Letters to the Editor

WILL WATSON: Tell the real story of climate change

John Kunellis' "Global Warming Denial Is Futile" letter (Oct. 16) is right about climate change science, but wrong about the public discussion of it.

Global warming denial will thrive for as long as media outlets ignore climate change news and persist in an editorial policy of "false balance."

False balance is the tendency to cover all stories as if there were always two "sides" that legitimately differed over the facts. When the news concerns established science, however, false balance merely confuses the public. No American editor, for instance, would invoke the principle of "balance" if opinion writers were claiming that smoking cigarettes was healthful.

Why is climate change any different? The stakes are every bit as high. The scientific facts are every bit as solid.

Thousands of people died while big tobacco companies successfully waged high-profile campaigns to create doubt about the health impacts of tobacco.

Now it's been revealed that a major oil company did much the same.

The cover-up persisted for over 30 years while oil companies paid tens of millions of dollars to unscrupulous scientists to spread doubt about global warming science -- such as Dr. Frederick Seitz of Oregon Petition fame.

To meet the climate change challenge, American media must thoroughly investigate the denial industry.

They must cover climate change as if civilization itself were in the balance -- as it is. And they must end the false balance that treats denialist sham -- such as the Oregon Petition -- the same as scientific fact.

We have time to act, but not if the public and our leaders are infected with the contagion of denial carried by our media.

End the false balance.

Honestly and courageously tell the real climate change story.

History will notice.

WILL WATSON

Long Beach

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