Accuracy in Media

As Al Gore prepares to deliver congressional testimony on global warming on Wednesday, media bias on the subject is spiraling out of control. Sports Illustrated (SI), a magazine devoted to sports and girls in swimsuits, has weighed in with a cover story suggesting that global warming could result in sports arenas, stadiums, and ballparks being flooded. The magazine even goes so far as to show Florida Marlins’ pitcher Dontrelle Willis on the cover in a stadium with water up to his knees. 

But SI’s March 12, 2007 cover story, Going, Going Green, was also accompanied by some bizarre comments praising communist China for dealing with the perceived problem. Could the publication be trying to butter up communist authorities in charge of granting access to next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing?  

The cover story of the Time Warner publication was written by Alexander Wolff, whose previous expertise consisted of covering basketball games. Global warming is “changing the way we play and the sports we watch,” he intoned, trying to con sports fans into accepting the Al Gore view of the world.  

Wolff’s expert, who is quoted as saying it is “crunch time” for humanity to take action, is radical environmentalist Bill McKibben, who wrote The End of Nature and Deep Economy. Curiously, McKibben has emerged as an apologist for China’s exploitation of nature for its own economic advancement. 

For example, in a 2006 column in the Washington Post, McKibben insisted that China was pursuing industrial progress not for military purposes but to “pull people out of poverty.” He contrasted the Chinese path of economic development for the masses to what’s happening in America, where he complained about people driving Lincoln Navigators. He said that if we want to stop China from contributing to the production of greenhouse gasses blamed for global warming, we should transfer technology and raise taxes “to underwrite the cost of building windmills in China?”

McKibben has formed an activist group,, for the purpose of staging rallies in the U.S. on April 14, 2007 to demand that the Congress enacts curbs on carbon emissions that would cut “global warming pollution” 80 percent by 2050. He has advocated a carbon tax which would significantly raise the price of gasoline for all Americans, both rich and poor. 

McKibben’s influence at SI was evident in a pro-China piece, “China Cleans Up,” by David Epstein, who wrote that “As part of its bid to win the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing committed to a war on pollution. Progress has been made, but it is too early to declare victory.” Epstein continues: “In an effort to meet its stated goal of 245 ‘blue sky days’ in 2007, Beijing officials switched many businesses from coal power to natural gas and began moving factories that burn fossil fuels out of town.” 

But this rosy scenario contradicts another statement by Epstein that “The most dramatic economic boom in history has not been easy on China’s environment?In 1990 there were only one million cars in China; now about three million routinely clog the streets of Beijing alone. Satellite images of the capital city, which has a population of 15 million, reveal some of the world’s highest levels of nitrogen dioxide-a toxic by-product of automobile exhaust and fossil-fuel-burning factories.” 

The “China Cleans Up” slant flies in the face of what has been reported elsewhere. Fareed Zakaria’s February 19, 2007 article, Global Warming: Get Used to It, says that “Most studies predict that the world will double its consumption of energy by 2050. Since much of that growth in consumption will take place in China and India, it will involve the burning of fossil fuels. Between them, these two countries are currently building 650 coal-fired power plants. The combined CO2 emissions of these new plants is five times the total savings of the Kyoto accords?that is, if the Kyoto targets were being adhered to by Western countries, which they are not.” 

The Kyoto accords, also known as the global warming treaty, do not apply to China or India because they are deemed to be developing countries that have not contributed to the perceived global warming problem. But, while the western world now looks for alternative energy sources, China is engaging in a rapid expansion of coal burning plants and other outdated, and potentially harmful technologies and energy sources.   

Epstein’s admission?that Beijing’s mere three million cars have covered the city in nitrogen dioxide?is important as well. China’s automobiles are not regulated by the same emissions standards we have here in the U.S., and China’s automobiles are polluting the environment to a greater extent than here in the U.S., as the number of cars on China’s highways and dirt roads is increasing. 

The March 19, 2007 issue of Time magazine in the Notebook section includes a chart showing that there are now 11.5 million private cars in China, nine per 1,000 people, vs. 136.4 million private cars in the U.S., or 450 per 1,000 people. China now has 11 times the number of cars it did just 17 years ago, and could add hundreds of millions more as the country continues to grow economically.

Yet SI’s “expert” laughably suggests the solution is to build windmills in China, paid for by American taxpayers. There is no explanation of how such a scheme would convince China to forgo its well-established path of industrial development and military expansion based on the burning of fossil fuels.  

We hear enough alarmism about man-made global warming without sports writers offering their own misguided advice, opinions and “experts.” 

Please, gentlemen, go back to doing what you do best: reporting on overpaid athletes who make more money in a few games than some teachers, firemen, and police officers make in a lifetime.

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