The decision by the New York Times to hire a well-known “climate denier” to its editorial staff is troubling. I understand the desire to understand how different people think and to illustrate different views.* But, with climate change there are certain rules. My view, and I think many other educated people agree, is that it is appropriate to debate about the impacts of global climate change and ways to address climate change. For example, is it better to use a laissez-faire market-driven approach to address the problem and impacts of climate change or is it wiser and more effective to strengthen or create governing structures to address the problem? Better yet, what is the best combination of these?  But, continuing to question the actual reality of human-driven global climate change is unacceptable in 2017. I believe this is unacceptable in any part of US and global society including schools, newspapers, churches, and homes. I know that is a strong position but I stand by it. To have a climate denier join your editorial staff in 2017 is not to my mind different than having an Aryan supremacy expert join the editorial staff of a newspaper in late 1920s Germany so you can get a sense of how Nazi supporters think. Again, that is a strong comparison but I stand by it. [The slippery slope toward Nazi thinking in the German republic is well documented, as well as how Nazis took advantage of the economic problems of the Great Depression to seize power.) I do understand how a media business might want to grab a slice of the “alt-right” readership in the US. On a spreadsheet, it might look like a good business decision. But, from the perspective of human and environmental ethics, it is unacceptable. As a personal business decision, a letter or a boycott of the NY Times would send a signal.

* For the record, I am a skeptic and I wanted to check out Mr. Stephen’s writing myself, thinking the threat was probably exaggerated. But, as someone who has followed climate change science and reporting for many years now, and has been immersed in the scientific literature on how humans think, and our biases and blind spots, the obvious, misleading (and underlying malicious) spin of the data in Mr. Stephen’s first column, and his deft and deliberate misinformation on scientific understanding, was all jaw-droppingly obvious. He may appear polished and even quotes from one of my favorite poets, but, this is dangerous propaganda on par with the Heartland Institute. [You do realize I and thousands of teachers and professors have received free false text books from them? I wonder where all that money came from?] I have discontinued my electronic subscription to the Times. Yes, there is good reporting there and we all miss Andrew Revkin. But, decisiveness is needed, especially on the heels of the climate march

— Thomas Doherty, Psy.D.


Published by Thomas Doherty

Psychologist Thomas Doherty's work on environmental sustainability and health has been featured in publications like the New York Times and in talks worldwide. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his business Sustainable Self. He was the founding Director of the Ecopsychology Certificate Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School and Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ecopsychology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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