The Fret Over Bret

Scott notes immediately below how the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple has joined the braying mob about Bret Stephens’s mild departure from climate orthodoxy at the New York Times, but I just can’t get enough of watching liberals trash one of their most revered institutions. Somewhere I saw a tweet noting that liberals were saying how important it was during the Trump reign of terror to subscribe to the Times, but are now saying that one column from Bret Stephens requires that all right-thinking people must cancel their subscriptions immediately!

Then there’s this, from David Roberts at Vox:

Vox Hed

You’re welcome to read the whole thing if you’re a glutton, but perhaps it suffices to recall that it was Roberts, writing at Grist in 2006, who said that someday we should consider Nuremberg-style trials for climate skeptics.

Meanwhile, Blair King, a Canadian blogger who writes under the banner of “A Chemist in Langley,” makes a bid for showing that Canadians are in fact nicer than Minnesotans, and also more clear-headed:

Let’s start this discussion by talking about the New York Times. As people interested in achieving a low-carbon future know, Brad Plumer was recently hired by the New York Times to work on its energy and climate desk. For those of you who don’t know him, Brad Plumer and David Roberts are two of the writers who turned into the place to go for intelligent, but readable, stories on climate change and energy.  For the New York Times to scoop up Brad Plumer is an boon for those interested in seeing intelligent, readable stories on energy and climate in the paper of record. Coincidental to the Times hiring Mr. Plumer, they also hired an op-ed writer by the name of Bret Stephens. Mr. Stephens is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who specializes in international affairs but has also written some controversial articles about climate change.

So how have the environmental activists responded to these two hires? Well as expected they have said almost nothing about the arrival of Brad Plumer while organizing a campaign to cancel subscriptions over the hiring of Stephens. Yes, you heard that right, in a country where the Republicans control Congress and Donald Trump is President the climate activists have decided the organization they want to de-fund the most is the New York Times? A paper that has more dedicated more ink to climate than virtually any other news organization in North America? Does anyone wonder which jobs will be the first to go if the environmentalists manage to damage the Times’ bottom line? I’m guessing the climate beat will take the hit as the remaining subscribers will be heavily tilted to other topics.

The most frustrating part of this whole debate is how the environmental activists claim this is all about punishing the Times for allowing contrary voices to be heard. The best way to understand the people you are fighting is to listen to their arguments and formulate responses. Unfortunately, in this era of media fragmentation we see the exact opposite with groups collecting themselves into silos while simultaneously insulting anyone who doesn’t hew to their exact world-view.  Purity of thought is the only thing that matters. In the process these blinkered thinkers stop bothering to even try to understand what the other side is trying to say. Instead they argue against cartoonish strawmen and parade around bragging about how right they are.

Any reasonable read of Mr. Stephen’s first piece identifies some very important arguments that the climate activists have failed to address. The unrealistic confidence the climate activists have placed in their models even though those models are barely able to hindcast, let alone forecast. The growing divide between what climate scientists are saying about climate change and what the climate activists claim they are saying. Most importantly the growing disconnect between what the scientists are saying about the risks of climate change and public sentiment about the topic. Having read numerous “rebuttals” of the Stephens piece let’s consider a top rated one on Google which fails to acknowledge that the climate activists are anything but pure; insists Mr. Stephens is a dumb f..k; and the people who disagree with Mr. Stephen’s critics are too stupid and/or selfish to care that we’re mutilating our planet. Yes, that is how you bring people over to your side call them stupid and selfish.

I’m fast running out of popcorn.


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