Shame on AP. They've inserted politics into the use of the term climate change denier. What we have here is a case of cognitive re-framing. it is an aggressive political decision and AP should called out for doing it.
Climate Change activists should be up in arms about this, declaring their outrage.
AP has posted a statement on their blog, An addition to AP Stylebook entry on global warming
, which seems, rather clearly to pander to climate change deniers. The AP Stylebook has a powerful influence on how how journalists write, how they characterize topics in the news. This entry on global warming makes the following policy statement:
"Our guidance is to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers."
That might seem reasonable. It's just a choice of words. I can even get behind the first replacement-- eliminating the use of the word "skeptics."
But eliminating the word deniers is a profoundly political decision, favoring the companies and people who have attempted to sell the false case climate change denial or global warming denial are built upon. Here's the justification AP makes:
"Some background on the change: Scientists who consider themselves real skeptics -- who debunk mysticism, ESP and other pseudoscience, such as those who are part of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry -- complain that non-scientists who reject mainstream climate science have usurped the phrase skeptic. They say they aren't skeptics because "proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims." That group prefers the phrase "climate change deniers" for those who reject accepted global warming data and theory. But those who reject climate science say the phrase denier has the pejorative ring of Holocaust denier so The Associated Press prefers climate change doubter or someone who rejects mainstream science."
I can see the point of science skeptics-- that the use of the word "skeptic" to describe people who fail to promote or exercise " scientific inquiry, critical investigation and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims" dilutes and weakens the proper use of the term "skeptic." And the scientists are justified in suggesting that "climate change deniers" be the preferred phrase.
But AP fails to cloak what appears to be an intentional effort to protect climate change deniers from the pejorative ring that they deserve. This appears to be pandering to corporations like EXON and people like the Koch brothers, big money influencers with a history of funding the selling of climate change denialism.
If AP went further and argued that people who deny the holocaust should not be called holocaust deniers, then they might prove they were being consistent. The fact is, climate change denialism could very likely be far more deadly than the holocaust, by discouraging humanity from making the changes to our relationship with energy and technology. Climate change deniers deserve to be grouped with holocaust deniers. That may be the only good that comes from AP's whitewashing.
This week, Martin Shkreli raised the price of a drug for toxoplasmosis from $13.50 a pill (which costs $1.00 to make) to $750.00 a pill. Twitter and the media reviled Shkreli thoroughly, as a douchebag, psychopath, etc. He deserved it. A similar hue and cry should be raised by people who are fighting to change our culture's use of energy so as to reduce climate change.
As I started to write this article I hesitated to say that AP "has inserted politics into the term climate change denier." After all it is a political term. The fact is, what AP is doing is taking the politics out. They might argue that is the more neutral way to characterize such people and organizations. I would argue that is disingenuous to characterize such people as honest doubters. The issue is so laden with politics it does injustice to the conversation to protect the denier from being called deniers.
Ask your favorite national news source and your local paper. Will they sell out to climate change deniers and adopt AP's wrong policy? Make them take a stand.
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