Accuracy in Media

The New York Times published a story today that blames climate change for the conflict in Darfur. The article also suggests that Suburban-driving soccer moms are making islands disappear, and breathlessly proclaims that the UN will soon adopt “the first resolution linking climate change to international peace and security.”

From The New York Times:

With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway.

But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees.

“It gives you the scary feeling that you don’t know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating,” Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands.

This dark situation underlies the thorny debate over the world’s responsibilities to the millions of people likely to be displaced by climate change.

There could be 200 million of these climate refugees by 2050, according to a new policy paper by the International Organization for Migration, depending on the degree of climate disturbances. Aside from the South Pacific, low-lying areas likely to be battered first include Bangladesh and nations in the Indian Ocean, where the leader of the Maldives has begun seeking a safe haven for his 300,000 people. Landlocked areas may also be affected; some experts call the Darfur region of Sudan, where nomads battle villagers in a war over shrinking natural resources, the first significant conflict linked to climate change.

In the coming days, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to adopt the first resolution linking climate change to international peace and security. The hard-fought resolution, brought by 12 Pacific island states, says that climate change warrants greater attention from the United Nations as a possible source of upheaval worldwide and calls for more intense efforts to combat it. While all Pacific island states are expected to lose land, some made up entirely of atolls, like Tuvalu and Kiribati, face possible extinction.

The story clearly treats catastrophic, man-made global warming as a foregone conclusion. It quotes exactly one dissenting source — who happens to be the former prime minister of Australia — and gives him a single word: “doomsayers.” Even then, he is quickly rebutted.

Australia’s previous prime minister, John Howard, was generally dismissive of the problem, saying his country was plagued with “doomsayers.” But a policy paper called “Our Drowning Neighbors,” by the now governing Labor Party, said Australia should help meld an international coalition to address it.

In contrast to the single-word quote attributed to the lone dissenter, Stuart Beck, the UN ambassador from Palau (population: 21,000), is given two full paragraphs to push global warming alarmism, and is even featured in a photo.

“For the first time in history, you could actually lose countries off the face of the globe,” said Stuart Beck, the permanent representative for Palau at the United Nations. “It is a security threat to them and their populations, which will have to be relocated, which is the security threat to the places where they go, among other consequences.” …

The island states are seeking a response akin to the effort against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. “The whole system bent itself to the task, and that is what we want,” Mr. Beck said, adding that the Council should even impose sanctions on countries that fail to act. “If you really buy into the notion that the Suburban you are driving is causing these islands to go under, there ought to be a cop.”

Now, I realize that disappearing islands make for more sensational news than a politician saying the sky’s not falling. But shouldn’t we at least try to have a level-headed debate about whether our cars are really causing a global catastrophe, before we take extreme steps like killing our economy with cap-and-trade and blaming the climate for wars?

Speaking of level-headed debate, the Heartland Institute is holding a conference in DC on Tuesday to address global warming alarmism. (Full disclosure: Accuracy in Media is a co-sponsor.) Let’s see if The Times finds that fit to print.




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