Tuesday, May 29, 2007

L.A. Times' Impressive Editorial On Global Warming

The L.A. Times, showing that Jim Newton is taking hold as the paper's new editorial page editor, had an editorial Monday on global warming that constituted one of the best efforts yet in any American newspaper to come to grips with the issues growing out of it.

Having carefully examined several alternatives for action, the Times came out in favor of a carbon tax to collect from industries and others contributing to the dire threat, and to encourage the use of alternative, non-polluting uses of energy.

The editorial did not examine some of the more exotic means of dealing with the warming, mentioned in the New York Times' science pages, but quite clearly rather far in the future. These include putting some a kind of screen between the sun and the Earth to reduce the amount of sunlight that warms the world's atmosphere. Obviously, this would be a mammoth undertaking that would have to be done extremely carefully to avoid possibly unexpected adverse consequences.

Another omission in Monday's Times editorial was any candid discussion of the disturbing fact that as China, India and other quickly developing countries in the Third World grow economically they are using more energy and putting pressure on the global environment. It will do little good, if Western countries curtail the use of coal to develop electricity and take other steps to reduce global warming, if the Chinese and Indians outweigh all of our efforts by not taking any of their own. This must quickly become the subject of ticklish negotiations.

The Times editorial, however, represented a big step forward in discussion of these issues, and it powerfully brought home the point of what warming will mean for California -- eroded beaches, intrusion of salt water into the Sacramento delta region, cutting off the flow of fresh water from the north into Southern California, and reduced snow packs in the Sierra.

All in all, a terrific effort, which points the way to the future.

And it is good to see, too, that the Times editorial pages are putting the goofy Michael Kinsley and Andres Martinez well behind them, and emerging as respectable once again.

(Tuesday's New York Times, in its lead article, reports the coal industry has undertaken a major lobbying campaign to secure federal support for coal gasification plants. These might well prove counterproductive in the campaign to stem global warming).

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Nancy Cleeland, among those talented employees who took the L.A. Times buyout, is reported in L.A. Observed this morning as writing to lament the fact that the Times, under the squalid Tribune Co. control, abandoned its labor beat and is opting to cover "celebrity justice" with a new beat rather than economic justice for millions of Los Angelenos.

The Times, writes Cleeland, is "increasingly anti-union in its editorial policy." Cleeland shared in a Pulitzer for the series she participated in on Wal Mart labor practices. Those kinds of stories seldom if ever appear in the Times in the publishership of Ken Starr crony David Hiller.

Meanwhile, there is more fallout from the Times' reprehensible termination of longtime columnist Al Martinez.

Commenting on the insensitive editor, Jim O'Shea's, memo to the staff following "accepting" 57 buyouts, a blogger for the Guardian newspaper in England, Roy Greenslade, writes notably:

"I was particularly struck by the euphemistic corporate gobbledegook employed by the editor, Jim O'Shea, in his explanatory letter to staff. I couldn't really believe a journalist had written such guff. Then, I realized that other people must have been at O'Shea's shoulder as he wrote."

Yes, corporate lawyers or PR men, probably wrote the O'Shea memo, He may even be guilty of plagiarism.

Jamie Gold, the reader representative at the Times, hints in a letter to a reader that O'Shea may be planning a talk with Martinez in light of all the mail and other protests the Times has been receiving for its outrageous termination of the longtime columnist.

I hope, but really am not too optimistic, that O'Shea, normally a Chicago Tribune toady of the first order, may follow a certain Calendar tradition at the Times and offer Martinez the opportunity to continue writing his column as an outside contributor to the Times, just as Chuck Champlain and Kevin Thomas have continued to write occasionally (or Bill Stall has done for the Op Ed Page).

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