Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The new news: news is the news

As clearly as at any time before, last weekend may just as well be regarded as a watershed moment in the history of Canada's two largest newspapers, the pivot around which the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star finally relinquished any semblance of a mission to provide information and embarked on the full-scale construction of a politically-unassailable edifice of mass opinion instead. Two full-page cover stories with imposing and inferential headlines backed by large, carefully selected and context-driven images… two full-artillery assaults to choke off any remaining deviance from engineered norms of opinion on climate change.

The first was Saturday's op-ed epic by Martin Mittelstaedt in the Globe & Mail,

Welcome to the new climate

lavishly illustrated with a spread of colourful and suggestive photographs of fallen trees, polar bears, snowdrifts… or anything that could have been taken from the stock photo archive of any news agency since the advent of colour printing. But the context is the thing, and it is the context for which readers have been carefully prepared over the past few years of climate reporting that overwhelms critical scrutiny and allows the appearance of substantiating fact by entirely substituting it with opinion. The basic premise of Mittelstaedt's story is established in the lede:
Climate change is no longer a vague threat. A new Globe polls finds that 4 out of 5 Canadians say they’ve seen it first-hand. We fear for our children and our grandchildren. We want action. We’re ready for sacrifices. But what action? And which sacrifices?
It is the ellipsis between the first two sentences that betrays the intent:
Climate change is no longer a vague threat because 4 out of 5 Canadians say they've seen it first-hand.
It would seem that even memory has become an engineering project these days. To those whose memories do extend ten, twenty, forty or sixty years in the past and not in the immediate domain of the media's suggestion, weather is no more remarkable now than it has ever been. The difference is that a context has been supplied within which every storm, every front, every high or low, every occurrence can be remarked… and it is. So the media giveth, and so the media taketh away the statistic that is critical both to their stories and to guaranteeing their position to suggest the answers to the questions they generously put in our mouths: "But what action? And which sacrifices?"

Because we who "want action" and are "ready for sacrifices" obviously don't know, and we're evidently not prepared to answer these questions for ourselves either! Don't tease us! We've only been taught how to react, not what to think! Wait, don't tell us… as long as the action and the sacrifices keep the steady fix of "may," "might" and "could" of our context addiction going.

The second article, Who's still cool on global warming? by Peter Gorrie on the front page of the Sunday Star, was prefaced in the print edition by a large-font leader superimposed on a half-page graphic,

Do climate change skeptics have a hidden agenda?

…which is conspicuously not subtitled, "Or do climate change proponents have a hidden agenda?" Again, the ponderousness of opinion is the "news," and, in fact, it's the only news really worth telling.


Jake said...

I was listening to Jim Chapman on CHRW today and the topic of climate change was discussed. The right wing pundit on "Left, Right, and Centre" went on to say that there is stronger scientific evidence to prove that solar cycles are to blame for temperature change--not human activity. There is evidence that the polar ice caps on other planets are melting as well--Mars being just one example mentioned.

The pundit also criticized the hypocritical enviro-communists for suggesting that only government can enforce environmental policy. In fact, he mentioned that after the Berlin Wall fell, only the "evil Western free-market corporations" refused to do business with the former Soviet Union because of their non-existent environmental laws. These are the very same nations that our siphoned tax dollars will go to if we follow this Kyoto income redistribution scheme.

What Stephen Harper wrote about Kyoto five years ago is the truth, "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations." Unfortunately, as of late, he seems to have forgotten.

Idiot Savant said...

Yes, the polar ice-caps on Mars are indeed melting. This just illustrates the importance of removing Harper's anti-green, paleo-conservatives from power immediately! Thanks to their and foot-dragging and denial of the facts on the environment, their contribution to increased global greenhouse gas emissions are now affecting the entire solar system.

Even the glaciers in the Swiss Alps have receded so far that they have even moved past the sites of farms and villages crushed by advancing glaciers many centuries ago. This is madness.

Edward Michael George said...

Add Post contributor John Moore ( to your list of idiots, Mapmaster. To wit:

"Only last April, a survey of Canadians revealed that a mere 23% thought global warming constituted a catastrophic threat. In January, however, a flurry of polls revealed Canadians now are genuinely fretful about climate change and that an overwhelming majority are ready to make significant sacrifices to fight it."

Well then, it's gotta be real, right? I mean, when has a majority of people ever been misinformed, or uninformed, about anything? Stands to reason.

Best part is this, though:

"The good news is that like most aspects of neo-conservatism, this irrational posture on the environment no longer represents the mainstream. In fact, amongst Evangelical Christians who have formed the bulwark of Republican support in the U.S. there is a significant movement of thinkers who now see man's relationship to the globe as a stewardship rather than a dominion."

I love this kind of argument: C'mon, man! Even the crazies have enough sense to see that we're right.

MapMaster said...

Heavens, another idiot! And from the National Post, no less… which affirms that the very last redoubt of sense and reason is the Financial Post. The list of idiots is now quite beyond the scope of science to tabulate.