Reader's view: Fairness needn’t undermine the facts of climate change
Since Tom Harris has an active presence in many global warming deniers’ organizations and conservative think tanks, he hardly has an unbiased view of climate science. (Harris wrote the op-ed in the June 22 News Tribune headlined,
“ ‘War on coal’ is driven by deceptive language.”)
A teaching method of his that has been questioned by climate scientists includes instructing students to spot untruths about climate change by being critical of those who say things like, “Mankind has got to start now to address the problems of climate change” (which many international bodies agree with). Harris actually criticizes this statement by emphasizing that climate change always has been happening throughout Earth’s geological history. But this point is glaringly deceptive. The fact is, since the dawn of the industrial age, human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions have been progressing at an alarming rate. The obvious fact that our present climate’s status is what scientists are warning us about should be a given, not slyly placed in doubt.
Although many of us would balk at denying newspaper space to deniers, since that might indicate bias, the truth is more accurately explained by considering a scenario involving the belief that every written account of the Holocaust should be balanced with a story explaining that many Neo-Nazis believe it never happened. The point is we have thousands of recorded images of Nazi work camps that were liberated and perhaps millions of written accounts affirming that 6 million Jews were, indeed, tortured and gassed to death by Hitler’s henchmen. Journalists should not feel obligated to report outrageous opinions that deny the Holocaust — or that deny global warming!
This analogy isn’t meant to accuse deniers of being fascists. Rather, it’s just one illustration of how factual knowledge that’s very well understood as being true need not be undermined in the name of fairness.
Peter W. Johnson