Two columns that never should have run

It’s almost not worth talking about, but I’ve rarely seen battalions of straw men marched onto the field to be torched the way the Toronto Sun‘s Joe Warmington and Peter Worthington did it in separate but similar columns today.

Warmington, headlined “A union leader of all people backs Tories’ green plan — and takes Gore and Suzuki to task”:

“I think John Baird is right on the money,” said [Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz] Hargrove. “Al Gore was vice-president for eight years and in the senate before that where they voted against (environmental reforms). So I don’t know where he gets his credentials to come in here and lecture.”

It’s so true. We’ve called him the Cadillac Conservationist before. Not many environmentalists fly in and out on jets, have giant mansions and travel in limos and then have the nerve to slam a politician who actually has a plan to reduce emissions.

It’s time for Al Gore to just shut up and run. It’s time for David Suzuki to just shut up — unless he wants to run. Of course they can keep spinning their for-fee “eco” story but when it comes to the political arena — put your name on a ballot and see how well you can do with this issue.

When you’re relying on mad old Buzz to support your political views, it might be time for a re-think. When you’re using the names you’ve called a guy in the past as evidence in a current argument, you’re doing violence to the very idea of argumentation.

Worthington, in a column headlined “Time to muffle Al Gore’s exhaust pipe”:

While no one can reasonably oppose cutting pollution, it is ludicrous to think of CO2 as a pollutant. CO2 is essential to nature, and nature has its own way of correcting imbalances — which is what “global warming” was all about until, after a cold winter and a delayed spring, the name was changed to “climate change.” Without CO2, the planet is dead, and climate change is another way of saying cyclical change, which is happening all the time.

Sure, and it’s ludicrous to think of the Black Death as a problem, either — that was just nature culling the herd, which happens all the time. As my old friend Chris Selley put it for Macleans.ca, “Carbon dioxide: essential substance for life on earth, therefore a surfeit of the substance could not possibly be harmful.” Plus it’s been “climate change” for ages, in respect for the fact that we’re not just talking about milder winters, but potentially extreme storms thanks to extra heat energy driving more intense weather systems; floods and droughts depending on your latitude; and unforeseen other effects much more significant than a more modest gas bill.

Worthington also writes:

Gore’s criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government’s so-called “green plan” is not only unseemly and offensive for a former American vice-president, but wrong.

“A complete and total fraud,” is what he calls the plan which he says is “designed to mislead the Canadian people.” (Interestingly, Gore’s criticism of Canada is similar to what some climatologists and atmospheric scientists say of Gore’s movie that predicts catastrophe for the planet unless the world listens to him.)

His application of the word “interestingly” to the fact that Gore and people who despise him use similar language to dismiss one another suggests to me that Worthington’s not really paying attention to what he’s writing. That’s not interesting, it’s utterly mundane. Incidentally, if you’re wondering who the “some climatologists and atmospheric scientists” are, you can see substantially all of them if you watch the much-bruited pseudo-documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

You’d think neither Warmington nor Worthington had ever read a damned thing about this stuff before consuming their own paper’s coverage of the Suzuki–Baird set-to over the weekend.

I’m a professional opinion-writer. I know the easiest way to blast out a column when you’re fresh out of ideas is to take a headline and riff on it till you’re out of words — the print version of second-rate talk radio on AM. Normally this is just a waste of time and newsprint, but when you’re dangerously ignorant of the subject you’re writing about, to the point where you can scarcely construct a semblance of one of the reasonable cases on the side you’re arguing, you’ve crossed over into being a menace.

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