By Clay Waters | February 7, 2017 | 2:46 PM EST
New York Times reporter Justin Gillis is a man on a mission to save the planet from the depredations of global warming (rebranded as “climate change”). The activist environmental reporter was at it again in the paper’s Tuesday Science section, “Cooling Language About a Warming Earth” (too ideological even for the news pages?).
Gillis, who under the guise of a journalist regularly pushes the idea of a looming environmental apocalypse in the Times’ news pages, has a bad habit of taking the front page to declare warming “records” which may not or do not actually exist, and then not deigning to explain the discrepancies. They apparently don’t matter to the “ordinary reader” anyway.
Gillis’s contempt was obvious from his muted mockery:
Not long ago, many Republican officeholders had a simple answer when asked about the changing climate: What changing climate?
But the public began to notice the heat waves and the torrential rains and the tidal flooding. So then we had the “I am not a scientist” phase, with one lawmaker after another fending off climate questions with that formula.
That drew such ridicule that Republicans critical of climate science had to come up with a more nuanced answer. Several variations on the new approach were on display recently during confirmation hearings for some of President Trump’s cabinet nominees.
“Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee. “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”
Let us ponder the craftsmanship of that second sentence.
“With precision” is the key phrase, of course, and it renders the statement almost axiomatically true. Do we have trouble taking the precise temperature of an entire planet and then divining, for a given period, exactly how much of the change in that temperature is caused by human activities?
Anybody who did not know better might come away thinking there is room to doubt whether humans are the main cause of global warming. Mr. Pruitt did not actually say that, of course — nowadays, hard-core climate denial provokes a furious response from Democrats in Congress and mild protest even from a few Republicans.