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Say It Ain't So: New Yorker Publishes Misleading Climate Piece

Reality Base
By Melissa Lafsky
Apr 1, 2009 8:19 PMNov 5, 2019 1:27 AM


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We'd expect this sort of thing from the New York Times Magazine perhaps, but the New Yorker? Last week's issue features an opinion piece by staffer David Owen titled "Economy vs. Environment," in which he bemoans the apparent contradiction between our economy and the environment, and warns of the economic "abyss" that awaits us all if we keep encouraging/demanding that people stop buying gas-guzzlers and commuting 80 miles each way. With not a scrap of cited evidence, he discounts alternative energy with a flick of the hand:

American dependence on fossil fuels isn’t going to end any time soon: solar panels and wind turbines provided only about a half per cent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2007, and they don’t work when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

and poo-poos the entire green jobs initiative with an argument that makes little to no sense:

Creating "green jobs," a key component of the agenda, is different from creating new jobs, since green jobs, if they’re truly green, displace non-green jobs—wind-turbine mechanics instead of oil-rig roughnecks—probably a zero-sum game, as far as employment is concerned.

Luckily, over at Grist, Joseph Romm, the editor of Climate Progress and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has taken up the gauntlet, delivering a righteous smackdown that addresses many of the problems with the piece. But the trend of major publications tossing out oversimplified, under-proven information and faulty analysis is troubling, to say the least. As just about any climate change scientist will tell you (possibly in a hysterical shriek) the time for action—not endless debate, not rehashing talking points—is now. Making sure the public has access to the most accurate and up-to-date information should be a priority for the media—not spewing apocalyptic prophecies about how we'll all be sucked into an abyss. Inaction will bring that result whether we like it or not—so we may as well try action.

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