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The Silence on Global Warming

2012 July 10

Exclusive: Harrowing predictions of climate scientists are coming true, as glaciers melt, forests burn, heat waves proliferate and freakish weather strikes in unexpected places. But the propagandists of global-warming denial have succeeded in silencing most politicians and the mainstream press, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Something called a “derecho” – a fast-moving line of thunderstorms – strikes the Washington area knocking out power for days. Massive forest fires ravage Colorado. A record heat wave covers much of the country. The U.S. press treats these events as major stories, but two words are rarely mentioned: “global warming.”

What has become most striking about the growing evidence that climate change is a clear and present danger – indeed an emerging existential threat – is the simultaneous failure of the U.S. news media to deal seriously with the issue, another sign of how the Right can intimidate the mainstream into going silent.

We have seen this pattern before, as the Right sets the media agenda by bullying those who threaten its ideological interests. Before the Iraq War, anyone who dared raise questions about the Bush administration’s justifications could expect to be marginalized or worse. Just ask Phil Donahue, Scott Ritter and the Dixie Chicks.

During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, his hard-nosed propagandists dubbed this tactic “controversializing,” that is, anyone who got too much in the way could expect to be subjected to systematic smears and professional deconstruction. With so many right-wing voices willing to say almost anything, it wasn’t hard to intimidate people.

The smart career play was always to retreat when these forces were arrayed against you. Why risk your six- or seven-figure salary on some issue when there are so many other stories that you can work on without all the grief?

Indeed, those journalists who wouldn’t be scared off could easily be discredited as “causists,” or people “with an agenda,” i.e., they’d be painted as “unprofessional.” So, under this view of “journalism,” it’s much more “professional” to treat the recent weather events arising from this over-heating planet as unfathomable “acts of God.”

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen. Though there are exceptions here and there, generally these heat-related weather anomalies have been handled like earthquakes, something that couldn’t be expected or stopped. There have been loads of human-interest stories about people coping or suffering but almost no larger context.

Phenomenon of Silence

This phenomenon of silence – both in the political and journalistic realms – has not gone completely unnoticed. It’s just that those who make the point are ignored, too. Read more…

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  1. Dan Pangburn permalink
    July 10, 2012

    Application of the first law of thermodynamics, the time-integral of sunspot numbers (a proxy for energy retained by the planet) and a generalization of ocean thermal cycles explains average global temperature anomalies since 1895 with an accuracy of 88%. Accounting also for the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the accuracy by about 0.5%.
    The separation between the rising CO2 level and not-rising average global temperature has grown to over 25%.

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