A Journal for Western Man

 

An Exchange Regarding

Global Warming and Journalism

G. Stolyarov II and Stephen Po-Chedley

Issue XCVII- April 23, 2007

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Principal Index

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Old Master Index

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Contributors

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The Rational Business Journal

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Gallery of Rational Art

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CMFF: Fight Death

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Eden against the Colossus

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A Rational Cosmology

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Associated Content

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Statement of Policy

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The following electronic exchange of letters took place after Mr. Stephen Po-Chedley responded to Mr. G. Stolyarov II's article, "Activism Without Thought: College Students' Support of Global Warming Propaganda." Mr. Stolyarov replied with a letter of his own. In the interests of pursuing truth and encouraging civil exchange among individuals holding viewpoints on all sides of an issue, TRA reprints this exchange here.

Mr. Stephen Po-Chedley to Mr. G. Stolyarov II: April 15, 2007:

I wanted to throw in a couple comments about your article.

I have heard of Richard Lindzen and have read his work. From what I've read his models can't accurately predict the warming that is happening currently. I've also heard and read a little bit about Partick Moore, though I can't  say I know much more than that he is skeptical. The climate scientists
I've talked to and heard lectures from, including Lonnie Thompson and Brian Mark, seem to think that there is a scientific consensus on the issue. Bill McKibben, who has followed it for decades seems to believe there is a need to act as well.

In fact, most periodicals and newsweeklys that I have read generally have the tone that the science is being watered down by politics and agendas of special interests. I'm not going to try to argue the science with you, but I think the IPCC statement that they have a 90% certainty that global warming is anthropogenic is a landmark statement - 90% certainty in this kind of science is remarkable and doesn't come easily.

The Gazette published the piece as a news story documenting campus movements and published my opinion within the story - that does not classify the piece as an editorial.

I don't think Dr. Breen is a professor at Union College. I'm not certain, though.

You mention that it doesn't take a scientific background to understand counterpoints to global warming. Do you have a scientific background or are you just working under the assumption that you fully understand the science behind those who believe global warming is not anthropogenic?

You really have no idea of my background, so sweeping statements are a bit hypocritical. "Students throughout the country urgently need to think before acting, do research before assuming, question before accepting. Too much is at stake to allow one side of the debate to be silenced while the other
shoves greatly distorted information onto impressionable young minds."

Anyways, a thought-provoking review, at least.

-Steve Po-Chedley

Mr. G. Stolyarov II to Mr.  Stephen Po-Chedley: April 17, 2007:

Mr. Po-Chedley:

Thank you for your letter. I appreciate your willingness to read my article and to respond to it with a clarification of your views and your reasons of thinking the way you do.

It seems to me that the article in the Daily Gazette did not do your views justice and made them seem to have less informed reasoning behind them than they actually do. Certainly, the short quotation from you in the Gazette did nothing to explain why you think the way you do and what kinds of reading and research was formative to your position. Thus, reading the article gave me a false impression of the extent of your learning on the subject—which I acknowledge is much broader than I had originally inferred. It would have been better—both from the standpoint of accurate portrayal of your views and even with regard to advancing such views—had the Gazette published something more akin to the letter you wrote to me.

If you have read the other side’s work and are aware of the arguments advanced by it and you still believe that manmade global warming is occurring, then I have no quarrel with your integrity or your advocacy of your position. We obviously disagree on the issue, but we do so in an informed manner while being aware of the counterarguments to our respective views. My own academic background is in economics, mathematics, and German literature—with extensive forays into history, writing, and philosophy. I admit that I am not a climate scientist by specialty, but I have studied the natural sciences sufficiently to be able to understand the arguments advanced by each side. I have tried to educate myself on this issue by exposing myself to both sides; I have watched Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, read numerous science textbook accounts of global warming, and participated in debates with those who think manmade global warming is happening. As a result of my own studies, I am still convinced of the correctness of those who dispute anthropogenic global warming—a conviction I arrived at after examining the arguments for and against manmade global warming’s existence; I believe that I understand the science behind these arguments, though—like you—I will not discuss it here because of space constraints. Suffice it to say, our respective cases indicate that informed disagreement can and does exist on this issue among intelligent individuals who have examined the data and arguments from each side.

The article in the Daily Gazette, however, did not portray such a disagreement as existing. I have no problem with articles citing students’ opinions in agreement with the existence of manmade global warming—including yours. Indeed, I wish that your position and the reasons for it had been given more extensive coverage rather than the crude and simplistic snippet that rendered itself so liable to misinterpretation, as we have seen. However, I do believe that the article’s coverage of such opinions was one-sided. Surely, you have students at Union College who are at least somewhat doubtful that manmade global warming is occurring—or students who are willing to discuss the global warming skeptics’ views with the Gazette.  Surely, your college at least has a College Republicans organization or some comparable part of the student body that does not feel entirely comfortable with the theory of anthropogenic global warming. The principles of ethical journalism dictate that their views also be given coverage. Anything else is biased reporting, and as such is more appropriately suited to the editorial pages. I have nothing against editorials (I write them frequently myself), but I am staunchly opposed to editorial material masquerading as a news article.

I would like to emphasize again that my principal quarrel is not with you; it is with the way in which the Gazette article failed to mention the other side of this issue at all—a glaring omission which somebody at the Gazette should have noticed and remedied. Journalistic errors of this scope, magnitude, and consistency cannot be due to mere incompetence on the part of some. I am sure that your college’s Gazette is staffed by some rather intelligent and talented people, and therefore I am left with no choice but to conclude that the omission was ideologically motivated and that the Gazette itself was advancing an agenda in covering the issue in the way it did. Again, there is nothing wrong with advancing an agenda—provided that it is openly admitted and not portrayed as “news” or the only acceptable or existing position on an issue. Students who read the Gazette are likely to get the wrong impression of the global warming debate and falsely conclude that substantial disagreement does not exist on the issue. You and I might know better—but it is because we have exposed ourselves to sources much more thorough and multifaceted than those the Gazette article cites.

One more idea to consider: Even if the 90% confidence you cite is correct (and, for the sake of argument, I assume that it is), what will be the consequences if the 10% chance of anthropogenic global warming not occurring happens to be the case? Will not our technological progress and our long-sought, only recently attained decent standards of living be crippled and perhaps reversed for nothing? Are you sure that this is a proper cost to incur, even if manmade global warming in fact exists? Dr. George Reisman, an economist of high standing, has written an excellent and insightful commentary on what superior remedies might be if manmade global warming were the case. His essential point is: we can address it through more technology and more economic growth—rather than through needlessly restricting our productivity and standards of living. You can read his article at http://rationalargumentator.com/issue96/warminghell.html if you are interested. At least, I urge you to consider that the science behind the issue—whichever way it might ultimately end up deciding—does not necessarily warrant policy measures like the Kyoto Protocol or comparable restrictions on production and development. And that is an economic and political issue, rather than a climatological one.

I would like your permission to publish your letter and mine on The Rational Argumentator, my online magazine. In part, I would like to convey to my readers the fact that I initially misinterpreted your background and degree of exposure to both sides of this issue. I value the truth, and I would like to make note of it, even if it means admitting a prior error on my part.

I am

G. Stolyarov II,

Editor-in-Chief,

The Rational Argumentator,

http://rationalargumentator.com

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre,  Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue XCVII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.