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Gaseous Journalism

The other day I happened to tune in to the Diane Rehm show on NPR to hear John Holdren, the president's science advisor, talk about the new climate change report that made stark headlines last week, reporting that warming is here, is having serious negative effects already, and is largely caused by human activity.

There is actually no original news in the report; rather it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date survey yet released. It was put together by representatives from some 30 government agencies who reviewed dozens, probably hundreds, of research papers from all over the world. As always, John's commentary was clear, direct, and sober. So far, so good.

Diane and John spoke by phone, and when they finished he hung up and went back to work. There followed a discussion with John Podesta, the former chief of staff for Bill Clinton, advisor to President Obama, and head of the Center for American Progress, and Stephen Moore, described as a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

Moore immediately said that virtually everything Dr. Holdren had said was wrong. Global warming such as we're experiencing is a good thing: plants grow faster. The warmest decade on record was in the 1930s, not the past ten years. When Ms. Rehm pointed out that Holdren had said that every national academy of sciences in the world—and essentially every reputable climate scientist—agreed with the thrust of the new report, he simply shrugged it off. You can find the transcript, links to the tape, and a scathing commentary from an MIT blog here.

What interests me is why bozos like Mr. Moore still get air time. It's one thing if Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly want to try to lend credibility to such people, invite them on their programs, and try to assure that black is white, but why a respectable host like Diane Rehm would let a joker like that pollute their airwaves I don't understand—though Rehm did hit Moore with some tough questions, which he ignored. I also wonder if Holdren knew that Moore would be on; I rather doubt it. The search for "balance," when it involves putting ignoramuses on a par with respectable experts, is a terrible flaw in today's journalism.

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