The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati

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"The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati"

Here are excerpts from two erroneous and contradictory pieces in today’s dreadful NY Times special section on energy:

NYT 1According to the most recent estimates of the Energy Department, world energy demand is going to increase by 50 percent by 2035, largely because of increased consumption in China, India and the rest of the developing world.  Renewable energy will rise as a percentage of energy used, to 15 percent from 10 percent [by 2035], but that will not provide for the growing demand.  “The fossil fuel age will be extended for decades,” said Ivan Sandrea, president of the Energy Intelligence Group, a research publisher. “Unconventional oil and gas are at the beginning of a technological cycle that can last 60 years. They are really in their infancy.”

NYT 2And as for the jobs [solar] creates, there may be a price elsewhere, Dr. Axelrod said. He described the energy world as being like a child’s squeeze toy: “You squeeze it and the eyes pop out. If you push in one area, something else is going to happen.” … Build enough solar plants and some coal plants will shut down; that would amount to firing Peter to hire Paul….  Solar panel fabrication was intended as an export industry….

I think it is now worth seriously contemplating canceling your subscriptions to the one-time paper of record [see further discussion of this at the end]. While there are 1 or 2 reporters at the New York Times who get climate and energy, it’s obvious that most don’t and, more importantly, the editorial staff simply don’t know what they’re doing.  The Matt Wald piece, #2, is so biased and self-contradictory as to be simply unpublishable.

Are there even editors who oversee reporters any more or try to give coherence to special sections and the paper’s larger coverage — or who write headlines that reflect the content of the stories?  Apparently not.  Apparently the paper can simultaneously assert that energy demand is growing, that renewables’ share of the market will grow — and thus its absolute growth rate will be very fast — but that U.S. solar jobs will come at the expense of U.S. jobs elsewhere, even though the paper says it’s an export industry.

Seriously NY Times editors and reporters, if you’re going to publish self-contradictory attacks on some energy technology, couldn’t you at least pick on one your size, one that also happens to threaten civilization?  Or wait a few years, until the solar industry surprises you and actually is your size.

The future of humanity is being written now — but you just won’t find very many of the stories in the Gray Lady.  That is painfully clear from their uninformed, self-contradictory, and virtually climate-free special section on energy.

I have been bombarded with e-mails from people baffled by  just how dreadful these stories are.  Here is one from a leading expert who works with environmentally responsible businesses:

Hey Joe,

Please tell me if I’m missing something here:

You may have seen the NYT special section today on energy. The lead story, maybe 60-65 paragraphs, devotes exactly one paragraph to saying that the unleashing of numerous new forms of fossil fuels worldwide “is a devil’s bargain, probably making solutions to climate change … even more difficult.”

Nary another word in that story, and only tiny passing mentions in others in the special section, about the climate threat.

So, I ask you this question dead seriously: Am I stupid — am I actually missing something about climate change that these knowledgeable reporters get? Can we have serious talk in the NYT – from many, many industry and other sources – about these new fossil discoveries extending the fossil fuel for decades WITHOUT taking into account my understanding that we can’t do that without unleashing the worst of climate change?

I’m serious — the reporting is so oblivious that it leads me to ask if I myself am missing something about climate change’s severity and onset. Can you explain this to me?

Or is this just almost breathtakingly lame reporting?

Perplexed

Dear Perplexed:

The latter, I’m afraid.

You are plenty smart, and the science couldn’t be clearer about climate change’s severity and onset — see  my review of 50 recent studies “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces” or my new Nature piece on Dust-Bowlification.

The threat of climate change isn’t “news” to the Times.  There is one tireless climate reporter who keeps reporting on the increasingly dire picture of the science, Justin Gillis.  You can see his recent articles here.  He writes articles explaining things like “Why Climate Scientists Are So Perturbed:  Society has put off the task of reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions for so long that it is on the verge of running out of time, a report argues” and “Food Supply Under Strain on a Warming Planet” and “Global Warming Hinders Crop Yields, Study Finds” and “Even as the situation in the world’s forests starts to look precarious, scientists do not really have the capability they need to monitor the problems” and the like.  Individually, the pieces are worrisome and cumulatively they are pretty good picture of the gravest threat to human civilization.

But for the rest of the people at the paper, I guess Gillis is just that guy who keeps reporting all that dreary science stuff.  He probably gets the same readership internally at the paper that the obituaries do.  The rest of the paper goes on as if  every major climate scientist, science journal, national academy, and  indeed most governments weren’t  screaming at the top of their lungs “We are in big trouble and business as usual is suicidal” (see Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”).

And so we get the special section on energy, pieces which, individually, are worrisome indicators about the Times editorial judgment but cumulatively are a pretty good picture of how modern journalism has collapsed in its coverage of the story of the century (see Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010).

As I noted above, it is obvious that solar is becoming a massive job creator and has a huge potential upside (see “National Solar Jobs Census: Over 100,000 Americans Work in Fast-Growing Solar Industry“).

But Wald wants to find a downside since who really wants to read a sappy “good news” story even if it fits the facts.  What sells, apparently even to NY Times editors, is bullshit contrarianism, a headline like, “Solar Power Industry Falls Short of Hopes in Job Creation.”

Yes, the industry is undeniably doing well, even in the face of the greatest recession since the Great Depression — oh, but it isn’t doing as well as people had hoped.  Who are these people?  Not Wald or the NY Times, that’s for sure.  But people.  You know them.  Those hopeful folks who are always hoping things will get better, including the paper’s hopeless coverage.

You’d better know who the heck these hopers are because Wald doesn’t name a single person who said we would get more a lot more solar jobs than we have.  Nor does he even point to one study that said we would get more solar jobs.  So this is yet another BS headline from the editors at the Times (see “Crappy Headline” Ruins New York Times Story on Link Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather).

The correct headline would be “Solar Power Industry Job Growth Greatly Exceeds that of the Rest of the Economy,” as Wald himself admits in a couple of sentences buried in the article, far, far past the headline and thus far, far past the point most people will read:

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OR COMMENT

Environment America, an advocacy group, said in a recent report that only about 24,000 people work in solar manufacturing in this country, compared with 52,500 in installation, out of a total of about 100,000. That is a hefty number, and up 6.8 percent in the last year. But the definition is a bit slippery. It applies to workers who spend at least half their time on solar work.

As a small aside, Wald feels obliged to label Environment America an “advocacy group” but quotes “John Felmy, the chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute,” as if everybody knows that API shills for the fossil fuel industry — an industry that takes out big ads in the paper and gets such adoration in the top story in the special energy section.

As a big aside, how exactly is that definition to “slippery”?  It seems pretty clear to me.  Wald, however, must put in a “but” for  every fact that makes clear renewables are a remarkably good jobs creator.

Wald just rolls out the right-wing talking points, though:

At a recent hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose Republican majority has latched on to Solyndra with a vengeance, Scott DesJarlais, Republican of Tennessee, compared the benefits of solar power to the Tennessee farmer who drives into Alabama to buy watermelons for a dollar each and resells them at home for 75 cents.

“He does this a few times, and clearly he isn’t making a profit,” Mr. DesJarlais said. “And he comes to the conclusion that he needs a bigger truck.”

This may prove unfair in the long run.

May prove unfair in the long run?  It’s idiotic right now.

First off, if the Republicans — and Wald —  actually believe this nonsense, then  I guess they would have no objection whatsoever to eliminating  the massive subsidies for fossil fuels.  After all, keeping them implies that the government believes fossil fuels are unprofitable watermelons in need of help.

Second, solar is cost effective and profitable in many parts of the country right now where you can get solar for no money down.

Third, Wald — and his bosses — seem perversely unwilling to talk about the  fact that fossil fuels are killing people right now, making them sick and generally destroying a livable climate.  This is all Wald writes:

This may prove unfair in the long run. If fossil fuel prices rise high enough or governments begin to collect big charges for carbon dioxide releases, solar power could turn into an unsubsidized success. Renewable energy is recognized as representing a hedge against future shifts in the prices of fuels and the strictness of pollution regulations.

Try again.  Renewable energy is recognized by a great many people as representing a net cost to society below that of fossil fuels irrespective of the actual price of fossil fuels, CO2 prices, or regulations.

Indeed, Wald can’t possibly be unaware of the fact that some of the leading economists in the country (center-right non-environmentalists) have just demonstrated that fact in the peer reviewed literature — see Economics Stunner: “Oil and Coal-Fired Power Plants Have Air Pollution Damages Larger Than Their Value Added”; Natural Gas Damage Larger Than Its Value Added For Even Low CO2 Prices.

But Wald not only never mentions any of this, he actually writes:

And if the electricity from the solar installation is more expensive than the energy it replaced, then everybody who uses electricity will spend a little more for it, and everybody who pays taxes will contribute to the government subsidies for solar. Thus there will be a little less money to spend on other activities that could also generate employment.

I’ve been told by someone in the media business that this paragraph of nonsensical and ultimately self-destructive libertarianism actually represents Wald’s own political philosophy.  It’s supposed to be the job of the editors to keep such spin out of the news if it is as demonstrably false as this.

Again, we know know how incomplete and thus literally unhealthy this view is from some of the leading economists in the country — Nicholas Z. Muller, Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus — in a top economic journal, the American Economic Review:  “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy.”  Assuming that is we didn’t already know it from the rest of the literature (see Life-cycle study: Accounting for total harm from coal would add “close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated”).

The accurate statement the Times might have written is:

If the electricity from fossil fuel plants does more harm than good, then everybody who uses that electricity is harming public health, however unintentionally, and if they instead get electricity from renewables with the help of government subsidies, then everybody who pays taxes will contribute to improving the public health and avoiding catastrophic climate change.  Thus there will be more healthy people, fewer dead people, more productivity and ultimately more employment.

I would add that the NY Times published an article this week titled, “China Takes a Loss to Get Ahead in the Business of Fresh Water.”  But apparently the editors seem to think that only China should invest in emerging industries that are going to be massive job creators in the coming years.

Apparently, China’s short-term losses to achieve long-term gains are smart business but America’s are dumb.  Seriously, why isn’t the headline of that article “Chinese Water Industry Falls Short of Hopes in Job Creation and Profitability”?

This post is long enough, though barely scratches the surface of debunking the NYT articles.

I’ll let you find the flaws in the dreadful piece Perplexed complained about — “New Technologies Redraw the World’s Energy Picture” — which similarly acts as if  we don’t know already that a world of ever increasing fossil fuels risks multiple  simultaneous catastrophes that threaten the health and well-being of billions of people, that may make it all but impossible to feed 9 billion people by midcentury.

Or you could just end your subscription and stop reading the paper.  It will save you time and money and head vises.

UPDATE:  I have modified this post after thinking about it more and communicating with some other media watchdogs, including MIT’s Knight Science Journalism tracker.  I didn’t spell out this point clearly enough:  The NYT remains a great and important paper in many respects.  Its coverage this year on climate science (by Gillis) and fracking have been exceptional.   That said, I do think that if climate is your priority issue, as it is for many readers, and if you are frustrated at the poor coverage of this issue at the Times, if you have tried letters to the editor and to the ombudsman, as I’ve suggested in the past, all to no avail, if you worry about the apparent influence of fossil fuel companies on the Times, then canceling your subscription is one of the few ways you have left to send a message.

Another way is Twitter: I see some folks have been tweeting @MattWaldNYT:

Want instant updates from Climate Progress? Follow us on Twitter.

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52 Responses to The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati

  1. Artful Dodger says:

    Shameful. Thank goodness I do not read the New York Times. Or pay for it’s content. Or support its new business model…

    Keep on Keepin’ On, Joe!

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    I’m getting tired of “experts” like Ivan Sandrea. He is predicting based on the past, and assuming technology penetration on timescales that do not reflect urgency, climate effects, or even the pace of transformative technological change (as with the microchip). Then, instead of qualifying his predictions he states them as facts, which is quite absurd.

    It reminds me of Diderot’s dictum: All language is self referential. This is certainly the case in the prediction business.

    As for the Times, they chose this charlatan on purpose, to satisfy their advertisers. There is no sense that anybody in the paper gets climate, and their supposed expert, Andy Revkin, is trying to carve out a middle ground between, say, Gavin Schmidt and Anthony Watts. Ass covering from occasional decent editorials won’t get er done.

    The Times has ruined its reputation here, after close to 200 years, and they won’t ever get it back. A new media company that respects science and does not insult the intelligence of its readers will replace them.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    The NYT is is part of the New Gilded age Illuminati- they will learn too late about what we are facing.

    Keep exposing them for what they are.

    • Artful Dodger says:

      Excellent comparison, Peter. There was another remarkable correlation articulated today on Raquel Maddow’s Show, by New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich (NOT the NY Times).

      He compared the 2011 ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement to the 1932 ‘Bonus Army’ occupation in Washington, DC.

      There are amazing parallels in events between the two movements, and also in the vast disparity between society’s wealthiest Citizens and the plight of the common working family…

      “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –George Santayana

  4. Sasparilla says:

    Ugh… Very well put together explanation of how bad this is, thank you Joe.

    Exxon Mobil is probably very happy with the special section they put together here – seems like it was written by the same oil consultants that wrote the XL environmental impact analysis for the State Department.

    The really sad thing in all this is – this is the liberal leaning main newspaper for the US – it should be the bulwark against this kind of stuff. Its rather frightening, from a big picture view, of how compromised nearly all of general population’s media outlets now are and seems to continue getting worse.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    Friedman and Krugman and Etc.?

    I stopped buying the Times long ago, and moved over here from Dot Earth (long ago).

    Here’s the question: Will you (ClimateProgress) write a post addressed to Krugman and Friedman and etc. asking that THEY get involved with The Times’ leadership to INSIST on much more responsible coverage of climate change on the part of The Times? We need for people to start INSISTING on change — or quitting in a way that sends a very visible public signal. This whole “but I can have more of an influence from the inside” argument is no longer tenable if an organization doesn’t change and the years go by. As much as I respect Krugman (mainly) and Friedman (slightly), in my view, regarding climate change, it’s time for them to INSIST that the paper get its act together, or else quit and make a big statement about the problem.

    Indeed, one might wonder, what good does our activism do (just yesterday I was at the “NO to Keystone XL” demonstration in San Francisco, during the President’s visit) if The New York Times does stories like this, if the media don’t ask the Repubs hard questions about climate change during the debates, and if the very best we’re willing to do is say “please Mr. President (but we’ll vote for you anyhow)” regarding Keystone XL? Sadly, this movement is going to lose credibility, get demoralized, and implode unless its leaders — the blogs (including CP), the organizations (including 350.org), our so-called leaders (President Obama?), and etc. — get their act together, actually lead, and move out of their comfort zones to do the sorts of things that need doing. Let’s call on Krugman and Friedman and put the question to them: Will they engage The Times’ leaders, firmly, to change their approach to climate change coverage? If not, why not? Joe, will you, via a post, put the question to Krugman and Friedman?

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  6. Douglas says:

    Thank you Joe. Sometimes I think the single most important problem facing the nation is our deeply corrupt, complacent, and conflicted “lamestream” media.

  7. nyc-tornado10 says:

    The second largest shareholder of the new york times, after the founding family, is also the richest man in the world. This billionaire aquired his stake in the paper after he bailed the times out in 2009 by purchasing his 7% share of the paper. His businesses include a large number of natural resource exploiting companies, which probably explains why the times is now involved in covering up global warming. On the new york time’s 150th anniversary, they had a public apology for covering up reports of the nazi Holocaust during world war 2, this came 60 years later! Our children can look forward to the ny times apology on global warming, if there is a new york times or a world left to apologise to!

    http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/09/worlds-richest-people-slim-gates-buffett-billionaires-2010-intro.html

  8. gus says:

    As a small-paper reporter, I’ve been appalled at what passes for “journalism” at the big dailies and (especially) TV for years. How often do we see whole editions with nothing worth reading at all, never mind any real coverage of science or climate/environment? Yet they invariably have whole sections praising the latest cars (which look exactly like the current ones, but get no better mileage) and business sections that are little more than shilling for XYZ Corp’s latest product.

    You noted the apparent MSM view that “China’s short-term losses to achieve long-term gains are smart business but America’s are dumb.” Actually, I don’t think that’s what they believe: I think they’re saying it to criticize China as a backhanded prediction the effort will fail and bankrupt China. Our corps simply CANNOT conceive of a business model that doesn’t hoover up as much profit in the shortest time possible, and the MSM are totally in thrall to that. (Or, worse, they DO mean it … because the people killing OUR economy would profit from the centralization of solar there. Solving the climate problem requires localized, flexible power sources and a LOT less consumption, both of which are anathema to them.)

    A few days ago, I covered the installation of a business school president in my area. One of the speakers made a big point of talking about a different college’s 1991 “Plan for the 21st Century” … that had a timeframe that didn’t even reach 2000! (His idea of a plan was to look 7 years ahead, never mind the decades we HAVE to plan for today, and had some inkling of then.) THIS is the underlying problem we face: our society has so many forces that actively oppose real long-term thinking and problem solving.

    How do we change that in the short time we MUST do so?

  9. jyyh says:

    once, when I was in an optimistic mood out came the thought that all the defective reporting by the mainstream media on this issue is just a smokescreen of the energy giants under which they can secretly develop renewables to be launched in a grandiose way but it’s increasingly looking like a false hope as the market shares point to china though i have to admit i don’t know how many of the elder energy giants are involved with the chinese renewable energy firms..

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    Japan Gets Electricity Wake-Up Call

    During the rolling blackouts that followed, Mr. Hattori’s solar panels were unable to meet his family’s power needs. Like others who bought into the all-electric idea, he has since scrambled to cut his dependence on the grid, turning to stop-gap solutions like portable cookers that used replaceable gas cannisters, batteries and even candles.

    This past summer, traditionally a period of peak demand, Tokyo residents pared electricity use 16 percent in the inner-city area known as the 23 wards. But looming winter power shortages look to pose an even bigger challenge.

    The Ministry of Trade and Industry predicts that unless power production is restarted at some of the nuclear reactors around the country that are now suspended for inspection, national demand will outstrip supply by 4 percent to 20 percent during December, January and February — the coldest winter months.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/business/energy-environment/japan-gets-electricity-wake-up-call.html

  11. Edith Wiethorn says:

    Meanwhile, Reuters London,the Guardian & the BBC seem to get stories right, although the overview lacks full perspective. Here’s good journalism on 102511 from the BBC that resonates with some of the comments following Dr. Romm’s post re Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s climate speech/statement:

    “China will not allow its carbon dioxide emissions per person to reach levels seen in the US, according to the minister in charge of climate policy.

    Xie Zhenhua, vice chair of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that to let emissions rise that high would be a “disaster for the world”.

    …Mr Xie’s visit was facilitated by Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (Globe) International, the worldwide association of parliamentarians.

    Lord (Michael) Jay, Globe’s vice president, suggested it was vital to make progress at this year’s UN summit in Durban, South Africa.

    “We hold the planet in trust for future generations,” he said.

    “And that puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders before and after Durban.”

    And Mr Xie suggested that Europe and China could work together to push things forward.

    “Let’s join hands to push the US to take action,” he said.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15444858

    The article includes a useful climate science glossary:

    Climate change glossary
    Select a term to learn more:
    Glossary
    Suggest additions
    Glossary in full

  12. DS says:

    This is the NYTimes, WTF do you expect. Have they ever had any credibility on Technology?
    Stick to the Fashion and crossword sections.

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    Yeah, its time people start swearing at these media.

    It is amezing that they are just carrying on and ignoring the point… That we are in self-destruct mode. Don’t the have eyes and brains?

    Just bizarre.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    “While there are 1 or 2 reporters at the New York Times who get climate and energy, it’s obvious that most don’t and, more importantly, the editorial staff simply don’t know what they’re doing. ”

    You could say the same for the SPIEGEL.

    • Florifulgurator says:

      Indeed the German SPIEGEL was bad enough (e.g. Lomborg) when I cancelled the subscription 2 years ago. Saves me a good amount of time, money, paper recycling space, and patience.

      • prokaryotes says:

        They run the Climategate story on 5 pages in the magazin and it is also readily available online (still). Did they retract their shady arguments? No. Are the same journalist writting on climate change? Yes.

        Each single article has parts where they feed the doubts. For example in the latest arcticle about chinese glacier retreat, the 1 page article ends with the notice that some glaciers are growing, without explaining that this growth can not be compared to old ice and that overall it is just some marginal observation in the overall trend of glacier retreat worldwide, and in this region.

        I could go on about the lame climate change coverage of the SPIEGEL. Not every article is bad, but it’s definetly lacking on the importance of climate change. They do not tie climate change to the uptake in flood worldwide, which is considered solid science. But you would expect this kind of coverage from this magazine.

        • Edith Wiethorn says:

          Does it seem strange to you that SPIEGEL is lagging on climate science when Germany is leading on solar adoption & the policies that facilitate solar adoption?

          So another good question: Who owns SPIEGEL and/or who are their investors?

        • I have a friend there and he gets it but rarely has a chance to write about it. Not seen as a priority.

  15. Geoff Beacon says:

    Professor Kim Swales tells me

    We have undertaken econometric work on the elasticity of demand for household energy in the UK. We get values of around 0.4 for the short run and over 1 for the long-run…These are provisional results at the moment.

    If this is borne out for energy as a whole, it means that energy demand will fall by more than half if the price doubles. So with

    …world energy demand is going to increase by 50 percent by 2035…

    what assumptions on price were made?

  16. MarkfromLexington says:

    I would highly recommend that everyone read the Paul Epstein study you cite, “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal”, about the 17.8 cents per kWh of economic damage from coal generated electricity.

    By the way – the link to the Climate Progress story about the Epstein study is broken – it brings you right back to this post. This one works – http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/02/16/207534/life-cycle-study-coal-harvard-epstein-health/

    From the study – “Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive.”

    The study attributes 3.06 cents per kWh to climate change impacts, but notes that we have consistently underestimated the rate at which climate change is occurring.

  17. Lionel A says:

    “Unconventional oil and gas are at the beginning of a technological cycle that can last 60 years. They are really in their infancy.”

    In ‘their infancy’ indeed, and like infants they mess their own nests and leave a trail of mess wherever they go. This is why these industries are not ready for prime time, and given lax regulation (bungs and backhanders) never will be and should be canned.

    Is it that these media types are never exposed to the cognitive realities of the pollution side of fossil fuels. To be sure they are probably unwittingly exposed to effluent from fossil fuels but are too narrowly educated and informed, as the result of selective information gathering, to appreciate how their own future health is going to be impacted.

    There should be places of learning where journalists should be made to learn about that which they intend to report on before being allowed to do same. They should be made to sit examinations on the subject matter and gain, perhaps, a diploma to prove they have done so.

    Also, as with drivers who have veered far from safe practices and caused a fatal road crash they should complete a corrective course and resit before being allowed to report further. Else their ignorant articles will continue to enable fatalities.

  18. Robert Nagle says:

    You don’t know anything about how ad dollars corrupt energy news reporting and editorials until you read the Houston Chronicle. It seems to be one nonstop drumbeat for the fossil fuel industry.

    I know, they have a good science reporter (Eric Berger) and the state climatologist has a blog on the Chronicle site http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/, but the chron.com home page is often dominated by its sister site at fuelfix.com. I am looking at the Chronicle home page right now and see this link in a prominent position: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2011/10/26/petroleum-industry-says-repealed-tax-breaks-will-hurt-shareholders/

    Houstonians are pelted with this kind of drivel all the time. At least the NYT occasionally publishes environmental pieces. Houston is presumably a left-leaning town, but its newspaper seems to be committed to showcasing the fossil fuel perspective on everything.

  19. BillD says:

    The cost of solar is declining quickly. (This is why the fate of solar companies is so volitile!) At some point in the not too far off future, solar may become the cheapest source of electricity. This should be taken into account when considering sources of energy for the next decades. Isn’t this a “no brainer?’ Oh, and at some point, people will demand action on climate change, even though it will probably be too late to avoid the worst of climate change damages

  20. Morris Meyer says:

    Wonderful piece Joe, but again there is no link to email the reporters or the NYT editors to close the circle.

    Those emails are executive-editor@nytimes.com, nytnews@nytimes.com

  21. Alex says:

    The NYT has been pissing me off for over a decade for their clear change of direction in response to societal wingnut bluster. Except for Krugman and the free 20 pages/month, I’ve stopped reading it. I especially avoid Friedman even outside of the paper. And I’ll never subscribe again. If they stop the free 20/month, I’ll stop reading Krugman.

    I hope everybody else does the same and tells them exactly why.

  22. Bill Goedecke says:

    I don’t think the NYT has changed, really. Wasn’t it Judith Miller of the NYT who ran all sorts of propaganda to support the start of the Iraq war? The NYT never said one word on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (1995) (MAI) which was a major proposal to extend corporate reach over national governments. I don’t think you would find any information on Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which liberalized intellectual property regulation. And for energy supplies they quote Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) – another shill for corporate energy. Forget the NYT! Sometimes I find things on the website, but mostly its a corporate mouthpiece.

  23. john atcheson says:

    This kind of reporting goes beyond incompetent; it is unconscionable.

  24. Ron Taylor says:

    Joe, you have really nailed it. I was truly sick after reading that special energy section. We have subscribed to the Times for 20 years, but it is nowhere near the paper it was when we started. And I am not talking about the number of pages.

    For years the Science Times on Tuesday was a highlight of my week. Two years ago climate science was clearly excluded from its pages. It ignored the BEST study, which was very briefly reported in the middle of the front section on another day. I keep opening the section each week, hoping to find that they have come to their senses. Alas, it does not happen, and I marvel at how such a superb paper could have fallen so low, virtually ignoring perhaps the most critical scientific issue ever faced by humanity.

  25. The article does (inadvertently) make this important point about Canadian tar sands:

    Canadian oil sands production is expected to increase by as much as 200,000 barrels a day every year for the next two decades. Current estimates of how much is there already top Iraq’s total reserves, guaranteeing Canada’s place as a premier oil producer for many decades.

    But opposition remains strong among American and Canadian environmentalists, who are fighting to stop pipelines to the United States and western Canadian ports. Without those pipelines, oil sands production capacity would most likely struggle to grow.

  26. Ric Merritt says:

    You emphasize the dreadful (non)coverage of the climate side of the energy issue, but the ignorance and avoidance of peak oil and related issues is at least as bad.

    No one with competence and integrity could print all that puffery about our lush future powered by “unconventional” fossil fuels without bothering to mention that oil production has been stalled since 2005, that energy needed to feed back into energy production is taking an increasing bite, and that this has resulted in bouncing between unbearable prices and deep recession. No reason given why this might be better going forward.

  27. Ben Lieberman says:

    I can only guess that this junk section was intended to generate advertising revenue–I would assume it failed on that count as well but is getting a few oil company ads worth undermining a newspaper’s reputation?

  28. Nigel Moore says:

    I think what happened is obvious here. After exposing the shale gas industry with a rare piece of proper investigative journalism, someone (or more likely a group) very wealthy and very powerful managed to pressure the editors into devoting an entire ‘special section on energy’ to hyping up unconventionals, bashing renewables, and downplaying climate change. Its as clear as day.

    This is undoubtedly the result of blowback from the shale gas piece that pissed so many rich conservative businessmen off.

    • Joe Romm says:

      Normally I’d say “no way,” but there may be a grain of truth to this….

    • The degree of media meddling oil, gas and coal interests engage in is getting pretty extreme. And it’s not just an oil/gas/coal company commercial airing every second of the waking day.

  29. Bill G says:

    This is all about one thing.

    Big Oil is the most powerful human force on the planet. I mean really, really powerful.

    Even the New York Times dares not threaten them. Instead they genuflect as do all politicians, government officials and media.

  30. What these writers don’t understand is that it’s not just about jobs. It’s about the kind of jobs that will be sustainable for more than 20 years. It’s about creating three times as many jobs as the fossil fuel industry. It’s about a renewable, distributed energy infrastructure that’s less frail and centralized. It’s about radical change that pulls the Earth’s climate back from a civilization-wrecking brink. It’s about becoming a world leader in an area of energy technology that will be necessary to a vast segment of the world population.

    The degree of ignorance displayed by these articles is as stunning as it is contemptible. But the NY Times isn’t the only media outlet failing to report the real climate story. In fact, most mainstream news sources operate under a pallor of truth-strangling denial.

  31. squidboy6 says:

    yeah, well most of them are New Yorkers so they’re in the most gluttonous city on the face of the Earth, outside of London, Tokyo, Paris, Bejing… well there are lots of places like that. Krugman is worth reading and there is some honest work at the NYT but I appreciate the above points.

    Maybe a loud anti-NYT movement would be helpful.

  32. Have you seen the avalanche of fossil fuel ads on TV and in print? This is a formidable “income stream” for media. It will require a sustained effort and heretofore unseen ethical commitment on the part of political and business leaders to turn away from fossil fuels.

  33. Ernest says:

    The NYT is “broken” when it comes to covering energy (and climate change). Ok, fine, so they present fossil fuel industry view on energy. But I wish they Stephen Lacey could’ve represented the “renewable energy” perspective. (Get the most qualified representatives for both.)

    I’m not ready to give up on the NYT. Nikolas Kristof has given an excellent defense of Occupy Wall Street. It’s not a “mob” trying to “overthrow capitalism”, but rather trying to restore capitalist principles of *accountability*. This sounds like excellent messaging that can have mainstream support. It is not asking for an impossible vague radical change, but for reforms that should be common sense, and quite doable.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/occupy-wall-street-isnt-h_n_1035988.html

  34. SecularAnimist says:

    The Times has not joined the “ignorati”, they have joined the deliberate deceivers.

  35. Krissy says:

    After reading this I decided to check out Justin Gillis and I see he is just as bad as the rest of the NYT shillers. In his article “Deep Thinking About the Future of Food” he was doing the divisive thing that the NYT loves so much, pitting consumers against farmers and environmentalists. He gives credence to the idea that the organic label means nothing ecologically. I just wish these people would wake up a little. The organic and sustainable ag movements have woken up the younger generation to the transformative power of agricultural practices and people are more aware and involved in food production than ever.

  36. Clearly they are panding to their advertisers.

    Figure ads from oil, energy, or automotive companies make up a huge portion of their revenue.

    The NYTImes seems to be serving those who prefer to remain ignorant and ill prepared.

    I agree Joe, this newspaper is a waste of energy and trees.

  37. Leif says:

    I would add a question to the NY Times. With the Fossil industry big five alone earning 101 billion in in 2011 and climbing just where is the money coming from to maintain those earnings in a stagnant or worse economy?

  38. Eric Adler says:

    I think that the Times is not as bad as Joe claims. In today’s paper there is an article on the economic impact of the drought in Texas, and many comments from scientists in the article pointing to the impact of climate change on the frequency of such events. It is close to what Steven Lacey wrote today.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/business/energy-environment/catastrophic-drought-in-texas-causes-global-economic-ripples.html?ref=earth

    The NYT 2 article deserves the scathing criticism it got.

    The NYT 1 article was designed to inform people about the variety of new sources of oil and gas that will be coming online. In the beginning of the article it did point out the devil’s bargain related to climate change. In my opinion this provided sufficient perspective on the problem. The article also chronicled other environmental problems for instance problems with fracking and tar sands. I think the article is basically accurate.

  39. RH factor says:

    Russian Television and Al Jazeera for the truth.
    The Oil/Coal supporting NY Times and their reight wing tendencies of late making me bark chunks

  40. RH factor says:

    NY Times/Fox/Kochs/Jp Morgan/Oilgarchy. OWS on them pronto