Environmental Journalism Has Become Ideological Warfare

moneyWhy do so many climate-related news reports sound like propaganda written by zealous, even fanatical, environmentalists who could never be called impartial or objective?

Why have reporters belonging to the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) abandoned the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics, which includes a pledge to support “open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant,” and instead promoted retaliation against scientists with whom they disagree, often calling for the censorship of climate-alarm skeptics?

Deep-Seated Emotions

The evidence suggests SEJ’s actions weren’t based solely on the perennial need for sensational headlines or the usual left-wing politics of covering the environment beat. It’s more personal. Many environmental journalists seem driven by emotions aroused before they entered journalism school: fear and loathing of modern technology and the flourishing human populations it brings.

That’s the core of the environmental catechism as taught by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Paul Ehrlich’s ThePopulation Bomb, and The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth.

Many green beat reporters appear to harbor feelings of misanthropic self-loathing, as National Book Award novelist Jonathan Franzen said of himself in The New Yorker: “I was raised as a Protestant and became an environmentalist, but I’ve long been struck by the spiritual kinship of environmentalism and New England Puritanism. Both belief systems are haunted by the feeling that simply to be human is to be guilty.”

This makes environmentalism and journalism a treacherous coupling. The father of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bert Bolin, said as much. In his 2008 A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change, Bolin wrote, “There has been an unfortunate polarization of the way the media report the climate change issue. … It was non-governmental groups of environmentalists, supported by the mass media, who were the ones exaggerating the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by the IPCC.”

The scientific evidence was weak, but the environmental journalists’ belief was strong, so they lied. Period.

Once greens attained real influence, environmental reporters emerged as vengeful authoritarians driven by power and a furious intolerance toward doubters who threatened their belief and personal status. The science, as Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Norman Rogers pointed out, is just window dressing.

Joyfully Wearing ‘Pareto’s Blindfold’

Rogers took his cue from the Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1901, wrote in The Rise and Fall of Elites: An Application of Theoretical Sociology: “The greater part of human actions have their origin not in logical reasoning but in sentiment [emotion]. Man, although impelled to act by non-logical motives, likes to tie his actions logically to certain principles; he therefore invents these a posteriori in order to justify his actions.”

We can think of this as “Pareto’s Blindfold” and apply it to climate reporting: Reasoning about science with many environmental reporters is futile because you’re not dealing with science or reason, you’re dealing with illogical principles invented to justify their fear, loathing, human guilt, and retribution. Reporters can’t see this, much less admit it to themselves.

With the Obama administration’s Machiavellian collusion, reporters who are more environmentalist than journalist now rule the climate beat. 

Big Money Supports Alarmism

You can credit the SEJ, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with more than 1,200 member reporters and academics in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and 27 other countries, with the general decline in journalistic standards among environmental journalists. SEJ has received 119 grants from 35 notorious anti-development foundations, totaling $9.5 million since 1999. With this financial prompting, the SEJ’s stalwarts, including Andrew Revkin (The New York Times), Seth Borenstein (Associated Press), and Suzanne Goldenberg (The Guardian), have led the decline of climate news into ideological warfare.

To many SEJ writers, it is not possible for them to be biased, because issues have only one side: their own.

Associated Press’ Borenstein asserted, “The nature of reporting is to get two sides to an issue. But the nature of science reporting is to get what’s really happening.”

SEJ thinks whatever isn’t environmental dogma is a lie, as indicated by its reference webpage “Climate Change: A Guide to the Information and Disinformation.”

SEJ writers also promote “false balance,” the notion that giving opposing views concerning climate change any mention at all is not real balance because skeptics are liars paid to undermine the truth. Thus, Pareto’s Blindfold justifies total censorship. 

Public Sees Through Hype

Fortunately, the public has resisted this biased climate journalism. A March Gallup Poll found the number of people saying they worried “a great deal” about global warming peaked in 2000 at 72 percent. Despite increasingly hyperbolic media coverage, the number of people greatly worried about climate change fell to 55 percent in 2009 and has remained there since. Significantly, 42 percent of Americans think reporters exaggerate the seriousness of global warming, and only 21 percent think media reports are generally correct.

Perhaps a big reason behind newspapers’ declining readership is reporters’ increasing abandonment of their traditional fourth-estate role as government watchdog and defender of dissent in favor of promoting the “official” views of government and large bureaucratic institutions.

Climate reporters have stooped to reprehensible smears to destroy skeptic scientists with false “science-for-sale” allegations in orchestrated campaigns with extremists such as Greenpeace. The true colors of their yellow journalism are showing, loud and ugly. 

Ron Arnold (arnold.ron@gmail.com) is a free-enterprise activist, author, and commentator.

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  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Ron Arnold’s summation is absolutely spot on . The print media have sown the seeds of their own demise by shifting from journalist to propaganda mega phone .

    Fortunately we have other alternatives and the public is cooling to the con .

    The media keep yelling chicken little at the same time proof mounts that the earth doesn’t actually have a man made fever .

    We should be happy for a bit of warming in any event . Cooling would require the use of a lot more fossil fuel .

    Many in the media are emotionally wed to the earth has a fever belief . As a result they are not at all interested in things that differ with their opinion . Expecting a return to journalistic ethics is as likely as the Arctic being ice free .

    No one likes a bossy pants. The public are even less likely to willingly part with their cash to read or listen to bossy pants preach to them .

    When you stop making things or services people want to buy you are done as a business .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    Some time around the 1960’s we lost the notion that a journalist’s job was to report the news. Young college students began to choose journalism instead to “change the world” and the age of journalistic activism began. Colleges at that time, and as they remain today, were ground zero for leftist thought and anyone without a left-leaning core was (and is still) culled or discouraged from the profession. Many journalism students who fail to comply with leftist orthodoxy complain of open hostility from faculty and fellow students.

    As a result, we have lost intellectual diversity on our campuses and in our media. I find it especially ironic that the very people who tend to sport DIVERSITY bumper stickers on their Subarus openly deny [i]intellectual[/i] and [i]political[/i] diversity in this country.

    Reply

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      JayPee

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      I defy anyone to say that the msm is not the propaganda arm of the USA democrat ( communist ) party.

      No amount of lying by them is too extreme to protect the leftist extremist interests of the pigs they support.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Me

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        No arguements from Me there, I see it here too. I used to watch SUN News, it’s gone now but it is the Rebel now.
        http://www.therebel.media/

        Reply

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    thomaskbrent

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    This is really an awesome blog post, I like the way you written this article. Keep blogging!! [url=http://american-writers.org/]best essay writing service[/url]

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Imagine working for a newspaper where any departure from copying or writing scary global warming stories was simply unacceptable . In fact you had a quota and purposely screen out contrary information .
    You cease to be a reporter but you have to pay the bills .

    With a few exceptions the print media is making itself obsolete walking down that road when it should be working at becoming more valued .

    Why not encourage discussion ,debate and different perspectives.

    What are they afraid of ? Greenpeace .

    Lets see a special interest group with a catchy logo . Where have we seen that before .

    Reply

    • Avatar

      JayPee

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      The same way Dan Rather became obsolete

      Continued at full pay and benefits, Rather shut up and toed the line collecting full pay as hush money

      Imagine if anyone who is not a leftist extremist would be excused for any inpropriety

      receiving the same exoneration

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Me

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      Sierra club, Suzuki Foundation, Earth Rangers, that is new, PETA, Green Peace, Tides, Ted, World Wild Life Foundation, Pembina Institute.Add moreif you know of more

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Me

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        Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Natural Wildlife Federation.

        Reply

  • Avatar

    Steve

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    They sound like its the outcome of crossing the Jesuits with Greenpeace….double dose of fanaticism driven by pagan theology…

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Mark Pawelek

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    Very informative but is it that simple?

    On the subject of “false balance”, I notice environment journalists always interview a green activists on any matter connected with nuclear power, but never interview nuclear engineers or ex-plant managers. This effect is so striking that James Conca, at Forbes, wrote a whole article on it. Do SEJ members class nuclear engineers among climate deniers who shouldn’t be allowed a platform – even when those engineers are climate alarmists too?

    Reply

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