Andrew Revkin has been covering global climate change for the New York Times
since 1988. Today, he gets the front page of the Week in Review section to try
to answer the key questions, which he puts this way:
Is global warming now a reality? What do scientists know for sure and when
are they just guessing?
The resultant article is very disappointing. Revkin is happy to concede that
"seas have risen about six to eight inches globally over the last century
and the rate of rise has increased in the last decade," but he resolutely
refuses to admit that such warming is man-made. Instead, he tells us twice that
we can’t be sure that recent hurricanes and other extreme weather are the fault
of anthropogenic global warming.
Of course, proving anthropogenic causality behind any given weather phenomenon
is basically impossible. But by emphasizing that impossibility and ignoring
the anthropogenic warming we do know about, Revkin creates the impression
of controversy in the outlines of a science where there is actually surprising
The headling of the article is "Yelling ‘Fire’ on a Hot Planet" –
clearly giving the impression that Al
Gore and his apologists are being more alarmist than reasonable about the
whole subject. I understand why the NYT would want to run a think-piece on global
climate change around the time of Earth Day. But I don’t understand why they
have to be so milquetoast on the subject, and emphasize the controversy at the
margins rather than the unanimity at the center.