A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Independent wins: it's dire at science.....

Here must be one of the worst reports ever: 'The rape of the rainforest... and the man behind it' (The Independent, May 20). Why?

(1) The Mato Grosso is not true tropical rain forest - it is largely dry transitional forest and cerrado, a seasonal, wooded form of savanna that experiences regular fire. There is also the Pantanal in the south;

(2) The rain forests are not the 'lungs of the world'. This is total crap in every sense. Stop and think a moment - what do lungs do? They take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide. Just what we need. Well done, lads!

(3) I can't go on. The piece is too bad. So read this over at The Daily Ablution (May 20). It's splendid and says it all: 'Rain Forest Disappearing, Eco-Luddites to Blame':
"Another claim, that 40-50 years constitutes 'the estimated number of years that the rainforest will survive if deforestation continues at its current rate,' is hilariously contradicted in the Indy's own page one story.

According to the article, the Brazilian portion of the rain forest 'sprawls over 4.1 million sq km ... and covers more than half of Brazil's land area' (the latter being actually 8,456,510 sq km). 26,130 sq km of the Brazilian forest has been deforested in the 12 months ending last August - the highest rate in years. Based on these figures, my handy Windows® calculator tells me that, at the current rate, the rain forest has (approximately) 156.90776884806735553004209720628 years left.

I'm sincerely at a loss to explain the utter incompetence that such a contradiction displays. My best guess is that - in the finest tradition of propagandists, if not of responsible journalists - they're simply regurgitating 'data' being fed to them by their ideological allies..."

What a truly dreadful report.

Philip, no more tea. A good strong, single malt required.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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