Guest Columnist Juliana Merullo: No Room for Climate Denial

When considering the kind of news and information we expect from our newspapers, I hope we can agree that there are some basic facts that...



When considering the kind of news and information we expect from our newspapers, I hope we can agree that there are some basic facts that don’t need to be challenged in every article.

In his recent opinion piece, “Another Perspective on Climate Change,” Bob Couch laments the fact that only one “side” of the topic of climate change has been presented, stripping readers of the supposed controversy surrounding the issue. question. Unfortunately, I strongly disagree with Mr. Couch, and in writing this column I hope to deny him the opportunity to make false statements under the guise of a healthy debate about what in fact is. a closed case.

As sociologists Bob Brulle and Riley Dunlap have shown in their study on the subject, opinion columnists have become an important voice in the climate denial machine, able to spew out disinformation without journalistic integrity and peer review. . Mr. Couch fell into this trap, as all the research on his sources easily shows.

He begins by quoting a “Robert L. Stott”, an atmospheric scientist, who in fact does not exist. Rather, the quote Mr. Couch uses is attributed to Philip Stott, an English biogeographer who teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and has never published a paper on climate change. He sits, to his credit, on the board of directors of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which, despite its name, is nonetheless a leading UK think tank on climate change denial, with its own problematic history.

Although it claims to be an “educational charity”, it was forced to form a branch, the “Global Warming Policy Forum”, now “NetZero Watch”, as it turned out to be promoting political rather than educational information. A Guardian investigation into GWPF’s finances found that it refused to disclose who funds its operations, which should make us question the reliability of its reports.

In addition, a group of 70 scientists recently wrote a letter to a charity watchdog demanding that the GWPF be stripped of its charitable designation due to its role in spreading and creating climate disinformation.

Beyond Stott, Mr. Couch also puts false faith in Dr. Steven Koonin’s recent book, “Unsettled,” which itself has been criticized for grossly manipulating the facts about climate change. Koonin was chief scientist for fossil fuel giant BP between 2004 and 2009, but his climate skepticism didn’t end there. Like much of “Unsettled,” Koonin’s research is taken from the 2013-14 IPCC report. The latest report, released in August, unequivocally reinforced previous findings that humans are driving climate change and are responsible for the increase in extreme weather events, now calling it “a given fact”.

In his column, Mr Couch covers a variety of Koonin’s findings and says the IPCC is too full of scientific jargon to be understood. In fact, all that was needed was a simple word search to rebut all of Mr. Couch’s arguments about climate skepticism. For example, Couch denies that the frequency and intensity of heat waves, hurricanes and forest fires are the result of man-made global warming: in fact, the report says there is “great confidence.” that heat waves and hurricane precipitation can be attributed to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change (Technical Summary, page 49, Chapter 8, page 56); the last five years (obviously not included in the 2014 report) have been by far the hottest on record; and forest fires based on CO2 emissions were higher than average in 2020 (TS Chapter 6, page 75).

It’s true that the IPCC is full of scientific jargon: that’s because it’s a comprehensive review written by scientists who dedicate their lives to researching climate change, unlike most of us. However, that doesn’t mean that we can just put the results aside and ignore what is no longer just scientific consensus, but physical evidence that occurs every day at home and across the country.

As for the media coverage of this issue: it is true that there should be room for a debate around climate change, but these discussions should focus on proposed solutions, and not on their anthropogenic nature or not. Local media certainly have a role to play in this regard and, like Mr. Couch, I am encouraged by the Gazette’s new efforts to explore how climate change is affecting our community.

This problem is very real, it is very dangerous, and it is not only a problem for future generations, but also for our own. Disinformation is not a solution.

Juliana Merullo, Brown University Class of 2024, is a resident of Willismburg.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Guest Columnist Juliana Merullo: No Room for Climate Denial
Guest Columnist Juliana Merullo: No Room for Climate Denial
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