- Dean BaquetExecutive Editor, The New York Times
- James BennetEditorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Joseph KahnManaging Editor, The New York Times
- James DaoDeputy Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Terry TangDeputy Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Liz SpaydPublic Editor, The New York Times
- Public EditorThe New York Times
Tell The NY Times: do not promote climate denial at your paper
Tell The New York Times that climate denial should have no place on its editorial page! Please sign and share our petition!
The New York Times has hired the columnist Bret Stephens, who is on record dismissing climate change as “hysteria generated by an imperceptible temperature rise of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880.” In his first column for the Times, “Climate of Complete Certainty,” Stephens argued that we should doubt the certainty of climate science before we call for changes in public policy to address climate change. He said it is “not entirely” true that “the science is settled” and “the threat is clear.”
In fact, climate science tells us with over 90-95% certainty that if we continue to emit CO2 at our current rate we will cause the planet to warm between 3-5.5 °C over the coming ninety years. Uncertainty in the modeling is already accounted for by the range of projected temperatures. Even 3°C warming would be catastrophic for human beings everywhere. 3°C warming would destroy agricultural systems that feed millions of people, incite fatal droughts and heat waves, and flood our costal cities, rendering them uninhabitable. It is only by taking immediate steps to decarbonize our global economy – even bigger steps than were outlined in the 2016 Paris Agreement – that we have any hope to hold warming at 2°C and preserve our current way of life.
The world's most respected climate scientists have signed an open letter calling Stephens' work “inaccurate and misleading.” (You can read that letter here: https://www.climatefactsfirst.org) And indeed Stephens is spreading the disinformation campaign developed by Exxon and its lobbyists in the 1990's (a campaign first exposed, in a somewhat painful irony, by The New York Times itself). This campaign uses the tobacco-industry playbook of minimizing and distorting scientific research into the hazards of smoking to minimize and distort scientific discoveries about the dangers of burning fossil fuels. The connections between tobacco-industry and fossil-fuel-industry propaganda have been well documented, for example in Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.
By claiming that Bret Stephens' arguments fall safely within "a range of views" that reasonable people may debate, The New York Times is legitimating the dangerous lie that there is enough uncertainty in the climate science to make us question whether we need to phase out fossil fuel consumption. In seeming to provide its readers with different viewpoints about climate change, The New York Times is in fact reinforcing and amplifying one viewpoint: that of the fossil-fuel industry and the climate-deniers in the Trump administration who are spreading the fake news that we must debate the science before policymakers act. Legitimating fake news about climate is irresponsible and dangerous.
Every one of us who signs this petition has a deeply personal reason for protesting the hiring of Stephens by The New York Times. I am lucky to have a seven-year-old boy who I and his father love more than anything in the world; we will fight tirelessly to leave him a planet on which he can live safely and, if he wishes, have children of his own to love with equal ferocity. We trust that the Editors of The New York Times have similar hopes for a livable future.
We urge the Times to remember that only its commitment to the truth enables it to fulfill the public trust and maintain the broad readership that has made The New York Times America's paper of record. We call on The New York Times to rescind its offer to Bret Stephens and instead hire a columnist committed to advancing his political position without using lies to support his argument.
- Executive Editor, The New York Times
- Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Managing Editor, The New York Times
- Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
- Public Editor, The New York Times
- The New York Times
You have hired Bret Stephens to provide a fresh perspective on climate change, among other issues. Now that Stephens has published his first column, we see that his argument – that climate models are fallible enough to give us pause about decarbonizing our economy – is nothing new. This message was developed by Exxon and its lobbyists in the 1990's, a fact first reported by your very paper. Its roots lie in tobacco-industry disinformation campaigns which, according to US Federal Court, denied, minimized, and distorted scientific research into the hazards of smoking. The connections between these campaigns and the fossil-fuel industry campaign to deny, minimize, and distort the risks of anthropogenic climate change are well documented, for example in Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.
We emphasize again: by recasting The New York Times Opinion page as a platform for discussion about whether we should be certain about the findings of climate science, you have given a cultural and political assist to the fossil-fuel industry and the climate-deniers in the Trump Administration. You are amplifying the message that we need to wait and see … something … before we act. Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt himself spread this lie in his Senate confirmation hearings, when he robotically repeated, six times verbatim, that “human activity impacts our changing climate some manner” but “the ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact” is “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”
Climate science tells us with over 90-95% certainty that if we continue to emit CO2 at our current rate we will cause the planet to warm between 3-5.5 ° C over ninety years. Uncertainty in the modeling is already accounted for by the range of projected temperatures. Even 3° C warming will be catastrophic for human beings everywhere. 3°C warming will, at the very least, destroy the agricultural systems and water supply of millions of people, incite fatal heat waves and droughts, and flood our costal cities, rendering them uninhabitable. It is only by taking immediate steps to decarbonize our global economy – even bigger steps than were outlined in the Paris Agreement – that we have any hope to hold warming at 2° C, enabling us to preserve our current way of life.
Every one of us who signed this petition has a deeply personal reason for protesting your hiring of Stephens. The author of this petition has a seven-year-old boy who she and his father loves more than anything in the world. We will fight tirelessly to leave him and all children a planet on which they can live safely and, if they wish, have children of their own whom they will love with equal ferocity. We trust that you at The New York Times have similar hopes for a livable future.
There is no debate among climate scientists that humanity needs to act. We must stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Paris Agreement demonstrates that nearly the entire planet accepts this truth. Only the American Republican party and their “skeptical” media mouthpieces profess to doubt it. We are shocked and heartbroken that The New York Times seems to have joined this undistinguished crew.
Please do not mischaracterize the concerns of your readers and the scientists who are unsubscribing in protest over Stephens' hire. We are protesting because we understand that we are running out of time to halt global warming at a temperature where civilization as we know it is sustainable. Climate science says with 97% unanimity that we have to stop emitting carbon dioxide. To question whether scientists are certain about that – or whether we should be certain about their certainty – is simply dangerous. We understand this. And we are protesting because we believe, despite everything, that you, the Editors at The New York Times, understand this too.
Genevieve Guenther started this petition with a single signature, and now has 36,066 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.