True to form, the overwhelming majority of press outlets failed to report the juiciest global-warming gossip of the week — a change of heart on the issue by one of the world’s most celebrated environmentalists. Several years ago, environmentalist James Lovelock made headlines when he announced that global warming would end the world as we know it — he predicted that “billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” Google searches associating his name with global warming and climate change now exceed one million hits, and understandably so, given his reputation. Lovelock has infused environmental thought for decades through best-selling books describing Earth as a living organism — Lovelock is the one who coined the Gaia concept. Among many other honours heaped on Lovelock, Time magazine featured him in a series on Heroes of the Environment.
So, why, when Lovelock this week recanted his past views on global warming as being “alarmist,” did virtually every major news outlet on the planet ignore his change of heart? It wasn’t because he minced his words. “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago,” he admitted, adding that temperatures haven’t increased as expected over the last 12 years. “There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now.”
What else has the press, in its wisdom, decided to keep from the public in recent days? One eye-opener is the advance of ice in both the Arctic and the Antarctic — both are now at or above average levels. Another is an announcement by researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation that the world may be heading into a prolonged period of global cooling — the Japanese study compared sunspot activity today with sunspots that preceded the Little Ice Age in the 17th century to find close similarities.
Had questioning of global warming not been taboo to most journalists, these stories would have doubtless merited ink and air time, not least because they tell a fresh story. Because the subject is taboo, the press censors itself.