A recent incident in which 7,500 songbirds died after flying over a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant has been ignored by the same conservative media outlets that often exaggerate the danger posed to birds by wind turbines, including hyping an incident in which a single bird was killed in Scotland.
The birds killed by the LNG facility, which may have included some endangered species, were headed south for the winter when a routine "flare" release at the Canaport LNG facility in Canada, used to burn off excess natural gas, drew them in. Though company officials apologized for the episode and said they are modifying equipment to reduce flaring, one manager at the plant admitted "At the moment there's not a whole lot I can do to resolve it in the short term." The dead reportedly included "a large number of red-eyed vireos" (see photo above).
Three months prior, another migrating bird, the white-throated needletail, died after flying into a wind turbine off Scotland. The needletail is not endangered or threatened, but it is sighted only rarely in the United Kingdom.
Can you guess how conservative media covered these two cases?
Searches of Nexis, Google and an internal video database indicate that the thousands of birds that died after flying into a Canadian gas flare have not been mentioned by any U.S. conservative outlet to date (or any major U.S. outlet other than the environmental sites Treehugger and National Geographic).
Conversely, the single bird that flew into a wind turbine became a big story in the conservative media bubble. Right-wing outlets used the episode to smear green energy, sometimes betraying sheer glee, as when National Review Online blogger Greg Pollowitz wrote "Your [sic] laughing as you read this, aren't you?" or Rush Limbaugh remarked "[a] bunch of environmentalist whackos watched a precious windmill kill a rare bird."
Conservative media's fixation on a single bird death -- albeit regrettable -- while completely ignoring thousands more seems to let slip that feigning an interest in conservation is simply a convenient way for these outlets to attack wind power, which they have depicted as an agent of "mass slaughter " or an "open-ended aviary holocaust," while overlooking far more elementary, existential threats to wildlife, including climate change. Lest we forget, conservative media figures have regularly mocked those who are concerned about the impact that humans are having on animals -- one Fox News contributor declared "lots of species may be about to leave the planet, and I don't care" -- and attacked conservation efforts for endangered species from lizards to polar bears.
Following the lead of Sen. James Inhofe, conservative media are distorting an Inspector General's report in an attempt to discredit EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. But the IG report addresses obscure procedural issues, not the merits of EPA's finding or the science on which it was based, which even the Bush administration said was robust enough to require an endangerment finding.
Greg Pollowitz, the National Review's lead global warming hypocrite, strikes again. Pollowitz routinely uses examples of cold weather to mock the scientific consensus about global warming, even as he endorses the claim that "the warmists" are guilty of "attribut[ing] to global warming almost any unusual weather event anywhere in the world." It's a shameless combination -- accusing scientists of unscientifically cherry-picking data, while doing exactly that himself. It's made all the more shameless by the fact that Pollowitz doesn't constrain himself to bizarre examples of cold weather: If it snows in Moscow in February, Pollowitz will have you believe that disproves global warming. (And when a winter heat wave hits Moscow, Pollowitz pretends not to notice.)
Still not impressed by Pollowitz's hawkish commitment to his storyline? As I write this, it is 70 degrees in Washington, DC, approaching the all-time record for February 14. Now, if you were known for disputing global warming science by pointing to individual examples of cold weather, you'd probably think that a mid-February day that features 70 degree temperatures in the nation's capital would be a pretty good day to lay low and try not to draw any attention to your foolish habit of countering science with anecdote. But that's what sets Greg Pollowitz apart: He has absolutely no shame. And so he ignores DC's unusually warm temperatures, and scours the globe for some sign of cold weather in winter. And here's what he comes up with:
Ten days ago, crops in Mexico were hit by frost. Forget the science; global warming must be a hoax!
Over at "Planet Gore" (National Review's blog dedicated to mocking the reality of global warming) Greg Pollowitz approvingly quotes a column claiming "the warmists" (Pollowitz's word) are guilty of "attribut[ing to global warming almost any unusual weather event anywhere in the world."
Seeing Greg Pollowitz, of all people, pretend to disapprove of using "almost any unusual weather event anywhere in the world" to bolster an argument about global warming is utterly hilarious. It's like seeing Andrew Hayward complain that his neighbor's dog relieved itself in his swimming pool: Even if it's a legitimate complaint, he probably isn't the best person to make it.
See, Greg Pollowitz routinely points to "almost any unusual weather event anywhere in the world" in a lame attempt to undermine the scientific reality of global warming. Actually, he doesn't constrain himself to "unusual" weather events: If it snows in Moscow in February, Pollowitz pretends that means global warming is a hoax. (Record high temperatures in Moscow in December, however, somehow escape his attention.)
Propose a law or government regulation aimed at protecting the environment, and it's a safe bet that the right-wing media will respond by blasting intrusive "nanny state" policies that tell people how to live instead of letting them decide for themselves, and insisting that if people really care about the environment, the glorious free market will take care of it.
When Washington DC, for example, instituted a plastic bag tax designed to reduce number of bags clogging local rivers and streams, the good folks at Fox News denounced the measure as "downright ridiculous."
Now, I don't tend to agree with the claims that the free market will take care of all of our problems, or that the government discouraging the use of environmentally-destructive products is an unbearable infringement on individual liberty. But at least those positions are understandable. They don't (necessarily) indicate a hatred for the planet.
But what happens when the market provides environmentally-friendly products, and individuals make the decision to purchase those products? The right heaps derision upon them.
Just this morning, Glenn Beck & Co. mocked reusable grocery bags. Not, mind you, governmentally-mandated reusable grocery bags -- the bags themselves, and the people who use them. See, "real men" don't use them; they use "as much plastic as possible."
Then there's the Toyota Prius. For some reason, conservative media figures are blinded by rage whenever they encounter a Prius.
Confirming her membership in Manhattan's liberal elite, Katie Couric boasted on Tuesday's Late Show that she plans to follow Tom Friedman's admonition, that in refusing to move away from oil "we have met the enemy and he is us," and so she's realized she "should" buy a Toyota Prius, the favorite of conspicuously superior liberals, or at least a hybrid. Couric recounted how her daughter told her "'we should turn in the car we have' and 'get a Prius or a hybrid.' And I said, 'you know, Ellie, we should do that.' And we're going to look into it."
What the heck? Did a Prius run over Brent Bozell's dog? What's wrong with a private citizen deciding she should buy a fuel-efficient car?
I'm starting to think the right-wing media doesn't love free markets so much as they hate the environment. How else to explain their gleeful mockery of individual decisions to use reusable plastic bags and drive fuel-efficient cars?
It snowed in Moscow -- Moscow, mind you, not Havana -- and so National Review's Greg Pollowitz was compelled to make a crack about global warming:
I can only assume conservative journalists are compelled to take some sort of oath never to let facts or science get in the way of a bad joke.
UPDATE: A reminder:
National Review Online's Greg Pollowitz falsely claimed that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visited troops in Kuwait "a year before Senator [Barack] Obama felt the need to go." In fact, Obama first visited troops in Kuwait in January 2006, a year and a half before Palin's visit.