Liberal Writers Say Asking Questions Is the New Climate Change ‘Denial’

Liberal writers have predictably claimed conservative columnist Bret Stephens’s first column for The New York Times is a form of stealth global warming “denial” disguised as asking reasonable questions of environmental activists and climate scientists.

Writers at The New Republic (TNR) and Vox argue Stephens’s “reasonableness” and platform makes him more dangerous than someone who outright denies the existence of man-made global warming.

“What Stephens is doing is still a form of climate-change denial, just stealthier,” TNR’s Emily Atkin wrote Tuesday. “And his faux-evenhandedness has earned him a major platform from which to push bad-faith, misleading interpretations of the science, providing intellectually lazy excuses for America to keep kicking the can down the road while the planet slowly burns up.”

Vox’s David Roberts tweeted Stephens is “just another off-the-shelf conservative hack desperately groping for new ways to obscure this issue.” Roberts said, “Stephens’ presence on the most valuable real estate in journalism just helps ensure that the climate debate remains dumb kabuki.”

The NYT’s hiring of Stephens sent off alarm bells among left-wing environmental activists. Some journalists and activists canceled their subscriptions, and others called on the paper to fire the former Wall Street Journal writer.

Liz Spayd, The NYT’s public editor wrote that “[n]o subject since the election has come close to producing this kind of anger toward The Times,” adding that some of Stephens’ colleagues were critical of his hiring.

Stephens’ first column — “Climate of Complete Certainty” — urges more skepticism in the global warming debate, arguing climate activists carry an air of pretentiousness.

“But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism,” Stephens wrote. “They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.”

Stephens wrote that he believes global warming is real and mostly caused by mankind, even admitting it could be a crisis. However, he urged more skepticism and understanding in the scientific debate.

“Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong,” he wrote. “Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables win few converts.”

The immediate reaction from the left was hysteria over a new form of climate denial.

Slate’s Susan Matthews wrote that Stephen’s column was “all the more insidious” because “the goal of this column is not to help readers learn how to reason with people who are skeptical about climate change.”

“Instead, the column reinforces the idea that those people might have a point,” Matthews wrote.

“This is a form of climate-change denial: It denies the need for action, which is, like climate science, based on overwhelming evidence,” Atkin wrote in TNR, adding the “denial” was so insidious because it was “simply asking questions.” [Italics in the original text]

“Stephens, who used to deny climate change, has found that acting slightly more reasonable on the subject has earned him a coveted perch at the paper of the record,” Atkin wrote.  “The column may have sounded reasonable, but it wasn’t based on scientific reason. There’s a difference—and the fate of our planet depends on it.”

Stephens didn’t take the criticism lying down. He wrote a whole column to answer questions readers posed about global warming, and he repeatedly rebuffed critics on Twitter.

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Comments (6)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    I am seeing lots of useful idiots holding dumb anti-trump protest with the usial liberal journalists to cover their idiotic protest

  • Avatar

    BobC

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    If I click on your HOME link at top I get –

    Warning: Unknown: It is not safe to rely on the system’s timezone settings. You are required to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone ‘UTC’ for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in Unknown on line 0

    Warning: Unknown: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in Unknown on line 0

    Warning: Unknown: It is not safe to rely on the system’s timezone settings. You are required to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone ‘UTC’ for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in Unknown on line 0

    Fatal error: Unknown: Failed opening required ‘/home1/neveudes/public_html/climatechangedispatch/wordfence-waf.php’ (include_path=’.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php’) in Unknown on line 0

    Happens with both MicrosoftEdge and Firefox browsers. Just started a few days ago.

  • Avatar

    David Lewis

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    I contacted the site owner and was told it was a cashing problem. The solution is to do a “control R”. This worked for me using Chrom and will probably work for most browsers.

  • Avatar

    David Lewis

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    Notice that the topic here is not the legitimacy of man made climate change but objections to discussing its legitimacy. This is because the alarmists know that the data is against them and therefore what to avoid discussion.

    • Avatar

      G

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      Indeed. Just look at what has the left most animated these days. It’s primarily objections to free speech, debate, skepticism, expression, etc… Exactly the principles the left has championed as being critical for itself over the last 50 years.

      As Europe continues to reject economic socialism based on its dismal performance, more totalitarian (and oil rich) Venezuela is collapsing both economically and socially. American socialists are desperate… “Don’t pay attention to that stuff!”,.. “Climate change and science-denial are the REAL threats to our country!”,.. “Socialist redistribution schemes, dismantlement of free market capitalism, and surrender of American sovereignty is the only hope of redemption!”

      Meanwhile, American socialists seek their own forms of totalitarianism to stem the rising tide of anti-socialist awareness… “Ban free speech!”

      Time for principled liberals to cut themselves loose from this dangerous sinking ship.

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    The global warming alarmists used to claim the IPCC climate models were their
    unbiased go to scientific proof. The problem is they were relying on disproven mathematical formulas and not on empirical data . As a result they grossly overstate
    any possible warming which had their forecasts been right would have been even more positive to life on earth .
    So when the basis to your belief system gets disproven all you are left with is a choice to believe regardless of the facts . Sort of like Santa Clause who is real because
    he is in the mall surrounded by fake reindeer .
    The $$Trillion con job is over and it hurts enough that some need to release ammo
    in the hopes of intimidating people to believe in Santa .
    Please drain this pit of puss Mr. Trump .

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