typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Is The Sydney Morning Herald the new Daily Telegraph?

with 4 comments

It may be a strange question, considering that the old Daily Telegraph is still around. Nevertheless, what other possibility is there? For quite some time, SMH has been putting food on the tables of such self-contradicting wrong-wing nonces as Miranda Devine, Gerard Henderson, Michael Duffy, Alan Ramsey, etc. The justification is that the publication is pluralist and therefore provides comfort and staging to a number of different and potentially valid viewpoints. It’s an admirable goal but goes somewhat unachieved.

Yes, the paper certainly features reputable journalists and writers fluent and competent in a number of areas – Wendy Frew, Peter Hartcher, Philip Coorey, Mike Carlton, Ross Gittins, Annabel Crabb, the FOI Guy – to reel off a few from the top of my head. But that is not balance. That is the essential core of any worthwhile news publication.

But to balance Duffy et al the Herald would need to retain the services of rambling and irrational pseudo left wing quasi-intellectuals with a propensity for verbal diaorrhaea and monocular agenda-driven hateful nonsense poorly hidden behind tolerance for a cult of almost-personality. Maybe they should call me…

But why has my threshold been breached today of all days? Well, how about this – an Opinion piece from Bjorn Lomborg. It’s 2007 and a widely read publication is giving oxygen to Bjorn Lomborg. What reaction would be warranted if they gave similarly unqualified space to David Irving?

The Herald says that

Bjorn Lomborg is head of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School, and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It.

The Herald does not say that Lomborg is a statistician parading as a climatologist, nor does it mention that The Skeptical Environmentalist was thoroughly eviscerated and buried by specialists and experts when it surfaced like a turd at a pool party in 2001.

As much as he likens his new argument regarding the non-extinction of polar bears to a matter of distorted perception which he claims to be the core flaw in climate concern, it is the Herald’s reprinting of Lomborg and not anything actually written by Lomborg that says the most about the response to climate change in Australia 2007.

The fact that Lomborg can get printed without a title reading something in the order of “Can You Believe People Are Still Trying To Feed Us This Shit? Check Out The Latest Flavour…” speaks volumes. What all lobbyists for unpopular causes aim to do is to create doubt – if not actual doubt, the appearance of doubt will do just fine. Confusion is a beneficial side effect, as are hesitation, anxiety, ridicule, resentment, resistance, conflict – ooh, conflict. Conflict is gold.

Somewhere between being monkeys with fire and uptight P.C. douchebags, we as a society really made a massive error in judgment. That error is to think that disagreement is debate, that where there is debate, there must be more than one legitimate side to a story, and that we must respect and reconcile all sides before we can

a.) act

b.) overthrow any government which refuses to compel action.

Lobbyists worked this out. It’s why the tobacco industry holds more than half a million pages of scientific research and medical reports indicating that smoking ranges in effect from harmless to beneficial. Little wonder then that the same lobbyists and scientists who worked for big tobacco in the 70s and 80s now work for big oil, coal, and aluminium. It obviously puts mining companies in a bind when they have one lobbyist denying climate change but insisting on clean coal, while their other lobbyist is insisting on climate change because it’s the only way they can sell their dirty uranium. Nonetheless, they manage.

But we don’t have to. There is no debate, there is no conflict, there is no argument, there is no doubt. If there is the appearance of doubt, it is only the consequence of somebody with a New Idea level of comprehension being asked to write 800 words about permafrost, and that verbose flatulence then being exuded upon 400 000 readers under the limply waved flag of pluralism.

Lomborg is the shard of broken glass in many a candy, the grain of sand in many a Speedo, the polonium in many a bistro. But don’t take my word for it. Here are the comprehensive refutations by a variety of experts of his 2001 effort to lower IQs globally. Here is a more-than-adequate refutation of his latest backward march. Here is a whole website devoted to cataloguing his mistakes and “misrepresentations”.

Lomborg, like any lobbyist for a thoroughly erroneous position, must argue that a cowpat is in fact a lump of chocolate. In our self-defeating state of confusion as to the purpose of tolerance and plurality, we accept this as a viewpoint to be aired, one which by its very existence indicates the need for a reasonable delay before committing to a course of action.

But it’s not chocolate. It never will be chocolate. The time for considering that it may be a lump of chocolate is long gone. All that Lomborg and his ilk really offer is more bullshit and the fact that they call it anything else is the context in which his efforts should be presented by his host – in this case SMH.

Thanks Sydney Morning Herald – for one more good reason to form our world view from the backs of cereal boxes and beer ads, rather than these clumps of ads and sparrow farts which claim to be news.

Written by typingisnotactivism

September 27, 2007 at 5:55 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Ouch. Nice skewering.

    t.i.n.a.: muchas gracias. good gnashly blogging! i like that you have highlighted the association between Joe Hockey and pies. someone had to. 8D


    September 27, 2007 at 8:59 pm

  2. ‘ere – don’t waste your time reading that crap – have you finished Klein yet? oh its much much much better than I hoped or expected. There’s a hint of Michael Kidron’s work from the 1970s, but it is a work we desperately need to focus anti-globalisation activism & activism generally.

    t.i.n.a.: jealous. soon – very soon. currently reading The Upside of Down and the battle diary of PETA’s Dan Mathews. Have been expecting Shock Doctrine any day. Have not yet checked it out but there is a post here recommended by a friend of her debating Alan Greenspan. Needing to watch that soon, thinking it must be roooargh.


    September 27, 2007 at 9:22 pm

  3. For a full picture of what Bjorn Lomborg is up to with his new book Cool It, check out a new website, Putting the Heat on Lomborg, from the Post Carbon Institute in the U.S. Lomborg’s book is a big seller in the U.S., and his interviews and articles are appearing in a dismaying number of publications like the Herald that should know better. http://www.postcarbon.org/putting_the_heat_on_lomborg.

    t.i.n.a.: and i think the main link for that feature at the Post Carbon Institute is here. Thanks for that update Richard – PCI does good work as one of the emerging NGOs taking a far more advanced approach to global warming than too many developed country’s leaders seem prepared to seriously consider. Still, there’s possibility for change should the Howardocracy be shown the door at this election. With the Opposition committed to signing Kyoto there is a hope that America will finally have to stand alone, and i think the general view is that they won’t be able to sustain that position. Not because they haven’t already or because they aren’t doing so on a number of fronts, but the new carbon economy will leave them behind, the issue is too centre stage to remain an environmental and moral despot, and when the government is left behind by the companies they more or less represent, they will soon have to catch up. . . that’ll be a penny thanks.

    Richard Bell

    September 28, 2007 at 11:27 am

  4. […] On the other hand, it also frequently runs conservative snootiness masquerading as irony and continues to question and even deny the very actual reality of devastating climate […]

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