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How to tell if the article about climate you are reading is B.S., in four easy steps

By Moms Clean Air Force

This was written by Joe Romm for ClimateProgress:

This may turn out to be one of the most important years in world history. The leading nations of the world are finally making serious pledges to address the greatest preventable threat to health and well-being of humanity, leading up to the Paris climate talks in December.

The success or failure of those talks may well determine the course of the next thousand years of human history. Whatever changes we are too greedy or myopic to stop from happening in the first place are “irreversible” on that timescale, as the world’s leading scientists and governments explained in November.

So, for the next 9 months (and beyond) you are going to be bombarded with countless articles, op-eds, studies, and manifestos on this most vital of topics. A few will be important, but 95% will be a waste of your time or, worse, actually leave you less well-informed than you were before.

In this article I will share with you some secret tricks used to quickly identify the time-wasters. In the last few days we have had some classic examples of time-wasting climate pieces, ones that foil such standard strategies as “Are they published in credible places?” After all, the biggest time waster was Jonathan Franzen’s piece in the New Yorker.

Other time wasters include the latest George Will Washington Post column, “‘Sustainability’ gone mad on college campuses” and a rare double time-waster in the New York Times business section, “A call to look past sustainable development.”

The Times piece is a double time waster because not only is the piece itself anti-informative but one of its goals is to get you to read an even longer, even more anti-informative essay, “An Ecomodernist Manifesto,” which is “A MANIFESTO TO USE HUMANITY’S EXTRAORDINARY POWERS IN SERVICE OF CREATING A GOOD ANTHROPOCENE.” Not!

In the interest of time, let’s cut directly to the second most important thing you’ll read on climate change this year, the time-saving secrets:

  1. Skip climate articles by people who think the problem is hopeless or intractable — because it most certainly is not.
  2. Skip articles written by George Will and his ilk.
  3. Skip articles — especially longer climate essays — by authors who don’t explicitly tell you what temperature target or CO2 concentration target they embrace and how they’d go about attaining it.
  4. Skip articles embracing Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.”

What is the most important thing you’ll read this year? Any climate article that makes it through all those filters.

Will you miss some worthwhile pieces this way? Probably not. To see why, let’s dive into those in a little more detail.


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