Summary: We rely on the news to see and understand our world. But it has become a stream of propaganda. Stories about climate change show how this works. We must fix the news media to have any hope of reforming America.
I have read the news for 50 years, and the current state is beyond anything I imagined possible. It overflows with propaganda, 24-7. Often ludicrous propaganda, devoid of a basis in fact or logic. Or both.
- We are told to believe the accusations against Kavanaugh, without evidence (believe the victim, despite the frequency of false rape claims – for example, in the US and in England).
- We’re told bogus stories about the campus rape epidemic.
- We are told that Russian interference tilted the 2016 election results, without any evidence proportionate to the claim.
- For two years we are bombarded with claims about Russiagate, still without evidence.
- We are told bogus tales of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan coming real soon.
- We are told bogus stories about the wonders of tax cuts for the rich, despite their failure to do anything but explode the deficit under Reagan, again under Bush Jr., and again under Trump.
Then there is climate change. Activists see the IPCC and major climate agencies as “too conservative” (e.g., see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360). They exaggerate and distort the science to create panic. Extreme weather is routinely described by activists – and uncritically reported by journalists – as resulting from anthropogenic factors (no matter how normal it is in history). We had severe big hurricanes in 2005, including Katrina – so we were told to expect ever increasing numbers of hurricanes of every increasing strength. Quite falsely. The long droughts in California and in Texas were described as permanent – until they ended.
Among the most intense propaganda is the misuse of the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5): RCP8.5. It is well-designed, assuming many unlikely bad breaks for humanity. But hundreds or thousands of papers and news stories misrepresent it as a “business as usual” future, likely or even inevitable.
Now another cycle of fakery begins, as California’s wildfires are blamed on emissions of CO2. This is straight-forward science denial. The long-term factors are all natural. Droughts are natural to California (ones much longer and more severe than anything recent). Large fires are a natural part of the ecosystem, to which the native pants are adapted. A century of fire suppression has made the West’s forest into giant tinderboxes. Population growth has pushed residential housing into areas in which they are certain to burn, eventually (unless expensive preventive measures were taken). See details about this here and here.
For an analysis of the short-term factors, turn to an analysis by Cliff Mass: “Was Global Warming A Significant Factor in California’s Camp Fire? The Answer is Clearly No.” He is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the U of Washington (home page, Wikipedia). See his opening.
“The Camp Fire that struck the northern California town of Paradise and vicinity is a profoundly disturbing environmental disaster of first magnitude. …And beyond the heart-wrenching losses noted above, it is doubly tragic that this disaster was both foreseeable and avoidable, resulting from a series of errors, poor judgment, lack of use of available technology, and poor urban planning.
“It is more than unfortunate that some politicians, environmental advocacy groups, and activist scientists are attempting to use this tragedy as a tool for their own agenda, make the claim that the Camp Fire was result of global warming. As I will discuss below, this claim has little grounding in fact or science. Global warming is a profoundly serious threat to mankind, but it has little impact the Camp Fire and many of the coastal California fires of the past few years (e.g., the Wine Country Fires of October 2017). And blaming global warming takes attention away from the actions needed to prevent such tragedies from happening again.”
After a deep review of the data, he gives the grim bottom line.
“As I will discuss in a future blog, the Paradise area was a ticking time bomb. There was a huge influx of population into a wildland area, which had burned many times in the past. Previously logging and fires had left a conduit of highly flammable grass and bushes, through which fire could move rapidly. Flammable, non-native invasive grasses had spread through the region. Homes were not built to withstand fire and roadways were inadequate for evacuation. Powerlines started the fires and were not de-energized even though strong winds were skillfully forecast. Warnings to the population were inadequate. The list is long. And global warming should not be on the list if we are to focus on the real problems.”
The essential step to fix the climate – and America
We are a a nation lit only by propaganda. How dumb do they think we are? The obvious answer: very. The next few years will prove if they are correct.
We cannot fix American while we remain so gullible. Even when we learn that our leaders have lied to us, they suffer no consequences (see the Big List of Lies). Now for the bad news: journalists feed us these stories because we enjoy them. It’s a business; they provide what their readers want. Today that is info-tainment – politically pleasing fables and fake news, When we want real news, that is what they will provide. There are many ways we can make that happen.
We are what we are by choice. Let’s take responsibility for that – and decide to change.