August 12, 2007

ROBERT SAMUELSON:

We in the news business often enlist in moral crusades. Global warming is among the latest. Unfortunately, self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism. Last week’s NEWSWEEK cover story on global warming is a sobering reminder. It’s an object lesson of how viewing the world as “good guys vs. bad guys” can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story. . . . But the overriding reality seems almost un-American: we simply don’t have a solution for this problem. As we debate it, journalists should resist the temptation to portray global warming as a morality tale—as NEWSWEEK did—in which anyone who questions its gravity or proposed solutions may be ridiculed as a fool, a crank or an industry stooge. Dissent is, or should be, the lifeblood of a free society.

I thought dissent was supposed to be the highest form of patriotism. . . . But read the whole thing. Personally, as I’ve noted before, the whole debate seems to me to be a religious sideshow. Regardless of what you think about global warming, there are lots of good reasons to avoid burning fossil fuels. But the global-warming discussion in the media is a consensus identity narrative designed to achieve political ends, not an effort to find facts or protect the environment. And this also accounts for the backlash.

UPDATE: More efforts to crush dissent, with threats of jail. They told me that if George W. Bush were reelected, those who failed to toe the line would be ostracized and threatened with prison. And they were right!

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