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Washington Post politics and environment reporter Juliet Eilperin today published a piece entitled "Climate Shift Tied to 150,000 Fatalities:  Most Victims are Poor, Study Says."  In her remarkable article, Eilperin presents and analyzes the findings of a new World Health Organization study indicating that "earth's warming climate is estimated to contribute to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year" and that the "toll could double by 2030."  Eilperin goes on to quote one researcher who analyzed the WHO data, Professor Jonathon Patz, as saying "Those most vulnerable to climate change are not the ones responsible for causing it.  ... Our energy-consumptive lifestyles are having lethal impacts on other people around the world, especially the poor."

Patz's notion regarding the disparate impact of global warming on those nations with more poverty and less culpability is graphically illustratedin the online version of the article by a juxtaposed pair of color-coded world maps, one of which shows per-country "Deaths attributed to climate change" and the other of which estimates each country's climate-change-causing "Greenhouse gas emissions."  The two atlases are virtual mirror images, with the biggest polluters (the U.S. almost doubling the emissions volume of its second-place pollution rival, China) having among the fewest climate-related deaths.  Though the primary producers of greenhouses gasses are North America, the Atlantic Coast of South America, and industrialized portions of Asia, "[t]he regions most at risk from climate change include the Asian and South American Pacific coasts, as well as the Indian Ocean coast and sub-Saharan Africa. Patz said that was because climate-sensitive diseases are more prevalent there and because those regions are most vulnerable to abrupt shifts in climate."

No doubt with her sterling reportage, Ms. Eilperin hoped (perhaps deludedly so) that someone in the Bush Administration (or even the newspaper-averse Bush himself) would read these disturbing statistics and take them to heart.   One hundred fifty thousand is a lot of dead people, after all - fifty times 9/11.  Could such concrete numbers even nudge the Administration toward taking some action other than a "Clear Skies Initiative" that will actually allow more of most pollutants to be released and make the skies less clear?  Teh answe is "No," but I bet Ms. Eilperin, who once said that environmental news reporting is vital because "information affects public policy", would like to have seen such a result.  So would I, although I have given up on the pipe dream that "information affects public policy" in the George W. Bush White House.

However, because I want to help, I will try to enunciate the excuses Bush and his Administration will set forth for completely disregarding Ms. Eilperin's most important piece of jounalism.  As Naughty By Nature once said, "How can I explain it?  I'll take you frame-by-frame it."

(1)  Consider the Source
The Washington Post?  Nothing but another "liberal rag that has always taken the side of the left-wing at every opportunity."  (Thus spake Jason at Merlot Democrats'father-in-law recently when Jason at Merlot Democrats was mentioned in the Washington Post Online - a fact that Jason at Merlot Democrats was rather proud of, but which his father-in-law discounted with the wave of a talking point.)  
Plus, this Juliet Eilperin is an environmental writer.  Read between the lines.  She's clearly an alarmist, agenda-driven, pro-environment, anti-business wacko who wants to use her "press cred" to spread her propaganda.  (Plus, she wrote an article back in '04 that made it seem like the Bush Administration was about to have to take steps to address global warming because it is an "established scientific fact", but we'll get to that later.)
Finally, the article was researched in part by someone named Madonna Lebling, and everyone knows Madonna is a big liberal who supported Wes Clarkin 2004.

(2)  The Participation of Professor Jonathon Patz
Patz is a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.  While Prof. Patz was great and learned source for the article, I feel the author made a mistake by being too specific with his credentials.  She could easily have noted only that he was a professor, or a professor at UWM, or a professor of Environmental Studies at UWM.  Ms. Eilperin, you cannot expect the president, who reportedly almost soiled himself with laughter when he heard Ben Stiller's namewhile watching "Meet the Parents" with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to take seriously the academic musings of a man connected with a group that would voluntarily refer to itself as "GAYLORD."

(3)  The Title of the Piece
"Most Victims Are Poor".  It's right there in the title.  Did you have access to a television during the unpleasantness of this past September?   Come on, think!  You may as well have used the title "Most Victims are Foreign."  I mean, most victims ARE foreign, but you shouldn't give the Bush folks a reason to skip your article completely without reading a word.  I would have used a title like "Some Victims May Play Golf" or "Unclear Whether Any Victim Drove Humvee."  See?  Make it more personal to your target audience.  We're trying for some human-level sympathy from the Bush Administration here.

(4)  "Toll Could Double by 2030"
Should've left this part out.  Let it be a little more nebulous as to how fast the problem is growing.  Everyone around Bush knows that the magic number in foreigner deaths is 250,000 - because that's "a quarter million."  At twice the current figure, the annual deaths in 2030 will be 300,000.  At that time, people will be able to say, aghast, that "more than a QUARTER MILLION people" die every year from climate change.  If the body count won't reach that tipping point until around 2025 or so, Bush feels safe.  Though his policies may still be choking us by then, he won't be in office anymore.  He'll be too old to care.

(5)  The Assumption that Mankind Can Affect Climate Change One Way or The Other
This part is a little tricky to nail down.  For years, the Bush Administration "said there was not enough scientific evidence to blame industrial emissions for global warming."  But, as Ms. Eilperin noted in a Washington Post article from August, 2004, after his own Environmental Protection Agency handed YET ANOTHER report (again based on icky science) that contained "evidence of global warming has begun to affect animal and plant populations in visible ways, and that rising temperatures in North America are due in part to human activity," the Bush Administration changed tactics and stated that the report "was not a significant science finding or policy finding." Though the 2004 EPA report found that the release of carbon dioxide by humans was "the largest single forcing agent of climate change," the President's science advisor, John Mahoney, stated that the findings had "no implications for policy."  See how clever that is?  Keep saying there's no such thing as global warming until the evidence that there is such a thing piles up so high as to become incontrovertible, then say, "Oh yeah, sure.  There's always been global warming.  We just aren't gonna do anything about it."  
Why aren't they gonna do anything about it?  Because anything we do will be futile.  Mahoney, in calling the report "not significant," went on to say that, although carbon dioxide is the primary human-generated influence on climate change, the largest influence on climate conditions is water vapor.  WATER VAPOR!  And who's going to reduce water vapor, environmentalist wackos?  Not people.  You want a reduction in climate-changing water vapor, you need to take it upstairs to the Big Man.  The aptly-named Dick Cheney?  No, the BIG Big Man - God Himself.  
I guess what I'm saying here is that, Ms. Eilperin, you need to add some research on faith-based initiatives to combat global warming in your next climate-change article.
And maybe we should all try to urinate a little less.  That stuff evaporates, you know.

cross-posted from my site

Originally posted to Merlot Democrat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 12:02 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If someone order Merlot (none)
    I'm fucking out of here!

    Sorry, had to do that.

    The "Clear Skies" initiative pisses me off more than most of what Bush does for the simple reason that it's the most blatant use of Newspeak they've done yet.  Name it Clear Skies, then allow everyone to pollute more.  

    "Count the bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drum." M.J. Keenan

    by Nite74 on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:03:25 PM PST

    •  Exactly! (none)
      It's like Elmer Fudd calling wabbit hunting season the "Giving Bunnies a Massage Initiative".
      Or maybe not.

      Anyway, merlot got a totally bad rap from "Sideways".  Now it's up to me and Howard Dean to make merlot cool again.

  •  Nuclear Winter (none)
    Is the Nuclear Winter hypothesis still considered accurate?

    If so, I have a bet as to what Bush's response to global warming will be when he finally admits it's happening.

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