02 February 2012

Wall Street Journal under attack for climate op-ed

The Wall Street Journal is under scrutiny for publishing an op-ed attacking climate science last Friday, while turning down another op-ed explaining climate change and signed by 255 researchers with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which was eventually published in the journal Science

Jeremy Hance  | mongabay.com | January 31, 2012

The op-ed last Friday first garnered attention because it was signed by 16 scientists, however other journalists have shown that most of these signatories are not climatologists (the list includes an astronaut, a physician, and an airplane engineer), many are well-known deniers, and at least six have been tied to the fossil fuels industry.

The Wall Street Journal op-ed claimed that there has been a "lack of warming for more than a decade." However, such statement flies-in-the-face of temperature recordings: the last decade (2000-2009) was the warmest yet on record. While scientists don't expect every year to be warmer than the last due to climate change, they do expect to see a warming trend over decades: the past 35 years have been above average. To date global temperatures are 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the Industrial Revolution average.

The New York Times reports that the op-ed also misrepresented economic studies on climate change, claiming that there would be no economic benefit to tackling climate change and that the world should wait for 50 years before doing anything. The op-ed's authors cited research by William D. Nordhaus, economics professor at Yale, to back them up. However, Nordhaus toldthe New York Times: "The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value [...] I have advocated a carbon tax for many years as the best way to attack the issue. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings."

At the same time, Forbes reports that the Wall Street Journal rejected publishing another op-ed , this one signed by 225 scientists with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, that outlines the basic science behind climate change, including that the Earth is warming due to human activities which have "overwhelmed" natural climate impacts.

"The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more," the letter published in Science reads.

Copyright mongabay 2010

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