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August 11, 2023

Press Disrespect Breeds Dishonesty

The sad reality is that the press corps does not trust Americans to see stories the same way they do.

On Jan. 15, 2022, the underwater Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai volcano in the Pacific exploded. The volcano triggered tsunamis in the South Pacific and sent a massive plume of water vapor into the stratosphere. Over the past year, scientists have increased the estimates of how much water vapor went into the stratosphere. That water vapor, every scientist agrees, warms the planet.

Originally, scientists estimated 50 million metric tons of water went into the atmosphere. Now, revised estimates are at 150 million metric tons, which equates to 40 trillion gallons of water injected into the stratosphere. Over the past year, dozens of scientists have produced papers warning that the summer of 2023 and possible into the next decade would be abnormally hot. Scientists suggest the global temperature could increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In fact, that is exactly what is happening. Up until the summer heatwave, news reports noted the expected increase in temperatures due to the volcano. But as the heatwave began, as predicted, the volcano and its water vapor disappeared from coverage. Now, in the progressive spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the American and European press corps have begun a full court press on climate change. Instead of the volcano, people, capitalism, and oil companies are to blame for the heat wave.

The government is rushing climate initiatives and new regulations to curtail climate change and regress our standard of living. Weekly, press outlets from CNN to NPR run stories about extreme heat, man-made climate change, and troglodyte Republicans who do not care. Regardless of one’s belief in man-made climate change, the proximate cause of the current heatwave is the 40 trillion gallons of extra water now floating around the stratosphere. This is not in dispute by scientists, just the “follow the science” crowd in the press corps.

If the press respected us more, they would instead run stories that this heat wave is a preview induced by a volcano. Scientists have warned what would happen if the world warmed 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. This volcano is showing us. If we do not make changes now, this is what things will look like long term. Instead, at a time of increased rates of depression, despair, and suicide, the press corps has decided to scare the bejeezus out of people that we’ve reached a tipping point and the world is on the brink.

Eventually, the water vapor will rain itself out of the atmosphere. It will take seven to 10 years, according to a recent study. In the meantime, scientists suspect we will see more rain and other weird, unknown events. These scientists do think the world is warming generally. They also think the current El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific is contributing to heat. But, unlike press reports, the volcano plays an outsized role in what is happening.

By failing to tell the full story, the press has seeded a dishonest narrative about current weather. The press has spread fear and disinformation. It is because so much of the press does not actually respect the public. If they respected us, they could be honest with us. By overhyping climate change and memory-holing the volcano, the press is ceding truth claims to others, including those with even more malicious intent.

Likewise, if the press is so willing to only give partial information now about this topic, how can anyone believe them on other topics? We really should not forget Burisma Holdings placed Hunter Biden on its board of directors with a $600,000 a year salary despite no credible experience in the energy sector. Apple, for perspective, pays its non-executive board members only $100,000. The willingness of the press corps to ignore the implications of the story, something they would undoubtedly not do if Hunter’s last name were Trump, boggles the mind.

The sad reality is that the press corps does not trust Americans to see stories the same way they do. Too much of the press has elevated narratives, which means facts and troubling implications must be left behind. People are stupid, I often say, but they are smart enough to know when they are being played. Thus, we can understand why trust in the press is collapsing.


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