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NYT’s Revkin persists in selling spin from long-wrong deniers that the IPCC overestimates the danger from warming, when the reverse is true

By Joe Romm  

"NYT’s Revkin persists in selling spin from long-wrong deniers that the IPCC overestimates the danger from warming, when the reverse is true"

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Environmentalists assert that the reports by the panel are watered down by a requirement that sponsoring governments approve its summaries line by line.

Some experts fret that the organization, charged with assessing fast-evolving science, has failed to keep pace with an explosion of climate research.

At the same time, scientists who question the likelihood of a calamitous disruption of the Earth’s climate accuse the panel of cherry-picking studies and playing down levels of uncertainty about the severity of global warming.

“It just feels like the I.P.C.C. has gone from being a broker of science to a gatekeeper,” said John R. Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a former panel author.

Ah, journalistic “balance,” how scientifically — and morally — inappropriate you have become.  And quoting Long Wrong Christy?  Say it ain’t so.

The above excerpt comes from the front page of today’s NYT‘s “Science Times” section in a piece titled, “Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel,” by our old friend Andy Revkin.  Now one can objectively accuse the IPCC of many things, but overestimating or overselling the threat of global warming is just not one of them.  Quite the reverse.

The world’s emission path this decade quickly soared higher than their worst case-scenario (see U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm “¦ the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” “” 1000 ppm).

The IPCC has focused on a wide range of emissions scenarios without clearly explaining to the public the unmitigated catastrophe that faces us on the business as usual path:

As Dr. Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice for the Met Office’s Hadley Centre explains on their website (here):

Contrast that with a world where no action is taken to curb global warming. Then, temperatures are likely to rise by 5.5 °C and could rise as high as 7 °C above pre-industrial values by the end of the century.

Instead of such clarity, the IPCC provides this sort of gobbledygook to the public and policymakers in its 2007 Fourth Assessment:

Best estimates and likely ranges for global average surface air warming for six SRES emissions marker scenarios are given in this assessment and are shown in Table SPM.3. For example, the best estimate for the low scenario (B1) is 1.8°C (likely range is 1.1°C to 2.9°C), and the best estimate for the high scenario (A1FI) is 4.0°C (likely range is 2.4°C to 6.4°C).  Although these projections are broadly consistent with the span quoted in the TAR (1.4°C to 5.8°C), they are not directly comparable (see Figure SPM.5). The Fourth Assessment Report is more advanced as it provides best estimates and an assessed likelihood range for each of the marker scenarios. The new assessment of the likely ranges now relies on a larger number of climate models of increasing complexity and realism, as well as new information regarding the nature of feedbacks from the carbon cycle and constraints on climate response from observations.

Oh yeah, Andy, that’s “playing down levels of uncertainty about the severity of global warming.”

The IPCC’s blather makes it easy for journalists and deniers and anyone else who wants to downplay the results to focus on the low scenarios — without any indication whatsoever of the massive amount of clean energy the world would have to accelerate into the marketplace to get into B1.

In fact, we’re headed toward 800 to 1000 ppm on our current emissions path — which Revkin knows — and the IPCC has few if any analyses of what that would mean for humanity, probably because most scientists simply can’t believe humanity would be so stupid as to destroy the basis of its own civilization:  A livable climate.

Why does the IPPC lowball likely warming?  Despite its claim of including “new information regarding the nature of feedbacks from the carbon cycle,” virtually none of the IPCC models used in the 2007 report model most (if any) of the following positive, amplifying feedbacks:

Even Hadley’s model only includes only or two of those.

The IPCCs sea level rise estimate was so lowballed, so instantly out-of-date, that even the uber-lowballers of the Bush administration were forced to concede a mere one year later that the IPCC numbers were simply too out of date to be quoted anymore:

Far from cherry-picking the scariest studies, the IPCC’s policy of shutting down scientific input long before the writing begins and their consensus-based writing process means the reports are basically dead on arrival.  Here’s what we know about SLR now from the literature:

  • Science 2008:  “On the basis of calculations presented here, we suggest that an improved estimate of the range of SLR to 2100 including increased ice dynamics lies between 0.8 and 2.0 m.”  The IPCC famously ignored increased ice dynamics in its projection.
  • Nature Geoscience 2007 looked at the last interglacial period (the Eemian, about 120,000 years ago) “” the last time the planet was as warm as it soon will be again.  Seas rose 1.6 meters (5 feet) per century “when the global mean temperature was 2 °C higher than today,” a rather mild version of where we are headed in the second half of this century.
  • Science 2007 used empirical data from last century to project that sea levels could be up to 5 feet higher in 2100 and rising 6 inches a decade.
  • Nature 2009 used coral fossil records from the last interglacial warm period 121,000 years ago (when sea levels ultimately reached 15 to 20 feet higher than now).  It concluded “catastrophic increase of more than 5 centimetres per year over a 50-year stretch is possible.”  The lead author warned, “This could happen again.”

But the IPCC is too slow and unwieldy to even issue on updated report on any of these subjects.

I do agree with part of Revkin’s analysis — the part that warns the IPCC is becoming irrelevant.  As I noted in April (“Has the IPCC rendered itself irrelevant?“), you can go to their website and learn:

At its 28th Session (9-10 April 2008, Budapest), the Panel decided to carry out a 5th Assessment to be finalized in 2014.

2014?  How useless is that?

While glacial change may no longer be an apt term for what is actually happening to the world’s glaciers, it is an ironically apt term for what has happened to the IPCC.

Originally the IPCC’s assessments of the state of understanding of the science were going to be every 5 years, then that slid to every 6 years, and now we are apparently at 7 years between reports.

Pathetic for them.  Tragic for us.  Well, it would be tragic if the reports weren’t so lame, so easily spun by deniers.

And speaking of deniers, why is anyone still quoting John Christy these days?  Isn’t there any exception in the journalistic handbook for people who have been willfully wrong for so damn long.

Christy, of course, is one of the nation’s few remaining seriously credentialed deniers (or, more accurately, a delayer, inactivist, and denier-eq), who has arguably been wrong longer than any other serious denier-eq and thus deserves our inattention and scorn (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“). [A denier-eq is someone who pretends to accept the science as laid out by the IPCC, but who advances arguments and policy proposals that are no different from those who deny the science.]

Is there any objective source in the world who might inform our opinion of Christy?  Yes.

In the Vermont case on the state’s effort to embrace California’s tailpipe GHG emissions standards, the car companies brought in Christy as an expert witness to rebut NASA’s James Hansen (see here). In one footnote on the sea level rise issue, the judge noted, “it appears that the bulk of scientific opinion opposes Christy’s position.” By the way, for all you deniers/delayers/doubters/denier-eqs, let me quote further from the judge:

There is widespread acceptance of the basic premises that underlie Hansen’s testimony. Plaintiffs’ own expert, Dr. Christy, agrees with the IPCC’s assessment that in the light of new evidence and taking into account remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last fifty years is likely to have been due to the increase in GHG concentrations. Tr. vol. 14-A, 145:18-148:7 (Christy, May 4, 2007). Christy agrees that the increase in carbon dioxide is real and primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, which changes the radiated balance of the atmosphere and has an impact on the planet’s surface temperature toward a warming rate. Id. at 168:11-169:10.

Christy also agreed that climate is a nonlinear system, that is, that its responses to forcings may be disproportionate, and rapid changes would be more difficult for human beings and other species to adapt to than more gradual changes. Id. at 175:2-174:11. He further agreed with Hansen that the regulation’s effect on radiative forcing will be proportional to the amount of emissions reductions, and that any level of emissions reductions will have at least some effect on the radiative forcing of the climate.

Christy is (mostly) a delayer or denier-eq these days, now that his denier disanalysis has been dissed and the real science is well verified by real observation.

Indeed, Christy was wrong “” dead wrong “” for a very long time, which created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did. As RealClimate wrote last year:

We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming, and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing “” indeed encouraging “” the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide. But I find it hilarious that the deniers and delayers still quote Christy/Spencer/UAH analysis lovingly, but to this day dismiss the “hockey stick” and anything Michael Mann writes, when his analysis was in fact vindicated by the august National Academy of Sciences in 2006 (see New Scientist‘s “Climate myths: The ‘hockey stick’ graph has been proven wrong“).

The Vermont judge concluded:

Christy criticized the Hadley and Canadian models, suggesting that they were extreme and were downscaled unreliably. Tr. vol. 14-A, 121:13-122:4 (Christy, May 4, 2007). Although Christy testified that he had used climate models, however, he did not claim to be an expert on climate modeling. Id. at 78:20-79:3. In fact, his view of the reliability of climate models does not fall within the mainstream of climate scientists; his view is that models are, in general, “scientifically crude at best,” although they are used regularly by most climate scientists and he himself used the compiled results of a variety of climate models in preparing his report and testimony in this case.

Can’t the media be as objective as a judge?

UPDATE:  A commentor makes the point that Revkin pits environmentalists saying the IPCC is watered down vs. scientists who say it oversells the threat.  Ironically Revkin quotes a top scientist, Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, in his piece on a secondary issue — “psychological and sociological research on how people act in the face of uncertain but substantial threats” when Field has been one of the most outspoken scientists on how the threat is much more dire than the IPCC says (see “AAAS: Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted“).

“We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we’ve considered seriously in climate model simulations”….

The 2007 fourth assessment presented at a “very conservative range of climate outcomes” but the next report will “include futures with a lot more warming,” Field said.

“We now know that, without effective action, climate change is going to be larger and more difficult to deal with than we thought.”

UPDATE 2:  A reader emails me about the NYT headline, “Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel,” noting that in November 2007, the right-wing American Thinker wrote a piece beginning:

It has been less than a month but already the glow from Al Gore’s Nobel Peace prize is tarnished.

‹ ACCCE’s Joe Lucas Says Mountaintop Removal Solves ‘Lack Of Flat Space’ In Appalachia

South Korea, a ‘developing’ country, embraces 2020 emissions cap, with important implications for a global deal in Copenhagen ›

18 Responses to NYT’s Revkin persists in selling spin from long-wrong deniers that the IPCC overestimates the danger from warming, when the reverse is true

  1. MarkB says:

    I agree that key pieces of Revkins article is very poor, particularly with describing those who note the IPCC is a conservative estimate are merely “environmentalists” (not scientists). I wrote a comment on Revkin’s blog entry:

    I find much of your article to be poorly written. Example:

    “Environmentalists assert that the reports by the panel are watered down by a requirement that sponsoring governments approve its summaries line by line.

    Some experts fret that the organization, charged with assessing fast-evolving science, has failed to keep pace with an explosion of climate research.

    At the same time, scientists who question the likelihood of a calamitous disruption of the Earth’s climate accuse the panel of cherry-picking studies and playing down levels of uncertainty about the severity of global warming.”

    So you are claiming that “scientists” believe the IPCC downplays uncertainty while mainly “environmentalists” (implying no scientific background) believe the report is a conservative estimate. This is nonsense. Most scientists would acknowledge that the report is pretty conservative. Here is a discussion from Dr. Andrew Dessler, who references one of your pieces.

    http://www.grist.org/article/Why-you-should-believe-the-IPCC-part-134992653

    Then you quote Dr. Christy as someone who claims the report downplays uncertainties and cherry-picks studies. The nonsense of this assertion aside, it’s also notable that you cherry-picked the most skeptical IPCC author to make this claim, resulting very much in a “faux balance” presentation that gives the false impression there’s a roughly equal set of opinion on each side.

    [JR: You have motivated me to update my piece.]

  2. Gail says:

    Your list of positive amplifying feedbacks overlooked by the IPCC didn’t include ozone destroying vegetation. As the levels increase ever more irreversible damage will occur until crops fail to the extent that sudden famine is the result.

    From the mouths of babes (thank you Roger for finding this study):

    http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2006/megan.html

    This study was done several years ago; since then, ozone is being produced at ever increasing rate, and here on the Eastern Seaboard a tipping poing has been passed and we are losing all our trees and shrubs.

    If the production of ozone isn’t curbed we will not be able to raise annual crops either.

  3. Richard Brenne says:

    Excellent post as always, Joe.

    Heidi Cullen, Stu Ostro, Dan Sattefield and I joke about having all been slimed by ASSes recently and in Heidi and Stu’s case, frequently.

    When my op-ed in Portland’s Oregon ran on Sunday here:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/08/climate_change_teachable_momen.html

    It was vigorously countered by Gordon J. Fulks today here:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/08/heat_wave_yes_warming_no.html

    If you agree, as I do, that his 32,000 scientists (best debunked by Peter Sinclair’s “Climate Denial Crock of the Week – The Great Petition Fraud”) and other denier claims should not have been published in the Oregonian or even a weekly shopping rag, please let them know this.

    You can e-mail letters to Galen Barnett at galenbarnett@news.oregonian.com.

    Galen’s a nice guy who I felt errored in publishing Fulks’ column, which might set a per-word record for incorporating Joe’s ASS-list items.

    Thanks Joe and anyone else who cares to write.

  4. Gail says:

    sorry…typos…typing with one finger – baby on lap!

    letter to nyt, no doubt never to be published:

    Dear Editor,

    Below please find an open letter to the following scientists who are researching the effects of ozone on plants:

    Dr. Victoria Wittig, University of Illinois
    Dr. Elizabeth Ainsworth, USDA
    Dr. Shawna Naidu, University of Illinois
    Dr. Kevin Percy, Natural Resources Canada
    Dr. William Manning, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Dr. Thomas Sharkey, Michigan State University
    Dr. John Reilly, MIT
    Dr. Peter Cox, Exeter University

    Dear Scientists,

    Recently I have begun documenting on a blog (http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/) the deteriorating plight of trees in New Jersey. In my state as well as others I have visited along the Eastern Seaboard, the vegetation is in such rapid and universal decline that only a very significant agent, such as one related to climate change, can be broad enough to explain it.

    Until recently I could only speculate as to which exact mechanism could cause all species of trees and shrubs, of all ages, to show the extreme symptoms of drought and irreversible decline. I thought it most likely related to the fact that the average temperature has increased from pre-industrial levels, leading to unpredictable weather and faster evaporation of less regular precipitation.

    In just the past few days however, the following excerpt of a study by Dr. Cox, and subsequent reading other of your comments and published works, have convinced me that the main (though certainly not the only) driver in the vegetative damage that is now rampant must be due to exposure to ozone:

    “The chemical known as ozone may be making a much more significant contribution to global warming than scientists had previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
    ‘Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change,’ said study co-author Peter Cox.

    Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, but is produced in the lower atmosphere when sunlight strikes industrial pollutants such as carbon dioxide, methane andnitrogen oxides.

    Scientists have long known that ozone is a greenhouse gas, trapping radiation within the atmosphere and leading to rising global temperatures. But the new study suggests that ozone may have a much more significant climate impact by adversely affecting plants’ ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    According to the researchers, high concentrations of ozone and carbon dioxide damage plants’ ability to engage in photosynthesis. This weakens the plants, causing their stomata (pores in the leaves) to close. In turn, this reduces that amount of carbon dioxide or ozone that the plants are able to absorb.”

    (found at http://membrane.com/global_warming/notes/ozone_chokes.html)

    I am writing to you all because you have published research on this topic and it appears to me that to a certain degree, you are laboring in obscurity – at least as far as the media and the general public that it supposedly informs are concerned. Even for someone as alarmed as I am, it has taken me almost a year of writing dozens of letters to foresters and conservationists and environmentalists and climate scientists to finally discover the wealth of research in which you are engaged, about the effects of ozone. Most of the people I wrote to were kind enough to reply, including Dr. Jim Hansen – yet not one of them defined ozone as the likely culprit.

    I hope you will take this report of massive and widespread plant injuries with utmost seriousness, because I believe that once people understand that the trees in their own backyards and parks – and the food products on their grocery store shelves – are at risk of extinction, they will wake up and support government action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

    It is, alas, mainly you scientists who possess the truth, and who have the authority to speak out and save humanity from its own stupidity.

    Below is a link to an early post that summarizes my motivation in starting this blog. If you go to other entries, you can find pictures and more recent observations.

    Frankly, the decline unfolding from week to week is worse than my worst imaginings when I first noticed a year ago that something terrible is threatening our forests. And now, the picture is even more dire, as ozone clearly is dangerous for all plant life, including crops.

    We really are in an emergency and should behave accordingly.

    Here’s the link to the post I mentioned:

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2009/05/effects-of-climate-chaos.html

    Thanks for reading. I am very interested in sharing information and appreciate any responses.

    Gail Zawacki
    Oldwick, NJ

  5. paulm says:

    OK, ok, so Revkin is a C+ journalist.

    Luking at Newsweek….

    Climate-Change Calculus
    Why it’s even worse than we feared.
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/208164

    …The 2-degree promise is a mirage.

  6. Aaron Lewis says:

    Do not forget clathrates. There is a lot of methane as clathrates on the seabed, and in the Arctic, clathrates are found under fairly shallow waters. A stray warm ocean current could melt large pockets of clathrates rather rapidly, releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a fairly strong green house gas. Large scale melt of seabed clathrates would make the future more interesting.

    Last summer columns of bubbles of methane were noted in at least two different locations in the Arctic Ocean. That may have been a hint that clathrates are beginning to decompose.

  7. Peter Sergienko says:

    Richard Brenne,

    Just submitted this to the Oregonian:

    The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Price “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” The IPCC’s 2007 Summary for Policymakers states: “There is very high confidence that the net effect of human
    activities since 1750 has been one of warming,” and “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG (greenhouse gas) concentrations.” The IPCC’s reports are basically a literature review of hundreds of peer reviewed scientific articles and provide as much proof for the panel’s conclusions as any rational human being should want. However, if Professor Fulks or any of the 31,478 scientists mentioned in his piece (9,029 with PhD’s) has data and analysis that disproves the IPCC’s findings and conclusions then by all means submit the work to scientific journals for peer review and publication. However, if Professor Fulks has cherry picked data for an opinion piece and pretended it’s science, his views carry no more weight than the charlatans he decries.

    No expectation that this would get published but I had an edited version of a somewhat less confrontational letter accepted early in July. I try to send something in every time the Oregonian publishes some kind of climate change denial piece, which occurs with disturbing frequency. I also posted on your piece and Fulks’ piece in the other thread.

  8. Sandy Jones says:

    I strongly disagree with those saying that Revkin is a C+ journalist. Consistently over the years he has opened the world’s eyes to the length and breadth of the climate change problems in front of us. He has doggedly pursued the issues for years, and expanded our horizons at every chance. If someone asked me to name five people to face the music and tell us the truth, he’d be one of them. Many of these narcissistic comments should be edited…. Take Care, Sandy Jones (non-scientist)

    [JR: I won't grade him, but will note that future generations will grade the whole MSM on this issue an F. I focus on Revkin in part because he's NYT, the paper of record, in part for reasons discussed in this post and others. I would say that "If someone asked me to name five people to face the music and tell us the truth," not a single practicing MSM journalist would be on the list.]

  9. Gail says:

    Sandy Jones, my perception is that Andy Revkin enjoys for personal reasons being regent of his dot earth fiefdom, which has been aptly described as a climate change ghetto.

    Aside from dissembling and giving a ridiculous amount of equal time to nonsense about which there is no longer any real scientific debate, if Andy Revkin sincerely wanted to contribute to public awareness of the extreme danger posed to human civilization (not to mention the other species we share the earth with) by climate change, he would refuse to enable the topic to be marginalized and insist on at a minimum one major story every day ON THE FRONT PAGE of the NYT.

    Instead he preens in a self-congratulatory monopoly in a marginalized section of the paper where only the already climate change aware, or denier trolls, take the trouble to visit.

    I gave up reading dot earth years ago, it is way behind the curve of sites like climateprogress, realclimate, and even many less well known blogs to which links can be found at both of those sites, all of which encourage lively debate and input from readers as opposed to pure unadulterated self-aggrandizement.

  10. Slamming the MSM – most all mass media is built upon decades of huge advertising revenue derived from carbon fuel industries. It would be very difficult to attack this

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

    Or as the British put it in their recent report on the causes of the financial mess:

    “…the failure to foresee the timing, extent and severity of the crisis and to head it off, while it had many causes, was principally a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people, both in this country and internationally, to understand the risks to the system as a whole.”

  11. paulm says:

    All together now.

    The National Academies ….
    National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

    http://americasclimatechoices.org/

    In response to a request from Congress, the National Academies have launched America’s Climate Choices, a suite of studies designed to inform and guide responses to climate change across the nation. Experts representing various levels of government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and research and academic institutions have been selected to serve on four panels and an overarching committee.

  12. jorleh says:

    I have said this Revkin is one of the great threats for humankind. The guy is read thousand times more frequently than Joe´s blog and we know what that means. I would see the time the Revkin disaster is changed for Joe in NYT. Why not?

    [JR: Can't agree (nor do I want his job). The world would be better off if there were many more Revkins -- and the NYT, for all the flaws in its coverage, is to be commended for having such an extensive science and climate team, in a world where most media outlets are shedding such jobs.

    I focus on Revkin in large part because he works for the paper of record and has such a high level of output, print and blog. He has done much terrific reporting on climate both by himself and as part of the NYT's team. Yes, I have big problems with his take on many things and who he chooses to quote from his big Rolodex. Since he can get detailed interviews with any top scientists in the world, why quote the likes of Pielke or Christy, people who exist only to throws sand in the eyes of the very public he is supposed to be informing?

    But I have no doubt that readers of his articles are more informed and more concerned about global warming than the public as a whole.

    I will say in general that, as they say of political leaders, we get the media we deserve. When future generations lay blame for destroying their livable climate, the media will be on the list, for sure, but the real threats to human kind are those who are actively pushing disinformation -- a very long list -- not NYT science reporters (well, other than Tierney).]

  13. Anna Haynes says:

    Something is very wrong at the New York Times. I have some theories as to what it could be, but they’re pretty wild.

    I wish we could get the whole truth from the horse’s mouth.

    “If you can’t blurt out the truth, what business are you in?”

  14. SecularAnimist says:

    If you read or listen to or watch the corporate-owned mass media, you will read and hear and see corporate propaganda. To expect anything else is silly.

  15. Anna Haynes says:

    He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User

    Though it’s far beyond lame, considering what’s at stake.

    This one would probably have been edited by Erica Goode, unless she was out for some reason; could someone please email her (via the link on this page to find out, and report back? Her young relatives will want to know.

    Thanks PaulM for the Newsweek piece. Maybe we should send that to Ms. Goode as well.

  16. Ric Merritt says:

    Gail, #9: A long-time NYT subscriber, I agree with your opinion that their coverage of climate is inadequate. The editorials are earnest but quiet. I suggested long ago (maybe it was on Dot Earth) that they make them bolder and put them on the front page. And generally beef up climate coverage, something that has happened, but only belatedly and not enough.

    But please don’t insist that Andy R hold his breath and turn blue until editorial policy improves. You might as well require him to don a stretchy uniform and cape and fly around rescuing people from train wrecks. Terrific idea, but not an available option. I’m confident his influence on the whole institution is minor. If you want to take an uncompromising, moralistic stance, feel free to insist he resign (the sort of sacrifice few of us are saintly enough to make), but there’s no way he determines what goes on the front page every day.

  17. Gail says:

    Ric, I am under no illusions that Revkin dictates NYT policy, but I am still not convinced that he is sincerely trying to bring more coverage to the front page. He seems content to define his limited niche. And as a matter of fact, there are a number of heros who have risked comfortable positions, and more, to do what’s right – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famous_whistleblowers. I see no evidence that Revkin is among them, and given that he has unparalleled influence and opportunity, I remain unimpressed by his boring stories of how he traveled here there and everywhere to describe his first hand witnessing of climate carnage.

    I believe by virtue of his position, he has a responsibility to be more factual about the imminent dangers of climate change than he has been so far.

  18. Chris Winter says:

    In fairness to Andy Revkin, he played a big part in exposing the censorship of certain climate scientists at NASA in 2006-2007. See Mark Bowen’s book Censoring Science (NY: Dutton, 2008)