Friday, 11 November 2011
Putting out the trash
One thing you soon learn when browsing the web is how much of the professionally published material is simply churned out to suit a narrative - any old trash for an uncritical readership. It's always been so of course, but before the web we actually had to buy or borrow the publication to see it in action. Now we don't.
onearth is a magazine modestly describing itself as a survival guide for the planet. Why not the whole universe? I don't know - perhaps they thought they'd look silly.
They have a piece here titled Climate Change Health Costs Add Up to One Big Bill. Actually the bill isn't that high in terms of overall US health costs, but you only get to learn that later. Basically someone from the the Natural Resources Defense Council, a US environmental charity, has added up the costs of various losses in the US due to extreme weather, floods, wildfires and various diseases over the past few years. Then they dumped those costs at the door of climate change.
It's been done before and been easily refuted simply on the basis that these natural disasters don't seem to be any worse now than in the past and aren't caused by anthropogenic climate change. Anyway they seem to have decided that the only answer to that little problem is to make the same claim again. However it doesn't stop there because the piece begins with the death of a porpoise from the fungus Cryptococcus gattii which has also been seen in humans. What's the explanation? Well guess what, there's an alarming one we can promote:-
The answer could be as simple as the disease hitching a ride on a tropical vacationer, but a more alarming possibility has emerged over the past decade: that changes in climate are allowing disease-causing organisms to expand their range well out of the tropics.
I won't bore you with any more of this drivel. What interests me is how easy it is to suggest these things to those who have no intention of looking into other possibilities. Without its gullible audience, this kind of material would never see the light of day, yet the web offers anyone the chance to be far better informed. Is stupid really so appealing?