Yesterday I wrote the following letter to Cristine Russell in response to her March 12 article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Attack of the climate-denial books: Conservative think tanks fuel publishing boom that spreads misinformation.” I have yet to get a reply, but will share it if it ever arrives.
Just a few questions arising out of your article yesterday which are what any open-minded journalist or fair-minded ordinary citizen might ask:
– What specific “misinformation” do conservative think-tanks spread?
– How does it follow that such books are labeled “climate-denials” when they go to great length citing material, including peer-reviewed science journal-published papers, in telling how skeptic climate scientists claim the IPCC has not conclusively made its case that human-induced greenhouse gases are the primary driver of global warming? Why does that not merit the label “plausible skepticism”?
– Why would Riley Dunlap make the statement about “… authors, in turn, are often treated as ‘climate experts’ who may be interviewed on television and radio and quoted by sympathetic columnists…” in the face of no less than the same thing happening with people such as Al Gore, PR man James Hoggan, ex-reporter Ross Gelbspan, and activists Bill McKibben, John Passacantando, Kert Davies and Phil Radford?
– And, though I have many more questions, this last one: Although Dunlap’s work is said to be ” defining what he calls the ‘organized climate-denial machine’,” has he or any other sociologist or any investigative journalist, book author or anybody else ever actually proven the existence of it — namely through the showing of specific material (document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts corresponding to instructions for skeptics to lie about specific science points, etc)?
As I suggested in the comment I placed at the end of your article, we have every appearance that people like Dunlap are “all show and no go” when it comes to the accusation of corruption lodged against skeptic climate scientists, which critically if not fatally impairs their analysis of why skeptics do what they do.
No need to trust me on my own viewpoint, what I urge you to do is exactly what I’ve done: Namely, corroborate the accusation that skeptic climate scientists are on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry to lie about the issue. To do that, you must look into its origins, peel back the layers of who repeats it from whom, and where the original people got their material from and whether the material meets standards you’d find in courtroom evidentiary hearings.
I’d offer you the proverbial $10,000 challenge that you cannot do so, if only I could raise that much money. However, imagine having to meet a much tougher challenge, accomplishing this task under an order from Columbia Journalism Review’s acting Dean (whoever that may be), Chairman Victor Navasky, Editor-in-Chief Cyndi Stivers, Science and Environmental Journalism Assistant Professor / Director Marguerite Holloway, Center for Investigative Journalism Director Sheila Coronel, or even Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger.
What happens if you fail to meet that challenge?