How to politely correct a climate denier: Justin Gillis

Justin Gillis, who has taken over the lead reporting duties on climate change from Andrew Revkin at the New York Times, might want to consider tightrope walking in his next life.

Consider his exquisitely nuanced recapitulation of an on-line controversy involving a climate change denier named Alec Rawls, who dismisses the entire upcoming fifth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the basis of a single ambiguous sentence. 

Mr. Rawls found this to be a “game-changing” acknowledgement that,
yes, earthly climate must be influenced by cosmic rays. Indeed, in his manifesto
leaking the document, he called this sentence “an astounding bit of
honesty, a killing admission that completely undercuts the main premise
and the main conclusion of the full report, revealing the fundamental
dishonesty of the whole.”


Looking at the full report, I
have to wonder if Mr. Rawls just stopped reading when he got to that
sentence. Because what follows is a lengthy discussion of the science to
date regarding cosmic rays and climate, one that points out the
intriguing results suggesting a possible connection, but also points out
that many of those studies cannot be reproduced by other scientists,
that many of the supposed correlations are weak, and so forth.

The Flying Wallendas couldn't walk that line any better. 

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