Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Open Magazine: redeemed?

Open's climate change denial story looks even sillier one year out, but their willingness to run the Radia Tapes was no small thing
Just about a year ago, Open Magazine ran an extraordinarily bad cover story. In the 'Climate Change Fraud,' Open basically recycled a pile of press releases from right wing think tanks and threw in some quotes from a small group of well-known climate change deniers and skeptics, most of whom give quotes for a living.  No effort was made to examine the issue from multiple perspectives, and to make matters worse, the article was poorly written. The story made me doubt the integrity of people willing to run a controversial cover simply to stir the pot and sell magazines. I gave up reading Open for a long time.  

Then Open broke that Radia Tapes story, something most news outlets were afraid to do. The beauty of a free press is not that it gets things right all the time, but that it gets things right at least some of the time. And some of the time can make a big difference. Albert Camus put it this way: 'A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.'  So hats off to Open and Outlook for being good, at least this time around.  And let's not forget The Hindu, which ran two very good pieces last week explaining why Kapil Sibal's recent attack on the  CAG report cannot really be take seriously, except as a political ploy. Read: Sorry people, we're hanging up on you, and Head in the sand.

Back to climate change, things have not been going well in the year since Open ran 'Climate Change Fraud.'  In fact, last year tied for the hottest year on record.  I know one year doesn't prove anything--it's the long term trends that matter. But if we remain silent, then we leave the field to skeptics, who like to cry foul every time snow falls anywhere.  But for the record, anyone still talking about 'global cooling' may benefit from a review of some basic maths and science. My son is almost finished with his fifth standard text books; that might be a good place to start.  Here's a reality check from a piece that originally ran in the New York Times:
Two agencies, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported on January 12 that the global average surface temperature for 2010 had tied the record set in 2005...[2010] was the 34th year running that global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average; the last below-average year was 1976. The new figures show that nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since the beginning of 2001.
Not good news, for those of us who consider things like the future of our planet. Full story here

So, what are we doing about it? Not as much as we should be.  The climate talks in Cancun last month were not the complete disaster many of us expected, but they fell far short of any real solution. Here are three different takes on those talks for those wanting to dig a bit deeper:

CancĂșn agreement rescues UN credibility but falls short of saving planet: The Guardian (full coverage here)

Cancun clinches deal--for polluters  from CSE's Down to Earth.

Green Lantern Mira Kamdar's more positive take on the Cancun summit. 

For more on climate, go see the Green Light climate page. For more on the 2G, check out our 2G-CWG page.

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