LA Times Won't Publish Letters Pushing Climate Denial, Other 'Errors Of Fact'
CREDIT: (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Last week, the LA Times explained “letters that have an untrue basis (for example, ones that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change) do not get printed.”
Newsbusters (aka ScienceBusters) objected to this policy. Indeed, Newsbusters apparently thought that this policy was so obviously outrageous they ran the headline “LA Times: We Don’t Publish Letters to Editor Claiming Man Isn’t Causing Climate Change.” Shocking stuff, no?
You might wish every newspaper had this policy, but not the folks at Newsbusters:
It’s one thing for a news outlet to advance the as yet unproven theory of anthropogenic global warming; it’s quite another to admit that you won’t publish views that oppose it.
As amazing as it may same, that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Times did Saturday….
So letters to the editor “that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change … do not get printed.”
That’s quite a statement coming from an editorial writer not named Al Gore.
As if Al Gore is the only person on the planet who agrees with that statement, rather than, say, 97% of climate scientists, every major scientific body, and every major government on the planet.
Indeed, as the AP reported last month, “Top scientists from a variety of fields say they are about as certain that global warming is a real, man-made threat as they are that cigarettes kill.”
Perhaps the deniers should also complain that newspapers won’t publish letters from tobacco companies saying cigarettes are safe.
For the record, all 195 member governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) signed off word for word on the latest summary of the scientific literature, including this sentence about the temperature increase since 1950:
The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.
That is, the best estimate is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. That’s what the best observations and analysis reveals, and that’s what just about every government on the planet understands to be true.
The letters editor of the LA Times, Paul Thornton, explained in a piece this week, “On letters from climate-change deniers” that:
As for letters on climate change, we do get plenty from those who deny global warming. And to say they “deny” it might be an understatement: Many say climate change is a hoax, a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom.
… when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review. knew
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change….
Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.
Other newspapers should explicitly embrace a similar policy.
Joe Romm is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress, which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." In 2009, Rolling Stone put Romm #88 on its list of 100 "people who are reinventing America." Time named him a "Hero of the Environment″ and “The Web’s most influential ...
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