NYTimes ‘Could Be’ Incapable of Serious Reporting

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on September 24, 2009

in Blog

Ah, but we knew that already, at least when it comes to global warming stories. Today brings yet another production from the template of the Society of Environmental Journalists, this time delivered by Southeast Asia correspondent Seth Mydans. The scientific researchers: the communist Vietnamese government (press release titled “Climate change scenarios will guide Government’s planners”). Chief danger: sea level rise. Those threatened: virtually the entire country.

At least…they could be

In a worse-case projection…more than one-third of the (Mekong River) delta…could be submerged if sea levels rise by three feet in the decades to come.

In a more modest projection, it calculates that one-fifth of the delta would be flooded, said Tran Thuc, who leads Vietnam’s National Institute for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Sciences and is the chief author of the report.

Storm surges could periodically raise that level, he said, and experts say an intrusion of salt water and industrial pollution could contaminate much of the remaining delta area.

The risks of climate change for Vietnam go far beyond the Mekong Delta, up into the Central Highlands, where rising temperatures could put the coffee crop at risk, and to the Red River Delta in the north, where large areas could be inundated near the capital, Hanoi….

If the sea level rises by three feet, 11 percent of Vietnam’s population could be displaced, according to a 2007 World Bank working paper.

If it rises by 15 feet, 35 percent of the population and 16 percent of the country’s land area could be affected, the document said….

In addition to rising seas in the Mekong Delta, climatologists predict more frequent, severe and southerly typhoons, heavier floods and stronger storm surges that could ultimately drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Climate refugees could swell the population of Ho Chi Minh City….

But the city itself is also at risk, says the government study, prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (undoubtedly part of a joint UN-Vietnamese government project). Up to one-fourth of the city’s area would be threatened by rising floodwaters if the sea level rose by three feet.

And so on. Considering possibilities that the New York Times never would, however, it could be that there is no threat from sea level rise, as World Climate Report suggests:

The question for climate change experts is not “Is sea level rising” but rather “Is sea level rise accelerating?” In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected”, while in 2007, IPCC wrote “Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8] mm per year. Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer-term trend is unclear.” To say the least, the IPCC has been very cautious on the issue of accelerated sea level rise.

But to the Times, that doesn’t make for very good reading:

But the potential disruptions and the tremendous cost of trying to reduce [sea level rise] impact could slow Vietnam’s drive to emerge from its postwar poverty and impede its ambitions to become one of the region’s economic leaders.

Once again, this nation, which has spent much of its history struggling to free itself from foreign domination, finds itself threatened by an overpowering outside force.

Hey Seth, did it ever occur to you that the slowness with which Vietnam is emerging from poverty has to do with its own communism and Third World corruption? Perhaps, an “overpowering” internal force? And that this particular UN/Vietnam “report” might have something to do with justifying a wealth transfer from developed countries to developing countries in a final global climate treaty?

Just askin’ — maybe in a part two of your report?

Francis Manns September 26, 2009 at 3:23 am

Sea level has risen over 130 metres in the past 12,000 years and the deltas have kept in equilibrium. Sea level rise causes a drop in energy, sediment in rivers falls out of suspension, and deltas grow. Look at Google Earth at all the major deltas of the world. Look at Bengaladesh. The delta has expanded and continues to grow. The New Jersy coastal sand bars grew during sea level rise. Coastal sedimentation is a dynamic self- correcting system. Incidently, coral reefs can keep pace with any rate of sea level rise as well. The world has marvelous feedback mechanism to adjust to change. The best feedback of all is that as earth warms humidity increases, clouds form, and earth cools. CO2 has nothing to so with it. Earth has evolved feedback over 4.5 billion years of 'experiments' because it is a water planet.

Black Matt September 30, 2009 at 4:30 am

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White guy September 30, 2009 at 4:31 am

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