Adding insult to injury...in Tuesday's NY Times, in the "conversation" between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens on the Opinion page, Collins writes: "Now, Bret, before we talk about anything else, I want to thank you for that wonderful piece on your visit to Greenland." It's hard to tell from the printed word whether Collins is being authentic or sarcastic, but it reads like authentic. Disappointing, to say the least. Oh, and there's the caption under a photo of Greenland icebergs on p. 7 of Stephens' screed: "For anyone who has entertained doubts about the warming of the planet, a trip to Greenland serves as a bracing corrective." When can I sign up for The NY Times/API to fund a trip to Greenland for me and my family?

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Nov 3, 2022Liked by Emily Atkin

I had the pleasure of meeting Bill McKibben while I was teaching in Ghana a few years back - he gave a powerful presentation at the international school where I taught. I had read Bret Stephen's debut column in the NY Times just prior to meeting him, and so I asked Mr. McKibben what he thought of it. I don't recall his precise words, but basically he said he thought the NY Times had chosen to employ a "climate denier" in order to maintain some sort of façade of objectivity. I left with the impression that Mr. McKibben had not read the editorial I referenced, which may have been true. I had read the article, and it seemed reasonable to me - it was more or less a synopsis of the sort of climate agnosticism that you describe here. I'm sure Mr. McKibben was aware, however, of Bret Stephen's background - which I wasn't at the time - so, whether or not he had read Mr. Stephens' exact words, he was certainly aware of the overall message Mr. Stephens had been delivering.

In my defense I would have to say that, thanks to this newsletter and other sources, I'm much more aware today of the subtle arguments that are put forth by climate deniers in and out of the fossil fuel industry than I was back then. And that is precisely the point. I also read Bret Stephen's "Come to Jesus" editorial about his trip to Greenland, and was similarly left with the impression that his was a reasonable point of view, given all the information we are privy to at this time. So clearly I am still swayed too easily by the smooth talk and persuasive arguments of the deniers.

And this is why I continue to place so much value on your writing, Ms. Atkin. You perform an invaluable service to those like me who might otherwise be taken in by the subtle persuasiveness of the fossil fuel apologists. I'm a born skeptic, and it takes a powerful application of logic and facts to convince me - so, thanks for doing exactly that.

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Once a denier, always a denier. Do not be fooled. Read John Englander's account of their trip and what is between the lines in disagreements.

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I was honestly scared that I was going to have to confront a world in which Bret Stephens is capable of meaningful intellectual growth and development, but I can feel secure knowing he didn't learn much from his trip to Greenland. Or if he did, he's brushing that aside. What a sad man.

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One thing I noticed with your articles about Semafor and now Molly Taft’s excellent article on Bret’s essay, is that you both asked completely reasonable questions of journalistic outlets who are supposed to be committed to journalistic integrity. You with the Chevron sponsorship and ad guidelines, and Molly Taft asking relevant questions about fact checking and who paid for Bret’s trip.


And the response to both of your inquiries was something that is indistinguishable from any regular company replying to journalistic inquiry about their practices. Basically a nicer way of saying “Fuck off”.

I don’t expect anything but the worst anymore, but I do wonder if you hoped for, let’s call it journalist camaraderie, and a genuine response, instead of what you got, considering these are news outlets first and foremost, and not some other regular company in which that kind of response is expected? Maybe not, but when news outlets are putting up these walls to other journalists, I think we are in a bad place.

Also the whole “the free market will fix it” is such bullshit for another reason other than the one you mentioned. And that reason is that we don’t even have a free market in the first place currently. You know this already, but we give billions in direct subsidies to fossil fuels, and trillions in indirect subsidies, through the lack of a carbon tax that properly accounts for the societal costs of emitting carbon.

I would love nothing more than to have a true “free market” here and have fossil fuels actually compete against clean energy with their true costs.

But is Bret, or a single one of these conservatives, for ending direct fossil fuel subsidies or having a carbon tax? Not a surprise but no. Everything is just blatant hypocritical bullshit from these people, and he gets to have a job at the NYT to spread his hypocritical bullshit and when called out on it, he gets defended by a newspaper of record.


Everything is just so fucked, but thank you so much for all the work you and Molly do and keeping even other news outlets accountable!

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How much the whole discourse would improve if one #$@&%* old white climate-discovering dude would let the virtues of a carbon-fee-and-dividend enter through the miniscule aperature to his mind. A steadily rising carbon fee imposed on fuel producers based on the calculated CO2 emissions of the fuels, such fees collected into a trust fund and regularly disbursed to all American households on an equal per capita basis (say, $40/ month to begin). This is progressive, it is market-based, it is non-regulatory, it is effective at shifting away from FFs, and it can curb emissions quickly as efficiency measures and consumer choices just simply would. How long do we have to wait until all the #@$&# Stephenses figure this one out so they can invent it for us? https://citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend/

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I would take his desire for "market based solutions" as an opportunity to promote a fee on carbon. https://energyinnovationact.org/how-it-works/

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Great article as always thank you! I can’t help but agree of course that the market can’t solve it, but I must admit that I’m growing more and more disheartened about politics ability to solve it as well.

We just had an election here in Denmark and first of all climate was hardly a part of the election at all, but the most climate friendly party here got only a handful of seats. So it seems like we need the people too. Now having been a long time founding member of your newsletter (recently switched to being a regular paying member, sorry!) I’m all too aware that this too is a fossil fuel talking point. But I can’t help but feel that we really really really need people to vote for climate parties to get the politics to work too. This sort of happened at our last election 4 years ago, where climate was the main thing discussed at the election, but then the government totally bailed on all those election promises and resorted to build gas pipelines instead (look where that got us). So yeah, just really growing disheartened on politics. Would love to get a heartwarming answer of what to believe in then? 😅 If not markets and politics?

Thanks again for the great work you do. I cite you (Heated) very regularly in my own newsletter 🤗

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Can’t wait for you to interview Mr. Stephen’s, Emily!! ;). Seriously, I really hope someone challenges him in The NY Times.

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Trying to figure out whether Bret Stephens wants to be the new Michael Shellenberger, or if it's the other way around. Emily and Judd, thanks for deploying the wrecking ball - much appreciated!

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