You may think my headline is interpretive: that I’m paraphrasing what I perceive to be the subtext of an article in DR.
Unfortunately, however, my headline is actually just a loose translation of DR’s own:
The temperature in Southern Europe is breaking records – and it’s your fault
Silas Bay Nielsen, DR.dk, May 23
(“Temperaturen i Sydeuropa slår rekord – og det er dig, der får skylden“)
Remember: when there are brutal cold snaps or heavy snows, or early frosts or mild hurricane seasons, that’s just weather. It’s only climate when it gets really hot, especially in places with no prior history of warmth—places like Spain, long celebrated for its cool and temperate weather.
I don’t want to get bogged down in climate science here, mainly because there’s no longer any such thing. I don’t want to get tangled up in climate religion, either.
What I’d like to explore is DR’s approach here: to blame their own readers for a heatwave on the blasted plains of Spain.
“I would always say that it’s climate change at play in these unusual events. I know very well that scientists will probably express some reservations that it could occur naturally. But this is so unusual and so violent that it is climate change,” says Jesper Theilgaard.
Jesper Theilgaard is a meteorologist. He knows phenomena like the heatwaves hitting southern Europe and south central Asia could occur naturally, he knows that “scientists” would feel obliged to point that out… but damned if he’s not gonna play the climate change card anyway.
DR next turns to Eigil Kaas, “who is a professor at the University of Copenhagen and, among other things, a researcher in climate extremes. He’s also the scientific director of the National Center for Climate Research at DMI.”
“All of us who work with climate say that we should not draw conclusions from individual events. But most people’s perception is that it is due to man-made climate change, and that is also my scientific assessment.”
Eigil Kaas is a scientist who knows we shouldn’t draw concusions from individual events. But fuck it, man: he’ll go ahead and do it anyway—scientifically!
I myself know it’s unfair to judge people based on a few snippets in a newspaper article—so I won’t.
The article offers a little more climate doom porn before concluding:
Jesper Theilgaard also believes that we need to get used to more violent weather in the future.
“This is what we must expect until we get to the day when we stabilize the climate with the help of the green transition,” according to Jesper Theilgaard.
Theilgaard and Kaas are both willing to acknowledge (in so many words) that it’s scientifically unsound to draw climatological conclusions from individual episodes of weather—then they both go ahead and do it anyway, because… mumble mumble whatever.
What neither of those sciency masters of of science are willing to do, however—at least on the record—is to add: and it’s your fault.
Even the article’s author never says that. Read the article: there’s not the faintest insinuation that the heat wave in Spain is the fault of us Danes and our wastrel ways.
And yet the editor or editors at DR were obviously comfortable just throwing that into the headline.
Because they’re not journalists, they’re activists.
I know that, but I mean: why lash out at their readers like that? How many headlines have you seen in your entire life that blame their readers for anything negative?
“Russia invades Ukraine—thanks to you.”
“Monkeypox is spreading, and you’ve got no one but yourself to blame.”
“Inflation continues to soar because of people like you.”
“Every mink in Denmark was put to death last week and it’s all your fault.”
To be fully transparent here, a literal translation of DR’s headline would go like this: “The temperature in southern Europe is breaking records—and it’s you that gets the blame.”
That’s a very awkward phrasing. Most Danish sentences are awkward when you translate them into English literally, because sentences are structured differently, but what makes this especially awkward is the passivity of the final phrase: you get the blame.
We “get” the blame? How? Who aimed the blame gun at the people of Denmark?
Not Theilgaard. Not Kaas. Not even the article’s author, Silas Bay Nielsen.
No, it’s the DR editor or editors blaming their readers.
And please note: they could have easily said that we get the blame. As in: this on all of us, it’s our collective fault. We are sinners, all of us, we have sinned and the wages of sin is heat waves in Spain.
They could have but they didn’t. That’s a significant editorial choice. They don’t include themselves in the guilt they’re dishing out. Only you.
DR News is garbage journalism—and that’s on them.