Saturday, September 29, 2007

more lies from the History Channel

The History Channel is running a series on Megadisasters (or Mega Disasters). The one on climate change is the most dishonest show I've seen yet on the History Channel, and that's saying something.

They spend a long time talking about the glaciers melting and the ocean rising. They say that a one-foot rise in the oceans could lead to losing a hundred, or even a thousand feet of land. That wasn't the dishonest part (as far as I know; I'm no climate scientist). But then they talk about six islands off the East Coast disappearing under the water over the last couple of generations and have a tearful tale of one guy trying to save a civil-war era graveyard on another island that is disappearing. Then they talk about the fact that wetlands along the coast have disappeared and how the loss of barrier islands and wetlands is such a huge danger to big East-coast cities if a hurricane ever hits. Then they start talking about what will happen to Washington D.C. if the ocean rises a foot.

Did you catch the sleight of hand there? They never actually said that rising sea levels caused the islands or wetlands to disappear, they just left that impression. Only if you were really paying attention and you know how coastal erosion works did you eke out the information that the island with the graveyard is disappearing due to natural erosion, and then you would realize that this is no doubt what happened to the other islands as well. If I hadn't spent the last two year taking walks along the beach and observing coastal erosion in action, I probably would have missed this point. Yet the History Channel deliberately left the false impression that rising oceans due to global warming have already drowned islands on the East Coast.

They also deliberately left that impression with regard to wetlands and gave no hints to why the wetlands are really disappearing. I suspect that what they are really referring to is the development of the wetlands, which is often cited as a reason that hurricanes cause so much more damage than they used to.

But that wasn't all. They then switched to the Little Ice Age. They said that the Little Ice Age caused severe storms just like global warming is going to cause severe storms. See, if the climate gets slightly warmer we have severe storms and if the climate gets slightly colder we have severe storms. I guess right now the Earth is in an ideal climate cusp. Move just a smidgen in either direction and everything just goes to hell.

But that wasn't all. They suggested that the changing climate somehow caused the black plague. They never really explained how this happened, just waived their hands a bit and then went on as if the idea were proven, attributing all of the deaths of the black plague to climate change. According to this theory, millions and millions of people died due to the Little Ice Age. And then there were famines and wars in that period --more deaths attributed to the Little Ice Age just to pump the fear of the viewer. With the choppy editing and the pictures of people suffering in the cold, if you weren't paying attention, you were left with the impression that all of these millions of people died from cold and exposure due to climate change.

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