Reuters News Agency is carrying an extraordinary article claiming that the Republican Party “actively caused climate collapse” and that it is “in the pay of the fossil energy industry”.
The highly unusual story is ostensibly on the subject of the tax that the Australian government plans to levy to cover the costs of the floods in Queensland, but soon veers off into what can most charitably be described as a rambling diatribe on global warming and how the Republicans caused it.
Citing someone called “Jansen” the article says that the Queensland floods were “exactly the kinds of events” that climate scientists have been predicting since the early 1980s, such as “below-zero blizzards due to Arctic melt”:
But these kinds of climate disasters are in our future too. These are exactly the kinds of events that climate scientists (from Jansen in the early eighties on) have been saying will become more common here too, as carbon dioxide levels rise.
How are we going to pay for the damage from an increasing number of droughts, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and below-zero blizzards due to Arctic melt, all the result of climate change?
It’s difficult to begin to describe what’s wrong with this extract in terms of journalism alone, never mind climate science. For a start, where is “here” exactly? One presumes America, but Reuters is a British company with offices all over the world, so “here” could be literally anywhere. And who is “Jansen”? Dr James Hansen of NASA GISS, perhaps? Or Eystein Jansen of the Bjerknes Centre in Norway who studies climate change by looking at sea-bed sedimentation? Who knows?
Is coherence now merely optional when writing a news article?
Reuters then goes on to say that history will record that the Republicans actively caused climate change. Not that they stood back and let it happen, mind you, but actively caused it:
History will show that Republicans and their Astroturf sub-party the Tea Party, both in the pay of the fossil energy industry, actively caused climate collapse, by preventing policies that grow clean energy to prevent it.
The by-line notes that the piece was provided by the “Matter Network”. The Matter Network Inc.’s ‘About‘ page boasts that it has “recently [been] selected as a leading content provider to Reuters’ Green Business News Service”. If that article had my name on it, I wouldn’t be doing too much boasting, but maybe they feel differently. Its mission statement informs us that “Matter Network’s mission is to inform and activate the sustainability revolution.”
The advisory board of the Matter Network makes probably the most interesting reading of anything on their site. It shows that it’s not some nickel-and-dime backstreet operation, but a well-financed and supported PR effort:
R. James Woolsey: Partner, Vantage Point Venture Partners, former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
Suzanne Woolsey: Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute, Former COO, National Academy of Science
Reese Schonfeld: Co-Founder and former President, CNN
J. Scott Briggs: Former President, ZIff-Davis Publishing
Barry Briggs: Former President, C/Net Media
Mike Edelhart: Serial Internet Media Entrepreneur, former CEO Zineo, Executive VP, Ziff Davis Publishing