Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
By Jonas Magram, Fairfield
After reading Brad Fregger's recent letter to the editor denying the urgency of climate change and the science behind it, my first impulse was to rebut each of his claims. But after further consideration, I've chosen instead to call out The SE Iowa Union for continuing to provide editorial space to such unfounded and dangerous opinions.
If someone sent you a letter saying the coronavirus is a hoax, would you publish it? I certainly hope not, both because it is clearly contradicted by scientific fact and because such an unfounded and unsafe opinion could put our whole community at risk.
How about a letter claiming that the science linking smoking to cancer is a liberal conspiracy? Would you publish that? Surely not. Again, such an opinion doesn't just conflict with established science, it is downright reckless.
So why would you continue publishing letters full of the same worn-out and repeatedly debunked climate change denial?
Over 200 scientific organizations worldwide, including NASA and NOAA, have concluded that our use of fossil fuels is quickly and dangerously disrupting our climate. Not a single such organization disagrees. Not one!
Moreover, the world's scientific community has warned that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, or we will pass a critical climate-disruption tipping point. Already we are witnessing increasingly intense floods and droughts here in Iowa, and catastrophic fires in America and throughout the world. Sea levels are rising much faster than previously predicted. Food supplies for millions are threatened.
In other words, the climate crisis is already here and it demands our immediate attention.
Last year, Chuck Todd of NBC's 'Meet the Press” proclaimed that that prestigious news program would no longer host guests who dispute the rock-solid science of climate change. Other major news outlets have followed suit.
Does their decision conflict with the First Amendment? Not at all. The First Amendment guarantees our right to free speech, but it in no way obligates the press to provide space for it. In fact, the press has a duty NOT to be a forum for misleading and uninformed claims that could put the public at risk. This is exactly the case with climate denial opinion pieces. More than simply causing confusion, they undermine the public's will to take the bold and urgent action necessary to avert the worst impacts of the climate emergency.