NYT's Skeptic Embrace

| Wed Feb. 10, 2010 12:30 PM EST

"Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel," read the headline of a story on the front page of Tuesday's New York Times. The article was supposedly about criticism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from "mainstream scientists." But the content of the article didn't provide evidence of such criticisms at all.

In fact, the article debunked one of the leading attacks on the head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: that he's personally profiting from overhyping the threat of global warming. Way down in the 14th paragraph of the piece, the Times discloses that IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri had provided the paper with his tax return, which reveals that his work for the IPCC is not bringing in big bucks:

Dr. Pachauri, 69, said the only work income he received was a salary from the Energy and Resources Institute: about $49,000, according to his 2009 Indian tax return, which he provided to The New York Times. The return also lists $16,000 in other income, most of it interest on accounts in Indian banks.
Dr. Pachauri acknowledged his role as an adviser and consultant to businesses, but he said that it was his responsibility as the panel’s chairman to disseminate its findings to industry.

There's more later in the piece:

In response to the recent criticisms, Dr. Pachauri provided an accounting of some of his outside consulting fees paid to the Energy and Resources Institute. Those include about $140,000 from Deutsche Bank, $25,000 from Credit Suisse, $80,000 from Toyota and $48,750 from Yale. He has recently begun work as a strategic adviser for Pegasus, the investment firm, but has not yet attended a meeting, and no money has yet been paid to the Energy and Resources Institute. He has also provided advice free of charge to groups like the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The Times goes on to quote a number of well-known climate skeptics—not "mainstream scientists"—making baseless allegations about Pachauri personally profitting from his role, or that there are "willful" misrepresenations of science in the IPCC reports. There's Christopher Monckton, who lacks any shred of credibility, despite his continued appearances in the media. The story also describes Roger Pielke Jr. as a "mainstream" scientist. Pielke—by his own admission—is "not a climate scientist" (his doctorate is in political science.)

In fact, as Joe Romm points out, the piece never actually quotes a single climate scientist. The story doesn't actually deal with any new criticisms of the IPCC's science. Here's the real nugget of the story:

The panel, in reviewing complaints about possible errors in its report, has so far found that one was justified and another was "baseless." The general consensus among mainstream scientists is that the errors are in any case minor and do not undermine the report’s conclusions.

As I noted earlier this week, there are certainly fair criticisms to be made of the IPCC's sloppy work. And some critics have made reasonable suggestions of steps the organization could take to recover. But this New York Times piece doesn't deal with any of that.