Hondo Arendt writes the Northern View about columnist Tom Fletcher. (File photo)

LETTER: Anyone can cherry-pick data to make a point

Hondo Arendt responds to columnist Tom Fletcher’s take on climate change

Editor:

A few weeks ago there was a letter to the editor which asked the question: “Where does Tom Fletcher get his data?” Tom, of course, is the person who writes [a column] that [appears] in the Northern View.

Tom frequently writes about how climate change is a myth. In his editorials he usually starts by explaining that someone has suggested that some event (for example, a forest fire or a hurricane) is likely a sign of climate change. He argues that it is stupid to infer that climate change is real from a single example. He then produces some counter-example and ends by smugly congratulating himself for proving that climate change is a myth based on his single counter-example.

Since Tom will never actually answer the question (where does he get his data?), I will try to help out.

READ MORE: Fletcher on Polluting the climate change debate

For the most part, Tom says true facts – after all, anyone can cherry-pick data to make a point. It is true that he often presents his facts in a pretty deceptive manner. For example, in July Tom wanted badly to prove that this was just a normal forest fire season. He stated that the number of fires in B.C. this year were pretty much the same as last year (up to that point), ignoring the fact that the same number of fires in 2017 had burnt almost four times as much territory. More recently, he pointed out that a NOAA report said that they can’t yet fully conclude that climate change is causing increasing numbers of hurricanes in the Atlantic. He didn’t mention that the report actually (a) came out before this year’s hurricane system and (b) came out three weeks after Donald Trump replaced the government minister overseeing the NOAA with Wilbur Ross, a multibillionaire who gained much of his wealth in the coal industry. Wilber Ross is famous for praising Trump as the “Environmentalist President,” and was also put in charge of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

READ MORE: Fletcher on Myths of our marine environment

However, if Tom can’t find a handy fact or present only a portion of the truth, he will often simply make things up (“Not a single hurricane hit North America last year,” “Coming off the coldest winter in recorded history for much of B.C.”). One recent doozy was that there have been “zero hurricanes since Katrina.” There have, of course, been literally hundreds of hurricanes just in the North Atlantic basin alone over those years.

Perhaps Tom isn’t actually lying, but just isn’t paying attention. He recently attacked the new Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel”, arguing that it was foolish to make a sequel because predictions from the original documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” haven’t happened. He specifically pointed out how Antarctic ice sheets aren’t breaking up which seemed like an odd thing to claim just weeks after piece the size of Prince Edward Island broke off the Larson Ice Sheet.

But instead of asking “Where does Tom get his data?” a better question might be “Why is a small city paper – which usually specializes in local issues only – constantly filling up space with climate change conspiracy rants by a someone who is so out of touch with the accepted facts and attitudes of society that he comes across like a 1960s Mississippi mayor desperately proclaiming that his wildly outdated beliefs are still true?”

Hondo Arendt

Prince Rupert, B.C.

Just Posted

Joie de vivre

Finding those “awe” moments with family, friends and food

Christians unite for one service in Rupert

Father Terry Brock is hoping to unite all of Prince Rupert’s Christians under one roof for one night

VIDEO: New whale rescue equipment comes to Rupert

Fisheries officers took to the water to practice saving stranded whales

Streeter: Do you think it’s important that the government holds discussions about poverty with the public?

Prince Rupert hosted the first public discussion on poverty by the province in 2018

Rupert recreation parking rent fees set to decrease in 2018

Proposed changes will make it easier for vendors and renters to use recreation facilities

This Week Episode 68

From inside the Northern View office in Prince Rupert we bring you all the news headlines

Carriers wanted for the Northern View

We have open routes for carriers all over Prince Rupert

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read