I’m old enough to remember stories in newspapers supporting second-class citizenship for black people. The articles said “negroes” were intellectually inferior to whites, their brains were smaller, their test scores lower, their ambitions stunted. I also remember articles back then quoting “scientists” saying smoking was not a health problem and was actually good for you. The articles were a comfort to my father, a bigoted three-pack-a-day smoker who later died of lung cancer.
At some point, the media figured out that these articles were destructive lies and decided to stop printing them. Folks were, of course, free to make racist comments in private and harrumph about the surgeon general not minding his own business. But the media no longer trumpeted their points of view. Today, we would be appalled by an editorial about the innate inferiority of blacks or the healthful benefits of tobacco. It is long past time for the media to apply this same self-censorship of lies to the subject of climate change.
Climate change is real, it is happening and it is caused by humans burning CO2. Folks are free to believe whatever they want. But belief is quite different than fact. For centuries, folks believed that the Earth was flat, but that did not change the fact that our planet is actually quite round. Printing the lies and distortions of climate-change deniers does real damage to our society, as did printing the racist distortions of the ’50s and the lies of the tobacco companies. Lives are stunted, hatred and ignorance is promoted, and problems not dealt with worsen. If you believe, as I do, that the media should refuse to print climate-change deniers’ lies and distortions, please tell them so.