Monday, August 13, 2007

We in the news business often enlist in moral crusades. Global warming is among the latest. Unfortunately, self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism. Last week's NEWSWEEK cover story on global warming is a sobering reminder. It's an object lesson of how viewing the world as "good guys vs. bad guys" can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story. Global warming has clearly occurred; the hard question is what to do about it.
He ends:
What to do about global warming is a quandary. Certainly, more research and development. Advances in underground storage of carbon dioxide, battery technology (for plug-in hybrid cars), biomass or nuclear power could alter energy economics. To cut oil imports, I support a higher gasoline tax—$1 to $2 a gallon, introduced gradually—and higher fuel-economy standards for vehicles. These steps would also temper greenhouse-gas emissions. Drilling for more domestic natural gas (a low-emission fuel) would make sense. One test of greenhouse proposals: are they worth doing on other grounds?

But the overriding reality seems almost un-American: we simply don't have a solution for this problem. As we debate it, journalists should resist the temptation to portray global warming as a morality tale—as NEWSWEEK did—in which anyone who questions its gravity or proposed solutions may be ridiculed as a fool, a crank or an industry stooge. Dissent is, or should be, the lifeblood of a free society.
Don't miss what's between the two paragraphs, including how he kills the meme that ExxonMobil has been 'bribing' skeptics.