Here's another sad story of hasty journalism feeding the denial machine, with a belated twist of "balance."
A new attack on climate science is now echoing around the intertubes, thanks to CanWest writer Richard Foot. His Jan. 21 piece headlined 'Scientists using selective temperature data, skeptics say' simply regurgitates a scurrilous attack by Joseph D'Aleo (non-scientist, non-professor) and E. Michael Smith ('a computer programmer') posted on the website of the "Science and Public Policy Institute".
Foot openly admits "Both the authors, and the institute, are well-known in climate-change circles for their skepticism about the threat of global warming." Yet he makes virtually no effort to counter-balance their extreme ideological position. His whole article is just parroting their inflammatory attacks on science.
Two days later, Foot issued a much more sensible and balanced account of this flap, "Fewer temperature reports could mean warming underestimated: scientist" (Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 23) getting quotes from an Environment Canada spokesperson pointing out that fewer stations is just as likely to lead to an underestimate of warming, and finishing off with a forceful rejoinder from Gavin Schmidt calling D'Aleo's charges "appallingly defamatory and ignorant" (!) You go, Gavin! Being a wire service story, after it ran in the Citizen the story was picked up in many smaller papers across Canada and online news sites.
Here are links to the two original news stories at newspaper sites, followed by links to a Google query designed to find repetitions of each story anywhere online. As of 8:30 am Jan. 25th, hits are running A=325, B=36 (but A has a two-day head-start)
A) Scientists using selective temperature data, skeptics say
B) Fewer temperature reports could mean warming underestimated: scientist
A) google for 'just one thermometer' 'everything north of latitude 65 degrees'
B) google for 'appallingly defamatory and ignorant'
No points to Foot for starting off on the 'wrong foot' (Oooh, alternate title idea!) with a denial-only piece, then coming back two days later with the "balance."
Kudos to Gavin Schmidt for picking up on and strongly responding to this latest smear. Let's watch how the wire stories make their way around the web.