Month 2, Day 10: All the Specious Equivalence That’s Fit To Print

Thank goodness for Daily Kos. Today I saw two useful posts which provided me with the recipient of this letter (the New York Times) and a framing device which surfaces briefly in my 145 words.

The first, cleverly titled “NYT Soils Itself, AGAIN!” described an article about conflict of interest accusations against Dr. Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, and rebuked the Times for its “balanced” approach to the subject, which presents unsubstantiated allegations from AGW skeptics as somehow forming a valid counter-argument to the intensively documented and cross-checked work of the IPCC’s scientists.

The second was an article by David Brin (who’s a wonderful science-fiction novelist when he’s not writing at Dkos) noting that the climate-change denial business is a manifestation of the pervasive anti-intellectualism that saturates American culture. I strongly encourage you to read “The Real Struggle Behind Climate Change — A War on Expertise.” It rings very, very true.

So that’s the backstory for today’s letter. Off it goes to the Paper of Record, almost certainly to be filed and forgotten. Does that deter me? Not yet.

The climate-denial sector criticizes Dr. Rajendra Pachauri for supposed conflicts of interest, and generalizes to suggest that the conclusions of the I.P.C.C. are somehow compromised. These aspersions are a troubling confluence of two influences: entrenched corporate resistance to any change in business practices, and anti-intellectualism masquerading as common sense. Thousands of qualified climatologists are firmly convinced of anthropogenic global warming, yet professional denialists suggest they’re lying about it for the most venal of reasons — to increase their chances of grant funding! The evidence suggests otherwise: that Christopher Monckton and his ilk are the ones doing the lying — and receiving fat paychecks for doing so. The Times needs to report aggressively on the funding and control of the climate-denial industry, rather than adhere to a specious policy of false equivalence in which scientific facts are “balanced” by unsupported assertions from corporate shills.

Warren Senders