Andrew Mitrovica is rather fond of challenges. Unless, it seems, the challenges were directed at him. He's challenged Rex Murphy to respond to allegations of conflict of interest that have been largely unimpressive -- save to those who stand to gain rhetorical advantage from them -- yet he himself has largely failed to respond to the challenges I've issued to him in these pages.
Last week I challenged Mitrovica to address the far-more-obvious conflict of interest of David Suzuki. I later noted that Mitrovica's focus in on Murphy risked treating the alleged conflict as unique to Murphy. To a small degree, Mitrovica has responded to this challenge -- by setting his sights on Peter Mansbridge as well.
It turns out that Peter Mansbridge has spoken to at least one conference of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. His speech, as all his speeches were (as per relevant CBC protocol) were approved by CBC administration. But apparently Mitrovica thinks that Mansbridge should disclose this speech -- in which Mansbridge insists he never offered his opinion, but merely a synopsis of the unique place the oilsands currently occupy in news coverage -- on air. Perhaps before any segment on The National dealing with the oilsands? Even if he himself is not the principal contributor? (Which he wouldn't be, as he's a news anchor, not a reporter.)
If you were to conclude that Mitrovica has jumped the shark you'd be far from alone.
But as it turns out there's a method to the Mitrovica madness, so to speak. The two individuals whom he has targeted -- Norman Spector has speculated that the targeting of these two is, in fact, political -- both spoke to what Mitrovica has been calling "oil-friendly groups." It turns out, this is rather important.
As it turns out, Mitrovica quite zealously believes in the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Just how much? Well, this much:
"I believe that anyone aspiring to public office should be asked to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific data that climate change is real and man-made. If they don’t, then in my view they’re not intellectually fit to serve and should be disqualified from representing most Canadians who have the good sense to recognize this.
Before the often hysterical climate change skeptics start damning me as Joe McCarthy, my proposed test will certainly never be enacted. But it should be."
Andrew Mitrovica believes in the theory of anthropogenic climate change so much that he thinks he's fit to decide who is or is not fit to hold office based on their opinion on the matter. More than that, Mitrovica actually deems himself fit to deny anyone else who may not share his beliefs from political representation that shares their views. In effect, Mitrovica has deemed himself fit to disenfranchise such people.
This quote is from a 2012 column Mitrovica wrote about the Alberta provincial election of that year. Mitrovica has decided that Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith should be considered disqualified to be Premier of Alberta because of her skepticism about anthropogenic climate change.
One of Mitrovica's principal complaints has been that the CBC has required Bruce Anderson to disclose that his daughter works as on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's political staff before he participated in a political panel. It turns out that Mitrovica's very sensitive to familial conflicts of interest for a reason: he himself has one.
As it turns out, Mitrovica credits his zealotry to his brother, Dr Jerry X Mitrovica, who is himself an accomplished climate scientist:
"...When my brother assures me, my children and the rest of world that the vast preponderance of scientific evidence supports the finding that climate change is real and a man-made phenomenon, I believe him. I believe him not because he is my brother, but because I know first-hand how hard he and his colleagues around the globe have worked to reach that evidence-backed conclusion."
Apparently Andrew Mitrovica has taken the things his brother has told him so deeply to heart that he hasn't actually bothered to understand them. Climate change has been a natural and ongoing process on the planet Earth for as long as there has been a planet Earth, regardless of whether or not there has been human activity to cause it. That North America and Europe are habitable at all is testament to that fact.
The argument of the scientists who believe in anthropogenic climate change is not and has never been that climate change is man-made, but rather that it is exacerbated by human activity. And there very much is a debate around the scale of climate change, the impact of human activity, and the alleged imminent disastrousness of it.
Yet Mitrovica insists that "There is no 'debate' about climate change and to deny it would undermine Alberta’s international reputation." He was paraphrasing the other Alberta party leaders, during the televised debate.
Yet even if Mr Mitrovica doesn't know better than this, Dr Mitrovica certainly does.
As I mentioned in previous columns on this subject, I've been in touch with Andrew Mitrovica. One thing that Mitrovica has avoided, as if he's making a point of it, is the logic that he and Canadaland host Jesse Brown agreed upon in his appearance on that podcast. Simply put, that receiving a paycheque for expressing an opinion on a particular subject, especially over numerous times, may prevent someone from changing their views when new evidence surfaces.
Well, I've asked Mitrovica about David Suzuki's refusal to acknowledge the most recent evidence regarding anthropogenic climate change, and catastrophic anthropogenic global warming in particular. To be more specific, Suzuki has failed to recognize the IPCC data that indicates that global warming has slowed to a crawl since the 1990s -- almost to the point of being statistically insignificant. The projections that climate alarmists have used to forecast a climate armageddon have proved to be less than 5% accurate. He has little to say about it. And by "little" I mean "nothing." And Mitrovica has nothing to say about that.
David Suzuki isn't the only one whose forecasts have been spurned by the data. Dr Jerry X Mitrovica has actually fared not much better. In 2009 Dr Mitrovica forecasted that sea level rising from a melting Antarctic ice sheet (due to warming, you see) would be even more catastrophic for coastal cities than previously forecasted.
It stands to reason that Mr Mitrovica might find himself feeling sympathetic to David Suzuki's plight, especially seeing that his brother shares it. He might even have found himself resenting anyone in the media who has dared to write about how the claims of such climate scientists have found themselves not confirmed by, but in fact contradicted by, the evidence.
It seems far from unthinkable that Andrew Mitrovica, noted and known climate zealot, might find himself disturbed if such a journalist were also supportive of the oilsands, and express his support of the project both on the air as a journalist, and on his own time as a private citizen.
We can see that Mitrovica is playing favourites in terms of whom he demands disclosure from and who he doesn't. We've already noted his bias. That he has allowed his personal bias to so thoroughly cover his reporting could be said to be at the very least an ethically sensitive issue. Yet Mitrovica has made no effort to address this, nor has he disclosed his familial conflict of interest.
It doesn't seem at all unfair to expect Andrew Mitrovica to meet the same ethical obligation he demands of others. To date he hasn't. The best time for him to finally do so is now.