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SMH = Smoke Manufactured Here

smh doctored smoke alarm 1We all know that global warming inflicts the darndest effects on our dying planet. Just at the moment, for example, all that CO2-generated extra heat has frozen New York’s Hudson River and made it colder in some North American locales than it has ever been before. Closer to home we can see more evidence of warming’s impact, most particularly its damage to the newsrooms at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, where the inmates seem to believe their remaining readers are even dimmer than themselves. Given that those papers daily feature the insights of Peter Hartcher and Mark Kenny, still pounding the Abbott Death Watch beat, that is very dim indeed.

The latest proof is the illustration — reproduced above — that accompanied “environment editor” Peter Hannam’s appropriately breathless report that the Liddell Power Station is poised to kill people right and left. All that filthy smoke, you see. According to the unquestioned dictation Hannam took from the spokesperson for an organisation representing green medicos and calling itself the Climate and Health Alliance, many residents of the Hunter Valley “will end up end up with cancers in years to come.” The luckier ones, presumably, will be drowned quickly and quietly by rising sea levels.

There’s a problem, though. The Liddell complex doesn’t actually emit much in the way of smoke — not enough, certainly, to inject the right amount of shock and horror into an appropriately unsettling newspaper illustration.

Not to worry! That’s where a polarising lens and PhotoShop can come in handy. As No Tricks Zone reports, while the Fairfax papers may no longer have a shred of credibility, they still possess a very shmick suite of photo-doctoring software. Too little smoke for a good beat-up? Why, just chuck a bit in here and there! The readers will never be any wiser and, anyway, what’s the harm of an artificially soot-blacked white lie or two when Gaia is on her death bed?

Smart liars know that their deceptions should owe some debt to reality, as that little grain of truth always makes a fib more convincing. At the SMH, however, even that wisdom has gone out the window (along with sub-editors, a healthy stock price, readers who prefer not to dress in op-shop fashions and editors who read their own pages before sending them to press).

Hence, all that filthy smoke rising from water-cooling towers, which in the real world emit only white wisps of perfectly harmless steam, as in the un-adorned illustration below.

liddell undoctoredAs for the power plant’s two chimneys, which do emit smoke, well the SMH‘s goosed photo seems to have lost one of them altogether.

No Tricks Zone’s expose of the photo can be read in full via the link below. The readers’ thread has some very interesting observations on longevity in the Hunter Valley. It seems, despite the smoke, they are a very healthy lot and growing more so with every passing year.

– roger franklin

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