Douglas: It’s OK for Republicans to believe in climate change (5×8 – 3/30/12)

The politics and religion of Paul Douglas, storytelling v. news, your global salary, why the Vikings-to-Los Angeles claim is hot air, and Supreme Court style.


1) A POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS MANIFESTO ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Does it matter if Paul Douglas is a Republican? Writing on the Huffington Post, the local weather superhero acknowledges his Republican leanings and declares it’s OK to be a Republican and believe in global warming:


My climate epiphany wasn’t overnight, and it had nothing to do with Al Gore. In the mid-90s I noticed startling changes in the weather floating over Minnesota. Curious, I began investigating climate science, and, over time, began to see the thumbprint of climate change — along with 97% of published, peer-reviewed PhD’s, who link a 40% spike in greenhouse gases with a warmer, stormier atmosphere.

Bill O’Reilly, whom I respect, talks of a “no-spin zone.” Yet today there’s still a very concerted, well-funded effort to spin climate science. Some companies, institutes and think tanks are cherry-picking data, planting dubious seeds of doubt, arming professional deniers, scientists-for-hire and skeptical bloggers with the ammunition necessary to keep climate confusion alive. It’s the “you can’t prove smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer!” argument, times 100, with many of the same players. Amazing.

Douglas also reveals his religious beliefs and suggests Christianity and disbelief in climate change are incompatible.


I’m a Christian, and I can’t understand how people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes when the subject of climate change comes up. Actions have consequences. Were we really put here to plunder the Earth, no questions asked? Isn’t that the definition of greed? In the Bible, Luke 16:2 says, “Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship.” Future generations will hold us responsible for today’s decisions.

His science is not different than what he said in September 2010. But putting the issue in the context of politics and theology is.

2) STORYTELLING V. NEWS

The This American Life scandal in which Mike Daisey’s story about a trip to China to check out the working conditions at a factory in China turned out to be a lie, has generated plenty of introspection and analysis — more so, it seems to me, than your typical, run-of-the-mill, phony news story.

You’ve heard Ira Glass’ retraction, right? If not, here:

One of the best analysis pieces I’ve read was posted this week on TechDirt by Mike Masnick. He considers the relationship between the art of “storytelling” and traditional news, and what happens when the two collide:


The thing is, it’s really not hard to separate the two. I don’t tell exaggerated stories on Techdirt, in part because this isn’t a “storytelling” forum, but also because this site depends on everything on it being as credible as possible. It’s quite easy for me to understand the context and when the discussion is real and important, and when I’m just talking with some friends about a funny story. Similarly, I have no reason to doubt Gladwell’s detailed research works (even if there are reasonable complaints about his occasional mistakes) include purposeful embellishments “for the story.” Context matters and I think most people can separate them when talking about different subjects.

The issue with Diasey was that he took the storytelling tradition, and tried to make it out to be a “news” story in which he was really seeking to get things to happen. And that’s where things fell down. If you’re going to do that, your story has to check out. I’m not bothered by Gladwell or Sedaris’ exaggerations (though I must admit to not finding Sedaris that entertaining — but Gladwell’s WaPo story is hilarious). If Daisey was just telling stories for the sake of storytelling, there wouldn’t be an issue. But as soon as he made the story part of a campaign to create change, he had a responsibility to be factual. That he couldn’t separate the two was a major mistake, and it’s not even clear that his apology fully recognizes that fact.

Here’s the entire analysis. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Yesterday, The Nation opined that this notion of theater and news isn’t new:


But because an ever growing (though hardly new) genre of documentary theater is blurring the boundary from one side, and the ever growing (though hardly new) theatricalization of news is eroding it from the other. Fox, for example, beats every playhouse in town at invoking spectators’ willing suspension of disbelief: global warming, the president’s birthplace, the great gas-price conspiracy, etc. Meanwhile, journalism as a concept (never mind as an industry) faces threats far greater than the scrapes a blundering performance artist can inflict. From “citizen journalists” who blithely report their version of the news with no discipline of verification or commitment to transparency to the shameless gotcha tactics of a James O’Keefe, who merrily flouts ethical principles on purpose, professional standards are under siege. In such a climate, what are the differences in the “rules and expectations” of theater and journalism?


Meanwhile, the accusations of poor working conditions at factories in China continue. An investigation, initiated by Apple, found that within the last 12 months, three factories exceeded both the 60 working hours per week (regular plus overtime) and the Chinese legal limits of 40 hours per week and 36 hours maximum overtime per month.

3) YOUR GLOBAL SALARY

The average pre-tax monthly income in the world is $1,480. Where do you stand on the global scale. The BBC has just posted an online calculator based on recent work by a group of economists at the United Nations’ International Labour Organization. They haven’t gone public with the information until now.

Let’s consider the scale of the Herculean task the number crunchers at the ILO set themselves.


First, they work out the total wage bill for every country in the world. To do that they get the average salary from each office for national statistics, and multiply that amount by the number of earners in each country.

Only wage earners are counted – not the self-employed or people on benefits

In some countries the data is incomplete – in South Africa, for example, it leaves out public sector workers and agricultural workers, while in Uganda it covers only the manufacturing sector

In this way, they are able to give more weight to countries which have more workers in them. The average salary in China has more influence on the world average than the average salary in New Zealand, where many fewer people live.

Learn more and figure your status here.

4) WHY THE VIKINGS-TO-LOS ANGELES CLAIM IS HOT AIR

Though the entire Vikings stadium debate at the Capitol is taking place under the threat that the team will leave Minnesota if taxpayers don’t pony up for a new stadium, the Vikings aren’t going anywhere soon. Los Angeles, the presumed locale for the local franchise, has a longer-running stadium soap opera than Minnesota. This week’s sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers only muddies the stadium situation there more, the Los Angeles Times reports today. Los Angeles has been trying to find a place for a stadium for 17 years.

The developer of one stadium proposal wants a piece of any NFL team that moves to Los Angeles. The pricetag of this week’s Dodgers sale — over $2 billion — raises the value of most sports franchises, making the scenario unlikely.

Presumably, that means Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is sitting on a more valuable franchise than he was a week ago.

Meanwhile, the “if the Vikings leave” campaign continues with little questioning of where they’d go.

5) SUPREME COURT STYLE

The Supreme Court justices will vote today on the health insurance case, with most experts figuring the Affordable Care Act is doomed.

It’ll be a showdown between the court’s liberal wing…

daily_show_scotus_libs.jpg

… and the court’s conservative members…

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We’ve been able to post audio on NewsCut this week of the arguments, but no cameras were allowed in the Supreme Court. It’s safe to say, it wouldn’t be as interesting as what the Taiwanese animation company, NMA, imagined.

Writing on the Daily Beast today, Nick Summers says it’s just as well TV cameras didn’t capture the “flameout” of the government’s lawyer.

Don Verrilli Jr.’s performance before the court this week was considered so poor, it’s hard to imagine it’s the same person NPR profiled last week.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Today’s commentary is a pair of articles by a prominent liberal and a prominent conservative, each describing what he likes about those on the other side of the cultural and political divide. In the interest of civil discourse, we’re posing the same challenge here. Today’s Question: If you identify as either liberal or conservative, what do you admire about those on the other side?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Last weekend Dick Cheney received a heart transplant. The 71-year-old had spent 20 months on the organ donation waiting list – a time period that some short, and some call average. But the bigger question raised by the former vice president’s transplant was whether his age should have been taken into account when he received the heart – should younger patients on the list be first in line?

Second hour: We’re about two years post-Wall Street reform yet tweaks are being proposed before it all goes into effect. However, we’ve seen reporting that says the way Wall Street does business is changing, but then Greg Smith published his blistering critique of Goldman Sachs. So has anything really changed, will change or just never change? And how does Wall Street culture affect Main Street pocketbooks?

Third hour: The Friday Roundtable discusses the shooting death of Trayvon. Guests: Donna Britt, journalist and author. Her latest book is “Brothers and Me;” Delores Henderson, principal at Hazel Park Preparatory Academy in St. Paul; and Toki Wright teaches hip-hop studies at McNally Smith College of Music.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Minnesota Sounds and Voices: Dr. John Linner and Army nurse Avis Schorer.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The annual April Fool’s joke show.

Second hour: A conversation with neuroscientist Eric Kandel, about science and art in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - The raw data collected by census takers in 1940 is about to be made public. The event is eagerly awaited by genealogists who view this release as their super bowl. NPR considers what can be learned from 72-year-old questionnaires.

The ancient instrument shows no signs of losing its musical luster as a new generation of pipers reconstitute bands the music, including the Macalester Pipe Band led by Michael Breidenbach.