Year 4, Month 10, Day 30: I’m Looking Through You

The Denver Post’s Vincent Carroll addresses the LA Times’ recent decision to exclude denialists’ letters:

Most skeptics of any sophistication recognize that global warming has occurred and appreciate that some or much of it in recent decades could be caused by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. But they tend to believe, for example, that there are more uncertainties in the science than generally conceded, that the relative dearth of warming over the past 15 or more years is a blow to the models and that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has demonstrated consistent bias in favor of alarmist interpretations.

Surely readers should be free to debate such points.

For that matter, are there really no properly credentialed experts who question whether humans are largely responsible for the warming since the 1970s, as the IPCC maintains? Of course there are — and it would be editorial arrogance to exclude their views.

Climatologist Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville declares on his blog that “evidence from my group’s government-funded research … suggests global warming is mostly natural, and that the climate system is quite insensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol pollution.”

Is that a factual inaccuracy or simply a minority view among climatologists?

Is it factually inaccurate to declare “we don’t know” how large the human contribution to warming is, as Judith Curry, professor of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told an NPR reporter in August?

I’ve criticized Republican candidates who dismiss the mainstream view of global warming as a hoax, and no doubt will again, but I’m also reluctant to shut down reader discussion on issues in which most scientists may share similar views.

Where would it end? What other debates raging among our readers do the arbiters of truth believe we should silence?

Mealy-mouthed. October 20:

Even the most lenient opinion page would be unlikely to print a letter on a medical topic from an advocate of the medieval theory of “humours,” and media outlets don’t feel obliged to allot space to arguments for such regressive or unscientific viewpoints as geocentric cosmology, a flat Earth, or the moral acceptability of slavery.

It’s in this context the the LA Times’ recent decision to reject letters denying the reality of anthropogenic global warming must be understood. While climatologists disagree about particular climate forcing mechanisms or the relative severity of specific effects, there’s no longer any scientific argument about the human causes of climate change. Outlying views will always exist, but this is no reason to treat single dissenters as worthy of equivalent airtime or column inches — especially since, in media handling of climate issues, these contrarian opinions invariably come from the same individuals (Spencer, Curry, and Lindzen).

Warren Senders


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