To forestall policy on climate change, the Wall Street Journal editorial board routinely downplays scientific consensus, overstates the cost of taking action, and claims that politics, not science, motivate those concerned about the climate. But an analysis of more than 100 editorials from 1976 to present shows that the Wall Street Journal used these same rhetorical tactics in previous decades on acid rain and ozone depletion and they did not stand the test of time.
The Journal’s Pre-Fabricated Arguments Against Environmental Protection
For decades the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board has campaigned with industry against government action to address major environmental threats. Regardless of the specific issue, the editorials offer this familiar refrain:
- ‘We Don’t Know Enough’: The Journal makes claims that are out of step with the weight of scientific evidence, seizes on uncertainties, and argues for further study before any action is taken to mitigate the risk.
- ‘It Will Cost Too Much’: The Journal claims regulations would have enormous economic costs, often citing unreliable industry-backed studies.
- ‘It’s All Politics’: To sidestep the science showing a clear threat, the Journal claims that those who want to address the problem are motivated by politics, not science.
The Wall Street Journal On Climate Change
WSJ Claims We Don’t Know Enough About Climate Change. Despite a strong scientific consensus based on abundant evidence that human activities are contributing to global climate change, the Wall Street Journal editorial board continues to cast doubt on the science:
- A December 2011 editorial said that the global warming debate requires “more definitive evidence.” [Wall Street Journal, Global Warming Wash Out, 12/13/11]
- A June 2011 editorial called global warming a “fad-scare.” [Wall Street Journal, The Light Bulb Police, 6/7/11]
- A February 2010 editorial stated: “We think the science is still disputable.” It questioned “how much our current warming is man-made as opposed to merely another of the natural climate shifts that have taken place over the centuries.” [Wall Street Journal, The Continuing Climate Meltdown, 2/16/10]
- A July 2009 editorial stated “There is still serious scientific debate about the causes, effects and possible solutions for climate change.” [Wall Street Journal, Listening to India, 7/25/09]
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