Who does the Washington Post consider to be an “expert” on the science of global warming?

WaPo has a new section called “Planet Panel: Views and Debates on Climate Change Policy”.

In it, you’ll find opinions by ten ostensible experts on the question (emphasis mine) “What Doubt is There About the Science Behind Global Warming?

How many of the experts actually have a relevant science background?

  • Rick Edmund – pastor, United Methodist Church (edu –?)
  • Donald Boesch – biological oceanographer
  • Lars Josefsson – energy co. CEO (edu – engineering/”technical physics”)
  • David Hales – college president (edu – poli sci)
  • David Hone – adviser to Shell (edu – petro engineering)
  • Robert Shapiro – business consultant (edu – econ)
  • William O’Keefe – CEO Marshall Institute, former API CEO (edu – ?)
  • Bill McKibben – environmentalist/350.org (edu – journalism)
  • Bjorn Lomborg – director Copenhagen Consensus Centre (edu – poli sci)
  • Reid Detchon – UN energy foundation VP (edu – ?)

I am not proposing that one must have a doctorate in a relevant field in order to have an opinion on climate as a topic, but if the Washington Post is going to make the question explicitly about the science, how can they justify having a single scientist with a somewhat-relevant background? Several, perhaps all, of the other experts listed might be experts on policy questions (although in the cases of and O’Keefe and Lomborg, doubtful), but that isn’t what the question was asking. Nor is it any better that the answers were largely in agreement about the reality of the scientific consensus on the need for mitigation. If you had the resources of the Washington Post and wanted to assemble a panel on a question about the science of a specific topic, how many relevant scientists would you have included? My guess is more than one.

This is simply disgraceful. Although hardly surprising, from the paper that elsewhere counts George Will among its authorities on climate.


6 responses to “Who does the Washington Post consider to be an “expert” on the science of global warming?

  1. These days the web is filled by posts and blogs by people who claim to be climate scientists, many of whom have only taken a basic science course. It gets worse when people like Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, two economists who wrote “Superfreakanomics”, pontificate on the subject, and have millions of readers believing their nonsense. I have a Master’s in Astronomy and one in Geophysics — two disciplines necessary to understanding Climate Change, but I would not enter into a scientific debate on the subject. I haven’t worked with the data. The debate is best left to those who have — who understand all the climate forcing mechanisms, Paleoclimatology, ocean circulation patterns, atmospheric waves, plate tectonics and astronomy.

    If you’re a cancer victim, would you put your life in the hands of a journalist?


  2. “If you’re a cancer victim, would you put your life in the hands of a journalist?” asks Paul

    What, you mean these journalists, for example? Unfortunately, this copy sells papers.

  3. Not to worry, the WahPoo gave their crack investigative team 27 column-inches on the front page of today’s high-fiber edition to the pursuit of the White House Christmas tree.

  4. I strongly favor including a pastor on that panel of experts. As long as he believes in exorcism, I mean. It certainly couldn’t hurt to do one of the WaPo, IMO. I’ll spring for the incense or whatever Protestants use. I think Denver religious radio host Bob Larsen knows all about that stuff.

  5. Paul, that’s a little too narrow. No, perhaps you shouldn’t pontificate on the big picture. But at the same time, at least some of the denialism is so specific to a field that you can indeed deal with it with some expertise, frankly.

    Mike Tobis IS a climate scientist with some computer expertise, but he only tackles certain aspects. Eli is a PChem (as far as I can tell) with expertise in spectral analysis, so he deals with that. Tamino does time series analysis professionally.

    At RealClimate there is a bench of expertise that’s probably unmatched anywhere else, too, so you can often simply link to something that is already there, and most of us do.

    And a great deal of it is so very wrong that scientifically trained laymen can confidently refute it.

    As for the big picture stuff, anyone can link to the evidence for the gross effects, and to things like the IPCC results and summaries from various professional associations and NGOs, and we do.

  6. crf
    Reading the Daily Mail is associated with a much higher cancer risk than in the population at large.

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