Apparently all the think pieces the New York Times has done on Trump voters has taken hold at their editorial board, because they recently hired Wall Street Journal writer and climate denier Bret Stephens for their op-ed page.
Just a few minutes ago, ahead of the large March for Climate in Washington, D.C., the Times pushed out Stephens' first op-ed as a news alert on mobile phones. As you may imagine, his very first column is on...climate denial.
Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?
Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.
In other words, it's not the science. It's those who claim the science as a cause to save the planet. They're the bonkers ones.
Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly.
By now I can almost hear the heads exploding. They shouldn’t, because there’s another lesson here — this one for anyone who wants to advance the cause of good climate policy. As Revkin wisely noted, hyperbole about climate “not only didn’t fit the science at the time but could even be counterproductive if the hope was to engage a distracted public.”
Apparently we're just supposed to deny our lying eyes, ears, and temperature gauges here, because statistical models are fallible. And to put an exclamation point on that, Stephens points to the 2016 election, where the statistical models predicted a Clinton win but in fact Trump won.
Never mind that those very same models were nearly exact on the percentage of the popular vote that Clinton won. Clearly the failure to predict outcomes in the Electoral College (which they also did, giving Trump slim odds of winning) is predictive of the fallibility of climate studies.
I'm not going to take Stephens argument apart piece by piece. There are plenty of excellent writers about climate change and global warming who can do that perfectly well. But for me, the fact that we are even discussing a column in the so-called Paper of Record which denies the outcomes of science which he does not dispute, is a terrible portent of things to come.
Pandering to people who deny science and the conclusions drawn from it is a very, very bad business model, and leaves the Times vulnerable in many other ways. For me, it suggests that they are more interested in wooing ignorance than casting light into the dark corners.