Criteria for approval
The argument of climate change is an ever growing field. As more and more people are attracted to the debate there are countless amounts of articles both for and against the argument. These articles use expert quotations and statistics in order to attempt to strengthen their argument and persuade the target audience. These experts and statistics can be skewed to fit the argument that the writer is making and can also not be relevant to the article. William R.L. Anderegg brings this up in his article “Diagnosis Earth: The Climate Change Debate”. Within this article Anderegg claims that there are no credible scientists that oppose the theory of climate change. This claim and many more made within his essay can be used to analyze the essays of both George Will in “Dark Green Doomsayers” and Chris Mooney in “Climate change myths and Facts”. An analysis of George Will and Chris Mooney’s essays will evaluate how these authors either meet or fail to meet Anderegg’s criteria.
Anderegg’s essay’s main focus is involving the authors of articles attempting to disprove the climate change theory. He frames his essay by breaking his argument down into two different parts. The first part is that everyone’s best way to develop an opinion about climate change is to listen to the experts and the second part is that confusion and a mistrust of these experts leads to a lack of understand and response. Anderegg believes he has a moral obligation to the readers to inform them of the problems of these false experts clouding the minds of people attempting to research this topic. Within Anderegg’s two main points he has criteria, such as identifying the causes that contribute to the publics confusion about global warming such as that climate change is intangible, identifying the denialists, and identifying who the experts are.
George Will’s essay “Dark Green Doomsayers” was written as an attempt to disprove the theory of global warming. The essay was published in The Jewish World Review which is a very small publication with a niche audience. On the about section of the website the publication states that its audience is “…to people of faith and those interested in learning more about contemporary Judaism” (JewishWorldReview.com). Will does not fulfill the ethical obligation to his readers as his sources are not credible and he attempts to confuse his audience within his essay. By quoting previous articles and experts Will attempts to add credibility to his argument but these articles are outdated with all of them being from the 1970’s. During the 1970’s climatology was not studied as it is now and science has progressed immensely within the 30 years from then. There are three criteria that can be used in order to analyze George Will’s essay further.
The first criteria are that the public is confused about global warming and how it is intangible. Anderegg explains this when he writes “On a day-to-day basis, we experience weather, not climate” (Anderegg, 36). Climate is long term while weather is short termed. An example of climate would be terms such as arid and sub-arctic, while weather is short term such as influxes in temperature or atmospheric pressure. George Will fails to meet these criteria as his evidence against global warming and climate change does not follow climate patterns but rather the weather. This is evident when George Will uses evidence such as an ice melt but only uses data from a couple of months before his paper was published. In order for the data to be accurate and to accurately portray a change in climate he should have used data from a longer period of time. George Will writes this when he says “Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979” (Will, 19). Therefore, Will fails to meet the criteria set forth by Anderegg. By failing to meet this criteria this section of his essay is not ethical. Will deliberately uses examples of not climate in order to create evidence to support his main point. While this was ethical it was effective for his audience. By providing some sort of scholarly sources Will is able to use logos and further develop his claim. The type of logos Will attempts to use is facts and statistics. To uninformed readers these facts, develop credibility in his argument but to a well versed reader. The criteria set by Anderegg don’t only deal with the content a writer adds it also examines the author.
The second criteria are identifying the denialists. Angeregg identifies the denialists as authors who publish very little in scholarly scientific journals, they most likely aren’t scientists, and most are not climate experts. George Will fits all of these subsection of the criteria. Will’s essay was printed in The Jewish World Review. This is a very small publication of a niche audience and is not known as a scholarly journal and is not a scientific journal. Will did this because he analyzed his audience and realized that this conservative co-culture may agree with him. This is not ethical of George Will because many of the facts and statistics are outdated and therefore are useless in the world of science. Will is also not a scientist and is not an expert in climate change. This diminishes George Will’s credibility and therefore limits his argument. This is effective for this audience because the audience George Will is writing to is a small niche audience and is not a scientific journal therefore a reader who is not well versed in the topic of climate change may believe him.
The third criteria are identifying the experts. Angeregg identifies the experts as individuals who climatologists and climate experts or members of the IPCC. George Will does not follow this because while his experts are scientists they work in fields very different from any of the climate experts. His experts and the way he uses them is confusing to the readers and have no correlation to his argument. Will uses his expert Paul Ehrlich when he describes a study that he did involving picking metals and guessing their price within a fixed amount of time. He describes their price when he writes “Not only did the price of the basket decline, the price of all five declined” (Will, 39). This is confusing to the audience and is not relevant to the topic of the article written by Will. From this George Will fails to meet these criteria set forth by Anderegg. By failing to correctly identify the experts George Will’s essay is not ethical as other essays published and he deliberately confuses his audience in order to further his argument. While it is not ethical it is effective for his audience. By confusing the audience George Will may all for the reader to see past the mistakes he has made and to focus on one of the many tangents he goes on. Many climate change papers are then contested in other articles written by the different side for varying reasons.
Chris Mooney’s essay “Climate Change Myths and Facts” was written as a rebuttal piece against George Will’s essay “Dark Green Doomsayers”. This essay was posted in The Washington Post shortly after the publication of Will’s essay. The Washington Post is a popular source of news with “16 million nationwide each month” (Washingtonpost.com). 72% of the readers have graduated from college and over half of the readers have incomes over $75,000. Mooney has met an ethical obligation to his audience by informing the audience of the criteria for experts and clearly presenting his claim. Since this is a rebuttal piece against a differing view Mooney quotes many different sources from many scholarly sources. By doing this Mooney is appealing to the criteria set forth by Anderegg.
The first criteria are that the public is confused about global warming and how it is intangible. Anderegg describes this problem when he says “On a day-to-day basis, we experience weather, not climate.” (Anderegg, 36). Mooney takes this into account throughout a majority of his essay. With this common theme Mooney is able to educate his audience on the difference and how looking at different sets of numbers plays a huge role in the information that is looked at. He explains this when he writes “Scientists pay heed to long-term trends in sea ice, not snapshots in a noisy system.” (Mooney, 42) Mooney has therefore met his ethical obligation to his audience because he uses scientific fact and presents them accurately to his audience. By informing the audience of these criteria that the scientists use he is correctly presenting information to his audience and is not swaying it to further his agenda. This is effective for his audience because Mooney presents claims and backs them up with quotes from scientists. By doing this Mooney builds his credibility with his readers.
The second criteria are identifying the denialists. Anderegg describes the denialists as those who tend to not be experts in this field at all. Mooney regularly posts in many journals that are well known and those that pride themselves in having good and true information. While Mooney may not be a climate expert or a climatologist he makes up for this by quoting many different climate agencies and groups whose single purpose is to produce information without picking a side in the debate. Mooney uses these groups when he says “Just last year, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a peer-reviewed study” (Mooney 41). By using this group Mooney expresses the opinions of those who are highly qualified and scientists who have dedicated their lives to this work. This is ethical for Mooney because since he is not a professional in this field he uses the quotes of those who are to legitimize his argument. By doing this Mooney adds logos to his argument. The type of logos is citing professionals and experts. The logos is effective for the audience because it evokes a rational response to the readers. By fitting these criteria Mooney is fitting in with Anderegg’s criteria.
The third criteria are identifying the experts. Chris Mooney correctly identifies who the experts are in his text. When quoting institutes Mooney also describes them and explains to the readers why these are credible sources and how information from the 1970’s is not credible. These sources are not credible because they are old and with constant changes in science old data may not be relevant with a gap of almost 30 years the data the George Will presented was not relevant with the findings of today’s scientists. Mooney mentions this when he writes “In the 1970s, the field of climate research was in a comparatively fledging state” (Mooney 42). By recognizing this Mooney discredits George Will and informs the audience of the changes in science. This is ethical because Mooney uses many other scientific organizations to back up his claims. This is effective for the audience because the other organizations builds ethos in Mooney’s argument and therefore the Mooney has more credibility in his argument. The reader will then respect the author. Mooney therefore fits all the criteria set forth by Anderegg and develops his argument ethically.
The argument for climate change is pushing on both sides. Those who discredit the scientists are writing articles in an attempt to persuade the public and those who agree with the scientists are attempting to persuade the other side. Both of these sides attempt to use varying facts and statistics in order to persuade the audience. Not all of these facts and statistics are equal though, and some of them may be used unethically in order to persuade the readers at any cost. This is why Anderegg created the list of criteria for these authors in order for the public to analyze these texts and see the authors true nature. By analyzing different texts, a reader can evaluate how far the author either meets or fails using Anderegg’s criteria. This is an important tool for readers to come to a conclusion about how ethical an article is.