‘Fish prefer plastic to food,’ claimed a paper published in Sciencelast year. It was the environmental horror story du jour.
The billions of tons of plastics that we release into the environment for the most part do not biodegrade. But they do degrade, breaking into ever smaller particles that end up in the oceans. Lönnstedt et al. show that the impacts of these microplastics are multifold (see the Perspective by Rochman). Eurasian perch larvae exposed to microplastics were less active, less responsive to predator cues, more likely to be eaten, and less likely to thrive—preferring to eat plastic rather than their natural prey.
Naturally, this news was seized on by the mainstream media as further proof of the damage man’s selfishness, greed and refusal to amend his lifestyle was causing to the planet.
The study, by Swedish researchers, seemed to confirm everyone’s worst suspicions about plastic pollution of the oceans. Of especial concern in this case were the plastic microbeads used by the cosmetics industry in skincare products. These microbeads have been madeillegal in the U.S. under legislation introduced during the last days of the Obama administration, with the European Union considering a similar ban.
It’s clear that global warming, caused largely by burning fossil fuels and agricultural practices, is contributing to the broader destabilization of Antarctica, said Eric Rignot, professor of Earth systems sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“This break-up signals that the ice shelf got too thin,” Rignot said in an email. “It got thinner because climate has been warming, over decades; the ice shelf will eventually collapse in the coming decades. This is absolutely related to climate warming.
The New York Times goes for the “even though this has nothing to do with global warming, it kinda sorta does really” approach:
Some climate scientists believe the warming in the region was at least in part a consequence of human-caused climate change, while others have disputed that, seeing a large role for natural variability — and noting that icebergs have been breaking away from ice shelves for many millions of years. But the two camps agree that the breakup of ice shelves in the peninsula region may be a preview of what is in store for the main part of Antarctica as the world continues heating up as a result of human activity.
Meanwhile the Guardian – clearly frustrated that the scientists it consulted refuse to play this game – throws in this random paragraph:
It’s called The Ministry of Climate Truth – Erasing The Satellite Data and tells a story so shameful that if the mainstream media ever did their job, none of the shysters involved would ever be able to show their heads in public again.
Essentially, it’s about how the alarmist science community – the Climate Mafia, if you will – bullied a science data gatekeeper into tampering with the evidence in order to suit their criminal agenda.
One day, the data showed mild warming. The next – hey presto! – it showed dramatically increased warming.
Here is the before:
Here is the after…
This is #fakenews on stilts. Most fake news generators content themselves with making up stories that just aren’t true. But the Climate Mafia doesn’t mess around with mere lies: it actually goes a step further by tampering with the nature of reality itself…
But as a fellow journalist I feel about as much sympathy for him as I do for all those idiot jihadists who go out to fight in Raqqa and Mosul, lured by the cool videos of the beards, black flags, and AKs with the wailing soundtrack. Did they seriously imagine when they joined ISIS/CNN that it was all just going to be about the glamour and the hot chicks and the purity of the noble cause?
And I’m really not being high minded here. It just seems to me that one of the most basic, entry-level precepts that any serious news organization ought to be observe – and that CNN most patently never has observed, or not for a very, very long time – is this:
Facts are sacred. The truth always makes the best story. You do not make shit up.
Not only ought this stuff to be obvious, but it ought to come instinctively. Isn’t the whole attraction of joining an unglamorous, overworked, underpaid trade like journalism that you want to discover the truth about the world: all the stuff that they would rather you didn’t know?
That’s certainly been my own experience in the last few years covering the climate change/enviro-lunacy beat. I’ve never much enjoyed all the flak I’ve got from the left-wing media; still less have I liked being rejected by so many friends. But the thing that has kept me going through the hard times is that I know I’m doing good and making a real difference: there are some devious bastards out there doing terrible stuff and I’m exposing their knavery and holding them to account.
For any self-respecting journalist, I’d call that “job done.”
Sometimes I get asked by people on the other side of the argument: “What if you’re wrong?”
Here’s the first thing I’ll do if I’m wrong about climate change. I’ll write a big piece explaining why I’m wrong. Then I’ll find someone who is prepared to pay me for writing the opposite of what I do now.
This isn’t because I’m a moral paragon. It’s because I’m lazy and because I prefer the easier life: writing journalism where you have to keep making up your “facts” is much, much harder than doing what I do now, which is basically, copying out true facts and then adding a few nice adjectives and thinking up a snarky final sentence.
That said, I would have to concede that this is much easier to do if you’re politically on the right rather than on the left.
Margaret Thatcher once said “The facts of life are conservative.” And as in so many things, she was absolutely spot on. This, as you can imagine, makes life very, very difficult for people in the overcrowded left-wing media. (It’s overcrowded because so many journalists think they’re left wing).
Every day, they wake up to a world where: Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East with the best human rights record; socialism is failing everywhere it is being tried from Venezuela to North Korea; the worst, most fascistic acts of violence and intolerance are being committed by left-wing people calling themselves “anti-fascists”; Islam is not a “religion of peace”; Trump is doing a great job as president — way, way better than his predecessor Obama; man-made climate change is the biggest scam in the history of science, politics, or economics…
And somehow they’ve got to construct stories demonstrating the opposite because it’s what their dumb-assed audiences want to hear.
How, if you’re running a left-wing media organization, do you reconcile this yawning gulf between the facts on the ground and your preferred political narrative?
Simple: you remake the world so that black is white and white is black; you create your own facts.
So, just like unicorn farming, then, only a bit more fantastical, naive, and ludicrous.
If “fake news” were a thing – that is, if it were the major threat to the quality of public discourse that progressives claim it is – then clearly Wales’s project might be a worthwhile venture.
But “fake news” is fake news.
Sure there might be one or two young entrepreneurs in Macedonia who somehow make a living out of selling fake news stories. Which is huge if true because it’s difficult enough to make a living these days selling true news stories – so if they’re really swinging it, these guys deserve all the money they get.
Easily the main reason, though, why we hear about “fake news” so much these days is that it’s the liberal-left’s favourite excuse as to why they lost Brexit and why they lost the U.S. presidential election. Apparently, if it hadn’t been for all the completely “fake news” claiming that Hillary Clinton was a lying, scheming, cheating, email-hiding crook with blood on her hands, not a single person would have been stupid enough to vote Trump.
Ditto Brexit: it was all to do with “fake news” stories like the £350 million figure on the side of the bus which literally everyone who voted Brexit thought was going straight to the NHS – otherwise, of course, they would all have done the sensible thing and voted to remain shackled to a failing, democratically unaccountable, incompetent, corrupt, socialist superstate currently run by a rude drunkard and a bunch of fascistic technocrats. Fake news made all the difference. Not.
They were too polite to say what I’m sure they wanted to say which is that – as most liberals do – they mentally include Breitbart in the fake news category.
But they both very much believed that “fake news” was a thing and that it posed a significant threat to the kind of fair and balanced and scrupulously accurate news that their own organisations produced.
At this moment I realised something extraordinary: liberals actually believe this shit.