Fairness demands that I put my biases up front. I believe that Rupert Murdoch is an evil man who has done more to destroy the political discourse among English-speaking peoples than anyone else — ever. The late and great Mike Royko summed up my feelings when he said that no self-respecting fish would allow itself to be wrapped in a Murdoch newspaper.
And when it comes to climate change, Murdoch is an idiot. In a Sky News Australia interview, the man who ruined The Times in the U.K. and who is destroying the last credibility of The Wall Street Journal by owning it said, “We should approach climate change with great skepticism.” He added, “If the sea level rises six inches, that’s a big deal in the world; the Maldives might disappear or something, but OK, we can’t mitigate that, we can’t stop it, we just got to stop building vast houses on seashores.”
Worst case scenario, according to Rupert, is a 3-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures, and “at the very most one of those [degrees] would be man-made.” Above all, he said we need to remember that, “The world has been changing for thousands and thousands of years, and it’s just a lot more complicated today because we’re so much more advanced.” Unless you watch Fox News.
Now, I should point out that Murdoch is a graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, where he read PPE (which is how Oxford and Cambridge types refer to getting a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics) back in the early 1950s. On the other hand, Neil deGrasse Tyson holds degrees in astrophysics from Harvard, University of Texas at Austin and Columbia and is director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. In other words, I think his perspective carries greater validity than that of a newspaper man who read PPE.
On his TV program “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” which Fox broadcasts, deGrasse Tyson said, “We can’t seem to stop burning up all those buried trees from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal. And the remains of ancient plankton in the form of oil and gas. If we could, we’d be home free climate-wise. Instead, we are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past. The ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can’t seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves. All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate, free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need. Why can’t we summon the ingenuity and courage of the generations that came before us? The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?”
Now neither I nor Dr. Tyson will dispute that the climate changes, and it changed back before there were people. It will change when humans are extinct, too. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is that our species has come up with a clever way of surviving — rather than adapt to the conditions around us, we adapt the conditions to suit us. For instance, if a place is too cold, most species move to warmer climates. Homo sapiens, though, went a different way. We built houses, domesticated fire and invented clothing. Now, we are in the act of changing our planet by warming it with massive emissions of greenhouse gases.
There is nothing here about which to be skeptical. It’s happening. The answer, therefore, is not just to stop building houses on seashores (although we should) because this is more than just a matter of water in the basement. Farmlands will become deserts, and food supplies could be threatened. Other places will become swamps, creating new masses of refugees. Or as Dr. Tyson put it, “The Earth will survive climate change, but we may not.” I repeat, Rupert Murdoch is a climate change idiot.
Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.