Last weekend was a good one for climate-change deniers. A hacker stole and released scores of documents, including personal e-mail exchanges, from a server at Britain’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, a premier climate-change research center. “This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud,” proclaimed one skeptic.
Not quite. Assuming the documents are genuine — the authenticity of all has not been confirmed — critics are taking them out of context and misinterpreting at least one controversial e-mail exchange. None of it seriously undercuts the scientific consensus on climate change. But a few of the documents are damaging for other reasons….
Many — including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible and their heated criticism of climate scientists unconvincing….
By our reckoning — and that of most scientists, policymakers and almost every government in the world — the probability that the planet will warm in the long term because of human activity is extremely high, and the probability that allowing it to do so unabated will have disastrous effects is unacceptably large. The case that governments should hedge against that outcome is formidable enough.
So the Washington Post opines today in an editorial, “Climate of denial.” I’m not posting this because of their analysis of Hackergate, although they come to the same big-picture conclusion Reuters did (see Reuters: “ANALYSIS-Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer”).
No, what’s of interest to me is two other points. First, while some in the blogosphere are decrying anybody who uses the term “denier” — The Post editorial board uses it a whopping 5 times in 5 paragraphs, the two above and these three:
- Whatever else comes out about the stolen documents, they have become examples of how not to react to climate-change deniers.
- … a fact that climate-change deniers use …
- Climate scientists should not let themselves be goaded by the irresponsibility of the deniers ….
I’ve said that I think terms like “delayer” and “anti-science disinformers” are better, but, for better or worse, the term “denier” has become mainstream. That said, I will try to reserve that term for the professional disinformers and their work (see Obama takes on the anti-scientific delayers, while Australia’s Rudd slams the “deniers” and the “gaggle” of “conspiracy theorists” opposing climate action).
Second, I find it staggeringly ironic that the editors of the Washington Post would decry the “climate-change deniers” on their editorial page when they continue to allow one of the most influential of them all, George Will, to publish unfact-checked, false-filled pieces week after week on their op-ed page:
- The Washington Post, abandoning any journalistic standards, lets George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages
- In a blunder reminiscent of Janet Cooke scandal, the Washington Post lets George Will reassert all his climate falsehoods plus some new ones
- Will the Washington Post ever fact check a George Will column?
- Exclusive interview with Dr. Mojib Latif, the man who moved George Will to extreme disinformation
- Memo to Post: If George Will quotes a lie, it’s still a lie
- Washington Post reporters take unprecedented step of contradicting columnist George Will in a news article
And that’s not even counting pieces by other disinformers, including Sarah Palin:
- Washington Post, Fred Hiatt turn op-ed page into a “joke” with yet another falsehood-filled piece attacking climate action and clean energy “” by GOP quitter-in-chief Sarah “Four Pinocchios” Palin!
- The Washington Post op-ed page remains the home of un-fact-checked disinformation about clean energy and global warming
Who, exactly, wrote and approved this part of today’s editorial:
- Many — including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible…
Memo to Post editors: So why do you keep publishing those claims?!
Many — including me — find the Washington Post’s editors irresponsible.
UPDATE: Yes, the editorial’s discussion of the emails themselves is quite flawed. The charge against Mann is false, and I’ll deal with it in a separate post.