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Hey, Calgary Herald, you suck on climate change destabilization

Written by Sherwin, published on December 1, 2009

Proudly Calgary Herald

Here’s a fun thing that you can try at home. It’s a simple form of media analysis. The result of this particular analysis leads me to think bad thoughts about Canwest. But that’s just me. Here’s what I did.

First I went to the Calgary Herald website. But you can pick any online media outlet that you want. I then picked a topic and typed it into their website search function. I chose “climate change” but you can pick a topic that is of interest to you. I kept track of the time and date to make it more scientific!1 I then read the first ten articles that the search function brought up, discounting duplicates. By using their search function, and setting this plan out in advance, my analysis is more impartial and I can’t be accused of cherry picking bad articles. Here’s what I got.

1. Feds warned over climate change protectionism

November 28, 2009
Ottawa must act to ensure proposed U.S. climate-change policy does not lead to “adverse affects,” such as carbon tariffs, on Canadian industry, a Conference Board of Canada report advised Friday.
Christmas came early this year for Diane Katz and other Canadians at the forefront of the most polarized political fight on the planet. For many years Katz–the director of environment policy at the Fraser Institute, the free market Vancouver think-tank –has argued alongside her allies that global warming is neither a man-made phenomenon nor the doomsday crisis it is widely considered to be, and that the scientists who fuel such fears have in fact hoodwinked us.
U .S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to attend Copenhagen and put emission targets on the table is like a gust of wind power under the flopping sails of the climate change summit. But unless his ambitious targets are passed through Congress –and that will be a challenge –the proposal will amount to nothing more than hot air.
Softening permafrost and rising temperatures will mean pipelines, roads and buildings in Canada’s north are at grave risk as the world’s climate changes in the decades ahead, according to a federal report to be released today.
Premier Ed Stelmach went on the offensive Tuesday to rebuff environmental salvos toward Alberta from Ontario’s premier and a former U.S. vice-president.
Leading climate scientists issued a grim diagnosis for the planet Tuesday, along with a stern warning for world leaders. The upcoming round of climate talks will have “profound”…
More than $200 billion worth of Canadian assets are at risk from global warming, says an international report released Monday. The report, released jointly by a major insurance firm and an…

8. Chumps on climate change

November 23, 2009

Last week, Stephen Harper decided it’s not a good time for Canada to save the world from climate destruction. He will not make us a shiny green example for the rest of the world to follow. We will not be leading lagging, dirty countries out of the abyss.

With statements made by U.S. President Barack Obama on the weekend that there would be no legally binding agreement among the 192 countries attending the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen, the summit is now set up to be a nonevent.

10. Good climate news, bad news for climate alarmists

November 24, 2009
This had been a disappointing fall for climate alarmists, even before Friday’s revelation that, for years, some of the world’s top climate scientists may have been doctoring the evidence for global warming

Then I scored the articles, on a scale of -10 to +10, on the following criteria:

How many soundbites are from libertarian, big-business think tanks? How many soundbites are from published scientists who work in the field of climatology? How many soundbites challenged the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by humans? How many soundbites encouraged or supported the notion that Canada ought to meet it’s carbon emission reduction goals? How many soundbites create confusion about the fact of climate change? What is the educational and informational value of this article? Is it evidence based?

ARTICLE 1. Feds warned over climate-change protectionism

SUBTEXT: doing something about climate change is bad for business.
WORDCOUNT: 117
SUMMARY: The Conference Board of Canada2 is quoted in the lead paragraph. Climate change policy is linked to U.S. protectionism. The rather loaded phrase, “carbon tarriffs slapped on Canadian goods” is then used to make people worried about climate change. Then Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Jisun Kim from Washington’s Peterson Institute for International Economics, another right wing think tank with significant connections to the oil industry and international markets, are quoted in the final paragraph.
SCORE: -5 *

ARTICLE 2. Hacked e-mails allude to rigged warming tests

SUBTEXT: There is no scientific consensus on climate change science: scientists are corrupt.
WORDCOUNT: 1055
SUMMARY: The Fraser Institute3 is mentioned in lead paragraphs. The Fraser Institute representative is quoted at length. Some of the Fraser Institute soundbites are taken as fact as a way of showing how reasonable their claims are. Mann is quoted and Bennett, from the Sierra Club of Canada is quoted. Stephen McIntyre is called a Canadian climate researcher and his website is given, even though he is a major climate change denier. The article’s final assessment and opinion is against Mann’s reputation. Finally, “climategate” is linked to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen is indicted as being hopeless, and another anti-global warming think tank, Energy Probe, is brought up and the representative from Energy Probe is quoted.
SCORE: -7 *

ARTICLE 3. Good climate for positive change

SUBTEXT: Doing something about climate change is bad for the economy.
WORDCOUNT: 512
SUMMARY: Harper and Obama are going to Copenhagen and are aligned in their response to climate change. The Liberals did not meet their Kyoto targets. Hopefully the Conservatives can be more practical. Contra the report by TD Bank Financial, doing anything about climate change will have economic costs. The Canada West Foundation “will issue a report next week refuting TD Bank Financial’s claim the targets could be met without a great deal of economic damage.” So there will be economic damage. Alberta’s economy cannot be damaged or it will be bad for the entire nation.
SCORE: -3 *

ARTICLE 4. Climate report warns $5 trillion in infrastructure at risk

SUBTEXT: Climate change can be managed, money will be spent on the North.
WORDCOUNT: 468
SUMMARY: A federal report says that infrastructure in the North will require maintenance and reconstruction from climate change. Ottawa is mentioned. The federal government is mentioned. Billions of dollars, and trillions of dollars in spending are mentioned. Dr. Andrew Weaver is mentioned and quoted.
SCORE: +4

ARTICLE 5. Stelmach fights climate criticism

SUBTEXT: Spending money on climate change is wasteful and politically dangerous.
WORDCOUNT: 780
SUMMARY: The premier of Alberta, Ed Stelmach, is drawing fire from political quarters over climate change. Al Gore is a “climate-change crusader”. Alberta is working to with carbon capture and storage technology to mitigate the tar sands carbon emissions. Ed Stelmach is also criticized for this expense because they are currently running a healthcare deficit. Paul Hinman is quoted as saying that Alberta should not be investing in “unproven science”. Stelmach is not going to Copenhagen – he is going instead to World Future Energy Summit.
SCORE: -4

ARTICLE 6. Climate scientists offer bleak outlook for planet

SUBTEXT: Climate change is set to destroy our world if emissions trajectory continues.
WORDCOUNT: 338
SUMMARY: This article presents an earnest and dire, if somewhat dark, summary of our situation and how it’s progressed since Kyoto. Dr. Weaver and Environment Canada are mentioned. The UN and Copenhagen are mentioned. The German Advisory Council is mentioned.
SCORE: +8

ARTICLE 7. $200B in Canadian assets at risk from climate change: report

SUBTEXT: Insurance premiums might go up from property damage from climate change
WORDCOUNT: 138
SUMMARY: An international report was published on behalf of WWF Germany and Allianz Group (identified as insurance group) by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the U.K. (identified as environmental group). But quotes are placed around “tipping point” and the report is clearly identified as being produced by climate scientists and environmentalists.
SCORE: +6

ARTICLE 8. Chumps on climate change

SUBTEXT: Only wackos believe in climate change; don’t wreck my life.
WORDCOUNT: 699
SUMMARY: Stephen Harper is doing the right thing by stalling on doing anything about climate change. That’s because climate change is bunk. The scientists are in disagreement about everything and the debate is very evenly balanced. Plus, even if there were any truth behind climate change, we couldn’t do anything about it anyway. China and the US are the real players, not us. Kyoto is complicated. Too complicated. Meeting Kyoto will decrease the author’s quality of life.
SCORE: –9

ARTICLE 9.Continental approach to climate change is critical

SUBTEXT: The US should set the agenda on climate change; Harper, and Canada, are not responsible.
WORDCOUNT: 820
SUMMARY: Obama and the US are more important economically than we are so we should wait and see what they do before committing to anything. Luckily for the “oil sands”, it looks as though there will be no binding agreement at Copenhagen. It’s business as usual and it’s not our fault. The University of Calgary is mentioned, as is Jim Prentice and Jason Grumet for the Washington based think-tank, Bipartisan Policy Centre.
SCORE: -1

ARTICLE 10. Good climate news, bad news for climate alarmists

SUBTEXT: Climate change scientists are corrupt and ideologically driven; climate change is bunk.
WORDCOUNT: 848
SUMMARY: This article argues that there has been no warming since 1998 and that there is no scientific consensus on climate change. The emails that were stolen are quoted from numerous times in ways that are meant for the reader to conclude that the senders are corrupt and conspired to hide data from the public. While the author lamely admits that the emails “may amount nothing” in the last paragraph, the damage is done and confusion about the issue has been struck in the minds of readers.
SCORE: -9

Conclusions

All scores range from -10 to +10, where a positive score is a good article and a negative score is a bad article. This score is than multiplied by the word count to factor in the relative volume of the article. The scores are then added. If the sum total is a positive score than the Calgary Herald has been publishing good and informative articles. If the sum is negative, than the Herald has been publishing bad articles.4

Only three article scored in the positive end of the spectrum. Interestingly, the articles that were better in terms of their content were generally the shortest articles. There is one exception to this: the first article (and the shortest at only 117 words) scored a minus five. The average article length was 578 words. After factoring for the article length, the final average value of the articles from the Calgary Herald on the topic of climate change, on a scale of -10 to +10, is -4. Which sucks.5

The total negative points by the seven bad articles came to: -27369
The total positive points by the three good articles came to: 5404
The grand total is: -21965
The average value of each article is: -2197
The average article length: 578 words
The average value of each article: -4

  1. That’s a joke. But I did do this search at 3:45 Pacific on Sunday, November 29, 2009.
  2. The Conference Board of Canada is one of Canada’s leading right-wing think tanks that has long been part of the denial and confusion industry
  3. The Fraser Institute is a prominent Canadian, right-wing, economic think tank that claims to be independent and not politically motivated although most of their policy work is anti-taxation and anti-regulation.
  4. I think that I would argue that they are misinforming the public and are possibly committing a crime on behalf of their big business and Big Oil clients.
  5. There were a number of organizations that were relied on for expert advice: 1) Conference Board of Canada, 2) Peterson Intsitute of International Economics, 3) Fraser Institute, 4) Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia 5) UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 6) Sierra Club of Canada, 7) ClimateAudit, 8) Energy Probe, 9) the Canada West Foundation, 10) TD Bank Financial, 11) National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, 12) Canadian Federal Government, 13) American Federal Government, 14) University of Victoria, 15) Provincial Government, Alberta, 16) Provincial Government, Ontario, 17) German Advisory Council on Global Change, 18) Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 19) Bipartisan Policy Centre, 20) Government of India, 21) Leibniz Institute, 22) Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.
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Archived comments

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  5. Bravo, Sherwin – insightful work

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  7. sherwin says:

    I think I will do a little more of this. I wonder now that Copenhagen is over how Canwest newspapers will cover climate change, uhm, global warming issues.

  8. tomato says:

    I like it.

    The media analysis and accompanying explanation, that is, not the Herald.