Friday, May 05, 2017

The New York Times approach to climate change


Behold the CrapWaffler, the writer that the New York Times thinks is a contribution to the climate change debate. It's what happens when you hire a climate denialist with the implied condition of employment that they can't completely lie about climate change, but merely smear uncertainty and misdirection about undertaking reasonable action (and Stephens still managed to get important things wrong).

The New York Times thinks it has added to the breadth of discussion on climate by getting as close to wrong as possible while not saying much of anything.



Stephens is shocked, shocked, that people would accuse him of "closet climate denialism". The term denier fit Stephens perfectly in 2015 when he wrote that temperatures would be about the same in 100 years, unless he was lying at the time about what he believed. It would be helpful if he now said his beliefs had changed, but all we get instead is crapwaffles.

I often read Razib Khan, an old-school Burkean conservative who also writes a lot about science. Several years back the NY Times hired him and then quickly dismissed him - he had unwisely associated with some simply vile racists, and guilt by association was enough to deem him unacceptable. I disagree, but to think Stephens, whose range is from wrong to crapwaffle, is better just tells you something about the Times. I recently subscribed to the Washington Post instead.

So skip Stephens, and read Razib to see what a thoughtful conservative would say.

P.S. And fellow bloggers, a reminder to add "no follow" whenever you link to Stephens. I'm pretty good about that when linking to denialists


36 comments:

Canman said...

I'd like to recommend Blair King's response to the bunnies:

https://achemistinlangley.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/the-climate-crew-alienating-more-allies-and-fighting-the-wrong-fights/

"
Let’s start this discussion by talking about the New York Times. As people interested in achieving a low-carbon future know, Brad Plumer was recently hired by the New York Times to work on its energy and climate desk. For those of you who don’t know him, Brad Plumer and David Roberts are two of the writers who turned Vox.com into the place to go for intelligent, but readable, stories on climate change and energy. For the New York Times to scoop up Brad Plumer is an boon for those interested in seeing intelligent, readable stories on energy and climate in the paper of record. Coincidental to the Times hiring Mr. Plumer, they also hired an op-ed writer by the name of Bret Stephens. Mr. Stephens is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who specializes in international affairs but has also written some controversial articles about climate change.

So how have the environmental activists responded to these two hires? Well as expected they have said almost nothing about the arrival of Brad Plumer while organizing a campaign to cancel subscriptions over the hiring of Stephens. Yes, you heard that right, in a country where the Republicans control Congress and Donald Trump is President the climate activists have decided the organization they want to de-fund the most is the New York Times. A paper that has dedicated more ink to climate than virtually any other news organization in North America. Does anyone wonder which jobs will be the first to go if the environmentalists manage to damage the Times’ bottom line. I’m guessing the climate beat will take the hit as the remaining subscribers will be heavily tilted to other topics.

...

Any reasonable read of Mr. Stephen’s first piece identifies some very important arguments that the climate activists have failed to address. The unrealistic confidence the climate activists have placed in their models even though those models are barely able to hindcast, let alone forecast. The growing divide between what climate scientists are saying about climate change and what the climate activists claim they are saying. Most importantly the growing disconnect between what the scientists are saying about the risks of climate change and public sentiment about the topic. Having read numerous “rebuttals” of the Stephens piece let’s consider a top rated one on Google which fails to acknowledge that the climate activists are anything but pure; insists Mr. Stephens is a dumb f..k; and the people who disagree with Mr. Stephen’s critics are too stupid and/or selfish to care that we’re mutilating our planet. Yes, that is how you bring people over to your side call them stupid and selfish.
"

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Defunding corporate private enterprise is a consumers fundamental right. Why do you hate the free markets, Canman?

magmacc said...

I'd like to note that Canman *is* Blair King, so the preceding comment is very close to sock-puppeting.

As I recall he falls in the Tol/Curry/Lomborg school of focusing on the lower end of estimates of climate change sensitivity and related effects, the "sure, some warming may be happening and maybe humans are responsible for some of it but who's to say it will be bad?" school of thought.

This stance may be reinforced by his personal dislike of Michael Mann as well as false statements such as "[climate] models are barely able to hindcast, let alone forecast".

magmacc said...

I might as well point out my own mistake before someone else does... I mixed up Canman with "a Chemist in Langley" posting elsewhere. The usual risks of going from memory and not taking the time to double check.

Steve Bloom said...

Still the King of incomprehension and misstatement, I see. OK, more like a baronet, but that's not for want of trying.

Mal Adapted said...

Canman, perhaps quoting himself: "So how have the environmental activists responded to these two hires?"

Uh huh. Who the fuck are these "environmental activists", Canman? Do you really not see that you are deploying the same crude rhetorical tactics Stephens does? Straw man, well poisoning, tu quoque and what have you, all drawn from the same cynical disinformers' handbook. And with the same objective: to defeat all attempts to take away your sacred right to externalize your marginal climate-change costs. Dude, take a tip from Jerry Taylor: those environmental activists are just monsters under your bed!

As far as I can figure out, for you to accept full responsibility for your "free market" choices would be to give ground to your ideological enemies. Despite being a one-dimensional political stereotype existing only in your imagination, "environmental activists" are more real to you than the verified fact of AGW is, simply because they make a convenient scapegoat.

Hence, the doom of the world. Trump's trite, tweeted 'sad' is wholly inadequate, but I used up my life's allotment of superlatives years ago.

Fernando Leanme said...

I get the sense you don't have anything interesting to write about. Maybe I can write a tale pointing out the tragedy in Venezuela was caused by global warming?

Canman said...

Since I can't get block quotes to work on this blog, I thought I'd try giving the quote marks their own line. Sorry about any confusion. The last 3 paragraphs in my above comment were quoted from King. Next time, I'll try the italics tag.

Tom said...

"The term denier fit Stephens perfectly in 2015." Yes, about as much as it fit Obama and James Hansen in 2016.

Denier=I don't like you and you're too white for me to call you a nigger.

That's all.

KAP said...

I always laugh privately when a conservative labels himself as "Burkean". Apparently everyone has forgotten that Edmund Burke was a lifelong Whig who relentlessly fought against the conservative Tory party of his day. If he were still alive and in America, he would be a moderate Democrat.

EliRabett said...

Venezula has a lot of problems and $50 oil is a big one.

EliRabett said...


OK Tom, you're in denial

Mal Adapted said...

Fernando,

In the context of AGW, 'global' means two things:

1. The socialized cost of burning fossil carbon for energy may be paid anywhere in the world, by people who may or may not obtain any benefit from your energy use, or mine. Venezuela has benefited from America’s economic growth, it’s true; you can be sure, though, that its people are paying for AGW in their unique circumstances, and will pay more. Worldwide, the Graun reported in 2012,

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

Yeah, that link is to a newspaper article, but the article links to the primary sources. Follow up for yourself.

2. Americans and others who think neither they or anyone they care about will pay the socialized cost of AGW are fooling themselves. In 2014, Risky Business partners Republican Hank Paulson, former Republican Michael Bloomberg and Democrat Tom Steyer estimated for example that
... in the next 15 years, higher sea levels and storm surges will increase the cost of damages along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico by $2 billion to $3.5 billion a year. Adding in potential changes in hurricane activity, the likely increase in average annual losses grows up to $7.3 billion...

If we continue on our current path, by 2050 between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property will likely be below sea level nationwide...


I may or may not live until 2050. How about you, FL? Are you betting you'll never pay, one way or another, for AGW yourself?

Fernando Leanme said...

Eli, Venezuela's problem is the Nicolás Maduro dictatorship trying to implement a Castro dictatorship system with the added bonus that it's more corrupt and incompetent than the usual communist dictatorship. Oil prices at $50 per barrel are higher than the price prevailing in the 1990's, before the Chávez/Maduro Mafia took over. If you wish I can give you a seminar on the tragedy, will even show you the messages I get via social media from the people living in that nightmare. Blaming the oil prices is merely an excuse, the country has been destroyed, and it's undergoing even more destruction right now. Two days ago the regime had soldiers parading through the streets chanting they were gong to decapitate opponents to the regime. The degree of savagery is escalating, and there seems to be no end to it. But you won't see it on CNN.

jch1952 said...


Venezuela Before Chavez:

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Venezuela had one of the poorest economies in Latin America, but by 1970 it had become the richest country in the region and one of the twenty richest countries in the world, ahead of countries such as Greece, Israel, and Spain. Between 1978 and 2001, however, Venezuela’s economy went sharply in reverse, with non-oil GDP declining by almost 19 percent and oil GDP by an astonishing 65 percent. What accounts for this drastic turnabout? The editors of Venezuela Before Ch vez, who each played a policymaking role in the country’s economy during the past two decades, have brought together a group of economists and political scientists to examine systematically the impact of a wide range of factors affecting the economy’s collapse, from the cost of labor regulation and the development of financial markets to the weakening of democratic governance and the politics of decisions about industrial policy.

Aside from the editors, the contributors are Omar Bello, Adriana Berm dez, Mat as Braun, Javier Corrales, Jonathan Di John, Rafael Di Tella, Javier Donna, Samuel Freije, Dan Levy, Robert MacCulloch, Osmel Manzano, Francisco Monaldi, Mar a Antonia Moreno, Daniel Ortega, Michael Penfold, Jos Pineda, Lant Pritchett, Cameron A. Shelton, and Dean Yang.

Steve Bloom said...

A street fighter like Fernando don't need no facts and analysis.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Among the political improbabilites of the last few years has been the emergence of a Republican think tank that does the unthinkable-- basing climate policy proposals on climate science and employing climate scientists as opposed to K-street hacks to write them.

Brian is to be comlimented on his rediscovery of Burke:

https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/05/call-extreminators-theres-intellligent.html

Susan Anderson said...

Fact is, NYT didn't promote the hire of Brad Plumer, but they've broadcast Bret Stephens far and wide. And they've lied (yes, you heard me, lied) about his facts. Then they doubled down on that.

So yes, it's great that the NYT has done some good climate coverage, but right now they've buried the good stuff while going with the clickbait.

A cautionary note: all you objectors have given him enormous press. Remember what happened with Trump? People who found him appalling couldn't stop talking about him.

What is needed with Bret Stephens is the silent treatment.

Meanwhile, how come Brad Plumer isn't front and center with them? How come they didn't provide him with the same fanfare they gave BS? Seems to me fair and balanced is heavily weighted towards flirting with disaster.

Copycat criminals want publicity.
--
Another topic: please be aware that Bret Stephens is a fan of Bjorn Lomborg. These second raters aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Sad.

David B. Benson said...

Does this make a difference?
https://theintercept.com/2017/04/28/how-a-professional-climate-change-denier-discovered-the-lies-and-decided-to-fight-for-science/

David B. Benson said...

Second rate is too high...

Fernando Leanme said...

Steve: my involvement with Venezuela began when family members ran away from Cuba in the 1960's. Some of them died and are buried there, others ran away from the Chávez regime. As it turns out, after living in Russia I volunteered for a transfer to Venezuela in 1999, and have been living there or quite involved with events in the country. I usually read about three-four hours a day and watch the videos being uploaded. My job had given be a good insight on the regime performance (I used to sit in during Chávez presentations and met with his ministers and vice ministers a few times). My job also required I be aware of issues such as potential threats by terrorists or the FARC. So I used to meet with National Guard generals who were responsible for protection of our infrastructure (that's about as far as you can be told).

On the economic front we had quarterly meetings with 5-6 experts who reviewed statistics, did private public opinion polls and gave us their insights on what they thought could happen.

This background gave me the credentials to eventually become a consultant to corporations interested in developing a Venezuela strategy, a job I did from 2011 until last year.

On a more personal note, I get correspondence from friends via social media. And quite a bit of it is heartbreaking. For example, last night I received a note from a friend who lives alone with her 8 year old nephew. She reported Maduro's police came into her house, tore it apart as they searched, and interrogated the boy as to whether they had any stolen items or knew anything about people who are rebelling against the regime.

Here's a bit Of her message, I've only taken out the boys name:

"A mi sobrino xxxxx de 8 años me lo levantaron, no tuvieron compasión lo interrogaron y lo único que hacia era llorar y yo discutía con ellos le violaban los derecho del niño y adolecente son unos miserable malditos"

I've taken the license to go a bit off topic here because I really think the blah blah blah about the NYT is boring. But I couldn't leave some of these comments about Venezuela unanswered because these are critical times. I'm trying very hard to make sure the protest movement remains non violent, but the regime keeps pushing to cause a bloody rebellion. The key to overcome the dictatorship is to isolate it and let it know it lacks international support. And thus what is written here is a tiny grain of sand put in place to try to keep the country from descending into an incredibly violent outcome.

Tom said...

I'm sorry, Fernando, but you don't believe the right things about climate change so we cannot accept your narratives about Venezuela.

EliRabett said...

Eli understands that Fernando is going to combat climate change by grinding his own rocks

Susan Anderson said...

Yes David, that was a heedless moment. He's part of the dumpster fire, my opinion.

A catastrophe of Republicans.

E. Swanson said...

Fernando, while I can not argue with your experiences, I think it's important to realize that the US government and corporations have a long history of intruding in the internal affairs of the Latin nations of Central and South America. For example, The Southern politicians before the War Between the States wanted to annex Cuba after the Mexican War, a war which added a big chunk of Mexico to the US. In the early 20th century, the US military intervened directly in several countries in support of corporate interests. For example, read General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket.

More recent activities since WW II involved opposition to governments that tended toward socialism or it's extreme form, communism. Such efforts have been documented in many books, such as Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Perkin's books, including Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. What happened in Chile was the result of a US orchestrated effort to destabilize the nation, including economic and political means. Your adult experience is that of a corporate insider and your views must be taken as biased accordingly. It should be obvious that Chavez had considerable support among the population, else he would not have been elected. Given the history of US activities in the hemisphere, he was surely threatened and responded accordingly. Venezuela is just another tragedy which is the result of US support of financial interests over people, adding to Vietnam, Iraq, Libia, etc. And now these same financial interests are in the process of applying the same process on the citizens of the US...

Steven said...

Razib Khan unwisely associated with some simply vile racists,"

really, that's all the poor guy did? he never actually wrote stuff that could be construed as racist/eugenicist?

I must be remembering the wrong VDARE link

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

It bespeaks a lot about THE Reality of scientific media polarization that so many here first encountered Stephens in the Times thia year,.It's the same science averse guy who has been saying the same things to twice as many people via the WSJ for a dozen years, and caused them to be said as Jerusmem POst Editor in chief from 20002 to 2004.

He just wouldn't engage when offered substantive l corrections by WSJ reporters and science boook reviewers outside the Ed Board, and we will soon whether the next generation of face palming has any more effect.

Mal Adapted said...

Susan: "A catastrophe of Republicans."

LOL. Like a murder of crows.

EliRabett said...

The Times, even the NYTimes op ed page inhabits a completely different universe than the WSJ editorial page, so this is not completely surprising. It does increasingly look like the NYTimes op ed page has been captured by the right wing nut jobs and that extends to the book review section. Something to mention when they solicit the bunnies for subscriptions

Fernando Leanme said...

Swanson, your comment sounds to me as if you were defending Adolf Hitler and his gas ovens because Germany lost territory after WWI. This has been an interesting experience. It seems this blog has quite a few participants who believe the most terrible human rights abuses are justified. I assume this of course only applies to left wing human rights abusers, who are given Carte Blanche, aided, and defended by people who, let's put it mildly, don't have much of a sense of ethics. The experiment is over.

E. Swanson said...

Fernando Leanme - You've provided a most interesting response. I have no clue why you apparently think I "believe the most terrible human rights abuses are justified". Are you claiming that I support the historical actions of the US to intervene in Central and South America during the 19th and 20th centuries? Or, do you think the death squads in Honduras, the CIA coup against Allende leading to the Pinochet regime in Chile, the military dictatorship in Argentina, the CIA orchestrated Contra attacks against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua after they overthrew the Samoza dictatorship, etc, are examples of proper governance? Do you think Cuba should still be a part of the Spanish Empire, another state of the USA, or an independent nation? Heck, I'm just another over educated idiot engineer. Perhaps you would benefit from a wider perspective, I suggest reading one (or more) of Perkins' books about his experiences. Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it...

Bernard J. said...


FL, whenever you post it becomes a game of spot the logical fallacies in your efforts. Or more accurately, fallacy bingo...

Just on this page alone I've spied elements of the psychologist's fallacy, the Nirvana fallacy, argumentum ad misericordiam, some hasty generalization/inductive fallacy, onus probandi, and argument by assertion. For lols you even throw in a few thought-terminating clichés, and I am sure that if I pored through your stuff more carefully I could double the tally.

If you want to make substantive and defensive comments you really need to learn to disengage emotion from objectivity.

Susan Anderson said...

Here's Brad Plumer, speaking of the (un)devil:

Stay In or Leave the Paris Climate Deal? Lessons From Kyoto

My opinion, you all did a real disservice to science by paying so much attention to Stephens and so little to everything else. My evidence: what happened to Trump. Ignore him, he'll go away, but no such luck. People freaked out and there he is, doing his horrible worst.

Mal Adapted said...

Tom: "Denier=I don't like you and you're too white for me to call you a nigger."

Tom is an AGW-denial denier. Heh. This could get recursive.

E. Swanson said...

FL - This one's for the hard core, data loving, engineer in you:

More errors identified in contrarian climate scientists' temperature estimates

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Elswhere in the world of wafflegab the Stephens meme string has been mimiced by an A-List cartoonist, albeit one prone to walk into the recaptioning fan.

https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/05/why-science-journals-arent-published-in.html