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Wall Street Journal Brazenly Advances False Climate Claims

J. Mijin Cha

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed from 16 climate change denying scientists called, “No Need to Panic about Global Warming.” In it, the scientists, very few of whom are actual climate scientists, claim that the climate crisis is a way for government bureaucracy to grow and stated:

Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.

The op-ed went on to claim that Yale economist, William Nordhaus, called for 50 more years of growth, “unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls.” The op-ed also advanced the false claim that there has been no planetary warming in the last decade. In fact, temperatures have been higher than average for 35 years in a row. Here in New York City, the temperature is expected to hit close to 60 degrees, a full 20 degrees warmer than the average.

The political motivations behind the op-ed are clear. More than a third of the scientists have ties to the fossil fuel industry. They raise false claims about the monetary reasons behind advocating for climate change to paint it as a special interest only. In fact, even though they should, the government is unlikely to impose any kind of pollution taxes and current subsidies actually grossly favor fossil fuel industries. The Journal clearly has no desire to present both sides of the issues and earlier refused to run a letter from 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences outlining the realities of climate change and calling for real public debate around the issue.

In response to the misleading op-ed, thirty-eight of the world’s top climate scientists wrote a letter to the Journal debunking the op-ed and calling out the Journal for publishing a piece, “by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology.” And, in reply to the use of his work, Nordhaus stated:    

This is a complete mischaracterization of my work. I have repeatedly called for restraints on CO2 and other GHG emissions. The most beneficial policies are ones with a modest near-term and sharply rising carbon price. The weasel word is "nearly," which allows them to make an inaccurate and misleading statement.

As a sign of how tone-deaf the climate denying scientists and Journal really are, in a speech delivered this week, the Saudi Arabian Oil Minister called global warming, “humanity’s most pressing concern.” He also stated that oil drilling doesn’t create many jobs or foster entrepreneurial spirit. The Minister also talked about energy efficiency and solar energy as an important part of the country’s energy strategy.

So just to recap: The top oil-producing nation in the world is concerned about global warming and is investing in alternative energy strategies. “Scientists” that shill for the fossil fuel industry, question whether smoking causes cancer, and whether asbestos is dangerous, think that climate change advocates are part of a moneyed conspiracy. It's not surprising, but in this case, the WSJ's enabling of intellectual dishonesty and misrepresentation sinks to another level.