Blame China for the U.S. heat wave?

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Let me make something very clear at the beginning of this post: I am in no way making fun of the dangerous weather conditions that have gripped the western part of the United States and Western Canada over the past few days. 

U.S. cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, are baking under 100 (or higher) degree temperatures, a phenomenon that can be deadly in any part of the country and one that is unheard of in the Pacific Northwest. In some places, temperatures are running 25-30 degrees above normal. 

However, the other day I read something that made me absolutely cringe: Bloomberg suggested China was partially to blame for the brutal heat in the U.S. It began its report with this: 

“Heavy rain in China, an expanse of warm water stretching across the North Pacific, and kinks in the jet stream are combining to drive an unusual heat wave that will set records in the Pacific Northwest.”

Bloomberg conveniently masked its bias by quoting a meteorologist who said the weather phenomenon did begin with the pounding rains that had hit parts of China a few days earlier. However, that technicality misses the point: Bloomberg had another opportunity to suggest China is a bad place, and it took advantage of it. And that becomes clearer when you read the headline to the story: “Head Dome Smashing Northwest Records Began With China Rain.”

Let’s think about this in a different way: If “Japan Rain” had been responsible for what was taking place in the U.S., would Bloomberg have reported it that way? Highly unlikely. “South Korean Rain?” Nope. “Filipino Rain?” Ditto. “China Rain” is a direct attack on China, and it furthers anti-China sentiment especially in the United States but, in fact, around the world.

The most recent former president of the United States scored plenty of political points at home with his “China Virus” rhetoric at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Leading members of his administration quickly adopted the term, ensuring that the mainstream media (not to mention the social media universe) discussed it. News organizations aligned with that former president amplified “China Virus” in their opinion sections and talk programs, which served to equate the virus with China in the minds of more and more people. Those of us who refused to accept the “China Virus” nonsense nevertheless had to criticize it almost every day because a lot of people considered it as fact.

And that is why Bloomberg’s “China Rain” phrase is both unnecessary and unethical: It can easily reaffirm in people’s minds that China is where something wrong always starts and the U.S. soon pays the price for it. “China Virus” and “China Rain” run a bit too close together, and the person(s) responsible for that clickbait headline should have done better. 

Bloomberg also chose to plant a seed of doubt about climate change in its report, and it doing so it again demonstrated a bias: 

The warmth is building under a so-called heat dome that may have been exacerbated by climate change.”

Wrong. Climate change is real, and any unusual weather phenomenon must be viewed as a direct result of it. The Washington Post made that point quite clear in its report about the recent weather:

“Unfolding against the backdrop of human-caused climate change, which has raised average temperatures in the Northwest by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, the extraordinary heat wave set more than a dozen all-time records over the weekend.”

Keep in mind that a longtime Bloomberg reporter sued about a year ago after he was dumped by the company. In the lawsuit, Michael Carr claimed his dismissal “was based on him ‘whistle-blowing’ over the news agency’s ‘biased’ coverage of climate change and the Paris Agreement.” 

“China Rain” story is a reminder of Bloomberg’s questionable reporting of the country, despite the suggestions by many media watchers that it is always eager to keep Beijing happy. In 2019, Bloomberg suggested China was pushing a cancer treatment “dangerously close to its limits.” (Would Chinese doctors have been better off slowing down the treatments, which might have led to countless deaths? Imagine that headline!) In 2020, Bloomberg argued China “blew a chance at global leadership” by refusing to openly discuss the initial stages of the pandemic; instead, according to Bloomberg, “the country lumbered and blundered gracelessly.” (How would it describe the words and actions of the aforementioned former U.S. president during the same period?)

Thankfully, the temperatures throughout the Pacific Northwest will moderate and return to something much closer to normal in a few days. And if that reduction in temperatures can be traced to a weather pattern in China, do you think Bloomberg will write something like this: “Northwest Returns to Normal Thanks to Benign Conditions in China”?

Exactly. No one should count on that. 

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