'New York Times' adds correction to Bret Stephens' climate change op-ed

Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

The New York Times, recently the target of a wave of scathing criticism for hiring former Wall Street Journal editor Bret Stephens and publishing the op-ed editor's first column, a defense of climate change skepticism, issued a correction to said column on Monday.

Now affixed to the column — which argued "ordinary citizens ... have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism" — is a correction regarding the only piece of scientific research Stephens cited.

The correction dated May 1 reads as follows:

An earlier version of this article misstated the area that warmed by 0.85 degrees Celsius as noted in the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel report. It was the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface, not only the Northern Hemisphere."

The correction may serve as some comfort, at least for the many Times readers who responded to Stephens' column by berating his reasoning on social media — and, in some cases, allegedly canceling their subscriptions.

Stephens' piece, the first from a conservative the Times said it hired to increase the diversity of voices on its editorial page, largely enjoyed a cold reception among many readers and much of the media. 

"Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong," Stephens had argued. "Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one's moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts."

"Bret Stephens does not deny the reality of climate change, but he uses a familiar strategy from the skeptical playbook: misdirection," Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science professor, wrote to the Times. "Rather than acknowledging the role of climate change denial, he blames scientists and their allies for alleged certitude."

"The virtually universal conclusion of climate scientists the world over is that global warming can do great harm to our earth," Fred Schlissel of Woodmere, New Jersey added. "The only uncertainty concerns timing and magnitude."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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