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How to do climate 'science' journalism

05 Apr 2023 | OP ED Watch

We can’t help but notice the way in which formerly reasonably sober popular journals have become totally committed to one side on global warming and even, weirdly, in the so-called “culture wars”. For instance when Scientific American reportorializes that: “Scientists Just Warned We Need to Cut Emissions by 60 Percent, but the U.S. Is Years Away”, we know without looking that the “scientists” here are always the same ones as when NBC or the New York Times comes calling, and the journalist is not a scientist. And sure enough the author of that piece, Jean Chemnick, “holds a master’s in Journalism from Boston University and a bachelor’s in Theater Arts and English from Western Washington University.” If SA were taking vigorous positions on both sides of contemporary debates it might be helping illuminate policy with the aid of science. The trouble is, you have only to name the issue to know what it will say: the same thing as Joe Biden. Who Nature actually endorsed in 2020, by the way.

It’s bad enough when Scientific American bills itself as offering “Commentary and analysis of the science behind the most urgent social issues”. And worse when it publishes a rant by Naomi Oreskes that “We Can’t Solve Our Climate Problems without Removing Their Main Cause: Fossil-Fuel Emissions”. Or sniffs that “Intelligence reports supporting the lab-leak theory for COVID are not based in science”. And returns to the subject, in case you missed the subtext, with:

“Highly Politicized Congressional Hearings Air COVID Lab-Leak Hypothesis/ House Republicans have kicked off an investigation into how the pandemic began with witnesses who largely favor a lab origin”.

Boo Republicans! Nature chimes in that:

“COVID-origins study links raccoon dogs to Wuhan market: what scientists think/ Some say the analysis supports the hypothesis that the virus that causes COVID-19 spilled over from an animal – but falls short of definitive proof.”

Nor does it help when newspapers hail a “rapid reaction force of climate scientists” that swoops on natural disasters and blames them on “human-caused global heating” in real time. Mind you the paper in question was the Guardian, which also broke the story about how “BBC will not broadcast Attenborough episode over fear of rightwing backlash” which the BBC, which itself has a long track record of culpable unreliability on climate, itself quashed by noting that the supposed 6th episode of Attenborough’s “Wild Isles” never existed. So with them you get what you expect.

Gender equality in science? Nature editorializes “Celebrate women in science – today, and every day/ International Women’s Day can serve to bring hope, highlight progress, and inspire research communities to continue their efforts to push hard for true gender equality.” True gender equality. Speaking of which, using the telltale “finally” of the progressives, National Geographic also asks “Is it finally on the horizon?” about a male birth control pill and “will men share sexual responsibility?” (Plot spoiler: no, even if “A global survey of 5,000 men who have sex with women showed many were interested in trying a contraceptive” with the least enthusiasm in the bad old U.S. of A. and the most in, um, Nigeria.)

Meanwhile Reuters Sustainable Switch, still link-challenged a quarter of the way through the 21st century, goes with:

“As the world gears up to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, today’s newsletter highlights the challenges to achieving equality for women in the workplace…. IWD is an annual event to celebrate the achievements of women and push for greater equality. The event has roots in the U.S. socialist and labor movements of the early 20th century, particularly women’s fight for better working conditions and the right to vote. While no single group has ownership of the event, the United Nations is often at the forefront of celebrations after it officially recognized IWD in 1977.”

And it takes the stereotypical view that adding women to boards of directors increases return on equity by about 50%, but greedy men won’t do it. Or something. It’s standard fare in the formerly mainstream media, for instance the Globe & Mail’s:

“Women Lead Here: a snapshot of executive gender diversity in corporate Canada/ Only 6.6% of Canada’s largest publicly traded companies have a woman at the top”

But is affirmative action really something science supports?

It seems so. Or at least they seem to think so. Nature continues to storm the barricades with:

“Sweeping report calls for anti-bias measures in US science/ Universities and science employers must adopt practices to diversify their research workforce and move beyond simply hiring members of under-represented groups, finds the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.”

It also complains that:

“White men still hold majority of US science and engineering jobs/ Despite gains by women and people of colour, men continue to occupy almost three-quarters of all science and engineering positions in the nation, and close to two-thirds are occupied by those who identify as white.”

Boo people who identify as white! Boo people who identify as men! They don’t seem to have a problem with the fact that “female scientists hold almost two-thirds of positions in the social sciences, including psychology, sociology and anthropology” but are worried that “Some have criticized the report for its lack of data on people from sexual and gender minorities (LGBT+) in the STEM workforce.” Some say.

For good measure it urges us to engage with the Taliban: “Afghan scientists say the world must engage with Afghanistan and its regime on climate issues, which could help to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the country.”

Meanwhile the agenda is hidden in plain sight. Climate Home News chortled in its email newsletter about how “Science meets politics”, linking to a story saying, well, exactly what you’d expect when politics meets science:

“After years of unpaid hard work and a week of sleepless negotiations, the IPCC’s scientists celebrated in the swish Swiss city of Interlaken as their latest report was approved on Sunday. The report says a lot of things. But nothing that’s strictly new. It’s a synthesis of the previous three reports, which themselves summarised a vast amount of scientific studies done before the end of 2021. Most of its conclusions will be familiar to regular readers. It says we’re on course for more than 1.5C of warming, a scenario that will cause huge suffering. Some of that pain is unavoidable. But the rich world has largely failed to help the developing world respond to that which can be avoided.”

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!

Roger Pielke Jr. recently raised an alarm, or tried to, about scientists who cash in on the green energy subsidy gold rush after helping create the panic or even the subsidy legislation, while insisting that anyone getting money from oil companies is a venal horror. But the corruption goes far deeper.

Venerable, ostensibly balanced science publications are houses of woke whose science reporting is, in the worst sense of that term, political.

5 comments on “How to do climate 'science' journalism”

  1. The answer to the over-representation of men in science and engineering is simple - let them self identify as women. Better yet, let all academics in these fields be deemed to be women, and ensure that all correspondence to them is addressed as 'Dear Madam'. That'll do it.

  2. I suppose that moral relativism has spread to qualification / merit relativism in progressive circles allowing the quotas on genitalia to be considered "equitable".

  3. 1. The report on the 'coon dogs of Wuhan is not science. It is not a science paper, and the authors have already said they do not intend to ever have it peer reviewed. The reason is obvious: it is complete garbage. All they found is that some 'coon dog DNA and some covid genetic material was found on some swabs taken at the Wuhan seafood market. That "finding" is compatible with every hypothesis as to the origins of the virus; it is what you would expect to find given that the people who worked at the lab also shopped at the market.
    2. When you mix politics with science, you get politics.

  4. I’ve worked in the Pharmaceutical Research industry for over 20 years, both in house and field based. Occasionally I would run into a lab that had a 50/50 proportion of men to women. However, the vast majority of labs US wide have 3-4 times more the number of women scientists versus men. I‘be seen labs with up to 10 times more women than men. This goes for all size companies, from startups to the major players. So, I’m not sure where they’re getting their information from.

  5. Nature needs to be called out on misleading affirmative action claims.Like saying close to two thirds of science and engineering positions in the US are occupied by white males.Well,the latest US Census data will still show that close to 2/3 of American citizens identify as white.Definitely,well over 50%,
    so the numbers are fairly representitive of the general population.I don't know,I watch a lot of Astronomy shows on History Channel and the like.Hardly
    any of the scientists,astronomers,astrophysicists,etc seem to be white males.Certainly not anywhere near two thirds when it comes to that.And I'm ok with that.

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