Prairie State Wire

Prairie State Wire

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Op-Ed: Media blow another climate change story


By Dennis Byrne | Mar 26, 2019

Something important was missing from the reporting on a recent study concluding that climate change threatens the Great Lakes with more flooding, heat waves and drought.

The study, "The Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes, also warns that the Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of America.

Release of the study came while the media were fixated on the devastating "‘bomb cyclone’ that tore through parts of the Midwest, flooding towns and fields with record rainfall. The coincidental timing of the storm and the release of the study reinforced the fashionable view that human (anthropogenic) activity is causing global warming and extreme weather events--from flooding to drought. 

What was missing from all the reporting that I saw was the fact of  scientific disagreement. The absence of the other side of the story of course leaves the impression that none exists. Or that anyone who disagrees with the conclusion is an "anti-science denier."

It shouldn't be hard to find opposing scientific views. Here's one: “...There is little indication that anthropogenic climate change has significantly affected the flood frequency distribution for the Midwest U.S.” (Here, page 207 All kinds of peer reviewed research can be found throughout the 285-page document.)

A beat won't be missed before someone objects that the science in the document isn't valid because it is relayed or sponsored through the Chicago-based Heartland Institute*, a free-market think tank that, thankfully, frequently and forcefully presents the other side.

I suppose I could make the same argument from authority.  The study flows through the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a prominent, Chicago-based advocacy group often found on the left side of the political spectrum. I respect their work and their motives, even though I sometimes disagree with them.

The media's handling of this story is yet another example of their professional and ethical failure and the trampling of objectivity as I learned at Marquette University. What the hell are they teaching in journalism school these days?

Dennis Byrne is a self-described "jack-of-all-trades freelancer." His work has appeared in the Weekly Standard and other publications. Byrne is also the author of two books.

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