Yet even as they teeter of the edge of bankruptcy, the National Post felt it important to have a reporter covering the climate denier’s conference held this week at the swank Marriott Marquis in New York and sponsored by the notoriously unethical Heartland Institute.
The UN Conference featured actual scientists and had the potential to generate real news on how the world might come to grips with climate change.
The Heartland Conference is instead a retread of last year’s denialpoloza, featuring the same washed up hacks on the oil industry payroll.
Unlike a real scientific conference, this event is a Potemkin village constructed to give the appearance of scientific debate, when none has existed for at least five to ten years. Yet many in the media still eat it up.
On his way to New York, Peter Foster of the National Post gushed that the Heartland conference will: “feature dozens of presentations by…top scientists and other researchers who question the conclusions of the United Nations' highly-politicized Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
One can gather how much critical thought Mr. Foster will bring to this event. He does not seem to realize or care that media like himself are the real audience of this stunt - not the public or the scientific community.
Consider the plan hatched by the American Petroleum Institute in 1998—calling for a “campaign to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify”.
Even eleven years later, Big Oil is still getting much mileage out of their ruse, as evidenced by the giddy Mr. Foster.
If the industry shills in attendance in New York had important new insights and data to back it up, they would surely present their findings to their peers at an actual gathering of scientists, or in peer reviewed scientific literature.
Instead, like washed-up boxers who only pick fights in bars, these skeptics restrict their pugilism to industry funded fetes rather than the bearpit of real scientific debate. And supposed journalists like Mr. Foster are of course given a front row seat.
Other National Post staffers have fallen for Big Oil’s ploy and regularly spill buckets of ink trying to convince the public that the entire scientific community is wrong about our looming climate emergency. The immorality of this, I cannot begin to fathom.
As a writer myself, I don’t begrudge journalists the ability to hold forth on whatever subject they want. The important caveat of course is that sources be properly referenced and fact-checked. Climate denial news stories inevitably are not.
The fault for this lies with those editors and television producers acting as compromised gatekeepers of what information makes it into the public discourse. Many, such as the editors of the National Post, have failed so miserably to accurately communicate our evolving understanding of climate science that it called only be called journalistic malpractice.
So enjoy your stay at the Marriott Marquis Mr. Foster. I am certain that Big Oil will make sure you are well looked after – as long as you continue to deliver their message for them.