Scientists Respond To WSJ ‘s ‘Woefully Ignorant’ Use of Snowpack Research
In a column equating those concerned about climate change with members of a “doomsday cult,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto quoted the following two headlines in an apparent effort to bolster his claim that global warming is not “real science”:
“Decline in Snowpack Blamed on Warming”—headline, Washington Post, Feb. 1, 2008
“Record Snowpacks Could Threaten Western States”—headline, New York Times, May 22, 2011
Taranto suggests that this year’s record snowpacks in western states undermine previous research indicating that global warming is pushing down snowpack levels. But, as is often the case with conservative media seeking to downplay the threat of climate change, Taranto relies on the misconception that short-term data can invalidate a long-term trend.
The first article he references, from the Washington Post in February 2008, reports on a study which concluded that a significant portion of the decline in snowpack in the western U.S. between 1950 and 1999 was a result of human-induced climate changes. According to the authors of that study, Taranto is making a fundamental mistake in suggesting that this year’s snowpack levels contradict their findings.