N.Y. Times and Elisabeth Rosenthal Face Credibility Siege over Unbalanced Climate Coverage

One oft-quoted communications expert calls this attack on the IPCC, “the worst, one sided reporting I have ever seen.”

[Please Digg this post by clicking here.]

UPDATE:  Climate scientist Ken Caldeira has just sent me an email titled, “I can’t believe the New York Times has done it again …” that I’ll reprint in its entirety at the end.

You can contact the NY Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, at

NYT Feb20

The NYT has published arguably its worst climate story ever, “U.N. Climate Panel and Chief Face Credibility Siege,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal.

Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, whom the NYT itself quoted last year as “an expert on environmental communications,” emailed me that the piece is “the worst, one sided reporting I have ever seen.”  When I called him up, he went further saying:

In this article, the New York Times has become an echo-chamber for the climate disinformation movement.

You might think it impossible for any newspaper — let alone the one-time “paper of record” — to run a story raising “accusations of scientific sloppiness” about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that never quotes a single climate scientist.

You might think it inconceivable that the NYT would base its attack on the accusations and half-truths provided by “climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists” where

Rosenthal doesn’t actually quote a single mainstream scientist attacking the IPCC.

I’m going to go through this piece in a little detail because the NYT put it on the front page and because some folks thought I shouldn’t have put the NYT third on my list of nominees for the 2009 “Citizen Kane” award for non-excellence in climate journalism.

Since I don’t want to bury the lede as Rosenthal does, let me start with start with her ninth paragraph:

The panel, in reviewing complaints about possible errors in its report, has so far found that one was justified and another was “baseless.” The general consensus among mainstream scientists is that the errors are in any case minor and do not undermine the report’s conclusions.

But why let the fact the story is essentially trivial from a scientific perspective stop it from being a front-page rehash of mostly innuendo and unproven charges?

Rosenthal immediately continues:

Still, the escalating controversy has led even many of them to conclude that the Nobel-winning panel needs improved scientific standards as well as a policy about what kinds of other work its officers may pursue.

“When I look at Dr. Pachauri’s case I see obvious and egregious problems,” said Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist and professor of environmental science at the University of Colorado….

Now when you read “many of them” — many “mainstream scientists,” that is — in a serious piece of journalism on climate science, you would expect the reporter to then quote at least, say, two, three or maybe four scientists, and not, say, zero, zilch, nada.

Rosenthal leaves the distinct impression that the one person she is quoting, Pielke, somehow represents a mainstream view, when in fact he is a long-time critic of the IPCC who has spent a great deal of time drowning the reputation of top scientists “” including the coauthors of the recent NOAA-led climate impacts report and all three thousand attendees of an Al Gore talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science “” with no justification whatsoever (click here).

Computer scientist Tim Lambert (aka Deltoid) has a whole category just for Pielke, which I commend to any journalist who still takes the man as a serious representative of science or even climate analysis.  And here’s a RealClimate piece.

UPDATE:  A reader points me to this 2009 ScienceBlogs post, “Pielke Jr: How low can he go?” from “A Few Things Ill Considered”:

His [Pielke’s] latest effort at sabotaging productive discourse on climate science and policy is a really low blow, putting to rest any lingering hopes one might have had that he still had some integrity stashed away in there somewhere. Now I know these are strong words, but I have to confess this really gets my blood pressure up, it is just the slimiest of tactics.

Now what’s interesting about Rosenthal’s piece is that she feels obliged to tell her readers where every other source is coming from — other than Pielke, that is:

Critics, writing in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph and elsewhere, have accused Dr. Pachauri of profiting from his work as an adviser to businesses, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm “” a claim he denies….

The accusations of errors in the panel’s report “” most originating from two right-leaning British papers, The Sunday Telegraph and The Times of London “” have sullied the group’s reputation.

Okay, at least we’re told the Telegraph is a right-wing paper — though she should have mentioned just how unreliable they are (see DelingpoleGate: Monbiot slams anti-science columnist for leading “Telegraph into vicious climate over email”).

Of course, the NYT also basically eviscerates these charges:

Several of the recent accusations have proved to be half-truths: While Dr. Pachauri does act as a paid consultant and adviser to many companies, he makes no money from these activities, he said. The payments go to the Energy and Resources Institute, the prestigious nonprofit research center based in Delhi that he founded in 1982 and still leads, where the money finances charitable projects like Lighting a Billion Lives, which provides solar lanterns in rural India….

In response to the recent criticisms, Dr. Pachauri provided an accounting of some of his outside consulting fees paid to the Energy and Resources Institute. Those include about $140,000 from Deutsche Bank, $25,000 from Credit Suisse, $80,000 from Toyota and $48,750 from Yale. He has recently begun work as a strategic adviser for Pegasus, the investment firm, but has not yet attended a meeting, and no money has yet been paid to the Energy and Resources Institute. He has also provided advice free of charge to groups like the Chicago Climate Exchange.

And at least Rosenthal tells you some of what you need to know about TVMOB:

Christopher Monckton, a leading climate skeptic, called the panel corrupt, adding: “The chair is an Indian railroad engineer with very substantial direct and indirect financial vested interests in the matters covered in the climate panel’s report. What on earth is he doing there?”

A former adviser to Margaret Thatcher who also assailed Dr. Pachauri in a critique in Copenhagen that has since been widely circulated, Lord Monckton is now the chief policy adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, a Washington-based research and education institute that states on its Web site: “Proved: There is no climate crisis.”

Monckton pushes such extremist hate speech — see Lord Monckton repeats and expands on his charge that those cli who embrace climate science are “Hitler youth” and fascists — that he deserves widespread condemnation, not quotation in a serious newspaper.  Indeed, I can’t see why any person in the world needs to answer a single charge from TVMOB, let alone on the pages of the New York Times.  BUT at least the NYT let us know where he is coming from.

Rosenthal offers no such disclosure for Pielke.  Quite the reverse.  She pretends that somehow he is a representative of mainstream climate scientists.  Worse, she actually seems to go out of her way to shield her readers from a very crucial disclosure:

The panel was also criticized for citing a study about financial losses after extreme weather events that found an increase in such losses of 2 percent a year from 1970 to 2005. That study had not been peer reviewed at the time, although it was later on.

The panel has called the complaint “baseless,” noting that the study was cited appropriately and that other scientific data pointed to a recent rise in severe storms.

Now why doesn’t Rosenthal point out that this criticism was primarily leveled by Pielke himself?  Perhaps because, if she did, she’d have to point out that Pielke has been making this and similarly baseless criticisms of the IPCC for years now.  She’d have to explain that Pielke has been baselessly trashing the reputation of any scientist who even suggests that there is the tiniest link whatsoever between climate change and extreme weather (see here) “” even though he himself has stated such a link exists (see Pielke in Nature: “Clearly, since 1970 climate change “¦ has shaped the disaster loss record”) and even though he has praised a study that made such a link.  Indeed, she might have to report that he has baselesssly attacked the integrity of many hundreds of the country’s top scientists for merely sitting through a discussion of the issue that doesn’t meet his extreme form of political correctness (see here).

In short, if she correctly identified Pielke as a long-time IPCC critic, someone who has repeatedly attacked climate experts, she couldn’t use him as some sort of mainstream scientist who has suddenly seen the light about the IPCC and Pachauri.

She ends her piece:

But even some academics who accept that climate change is a problem are concerned about such activities.

“This is not about whether this is a good person or a good cause; it’s about the integrity of the scientific process,” Dr. Pielke said, adding: “This has become so polarized, it’s like you must be in cahoots with the bad guys if you are at all negative about Pachauri.”

First off, while Pielke says he accepts that climate change is a problem, and asserts that he supports a target of 450 to 500 ppm, he steadfastly refuses to identify a viable strategy for achieving that difficult target and attacks anyone who does propose a possible plan (see “Finally, Roger Pielke admits he supports policies that will take us to 5-7°C warming or more“).

Second, if you think Pielke is interested in preserving the integrity of the scientific process, I’d again suggest reading Deltoid’s multiple posts demonstrating otherwise.

Third, I can’t imagine why Rosenthal printed Pielke’s nonsensical reverse McCarthyism — his suggestion that anyone who criticizes him for being negative about Pachauri is lumping him in with “the bad guys.”  Ironically, it is Rosenthal who has put Pielke “in cahoots with” the big-time disinformers like Monckton and Barrasso, since from the perspective of this piece, it’s hard to distinguish their views.

I don’t think Pielke’s distinction between good guys and bad guys is useful — though it’d be interesting to hear from him the names of “the bad guys” he doesn’t want to be lumped in with.  I think the distinction is between those who try to present information based on science and those who present disinformation.

The bottom line:  The NYT has published a broad brush smear of climate scientists in this piece from a variety of biased and questionable sources — while demonstrating that the charges are half-truths and/or trivial from the overall perspective of climate science.  And it is unconscionable that the piece doesn’t actually quote a single climate scientist, while offering up Roger Pielke, Jr. as representative of how mainstream scientists view the IPCC and Pachauri.

I’ll end by repeating the comments sent me by Robert Brulle, professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University:

The worst, one sided reporting I have ever seen. In this article, the New York Times has become an echo-chamber for the climate disinformation movement.

Brulle ended our conversations by pointing out that the piece is just above an ad by ExxonMobil, the top funder of the climate disinformation movement, noting “The visual irony is just too much to bear.”

You can contact the NY Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, at

UPDATE:  Climate scientist Ken Caldeira has just sent me an email titled, “I can’t believe the New York Times has done it again …” that reads in its entirety:


Does Roger Pielke Jr really believe that Pachauri is exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center?

If Pielke is going to make insinuations in the New York Times about the ethics of Dr Pachauri, he owes it to us to make his beliefs clear. He should state clearly which of the following two statements he believes:

(a) Dr Rajendra Pachauri is exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center.

(b) Dr Rajendra Pachauri is not exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center.

For a man with a $49,000 salary, donating all of his consulting fees to nonprofit organizations would ordinarily be seen as a sign of professional integrity and dedication. It is outrageous that Pielke attempts to turn this around and use it to insinuate an ethical lapse. It makes one wonder about Pielke’s motives.

PS. You can quote this if you would like….

Note:  I will be updating this post continuously as scientist as others shocked by the NYT piece send me quotes and material.

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81 Responses to N.Y. Times and Elisabeth Rosenthal Face Credibility Siege over Unbalanced Climate Coverage

  1. Doug Bostrom says:

    Thank you.

    I read this last night, could only shake my head. This reporter also appeared to take the lead on Copenhagen reporting, disturbing in light of this piece. It beggars belief hard to imagine she could be quite so clueless about this topic as to have used Viscount “Jumped Up” Monckton as a primary source for commentary, which leads me to seriously wonder about her impartiality. Incompetent, or biased? Hard to say.

    I’ll not be reading anything by Rosenthal again. Life is too short for me to spend time fact checking everything I read.

  2. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for the details above, Joe. This article barely makes sense for a newspaper in Tulsa. I wrote a letter to the Times editor telling them that they just permanently lost a big portion of their enlightened readership, who will head to independent online sources.

    A retraction is in order, followed by a major rewrite. Otherwise, good luck with Exxon and Peabody shoring up their business plan. If they withdraw their ads, the Times may collapse. For all of their great history, it will be deserved.

  3. Leif says:

    It was mere months ago that Elisabeth Rosenthal did a great and balanced report on Bolivia and glacier melt problems. Obviously “Pro Liberal,” perhaps it is her attempt to be “Fair and Balanced”.

  4. Lars Karlsson says:

    You can add to Monckton’s resume that he has claimed that NASA crashed a satellite because they didn’t want to have real data.

  5. mark says:

    Thankyou very much. Please continue.

    Perhaps The New York Times will issue an apology along the lines of the one it gave for it’s coverage of the illegal invasion of Iraq.

    Perhaps they will realize what a disservice they are doing with this effort.

  6. Eric Roston says:

    Joe —

    This is an extremely minor point about the article, mildly entertaining, and perhaps telling. The article refers to “the Energy and Resources Institute.” In the rest of the anglo speaking world, the “the” gets a capital “T” here, which is included in the organization’s acronym, TERI. Most likely, the Times’ style dictates that the “the” is lowercase, in the same way that they would mention “the” Washington Post or “the” Times of India. (NYT style is to capitalize the “the” before “New York Times.”) So there are two concerns, one minor, one more concerning. The minor one, kind of amusing in fact, is the implication that Times’ style trumps what organizations actually call themselves out in the world. The question is, did Rosenthal or the editor know that it’s called TERI? The acronym doesn’t appear in the article. Did they not mention it in the article because it’s an aberration of Times’ style? This is all stupid nit-picking on my part, of course. Given the recent loss of talent at the NY Times, it just raises an eyebrow. Maybe it was the copy desk’s decision. Does the Times still have a copy desk? Devil’s in the details.


  7. Prokaryote says:

    “The one climate skeptic quoted is the The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley”

    This is so wrong …….

    Strange that the NYT and Spiegel(even when they are not interviewing Monckton), are both not very accurate when it comes to the journalism of climate science.
    I suggest they read more desmoblog and such.

  8. Doug Bostrom says:

    Lars Karlsson says: February 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    “You can add to Monckton’s resume that he has claimed that NASA crashed a satellite because they didn’t want to have real data.”

    But wait, there’s more!

    His interests stretch beyond climate change. He makes the extraordinary claim, one that he admits sounds ”bonkers”, that he has also manufactured a cure to a long-term illness that attacked his endocrine system and patented the cure in conjunction with a British surgeon.

    Though stressing it was in its early stages, he said the drug had had positive results treating HIV and multiple sclerosis. ”It also has been used to cure cases of colds, flu,” he said.

    Quite the polymath and bonkers too, by his own account. Oddly, I cannot find this patent.

    New York Times=Weekly World News

  9. ken levenson says:

    Great post. Depressing these are the battle lines.

  10. Jezrah Limon says:

    IPCC AR4 is going down the toilet. It is loaded with non science claims. Too bad Romm isn’t bright enough to know the truth.

    THE NYT is slowing learning.

    [JR: Ahh, the condescending right-wingers….]

  11. Leif says:

    Ken, #9: Yes, and from my point of view, we are all in this together. I guess perhaps it is the insidious success of the GOP “Divide and Conquer” strategy. Humanity goes down fighting weather sustainability is affordable or not or who gets to pay the bill, who gets the interest on all the money to be made,…

    I don’t know how much more of this @#$% I can take folks, but I can still laugh from time to time so I guess a bit longer.

  12. Doug Bostrom says:

    Speaking of newspaper disasters, the Guardian is inviting “experts” to help them with their book on “Climate Wars”. It’s hard to exactly tell from their description*, but superficially it seems “experts” include any comer who can post the fastest and loudest to the chapter comments.

    * In a unique experiment**, the Guardian is publishing the full manuscript of its major investigation into the climate science emails stolen from the University of East Anglia. In a collaborative effort to get close to a definitive account, we are inviting experts with knowledge of the events to add their comments and criticisms

    Read the full manuscript of the Guardian’s major investigation into the climate science emails and add your own annotations to create the definitive account of the controversy

    ** Cop out?

  13. Doug Bostrom says:

    A man with a $49,000 salary donating all of his consulting fees to nonprofit organizations would ordinarily be seen as a sign of professional integrity and dedication. It is outrageous that Pielke attempts to turn this around and use it to insinuate an ethical lapse. It makes one wonder about Pielke’s motives.

    Swift Boating is the term. What would they do to Jesus?

  14. paulina says:

    Somewhat OT, but re NYT. It’s about Broder’s first sentence in his piece on 3 of 4 allegations against Mann having no basis whatsoever. In that first sentence, re the fourth allegation, Broder appears to be saying that PSU said that they were going to do some kind of public opinion research to determine if Mann undermined public faith…

    Needless to say, that’s not what they’re going to do.

    Having found no factual basis for the first three allegations (which were, roughly, (1) falsifying data, (2) destroying information, and (3) misusing information–ie Mann didn’t do any of that), re the fourth, PSU will appoint a faculty committee to determine the acceptable faculty conduct in Mann’s area of research and determine if his conduct differed in any serious way from this. Faculty opinion research, perhaps.

    (Yes, the words “public trust” are featured in the PSU findings; but the document is not a children’s activity book filled with amusing “word searches.” Broder is still entirely wrong about what the remaining task is.)

    It would also be a pretty large task to try to see to what extent any *detected* damage to public trust was actually *caused* by Mann, given the negative media treatment to which he’s been subjected. So, again, that’s not the task.

    The NYT has a crush on the idea that scientists are damaging public trust. The NYT sees this idea’s face in a crowd, on the subway, everywhere. The NYT should take a deep breath, get new glasses, and do some serious introspection.

    There’s also some kind of extreme false choice mentality, as if, if the reporter believes some scientist has acted in some inadvisable way, to any extent, then all bets are off, as if lynchings in the media, premature claims re public trust in the media, massive errors and anti-science ruminations in the media, bizarre fantasies entertained in the media, and more, can, in that case, safely be ignored when *attributing* any *detected* change in public opinion.

    If the media really wanted to know if the scientists’ actions as detailed in the CRU emails and files have damaged public trust, they should first issue frontpage apologies, do repeated, repeated, and repeated coverage of all the media misrepresentation of the emails and files, implement routines to ensure this kind of media fail doesn’t happen again, apologize again, etc.

    THEN we could do some detection studies. If, at that point, there’s a negative change in perception compared to before the end of last year, then at least the signal from media fail should have been balanced out, and we could start taking more seriously the relation between the scientists’ actions and public perception.

    But I guess a crush is more fun than a serious relationship.

  15. I only just saw this abomination.

    Elisabeth Rosenthal is following in Revkin’s footsteps, but I doubt she will be able to get away with it and escape to academia.

    We have seen this all before.

    Revkin continues this disgusting type of thing in his blog, giving the first word to Inhofe in a recent post.

    The New York Times is a mere minion of Exxon-Mobil, and Rosenthal and Revkin are its lackeys.

  16. Lou Grinzo says:

    I guess we now know which major media outlets are vying to be the biggest arms merchants profiting from the war of words over climate change.

    Based on a CP story the other day and this one, it looks like CBS and the NY Times are in the lead.

    (Note that I don’t put FOX News in this category because they’re so far over the edge that they’re no longer a media outlet. “Broadcast freak show” is likely closer to the truth for them, even if the motivation is the same as it is for CBS and the Time.)

  17. Wit's End says:

    *laughs mournfully* I seem to remember a comment on this blog recently, musing hopefully that perhaps Elizabeth Rosenthal would take up the void following Revkin’s resignation, and do a better job reporting science than his fatuous attempts at “balance”…dream on, I guess!

  18. Barry says:

    Another great post Joe. Thanks.

    It doesn’t surprise me that corporate-funded media has to force decent reporters into tabloid journalism to sell ads. Rosenthal has done some good reporting in the past, just like Revkin. Now they are increasingly forced to hype “controversy” instead of reporting science.

    What does surprise me is that so many smart and talented people are so willing to go on record aiding and abetting the stalling of climate action. Surely they realize the web is an archived, instantly search-able record.

    If the climate science is right, then there will be real anger emerging along with the climate chaos. At that societal anger will likely be directed at those that held back action.

    A piece like this might look “acceptable” in the current context to some people, but imagine re-reading it in a world six degrees warmer with unstoppable environmental collapses.

    The Internet isn’t going to allow the delayers, deniers and anti-science folks to just quietly slip back into anonymous society if things go bad.

    Unlike Nixon, those of us participating in the global climate-action debate on the web don’t have an “erase” button.

    I guess all these folks delaying action in one form or the other are either totally convinced the climate science is wrong…or they are making a huge personal gamble that people in the midst of a rapidly degrading climate that we unleashed on them will be much more forgiving than people today are.

    Reckless? Or feeling very lucky?

  19. Jeff Huggins says:

    The New York Times, Past Actions, Andy Revkin, Curtis Brainard, etc.

    For general info, and “for the record”, I’ve corresponded many times about the problems with The Times’s coverage over the past two years.

    I do not think that the Times’s owners and senior editors “get it”, and they are ignoring all sorts of indications and reasoning, to the point of basic and immense irresponsibility.

    A couple months back, I collected many of my comments, and then some, and pulled them together into an ordered document, which I sent to Andy Revkin, Curtis Brainard, and (mainly for his info) Joe. I do hope that Andy and Curtis have had the chance to read it, or will do so.

    Anyone who respects climate science and who has followed The New York Times’s coverage and approach over the last several years can see — easily — that there is an immense problem. Indeed, because the paper each day becomes a matter of historic record — it can’t cover its own tracks — any future analysis can show, with painful and embarrassing accuracy, how irresponsible the coverage has been.

    It boggles the mind, really. In my mind, if you know that your work will leave its own record, daily, you make sure that the work is entirely responsible, both in terms of accuracy and care for the vital importance of the issue, and the stakes. Of course, you should do so anyhow. But, when the work becomes public record, on an issue of major importance, you (ought to) know that you won’t be able to get away with irresponsibility, lack of clarity, confusions, a misinformed sense of “balance”, putting important matters on page 12, not reporting other important matters, and on and on. All things considered, and given the stakes, the published track record is dismal and, in some cases, I would say downright unethical.

    In any case, I’ve made my points, and I’ve sent comments to Andy and to Curtis. For the record.

    (I have not read the present article in The New York Times, as I recently stopped buying the paper, on most days.)

    Be Well,


  20. dhogaza says:

    “What would they do to Jesus?”

    Accuse him of pushing an addictive drug on the helpless masses – after all, he did turn water into wine.


    “Having found no factual basis for the first three allegations (which were, roughly, (1) falsifying data, (2) destroying information, and (3) misusing information–ie Mann didn’t do any of that), re the fourth, PSU will appoint a faculty committee to determine the acceptable faculty conduct in Mann’s area of research and determine if his conduct differed in any serious way from this. Faculty opinion research, perhaps.”

    Actually, they found no factual basis for the fourth allegation, either. But since they’re not scientists, they decided to appoint a committee of science professors from the university to follow up.

  21. paulm says:

    What can explain the treatment of the ‘respectable’ MSM on this topic of Global Warming. It is just depressingly self-destructive.

    Humanity has become an empire which has reached its pinnacle and ignores the dangers that bring down all empires.

  22. Chris Winter says:

    Joe Romm wrote: “I’m going to go through this piece in a little detail because the NYT put it on the front page and because some folks thought I shouldn’t have put the NYT third on my list of nominees for the 2009 “Citizen Kane” award for non-excellence in climate journalism.”

    It seems the New York Times doesn’t feel they should have been in third place either. They’re bucking for first!

  23. Aaron Lewis says:

    Consider the overall level of NYT science and technology reporting over the last dozen years. Did the NYT get the science of WMD in Iraq correct?

    When did the NYT discuss the heath risks from smoking? Look, and you will see the NYT clearly reporting the issue in 1957 and 1967; but, there is less coverage of the health risks of smoking in the last dozen years.

    Again, I see less reporting on hazardous and toxic waste in the last few years. Certainly, we have delt with many of the problems but we are putting enough new and untested materials into the environment that the issue still generates news.

    The number of articles in the NYT on each of these topics has certainly grown, but they are mostly about the politics or comercial activities rather than science. This is reflective of America. I do not blame the NYT. They are following their readers.

    Where at one time the NYT was a leader and a teacher, now it is a follower.

  24. Sun Spot says:

    Can anyone at this blog tell me what the man made CO2 climate forcing factor is and the Natural CO2 climate forcing factor is ? I have never seen these numbers anywhere and was wondwering if these numbers are even known to science !!

  25. Chris Winter says:

    Doug Bostrom wrote: “But wait, there’s more!”

    Indeed there is. TVMOB, in addition to “disproving” global warming, claims he has (with the help of a surgeon, he admits) developed a drug that cures colds and flu, and shows promise against HIV and multiple sclerosis. Those are four very different diseases. How remarkable for a single drug to be effective against all four. Is there any accomplishment TVMOB cannot claim? Look for him next to apply his “genius” to the vexing problem of nuclear fusion power.

  26. Bill W says:

    Could somebody who has a paper copy please tell us whether ExxonMobil has a full page ad in the NYT today? Or did they spend all the money on Rosenthal directly?

  27. PSU Grad says:

    The only ExxonMobil ad I can find is the one mentioned in this blog, at the bottom of the front page.

  28. Leif says:

    PSU Grad: I suppose that is far enough away to remove any doubt of tit for tat.

  29. paulina says:


    I didn’t mean for my text to suggest that they *had* found factual basis, but I see that my words could easily be read that way. Thanks for pointing this out.

    For clarity, what they said re the fourth one was, of course, that they:

    “…could not make a definitive finding whether there exists any evidence to substantiate that Dr. Mann did engage in…”

    Basically, I take them to be saying they can’t evaluate what they found, so, as you point out, a faculty committee needs to do that evaluation.

    Anyway, the more important point, I think, abt the Broder piece, is that (1) media have smeared Mann like there’s no tomorrow, (2) they owe him massive apologies, at the very least, and (3) the error on Broder’s part re what the faculty committee is supposed to do is a kind of Freudian slip, an embarrassing repeating of an anti-climate-scientist talking point that just happens to be a New York Times obsession.

  30. gluelicker says:


    On the one hand… this reporting is indeed deplorable. As one poster already indicated, it probably has a lot to do with an advertising revenue-desperate NY Times seeking out a tabloid-style“controversy” and murdering the prevailing state of climatological knowledge in the process.

    On the other hand… serious investigative journalism on the topic of how powerful corporate interests stand to benefit from a global cap-and-trade/carbon offsets/CDM regime is sorely needed. To circle the wagons around characters like Pachauri — he may or may not be guilty of a conflict of interest; I simply haven’t done the research — will only bolster the ability of the coal/gas/oil front organizations to stir up pseudo-populist AGW denialism.

    [JR: You’ll note I didn’t defend Pachauri.]

  31. Doug Bostrom says:

    Sun Spot says: February 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Try this for a reasonable start on sensitivity:

    However you’ll need a minimum amount of background information for decent understanding and productive discussion of the topic of climate change. You can find it here:

    Weart’s history is excellent. Even if you reject the conclusions, you can find all sorts of fodder for quibbling with in Weart. Good luck with find a coherent and robust alternative explanation to human-induced forcing, though.

  32. David Britt says:

    I just wrote a letter to Hoyt. I urge all other readers to do the same. Thank you for keeping this kind of analysis coming. I came to the blog to read about the science, but the mix between that and the messaging/political posts is what has made it a daily read for me.

  33. Sun Spot says:

    Thanks Doug Bostrom, your links provided the usual open to interpretation numbers on CO2 climate forceing (man made and natural).
    I certianly will need luck becuase logic has yet to provide me these answers with any clarity !! How on earth is any climate engineering going to happen with fuzzy climate science like I’m encountering, more likely humanity will change something that we don’t understand and end up royaly screwing up somthing unforseen !

  34. I agree with all the comments, and it would be interesting to see who the major shareholders are.

  35. Doug Bostrom says:

    David Britt says: February 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I did so, very brief, focusing on Monckton’s claim to have found an HIV/common cold therapy, the remarkable fact Rosenthal was unaware of Monckton’s poor credibility yet relied on him for authoritative commentary, how poorly that reflects on the Times.

  36. Lord Monckton has advertised in the NY Times, demanding that Al Gore debate him, and there is an Exxon ad on the today’s front page right under this article. This leads me to think that we should write the following article based on the NY Times article:

    Skeptics Find Fault With N.Y. Times Corruption

    Just over two years ago, the New York Times was respected for its objectivity and considered the newspaper of record. But it is now under intense scrutiny, facing charges of sloppy reporting and potential financial conflicts of interest.

    Critics have accused the New York Times of running an article about climate change that quotes Lord Monckton as an authority, though he has no credibility among scientists, because it receives advertising revenue from Exxon and from Lord Monckton himself.

    A panel reviewing these charges against the New York Times found they were baseless half-truths.

    Still, the escalating controversy has led many of them to conclude that the newspaper needs improved scientific standards as well as a policy about what kinds of advertising it may pursue.

  37. PeterW says:

    Joe, you give the Times way too much credit. This sort of trash should be expected. You seem to forget their traitorous work leading up to the invasion of Iraq. This organization has been tainted for some time like most mainstream media outlets. The Press sold their souls to multinational corporations like Exxon years ago.

    [JR: Well, I do give them some credit. My father was a newspaper editor for a long time, so I am aware that there is typically far less pressure on most reporters of a kind that you and others seems to think. There is pressure now — but it is to go tabloid, to be sensationalistic, to play up the he-said-she-said. And don’t get me wrong, as you can see from the “Related Posts” that I am disgusted the paper is running front-page ExxonMobil ads. But I don’t think that influences their coverage.]

  38. Dano says:

    Look – this sort of thing will increase as the vote gets closer for ACES. The corporations are jockeying for position. Expect more just like this as the ACES vote nears. No one should be surprised at this tactic at all. Come now. The response should not be head-shaking but pointing out the corporate game and the lack of facts. Period.

    And stop feeding trolls on this site (CO2 factor). They seek to spam the discussion.



  39. Wit's End says:

    36, 37 and others, heh, okay, I can’t resist: I was stalking Exxon over the weekend!

  40. PurpleOzone says:

    I share Caldeira’s concern about the article, which I just read. The tone is disturbing, the selection of people to quote is weird, and the facts are missing. Giving credence to an attack on a respected man

    Journalists no longer report a story — instead they follow the adage of ‘controversy’ in every paragraph. Why they quote, with apparent credence, unknowledgeable publicity-hounds like Lord Monckton is beyond me. If he were Mr. Walter, instead of a hereditary peer, would he get so much attention?

    Why doesn’t the New York Times report on the massive disinformation campaign against anthropogenic global warming now under way? The deniers have turned from reiterating simple yarns (the sun does it, the earth is cooling) to coordinated, destructive attacks on the personal reputations of good scientists.

    Yes, the one section of the IPCC predicting too earlier a demise of the Himalayan glaciers was sloppy, and hardly minor to the people living below. But this story has been going since early November when a report by the Indian government came out; why does one mistake — and every scientist makes mistakes, so do doctors, garage mechanics, lawyers, hairdressers and everybody else — get so much play if not to discredit that global warming is happening? How many of these stories included recent research finding that Himalayan melting is happening faster than other glaciers? has information that is produced by climate scientists and is available to the press. Why didn’t Rosenthal mention them instead of a denier sites like SEPP?

  41. Robert Nagle says:

    Let me offer a different perspective here.

    I agree overall with Joe Romm’s indictment, but the article did a fair job of reporting what the scandal was and was not. Perhaps one or two details were off (quoting Pielke as a scientist and quoting Monckton for ANYTHING), but after reading it, I thought, well now at least I know the full scoop on the charges about Pachauri. This article aired the charge and reported more detail. (Actually I have to wonder whether the reporter was assigned to write an article about the alleged improprieties because there’s nothing significant to report on).

    The real problem with this article is significance. Why would anyone regard these conflicts of interest as significant? And out of all the potential stories to write about climate change, how could anyone think this is really more important?

    Sometimes when a long article like this appears in MSM, people assume that there’s a problem. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this article will be linked to by denialists who don’t bother to read enough of the article but are impressed that it appeared in the NYT. This happened last year with the NYT article about Al gore’s alleged conflicts of interests.

    I think NYT needs more “fact check” articles about climate change. I’m becoming very comfortable with this format (adopted by and other media groups). Heck, why don’t they hire Peter Sinclair to do a regular column?

    I don’t see the problem as being with the reporter but with who is setting editorial agenda. Since when has ad hominem attacks like this become more newsworthy than the science itself?

  42. tom mikulka says:

    Joe, While disinformation is nothing new to the NYTimes, the Nation is known for it’s top notch journalism. However, one of their editorial writers, Alexander Cockburn, continues to claim that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax. Not one respected scientist has responded. You need to counter this attack by challenging the Nation to allow a rebuttal.

  43. GFW says:

    Sun Spot, this blog is more about communication and policy than it is about the underlying science. You can probably answer all your questions by searching through

    [JR: Well, I have a higher fraction of posts about communication, media, and policy than the very fine site skeptical science. But I also have a lot more posts on science than they do.]

    But the short answer is that yes, the forcings can be measured rather accurately, and much can be calculated from known laws of physics. For example, we can directly measure the absorption bands of various gasses in laboratories, and we can also compare satellite measurements of the solar spectrum to ground-based measurements of the same (so the difference is the combined absorption spectra of all the gasses in the atmosphere). That’s just a tiny taste of the scientific research that supports AGW theory, and you can learn more from the site I linked above. If you want to start at the beginning, there’s Spencer Weart’s “The discovery of global warming”

    As for some actual numbers, it’s a relatively straightforward calculation that an airless planet the same distance from the Sun as us would have an average surface temperature about 33C cooler than it does. (See the wikipedia article on “greenhouse effect) A rather flip answer to how much is natural is that (right now) about 32 is natural and 1 is man-made. But don’t let that make you think that the man-made is somehow unimportant. For the last 100,000 year (actually a bit more) the Earth has cycled through glacial periods that can be as much as 6-8C cooler and interglacials that are about current temp (sometimes 2C more). So, if AGW adds even 2C more, we’re completely out of the climate in which our species developed. More to the point, we know that in the interglacial before the current one, it did get 2C warmer than this one, and that sea levels were about 7 meters higher as a consequence. You can read about that in more detail at the first link I gave.

    I hope that helped.

  44. GFW says:

    Heh, Doug Bostrom types faster than me. That we chose links to the same sites in our answers to Sun Spot is somewhat funny, but certainly makes sense. (And Joe, please whitelist me so I can post more than one link without sitting in moderation – although you are pretty good about moderating quickly.)

  45. Matt says:

    I think what is most surprising about the article is that The Times editors either didn’t know or didn’t care that all of the critics cited were terribly tainted. Why didn’t Monckton get a least a sentence identifying him?

  46. Arthur Smith says:

    I too was shocked by this article when I saw it. Several times a day I check an RSS feed of the main NY Times news articles, but now I’m wondering if that’s such a good idea if they let drivel like this through.

    With such blatant Exxon-Mobil linkage, writing to the public editor seems pointless. The real question to me is, what medium is stepping forward to replace the Times, as it devolves into tabloidish irrelevancy?

    I mean, seriously, Monckton? That’s worse than calling on Britney Spears for her opinions of presidential politics! Worse than getting Joe Romm’s views on football for a superbowl article!

    I notice that the link to my list of 125 errors in Monckton’s climate sensitivity article has been removed from his wikipedia page. Any suggestions for a place to post it so wikipedia can consider it a reliable source again?

  47. Glenn says:

    Read it this am in the dead-tree edition. The worst part was that the front page was only attacks … you had to turn over to the jump to get even to the acknowledgments by Rosenthal that most thought the criticisms to be baseless. If you only skimmed the front page, as many people do, you’d be left with an even more skewed impression.

    And lest you say that Rosenthal doesn’t decide how the story is printed, that might be true, but it was her choice (presumably) to frame this as a “critics say” piece and load it upfront with such dreck, rather than the more accurate framing, which would of course be, “crackpot denialists and corporations seize on fabricated or overblown accusations to undercut climate urgency.”

  48. The Wonderer says:

    I have to admit that I was very dispirited yesterday after reading that article. I take it as a bellwether for the current discourse on global warming.

    Regarding the comment above on FactCheck and their ilk: I think while most of the time they get little details correct, they often lack perspective and miss the bigger picture. Misstatements and lies are not created equal, not even close.

  49. bruced says:

    Regarding TERI and Monckton, the potty peer recently in Australia claimed ” I think the United Nations Climate Panel is now a busted flush. For instance, Rajendra Pachauri, its chairman, Sir John Houghton, its former chairman, and a number of other people associated with it, are now under formal criminal investigation in the United Kingdom for filing false accounts of a charity known as TERI Europe of which they are all trustees.” on — Radio 2GB, The Alan Jones Show, 25th January, 2010

    Sir John Houghton has fired back:
    “I am not and have never been a Trustee of Teri Europe…
    I have never received any money at all from Teri Europe…
    I am writing to Lord Monckton demanding an apology and a public retraction of the libelous statements about me that he has broadcast.”

    — Email from Sir John Houghton to Media Watch, 5th February, 2010″
    More details at including statements from TERI themselves.
    Monckton is total charlatan to whom we can safely say “if his lips are moving , he’s lying”.

  50. Doug Bostrom says:

    Sun Spot says: February 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    “How on earth is any climate engineering going to happen with fuzzy climate science like I’m encountering, more likely humanity will change something that we don’t understand and end up royaly screwing up somthing unforseen !”

    Well, I’m not yet a fan of geoengineering of even the planned variety, but the previous century of nearly complete ignorance did not stop us from engineering the climate, the style of work where you drop a 36″ pipe wrench into the final reduction gear of a battleship, step back and wait to see if the machinery works better.

    Our understanding of the material at hand is better now, but our circumspection and humility seem to remain wanting.

  51. John Bruno says:

    Dear Joe, Thanks for another great article. This is happening so much we can barely keep up with it. Even the liberal MSM seems to be flogging the denialist lies more since Copenhagen. And it is happening internationally. Here in Australia, where I am on sabbatical at The University of Queensland, The Australian just ran a George-Will-style fabrication attacking PM Kevin Rudd and claiming ocean warming wasn’t a threat to coral reefs after all. There were no sources quoted, no new science, nothing. Just the opinion of denialist “journalist” Jamie Walker. But the really surprising thing is that, like the NYT piece, The Australian ran Jamie’s article on page 1. His article was clearly an editorial as the Rosenthal piece largely was. A year ago I bet these pieces would at least have been on the opinion pages. Anyway, we blogged about the many flaws in his piece here: and the ABC program Media Watch ran a great expose on the lies he and the paper are peddling as news and fact which you can watch here:



    John F. Bruno, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Department of Marine Science
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-330

  52. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Revkin has a new post that left my head spinning. He blogs about the critique of a 2005 IPCC DRAFT executive summary:

    If I got it right, the scientist who authored the critique was quite satisfied with the resulting rewrite, but non-scientist Revkin isn’t in 2010 — because although Revkin seems to accept that warming is happening he isn’t willing to accept GHGs as the “unequivocal” cause. Seems like Revkin is now questioning the basic findings of the IPCC reports.

    What was the point of writing this story? And the NYT is planning to charge us for on-line access to this stuff soon? I think I’ll pass.

  53. Tim says:

    The NYT just keeps sinking deeper in lies and muck. And why aren’t they challenging the credibility of climate disinformers? If an enterprising blog like desmogblog can do it (see, one would think that the “Gray Lady” could, too. But their Exxon-Mobil masters won’t let them. Poor things.

  54. WAG says:

    There’s a great tidbit in the Revkin post Bill Waterhouse pointed out:

    I have yet to see anyone provide definitive evidence — with no error bars — that the fingerprint of human-generated greenhouse gases (or other emissions or actions) is unequivocal. The only thing described as “unequivocal” in the report was the warming, not the cause, unless I really haven’t been paying attention for the last two decades.

    I had to write a response to that bit, because I think the whole question of “certainty vs. uncertainty” is a bit of a fool’s errand. There’s no such thing as certainty in science – at least to the degree that a scientific study could ever hope to show “no error bars.” That’s especially true with a science like climatology, where you’re interested in predicting the future. Predicting future is always inherently uncertain, but with climate science, there’s the kicker that by the time there’s hindsight as to the accuracy of those predictions, it will be too late to stop climate change.

    By definition, if one’s condition for acting on greenhouse gases is 100% certainty in the science, then we can never act in time to make an impact.

  55. Jeff Huggins says:

    Dear Bill (Comment 52), Regarding Andy’s Latest Piece

    I agree with you, Bill. I was over there, briefly, and I saw the title, and I read the piece, and it left my head spinning as well. That’s putting it mildly. What was the point, and what is he (Andy) actually trying to say? I mean, really? Either purposefully, or based on an amazing degree of misunderstanding, or simply via an overly ambiguous use of wording, is he diminishing or entirely forgetting about the fact that GHGs do indeed absorb radiated energy within certain wavelength ranges, resulting in a conversion of that energy to heat, and that such heat doesn’t just “disappear into thin air”, magically, without influencing temperature? Has Andy forgotten about such things as heat balances and the basic greenhouse gas aspects of CO2?

    I don’t get it. His “meticulous” yet ambiguous focus on such minutiae, resulting in what?, is especially bizarre given the plain-as-day fact that The New York Times would (apparently) prefer to do just about anything that examine, expose, and correct the blatant illogic and confusions that ExxonMobil convey frequently right on the Times’ front page. If you compare the energy that Andy is apparently putting into stuff like this most recent post, with the energy that The Times is NOT putting into the ExxonMobil blathering, it boggles the mind.

    At this point, I must ask: Can journalism awards be retracted?



  56. Jeff Huggins says:

    Correction: The wording in my just-previous comment should read “prefer to do just about anything other than examine, expose, …”. Sorry for the typo.

  57. Doug Bostrom says:

    bruced says: February 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    “I am writing to Lord Monckton demanding an apology and a public retraction of the libelous statements about me that he has broadcast.”

    — Email from Sir John Houghton to Media Watch, 5th February, 2010″

    Oh, my. Lord GaGa must produce a retraction or he may well find himself in the dock. Both men have feet planted in the U.K. and Lord GaGa has plenty of real property there.

  58. Passerby says:

    (email cc)

    Dear Mr. Hoyt:
    “The idea of Global Warming began as a practical joke spread by a psychic virus one can hear in Rice Krispies.” There’s the lead for your next IPCC article. What the heck. Let’s see how long The New York Times can get away with this stuff before the Silly Sketch Police step in.

    Passing off lies as the truth constitutes balance. You are being silly, aren’t you? Like whistling gibberish past the cemetery?

  59. Keith says:

    -cheerleading the baseless invasion of Iraq
    -fronting for the anti-science propagandists
    -bizarre gossip re/ Gov. Patterson

    has it…has it become… the NEW YORK POST!

  60. Ben Lieberman says:

    Any chance of a real Hoyt (public editor) response? The last time he weighed in at all his response was to ask the in-house “experts,” Andy Revkin, and John Tierney. That track record hardly inspires confidence of anything other than a talk-to-the-hand response.

  61. Peter Houlihan says:

    I emailed the editor and told him it will cost him potential readers. And not just myself.

    Every year I teach 600 college students. That 3,600 in my six years of teaching. For each of my four courses, I include a link to the NYTimes science section and encourage them to read it.

    If they continue to provide such dismal coverage of climate science, I will remove the links and stop suggesting that the times is one of the few places where you can still find good science journalism.

  62. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding Clark Hoyt …

    I’ve tried to contact Clark Hoyt or his office a number of times over the last couple years regarding The Times’ coverage of global warming and its glaring lack of illuminating, straightforward, investigative coverage of ExxonMobil, and I’ve never heard back. As far as I can tell, contacting his office is like trying to contact a Black Hole many light years away.

    Rather than waiting for the Times disaster (in reporting) to continue, someone should really do a very solid and appropriately stinging piece on The Times, to shine light on the problem. The world can’t afford to continue experiencing poor global warming coverage, until the problem is ever larger, and then complain about coverage after the fact. This can’t be like weapons of mass destruction, or the problems with big tobacco, or the lead-up to the financial crisis, where the media coverage was dismal and wrong-headed, the problems happened, and the media apologized after the fact. We need to get this one right BEFORE the problem is intractably upon us.

    So, it’s time to shine light on The Times, and expose the problems, and demand improvement, now. Not next year, but now.

    The net result of the entanglement with ExxonMobil (whether purposeful or merely resulting from a felt need to avoid upsetting them), the usually poor coverage, the usually poor placement, the confusions, the lack of responsiveness on Clark Hoyt’s part, and so forth and so on, all should be under the spotlight and given intense attention. And of course, Bill Keller himself is the son of the former Chairman of Chevron, so he is from an “oil family”. What impact that has, who knows? We can only see the net results of what The Times prints and doesn’t print, and that net result is incredibly dismal relative to the importance of the matter and the stakes involved.

    How are we going to focus more attention on The Times?



  63. Mark H says:

    I have a question to the commentors here regarding Exxonmobil. What is it about Exxon that sets them apart from any other gas retailer?

  64. Doug Bostrom says:

    Mark H says: February 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

    ExxonMobil is executing its fiduciary duty to protect the wealth of the microscopically small slice of the human population owning shares in the company. To that end, they have contributed a lot of money to so-called “think tanks”, subsidizing authors working at these op-ed mills who are tasked with throwing sand in the wheels of progress.

    This is fact, not controversial. Indeed why should we be surprised? ExxonMobil has an obligation to do everything it can to protect its narrow interests and unfortunately social responsibility is not something written into the core mission of many corporations. Instead, in the absence of specific regulations concerning accountability and responsibility the “market” is supposed provide guidance We collectively known as the “market” have indicated to ExxonMobil the acceptability of what they do. The invisible hand of the market is in fact also blind and stupid, a congenitally dissociated personality often acting against its own interests.

    Here are a couple of highlights:

  65. Leif says:

    Mark H, #63: The only thing that separates EXXON from the rest is that it is the biggest rat in the box in my view.

  66. max says:

    I would like to see you expand on your comment to #30 regarding Dr.Pachauri.

    [JR: It’s on my list.]

  67. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding ExxonMobil

    In response to some of the recent comments and questions …

    It would take far too long, here, to explain the actions and inactions, and clear attitudes, that “set ExxonMobil apart” from the other large oil companies — in the sense of being a MUCH worse culprit.

    I’ve studied and followed the matter at length, and I’ve sent materials to a good number of people in the media, and I’ve corresponded with an ExxonMobil Director, and so forth. I have a chemical engineering background, have worked in the oil industry (for Chevron), have been a McKinsey consultant, and blah blah blah. I’ve analyzed ExxonMobil’s recent corporate reports and compared those to public statements, and so forth. I only say these things because I think it’s fair to say that I know what I’m talking about.

    ExxonMobil is a problem, period. By now — and indeed years ago — anyone genuinely interested in addressing the climate change problem should have stopped buying ANY ExxonMobil products. If you still need gasoline, until you someday get an electric vehicle, then buy it from one of the smaller companies.

    Trust me on this: If you want to make a purchase decision that is even remotely consistent with having a concern about global warming, don’t ever buy anything again from ExxonMobil. That’s my view, and it’s an informed one.

    By the way, ExxonMobil products generate well over a trillion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, annually. The amount of CO2 generated by ExxonMobil and their products weighs more than the entire weight of the human species living today on planet Earth, i.e., more than all 6.8 Billion of us put together. That’s A LOT of CO2, from one company.

    Think of ExxonMobil as the one-trillion-pound-plus elephant that romps around, confuses you, delays responsible action, implies one thing and then does another, and that routinely puts its big paw prints on the cover of The New York Times, as The Times itself stays completely silent on the matter.

    Don’t buy from ExxonMobil — that’s my advice.

    (By the way, I once got a job offer from them, as a Chem. Eng., long ago, to work in a design unit working on stuff for Prudhoe Bay. That was in 1981, before the mess. I still have the offer letter. Glad I avoided that one.)

    Be Well,


  68. Mike#22 says:

    35 years ago we were taught about Pravda in some class in high school. Pravda means “truth” in russian, and this state run newspaper, we were taught, lied all the time to it’s readership, protecting the interests of the leadership by manipulating public opinion. We snickered just a little (slightly liberal high school), and felt sorry for the Russian people. It all fit together–low tech Russia, with their clunky green spaceships, ZiL limos, and GUM department store. No American would ever fall for this type of blatant disinforamtion, we all knew. Not us.

    Joe tells us that Rosenthal is very likely writing what she sees, and not under any pressure (except for readership numbers). And that is a puzzler; even in the absence of Pravda style leadership at the NYT, we get a Pravda like result. Rosenthal can’t be this blind to the facts, can she?

  69. Mark H says:

    Doug, I agree with your analysis re: Exxon and the market. I agree that the market itself is blind but the consumers are making a collective choice, which is not blind. In places where gas prices are significantly higher than the US, the consumers are making essentially the same choices. Clearly, somebody needs to build a better mousetrap.

  70. Sun Spot says:

    Re: #50 Doug thanks for the reasoned response(s). I, as a natural climate change embracer was pleased not to be denigrated and label a denier for asking some hard questions on this blog.

  71. A says:

    Dear Dr. Romm,
    Thank you for doing this important work of debunking this misleading coverage of global warming by the New York Times. It is unfortunate for the U.S. that such lies spread ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’ so easily, whereas the correction will reach only those few who most likely already know much about it. Moreover, any ascertainable facts will be represented by the media as just another opinion. (‘He says – she says – you decide’, but most people have not enough time and expertise to decide rationally). Thus it is even more important that obvious nonsense should be pointed out most clearly and poignantly.–
    (Though not in meteorology, I have partially read Climate System Modeling, Kevin E. Trenberth, Cambridge U. Press, so now I belong to the group of people for which ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,’ but am familiar with large-scale simulations and data analysis in another field. But few people have the time to dig so deep, and rely on the ‘dueling experts’ shown on TV, one of which may be of the kind, ‘I am not a doctor, but play one on TV.’)

    One thing that could be helpful in this environment is to point out that the climate change deniers are the new ‘smoking causes cancer’ deniers, as done in
    But still it is an uphill battle, and much time is lost.
    An energy-efficiency program for the U.S. would better, the sooner it is started, with saving both money (now spent on importing more oil and gas)and creating jobs now.–

    After the Iraq war, I stopped buying the New York Times. I only read the Krugman blog and columns on the web, and learn of the NYT’s and WaPos’s descent into inanity.


    ‘Sun Spot’ Comment 24: Read or

  72. A says:

    last line above >>>A should read:
    and learn of the NYT’s and WaPos’s descent into inanity from Brad DeLong’s blog .

  73. Sun Spot says:

    re: #72 A , The web links you referenced are quite useless in answering the question of what the man made CO2 climate forcing factor is. The truth is no one here knows the answer to this question or can reference anywhere this answer exists (with clarity) and thats why the public is losing belief in AGW. Science is supposed to be a logic, math discipline not a just believe, faith issue. Your references to smoking cancer denial are reprehensible and hypocritical when you cant give a straight forward answer to the question yourself.

  74. Hank Roberts says:

    > Sun Spot
    > no one here knows … or can reference anywhere …

    Nonsense. You can look this up. Ask the reference desk at your library to help you learn how. Or use this new tool called “The Google” —

    Climate sensitivity is 3C
    Can we believe in high climate sensitivity?
    10C? Not likely!

  75. Hank Roberts says:

    “Sun Spot” — re your two rants claiming nobody can find any information because you didn’t know how — if you can understand the answers better from looking at pictures, use Google Image Search.

    Here for example:

    Caption: Figure C.5. Comparison of global mean surface temperature anomalies (change in temperature relative to 1901-1950 period) from observations (thin black line) with those estimated by climate model simulations forced with a) natural and human factors and b) natural influences only. Results both illustrate how well models can replicate observed climate change when forced with all leading causes of change and how poorly they replicate observed changes when only natural forcings are included (Fig. 9.5, Hegerl et al., 2007).

    That took all of 20 seconds searching to find. It’s from:

    Sun Spot — test yourself now. Did you actually look at the picture, and the page it was from, and did you read the page, before you started to reply?

  76. 73. Sun Spot says:

    Science is supposed to be a logic, math discipline not a just believe, faith issue.

    That statement rather misconstrues the nature of science.

    “Science” is any form of methodologically sound inquiry in which that method has been refined beyond the levels of casual investigation. Formal logic and mathematics are tools and adjuncts to that inquiry, not the basis of it.

    Furthermore, no one is suggesting that the data and inferences in climate science simply be believed or accepted on faith. However, if one is going to presume to address the issue — especially from a critical perspective — then one is both logically and morally obligated to do the hard work necessary to actually understand the subject one presumes to criticize. Complaining that you don’t understand it or that it has not been adequately explained to you is evidence of nothing, and is in fact an example of the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy (that is, the fallacy of the argument from ignorance.)

    Also, it does not help your credibility that your sentence constructions are so poor, which in turn raises further suspicions regarding the above mentioned argumentum ad ignorantiam issue.

  77. Chris Winter says:

    Mark H wrote: “I have a question to the commentors here regarding Exxonmobil. What is it about Exxon that sets them apart from any other gas retailer?”

    For one thing (as Doug Bostrom notes), they were historically the major industrial contributor to organizations obfuscating the science of climate change.

    For another, they’re still appealing parts of the judgement on the 1989 spill of 10.9 million gallons of crude oil from the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound. This despite their enormous profits in recent years. Indeed, it may be that ExxonMobil is the only party involved in the disaster to have completely recovered. There are still pockets of oil on the Sound, and the herring stocks have not rebounded.

    Wikipedia has a good article on the spill and the legal wrangling that resulted.

    This 20th-anniversary story is also good:

  78. Zach says:

    FYI, this article is discussed here – stephanfaris/ 2010/ 02/ 12/ this-time-the-climate-deniers-are-right/ – generally defending the NYT article. I commented on it on that story and don’t want to repeat myself.

    [JR: Yeah, I guess I’ll have to respond. Actually, he didn’t defend the article, if you read it closely.]

  79. Matt Briggs says:

    Reading your lead post today on Lincoln’s birthday, I want to direct you to my brother’s book on Lincoln’s rhetoric—“Lincoln’s Speeches Reconsidered” published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2005. John Channing Briggs is a professor of English at the University of California Riverside and often teaches courses on the language of both Lincoln and Shakespeare. He has spent his whole life on this question.
    You should talk. His email is

    Within a month I will also contact you about our new Feature documentary “Deep Green” which is almost ready after six years of research and three years of shooting. In many ways it is your blog on film.

    But right now, just take a look at the book or email my brother—you guys should talk.

    Appreciate everything you do.
    Matt Briggs
    Deep Green Films Ltd
    Lake Oswego, OR

  80. Sun Spot says:

    re: #75 Hank Roberts, interesting links but nowhere do they answer the question of what the man made and natural CO2 climate forcing factor is.

    re: #76 Logic Deferred, an apt name. You can’t answer the question so you defer logic preferring an ad hominem attack.

  81. 80. Sun Spot says:

    Do feel free to entertain the abstract possibility of learning basic principles of critical thinking. An argumentum ad hominem is by definition as attack on the person that is either false, irrelevant, or both.

    1. I obviously did not attack YOU; I pointed out the FACT that your sentence constructions and grammar were profoundly wanting. So quite aside from anything else, it is also obvious — too anyone, at least, who will bother to learn what the terms mean — that there was no argumentum ad hominem.

    2. However, it is also the case that what I said was true: your sentence constructions were abominable.

    3. Moreover, it is also the case that your abominable sentence constructions were materaially relevant to the issue I was pointing out, the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy of your post.

    Consequently, even if #1 was false, #’s 2 & 3 again make it perfectly clear that there was no argumentum ad hominem.