Monday, October 22, 2018


The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe tweeted this today:

O'Keefe is quoting a New York Times story by Glenn Thrush that ran last Friday, in which we meet a number of Georgia farmers who don't believe in climate change even though storms now do significant damage to their crops every year.

I suppose it's worth knowing that even being personally affected by climate change doesn't change certain minds. But utterly absent from the story is any sense of why these farmers believe what they believe. It's as if this is just an innate belief system among farmers in Georgia (although several of the farm women quoted don't seem to share this dogma). There's no sense that these farmers have been conned into believing that climate change is a myth by a well-funded right-wing disinformation campaign that has thoroughly won over Fox News, talk radio, and just about every Republican official in America.

To Thrush, it's all just local color:
CAMILLA, Ga. — Renee Moss was standing in her ruined cotton field, boot-toeing a fallen boll that looked like a dirty snowball and debating her husband, Clayton, about how maybe, just maybe, Hurricane Michael was a result of climate change.

“Nope,” was the immediate response from Mr. Moss, a third-generation farmer in rural Mitchell County, where the storm’s 100-mile-per-hour winds last week destroyed a robust cotton crop at the precise moment when the bolls were fattest, fluffiest and set to be harvested....

“Look, I know the storms are making it unsustainable. If what’s happened this year happens next year, we’re done,” Mr. Moss, 38, told his wife. “But we’ve always had bad weather. Is it getting worse? Have we had three bad years in a row? Yeah. But I’m worried about the weather, not about climate change.”

... In many parts of Georgia, climate change is infrequently discussed. A half-dozen conversations with farmers, academics and agricultural officials were cut short, politely, when the words “global warming” were uttered.

“That’s politics, and I don’t want to get into it,” said Raynor Churchwell, a programs specialist with the Georgia Farm Bureau. “Weather is going to happen, it’s not something we think too much about.”
O'Keefe compounds the problem by pulling out the Al Gore quote as if it's a pearl of great wisdom -- yeah, let's blame Ozone Man!

Here's the quote in context:
“I really wish that Al Gore hadn’t been the messenger, it just turned everybody off,” said Casey M. Cox, 27, who studied forestry and environmental preservation at the University of Florida before returning to help run her family’s 2,400-acre farm here. “It allowed people to say that it was just a liberal thing, when we know it is completely sound science.”

On Wednesday, Ms. Cox, a sixth-generation farmer, surveyed the damage, blasted field after blasted field....

“This is the most severe weather anyone here has ever seen,” Ms. Cox said. “We have got to find a way to talk to people about what’s happening. I’m not sure how to do that. The best I can come up with is to call it ‘climate variability.’ That’s an expression people seem to accept.”
I don't blame Cox. She's 27, which means she was 9 when Gore ran for president and 15 when An Inconvenient Truth came out. I assume she's blaming Gore because people around her mock Gore, not because she necessarily thinks he delivered the climate message badly. And why do the people around her mock Gore? Because the politicians and pundits they respect mock Gore. And why is that? Because fossil fuel billionaires dispersed money and propaganda until all of the right was reading from the same set of talking points on climate, one of which was "Har har, Fat Algore had a meeting on global warming, and it was cold!"

None of this in Thrush's story. And O'Keefe thinks blaming Gore is brilliant. Good reporting, even in the Times, has revealed the way right-wing cash changed the climate debate in America -- but too many of our top political journalists still won't report the truth.

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