In his first column for The New York Times, Bret Stephens — former deputy editorial page editor for The Wall Street Journal and Pulitzer Prize winner — dared to question climate change arguments, a bold move that has angered environmentalists, activists, and subscribers.
In his op-ed, Stephens points out that despite 30 years of efforts made by scientists, activists, and politicians to raise alarm about climate change, nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t care “a great deal” about the subject. He also states that what is actually occurring in science versus what is being proclaimed as absolute truth do not line up.
He pointed, as an example, to Hillary Clinton’s failed run for the presidency, which relied heavily on misleading data. He wrote that Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, put “limitless faith in the power of models and algorithms to minimize uncertainty and all but predict the future.”
“There’s a lesson here,” Stephens observed. “We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris.”
The column has drawn much criticism, including posts from Times subscribers who say they are canceling their subscription because of it.
I’m on hold with the @nytimes trying to cancel. They told me they’re slammed with people canceling subscriptions because of Bret Stephens.
— Sean Kent (@seankent) April 29, 2017
— ClimateCommunication (@ClimateComms) April 30, 2017
Stefan Rahmstorf, a climatologist and professor of physics at Potsdam University in Germany, even posted a letter he wrote to the Times regarding his canceled subscription, stating that Stephens is “simply repeating falsehoods spread by various ‘think tanks’ funded by the fossil fuel industry.”
— Stefan Rahmstorf (@rahmstorf) April 27, 2017
Stephens defended his column, explaining it was written: “to help the climate-advocacy community improve the quality of its persuasion.”
He added, shooting back at his critics, “I am by no means an expert in climate science, and I take it as fact that the earth is warming, perhaps dangerously so. Nor am I infallible: Human fallibility was my very point. That said, I have reasonably good credentials in writing and reading. Clearly, some of my critics need remedial education in these basic subjects.”
The New York Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet defended the paper and its columnist, stating, “Didn’t we learn from this past election that our goal should be to understand different views?”
He went on to point out he doesn’t supervise Stephens; the Times’ editorial section is separate from its newsroom, and the paper has 10 reporters dedicated to reporting on climate change.
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