Opinion by Kip Hansen — 7 July 2022
Sometimes I have so many data inputs it can make my head spin – which is surprising as my tolerance is very high – I often have three or more streams ongoing at any one time – audio, visual and the written word. While driving today, I heard a segment on my local almost-always-wrong Public Radio station, which I have re-named for its one-sided political reporting — WDNC.
[ Note: I am not a fan of American-style two-party politics – which I consider to be what is wrong with this country’s political system. I do have strong social views and moral values. ]
My regional public radio station produces and hosts a ‘podcast’ (really, it is more of a two-minute regular radio feature) named EarthWise. The program is interesting and well-produced but unfortunately dedicated to producing segments that present misinformation about our natural world and that lean heavily on climate-alarmism talking points.
Like Columbia University’s Covering Climate Now, it seems EarthWise has signed on to the idea that “every story is a climate story” – even if they have to make it up.
Their latest program is Red Pandas and Climate Change. You can read the transcript or listen to the two-minute audio.
Red Pandas, you will learn, are not related at all to Giant Pandas (always oh-so-cute), but members of their own exclusive genus. If you wanted a recognizable analogy, you might think of a red racoon (though they are not closely related either).
The program is so short that quoting any major section of it would go beyond “fair-use” – it comprises less than 500 words including the title.
Here is how propaganda works:
1. EarthWise, having titled the episode “Red Pandas and Climate Change”, says:
“Habitat loss is the main threat to red panda’s survival. Human expansion into the area, combined with the effects of climate change, has led to the fragmentation and loss of livable land. Red pandas also face dangers from hunting and poaching.”
2. The program correctly reports that the IUCN lists the Red Panda as Endangered (checking the details reveals they couldn’t be sure so they admit “the evidence of precise decline rate being inadequate for certain discrimination between Vulnerable and Endangered, the precautionary course is taken of categorisation as Endangered, pending more precise information.”)
3. The program is based on a study last year, Bista et al. (2021) published in the journal Landscape Ecology titled: Effect of disturbances and habitat fragmentation on an arboreal habitat specialist mammal using GPS telemetry: a case of the red panda. The study concludes:
“Conclusions: Red pandas seem to make a trade-off to co-exist in human-dominated landscapes which may have adverse long-term effects on their survival. This indicates that current patterns of habitat fragmentation and forest exploitation may be adversely affecting red panda conservation efforts and that landscape-scale effects should be considered when planning conservation actions.”
Note: The study does not mention climate change, not even once.
4. The IUCN (again, here – see “Assessment Information in detail”) reports the greatest causes of decline in population to be 1) Diet limited to bamboo, 2) Threat from canine distemper (from domestic or feral dogs), 3) Conflicts with herders for specific habitat and 4) Hunting for trade. There is no mention of any current threat from climate change in the assessment details.
Bottom Line: This is a perfect example of how climate change propaganda works in today’s media:
1. EarthWise’s authors simply make up and add-in Climate Change as a cause of decline and threat to the endangered Red Pandas, unsupported by any of their referenced sources.
2. Because: The propagandists know that no one is going to check the details – no one will take the time to search out and read the Red Panda study – no one will read the assessment details at the IUCN Red List site. Certainly, no ‘journalist’ wishing to cover the story will do anything more than copy-and-paste reference citations and parrot the misinformation presented.
3. Untold numbers of people who listen to Pubic Radio and their children will be convinced that “Climate Change is killing the really cute Red Pandas!” – which is a lie.
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Why do EarthWise’s journalist make things up? Why do they spread this kind of obvious misinformation? I don’t know, I have submitted a comment asking them…I’ll check back below if they post my comment or reply.
As in many other cases, the Red Panda’s population numbers are best classified as “Unknown” – which does not deter the IUCN from listing them as Endangered (just in case they might be….).
Be careful what you believe when it comes from the mass media – their journalists have generally been corrupted by pernicious, often intentional, mis-education. If it is important to you, check the facts yourself (don’t bother checking opinions – they always differ). References to academic studies are no longer trustworthy – as we see in this case, you must check that the cited work yourself to see if it actually reports what is implied.
Read More – Read Widely – Read Critically
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