Bret Stephens recently left the Wall Street Journal editorial page to become an op-ed columnist at the New York Times. According to some reports he left the Journal because his unrelenting anti-Trump columns were becoming unwelcome, as the Journal‘s editorial page is trying to take a neutral attitude toward Trump, supporting him when they can, and attacking him when he deserves it. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I noticed that after the announcement of Stephens’s hiring by the Times the climatistas went berserk, because Stephens departed from orthodoxy on climate change at the Journal.
Not that Stephens wrote much on the topic, mind you. I can only recall one climate piece from him, though I am sure I missed some others. It is Holman Jenkins who usually covers the climate beat among the Journal‘s staff columnists (and he does it very well). But apparently even one tergiversation is enough for the climatistas to lose their minds.
But kudos for Stephens, as he decided to write his very first Times column on . . . climate change! And now he’s likely sitting back with a nice cool drink in his hand and enjoying the Times readership having a collective meltdown.
The column itself is quite moderate—not that the climatistas would ever notice or ponder the matter in a thoughtful way. Stephens begins:
Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming . . .
So far, so good, But uh oh:
. . . much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly.
OH MY GOD STEPHENS, DON’T YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T SAY THAT?!
But not content with flouting orthodoxy, Stephens doubles down on common sense:
Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. 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 wins few converts.
Well, as you can imagine, the comments on Twitter and at the Times offer a portrait of a Times readership that will not brook any disagreement with orthodoxy. (There are multiple Twitter threads of the ongoing freakout. Here’s one if you want a sample.) Many are promising to cancel their subscriptions. I’ll bet some people will take out new Times subscriptions just so they can cancel them.
Pass the popcorn. After a few weeks, I’ll bet there will be Times readers who will want Bill Kristol to come back as a columnist.