A diet of catastrophe

I frequently encounter thinking people who are concerned that our daily media seem to proffer a diet rich in climate alarmism, but how true really is that impression?

I decided to conduct an informal survey of the online NZ Herald. I found 9 articles over the last 6 months in which the word “catastrophe” or its derivatives appeared in conjunction with the words “global warming” a total of 9 times, which is one alarming article every 2.8 weeks. There were 62 results in all, dating back 7 years, for an overall frequency of one article about every six weeks. Some instances might well have been humorous, tongue-in-cheek or sceptical; one should read them all to find out. This study ignores the broadcast media, which are likewise loaded with references to “fighting climate change” and similar but are harder to review.

I don’t think the Herald is very different from other media. If you add to this newspaper the potential stories on numerous radio stations, television channels, several times a day, and other print media, it’s undeniable that our daily media is full of alarmism. It’s no wonder that we’re worried—we’re being advised to worry! Oddly, I’ve heard some people say “nobody talks about catastrophe”. They are, perforce, deniers.

Other words redolent of catastrophe or crisis and linked with the term “global warming” in these examples include: disaster, alarming, crisis, prolonged drought, Doomsday, sharp rise in sea levels, destroying homes, urgency, species extinctions, widespread starvation, worse to come.

Here’s the list of phrases that appeared in the NZ Herald; the dates are links to the original articles (emphasis added):

May 7, 2008

“Australians have been deliberately kept in the dark about their nation’s inability to deal with major natural disasters.”
“Australia now urgently needed a ‘national resilience programme’ that should include a single national disaster management and co-ordination framework, planning for freak storms and other impacts of climate change.”

April 20, 2008

“an increasingly alarming picture … suggests we may be fighting a losing battle to combat climate change.”
“international negotiations to mitigate climate change and prevent it from causing a global catastrophe.”

April 18, 2008

“Everyone’s talking about global catastrophe and we’re going to have to change our way of living.”
“the action we take now might be a little bit late for our generation but it’s going to pay dividends in a couple of hundred years, maybe.”

April 14, 2008

“a worldwide disaster unfolding with frightening speed. Millions have found rocketing prices of wheat, rice and cooking oil have left them facing the prospect of starvation.”
“Experts also point to climate change. As the levels of carbon dioxide rise in the atmosphere, meteorologists have warned that weather patterns are becoming increasingly disturbed. For several consecutive years, Australia—once a prime grower of wheat—has found its production ruined by drought, for example.”

April 3, 2008

“Then there is global warming, which is probably already cutting into food production. Many in Australia, formerly the world’s second-largest wheat exporter, suspect climate change is the reason for the prolonged drought that is destroying the country’s ability to export food.”
“It’ll be 20 years before climate catastrophe breaks out, but the false solutions to climate change are creating catastrophes that will be much more rapid than the climate change itself.”

February 27, 2008

“the ‘Doomsday Vault’ … housed in an icy steel and concrete bunker.”
“a catastrophe such as devastating climate change induced by global warming.”

December 24, 2007

“The potential for a global catastrophe is clear.”
“Some believe it is a harbinger of worse to come.”

December 10, 2007

“We will not just stand by and allow Bush—or anyone else—to wreck the global effort to save billions of lives from climate catastrophe.”

December 3, 2007

“the last chance to save the Earth from catastrophic climate change.”

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