Last week we talked about the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page twice, once about a gassy propaganda op-ed and again to wear their criticism of “climate censors” as a badge of honor.
But even as they keep putting out climate disinfo, there was a third piece we just have to go back and talk about, because it’s just such a sterling example of how the WSJ’s editorial board members will bend over backwards to deny conservative culpability for Trump and defend polluters.
In response to the announcement that billionaire Michael Bloomberg is funding a “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign to shut down polluting fossil fuel facilities like the Beyond Coal campaign did with coal-burning power plants, last week WSJ editorial board member/columnist Allysia Finley wrote a whole column about how that was bad because jobs are good.
While the overall thrust of the column is that any jobs are good jobs, and people not having jobs is what caused Trump to win in 2016, Finley attempts to push back on promotional materials for the announcement by writing that “Mr. Bloomberg’s press release says petrochemical plants have been linked to cancer, but this link is as weak as the one between greenhouse-gas emissions, rising temperatures and hurricanes. A meta-analysis last year of studies on cancer incidence and mortality in communities with petrochemical plants didn’t find a consistent positive association.”
But clicking on the link, and reading the study, while she’d certainly say her very carefully constructed citation is accurate, it certainly doesn’t sound like it didn’t find any connections. From the discussion section: “We found significant elevated risks of childhood leukemia for residents living near petroleum facilities.”
From the conclusion section: “In conclusion, living close to petroleum facilities was associated with increased risk of childhood leukemia, while petroleum industry work was associated with an increased risk of mesothelioma, skin melanoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the prostate, urinary bladder, and a decreased risk of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreas.”
There are lots of caveats and stuff in the study, so don’t get confused, it’s complicated!
And a link to cancer isn’t the same as a link to mortality, nor is it a “consistent positive association.” But that kind of language, clearly very specifically constructed to be narrowly true while giving a false impression, is the same exact way that Big Tobacco used to describe the studies connecting smoking with cancer.
But Cancer Alley is real, and if you plug the search into Google Scholar and you’ll find that plenty of other studies come to similar conclusions: “Proximity to an oil refinery was associated with an increased risk of multiple cancer types. We also observed statistically significantly increased risk of regional and distant/metastatic disease according to proximity to an oil refinery.”
Just like the link between carbon pollution, temps and hurricanes, the link between fossil fuels and cancer is also real, even by the study she cites!
But like how climate change isn’t necessarily CAUSING hurricanes, it’s a connection that can be easily strawmanned, as Finley does. And conveniently, done in a way that excuses the WSJ’s conservative co-conspirators of their responsibility for Trump, and shift that ethical burden on to those committed to fighting it, instead of those cheering it on and enabling it.