Target: L.A. Times letters editor Paul Thornton
Goal: Thank one of the nation’s leading newspapers for refusing to print letters from climate change deniers.
The Los Angeles Times recently clarified its policy on climate change denial, stating that it will not provide space in its opinion section for letters claiming that human-caused climate change does not exist. According to Paul Thornton, editor of the L.A. Times’ letters page, “Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.” This is a welcome, though long overdue clarification from one of the nation’s leading newspapers, and the L.A Times deserves praise for standing up for accuracy. The paper is setting an example that other news outlets across the country should follow.
What’s especially significant about Thornton’s explanation of the L.A. Times’ policy, is he makes it clear that not printing letters from climate change deniers has nothing to do with political bias, and everything to do with accuracy. As a respected news publication, the Times has a responsibility to ensure it does not print factual errors. Claiming there’s no evidence for human-caused climate change is just that: an error. In fact, 97% of climate scientists agree that burning fossil fuels is causing climate change.
Unfortunately, the US news media has for far too long ignored the actual state of climate science, giving equal attention to fringe groups of climate change deniers, and the opinions endorsed by more than nine out of ten climate scientists. By making it seem as if both opinions are equally valid, this “equal time” policy actually gives an inaccurate picture of the facts. It’s like saying that the Flat Earth Society deserves to be taken just as seriously as geologists and astronomers who say the Earth is round.
It is long past time for media outlets of all kinds to acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change, and the L.A. Times’ recently clarified policy is an encouraging step in the right direction. Sign the petition below to thank the Times for standing up for accuracy, and encourage other US news sources to follow this good example.
Dear Mr. Thorton,
Thank you for recently clarifying the L.A. Times’ policy on letters that deny human-caused climate change, and for taking a stand for accurate science. We, the undersigned, are glad to see a major newspaper like the L.A. Times acknowledging that climate change denial is not an “opinion,” but a factual error.
As you are well aware, the world’s climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that human activity is causing climate change. In fact, the consensus among experts is about as close to complete as it’s possible to get in the world of science. It is therefore disappointing that many major news outlets still act as if climate change science were in doubt. We are glad to see the L.A. Times take a step toward reversing this trend, by standing up for accuracy on your letters page.
Again, thank you for clarifying that the Times will not print letters erroneously claiming a lack of evidence for climate change. We hope many other letters page editors soon follow in your footsteps.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: NOAA via Flickr