Petition calls on Star Tribune to stop paying attention to climate change deniers

Should media outlets take seriously people who say the changes depicted in this graphic aren't the result of human activities?

Should media outlets take seriously people who say the changes depicted in this graphic aren't the result of human activities?

In the wake of the Los Angeles Times deciding to discontinue publication of letters to the editor from climate change deniers, a petition signed by more than 1,100 people as of this morning calls upon on the Star Tribune to do the same thing.

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"With the science on climate change becoming increasingly grim and time running out to prevent catastrophic extreme weather events from becoming near-constant occurrences, we can't afford to let major American newspapers mislead the public by printing factually incorrect climate change denial conspiracy theories," the petition, addressed to Strib editor Rene Sanchez, says. "It is time for every major newspaper in the United States to explicitly reject climate change denial and publicly announce that they won't promote lies in their pages."

[jump] Somewhat curiously, the petition specifically cites a relatively down-the-middle October op-ed from former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson as the type of piece the paper should no longer run.

Strib editors let Gerson "attack the messengers, aka the scientists, with an ad hominem attack to cast doubt into the truth of the message they bring," the petition says.

But here's an excerpt from Gerson's not-exactly-fire-breathing piece, which ran on the Strib's website in October (it's unclear whether it ran it print too):

The intersection of science and policy, of climate and politics, has become a bloody crossroads. Blog-based arguments over ocean temperatures and the thickness of the Greenland ice sheet are as shrill and personal as any Tea Party primary challenge. And the IPCC report -- designed to describe areas of scientific consensus -- has become an occasion for polarization.

Environmental advocates have done their side no favors. The most eager have been caught in a sleight of hand. In the past, they have used relatively brief periods of warming and short-term weather patterns to bolster their arguments about climate disruption -- a tactic that has come back to bite them in the El NiƱo.

Gerson's op-ed goes on to acknowledge that the 15-year hiatus in global warming detailed in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report "is both misleading and pretty much irrelevant."

"[T]he occasional flattening of temperature rises is exactly what you'd expect in climate science, which assumes bumps upward and downward along a generally rising curve," Gerson writes.

In other words, in the Gerson case, at least, the Strib isn't exactly running the stuff of MNGOP Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, who made headlines for claiming climate change is "just a complete United Nations fraud" during a rant on the House floor earlier this year.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]