Guest essay by Eric Worrall
New York Times has triggered intolerant deep greens across the USA, by hiring a columnist who is not completely certain we face inevitable eco-doom.
Climate of Complete Certainty
This is Bret Stephens’s first column.
When someone is honestly 55 percent right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60 percent right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God.
But what’s to be said about 75 percent right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100 percent right? Whoever says he’s 100 percent right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.
— An old Jew of Galicia
In the final stretch of last year’s presidential race, Hillary Clinton and her team thought they were, if not 100 percent right, then very close.
Right on the merits. Confident in their methods. Sure of their chances. When Bill Clinton suggested to his wife’s advisers that, considering Brexit, they might be underestimating the strength of the populist tide, the campaign manager, Robby Mook, had a bulletproof answer: The data run counter to your anecdotes.
That detail comes from “Shattered,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s compulsively readable account of Clinton’s 2016 train wreck. Mook belonged to a new breed of political technologists with little time for retail campaigning and limitless faith in the power of models and algorithms to minimize uncertainty and all but predict the future.
With me so far? Good. Let’s turn to climate change.
Last October, the Pew Research Center published a survey on the politics of climate change. Among its findings: Just 36 percent of Americans care “a great deal” about the subject. Despite 30 years of efforts by scientists, politicians and activists to raise the alarm, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either indifferent to or only somewhat bothered by the prospect of planetary calamity.
Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?
Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.
To a normal person this article might seem harmless enough. But Stephens has trespassed on forbidden territory – he dares to question whether we should accept absolutely every pronouncement of imminent eco-doom at face value.
The overreaction from greens verges on comical. Consider the following from deSmogBlog;
Climate Scientists Cancelling Their New York Times Subscription Over Hiring of Climate Denialist Bret Stephens
By Graham Readfearn • Thursday, April 27, 2017 – 16:59
A New York Times defence of its hiring of a climate science denialist as a leading columnist is pushing high-profile climate scientists to cancel their subscriptions.
Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany, is the latest scientist to write publicly to the New York Times detailing his reasons for cancelling their subscriptions.
The NYT has hired former Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens as a writer and deputy editorial page editor.
Stephens wrote several columns while at the WSJ disparaging climate science and climate scientists, which he has collectively described as a “religion” while claiming rising temeperatures may be natural.
The NYT has been defending its decision publicly, saying that “millions of people” agree with Stephens on climate science and just because their readers don’t like his opinions, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard.
But the NYT defence has angered scientists.
Huffington Post has also joined the fun;
13 Better Things To Read Than Bret Stephens’ First New York Times Column
The Gray Lady’s newest hire used his debut column to defend his record of climate science denial.
29/04/2017 9:09 AM AEST
Alexander C. Kaufman Business & Environment Reporter, HuffPost
The New York Times took a lot of heat for hiring Bret Stephens, a former opinion writer at The Wall Street Journal, as its newest columnist. There was a lot to criticize. In his storied tenure on some of the most radically conservative pages in print journalism, Stephens accused Arabs of suffering a “disease of the mind,” railed against the Black Lives Matter movement and dismissed the rise of campus rape as an “imaginary enemy.”
But Stephens’ views on climate change ― namely that the jury is still out on whether burning fossil fuels is the chief cause ― drew the widest condemnation. ThinkProgressadmonished the Gray Lady for hiring an “extreme climate denier,” and famed climatologist Michael Mann backed them up in the critique. DeSmog Blog, a site whose tagline reads “clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science,” reported on a letter from climate scientists who are canceling their subscriptions to the newspaper over its latest hire. In These Times’ headline pointedly asked: “Why the Hell did the New York Times just hire a climate denier?”
Even the Times’ own reporters publicly questioned the hire.
I look forward to Stephen’s second column.