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The most slimy essay ever from the Guardian and Columbia University

Watts Up With That?
Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Opinion by Anthony Watts

There has never been a time at WUWT that I’ve used the word “slimy” in a headline. This is a special case. I thought of about a half dozen words I could have used and finally decided on this one. I chose it because of precedence in a similar situation where Steve McIntyre wrote his rebuttal to a similar piece of amateur journalism entitled Slimed by Bagpuss the Cat Reporter.

The most slimy essay ever from the Guardian and Columbia University JeffSachs09 full 180 Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Last week, the Guardian invited me to participate in their new online story forum. They were seeking the input from climate sceptics on issues they were writing about. They especially wanted my input. I said I’d consider it, but was a bit hesitant given the Guardian’s reporting history. But, after some discussion with one of the reporters, it seemed like a genuine attempt at outreach. I suggested that if they really wanted to make a gesture that would make people take notice, they should consider banning the use of the word “denier” from climate discourse in their newspaper. Nobody I know of in the sceptic community denies that the earth has gotten warmer in the past century. I surely don’t. But we do question the measured magnitude, the cause, and the scientific methods.

Now, any progress that has been made in outreach by the Guardian has been dashed by the most despicably stupid newspaper article I’ve ever seen about climate skeptics. The Guardian for some reason thought it would be a good idea to print it while at the same time trying to reach across the aisle to climate skeptics for ideas. Needless to say, they’ve horribly botched that gesture with the printing of this article.

Here’s the headline and link to the Guardian article:

Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain

It’s full of the kind of angry, baseless, stereotypical innuendo I’d expect Joe Romm to write. Instead, the writer is Jeffrey D Sachs. who is professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, home to NASA GISS.

And it’s not just the Guardian. Apparently this article has been shopped around. It made it into The National in Abu Dhabi which you can read here. Apparently the article from Columbia’s Sachs was distributed by an outfit called The Project Syndicate.

A check of their website show the author list, some of the stories they are pushing to media, and they seem to be rather vague about where their money comes from. In their contact and support page all they offer is a PO box for their HQ in Prague:

Project Syndicate PO Box 130 120 00 Prague 2 Czech Republic

So much for transparency.

Back to the article. After reading it, one can see that Sachs is simply repeating the same sort of drivel we get from trolls every day on climate science discussions. Baseless accusations of being involved with deep pockets, connections to tobacco, denial of links to cancer, and other assorted decades old slimy talking points that have nothing to do with the real issue at hand: scientific integrity in climate science.

It is clear that professor Sachs didn’t do any original research for this article, he simply repeated these same slimy talking points we see being pushed by internet trolls and NGO’s like Greenpeace. He provided no basis for the claims, only the innuendo. It’s a pathetic job of journalism. It’s doubly pathetic that the Guardian allowed this to be printed at a time when they were reaching out to skeptics.

It seems incomprehensible to Sachs and others like him that people like myself, Steve McIntyre, Jeff Id,  Joe D’Aleo, John Coleman, and others who write about climate science issues might have original thoughts and do original research of our own. It seems impossible to him that an “army of Davids”, such as the readers and contributors to CA and WUWT, could shake the money bloated foundations of climate science today with daily blog posts, FOI requests, and commentary. No it had to be big money funding these skeptics somewhere.

Newsflash: It’s worse than you thought. It’s a growing revolution of like minded people worldwide that want to see the climate science done right and without the huge monied interests it has fallen prey to.. Tobacco, big oil, and other assorted contrived boogeymen haven’t anything to do with skeptics that question CRU, GISS, NOAA, etc.on these pages and the pages of other blogs.

Oh sure they’ll say “but you went to the Heartland convention, and they took money from Exxon once, they defended smokers rights,  that makes you complicit.” Bull. I’ve made my objections loudly known to Heartland on these issues, but the fact is that no other organizations stepped up to help skeptics with a conference to exchange information. While people like Sachs were denouncing “deniers”, and Al Gore was leading multimillion dollar media campaigns  saying we were “flat earthers” and “moon landing deniers”, no scientific organizations were stepping forward to ask the tough questions, or to even help regular people like you and me who were asking them. Had any such scientific organization had the courage, you can bet that skeptics would have flocked there. Instead these organizations all got on the consensus bandwagon.

The claims made that skeptics are connected to tobacco companies is ludicrous. It is especially ludicrous in my case.

So here’s my challenge to Professor Sachs. Give me ten minutes in a room with you. That’s all I need. I’ll tell you about my story related to tobacco. I’ll tell you how secondhand smoke most likely contributed to my profound hearing loss through a series of badly treated ear infections as a child, I’ll tell you about my efforts to get my parents to stop smoking , and then, I’ll tell you how I watched both of my parents die of tobacco related disease. I’ll tell you what I think of tobacco products and companies. I’ll tell you to your face. I promise you it won’t be pretty, I promise you that you’ll feel my pain caused by tobacco.

Finally, I’ll tell you what I think of you for writing this crap you market as journalism without asking leading skeptics any questions, but instead relying on this slimy innuendo that’s been repeated for years.

Professor Sachs, contact me by leaving a comment if you have personal integrity enough to hear it.

TuneUp Utilities 2010
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