Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

Rank bad (3)

The British author Michael Allen believes that almost no-one under 40 in the U.K. can spell or understand grammar, due to the prevalence in that country of what is known as “comprehensive” education, which is a euphemism for content-free education which promotes comprehensive ignorance.

This never used to matter, in journalism at least, because the illiterate journalists were prevented from making fools of themselves by an army of sub-editors, who were usually good at crosswords and chess, and knew their discreet from their discrete.

The sub-editors were moral guardians as well as linguistic ones. “Do you really want to say this?” they would inquire about a particularly stupid phrase. Usually, if you replied “Yes”, they would quietly rewrite the sentence anyway.

That has changed. Whether it is technology, lack of courage, or simply that the literate sub-editors have moved on to higher things, I don’t know. But apart from all the grammatical howlers in the mainstream press, there is also an eructation of something even worse: agenda journalism.

Journalists (for the most part), are not paid for their opinions, but to get the facts straight. Yet the urge to stake out a position, to take a moral stance, seems to be irresistible to many journalists.

In a perfectly ordinary piece about bees attacking French tourists, the writer has to stick his oar in about that hoary old chestnut: global warming.

“The Vespa velutina, is thought to have arrived in France from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004. They first settled in the forests of Aquitaine, but quickly fanned out to surrounding areas, thriving on rising temperatures linked to global warming and the lack of indigenous predators.”

There are so many things to say about this silly paragraph that it’s hard to know where to begin. The definition of ‘global warming’ is presumably ‘rising temperatures’; they’re the same thing, they cannot be ‘linked’ to one another.

And is he really stating that 5 years of ‘rising temperatures’ — sorry, ‘global warming’ — is causing these bees to thrive? More relevant would seem to be the relation between the climate in their native Asia and the climate of south-west France.

Furthermore, it is far from clear that there have been ‘rising temperatures’ since 2004; NASA charts suggest the world has cooled by as much as 0.1C since 2004.

Of course, when this journalist says ‘global warming’, he doesn’t mean ‘rising temperatures’. He means ‘rising temperatures caused by human activities, mostly by Western capitalists.’ Thus facts must not be allowed to get in the way of the journalist’s agenda, which is to paint himself as a noble eco-warrior.

I have no idea whether global warming (defined either way) is occurring; nor, I imagine, does anybody who is not a meteorologist, and some of them don’t seem to be too sure. And so this journalist should not be throwing his moral stance into this story.

Rank bad agenda journalism: D

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