Andrew Revkin of the New York Times seems to be a conscientious, intelligent reporter. He has a good blog on environmental issues, and strives to be, well, fair and balanced.
Which is the entire problem.
Revkin has recently announced that there is a group of “environmental centrists” who have tried to take the climate change debate away from the “yelling match between the political and environmental left and the right.”
And who are these quiet centrists? Well, two of them are Newt Gingrich and Bjorn Lomborg.
If you are wondering how it is that these two right-wingers (neither of then particularly quiet) are suddenly reincarnated as centrists, then you are finding out what you need to know about how the right has (in Eric Alterman’s words) been “working the refs” for the last 30 years.
What makes Gingrich a centrist? Well, unlike the vast majority of conservatives, he actually acknowledges that global warming is real and is caused by human beings! Centrists, you see, split the difference between, on the one hand, the overwhelming consensus of internationally-respected scientists and on the other hand, Michael Crichton and ExxonMobil.
And what does Gingrich actually want to do about climate change? Well, nothing apparently. According to Revkin, he opposes both carbon taxes and greenhouse gas caps. But it’s okay, because he wants conservatives to do something called “embrace their inner environmentalist.”
Lomborg, whose book has been debunked so many times by actual scientists, and who plays fast and loose with the evidence (for example, claiming that a study says that climate change is not certain when its several follow-up studies said that it did), hasn’t changed his position at all. Instead, he likes to note that polar bears won’t actually become extinct: instead, notes Revkin “most biologists do see populations shrinking significantly in a melting Arctic.”
Don’t worry: they won’t be extinct. They will just be even more severely endangered as the Arctic melts! No worries!
On the environment, as with so much, the right has staked out an extreme position, and then when it retreats from that position by an iota, the press falls all over it talking about its new “centrism” and wondering why the left is so “shrill.”
Until we can get reporters–especially smart ones like Revkin–to stop this strange tick, the press will not be doing its job.