Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, we’ve been bemusedly watching Heartland’s daily attempts to debunk “alarmism” at their Climate Realism website — even though it got boring quick because all the pieces are remarkably similar. Their formula is this: search “climate change,” on Google News, click on whatever shows up first, excerpt heavily from the source and then dispute its climate connection with some sort of misleading or distracting denial.
And we know they’re just googling, because three recent pieces actually address Google, as though the search engine itself is both responsible for the news stories, and sentiently going to read and respond to their denial.
In “Sorry, Google News, Climate Change Is Helping End World Hunger,” H. Sterling Burnett begins by writing that “at the top of search results today for ‘climate change,’ Google News is promoting an article claiming climate change is causing world hunger.” In the next paragraph, after referring to it as “the Google-promoted article,” he recognizes that he shouldn’t actually be addressing the search engine at all, and references the original article, published by InkStick Media.
The next day, Heartland president James Taylor proved why he earns the big (dirty) bucks and properly linked to the URL that was “at the top of search results today for ‘climate change’”, a story from SciTech Daily on Maine shellfish being threatened by warming.
But clearly their misunderstanding of how a search engine works is intentional, as Taylor also claimed that by showing him a story that had the search term he requested, “Google News is promoting claims that global warming is killing off Maine’s shellfish.”
On Thursday, it was Burnett’s turn to say “nuh uh!” to whatever is, as his post began “at the top of Google News search results today for ‘climate change’ is an article claiming global warming is punishing global crop production...” This time he got the link right, to a GreenBiz article about a Nature Food study warning about climate making food insecurity worse.
Conveniently, their rebuttal to all three claims, about climate making farming harder, threatening shellfish, and making world hunger worse, are the same. They point to agricultural yields and say that if climate change is making things harder, why are farmers growing more?
Well it turns out farmers aren’t stupid. So as it’s getting warmer and yields might otherwise dwindle, they’ve planted more and more to compensate, and used more fertilizers, and otherwise taken advantage of technological improvements that allow them to overcome the negative consequences of heat waves, and droughts, and hurricanes, and other extreme weather events.
But a glut of corn or wheat in the US doesn’t mean subsistence farmers elsewhere aren’t struggling. The improvements in industrial agriculture don’t help small family farmers who can’t afford expensive equipment and chemical inputs that keep outputs of the crops Taylor and Burnett cite climbing ever-higher.
Turns out that extreme weather decimating crops in some places, largely those less-developed nations with more farmers growing to feed themselves and their families, can still happen while rich nations heavily subsidize their industrial-scale agriculture companies that use expensive technology and consume ever-greater amounts of land and chemicals to keep producing the inputs for corn syrup and other highly processed food stuffs.
And even still, disasters fueled by climate change still wipe out crops in the developed world too, so even the yields Taylor and Burnett point to would be higher without climate change.
You know what aren't high, though? Our hopes that Taylor and Burnett figure out that Google’s not “promoting” anything by showing them what they search for.
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