Thursday, February 01, 2007

Apology Needed?

Reporting on a global warming discussion this week between Philip Mote and George Taylor, the Oregonian's Michael Milstein found a number of people to talk against George Taylor’s position. These included Kyle Dittmer, Mark Abbott, Jane Lubchenco, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and Philip Mote. But, Milstein couldn’t find anyone to speak in favor of Taylor’s position.

Maybe Milstein doesn’t know the state climatologist in Delaware has a view similar to Oregon climatologist George Taylor’s.

Milstein’s article does give a fairly clear of Taylor’s position:

In an interview last week, Taylor agreed there is a human influence on climate, but said it's not the dominant factor. Rising levels of carbon dioxide will certainly warm the Earth, he says, and it makes sense to control greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.

"The prudent path is really reducing emissions and adapting to weather extremes," he said.

But he also says there are pros and cons to rising temperatures.

"Increased CO2 is not necessarily a bad thing in every way," says Taylor, well known throughout Oregon and in The Oregonian as the state climatologist. "There are going to be winners and losers, just as there would be if there is global cooling."

The effects, he said, "could be really significant and severe, or they could be benign."

But, beyond the bare statement of Taylor’s case, Milstein uses comments by people who misstate Taylor’s position to deride Taylor. For example, there’s Jane Lubchenco who leaves the impression that Taylor denies “global warming is real”.

Jane Lubchenco, a well-known OSU professor and marine ecologist who led one of the governor's task forces, said Taylor "muddies the water" by leading the public to believe there is still a debate about whether global warming is real.

Milstein also uses anonymous “other scientist” sources to question Taylor’s competence.

Taylor's background is in meteorology, and other scientists say much of his work on climate change has not gone through the full scrutiny of peer review by independent researchers. He has written on the subject for Web sites financed in part by the oil industry.

To use anonymous sources to tar Taylor's professional reputation is below the belt journalism.

Milstein’s follow-up article on the discussion seemed both fair and accurate. But, Michael Milstein should consider apologizing to George Taylor for this one.

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