The New York Times joined the rest of the mainstream press in hiding behind 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s angry, unscientific ranting before the United Nations, in order to push a message of environmental apocalypse.
Tuesday’s front-page story by “international climate reporter” Somini Sengupta (whose output is giving former Times climate hysteric Justin Gillis a run for his money) and Lisa Friedman left out the full bitter flavor of Thunberg’s rant.
The Times pronounced the so-called climate crisis as an undeniable scientific fact starting with the headline: “World Dawdles On Climate Aid As Clock Ticks” (click “expand”):
The United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday was meant to highlight concrete promises by presidents, prime ministers and corporate executives to wean the global economy from fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
But despite the protests in the streets, China on Monday made no new promises to take stronger climate action. The United States, having vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement, the pact among nations to jointly fight climate change, said nothing at all. A host of countries made only incremental promises.
The contrast between the slow pace of action and the urgency of the problem was underscored by the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, who excoriated world leaders for their “business as usual” approach. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she said, her voice quavering with rage. “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
The summit comes at a time when the latest science shows that the world is getting hotter faster and the dangers of global warming are increasingly clear, with more intense hurricanes, longer droughts and heat records being broken. It was an opportunity to show that the world’s most powerful countries could step up.
Advocates and diplomats who have been following climate talks for years said they were disappointed.
The world is getting hotter faster, the World Meteorological Organization concluded in its latest report Sunday, with the five-year period between 2014 and 2019 the warmest on record. Emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming when it is pumped into the atmosphere, are at record highs. The seas are rising rapidly. The average global temperature is 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than what it was in the mid-19th century, and at the current pace, average global temperatures will be 3 degrees Celsius higher by the end of this century.
There were more confident claims of doom, despite the media’s less-than-stellar record of long-term weather forecasting:
Studies show that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace, the number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of natural disasters could double by 2050....
Also on Tuesday, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Coral Davenport downplayed the attempt to sabotage work traffic in the nation’s capital in “Climate Protest Knots Some Traffic, but Washington Still Gets to Work.” Both headline and text shrugged off the massive inconvenience as no big deal.
There was no criticism of the traffic blockers, even though most who suffered in the induced traffic jam were federal employees, a group the Times ordinarily does not lack sympathy for:
The coalition of 14 environmental and social justice activist groups that took to the streets of Washington want to go further than the students who marched last week, some of whom will speak on Monday at the United Nations. The activists, who are demonstrating without permits, are disrupting rush-hour traffic near the White House, the Capitol, the National Mall and other choke points with the intention of creating gridlock and mayhem. Many said they expected to be arrested.
The next-to-last paragraph of the story was the closest it got to criticism of the selfish and irresponsible protests, and even that mild but was followed up by a supporter of the mayhem (who, by the way, was taking the subway, not driving):
On Capitol Hill, some onlookers cheered the protesters, others rubbed their temples. Many people walking to work took pictures of the protesters, as did construction workers on nearby scaffolding.
Closer to the White House, other onlookers said they didn’t mind the protests. “I am supportive of the disruption,” said Autumn Banner. “It disrupts the commuters, but I’m taking the Metro regardless.”
In a column supporting the mayhem, The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak painted a more robust picture: “Washington was in complete gridlock Monday thanks to marchers, shouters, interlopers and even a sailboat plopped in the middle of an intersection for the morning commute.”