93% of Wall Street Journal's Climate Op-Eds Misrepresent Science


Images via Climate Progress

File this one under "Big Surprise". The Wall Street Journal has long been revered as the standard bearer for American business journalism -- so it should be no revelation that the WSJ's op-ed page leads the pack in refutations to climate science. Addressing climate change is still considered anathema to the business community, which envisions a web of regulations and fees that will sap its collective bottom line. That aversion to climate policy translates, as it so often does, into an aversion to the climate science itself on the WSJ's opinion pages. In fact, one researcher found that over the last 3 years, the paper had published only 4 op-eds that got the science right -- and 52 that got it wrong. Professor Scott Mandia determined those results in a little experiment he did in a guest post for Climate Progress. Here's how it worked:

The WSJ has an archive of editorials and op-eds in a category labeled Climate Change that is only available to subscribers. Between October 2008 and January 25, 2011 there were a total of 86 articles in the archive ... I scored each article using the following criteria:

PRO: Article supported the scientific consensus.
CON: Article did not support the scientific consensus, mocked or attacked the science or scientists, or cherry-picked data to cast doubt.
MISSING: Article ignored any mention of human activities as a cause of climate change but did not misinform otherwise.
N/A: Article was about non-science issues such as the pros and cons of cap and trade, carbon tax, political strategies, etc.
Figure 1 below shows the results:


The number of articles that correctly reflect the scientific consensus is dismal to say the least. Underscoring the irony of these findings is that the articles which prompted this experiment were a series of op-eds lamenting the fact that belief in the good science supporting medical vaccines still hadn't recovered from the screwy study which formulated the autism link. People still don't trust vaccines, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that says they are safe and do not cause autism. And yet, the WSJ's climate editors still somehow fails to see the parallels between the body of science it feels is being unduly denigrated and the one that it denigrates on a regular basis.

As Mandia writes, "97% of climate science experts and every international scientific organization endorses the conclusion that human activities are primarily responsible for modern global warming. An honest newspaper should reflect that consensus."

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Tags: Global Climate Change

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