Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A polar explorer is falsely described as a climate scientist in a news story; his activist connections aren’t reported.
Yesterday, the Australian Associated Press (AAP), did a disservice to journalism and to the wider public. It acted like a PR firm for a private individual.
The AAP’s slogan is: “Trusted. Accurate. Reliable.” It claims to be impartial and independent. But the news story in question meets none of those standards. The headline calls Tim Jarvis a “climate scientist.” But his own website describes him as an “author, adventurer and public speaker” who holds “Masters degrees in environmental science and environmental law.”
If Jarvis has done significant scientific or academic work, his website doesn’t mention it. Instead, the Achievements page reveals that he leads polar expeditions. We’re told he was recently named ‘Person of the Year’ by a magazine devoted to “the world’s most beautiful boats.” In 2013, he was designated Adventurer of the Year by the Australian Geographic Society.
Twenty additional seconds on his website reveals that, rather than being a respected climate scientist, Jarvis “works as a sustainability adviser” in developing countries. As if all of the above weren’t bad enough, the AAP story further neglects to mention that he is the Global Ambassador for the Australian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Even that organization knows better than to call him a climate scientist. Instead, a WWF press release describes Jarvis as “a passionate and celebrated nature advocate.”
The AAP news story quotes him expressing certain expectations regarding Australia’s Prime Minister, and declaring that “We need a meaningful climate agreement to be reached” at the upcoming climate summit in Paris. According to him, “many people” are already being harmed by climate change.
How lame. How pathetic. How embarrassing to journalism. The fact that a sustainability adviser supports UN climate negotiations is hardly news. As for human suffering, some concrete numbers are in order. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises us that:
Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. [bold added]
This prediction may – or may not – turn out to be accurate 15 years from now. But here’s what the WHO tells us elsewhere:
- 6.3 million children under the age of five died in 2013.
- More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
- Leading causes of death in under-five children are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria. About 45% of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition. [bold added]
Forget what a quarter million people might experience 15 years hence. Multiple millions of innocent children are already perishing. Right here. Right now. Every single year. There’s nothing speculative about their demise or their parents’ anguish. This is not an uncertain prediction, but a heartbreaking, present-day reality.
We collectively inhabit a world that barely notices this ongoing tragedy. And yet the AAP considers an activist’s off-the-cuff remarks about “many” climate victims worth taking seriously.
There’s nothing accurate, reliable, or independent about this news story. It is a thoroughly depressing example of the mainstream media pretending to discuss science when it’s actually parroting activist platitudes.
Shame on the Australian Associated Press.
This deplorable excuse for a news story, bearing the identical headline, is being promulgated far and wide. See, for example: