Whitesburg KY

Media Beat Spin on warming ought to be easy



The controversy about whether global warming really exists has just about ended. Everyone but a stray senator from Oklahoma and the deepest headin the-sand ostriches that have burrowed into the Bush administration is liable to acknowledge that the heat is on and humanity had better take drastic action to avert cataclysmic climate change in the next few decades.

“The rise in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities is influencing climate patterns and vegetation across the United States and will significantly disrupt water supplies, agriculture, forestry and ecosystems for decades, a new federal report says,” The New York Times told readers when the report was released on May 27.

Grim as the account was, it seemed even more so because of its source – an executive branch that throughout this decade has been in the forefront of don’twanna know denial. “According to the report,” the Times explained, “Western states will face substantial challenges because of growing demand for water and big projected drops in supplies.”

Dismal predictions pervaded the newspaper’s reportage: “From 2040 to 2060, anticipated water flows from rainfall in much of the West are likely to approach a 20 percent decrease in the average from 1901 to 1970, and are likely to be much lower in places like the fast-growing Southwest. In contrast, runoff in much of the Midwest and East is expected to increase that much or more. Farmers, foresters and ranchers nationwide will face a complicated blend of changes, driven not only by shifting weather patterns but also by the simultaneous spread of nonnative plant and insect pests.”

You might figure that the jig is totally up for the global-warming deniers. If that’s what you’d guess, you’d be wrong.

The lords of spin work in mysterious ways. Just when you think they might have to find another gig, the designers of the engines of media manipulation give it some new and masterful twirls.

Imagine the possibilities.

In the Western states, media coverage could make a virtue out of necessity. “Big projected drops in supplies” offer an opportunity for a return to rugged American individualism and a reliance on the spiritual verities of our forefathers and even foremothers.

A shift in migration patterns could enable many Americans to retrace the paths of their ancestors, following the prevalence of water away from the West and toward the booming water runoffs in the Midwest and East.

Even the invasive arrival of hordes of “nonnative plant and insect pests” opens up new possibilities for spiritual awakening. The Bible tells of a plague of bugs. Since God can certainly do no wrong, such an occurrence could provide an opportunity for good old American know-how – and could also stimulate the economy through fabulous advancement of the pesticide industry.

What’s more, global warming will open up vast new expanses of entrepreneurial opportunities and therefore could be a boon to the free enterprise system. Global warming could be re-framed as a protracted economic stimulus, launching countless successful firms with ameliorative goals and staggering scientific expertise to carry the day.

Such enterprises must be lauded by the news media, which have increasingly equated business news with general-interest news. The cable channels and newspaper business sections would have no end to the coverage, complete with heroic entrepreneurs who combine shrewd financial acumen with a planetary vision for counteracting the menace of global warming.

And many pundits are apt to tell us that environmental extremists have been too pessimistic. After all, the spirit of American capitalism is stronger than both nature and nature’s adversities.

Farfetched? I doubt it.

Whatever trials and tribulations might come from global warming, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for media spin. And opportunity is the name of the corporate media game.

©2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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