The Cost of Being Green

Friday, February 13, 2009


News reports on climate change now have the tone of certainty that global warming is upon us. But there is anything but certainty when it comes to the cost of action. Shorenstein Fellow Eric Pooley says the media don't scrutinize the economic projections of pro-business groups, who rig their models to say climate change legislation will break the bank.

Comments [5]


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Apr. 12 2010 01:53 AM
Peter Wood from Princeton

In my dictionary, “consensus” means unanimity or general agreement approaching unanimity. Consensus isn’t created by one partisan faction declaring it so, or by attempting to intimidate proponents of rival views into silence. Stigmatize dissent on climate change as outside the “scientific consensus” –a consensus that doesn’t truly exist— is a rhetorical tactic to brush aside opponents without attending to the scientific merit of their work.
When the media decides that balance is in fact “false equivalency,” they decide the “real” debate is over, and the people who continue to dissent are either cranks or acting in bad faith. That’s a stunning judgment to make in the case of climate change. This is a field in which there are profound arguments on both sides held by highly-qualified experts. I am not clear how Ms. Gladstone was able to resolve the conflicting scientific theories and evidence, or adjudicate among competing models. But maybe she didn’t. Maybe she just decided to pitch in with the side she favors.

Feb. 17 2009 10:50 AM
Peter Wood from Princeton

To describe skeptics of global warming and “man’s role in it” as “often bankrolled by big oil or big business” is a way of brushing aside a body of scientific argument by insinuating that it is compromised by the source of the funding. It would be just as plausible to dismiss the science on the other side as “often bankrolled by big government and the alternative energy industry.” Both sides of the debate have some ties to vested commercial interests. That doesn’t mean their arguments are tainted by such connections. The science stands or falls on its merits.
I am the president of the National Association of Scholars, which advocates for open debate in higher education. Recently I have been hearing from scholars who are skeptical either about global warming or the claims of human contributions to global warming and who complain that they are subject to a form of harassment in which they are told that they must obey the “scientific consensus.”

Feb. 17 2009 10:49 AM
Alaina Jackson

Global Warming more than scares me I feel like the world is not listening so it is going to be shocked when a tradegy erupts because of it.

Feb. 16 2009 11:27 PM
Richard Hornik from Stony Brook U, NY

Eric, a former colleague of mine at Time, makes a very valid point, but it is one that can be extended to many other stories. Perhaps you should start a regular segment on false equivalency. The latest case was coverage of the stimulus package. The broad consensus among all economists, including conservative ones, was that the fiscal boost should be at least 5% of GDP and that at least a third of it should be Federal spending that would create jobs. The consensus was also that the biggest danger was that the boost would be too small because if it fails, the next jolt will have to be even bigger. And the consensus, including Mark M. Zandi, a former economic adviser to John McCain’s campaign and chief economist for Moody’s, also held that aid for unemployment, food and medical care would provide the biggest bang for the buck.Yet this broad consensus was drowned out by speeches and statements by Republican politicians who claimed only tax cuts amounting to half the proposed total package would work.

Feb. 14 2009 02:38 PM

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