Guest essay by Vijay Jayaraj
Recently, CNN ran a major, multi-part article titled “The one chance we have: The pandemic gave the world a golden opportunity to fix the climate crisis. We’re about to waste it.”
CNN’s global reach and its popularity mean that most readers and viewers are prone to consider its articles at face value. Almost everything about that headline would seem sensible for people who are not aware of the intricate details of climate sciences.
For environmental researchers like me, headlines like these are a major red flag, and they often exaggerate reality to portray a false sense of alarm. A closer look at the details presented in the article only affirmed the skepticism I had towards the alarmist headline.
“…the biggest fossil fuel-producing countries are injecting taxpayer money into propping up polluting industries. And exclusive new data shows these decisions are taking the world a step closer to a climate catastrophe.”
For its attack on fossil fuels, CNN handpicked four countries that use coal: Australia, India, Canada, and Poland. The long and one-sided article briefly addresses the concern of the workers who are currently employed in the fossil fuel sector in these countries, but then it quickly reverts back to the need for these fossil fuel industries to be shut down. The only problem: lies.
Big Climate Lies to Promote Big Alarmist Agenda
The article’s sub-section on India claims that “erratic monsoon rains have made it difficult for farmers (in India) to predict when to plant and harvest crops,” indirectly implying that climate change has impacted the farmers and the agricultural sector.
Further, the authors state that “India is also staring down the barrel of an extreme weather crisis, with droughts, floods and drinking water shortages devastating thousands of lives each year—and impacting the country’s already battered economy.”
But agricultural data show that India is on a record streak for agricultural crop output, consistently producing more and more staple crop outputs each year. Cereal yield data show that India’s output—of wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats, rye, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and mixed grains—is constantly increasing, thus ensuring enough production for domestic demand and export.
Source: Our World in Data.
India’s farm exports rose 23.24 percent in March through June 2020. Water availability in India’s reservoirs are 40 to 50 percent higher than last year. This, accompanied by a normal rainfall season, will make the agriculture sector grow by 3 percent in 2020–2021.
India’s Niti Ayog, of the national government’s official planning commission, said that “agriculture alone will give more than 0.5 percent to the growth rate of Indian economy.” So, the notion that India’s farming sector is in peril due to climate change and that it has hit the economy is false.
Besides, the rainfall pattern in India has always been erratic, with no consistent pattern, a fact attested by India’s longest available national rainfall data. The recent success in agriculture has been a testament to India’s growing economy that enabled the use of agricultural technology.
Stories Do Not Necessarily Match Reality
CNN, in the article’s section against coal mines, claimed that the people in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh are “losing forests and livelihoods” because of the expansion of coal mines. But the data on employment, once again, reveals a completely contrasting situation.
The data, a national survey on quality of jobs and employment growth derived by analyzing a number of key reports, revealed that Chhattisgarh was ranked first for employment and quality of jobs nationally. The state also ranked third for the growth rate of employment, while being ranked very high for income equality and gender equality.
CNN’s portrayal of coal mines destroying the employment situation in the state is a complete falsehood that conveniently avoids readily available employment data points.
Moreover, the claims on forest loss are also false at a national level. India’s forest cover has actually increased between 2018 and 2019, according to the official forest census report (high degree of accuracy).
For CNN and other mainstream media, the goal is simple: to create climate fear among the masses by skewing data to suit their narrative. It is time their lies were called out, refuted by official data and statistics.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and resides in New Delhi, India.