Living and Learning

Unusual Creatures in Unexpected Places

Alberta just had the coldest February in forty years. Australia is having the hottest summer in living memory. England just had a February that was so warm people were sunbathing. So, obviously, the climate is out of whack and needs a reboot. We may have to unplug it and then plug it back in.

Sunfish

Sunfish by Thomas Turner/AP via theguardian.com

Among the peculiarities of our changing climate are the weird things that are happening. Notably, there are weird fish tales. A giant sunfish just washed up in northern California. No-one has seen a sunfish there in 130 years. A rare worm goby, with no eyes and needle teeth, was recently caught in Australia. It may even be an entirely new species. And, a humpback whale just washed up and died in the Amazon rainforest. If that doesn’t tell you something is wrong, nothing will.

HumpbackWhale

Humpback Whale in the Amazon by SEEMA/FocusOnNews via theguardian.com

Of course, there are still those who think there are two sides to the issue of climate change; one of them was even just given the job of U.S. Ambassador to the UN. Thanks a lot, America.

I’ve heard some people claim two sides to other issues, too: that the earth is round; that vaccinations benefit society; that you should signal before changing lanes, and so on.

anglerworm

Worm Goby by Outback Boat Hire via sciencealert.com

Clearly, some sides carry more weight than others. The problem we have is that, in trying to create balanced coverage, television news and discussion programs in the past have tried to provide balance where balance is not due. When 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing global warming it makes absolutely no sense to give equal time to the 3% who don’t.

Balanced coverage should not mean equal time. It should mean giving equally challenging questions to anyone who makes a claim to truth. Some topics are not a matter of opinion; they depend on facts. If all you have is opinion, you should not be given equivalent air time to balance the information given by someone who has reliable data to share.

Lately, I’ve been applying the same principle to news coverage of all types. If you are just giving me your opinion, I’m changing the channel. Tell me what you know, tell me how you know it, and show me the evidence. Then, maybe I’ll listen to you.

Otherwise pretty soon we’ll all be looking at pictures of strange creatures like worm gobies and saying “Gee, the aliens must have landed.” And, we’ll believe it because someone on television said it was true.

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