies put out. For example, in 1990, the federal government passed a law like this, called the Clean Air Act, which caused companies to put out a lot less of the air pollution that causes acid rain. Would you favor or oppose a cap and trade system to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that companies put out?

Tax breaks to produce renewable energy. Do you favor or oppose the federal government giving companies tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind, and solar power?

Tax breaks to reduce air pollution from coal. Do you favor or oppose the federal government giving tax breaks to companies that burn coal to make electricity if they use new methods to reduce the air pollution being released from their smokestacks?

Increase CAFE standards for cars. Favor building cars that use less gasoline?
Build electric vehicles. 2012: Building cars that run completely on electricity?

Build appliances that use less electricity. Favor building air conditioners, refrigerators, and other appliances that use less electricity?

Build more energy-efficient buildings. Favor building new homes and offices that use less energy for heating and cooling?

Tax breaks to build nuclear power plants. Do you favor or oppose the federal government giving companies tax breaks to build nuclear power plants?

Who Pays for all this? It is time for the turkeys to face the pilgrim with the hatchet. How willing are you to pay increased taxes to “fight global warming?”

Increase consumption taxes on electricity. Do you favor or oppose the federal government increasing taxes on electricity so people use less of it?

Most places, majorities of respondents were favorable, up to 80% in some states. Perhaps a tribute to relatively cheap electricity in the U. S.  They are blissfully unaware of what can happen to electricity rates, having been spared so far the “Ontario Experience.”

Increase consumption taxes on gasoline. Do you favor or oppose the federal government increasing taxes on gasoline so people either drive less, or buy cars that use less gas?

Nowhere does this get a majority favorable response. It ranges from 15% to 40%, with most places around 30% in favor of higher gasoline taxes.

And finally, how much do you care and how much do you know?

Warming is extremely important personally (and is likely to influence voting). How important is the issue of global warming to you personally – extremely important, very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?

Less than 17% of people say global warming is personally extremely important, and most places are under 10%

Highly knowledgeable about global warming. How much do you feel you know about global warming – a lot, a moderate amount, a little, or nothing?
Americans rate their global warming knowledge higher than other countries, going up to 60-70% claiming “Highly Knowledgeable.” Other country surveys would report 25% more typically.

Conclusion

An opinion poll is a mirror claiming to show us ourselves. All polls have error margins, and some are purposely bent to a desired distorted outcome.

In modern social democracies, polls and media are used to shape and report public opinions required by ruling elites to impose laws and policies unwanted by the people. A recent example was the distorted Canadian survey on carbon pricing used by Trudeau government to justify a carbon tax. That poll is deconstructed in a post Uncensored: Canadians View Global Warming.

Krosnick said that people taking his climate poll were surprised that the responses were not more skeptical of global warming claims. After seeing how the survey is put together, I am inclined to believe that participants and their neighbors are actually more skeptical than depicted in the results.  This showed up in the low numbers saying global warming is an important personal issue.  Despite agreeing with alarmist talking points, people seem to know this is about virtue signaling and tribal politics.  It is an “everywhere elsewhere” problem.

Finally, in the survey, Americans rate themselves as highly knowledgeable about global warming, up to 60-70% in some states. Other countries doing such climate surveys typically get about 25% of people saying that. For so many to be taken in by such a survey suggests that Americans’ actual knowledge of global warming is highly overrated.

Background:  Another Climate Push Poll

Climate Is a State of Mind

 

Why Climate Journalism Sucks

At MondayNote, Frederic Filloux writes The Hazards of Covering Climate Change.  Without taking sides he describes why media coverage of global warming/climate change is so incompetent.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Zeal, political agendas, all kinds of excesses, but above all the intrinsic complexity of the issue, make the climate crisis extremely challenging to cover. Newsrooms should tackle the problem decisively.

Spending a few weeks in California this summer, I talked to many fellow journalists about the issue of covering the climate crisis. What I found is a yawning gap in the way it is approached.

In broad strokes, the coverage of climate change in Europe — especially in France — is loaded with negativism and finger-pointing while the US conversation seems more focused on finding broad, tech-driven, solutions. Neither is exempt from caricatures.

European ecology yields a political agenda which questions the relevance of the free market economy in a way that reminds of the Marxism activism in the ’70s. To many eco-activists, responding to the climate crisis requires a Malthusian approach, with all sorts of constraints on the way we travel, commute, eat, and consume that will involve some curtailing of individual liberties (as a French socialist leader put it a few weeks ago).

The buzzword is now “degrowth”. Economic contraction is the only way, never mind the collateral damages. Europe has its icons like Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist who preaches her doomsday prophecy with more whimsy than facts or knowledge.

The current ideological hodgepodge does not foster nuances: you are either with or against. For instance, questioning the media circus around the Swedish girl, and denouncing the cynicism of her handlers who uses her autism as a marketing tool, even if you agree with her on the fundamentals, will leave you categorized as part of the white, privileged, sexist dominant caste climate deniers.

Suggesting that French president Macron’s move to give up research on fourth-generation nuclear energy is a terrible decision (The French nuclear program allows France to emit only one-tenth of Germany’s CO2 per kWh of electricity), will also put you in the “climate-negationists” league, an elegant term alluding to Holocaust deniers.

On the matter of nuclear energy, the French press is doing such a terrible job that 86 percent of the 18–24 years old believe that the cooling towers of a nuclear plant spit out CO2 (it’s vapor).

As an American fellow journalist told me last week, “Europe succumbs to a kind of withdrawal while the United States is looking for tech solutions”. The fact is, by and large, the coverage of the climate crisis in the American media, is more proactive and less whining than the one in Europe, despite Donald Trump’s compulsive anti-environment stance. The tech and business press always seem eager to report on breakthroughs that could contain the crisis. As I observed in Silicon Valley last month, an unprecedented number of startups are working in the field. They range from optimizing the global food supply-chain to developing ways to save water (while just 130 miles south of San Francisco farmers continue to irrigate in the worse possible way) to make buildings greener. Venture capital investors are injecting billions of dollars in Greentech. While many European ecologists blame capitalism for the degradation of the planet (ignoring that the worse polluters are still in the former USSR and in China), entrepreneurship is in full swing in the United States, even if it sometimes comes with a dose of naïveté and unrealistic expectations.

Let’s get back to journalism.

By and large, newsrooms are not currently up to the task. Despite highly publicized initiatives taken by large publishers and noteworthy initiatives such as the #CoveringClimateNow partnership, the bulk of the coverage is terrible.

For the most part, it oscillates between an ideological stance and an irrational exuberance for technological promises. Approximation and caricature are rampant. Periodically, haste leads to false information that is quickly exploited by true climate deniers.

When covering the climate crisis, mistakes carry way more consequences than for any other beat.

The complexity of the subject makes it incompatible with the brevity of social media. Elizabeth Kolbert’s seminal piece in the New Yorker, The Sixth Extinction, published in 2009, could not have been chopped down into a tweetstorm. Reporters should be encouraged to embrace complexity. Unfortunately, they don’t have the time nor the training. That is also the consequences of newsrooms trends that often considered science journalism as a genre mineur

It is time for decisive actions. Given what’s at stake, J-schools must create specific curriculum aimed at feeding much-needed news desks that are currently non-existent in most newsrooms. Addressing the issue requires a multidisciplinary approach: rethinking the relation to cities, transportation, public policies, macro-economy, and innovation. If specific expertise is needed in newsrooms, it is definitely to cover this beat (plus, it can be a highly beneficial sector: the first outlet to become a reference in the field will reap substantial profits).