New York Times Rocked: Angry Readers Cancel following Climate Denier Hire

April 29, 2017

Twitter can be brutal.
This time deservedly so.

Willful ignorance may be protected speech, but it does not deserve a place in the United State’s most important newspaper of record.
They let us down historically over Iraq.
They apparently felt that Clinton’s emails were more important than Trump’s Russian mafia connections. They covered up FBI investigation of #Russiagate prior to election.
I was giving them a chance to recover – and they had hired some new reporters for for climate issues.
Then this.

Climate Progress:

The very first column the New York Times published by extreme climate science denier Bret Stephens is riddled with errors, misstatements, unfair comparisons, straw men, and logical fallacies.

Leading climatologist Dr. Michael Mann emailed ThinkProgress: “This column confirms my worst fear: That the NY Times management is now willingly abetting climate change denialism.” Prof. Robert Brulle — whom the Times itself has called “an expert on environmental communications” — called the piece “climate misinformation.”

The column is so deeply flawed that New York Times reporters and news editors immediately started slamming it on twitter. Even Andy Revkin, the former Times climate reporter and blogger whom Stephens quotes twice in his piece, slammed Stephens’ piece on twitter as featuring “straw men” and other flaws.

The Stephens column proves three things:

  1. Bret Stephens doesn’t understand the first thing about climate science (and he provides no actual facts to support his claims).
  2. The NY Times editorial page staff apparently also doesn’t understand climate science.
  3. Editorial page editor James Bennet was not telling the truth when he told Huffington Post last week that the opinion side of the Times applies the “same standards for fairness and accuracy.”

Indeed, the basic errors in Stephens’ piece are so basic it is stunning that the New York Times published them — especially in the Trump era, where the paper advertises itself as a defender of truth.


Yesterday, New York Times subscribers were treated to an email alert announcing the first opinion column from Bret Stephens, who they hired away from the Wall Street Journal. Like all Journal opinion columnists who write about climate change, Stephens has said a lot of things on the subject that could charitably be described as ignorant and wrong. Thus many Times subscribers voiced bewilderment and concern about his hiring, to which the paper’s public editor issued a rather offensive response.

Justifying the critics, here’s how the paper announced Stephens’ first opinion column in an email alert (usually reserved for important breaking news):


In his debut as a Times Op-Ed columnist, Bret Stephens says reasonable people can be skeptical about the dangers of climate change

Stephens gets his few facts wrong

In his column, Stephens pooh-poohed climate change as a “modest (0.85 degrees Celsius) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880,” citing the 2014 IPCC report. However, Stephens packed three big mistakes into that single sentence. Here’s what the IPCC said (emphasis added):

The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C over the period 1880 to 2012

The northern hemisphere warms faster than the global average because it has more land and less ocean than the southern hemisphere (water warms slowly), so this is an important mistake that underestimates the global temperature rise. On top of that, since 2012 we’ve seen the three hottest years on record (2014, 2015, and 2016), so even the 0.85°C warming figure is outdated (it’s now right around 1°C).

Stephens doesn’t understand the rapid pace or urgency of the problem

Most importantly, the global warming we’ve experience is in no way “modest.” We’re already causing a rate of warming faster than when the Earth transitions out of an ice age, and within a few decades we could be causing the fastest climate change Earth has seen in 50 million years. The last ice age transition saw about 4°C global warming over 1,000 years; humans are on pace to cause that much warming between 1900 and 2100 – a period of just 200 years, with most of that warming happening since 1975.

Of course, how much global warming we see in the coming decades depends on how much carbon pollution we dump into the atmosphere. If we take serious immediate action to cut those emissions, as the international community pledged to do under the Paris agreement, we can limit global warming to perhaps 2°C, and the climate consequences that come along with it.

But this is where Stephens’ opinions are particularly unhelpful:

Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts … Perhaps if there were less certitude about our climate future, more Americans would be interested in having a reasoned conversation about it.



6 Responses to “New York Times Rocked: Angry Readers Cancel following Climate Denier Hire”

  1. Robert Huie Says:

    Actually, the column doesn’t say much of anything. It’s essentially drivel. What does Hillary Clinton’s loss have to do with global warming and the resulting climate change? Actually, the only “wrong” item in the column is the assertion that 0.85 C is “modest”. The rest of the screed doesn’t even rise to the level of being wrong.

  2. Torsten Says:

    We know how Nate Silver’s 538 / Roger Pielke Jr relationship ended.

    Will NYT / Bret Stephens follow?

  3. What, you expected more from a WSJ editorial page writer? His column is an excellent window into the mind of climate deniers: a mishmash of conflated but unrelated arguments, misinformation, new vocabulary words in an effort to impress the reader and slippery non-logic. Maybe, with some time, he can be de-programmed and rehabbed back to consciousness.

  4. […] OO New York Times Rocked: Angry Readers Cancel Following Climate Denier Hire – Willful ignorance may be protected speech, but it does not deserve a place in the US’s most important newspaper. […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: