New York Times’ Official Take on Aussie Dust Storm

Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank">Yegor Korzh</a>

After some initial hesitation on its news pages, the New York Times’ editorial board has linked the dust storm that dumped tons of fine red particles on Sydney, Australia last month (and described in detail on these pages), in part, to the climate chaos that is already ravaging many parts of the planet:

“It is tempting to think the dust storm that enveloped eastern Australia last month — choking Sydney with an estimated 5,000 tons of orange dust — is an anomalous event, the result of a decade-long drought. There is solid evidence that the number of dust storms is on the rise and a strong possibility that they may become more common as climate change advances.”

The editorial goes on to implicate (I’ll resist the temptation to call it “a perfect storm”) the many factors that contributed to this and other dust storms.

These include: unwise agricultural techniques, deforestation and poor water management.

Not mentioned are the political/economic policies responsible for these problems. The bulk of these can be traced back to governments’ unwillingness to regulate business because of a lack of power, or corruption, or an ideology that believes that markets will evenutally solve all problems if left to their own devices — evidence and the planet be damned.

When the US Senate begins deliberating on the Kerry/Boxer bill soon, and when leaders of the world gather in Copenhagen in December, the media will cover the debate as if the only problem that needs to be solved is climate change (and they will congratulate themselves on have far they’ve come in reporting on the issue). What needs to be addressed, and so far has not been, is the tainted political climate that allows these disasters to occur.

Don’t expect to read much about this larger problem: despite the good intentions of many reporters, producers and editors, the media are as deeply entrenched in this system as your typical politician.