Is the NYT ignoring "Climategate"? Part II

Walter Russell Mead responds to yesterday's post about the IPCC's recent woes. And it seems we're more on the same page than I thought. Mead's bottom line:

Let me say this again one last time:  the story here is that the movement to stop climate change is being swift-boated right before our eyes.  And just as Senator Kerry and the journalistic establishment failed to see the importance of the swift boat attacks and develop a counter strategy early, so the Times along with the climate change establishment is, yet again, missing the boat on a major piece of news. 

Bingo! And he's right that the Times is missing that story. A tweet yesterday by Times environment reporter Andrew Revkin hints at why: "Journalism Review wonders why US media still not covering IPCC issues beyond old dispute narrative," Revkin writes, refering to a Columbia Journalism Review story on the matter. Revkin, having covered all these characters and debates many times before, especially over the "hockey stick" graph before, apparently has little interest in delving into them again. But it wouldn't be a bad idea to team Revkin up with, say, an Adam Nagourney type who can do the political side of this story.

One other note: U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern was asked today about the IPCC's screwups over Himalayan glaciers. Here's how he handled it:

QUESTION: Now my question about – India has distinctly announced that they will set up their own IPCC because they believe that the UN’s IPCC is not that realistic, that they are a bit confusing and it’s – they’re not reliable. What’s your opinion on that?

MR. STERN: Well, look. I think it’s a good thing for countries to have an active scientific effort. I don’t know what the details are. I don’t know what Minister Ramesh or others in India have in mind. But I think, obviously, the United States has all sorts of scientific work that we do through our various agencies of the U.S. Government. So I think that’s all a good thing.

I think the IPCC as an institution has made a very large contribution and I think it’s an important body that will continue and that is very representative of countries all over the world. So I don’t know what – I’m not familiar with the specifics of what India --

QUESTION: He was talking about – Minister Ramesh was talking about recent controversies about Himalayan glaciers.

MR. STERN: About what?

QUESTION: About Himalayan glaciers and the – some of the facts and figures in the IPCC report which has raised a lot of doubts.

MR. STERN: Right. Well, look, as I said, I think the IPCC is a very important body. I think it’s made a very important contribution. To the extent that there were any – that any errors appear in their lengthy report, I think that’s regrettable. But again, I’m not – I don’t have any – I’m not a scientist and I don’t have any considered view on the specifics. But I think the IPCC as an institution has been quite important and will continue to be important.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that, actually? How much more difficult has your job been since the errors in the IPCC report came to light, both globally and –

MR. STERN: It was difficult already. (Laughter.) No, look, I think that the scientific underpinning for action on climate change, the fundamental science of climate change and the observed data, is quite overwhelming. I think that to the extent – and again, I make no comment one way or another about whether they’re mistakes – I just don’t know. But to the extent that there were any mistakes in the IPCC report, reports, assessments, or anywhere else, that’s regrettable. You don’t want there to be mistakes.

But what should not happen is that any individual mistakes, typos, whatever they might be, be taken to undermine the very fundamental record that exists from scientists all over the world and from observed data from all over the world that this is a quite serious and growing problem. So I think that that’s really the kind of underlying important point.

And nor should – and I think what you do see sometimes is that people who have an agenda that is directed toward undermining action on climate change grab whatever tidbit they can find and say, look, there’s no climate change, it snowed last week in Washington, there’s no climate change. That kind of stuff is nonsense. And the exploiting of this or that mistake that might have occurred in some part of long reports that pull together a lot of scientific data, again, I think is – I think it needs to be seen for what it is, which is a deliberate attempt to undermine. The fundamentals haven’t changed.


What We're Reading

Preeti Aroon: “Shanghai Dream,” by Brook Larmer in National Geographic. As the author states, “The rise of China's only truly global city … is driven not by machines but by an urban culture that follows its own beat -- embracing the new and the foreign even as it seeks to reclaim its past glory.”

Elizabeth Dickinson: Susan Orlean writes about mules in the modern military in The New Yorker. A truly odd and fascinating story about how the United States airlifted the beasts to Pakistan to aid the mujahedeen … and rescued the mule industry in Tennessee in the process.

Joshua Keating: Under the Glacier, by Haldor Laxness. Since visiting Iceland last summer I've been meaning to check out Laxness, the country's most famous author and winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature. This story of the very strange behavior of people living on the Snaefellsnes peninsula -- one of the most beautiful places I've ever been -- seemed like a good place to start.   

David Kenner: Of course, news about the arrest of Mullah Baradur is high on everyone’s list: I particularly enjoyed Steve Coll’s blog post on the subject. I’m also following the inimitable Laura Rozen’s reporting on the imminent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program, which is, of course, coming in the wake of Iran’s recent announcement that it was enriching its supply of uranium to 20 percent. In the oft-self-described capital of Arab culture, I was also surprised to see that one-third of Egyptian males between 15 and 29 years of age want to immigrate to a foreign country .

Christina Larson: In 1990 British dramatist Caryl Churchill's "Mad Forest" imagined, darkly, how Romanians who had spent their lifetimes crusading against their Communist government would fare once their overlords fell. Absent the clear distinctions between good and evil, how would these moral warriors adapt to life under capitalism? It was perhaps an overly literary take on a topic that required a historian's work collecting data about income shifts and new career paths, etc. Now East German documentarians are beginning to do just that, as Jess Smee recounts in Der Spiegel.

Andrew Swift: I’ve recently started a  gifted copy of How Soccer Explains the World by New Republic editor Franklin Foer. With the most important sporting event on the planet only a few months away there’s no better time to make a sincere effort to understand the sport that is most watched, played, and obsessed the world over. A compelling weaving of the political, cultural and social issues surrounding the world of Football, Foer’s book is a great insight into the beautiful game.