Attention to Accuracy

by Daniel Ng | 11/13/02 6:00am

To the Editor:

I refer to the Nov. 8 column by Sam Stein, "Times are Bleak," which cites evidence of a horrific future for humanity. Unfortunately, Stein fails to get his facts right.

Stein claims a death toll of 250 people in the terrorist bombings at Kuta, Indonesia. To be more precise, not more than 200 people were killed at Bali. While that is still 200 too many, to inflate these figures by nearly 25 percent only makes the picture look worse than it really is.

Poverty levels are not rising as Stein claims. In fact, global poverty levels have fallen. Most of the improvement was in East Asia, specifically China where rapid economic growth has lifted millions from poverty. More could be done in Africa and the rest of Asia, but it does no justice to anyone to ignore the remarkable progress made so far.

Global warming is also not necessarily uncontainable. Recent studies by a Danish mathematician suggest the warnings of global warming have been overly exaggerated by enthusiastic environmentalists. Even if we do accept that global warming is taking place, the recent ratification of the Kyoto protocol by most sensible nations offers greater hope to all.

Finally, violence in the Middle East does not occur daily as Stein claims. While the suicide bombings and military incursions do happen at increasing frequency, they are hardly a daily affair. It is the way that these stories are repeated constantly on 24 hour news networks like CNN that creates this false impression.

Stein could do more to read past the headlines and check the accuracy of his facts. He does not help matters by portraying a world that is much darker than it really is. I happen to live in a country that the United Kingdom and Australian governments have declared to be unsafe for their citizens. Reporting from the ground, I must say that the sun still shines, the flowers are blooming and it was a lovely day at the beach yesterday.