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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Where's the scepticism?

Murdoch's Australian published an article last weekend titled "A climate of confusion":

"Perhaps the greatest challenge facing government and industry in response to climate change is how to develop policy and strategy now in response to a scientific debate that is still uncertain and evolving.

"Climate change, like any other major scientific debate over the centuries, is neither polite nor exact. It involves the development of countless theories and counter-theories and their repeated validation and repudiation until eventually we bring ourselves closer to a better understanding of the problem.

"The media and other commentators trust scientists. We tend to presume a new finding report is correct or true, as part of some noble and apolitical synod guiding society inexorably towards science's irrefutable truth.

"But scientific debate is more like a rolling maul than a mass. A connected series of often heated arguments raging up and down the hallways of universities and research institutions as it lurches erratically but eventually, not so much towards truth but away from falsehood."

The piece was written by a "special correspondent", "employed by a resources lobby." The publishing of such an article raises important ethical questions. Why - as argued by PR Watch - "an opinion column was not on the opinion pages, but in a section normally reserved for features by real journalists, went unexplained. Nor was it explained why a newspaper printed an entire article by an anonymous contributor, when it won't print anonymous letters to the editor."

It is virtually inconceivable that the paper would publish an article by an environmental activist without attribution. Simply put, the Murdoch press are enviro-sceptics. This is their legitimate right, but larger questions remain.

Medialens recently examined the contradiction between the mainstream media debating the effects of global warming and climate change and the kind of advertising they receive. For example, if we accept that car manufacturers are partly responsible for creating environmental problems, should responsible companies accept their advertising? Green Euro MP, Caroline Lucas, accurately told Medialens the reality:

"The mainstream corporate media all too often shares the same vested interests as the governments and businesses whose activities make up the content of its coverage...The public cannot rely on the corporate media to provide an honest and impartial view of corporate responsibility for crimes against humanity and the environment."


Blogger jeffreg said...

I am a Zionist because I am a Jew - and without recognizing a national component in Judaism I cannot explain its unique character, a world religion bound to one homeland, a people whose Holy Days are defined by the Israeli agricultural calendar, rooted in theological concepts, and linked with historic events.

I am a Zionist because I know my history - and after being exiled from their homeland 1931 years ago, the defenseless, wandering Jews endured repeated persecutions from both Christians and Muslims - centuries before culminating in the Holocaust.

I am a Zionist because Jews never forgot their ties to their homeland, their love for Jerusalem, and often established autonomous governing structures in Babylonia, in Europe, in North Africa, governments in exile yearning to return home.

I am a Zionist because those ideological ties nourished and were nurtured by the plucky minority of Jews who remained in the land of Israel, sustaining continued Jewish settlement throughout the exile.

I am a Zionist because in modern times, the promise of Emancipation and Enlightenment was a double-edged sword, often only offering acceptance for Jews in Europe after they assimilated, yet never fully respecting them if they did assimilate.

I am a Zionist because in establishing the sovereign state of Israel in 1948, the Jews were merely reconstituting in modern Western terms a relationship with a land they had been attached to for 4,000 years since Abraham - just as India did in establishing a modern state out of an ancient civilization.

I am a Zionist because in building that state, the Jews were returning to history, embracing normalcy, a condition which gave them power, with all its benefits, responsibilities, and dilemmas.

I am a Zionist because I celebrate the existence of Israel, and like any thoughtful patriot, though I might criticize particular governmental policies I may dislike - I do not delegitimize the state itself.

I am a Zionist because I live in the real world of nation-states, and I see that Zionism is no more or less "racist" than any other nationalism, be it American, Canadian, or Czech, all of which rely on some internal cohesion, some sense of solidarity among some historic grouping of individuals, and not others, some tribalism.

I am a Zionist because here in multicultural North America we have learned that pride in one's heritage as a Jew, an Italian, a Greek, can provide essential and time-tested anchors in a world overdosing on materialism, consumerism, and a sensationalism of the here-and-now.

I am a Zionist because in our world of post-modern identities, I know that we don't have to be "either-ors", we can be can "ands and buts" -- a Zionist AND an American patriot; a secular and somewhat assimilated Jew BUT a Zionist.

I am a Zionist because I am a democrat, and for the last two centuries, the history of democracy has been intertwined with the history of nationalism, while for the last century democracy has been a central Zionist ideal, despite being tested under the most severe conditions.

I am a Zionist because I am an idealist, and just as a century ago, the notion of a strong, independent, viable, sovereign Jewish state was an impossible dream - yet absolutely worth fighting for - so, too, today, the notion of a strong, independent, viable, sovereign Jewish state living in true peace and harmony with its neighbors appears to be an impossible dream - yet absolutely worth striving for.

I am a Zionist because I am a romantic, and the vision of the Jews rebuilding their homeland, reclaiming the desert, renewing themselves, was one of the greatest stories of the twentieth century, just as the vision of the Jews maintaining their homeland, reconciling with the Arab world, renewing themselves, and serving as a light to others, a model nation state, could be one of the greatest stories of the twenty-first century.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 1:28:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Ditto, as they say!

Back to the topic, how exactly is this unethical? It was clearly marked and identified, so it's not like it was being put through under false pretenses. It's interesting to watch you play out your various pathologies towards Fairfax and News Corp, which emanate from different sources but end up in the same place.

Columnists/opinion pieces regularly appear in various places in a newspaper - I missed the weekend edition of the Oz so I don't know what section it was in, or how it looked on the page - but really, this is far better than, say, the NY Times, which tags front-page opinion pieces by supposedly non-biased journos as "News Analysis".

Thursday, January 19, 2006 2:14:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

The threat of global warming is real. Our children and our children's children are going to suffer because of the ecological crimes we have committed to sustain our middle-class lifestyles. The greatest crime has been committed by the oil companies, who have sought out, and locked up, patents pertaining to alternative energy solutions, especially solar. We must think of the future, and find ways of minimizing our impact on the environment, by embracing every improvement in energy conservation that comes along. If we don't, I hate to think of the future we have created for ourselves.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 4:51:00 pm  

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