In the past week, two mainstream media giants have apparently recognized that the debate over manmade global warming is far from over.
On Monday, the NY Times broke with years of blatant warmist bias in reporting that Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons
. The article cited a February BBC survey
which “found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that ‘climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,’ down from 41 percent in November 2009.” The Times attributed the public opinion swing in Great Britain and similar shifts in Germany and the US to what it referred to as “a series of climate science controversies unearthed and highlighted by skeptics since November.” In other words, the climate fraud
uncovered at the University of East Anglia (aka Climategate) and the multitude of errors
uncovered in the latest IPCC (AR4) report.
Of course, the Times abhor the new public awareness as it “will make it harder to pass legislation like a fuel tax increase and to persuade people to make sacrifices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” But shouldn’t facts drive policy? Not according to Greenpeace spokesman Ben Stewart, quoted by the Times complaining that “[l]egitimacy has shifted to the side of the climate skeptics, and that is a big, big problem.”
Now Newsweek has joined the newly aware, but with a dash more honesty. In a piece titled Uncertain Science
, the normally climate alarm sounding magazine has also acknowledged the turning tide:
Blame economic worries, another freezing winter, or the cascade of scandals emerging from the world’s leading climate-research body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But concern over global warming has cooled down dramatically. In über-green Germany, only 42 percent of citizens worry about global warming now, down from 62 percent in 2006. In Britain, just 26 percent believe climate change is man-made, down from 41 percent as recently as November 2009. And Americans rank global warming dead last in a list of 21 problems that concern them, according to a January Pew poll.
Now, such news from the MSM would normally be followed by a lengthy sermon about the effects of a well-funded “denial” machine and simple-minded fools confusing weather with climate. Or, as witnessed by the Times piece, how easily misled are the public by “denier” tricks. But Newsweek’s Stefan Theil instead broke with the usual alarmist ad-hominem and declared that “[t]his is no dispute between objective scientists and crazed flat-earthers.” Writes Theil:
The lines cut through the profession itself. Very few scientists dispute a link between man-made CO2 and global warming. Where it gets fuzzy is the extent and time frame of the effect. One crucial point of contention is climate “sensitivity”—the mathematical formula that translates changes in CO2 production to changes in temperature. In addition, scientists are not sure how to explain a slowdown in the rise of global temperatures that began about a decade ago.
While not entirely accurate (more than a few scientists reject the notion of CO2-influenced warming outright), by publishing those words Newsweek has gone where few (if any) left-leaning newsmagazines have gone before – admitting that there’s a problem with the “science is settled” mantra.
Needless to say, Theil’s take-away from a continuing climate debate isn’t likely to please the Cap-and-Tax-and-Control crowd:
There are excellent reasons to limit emissions and switch to cleaner fuels—including an estimated 750,000 annual pollution deaths in China, the potential to create jobs at home instead of enriching nasty regimes sitting on oil wells, the need to provide cheap sources of power to the world’s poorest regions, and the still-probable threat that global warming is underway. At the moment, however, certainty about how fast—and how much—global warming changes the earth’s climate does not appear to be one of those reasons.
Okay, so he can’t help clinging to a “still-probable threat that global warming is underway,” which I suppose implies an anthropogenic cause, but at least he acknowledges that further unbiased investigation must precede any policy decisions.
Of greater note -- the same powerhouse publication that in its August 2007 cover story -- The Truth about Denial
-- described climate skepticism as “an undermining of the science” now challenges the same AGW orthodoxy it once preached.
No wonder Ben Stewart is worried.