The Op-Ed page of Sunday’s (December 23, 2007) New York Times is devoted to moaning and groaning about the evils of global warming. One piece complains about the loss of a glacier. A second bemoans an abnormal weather pattern in which unseasonably warm weather was followed by cold snaps, with devastating effects on the writer’s olive trees in Provence. A third complains of China’s growing prosperity enabling people to consume more and more imported food, thereby contributing to greenhouse gas emissions because of the need to transport the food over long distances.
But it is the fourth piece that wins the prize for absurdity (and dishonesty). After casually substituting the words “climate changeâ€ for “global warming,â€ it dares to complain about “uncharacteristic frostsâ€ ruining 40 percent of an avocado grower’s crop. In fact, in the apparent belief that its readers are unconcerned with contradictions, The Times actually titled this piece “Chile’s Rising Waters and Frozen Avocados.â€ The rising waters will supposedly come about because of the melting of Antarctic ice caused by global warming. And yet that same global warming is portrayed as the cause of uncharacteristic frosts and frozen avocados. The writer and The Times apparently believe, and expect their readers to believe, that freezing, no less than warming, is a product of global warming.The news pages of the same edition of The Times contain yet another propaganda piece about the evils of global warming, this time without any excuse of being merely an expression of opinion. Disguised as a news story, the piece appears on page 16 of the paper’s main section, with the title “As Earth Warms, Virus From Tropics Moves to Italy.â€
The virus in question is “chikungunya,â€ which is described as “a relative of dengue fever normally found in the Indian Ocean region.â€ A careful reading of the article, together with some investigation of actual climate conditions, shows no connection whatever between the arrival of this virus in Italy and global warming. In reality, its arrival in Italy is nothing more than an unfortunate by-product of globalization and its attendant increase in international trade and travel.
The facts reported in the article are that “[t]iger mosquitoes [a potential carrier of the virus] first came to southern Italy with shipments of tires from Albania about a decade agoâ€ and then proceeded to enlarge their habitat. The mosquitoes by themselves caused no problems beyond that of being a nuisance. What was responsible for their becoming an actual carrier of the chikungunya virus was the arrival in an Italian city of a resident’s relative who had contracted the virus on a trip to India. He was bitten and the mosquitoes then spread the virus from him to others, in widening circles.
The only connection the article offers to global warming is the assertion that the tiger mosquito’s habitat “has expanded steadily northward as temperatures have risen,â€ as though there had been some significant rise in temperatures over the last ten years and that this rise was a prerequisite to the enlargement of the mosquito’s habitat, at least in a northerly direction. Yet the facts are that global mean temperature has risen a scant .7â—¦C (1.26â—¦F) over the entire period since 1900 and, according to data supplied by The University of East Anglia and The Hadley Centre, global mean temperatures have actually been modestly declining since 1998! (For verification of this last point, see the website http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-12/uoea-awy121207.php). Moreover, since temperature lows in the region of Italy where the outbreak occurred are lower than those in most of France and England by 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, temperature conditions in those areas, which are considerably further north, have been ripe for the tiger mosquito at least for a century or more. (For comparative temperature lows, see the website of Euroweather at http://www.eurometeo.com/english/climate/home_min).
Thus, however unfortunate the outbreak of the virus may have been, there is no actual basis for blaming it on global warming. The accusation is nothing more than part of the attempt to create panic over global warming and thus to stampede frightened and ignorant people into sacrificing their freedom and prosperity for the sake of what looks more and more like a coming global dictatorship.
This article is only one of many that make The Times read like something produced at a ministry of propaganda rather a newspaper produced in a free country. Its author, one Elizabeth Rosenthal, has previously demonstrated that she is an enthusiastic and utterly naive advocate of environmentalism. (See her “Cleaner consumption and the low-carbon lifeâ€ in the February 23 issue of the International Herald Tribune, a newspaper owned by The Times.) The Times definitely does not read like a newspaper in which reporters apply critical thinking, exercise independent judgment and common sense, verify the facts they report by means of doing the necessary research, and strive for logical consistency. It is in fact something of a joke as a newspaper, or at least would be a joke if it were not as successful as it has been in helping to poison our culture and destroy our country.
Copyright © 2007, by George Reisman. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. His web site is www.capitalism.net.