The “liberal” New York Times (with the help of the Drudge Report) carried conservative water today, paradoxically attacking Al Gore for global warming “hype.” In fact, it’s NYT reporter William Broad that’s trafficking in hype.
Real Climate, the preeminent climate scientist blog, has the definitive takedown:
We criticized William Broad previously [in November 2006] for a [NYT] piece that misrepresented the scientific understanding of the factors that drive climate change over millions of years…
…In this piece, Broad attempts to discredit Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” by exaggerating the legitimate, but minor, criticisms of his treatment of the science by experts on climate science, and presenting specious or unsubstantiated criticisms by a small number of the usual, well-known contrarians who wouldn’t agree even if Gore read aloud from the latest [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report.
Sierra Club’s Carl Pope weighs in on his blog:
…reading the article carefully, there’s nothing here — because what the scientists are saying is simply that there is a lot of uncertainty, not about global warming’s reality, not about its being caused by human green-house pollution, and not about it having serious consequences. The scientists are simply saying that they believe there is a lot of uncertainty about the details — a fact that Gore freely and frequently concedes.
And this is not a new story for the Times. Andrew Revkin wrote a similar, although much more careful piece, in February.
The problem is with quoting scientists as saying that, given uncertainty, Gore is being an alarmist. Uncertainty about the details of global warming shouldn’t make us feel less alarmed — the more uncertainty there is about our climactic future the more alarmed we should become, exactly as Gore is urging us. The less we understand the precise consequences of messing with the concentrations of greenhouse gasses, the more careful we should be to minimize such changes.
Perhaps Broad should have read the Associated Press story that the NYT ran on its website yesterday:
The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people will not have enough water, top scientists are likely to say next month at a meeting in Belgium.
At the same time, tens of millions of others will be flooded out of their homes each year as the earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels, according to portions of a draft of an international scientific report by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Tropical diseases like malaria will spread, the draft says. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone. Pests like fire ants will thrive.
For a time, food will be plentiful because of the longer growing season in northern regions. But by 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the report, which is still being revised … some scientists said the overall message is not likely to change when it is issued in early April
Those 2000 international climate scientists and their dag nab hype.
UPDATE: Grist’s David Roberts rips NYT and Broad:
This may be the worst, sloppiest, most dishonest piece of reporting I’ve ever seen in the NYT. It’s got all the hallmarks of a vintage Gore hit piece: half-truths, outright falsehoods, unsubstantiated quotes, and a heaping dose of innuendo.
Bill Broad took to the pages of the paper of record to establish that there is significant concern in the scientific community about the accuracy of Gore’s movie. To do so, he trotted out scientific outliers, non-scientists, and hacks with discredited arguments.