No Comment — June 4, 2007, 5:13 pm

The American Media and Global Warming

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “Silver Blaze” (found in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1894), literature’s greatest detective solves the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a celebrated racehorse. The key to the solution was in this passage:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

And today, Holmes’s technique is instructive. For there is something very curious about the American media’s treatment of the issue of global warming. And what’s curious is that it reports next to nothing.

Every time I leave the country and pick up a newspaper or watch a news broadcast, I find menacing stories about the rapid disappearance of glacial ice in Greenland, Iceland and Antartica; stories about the threats presented by rising water in coastal zones, and so forth. Then I return to America and learn that this is all alarmist nonsense really not worth reporting.

Al Gore’s new book, The Assault on Reason, makes this point. If you’re looking for evidence of how the new “corporate culture” of the media had affected its reporting – essentially made it stupid and irresponsible, look no further than this issue.

This will be a week to keep that question in focus. The G8 summit in Heiligendamm commences on Thursday. For the host and the majority of the G8 states, this summit is about one issue: global warming. They have been carefully laying the foundations for G8 coordinated action on hydrocarbon emissions and related warming issues. But there’s been one consistent delinquent at this function, and his name is George W. Bush. By and large, the American press has given Bush a free pass, with the result that most Americans haven’t got a clue of the rupture between America and the other leading states of the developed world on this issue. Europeans, Canadians and Japanese read about it every day.

At this point, I am more concerned about the irresponsibility of the American media than I am about Bush. And so are the Europeans. Reporting around the world, and especially in Europe, is coming to a focus on the scandalous behavior of U.S. media. Consider this note in the current issue of Germany’s Der Spiegel:

Many Americans had no idea until today that their government and those of the other Group of Eight (G-8) countries were locked in a bitter battle over global warming. The US media has studiously avoided the issue. The New York Times has ignored it for weeks, the Washington Post covered it with one short article and USA Today contented itself with a wire report from the Associated Press. Meanwhile the television networks have apparently decided to run absolutely nothing on the issue.

And, as Spiegel points out, when they do decide to run something – it’s very low profile, brief, and focuses on some utterly meaningless initiative that Bush has taken – creating a completely false impression about the current dialogue. What’s up now? Bush is intent on blocking the Europeans from setting an effective agenda to address the problem. And the U.S. media is complicit with him at every step. This is my observation and my prediction. Let’s track things through the end of the week and see if I’m not borne out.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2016

Psychedelic Trap

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hamilton Cult

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Held Back

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Division Street

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Innocents

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quiet Car

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Hamilton Cult·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The past is complicated, and explaining it is not just a trick, but a gamble."
Illustration by Jimmy Turrell
Article
Division Street·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Perfectly sane people lose access to housing every day, though the resultant ordeal may undermine some of that sanity, as it might yours and mine."
Photograph © Robert Gumpert
Article
Held Back·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"'We don’t know where the money went!' a woman cried out. 'They looted it! They stole our money!'"
Artwork by Mischelle Moy
Article
The Quiet Car·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.

Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.

Photograph by Joshua Lutz
Article
Innocents·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion."
Photograph © Nadia Shira Cohen

Amount of laundry an average American family of four washes in a year (in tons):

1

A study of female Finnish twins found that relative preference for masculine faces is largely heritable.

It was reported that visits from Buddhist priests could be purchased through Amazon in Japan, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra began streaming performances through virtual-reality headsets.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today