In Praise Of Jim Slotek’s Global Warming Column

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Jim Slotek, the talented Toronto Sun columnist/critic who has frequently proven to be funny, clever and persuasive.  Long before our recent disagreement over The Sun union’s byline protest, there have been other times where I’ve questioned his judgment.  A few years ago, I remember he defended this idea of entertainment journalists and critics not being straight with their interview subjects about their work, especially if they were promoting a stinker.  (That particular column was inspired by the controversial Martin Bashir interview special, Living With Michael Jackson.  Jackson accused the British journalist of misleading him about his parenting skills which he most certainly did.)  I’ve never understood why someone in the media would avoid being blunt with an entertainer in person when they’re gonna eventually find out what you really thought of them and their work once your print review appears in your newspaper and online, but that’s just me. 
I lost quite a bit of respect for Jim after I read that column.  (On the contrary, my heroes, the much missed Gene Siskel and the slowly recuperating Roger Ebert, were straightforward with showbiz folks about their mediocre projects.  Incredibly, numerous stars, like Liam Neeson and Chevy Chase, apologized to them over the years for appearing in these craptaculars.)  But, today, he’s reminded all of us why he’s one of The Sun’s few, remaining assets.
Have you noticed how many of The Sun’s political pundits, like Lorrie Goldstein, founding editor Peter Worthington and numerous others, have gone out of their way at times to try to “debunk” the phenomenon of global warming or, at the very least, try to downplay its significance?  (A few weeks ago, for example, Worthington wrote a column saying it was a “myth”.)  I can think of only two writers who have wisely and bravely dissented from that view:  Bruce Kirkland, The Sun’s chief film critic, and Jim.  (I stand to be corrected if there are others I’ve forgotten to mention.  Dr. David Suzuki’s writings are only seen on, not in The Toronto Sun, unfortunately.)
In a piece entitled “Some scientists do not agree that dinosaurs were blasted by a giant comet.  [E]ven more still don’t believe in global warming.  [E]arth to scientists — wake up”, Slotek writes what many of us have been thinking but few of his Sun colleagues are writing.  (To read the entire column, click here.)
How refreshing it is to read a “global-warming-is-real-and-we-need-to-do-something-about-it” commentary in a newspaper loaded with dishonest skeptics who have hijacked the issue with their ill-informed “positions”.  Slotek notes how potentially calamitous it is for this, the most important global issue, to remain as shockingly politicized as it has been in the last 15 years.  If ever there was an issue to unite all political philosophies, this is the one.
Wasn’t protecting the environment a big issue with Republicans a hundred years ago?  Why have they sold out the planet by aligning themselves with Big Polluters who only care about making more and more billions off finite resources at the expense of a healthy planet?  Jim puts it this way:
“And I’ve never understood why the environment is ‘leftie’ anyway. Isn’t cleaning up after yourself a conservative family value?”
It is surprising after all this time that there is still a “debate” about global warming in the first place.  Blame the media for trying to be “balanced” on an issue where there’s more evidence for the existence of unhealthy climate change than there is doubt.  Slotek puts the skeptics in their place with this bang-on statement:
“Only in politics could people choose sides on an issue in which scientific disagreement hovers above zero in an amount less than statistical margin of error, and act as if it were two equal points of view.”
I mentioned Dr. Suzuki in passing.  It’s been noted that he’s a rather difficult guy to debate on this matter, not unlike Sun columnist Lorrie Goldstein, who, unsurprisingly, can’t stand him.  Slotek states unequivocally, “The planet should not be political…It shouldn’t matter whether one finds David Suzuki annoying or not.”  Indeed.  But tell that to the increasingly unbearable and hostile Goldstein who recently wrote, “Obsessing about global warming is an affliction of the rich and bored.”  He also calls Kyoto supporters “crackheads” and “idiots”.  Way to keep it civil, Lorrie.  (Maybe he’s still steaming over being wrong on Iraq.  No wonder I prefer Eric Margolis.  He doesn’t have to apologize for being right the first time.)
Probably the most reassuring part of Jim’s Sunday column is the middle section where he notes that the number of global warming doubters and skeptics is dwindling more and more every day, a most positive development.  Even those who are on record for being unpersuaded by the rapid and dangerous change in our weather, like Peggy Wente of The Globe & Mail (whom Slotek singles out), are starting to slowly and painfully realize that maybe, just maybe, this phenomenon is likely real.  Whether they’ll do their part to help fix the problem is an unsolved mystery.
With the environment being the number one concern of eligible Canadian voters, it remains to be seen today if our government leaders at all levels are deadly serious about tackling the issue head on and implementing serious reform so that we can slowly but surely avoid the worst possible global warming scenarios.  One thing is for sure.  In the past, The Liberals and The Conservatives have not shown great leadership when it comes to environmental matters.  The Liberals, in particular, ran the country for 13 years, during the creation of the Kyoto Accord, and the planet is worse off, not better.  I’m not sure if Kyoto is the stuff that socialist dreams are made of, as Goldstein believes, but the reality is the Accord has been signed into law and we have to make it work.  Whoever is running the country after the next election must realize that.
Regardless, good for Jim Slotek for writing that column today.  Sun readers are better off for it.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, March 4, 2007
5:57 p.m.
Published in: on March 4, 2007 at 5:57 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Jim Slotek’s interview with Irish actor Colin. Farrell in entertainment, part of trying to do something positive about this global warming threat. That is why I find Slotek’s column amusing.==========================Brian
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