Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Silenced by the TierneyLab




Scrabble Messages, this image is anti-copyright.
Audrey K. Tran

In John Tierney's post, "Contrarian Carbon Cutters," he only summarizes and links to three articles that attempt to destroy a few environmentalist ideas on reducing greenhouse gases. However, if Tierney's mission is to "Put Ideas in Science to the Test" as the T-Lab claims to do, he fails to show any analysis and testing on the misleading ideas published in this post.


Tierney should have consulted an expert before he promoted Matt Power's article, "Old Growth Forests can actually contribute to Global Warming," which advocates "[treating] forests more like crops than monuments to nature." Just to clarify, Powers means we should cut old trees to make room for new ones since mature trees absorb less carbon dioxide than young ones.

Nature Matters did a great job of debunking Powers by re-analyzing the exact papers and studies used in Power's article. Powers used Canadian Forests as one example of mature trees that "give up more carbon than they actually lock down in new growth." However, as Nature Matters points out, he fails to include the fact that Canadian forests were subject to wildfires, which account for the decrease in carbon dioxide absorbed by this particular forest .

In any case, the mere logging process required to remove mature trees would release more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Tierney also points to Joanna Pearlsteins' article, "Organics are not the Answer," but he misrepresents her message. "Shun Organic Milk" heralds the T-Lab's summary of Pearlstein, but her last words reflect that we should consider locally raised food over both industrial and organic farms since less traveling is involved.

I do admit though, that Pearlstein's piece is overly anti-organic, so I can see why Tierney would portray it as such, but he could be more thorough and actually link directly to the piece so his readers can decide for themselves. Only two links are offered in "Contrarian Carbon-Cutters," which would shock any ethical blogger. Saint of the Web, Jay Rosen discusses "The Ethic of the Link" in this YouTube clip.

My last comment concerns the T-Lab's failure to post a comment I made over two weeks ago involving some of the previous criticism.

Should it really take so long for my post to be moderated, even if that article isn't a recent one? I've commented on an old article before for Andy Revkin's Dot Earth and I didn't have to wait this long at all.

Well luckily, I've got access to the Watchdogs and Lapdogs platform, which unlike the T-Lab, continues thoughtful conversation and criticism instead of silencing it.

40 comments:

M. Dery said...

Nice use of dissenting voices to critique a tendentious piece of ideological tub-thumping camouflaged as science journalism. In the future, you might want to dig deep into the histories of publications or writers in search of patterns of ideological bias. Doing so helps make the case for bias in a given instance. For example, both WIRED and Tierney are well-known for their pro-corporate, anti-green, laissez-faire capitalist/libertarian leanings. Citing critiques that show a *pattern*, over time, of such biases would have strengthened your critique. This is an analytic tactic that can be universally applied.

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