Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences

February 26, 2009

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial page occupies a uniquely obnoxious place in commentary on global warming. Over the many years that I have read with trepidation what they write, I have yet to see accurate presentation of the science issues.

They have fed their readers so much misinformation and confusion one can only conclude they consider complete fabrication fair play in the discussion.

The Director of the Columbia University Earth Institute, Jeff Sachs, has in the past invited the WSJ editorial board, along with any scientists they wish to bring, to discuss the science at the University — an invitation they assuredly have not accepted even though it’s a short subway ride away.

In response to President Obama’s revolutionary new efforts to cap CO2 emissions, WSJ editorial member Holman Jenkins Jr. tells us to “…Put away the global warming panic…” and writes an impressive number of fictions in two sentences:

“… Mankind’s contribution to rising CO2 levels raises serious questions, but the tens of billions poured into climate science have, by now, added up only to a negative finding. We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere’s component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability…”

What does “… contribution to rising CO2 levels …” mean — implying as it does that natural sources are raising CO2 levels? Does not Mr. Jenkins know that mankind’s activities are wholly responsible for the increasing CO2 emissions? This can be seen in many ways such as looking at the ice core records of stable CO2 concentrations since the end of the last ice age or from carbon isotope data for fossil fuel carbon for example.

What does it mean to write all “ … climate science has added up to a negative finding …”? Even if you have never seen an IPCC report, do you really believe that all the news you have been hearing for decades about global warming and IPCC has been due to a single “negative finding”? What is this so-called bottom line negative finding among the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of findings?

What does it mean to write “ …We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in [atmospheric] CO2 is impacting our climate …” Really? Scientists studying atmospheric physics don’t have the slightest idea how CO2 affects heat radiation and the Earth’s energy balance, not to mention the gazillion other facts we know about CO2 and climate?

Then, remarkably, in the same sentence that claims science knows nothing about CO2, somehow he (or science?) knows enough about it to conclude that “ …the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability …” Which one is it? Science knows nothing or science has actually demonstrated something very technically precise: “…the impact [of CO2] is too small to untangle from natural variability …”

By the way, the last statement is a flat out contradiction to current research which concluded with 90%  confidence that current warming is due to human activities. But what the heck. This is the world of the Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.


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Don’t feel too bad, all their editorials are just as bad, whatever the topic. I cancelled my subscription after the gratuitous racist joke “How do you spot an anti-Semite on a Vienna railway station? It’s a trick question – they all are.” At least I think it was Vienna; the thrust of the piece was that it didn’t really matter which town in Europe you picked.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

The Wall Street Journal is part of a larger corporate empire built upon a misrepresentation of scientific findings and skewing of public discourse. While they continue to misinform for pecuniary gain in other areas of news and opinion as well, the gross distortion of science is in itself reason enough to end the charade of granting this news conglomerate waivers for excessive concentration of ownership in key media markets. We need to bring fairness and balance back to the so-called “news” business. Its time to take a hard look at all the corporate subsidies and perks given to News Corporation, save the taxpayers some money, and bring honesty and integrity back as the guiding principles of public discourse.Boycott News Corporation and all its advertisers and supporters to get their attention. Wite your member of Congress and demand that the practice of giving News Corporation a free ride with regard to media ownership rules to and end.

Posted by Stuart Poss | Report as abusive

For more than ten years I listened to AM Talk Radio while eating lunch. Not once did I hear a spokesman for a major scientific organizations call into a show to correct an error. If the public remains ignorant about the reality of global warming the public relations departments for the National Academy of Science, the National Science Foundation, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science need to share some of the blame.

Posted by jim.wilson | Report as abusive

The name of this rag is the “Wall Street” Journal..why would they want to print the truth about anything? We listened to the MBAs and look what they have done to us.

Posted by GInger Dennis | Report as abusive

[…] getting eco geeks riled up Environment

Posted by WSJ getting eco geeks riled up – The Global Warming Skeptics Forum | Report as abusive

The Wall Street Journal is of, by, and for Big Business so nobody should be surprised at their ignoring — or even denying — the climate change problem.

Posted by John Mack | Report as abusive

I’ve just let my subscription to the WSJ expire. As far as I’m concerned the WSJ is nothing more that a mouthpiece for the corporations. I don’t recall the WSJ laying any of the blame for the destruction of our economy on corrupt corporations and criminal corporate big shots but solely on a nefarious and incompetent USG.

Posted by RFL | Report as abusive

[…] a Wall Street Journal columnist and member of the WSJ editorial board, in response to a blog (here) by Stuart Gaffin, a climate researcher at Columbia University who is a regular contributor to […]

Posted by WSJ columnist rejects climate criticism | Distant-Help | Report as abusive