Maybe it's time to send the editorial
writers at The New York Times back to the Columbia Journalism
School for a refresher course in fact-checking.
Even with the departure of the left-wing
ideologue Howell Raines as editor-in-chief and protégé
Jayson Blair, The Times still is having a hard time getting its
A prime example is the paper's June 20
editorial "Global Warming Censorship," that takes the
Bush Administration to task for allegedly editing a portion of
the climate change section in the Environmental Protection Agency's
(EPA) draft report on the state of environment.
But no one in the Bush Administration
censored the EPA report anymore than editors at The Times would
have been censoring a news story if they had exercised the good
journalistic judgment to edit the many egregious errors committed
by Jayson Blair during his brief, but shameful, career.
It's true that the EPA draft report was
edited by the climate change experts on the White House Council
on Environmental Quality. Those experts, however, only corrected
glaring factual errors placed in the report by some of the environmental
extremists who have managed to embed themselves in the EPA over
past three decades.
Almost since its founding in 1970, the
EPA's so-called science has been terribly suspect. Instead of
farming it out to independent, impartial experts in academia,
the agency insisted on doing its own studies - a development analogous
to having Congress rather than the Supreme Court determine whether
a new law is constitutional.
Surprise, surprise... the EPA's in-house
studies always seemed to be raising alarms about new environmental
menaces - menaces that allowed its bureaucrats to steadily expand
their power and their patronage. Like Topsy, it just grew and
EPA science was so one-sided, so unbalanced,
indeed, that it quickly took on the same connotation of obsequious
bootlicking once associated with Soviet science. In other words,
"science" generated to back up preconceived notions.
That is to say, not science at all, but propaganda in promotion
of a cause.
Having been leaked a draft version of
the report by an environmental group, The New York Times quickly
rushed in to print with a finger-pointing front-page story and
then editorial accusing the Bush Administration of suppressing
What scientific thought? The draft version
of the EPA report ignored the fact that there is a huge debate
going on across the globe as to 1) whether we're facing severe
or just gradual global warming, and 2) whether man-made emissions
of so-called greenhouse gasses from motor vehicles, factories
and power plants are playing any role in it.
The assertion by environmental activists
and The Times that the 1990s likely were the warmest decade in
1,000 years has been challenged and effectively refuted in an
extensively referenced peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers
at the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The New York Times conveniently failed
to mention that most of the funding for this study came from NASA,
an independent agency with no particular axe to grind on the issue.
Also ignored was the fact that a panel of scientific peers unanimously
found that the center's research met rigorous scientific standards.
The Times reporting and editorializing
on global warming makes it clear that their writers - like the
departed Blair - read only those portions of studies and reports
that fit their preconceived notions.
They suggest, for example, that a 2001
report by the National Research Council makes a compelling case
for urgent action to combat global warming by curtailing carbon
dioxide emissions, but a complete reading of that report makes
clear that what we know about the climate system is limited to
a few facts.
Specifically, over the past century the
average global surface temperature rose modestly, carbon dioxide
emissions increased and human activities have some influence on
the climate system.
The Council's report, however, makes clear
that everything else is mostly a combination of hypothesis and
speculation due to significant uncertainties in our understanding
of the climate system.
Without more scientific knowledge on major
climate processes - clouds, water vapor, oceans, solar influences
and aerosols - it is simply not possible to distinguish natural
variability from human influence.
Far from censoring a "scientific
consensus," the Bush Administration is encouraging valid
debate with proposals to expand research to reduce the current
uncertainties about global warming.
The White House desire to resolve legitimate
scientific disputes is hardly a "sign of burying its head
in the sand" as The Times charges. It is merely a sign of
wanting the best available knowledge before putting into place
policies that will have draconian economic consequences on the
lives of 286-million Americans.
The Bush Administration deserves applause
- not catcalls - from the arrogant journalists on West 43rd Street.
Bonner Cohen is a senior fellow
with The National Center for Public Policy Research. Comments
may be sent to [email protected].