You have to assume that Canada’s National Post is guilty of casual disregard for journalistic integrity rather than strategic fear-mongering, but the newspaper made space on its front page today for a vision of Nazi-occupied France – and suggested that’s what we’re facing if we try to attend to climate change.
The Post actually printed two photos – a pretty shot of melting ice floes and a dour image of a 1943 French soup-line – under a headline that reads: “TAKE YOUR PICK: ENVIRONMENTAL OR ECONOMIC DISASTER?” An accompanying story begins, “The cost of meeting Canada’s Kyoto commitments would be an economic downturn to rival the worst recessions of the past 60 years, spiralling energy costs and the worst unemployment in several generations, John Baird, Minister of the Environment, said yesterday.”
Post editors will undoubtedly claim that the Nazi soup-line photo was meant to evoke poverty, but its seems clear that the paper is more interested in selling it’s viewpoint than in reporting the news.
Writers at The Post have argued endlessly that climate change and climate science is impossibly complex – that scientists can’t understand it well enough to give us reliable information. (See especially The Post’s 16-part series, The Deniers.) Rather than present that complexity evenhandedly, however, they break the issue into two emotionally charged images and serve that up as our choice.
If they had done this on the Editorial Page – where people are expecting expressions of raw opinion – or even in the columns of the ever predictable Terence Corcoran, that would be fair game. Presenting it on the front page should come as a reminder to us all: at The Post, every page is the Opinion page. Facts be damned.