I was feeling pretty irritable yesterday after reading an opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator on climate change.
The article is so fuzzily argued it doesn't even qualify as sophistry, since I don't think it could possibly mislead anyone. It's the kind of article that newspapers publish when they follow the logic of Fox News' "fair and balanced" mantra: for every convincing argument, attempt to find its logical opposite and give it publicity to avoid claims of bias.
In this case, the convincing argument is the monumental evidence of climate change. Its logical opposite - which is also the opposite of logic - is that nothing's really changing at all, it's just a spot of bad weather:
What is the dreaded "climate change" anyway? Well, I think there is a better, simpler word for it. It's called weather and it happens all the time. This is a living planet and as such is constantly changing. For it to stop changing would mean the planet was dead for heaven's sake.
But it was this gem that really got me wondering what the Spectator's editors were thinking when they decided to run the piece:
Why shouldn't we eliminate carbon dioxide? Isn't it poisoning our world? Well, what do you think plants breathe in? Carbon dioxide. And what do they breathe out? Oxygen. We consume the oxygen that comes from plant life. If the plants are deprived of what they need, what will happen to them? They will suffer and ultimately die, of course. And what happens then? We're next. And so is every other creature on this Earth.
That bit was going to be the focus of this blog post. But someone else beat me to it. A letter to the editor published today makes short work of this argument:
The writer implies that reducing CO2 emissions will deprive plants of what they need to survive. How did plants survive for the millions of years before humans started to artificially produce CO2? What a desperately flawed ecosystem it must have been before we came along.
So perhaps I owe some gratitude to the editors at the Spec. After all, if they hadn't published Langdon's original, it would never have been so savagely rebutted just one day later.
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