The New York Times publisher issued a response to an academic demanding the paper atone for hiring a columnist who warned about “hubris” in climate science.
“We feel very fortunate to have a principled, independent-minded conservative writer like Bret Stephens join our team,” Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a letter Friday, referring to the paper’s decision to hire Brett Stephens, a former Wall Street Journal writer who made waves last month for criticizing climate change predictions. Some readers unsubscribed over the column.
Sulzberger Jr went on to state that the Times welcomes viewpoints from conservatives, liberals and everyone. Stephen’s work exists side-by-side with that of climate activist Bill McKibben, he wrote. McKibben wrote an editorial last year for the Times suggesting that those protesting the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline are contending with the kind of environmental racism he believes is rampant among white people.
“Americans on the right and left are talking past each other about how best to address climate change, and we are determined to put these different points of view into conversation with each other in hopes of advancing solutions,” he added.
Stephens has not backed off comments he made in an April 28 editorial suggesting that more Americans would believe in global warming “if there was less certitude about our climate future.” His editorial gained the attention of climatologists Michael Mann and Stefan Rahmstorf, both of whom believe TheNYT decision to hire Stephens indicates the paper has thrown its lot in with “climate denialists.”
They have urged other left-leaning academics to follow their lead to send a signal to TheNYT that climate skepticism is intolerable.
Rahmstorf, a researcher at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany, accused The NYT of “unbearable hypocrisy” for hiring Stephens while holding itself up as a beacon of “truth.” An online petition urging the paper to fire Stephens has now gathered more than 40,000 signatures since late April.
Stephens, for his part, defended his decision on CNN earlier this month, telling reporters that the point of his column was to note that academics are not helping their cause when they don’t hedge on their dire climate predictions. He referred to a U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report in 2007 claiming a very high likelihood that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 — the prognostication was later discredited.
Sulzberger Jr., for his part, argued that the TheNYT will continue to support columnists and writers from different perspectives.
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