Creating #FakeNews: how news editors are the Harvey Weinsteins of Climate Porn

By Ian Wishart

We all know about the Hollywood casting couch; well, the news business has one of its own. Young naive ignorant junior journalists are invited in, plied with freebies and told to bend over whilst the cynical sleazebags of the climate pornography industry give them a darn good [insert adjective of choice]. That’s the only reason I can find for the near constant diet of climate porn served up in the daily news.

Exhibit A: New Zealand’s Fairfax Stuff website and a (very long) piece on sinking Kiribati in the Pacific.

The gullible journalistic ingénue in question (in my humble opinion) is one Charlie Mitchell, and the Harvey Weinstein in this sad one Act farce is United Nations agency UNICEF which paid (yes, prostitution is alive and well in the mainstream media) for Mitchell to fly (thousands of tonnes of CO2) to Kiribati to do a climate porn piece on how “the angry sea will kill us”.

The article is full of beautiful photographs, including a starkly dramatic one of waves crashing through what is claimed to be a newly constructed maternity ward – a symbol of climate change affecting a new generation. The photo appears to be propaganda. It is sourced to the Kiribati Climate Change Ministry, and it raises questions: Kiribati has been claiming for twenty years that sea levels will drown it, so why would you build a brand new maternity unit right on water’s edge?

UNICEF, with its manipulative hand firmly up journalistic glove-puppet Mitchell’s wotsit, evidently managed to convince our star environmental reporter that a sea level rise of about six inches since WW2 is responsible for six foot waves breaching a hospital. Believe that, and you’ll be a news editor in no time.

I searched in vain for any mention in the article of the real reason for Kiribati’s inundation – human stupidity – but I couldn’t find it. So I went back to my book Air Con: Climategate Edition and here’s how I described it there:

There is nothing scientifically remarkable about coral atolls being threatened by sea water. However, there’s another extra ingredient they don’t tell you about on the news either: human stupidity.

It seems many Pacific Islanders, and through Asia and elsewhere, adopted the dubious practice of “dynamite fishing” after World War 2, where explosives are set off in the lagoons to stun fish, which can then easily be harvested while floating on the surface.

The dynamite, however, weakened the delicate coral reef structures, sometimes blowing holes in the reef as well as killing the coral via the shockwaves. The equally dubious practice of chemical fishing has been documented in a number of locales as having killed coral also. Islanders then harvested broken or dead coral to use on island roads, without thinking about the consequences.

It could have been the plot of a Wyllie Coyote performance in a Roadrunner cartoon.

One group of islands pleading the effects of sea level rise is Kiribati, in the South Pacific, yet the Kiribati government website lists dynamite fishing as an approved activity:[i]

“Some other areas in which foreign investment is allowed but subject to restrictions include:

  1. Fisheries sector: drifter fishing, dynamite fishing, chemical fishing, conservation areas, coral exportation.”

Not only are they blowing up their coral, they are even exporting it! The coral, you see, acted as a barrier to ocean swells. Without the barrier, the atolls became much more vulnerable to ocean surges and storms scouring away their beaches, and their erosion happened much faster. Which is also what has occurred on Takuu.

I was briefed[ii] after Air Con was first published by a former UN Development Programme official who’d worked on the Takuu problem. He explained that the UN had been well aware of the real cause of Takuu’s fate, but that UNDP officials from New York had arrived on the island “several years ago, telling islanders to refer to global warming as the cause in public, so as to qualify for emergency climate adaptation funding” from developed countries. It is likely the UNDP has been pitching the same fraud at Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Maldives and elsewhere.

One final aspect on coral atolls. The reefs are home to diverse fish life, including parrotfish that play a key role in breaking down dead coral to form sand. It’s that sand that’s washed up onto atoll beaches and which helps maintain land area. But dynamite fishing  tipped the ecological balance, stripping the atolls of these crucial creatures. Fewer parrotfish means less coral sand being produced, which means less sand on the beaches, and means more erosion.

You get the picture. It is true that humans have played a part in hastening the submergence of tropical atolls under the sea. It just isn’t true that CO2 had anything whatsoever to do with it.

Kiribati, as Charlie Mitchell notes in his fairytale story, is densely populated. Its coral reefs were mined for sand and roading long ago. Its governments are solely responsible for the ocean now rushing in. Its people are not climate refugees, they are stupidity refugees.

Charlie – you’ve spent too much time on the casting couch with a climate porn Harvey Weinstein. Do yourself a favour, get a real news job, not a #fakenews one. Don’t print articles dripping with #alternativefacts – the public see right through you. There are two sides to the climate story and if you are a journalist who thinks there’s only one side and it’s what the nice people from UNICEF and Oxfam say, then I have news for you: you’re just a hooker with an air miles account and a laptop. And frankly, at least genuine prostitutes are honest about their work. Climate journalists on the other hand…

[i] https://web.archive.org/web/20080109195021/http://www.spto.org/spto/export/sites/spto/investment/kiribati.shtml

[ii] At a public meeting in the NZ town of Kerikeri, in front of 250 others, 5 August 2009

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve always been greatly amused by the “inundation” of the Pacific Islands theory. People who claim that the sea level is rising don’t seem to understand the nature of water to find its own level. If it goes up one metre in Tuvalu then it has to go up 1 metre here, more or less. Funny how I don’t see any sea rise here eh 🙂 I was recently in a coastal village where baches have sat close to sea level for nearly one hundred years. All there seemed to be was a bit of erosion but no one was getting wet feet (Including Winston Peters, I was sitting on his lawn 🙂 ).

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