Why did I resume listening to NPR when I'm under doctor's orders to reduce my blood pressure?

Crop killer

Crop killer

Subconscious suicidal thoughts?  I'm not sure, because I tuned it out a decade ago and hadn't missed it, but ...

In any event, the network ran an item this morning on how global warming is raising the sea level in Egypt and flooding farmers' fields. For all I know, that might be the case. Or it might not. What I do know is that the problem of salt water invading Egyptian farmland has existed for decades, and before global warming became the cause of all evil, the invasion of saline water was attributed to the Aswan Dam, upriver. Indeed, even before the damn was completed scientists warned that it would trap the huge volume of silt that came down the river each year, silt that had been replenishing the Nile delta for thousands of years. Cut off that source of renewal, they said, and the sea would reclaim and ruin millions of acres of farmland. This issue has been repeatedly discussed in the decades since. Just as one example (and simply google "Aswan damn silt flooded delta" and you'll find hundreds more), here's a report written and presented by Egyptian scientists back in 2006: 

Modern shoreline changes along the Nile Delta coast as an impact of construction of the Aswan High Dam
Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts at Damanhour, Alexandria University, Egypt.
 The construction of the Aswan High Dam was started in storage Nile Water on 1964, and fully finished six years later. The construction of the Dam has changed the hydraulic regime of the river downstream. The erosion of the Nile Delta coast was first observed in 1898, but accelerated after the construction of the Dam. One of the major environmental problems of the Dam was the potential drop in river channel downstream of the Dam become silt-free water, and coastal erosion in the Nile Deltacoast. Before the construction of the Dam, silt used to be spread over land or carried to the delta coast. It is estimated that each year floods used to deposit 12 million tones of silt on land along the delta and Nile valley north of the High Aswan Dam . The reduction in soil fertility due to the loss of the nitrogenous component of the silt now has to be compensated for by the annual addition less than 13 thousand tones sediments (Frihy, 1988).
This paper has presented in: World Congress of Soil Science, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Jul9-15, 2006.

So global warming or not, a competent reporter interested in presenting a complete story would at least mention the silt-Aswan Dam issue, even at the expense of diluting her own theory of cause/effect. It wouldn't even have had to be an either-or matter, simply a presentation of a quality, full report, so that listeners could be fully informed.

I don't think the reporter's slant was deliberate — I would think that, if I thought she knew better —  but is more likely attributable to the abysmal ignorance of the current crop of scribes and their inability to even imagine that there can be multiple facets to the stories they're writing about. Alternatively, she set out to do a global warming story and that's exactly what she produced, in which case, my objection is that she and her editor at NPR pretended to be presenting a story about farmers' woes on the delta: that's not what was aired.

And speaking of complicated stories, the reporter made no mention of the salt-tolerant grains: wheat, rice, millet, that were developed several decades ago precisely in response to the Aswan Dam's cutting off that silt. Those plants were designed to enable Egyptian farmers to continue to grow the crops that were feeding the nation. Why weren't these new plants introduced? Because they'd been "genetically modified" and it's far better to ruin farmers and starve a nation than to offend the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

It's too much to hope that our media will ever produce "fair and balanced" reporting, and that's really not that important (it's never existed),  so long as an uncensored Internet lasts — five years or so, by my guess. But it would be a huge improvement over the current state of affairs if journalists actually understood the stories they were reporting on. That, of course, would require inquisitive minds and an ability and willingness to consider facts that are outside the narrow focus of their agenda-driven drivel. 

Fat chance.