Harvesting cranberries

Craig Kelly and harvesting cranberries

Claims

Craig Kelly claimed a newspaper article said climate change is “devastating” the cranberry harvest in the USA, and called it “more climate lies to scare and brainwash gullible children”.

Verdict

Mr Kelly has misrepresented the newspaper article, accusing it of things it didn’t say and ignoring a lot of what it did say. His post is copied from a totally unreliable source.


The claims in detail

The claims were made in a post on 21st November. The headline “IT’S THE END OF CRANBERRY SAUCE : MORE CLIMATE LIES TO SCARE & BRAINWASH GULLIBLE CHILDREN”.

The post referenced an article in the Washington Post titled How climate change is complicating a Thanksgiving staple.

Mr Kelly used emotive language such as “a nefarious strategy”, “bald-faced liars”, “dishonest tactic” and “aim is to frighten gullible and naive people”.

The substantial claims were:

  • the article said “climate change is devastating Massachusetts cranberry production and threatening to eliminate America’s Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.”
  • this is an example of the “dishonest tactic is to identify an upcoming holiday or something that people really love, and then claim that global warming is destroying it”.

Assessment

Source of information

Mr Kelly’s text is taken almost word for word from an article on the Climate realism website (No, Climate Change Is Not Eliminating Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce by James Taylor). Climate Realism is run by the Heartland Institute where James Taylor is a Director.

This is a clue straightaway. The Heartland Institute has been a source of misinformation on smoking and lung cancer, climate change and other matters for decades now, and cannot be trusted. It typically uses very questionable tactics and misleading information.

Misleading claims

James Taylor and Craig Kelly make accusations about the Washington Post article that are simply untrue.

  • They accuse the Post of saying climate change is “devastating” cranberry production. But it doesn’t use that word – it says it is “complicating” it, which is very different.
  • They accuse the Post of saying climate change is “threatening to eliminate America’s Thanksgiving cranberry sauce“. But the article doesn’t use the word “eliminating” at all, and doesn’t suggest any threat to Thanksgiving.

The thrust of the article is simply that cranberry farmers, like most other primary producers, have had to modernise and change to cope with many challenges, of which climate change is one.

This tactic of claiming something that wasn’t actually said, and then using that false claim to criticise, is dishonest. It is a fallacy known as “Straw Man”, and is a common tactic of those who oppose climate science.

How are the cranberry farmers doing?

The post and the Heartland article both point out that cranberry production has been increasing over the past 20 years. They say this shows that climate change isn’t a threat to the cranberry industry.

But this ignores what the Washington Post actually said:

  • Climate change is making farming harder, with “more extreme heat in summer, warmer winters with less ice, and wild fluctuations between heavy rain and drought”. These are measurable objective facts which Heartland and Mr Kelly chose to ignore.
  • The continued growth in the industry isn’t because climate change isn’t real, but because farmers are adapting: “Farmers are employing new technology and altering some traditional practices”.
  • New practices include: “recycling more water during harvest; using sensors for more efficient and targeted irrigation; replacing ice-dependent practices; installing solar panels at their farms; closely monitoring frost and pests with the help of scientists and planting higher-yield varieties of cranberries”.

Conclusion

Mr Kelly has relied on an unreliable and biased source to make unfounded allegations against a good piece of journalism, and against climate science. The article doesn’t say what he accuses it of saying.

Based on this misrepresentation, he has made accusations (without any evidence) that climate concerns are just lies to “frighten gullible and naive people” so they “develop a quasi-religious belief that they need to ‘saved’ (from bad weather).”

As far as I can see, the only truth in the Heartland article and Mr Kelly’s post is that cranberry production in Massachusetts is growing. All the comments on climate change and climate action are misleading and mistaken.

His apparent anger is directed at invented “facts”.


Photo: harvesting cranberries in Massachusetts, by jkb in Wikipedia.

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