Read the full story at Climate Desk.
If you’ve looked through the letters sections of US newspapers, you’ve probably read that human-caused global warming is a “hoax” and a “myth.” You’ve also likely read about how “mankind cannot change the earth’s climate” and how the carbon dioxide we release isn’t a “significant factor” driving global temperatures.
But recently, the Los Angeles Times took a stand against this type of misinformation. Paul Thornton, the paper’s letters editor, wrote that he doesn’t print letters asserting that “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change.” Why? Because, he wrote, such a statement is a factual inaccuracy, and “I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page.” He cited the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent statement that scientists are at least 95-percent certain humans are causing global warming.
Does this mean the Times will never publish a letter skeptical of climate change? Not necessarily. Thornton told Climate Desk that he evaluates all letters on “a case-by-case basis” and that he would consider running one from a climate scientist with “impeccable credentials” who disagreed with the scientific consensus. But he says those letters are unusual. “I don’t get a lot of nuance from people who question the science on climate change,” he explains. Rather, he says, letters frequently portray climate change as a “hoax” or a “liberal conspiracy.”
Thornton’s announcement drew praise from some scientists and activists, and Forecast the Facts, an advocacy group “dedicated to ensuring that Americans hear the truth about climate change,” launched apetition drive calling on other major papers to follow suit. “The idea that opinion pieces should be based in the realm of facts is nothing new,” argues Brad Johnson, the group’s campaign manager.
So how do other newspapers handle climate-denying letters? Climate Desk contacted editors across the country to find out.