The Washington Post prints my letter. Apparently my clever disguise worked!

If anyone in the DC area sees it in the paper, please let me know. I’d love to get a clipping.

Month 8, Day 3: An Acorn!

The blind pig that is the Washington Post just published a genuinely good editorial about climate change.

Indeed, as the editorial points out, there is no longer a “controversy” of any kind with regard to the scientific factuality of anthropogenic climate change. The world is rapidly approaching a climatic tipping point which will almost certainly trigger a future profoundly inimical to human existence, and human activity is responsible. In a few years we will be far too busy dealing with the ramifications of the crisis to assign blame. Right now, however, there’s still enough breathing room to point out that the Washington Post has been “denier central” for years — muddying the waters and obscuring the truth in column after column by anti-science ignorati like George Will, Sarah Palin, Bjorn Lomborg, Robert Bruce and Robert Samuelson. As the “home-town paper” of our government, the Post has a responsibility to provide factual information and reasoned analysis to America’s policy-makers — and to refrain from printing misleading, inaccurate and scientifically unsound pontifications which provide our political class with convenient rationalizations to avoid action.

Warren Senders

Month 7, Day 28: Guess What’s Coming To Dinner?

There was a big storm in Washington, DC — so I combined yesterday’s letter to the Times with the one I sent to the Hartford Courant a few days back, and sent it off to the WaPo.

The recent storm that knocked out power systems and claimed lives in Washington over the weekend is a preview of coming attractions. As the temperature increases, more water enters the atmosphere, giving us more rain, more snow, more storm damage, power outages, and destroyed property. While no single storm is “caused” by global warming, the greenhouse effect makes these devastating storms more likely. And yet a significant portion of the American public thinks anthropogenic global warming is a “hoax.” Why? Because our news media have abdicated their journalistic responsibilities, hewing instead to a policy of false equivalence that “balances” a climatologist with an industry-funded “skeptic,” misleading the public that there really is a significant “debate” on this issue. There is no debate; if the scientific consensus on global warming was represented accurately, we’d hear from forty-eight scientists for every denier, and our nation’s citizens would be demanding meaningful action on climate change.

Warren Senders

Month 6, Day 11: Well, Now We Can Breathe A Great Big Sigh Of Relief.

Desperately hunting for something that isn’t about the Gulf of Mexico…found this article from the AP in the Washington Post. Some Dutch scientists think the original predictions of the impacts of glacial shrinkage were too severe. It is always fun to write the WaPo, because they’ve had such a terrible record on climate issues, and I get to mock them a bit.

What a relief! Only sixty million people (give or take a few hundred thousand) may be affected by droughts, water failures, and food shortages, as opposed to the hundreds of millions originally described in the IPCC study. Those of us who are paying attention to climate change must take our good news where we can, for there isn’t much of it. And the fact that a phrase like “only sixty million people may be affected” is somehow “good news” is bad news indeed. It is long past time for our politicians and our media to stop playing rhetorical games on climate issues, and start confronting the facts with clarity and respect for science. When the debate is whether climate change will destroy the livelihoods of sixty million vs. two hundred million people — that’s no longer a debate. We can no longer afford to remain ignorant of the facts.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 18: This Kurtz Me More Than It Kurtz You

I got tired of writing about the damned Deepwater Horizon. How many times can you say “they’re killing us!” before it gets old? So I went hunting for something new to engage my monkey mind, and A Siegel delivered, with a piece highlighting the blinkered behavior of our national media, as exemplified by the “coverage of the coverage” carried out by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz.

Kurtz noticed that the media didn’t treat the Southern storms as nationally relevant….but it didn’t occur to him that things can be localized in time as well as space.

If the media ignores Tennessee and Kentucky because of their location and demographics, then it’s a case of Elite Liberals Ignoring The Real Americans. Witness Kurtz’ interviewee Bob Sellers, talking about media coverage of the floods:

“On that side of the Hudson, they really lose sight of the rest of the country,” says Sellers, who grew up in Kentucky. “They view it as flyover country. . . . There’s just a feeling among folks here, ‘Look at what the national media are talking about, they’re not giving any attention to this.’ ”

But when they fail to connect the temporal and climatic dots, the media become Enablers of Disaster. Which, needless to say, was something Howard Kurtz didn’t notice at all.


Howard Kurtz has it half right: media coverage of extreme weather is both geographically and climatically parochial, never mentioning that such events are getting more severe and more frequent — and that climate scientists have been predicting this for years. It’s simple enough: if the climate gets warmer there will be more evaporation, which means more moisture in the air, which means that there will be more and heavier storms. Global warming is real; it is dangerous; it is human-caused — and Nashville’s flooded neighborhoods are genuine evidence of it. Climatologists said it was going to happen just like this, and the media disgracefully ignored them. By treating freak weather events as isolated from one another and from the larger trend of increasing precipitation, the news establishment becomes complicit in keeping Americans unaware of the gravest threat humanity has ever faced. We can no longer afford to remain ignorant.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 9: Kicks and Kisses as Deserved

The Washington Post does the right thing every so often. This letter is a combination of orchid and onion.

The Post is to be commended for its editorial rebuking the Virginia Attorney General for his anti-science demagoguery. Ken Cuccinelli’s bogus crusade against climate scientists will undermine the reputation of the state’s many excellent universities, along with making it much more difficult for them to recruit professors and students. And, of course, as you correctly note, Cuccinelli has “declared war on reality.”

It’s good to see the Washington Post siding with science, which has been taking quite a beating recently. Unacknowledged in your editorial is the fact that the Post has been extremely active in confusing the debate over the validity of climate science, publishing the misleading and deceptive work of people like George Will, Bjorn Lomborg, Sarah Palin, Robert Samuelson, and Dana Milbank, among others. Dare we hope for a change in the Post’s editorial approach to the gravest existential threat humanity has ever faced — or is Friday’s editorial just a cameo appearance by actual reality-based thinking?

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 31: Fire at Will!

It’s sad that “good news” on climate change is simply the information that the by-now-to-be-expected bad news is acknowledged to be true. Phil Jones and the rest of the East Anglia Climate Research Group have of course been exonerated completely by the British House Of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.

There were any number of things I could have done with this news. As it happened, I decided to send a paronomasiac screed to the Washington Post, which has provided a forum for the odious George Will, a man of disproportionate influence whose glib mendacity has gravely damaged our planet’s chances of survival. The chance the Post will print this letter is probably slimmer than my winning the lottery (I never buy tickets), but it sure felt good. Especially calling Will a calumnist.

Now that the British House of Commons has exonerated Dr. Phil Jones and the rest of his Climate Research Team from charges of scientific malpractice, may we expect more from the Washington Post than a solitary Associated Press article? By printing effluvia like “Climate Tantrums” (February 21) the Washington Post has become complicit in an egregious misrepresentation of science. I hope I may be forgiven the obvious pun: the deception is indeed Willful. George Will, the Post’s glibly erudite house denialist, should be required to apologize for his mendacious pedantry. A single mea culpa, however, is insufficient: like many a juvenile offender against the common good, the Post’s errant calumnist should spend a year in “community service,” working as an unpaid assistant to one of the climatologists whose work he has so freely disparaged.

Warren Senders

Year 1, Month 1, Day 15: Chastising the Washington Post

Daughter announced this morning that she wanted to stay home, and “make up a school at home.” I agreed, with the caveat that she would have to spend a bunch of time alone, as I had work to do and some students later in the morning. In a minute or so I’m going to make some calls for the Coakley campaign. Today’s letter is a remix of several earlier items; I’m now at the point where I have enough material to dissect and reassemble my output in multiple combinations. It’s less work, or it would be if the prose wasn’t on such a harrowing topic.

Each day brings new news about the magnitude of the looming climate crisis; most recently we learn that the Pine Island Glacier, largest of the glaciers making up the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, has passed a “tipping point” and is now inexorably melting. Simultaneously levels of atmospheric methane over the Siberian Shelf in the Arctic Ocean now range between a hundred and a thousand times normal, indicating that gigatonnes of this powerful greenhouse gas which have been frozen under the tundra for tens of thousands of years are now starting to enter the atmosphere. The most significant thing about the predictions of climatologists is that they are without exception too conservative; tipping points projected for the end of this century now loom at the end of this decade.

The best-case scenarios for runaway global warming lead to terrifying dystopias, with millions of displaced climate refugees, worldwide food and water shortages, resource wars and devastatingly unpredictable weather patterns. The worst-case scenarios could lead to global temperatures soaring to levels inhospitable to any life at all. Venus, in short. And the scientific evidence (again, based on conservative projections) suggests that the probability of bad-to-worst-case outcomes is statistically significant. This country’s rush to war in 2002 was based on evidence far less robust than that for human causes of global climate change: if the evidence of Iraqi WMD’s was as strong as that for anthropogenic global warming, our troops would have found stacks of nuclear weapons freely sold in the bazaars of Baghdad.

And where is the Washington Post in all this? Firmly ignoring science and continuing to publish the glib (albeit erudite) misinformation propagated by George Will. The Post should correct this shortsighted policy immediately; there has never been a time in human history when enabling ignorance could have such devastating consequences.

Warren Senders