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Friday, September 15, 2006

"A Free Pass on Editorial Irresponsibility"

Jeff Sachs, realizing how much it is needed, offers to educate the Wall Street Journal editorial board on global warming:

Fiddling while the Planet Burns, by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Scientific American: Another summer of record-breaking temperatures... Only one place seemed to remain cool: the air-conditioned offices of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. As New York City wilted, the editors sat insouciant and comfortable, hurling editorials of stunning misdirection at their readers, continuing their irresponsible drumbeat that global warming is junk science.

Now, I have nothing against the Wall Street Journal. It is an excellent paper, whose science column and news reporting have accurately and carefully carried the story of global climate change. The editorial page sits in its own redoubt, separated from the reporters—and from the truth. ...

The Wall Street Journal editorial page for years has railed against these scientific findings on climate change, even as the global scientific consensus has reached nearly 100 percent, including the reports commissioned by the skeptical Bush White House. ...

The Wall Street Journal is the most widely read business paper in the world. Its influence is extensive. Yet it gets a free pass on editorial irresponsibility. The Earth Institute at Columbia University has repeatedly invited the editorial team to meet with leading climate scientists. On many occasions, the news editors have eagerly accepted, but the editorial writers have remained safe in their splendid isolation.

Let me make the invitation once again. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists are prepared to meet with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and to include in that meeting any climate skeptics that its editorial board wants to invite. The board owes it to the rest of us to conduct its own “open-minded search for scientific knowledge.”

The editors should accept the offer:

Global warming could ignite sudden calamity, by Fiona Harvey, Financial Times: ...Within a year, the US space agency disclosed this week, an area of sea ice “the size of Texas” had been lost from the Arctic... A growing body of scientific opinion suggests the world may be about to experience not a gradual rise in temperatures over several decades but a wild careering into climate chaos.

That is because some of the changes triggered by warming temperatures create a “feedback” effect of their own. These feedbacks can cause the warming trend to accelerate further or bring serious disruption to regions of the world. ... [A] NASA report appears to confirm this feedback loop. There is more apparent confirmation in a study last month in Science ... that found the speed at which the Greenland ice sheet was melting had risen threefold in the past two years compared with the previous five.

Peter Smith, special professor in sustainable energy at Nottingham University, told the British Association science festival last week: “We could reach the tipping point within 15 to 20 years from now...” Jay Gulledge, senior research fellow at the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, says climatologists “have dramatically under-estimated how responsive the climate is to warming”...

“It is not too late to save the Arctic, but it requires that we begin to slow CO2 emissions this decade,” says James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. ... Though some warn against overstating the feedback effect and the near approach of tipping points, most climate scientists accept the possibility that the climate will change abruptly rather than warm gradually. ...

    Posted by on Friday, September 15, 2006 at 06:45 PM in Economics, Politics, Science | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (5)


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