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Friday, January 1, 2010

Joseph Romm: Ken Levenson reports a mugging - New York Times has started the year with a true piece of anti-scientific crap masquerading as clever pop commentary

The NY Times starts 2010 pushing the same damn disinformation about climate science it did in 2009

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, January 1, 2010

A few people were critical of me for putting the NY Times third on the list of the 2009 “Citizen Kane” awards for non-excellence in climate journalism.

But now the NYT has started the year with a true piece of anti-scientific crap masquerading as clever pop commentary, “It’s Always the End of the World as We Know It,” by Denis Dutton, a man Wikipedia — but not the NY Times — explains is a “libertarian media commentator/activist.”

For the record, the science is quite clear that unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are projected to lead to the end of the world as we know it, including “towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions” — as this literature review makes clear.  It’s no surprise that a libertarian professor of philosophy would write an anti-science screed.  But what is the NYT’s excuse for publishing it?

Indeed, it was the NYT, not Dutton, which came up with the graphic above that lumps “Global warming” with “Evil Aliens” and “Nostradamus.”  Seriously.

Long-time CP commenter has saved me the trouble of a longer response on this New Year’s Day, with a letter to the editor he posted here:

To the Editor:
I want to report a mugging. I thought I was enjoying a quiet and safe New Years at home.
Re “It’s Always the End of the World as We Know It” (opinion article, Jan 1). 2010/ 01/ 01/ opinion/ 01dutton.html?ref=opinion
Mr. Dutton, provided an entertaining and benign exposition on human fascination with Apocalypse and it’s counterproductive nature, speaking of Y2K, religion, UFO cults and “Frankenstein” – noting: “Such end-time fantasies must have a profound, persistent appeal in order to keep drawing wide-eyed crowds into movie theaters, as historically they have drawn crowds into churches, year after year.” Mr. Dutton’s theme is clear. And having read 90% of his 1,332 word article, never once encountering climate change, Mr. Dutton decides to pivot, and magically concludes in 77 words:

“This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human “folly, greed and denial.” Repent and recycle!”

Suddenly I was no longer reading at my dining table but felt as if standing in Times Square, just conned by a Three Card Monte street hustler – and the hopes for the New Year were just sucked out of the room. I sit, mugged by the New York Times.

Yes, I realize Mr. Dutton has written an opinion piece and that he is a “controversial” libertarian figure – although the paper’s one line bio gives no hint. However, The New York Times must realize that this opinion piece does great damage to the public understanding of climate change.
Mr. Dutton does more damage than just executing an “elegent” con on The New York Times and its readership in presenting what amounts to little more than a one sided political screed masquerading as observations of the human pyche. Mr. Dutton presents the BIG LIE.

Perhaps other readers noticed as I, that in his 1,332 words, Mr. Dutton spends not a single one explaining why he thinks climate science is based on eschatology. One might expect such libelous assertions to be presented with some form of basic, sound, scientific underpinning. But no, he provides nothing to support his outrageously wrong-headed assertions about climate science. He instead leaves us to infer that “climate catastrophism” – the mainstream position of business-as-usual climate science – to be somehow deserving of categorization with the likes of Y2K, and End of Days cults and providing an almost sublime rhetorical service to climate change deniers the world over.

I don’t expect The New York Times to be an advocate of climate change energy policy but at a minimum it would be nice to get from the paper a greater understanding of climate science and the catastrophic risks facing me and my family.

Instead, on this 2010 New Years Day morning, the paper is a mule, smuggling counterfeit information into our homes.

Ken Levenson
Brooklyn, NY Jan 1, 2010

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cold, isn't it?