If you’re reading the Wall Street Journal, you’re part of the problem

For reasons that can only reflect poorly on the paper, the Wall Street Journal recently decided it was a good idea to publish an op-ed that recycled some the of the most soundly discredited notions associated with the climate change denial movement. The piece was signed by 16 ostensible “scientists,” though only four have any experience with climatology, and even they work on the extreme fringes of respectable research.

The same editors refused to publish a letter from a longer list of actual climatologists, a letter that does reflect the science of the day and one that the journal Science did see fit to publish.

The WSJ’s “travesty” of an editorial decision continues to reverberate around the blogosphere almost two weeks later. Here’s a roundup of the response, which has been summarized thusly:

… flaring anti-science syndrome suffering climate denier and delayer inanities often divert people from valuable and productive activities. Prominent eruptions of this malady, however, drive white-cell like effort to respond and dampen the damage…

12 Replies to “If you’re reading the Wall Street Journal, you’re part of the problem”

  1. The WSJ’s straight reporting is generally very good, but their editorial page must be written from the moon. A lot of subscribers don’t bother looking at it and throw it away.

  2. Maybe the climate “scientists” and IPCC should consult with the general science community before publishing their illogical non scientific findings about global warming, before they start criticizing others.
    Why is it justified to say that solar insolation is the sole source of warming energy and completely ignore the fact that Earths decay heat supplies 50%+ of the ground temperature? (Nature Geoscience July 2011) And why is it proper to completely ignore the fact that the gravity from the sun and planets supplies variable energy & heat to the Earth? (just like the moon’s variable orbit & gravity provides tidal energy)? Their so called scientific justification completely ignores factors which explain the 12, 60 and 934 year etc NATURAL temperature cycles evident in global warming and climate change. see the paper “Gravity causes climate change” in http://www.scribd.com for more information.
    Then there is the stupid carbon clock estimating the amount of Carbon releases, when the amount of CO2 does NOT determine how much warming energy enters the Earth. The CO2 in the Greenhouse Effect acts as an energy transfer device just like conduction and convection. It does NOT create or destroy energy. It can NOT create warming. I have NEVER seen such lousy science, And they question the science of others?

  3. John Dodds @ 3:

    It can NOT create warming.

    And a thick down comforter does NOT keep you warmer on a cold winter night than a thin cotton sheet.

    I have NEVER seen such lousy science

    Sure you have. At all those denialist sites from which you copy pasta-ed talking points. You just don’t know enough to tell up from down.

  4. John Dodds:

    I’m sorry to say that you appear to have come under the influence of some sort of physics crank with regards to the topic of climatology.

    Either your source of information or your personal conjecture have led you very far astray from what climatologists, the IPCC, and other national & international science academies and organizations have to say on climate science.

    Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases have been shown experimentally and empirically, since at least the time of John Tyndall, to delay the radiation of heat from the Earth to space. In response to increases in these gases (and hence increased delays) the Earth is in a state of energy imbalance (energy in > energy out) must heat up to maintain thermal equilibrium (such that energy in == energy out once more).

  5. I’ve tried to find the article referenced in #3 and can’t. It couldn’t possibly just be made up, could it?

  6. A Google search for the title will find it, blueshift, but the online consensus seems to be that John Dodds is a Poe.

  7. No, you can’t deliberately poe.

    If you’re deliberately doing that, this is called “Trolling”.

    A poe happens to OTHER THAN THE POSTER and is a misapprehension on the part of the reader (not the writer) of the message that it was serious.

    Since the message was not intended (if it is to manage to create a Poe situation) to be taken seriously, it has to be meant sarcastically and, upon realising that others have taken it literally, will correct the misapprehension of the readers about their true intent.

    Then the readers so informed go “Doh! I was poe’d!”.

    If you have to say it’s a Poe, it wasn’t.

  8. The Wall Street Journal and The Wall Street Journal editorial pages are two very different things. Conflating them like this does a disservice to the fine journalists who work for the actual newspaper as opposed to the lunatic edit pages.

    This of course is the fault of the owners for allowing the two publications to be melded into one, creating mass confusion among the populace and harming the paper’s brand. But we shouldn’t make things worse by calling the editorial pages “The Wall Street Journal.” I read it every day, and I am not “part of the problem.”

  9. Dan: I appreciate the distinction between op-ed and news, but:

    1. I’ve worked in several newspaper newsrooms, all of which had an ostensible wall between the two, and all of whom nevertheless exercised some degree of control over the style and content of the news coverage so as not to conflict with the position of the publisher that was more often expressed on the op-ed pages. It’s just a myth that any paper has two entirely separate departments that never interact.

    2. While the WSJ has many reputable reporters, the fact remains that the paper rarely writes cutting edge pieces about climate science energy technologies. At least not compared to the NYTimes and other comparable publications. I suggest this reflects the situation outlined in my first point.

  10. I’m not well-versed enough on climate coverage in particular to address that question, though I know I’ve read sane, well-reported stories on the subject in the WSJ.

    You may have worked at other newspapers, but then, so have I. I’ve never felt any pressure or impact from the editorial-page people on what the newsrooms did. The bigger the paper is, generally, the more this is the case.

    I also have been following the WSJ for 30 years, and I know lots of people who work there or have worked there. The wall between the editorial pages and the newsroom at the WSJ is thicker than it is at most papers. It’s just a fact: they’re two entirely separate entities that neither have, nor want, much to do with each other. They just happen to appear in the same publication.

    I realize you’re hardly the only person to not make this distinction, but your headline was particularly startling, which is why I commented here.

  11. “The wall between the editorial pages and the newsroom at the WSJ is thicker than it is at most papers.”

    And China’s more free than North Korea.

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