When I first saw this, I was surprised.

I hadn’t heard about this before.

Specialty environmental reporting is going the way of the dodo. The New York Times and Washington Post are reducing their environmental only reportage. However in all this turmoil, there’s one intrepid columnist, Thomas Friedman, who persists in pursuing his green dreams.

 

Pointman writes in A species facing extinction:

The bean counters are now at work and wielding their budget chopping axes on what used to be some of the mainstream propaganda outlets for the climate alarmists.

The New York Times closed its environmental desk and probably because there wasn’t much of an outcry about that decision, within a fortnight decided to make a clean sweep and close all its environmental blogs as well. If you look, the internet numbers for their product were simply miserable anyway. Just this week, the Washington Post decided to follow suit and “redeploy” some journalists specialising on the environment, into other areas. As it happens, it was a tidy solution to more than a few nagging personnel problems. They’re all of course still totally committed to saving the planet, but not at the expense of their bottom line. It’s as graceful a retreat from what used to be a very fashionable cause as they can manage, but make no mistake, they’re all leaving the party.

Newsrooms around the world are being culled, but I think it’s significant that it’s the environmental area which is now taking the brunt of the cuts and seen as surplus to profitable requirements. It can safely be given the chop. That would have been unthinkable four or five years ago. Of course, the quasi-state television channels will continue to push the alarmist line, simply because they have no commercial pressures they’re obliged to respond to. In the long term though, that doesn’t matter in their particular case, as the advent of internet television stations will ultimately push them into extinction as well. In passing though, it’s interesting to note that the BBC have over the past few months, dispensed with the services of a number of so-called reporters, whom any reasonable person would have to class as nothing better than climate activists.

Will Oremus at Slate, though, isn’t so dismissive of this trend. He writes in The Times Kills Its Environmental Blog To Focus on Horse Racing and Awards Shows:

Wonderful. If there’s anything the world needs in the 21st century, it’s less resources devoted to perhaps the most profound and pressing set of issues facing the world in the 21st century. But OK, everyone understands that these are tough times in the news business. So where, exactly, will those resources be devoted instead? The Times didn’t say, though the “Green” blog did publish an addendum that suggested green-minded readers follow the politics blog Caucus and the technology blog Bits. (Perfect for those who like their news about endangered species filtered through the lenses of horserace politics and/or gadgetry.)

(Poynter has more on this move.)

But what’s everyone so worried about? As Ed Driscoll noted yesterday, the Times still has Thomas Friedman!

Yesterday’s Friedman column, No to Keystone, Yes to Crazy reads, in part:

If Keystone gets approved, environmentalists should have a long shopping list ready, starting with a price signal that discourages the use of carbon-intensive fuels in favor of low-carbon energy.

Nothing would do more to clean our air, drive clean-tech innovation, weaken petro-dictators and reduce the deficit than a carbon tax. One prays this will become part of the budget debate. Also, the president can use his authority under the Clean Air Act to order reductions in CO2 emissions from existing coal power plants and refiners by, say, 25 percent. He could then do with the power companies what he did with autos: negotiate with them over the fairest way to achieve that reduction in different parts of the country. We also need to keep the president’s feet to the fire on the vow in his State of the Union address to foster policies that could “cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years.” About 30 percent of energy in buildings is wasted.

Friedman wants to see no financial benefit to the United States from higher gas production. But note that he argues that he wants to “weaken petro-dictators.” But if we tax oil in order to reduce consumption, we will make oil more expensive. Who will this benefit? More, cheaper oil is what will weaken those dictators, not Friedman’s prescription to inflate prices artificially.

Back in 2008, Friedman wrote a column Texas to Tel Aviv about Shai Agassi and T. Boone Pickens and the green technologies both businessman promoted. Agassi was recently replaced as CEO of A Better Place. And Pickens last year bemoaned his losses investing in wind farms. Neither business has yet produced a revolution in energy technology.

Friedman keeps waiting for a future that isn’t just around the corner. So his approach to make sure that others don’t benefit from new technologies that he doesn’t approve. Though he likes to pose as promoter of new technologies, in this case Friedman is simply a Luddite with a cause.