Bret Stephens, harsh Wall Street Journal critic of climate scientists, wins Pulitzer Prize

The award recognizes only certain columns from 2012, none reflecting his climate-wars participation.

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens has won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Like the WSJ editorial board to which he belongs, he has a record of indicting climate scientists through mockery.

As recently as November 2011, in a column headlined 'The great global warming fizzle,' Stephens described 'the case of global warming' as a 'system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen' that, like religion, 'is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.'

Stephens doesn't appear to reject outright the data on temperature rise, or even the finding that humans are involved. But he energetically mocks warnings as hysterical alarmism. In a 2008 column he wrote with a smirk:

What manner the catastrophe might take isn't yet clear, but the scenarios are grim: The climate crisis is getting worse faster than anticipated; global warming will cause refugee crises and destabilize entire nations.... And so on.

In December 2009, he published on the incident that he and others framed with the loaded term climategate. He charged that it involved 'some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data.' That column carried the headline 'Climategate: Follow the money' and the subhead 'Climate change researchers must believe in the reality of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.'

A week later his column's subhead pressed the religion analogy: 'Global warming and the psychology of true belief.' This time Stephens wrote, 'Last week, I suggested that funding flows had much to do with climate alarmism. But deeper things are at work as well. One of those things, I suspect, is what I would call the totalitarian impulse.'

In January 2010, he alleged that our civilization cannot 'think rationally about climate change.' That April, he declared that 'global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time.' He predicted that this meant 'that pretty soon we're going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place.' With carefully disdainful use of quotation marks on the phrase climate change, he offered the wager that 'within a few years 'climate change' will exercise global nerves about as much as overpopulation, toxic tampons, nuclear winters, ozone holes, killer bees, low sperm counts, genetically modified foods and mad cows do today.'

In October 2010 he mentioned his belief that 'many environmentalists would gladly suspend democratic norms to combat the notional threat of climate change.' In a July 2011 column he referred to 'climate change obsession.'

Paul Gigot, WSJ's editorial page editor, wrote a Pulitzer-nominating letter for Stephens. It never mentions climate. The prize is for a selection of Stephens's 2012 columns that don't mention climate either.


Steven T. Corneliussen, a media analyst for the American Institute of Physics, monitors three national newspapers, the weeklies Nature and Science, and occasionally other publications. He has published op-eds in the Washington Post and other newspapers, has written for NASA's history program, and is a science writer at a particle-accelerator laboratory.


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Scitation: Bret Stephens, harsh Wall Street Journal critic of climate scientists, wins Pulitzer Prize