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Opinion: Columnist John Stossel distorts reality, while these two raise concerns about our climate change priorities
Greta Thunberg
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a school strike demonstration Friday, May 31, 2019, in Vienna, Austria. - photo by Associated Press

John Stossel’s column published Nov. 22, “Alarmists push climate myths,” is a travesty of journalism. He shows no regard for the truth. He uses quotes out of context in order to misconstrue both the intent and the nature of what is said.

For Stossel, an alarmist is anyone who maintains that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. By definition, an alarmist is someone who “excites unwarranted fear.” Stossel accuses Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (both considered pariahs by demagogues and propagandists) of being climate alarmists.

In order to honestly, accurately and fairly assess the intent of someone’s statements, those statements must be evaluated in context. Here’s how Stossel quotes Thunberg: “How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction!” He then juxtaposes his words to hers. “Many people say we’re destroying the Earth. It all sounds so scary.” His purpose is to distort her intent and make her sound like Chicken Little.

Examining Thungerg’s comments in context reveals that her purpose is to criticize, not to “excite fear.” Her words come from her address to a UN climate summit:

“I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”

Greta is not guilty of fear-mongering. She is excoriating world leaders for their skewed values and short-sightedness. She is indignant. She is angry. If you have any doubt, you can watch her speech on YouTube.

Stossel quotes his other candidate for the title of alarmist, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, as saying, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change!” Out of context, it does sound alarmist. But when seen in context, it’s clear that like Thunberg, AOC is criticizing “the powers that be.” “Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we’re like, ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’”

Like Greta, Alexandria is indignant. She is emphasizing misplaced priorities; she is not attempting to “excite fear.” If she is guilty of anything it is the indiscretion of using hyperbole without regard for the small-minded literalist who will misquote her words and misinterpret her intent.

In accusing others of pushing myths, Stossel shows total disregard for truth, accuracy and fairness. He is the one distorting reality, not Thunberg and Ocasio Cortez.

Stossel is a propagandist masquerading as a journalist. The assumption of legitimacy that accompanies his national syndication is what is truly alarming.

Brian E. Moss

Gainesville

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