Sunday, 7 December 2008

MEN, eh useless or what?

More laughter inspired by the Manchester Evening Newsance.

On Saturday 6th December we have- to my knowledge- only the second ever front page story on Climate Change from the Manchester Evening News (I may well be wrong- in the good old days I used to ignore the MEN).

David Ottewell, who's their star reporter, wrote up a piece that... well, you can read it here.

It's hard to over-emphasise just what a non-story this is. I have lost count of the number of times I've read “go local sustainable energy” pieces in magazines and newspapers that dissed wind turbines on your roof. At the time that David “I'm Green” Cameron got his, there was a spate of such stories, patiently explaining that wind speeds that close to earth make the whole proposition unfeasible, in built up areas.

So this is a Non-story of Epic proportions, though no doubt B& Q will be annoyed.

The story also all-but-conflates domestic wind power, on yer house with wind power more generally, before carefully including a carefully worded sentence- "There is no suggestion those fail to generate enough power to cover their environmental costs."

This may well not be Ottewell's intention or fault- sub-editing can strip away nuance and important distinctions. But even if this is the case, the MEN really should be more careful because

a) it aspires to being a proper newspaper

b) it doesn't exactly have a record to boast about on climate change. Its other- recent- front pager on the subject was a “wasteful junket” story. As a commenter on the MCFly blog said-

"I was pretty enraged by the front page story about the firemen - but mainly because I reckon it's the first time we've seen climate change on the front page, it just needed a bogus 'junket' news hook to get it there! In their defence I can see every reason for the fire service to attend this course: in the outlying reaches of Greater Manchester and up onto the moors, the risk of large-scale fires courtesy of climate change is very real and very dangerous."

MEN didn't cover Mini-Stern in any depth, and certainly not promptly (see MCFly 2), hasn't covered Manchester City Council lack of a climate strategy even though one was promised (MCFly 3), the missing million quid that the Council has yet to spend (MCFly 6: NB they may well have spent it by now, but they certainly haven't told us about it. Or anyone else, judging by their website.)

MEN seems to delight in publishing any old denialist crackpot letter, filled with unsubstantiated claims.

All this is surely unrelated to the fact that one of its associate editors has published denialist tosh in the guise of proper argument.

"For every scare-mongering scientist you'll find one who will tell you the current warming is purely a cyclical event. A thousand years ago, the planet went through a period of global warming, called the medieval warm period. Temperatures were higher than anything observed during the current warm period.
Where were the cars, aircraft or coal-burning electricity plants to blame it on then? And the same thing happened a thousand years before that, in the Roman warming period."

MEN seems to have taken the “if it bleeds it leads” ethos to heart. It's a pity. England's second city deserves better.

In other media self-lobotomy news, Peter Sissons interviewed Green Party leader Caroline Lucas about climate change on Saturday, and used the “there's still scientific debate about the issue” line.
Extraordinary; whoever the producer/researcher putting words in the mouth of that particular meat-puppet anchordroid really needs to look themselves in the mirror.

But then, since when did Manchester Climate Fortnightly have quite such high moral ground to stand on? We have, in the latest issue- 13, rushed to print with a story that seems now to have a lot less to it than we thought. The subject of a post tomorrow...


tallbloke said...

Peter Sissons was quite right to question Caroline Lucas on the validity of man made global warming theory. Science is an ongoing process, and the standard geen party line of 'the debate is over' doesn't change that.

New evidence of other climate drivers and the uncovering of the falsification of data by Hansen, Jones and Mann means the question is still wide open.

You can choose not to publish this comment, which would of course be a perfect demonstartion of the way the contrary opinion is stifled by those afraid of scientific truth and open debate.

Anonymous said...

hey tallbloke. Sorry to deny (ho ho) you the chance to revel in the martyrdom of the heroic Voice in the Wilderness, ignored by the cowardly greens. Better luck elsewhere maybe?
Still, you've inspired a post that took me an hour, so at least you've succeeded in your primary aim- wasting other people's time.
Or am I wrong about you? Prove it, my heroic scientific friend.