New York Times Science Desk ‘Doubts That Human-Induced Global Warming Represents A Serious Threat’

The New York Times is failing to properly report the threat of man-made climate change, in part because its science section is corrupted by skeptics of global warming’s reality. In a piece about climate communications, former Scientific American writer John Horgan relates that “a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity”:

Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.

This unfounded skepticism flies in the face of the warnings of essentially every major scientific body on the planet, based on the broad corpus of scientific research conducted by the past few generations of natural scientists.

The reported anti-climate bias of the Science Times’s editorial staff is reflected in its coverage, which has grossly ignored the reality of climate change and its implications in its weekly Tuesday section. Between June 1, 2008 and June 22, 2009, out of 1,563 stories by the Science Desk, only 80 stories had any reference to climate change — and 13 of those were about climate skeptics — a highly disproportionate number:

NYT Science Desk Ignores Climate Threat
New York Times Science Desk articles from 6/1/08 to 6/22/09. From LexisNexis search of “climate OR carbon OR greenhouse OR ‘global warming’.”

The editorial positioning of the stories was even more biased, as 28% of the Page 1 Science Times stories on climate were skeptical. The vast majority of climate science stories were buried, with two-thirds of the stories appearing either on Page 3 or Page 8. A quarter of the climate stories printed were merely excerpts from Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog. John Tierney’s contrarian columns questioning climate science, such as “The Aria of Prince Algorino,” are a regular feature in the Science Times. The New York Times even managed to completely ignore relevant climate change research in some stories, such as a 2008 piece about bark-beetle infestation of western forests.

In contrast, over 15% of stories on, which produces a stream of science stories on all topics based generally on press releases from scientific organizations, were about climate science.

Recent science editors at the New York Times include top editor Laura Chang, health editor Barbara Strauch, James Gorman, restaurant critic David Corcoran, and Cornelia Dean.

Research contributed by former ThinkProgress intern Ben Bergmann.


At Climate Progress, Joe Romm responds:

Anyway, I would say it’s been a open secret for a long time that the NYT’s science writers and science editors don’t get it. The mere fact that they keep anti-science writer John Tierney on staff tells you everything you need to know.

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