Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 1/16/2006 [Archive]

Global Warming Agitprop

Global Warming Agitprop

By Bill Steigerwald

You'd think The New Yorker would practice fair-and-balanced journalism -- for its readers' sake, at least.

The elite weekly's readership -- disproportionately smart, wealthy and liberal -- includes many powerful people in the overlapping worlds of politics and media. It's a good bet few of them faithfully devour National Review or Reason magazines. So if they are ever going to be confronted with "the other side" of an important, complex and overheated debate like global warming, they'll have to get it from The New Yorker.

Fat chance.

When The New Yorker last spring cranked out "The Climate of Man," an epic three-part harangue on how global warming is melting the Earth's polar ice cap and glaciers, it didn't pretend to strive for balance.

Elizabeth Kolbert, who has mounted a crusade to prove that global warming already is here and that industrial man is the chief culprit, wrote the series.

Most of the liberal mainstream media, of course, fawned over Kolbert's shameless exercise in scaremongering. In an open letter to New Yorker Editor David Remnick, however, the late economist Jude Wanniski scolded Remnick for allowing Kolbert to produce such blatant faith-based agitprop. He called what Kolbert did "un-journalism."

Kolbert, who has since followed up with several smaller articles on climate change, is a global warming fundamentalist. For her there is no room for doubt or further research, much less honest debate.

The science already is indisputable. No chance computerized climate models are flawed. No chance natural, long-term global climate cycles are at work. Mother Earth is in dire peril. The only disbelievers are evil Exxon-slicked scientists or Bush administration yahoos.

As Wanniski predicted, the series, which will be released as the book "Field Notes from a Catastrophe" in the spring, probably will win a Pulitzer. It's being compared favorably by the Religious Left to "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's overwrought, scientifically challenged indictment of DDT that debuted in The New Yorker in 1962.

"The Climate of Man" already has won a big journalism award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It's nicely written. It contains The New Yorker's usual quota of trivial detail. It's 100 percent politically correct. But it's not close to being fair-minded or intellectually honest, because, as Winniski knew, it never was intended to be.

The New Yorker never would have dreamed of offending its politically sheltered subscribers by giving an important skeptic like Fred Singer the chance to explain his position to them.

Though derided by global warming promoters as a hired tool of Big Oil, Singer is an expert on global climate change with a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton. He's president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project research group ( and his dozen books include "Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate."

Singer wasn't interviewed by Kolbert. But if he had been, the man they call the "Godfather of Global Warming Denial" would have wanted The New Yorker's 2 million readers to know the single most important thing he knows about global warming:

"The question of the human contribution to climate change, the amount of it, is a matter of great scientific debate," Singer told me last week. "But no matter how it comes out, the question of global warming itself has not much scientific content and probably is of very little importance to humanity generally."

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at © Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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