Well, I sat through it, much to my disgust. It wasn’t easy. I don’t really know where to begin with the dissection of this truly awful climate change documentary from the BBC, so I guess I’ll just fire off this initial post picking up on one of the more obvious and egregious attempts to misinform the public.
The Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. It’s been largely submerged beneath the sea over the last 6 decades. The program gives the definite impression that the main reason for this inundation is sea level rise due to melting ice and thermal expansion of the oceans – driven by man-made climate change. Attenborough does mention oil extraction as a cause but his narrative is lost to the general tone of the messaging that this is a “climate catastrophe” and that the families driven from their homes in this part of Louisiana are some of the world’s first “climate refugees”. This is palpable bullshit.
Much has been written lately of the devastating coastal land loss that is dragging southern Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico. Erosion of the wetlands—in large part a result of activities by oil and gas companies—is causing the state to lose a football field of land every hour. This makes the region the fastest-disappearing landmass on earth. Isle de Jean Charles, a narrow strip of land in Terrebone Parish that is home to 25 families, is one of the communities in this region that is sinking into the sea.
So what’s causing this alarming rate of land loss? Simply put, a lot of things, and most of them are man made. The dredging of canals through the bayous to lay oil and gas pipelines has significantly contributed to erosion – by removing trees and plants that hold the wetlands together, by allowing salt water to course into fresh water marshes and by the invariable leaks that come from these pipelines. Additionally, sea level rise, logging, construction work and continued hurricanes have added to the land loss.
But the fact that natural climate change would occur with or without any type of human activity isn’t as a compelling story. It’s not until later in the article that the New York Times gets to one of the real reasons Isle de Jean Charles is disappearing:
“Channels cut by loggers and oil companies eroded much of the island, and decades of flood control efforts have kept once free-flowing rivers from replenishing the wetlands’ sediments.”
There’s quite a difference between man-caused coastal erosion and man-caused global warming.