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13 March 2009 Blog Home : March 2009 : Permalink

A Qualified Journalist

Over at WattsUpWithThat they have linked to a report in the Grauniad on the Heartland organized ICCC 2009 event. The report is interesting in many ways but not as far as reporting what went on there. Let us start with the writer. Suzanne Goldenberg is, according to her bio, well qualified to write about Science and Environmental affairs. She has a BSc in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and a PhD in Predictive Analysis. Actually that last sentence is almost certainly a complete lie. The website that pushes her book "Madame President" about Hilary Clinton says:

Suzanne Goldenberg is an award-winning journalist for The Guardian and has been the newspaper's US Correspondent since 2002. In January 2003, she based herself in Baghdad to cover the last days of Saddam Hussein's rule and the US invasion of Iraq. She was among a small group of reporters who covered the war from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

In addition to Iraq, she covered the war in Lebanon in 2006, the Palestinian uprising from 2000-2002, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 1996, and the wars in Chechnya, Georgia, and Nagorno Karabakh in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

She has reported from the remotest corners of India and Pakistan -- including the world's highest battlefield, the Siachen glacier. She has travelled with the Karen rebels in Burma, and interviewed the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, when she was being kept under house arrest.

Goldenberg won the Bayeux prize for war reporting for her coverage of Iraq. She has won the prize of Reporter of the Year from What the Papers Say, the Foreign Press Association, and the London Press Club for her coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has also won the James Cameron award. She was nominated for an award for her coverage of the 2006 war in Lebanon.

Goldenberg was born and raised in Canada. After joining the Guardian in London in 1988, she was the paper's South Asia Correspondent, and Middle East Correspondent, before her move to the US. She is the author of "Pride of Small Nations: the Caucasus and Post-Soviet Disorder" (1994) and co-author of "Transcaucasian Boundaries" with John F. R. Wright, and Richard Schofield (1995). She lives in Washington, DC with her family.

In other words Ms Goldenberg is a war correspondent and political journalist who has absolutely no background in science what so ever. Googling her name shows her to be apparently pro-Palestinians, anti-Bush, anti-Israel and so on - i.e. a typical Guardianista - and shows no concern about the Environment until she got moved onto the Environment beat after the US elections in 2008.

Still her experience with Pallywood and sympathy with the actorsvictims in the occupied territories which, it is alleged, led her to be disinvited from Israel stands her in good stead here. Now she is able to apply the same skills of agit prop and pseudo-balanced hackery to discredit the "deniers". You get a flavour of her contempt in the first sentences:

It is 8.50am in a windowless room in a hotel off New York's Times Square and the speaker is rounding off a talk called "Climate change and extreme events: lies, damned lies and statistics". There are nearly 100 people in the room. "How many people understood that statistical discussion?" he asks. Half a dozen hands go up. In the last row, a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is regarded as a luminary by climate change revisionists, sits with mouth wide open and head tilted back, asleep.

I'm pretty sure that the journalist was not one of those with her hand up. Certainly the rest of the article has no science in it what so ever. Rather she seems more interested in painting the attendees as wild-eyed loons in the pay of EEEEVIL OIL COMPANIES and FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS:

It would be easy to dismiss this gathering as a pity party for people on the fringes of modern thought. The contrast with the America embodied by Obama's election is stark. The 600 attendees (by the organisers' count) are almost entirely white males, and many, if not most, are past retirement age. Only two women and one African-American man figure on the programme of more than 70 speakers. Aside from a smattering of academics from well-known universities, they are affiliated with rightwing thinktanks, such as the Ayn Rand Institute, the Carbon Sense Coalition, or the scarily named Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow, that operate far outside the mainstream of public discourse.

Unlike Obama, who owed his victory to millions of supporters and donors, the climate change deniers operate within narrow bands of support: the conservative wing of the Republican party and the extreme end of the Christian Right. According to DeSmogblog, an environmentalist website, the 50 or so thinktanks linked to this conference between them have received $47m in funds over the years from Exxon and the Koch and Scaife families, who are the leading patrons of conservative causes in America. Both families made their first fortunes in the oil business.

No doubt she is partly right that those skeptical of climate change - "deniers" according to la G - tend to the right but at least a part of the reason why the "denier" movement is so fragmented is that the participants have many different agendas. Steve McIntyre (who oddly doesn't get mentioned) is a by his own admission a rabid pinko, so is Bjorn Lomborg (also not mentioned, but then he apparently didn't attend); Vaclav Klaus, who does get mentioned, is certainly not a fundamentalist christian and so on.

And then there is the agist sexist racism issue. Apparently "deniers" are not to be trusted because they are nearly all white, male and old. As WUWT notes if the same profiling were to turn out almost any other way Ms Goldenberg would be laying herself open to being accused of a hate crime. Fortunately it seems you can't be guilty of a hate-crime if you pick on old caucasian men.

Finally, after her discussion of all the short comings and disorganization of the "deniers", she seeks some balance by talking to a few greens who are able to reassure her that the "deniers" are total whackoes outside the pale of public discourse who can't even get funding for oil companies these days. Which is fortunate for Suzanne because it means she doesn't have to make any effort to understand their objections to the "consensus" or even report with any pretence at balance or accuracy.