Monday, December 29, 2008

AFP Needs Journalism Ethics Refresher

The AFP outdoes itself with this ridiculous nonsense:

"Natural disasters 'killed over 220,000' in 2008"

And the cause of this carnage? Global warming of course:

"This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes," Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.

And when Torsten says long term, he means long term. For instance, 135,000 is the death toll of the Myanmar cyclone, which is the 10th most catastrophic cyclone. Of the top nine, six took place between the years 1584 (200,000) and 1897 (175,000), and two (1970, 1975) from when we used to call it global cooling. Nor is it part of a trend. The only other recent cyclone to make the top 25 was in 1991.

So, Myanmar is neither extreme nor trendy. So basically, the entire aforementioned quote is bunk. But there's more!

70,000 more casualties occurred because of eathquakes. Earthquakes! (Ed. - Note to reporter: There is nothing wrong with asking what global warming has to do with earthquakes, unless you are concerned it will blow the entire premise of the story.)

Here's the kicker, says Torsten:

"It is now very probable that the progressive warming of the atmosphere is due to the greenhouse gases emitted by human activity."

He may have a point, if by "progressive warming" he means progressive cooling. After all, the hottest year in the last ten was...ten years ago.

Either Torsten thinks the rest of us are idiots, or he simply knows that most reporters are. Either way, just the most rudimentary of fact-checking could have saved the AFP from looking like a large gathering of morons with keyboards. At the very least they might have verified whether Torsten has any freaking idea what he is talking about!

UPDATE: Hey AFP: Notoriously Conservative has easy to follow graphs!

No comments: