Paul From Minneapolis

Friday, April 29, 2005

Escape to Brancaccio

There seems to be a pattern in my life. I go to Wisconsin, I stay in a cheap but great hotel somewhere. I turn on the TV and get mad.

This "escape to Wisconsin" thing they sloganize about, I'm screwing it up somehow.

This time it was Wisconsin Public TV showing “NOW,” the old Bill Moyers series, hosted since his departure by smilin' David Brancaccio. “Hot World, Cold Comfort – the Politics of Climate Change” was the episode. There’s a transcript here. In it you will find a storehouse of missing detail and analysis, including absent gems like:

1. An explanation that the Kyoto Treaty from which W withdrew had, during the Clinton years, failed a preliminary vote in the Senate by 99-0 (98-1?), based on the fact that developing nations (like China) were not bound by it; and what that meant for possibly renegotiating it, as critics claim would have been better.

2. An explanation that in July of 2004, Bush “announced an international agreement for global reduction in emissions of methane, the most potent of the common greenhouse gases.” (That’s Gregg Easterbrook explaining it at TNR; you need a subscription. By all means, seek out Gregg Easterbrook.)

3. And then, to make double sure the audience is aware how not all is black and white, a little background on the policy tragedy that greeted the W’s initial pretty-good, even interesting air pollution proposals during the first term. I talked about it once before. I’ll say it again, if you’re into moral ambiguity you should read about it.

Just to clarify, that stuff wasn’t in the show. Along with, there were no interviews with scientists opposing the manmade global warming consensus, except for a few grainy snippets from guys presented as directly paid-off industry shills, mouthing platitudes about uncertainty.

There were no actual arguments, no opposing opinions on data that could then be answered. There is no such thing as a legitimate opposition. It doesn’t exist.

So leaving all that out meant there was ample room for: “Take it from us, we are the accurate and honest ones and there is no other possible way to look at it. Only evil men oppose us, men in the pay of the pure evil that spirals out from W and American oil-based capitalism.”

The way that stance is anything other than psychotic is if it is correct. If there is any ambiguity in the situation at all, if there really is some kind of legitimate debate to have, then this side, this NOW side of the debate, this vehicle for Grinnin' Dave, is the side I am mainly worried about. And for reasons that begin having a lot less to do with the environment.

I honestly don’t know yet. Really. I’m just saying. D.B has already of course, in this very show, given me ample reason to furrow my aging brow when considering the frank honesty of his approach.

I went to the web site. Went to the discussion boards and this was the very first discussion I sampled:

I’ll say one thing, these guys are filled with a passionate intensity. Just like me, when I go to Wisconsin.