Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NY Times Only Sees Bright Side of Global Warming Deniers

The New York Times has an article out Tuesday talking about how some TV weather presenters are global warming deniers. Reporter Leslie Kaufman goes out of her way to avoid taking the shine off some of the denial universe's biggest stars.

First, there's Anthony Watts, whose two primary occupations are denying global warming and peddling small weather gauges. As Joe Romm explains on ClimateProgress:
Watts uses his blogs to try to convince people that government weather sites are faulty, that their data can’t be trusted, enlisting the unpaid help of countless people — and he makes money selling weather stations?
Kaufman also cites the Heartland Institute, one of The Green Miles' favorite front groups -- and by "favorite" I mean "most comically inept." Heartland has received $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998. While Heartland stopped disclosing its funding after 2006, SourceWatch reports Heartland received around $260,000 in 2007 from energy companies -- "coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear." But Kaufman doesn't report any of that, merely calling Heartland "a free-market research organization."

And there's former weatherman John Coleman. A Columbia Journalism Review article on this same topic cast Coleman's denial not as scientific disagreement -- but as ignorance:
For the many Americans who don’t understand the difference between weather—the short-term behavior of the atmosphere—and climate—the broader system in which weather happens—Coleman’s professional background made him a genuine authority on global warming. It was an impression that Coleman encouraged. Global warming “is not something you ‘believe in,’” he wrote in his essay. “It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise.”

Except that it wasn’t. Coleman had spent half a century in the trenches of TV weathercasting; he had once been an accredited meteorologist, and remained a virtuoso forecaster. But his work was more a highly technical art than a science. His degree, received fifty years earlier at the University of Illinois, was in journalism. And then there was the fact that the research that Coleman was rejecting wasn’t “the science of meteorology” at all—it was the science of climatology, a field in which Coleman had spent no time whatsoever.
NYT's Kaufman touches on the same issue -- but where the CJR article boldly confronts it head-on, Kaufman merely tiptoes around the edges:
Resentment may also play a role in the divide. Climatologists are almost always affiliated with universities or research institutions where a doctoral degree is required. Most meteorologists, however, can get jobs as weather forecasters with a college degree.

“There is a little bit of elitist-versus-populist tensions,” Mr. Henson said. “There are meteorologists who feel, ‘Just because I have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on.’”
Those snooty climatologists! Thinking they know more about climate just because they've "studied it more" and "work in the field" and are "actual experts on the topic"! Weather presenters who aren't meteorologists but listen to Rush Limbaugh should be allowed to spout ignorance with just the same credibility!

UPDATE: Joe Romm responds to Kaufman's article, blogging NY Times once again equates non-scientists with climate scientists.
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