The New York Times‘ recent decision to hire Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens has incited backlash from climate change scientists due to Stephens’ record of denying the existence of climate change.
On April 22, the Times‘ Public Editor Liz Spayd defended the hire in an article relegating climate change scientists who have voiced concern over Stephens as “left-leaning” and claimed they “rummaged” through his old articles to confirm their biases against him. Spayd also mocked threats of subscription cancellations, saying she was told that not many followed through.
Dr. Michael Mann—a leading climate change scientist featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary Before the Flood who also testified before Congress on the issue earlier this year and appeared alongside Bill Nye during the recent March for Science—canceled his Times subscription in a boycott against Stephens and Spayd’s defense of him. “The @NYTimes hiring of climate denier didn’t lead me to cancel subscription. Public editor’s offensive response did,” Dr. Mann tweeted on April 25. Several other scientists and environmentalists supported his decision.
“Apparently public editor doesn’t know the difference between different opinions & absolute nonsense,” tweeted Robert Brulle, professor of Environmental Science at Drexel University. Former Director of GreenPeace Kelly Rigg tweeted, “@nytimes probably think they’re being brave in defending their decision, as opposed to just plain stupid.”
Rather than acknowledging the reality of climate change and trying to rectify hiring someone who refutes that reality, the Times‘ public editor reduced climate change to “liberal orthodoxy,” further politicizing what nearly every scientist in the world has affirmed is irrefutable scientific fact.
Bret Stephens isn’t merely a skeptic of climate change. In 2015, he called climate change an “imaginary enemy” of modern liberalism. In the same article, he reduced institutional racism and the campus rape epidemic as imaginary enemies as well. He concluded the article by stating, “Here’s a climate prediction for the year 2115: Liberals will still be organizing campaigns against yet another mooted social or environmental crisis. Temperatures will be about the same.”
The op-ed presents dangerous worldview. Recently, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory recorded that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—410 parts per million—than anytime in the past 50 million years. Climate models have been accurately predicting ocean and global warming. NASA has noted that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Extreme weather events have increased. The ocean is becoming increasingly acidic. Snow cover and polar ice caps have gradually disappeared.
The evidence of human induced climate change is indisputable, and the New York Times has abandoned its newly adopted marketing campaign “The Truth” by hiring a columnist who has an aversion to the facts on one of the world’s most important issues.