Globe and Mail Columnists are not environmentally friendly

Globe and Mail columnists seem as receptive to environmental concerns as Republicans (Arnold Schwarzenegger excluded). A few weeks back, Margaret Wente wrote a feature about how her week-long use of the TTC had reaffirmed her love for her SUV, which she holds dear not only because her vehicle gets her around town, but because it functions as a four-wheeled purse. Last Saturday, Rex Murphy explored his suspicions surrounding the rhetoric of Sir Nicholas Stern’s report, which predicted that unchecked climate change could carry a $7 trillion price tag for the world’s economy. Murphy found similarities between Stern shocking figure and Joey Smallwood’s penchant for wowing his listeners with big numbers: “This new road (school, industry) is going to cost NOT 10 million dollars, NOT 20 million dollars, but FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!” The Globe columnist sees Stern’s figure as simply a rhetorical flourish.

Now, I have no problem with cutting through rhetoric that is used to cloud or mask poor arguments, but I don’t understand why Murphy is singling out Stern. The knighted economist isn’t your run-of-the-mill dirty hippy beseeching you to give Momma Earth some TLC. Stern has been to Cambridge, Oxford and the London School of Economics. His report is based on many estimates, but that’s what economists do, isn’t it? Why is it that an economist’s estimates are seen a rhetoric when he’s dealing with the environment? What’s up Mr. Murphy? What’s with your hate on for the environment? What, you find it too hard to sort your waste into biodegradables, recyclables and garbage?

OK, those questions weren’t just rhetorical. They had some ad hominem mixed with hasty generalization.

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