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Fox News, EcoFreaks, and Simple Minds

With the help of the media watchdog organization Media Matters website, I’ve been following a thread from Fox News’ Hannity’s America that was hit again yesterday when Rupert Murdoch announced plans for his media empire to cut emissions to “zero by 2010”.

Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. (that owns the Fox News Channel), said he intends to meet this goal through energy efficiency and the purchase of renewable energy. It is reported that he also intends to use carbon credits.

Enter Hannity, whose tireless efforts to discredit any attempt to address global warming, climate change, and energy use issues has been nothing less than a colossal, noisy, pointless disservice to the public he purports to serve. Well, I honestly don’t know that he claims to serve anyone other than himself, and he may not actually think of himself as a worthy journalist, so perhaps I shouldn’t make that assumption.

In any case, Hannity’s reaction to Murdoch’s efforts toward energy conservation and zero emissions by 2010 was mocking and dismissive. Focusing on the purchase of energy credits, Hannity called it a “sham”.

Of course, the unimaginative Hannity and his crew generally trot out Al Gore when there is any threat of a substantive discussion about global warming and climate change.

In the case of carbon credits, the concept is uniformly dismissed as nothing more than a means for “Escalade-driving environmentalists who ‘purchase’ carbon credits to assuage any guilt about their private jets and their 20,000 square foot homes” (from Fox business correspondent Terry Keenan). Or that they allow “rich liberals” to “pay a kid somewhere in a third world country to plant a tree”.

The last time I checked, Rupert Murdoch, while undoubtedly stinking rich, is no liberal. He owns Fox News. And he isn’t paying some poor kid in a third world country to plant a tree. He is, in fact, paying for energy production on a wind farm in India.

But that doesn’t matter to Hannity and all those that insist in making this issue one of contentious political division, based on cherry-picked information and inaccurate, prejudiced, and downright mean characterizations.

How many environmentalists drive Escalades and have private jets? After you say “Al Gore”, who’s next?

Do any of these people really go out into the ranks of private citizens that are proud to call themselves “environmentalist” and see what their lifestyle is like?

The sort of punditry that the likes of Sean Hannity dish out on this issue is dishonest. Hannity doesn’t really care about environmental issues one way or another. As far as I can tell, he’s just looking for ways to bash “liberals” and spark controversy.

This is sad because there are legitimate points to be made and considered about energy use and “carbon credits”. But the debate must always turn on vitriol, accusation, and political dogma. Real issues and discussion gets shouted down

I have problems with Gore’s alleged energy use. I don’t think that carbon credits are by any means a total solution. I do think that the whole concept of buying and selling carbon credits needs to be regulated and verified; that purchasing a credit actually does effect a reduction in carbon emission through a recognized and viable means (even if it is a kid in a third world country planting a tree; which, by the way, seems like a good thing for all involved, doesn’t it?)

Further, as I have stated on this blog on numerous occasions, carbon credits are no excuse for excessive use of energy. They shouldn’t be thought of as a “pass”. But “excessive use of energy” is relative. By pretty much anybody’s standard Al Gore’s reported energy use is excessive. I could counter that with the fact that he has done more than just about anybody to help bring global warming into the public debate; but the point is still taken that buying a carbon credit is a poor second to not burning the carbon in the first place.

These are issues that could be discussed in a reasonable, intelligent, non-partisan way. A suggestion – a plea – that falls on the deaf ears of Sean Hannity and others like him.

Instead we have talk of “greenies”, “eco-freaks”, “rich liberals”, “big environmental lies”, and “the global warming crowd”.

The global warming crowd indeed. And it’s getting pretty crowded. All 61/2 billion of us.

From the moment we gasp our first breath of air until we exhale our last (and even after), we all leave a footprint on this earth. It is not through a sense of guilt but one of responsibility to ourselves and others that we should leave behind the small-minded, fractious name-calling, disguised as debate, and begin to have a real discussion about the consequences of modern civilization on our environment.

Many of the same people that dismiss these issues are the same ones that assert a so-called “pro-life” belief. What is pro-life about mass extinction, poverty, habitat destruction, and climate change?

Hannity would throw the baby out with the bath water, seizing on any instance of conflict or ambiguity within the environmental movement as an indictment of the whole concept.

It seems to me that is similar to me pointing to Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly and stating that all journalism is a sham.

We can and should do better in our public discourse.

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