Space doesn’t allow us to include all the responses to last month’s article covering Gregory Wrightstone’s talk at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, “How Rising Temperatures and Increasing CO2 Are Benefitting the Planet and the Human Condition,” nor some of the responses in their entirety. So, I want to apologize to everyone whose comments are not included here or are included but abridged. If anyone wants to see all of the responses thus far in their entirety, or to add your own, I direct you to the online version of the article at EXPLORER.AAPG.org.
Some of the responses were positive, but many were critical – critical of Wrightstone’s position and his supporting arguments, but also critical of the EXPLORER (i.e., me as the editor) for giving him coverage in the first place.
Some of those criticisms were fair. Others, in my opinion, were less so.
The assumption behind many of them appeared to be that our coverage somehow amounted to an endorsement of Wrightstone’s position.
For the record, none of our coverage of any issue or any given perspective on an issue should be taken as an endorsement – explicit or implicit – of that perspective.
Also, the EXPLORER is – quite emphatically – not a scientific journal. Our content is not peer-reviewed.
And that is a feature of the EXPLORER, not a flaw.
Our other flagship publication, the AAPG Bulletin, is a scientific journal. The Bulletin exists to publish peer-reviewed scientific content. If the EXPLORER also did that, one of us would be redundant.
No, the EXPLORER exists for an entirely different purpose. We provide news about Earth science, the industry and the Association, so our mission is different and unrelated to that of a scientific publication. While journalism and science have a great deal in common (or should, at least, when they’re done correctly), they are entirely different endeavors with different standards, purposes and methods.
That said, as the managing editor of the EXPLORER, it isn’t my place to weigh the scientific merits of Gregory Wrightstone’s arguments about the purported benefits of climate change, nor the scientific merits of anyone else’s position on climate change or any other issue. Naturally, I do have to weigh the news-worthiness of any given topic, but just because I deem it worthy of coverage does not amount to an endorsement or an evaluation of its scientific merits. That’s your job, as individual readers. My job is to give you the opportunity to do so, and I would be remiss in my duties if I did not.
I understand that Wrightstone’s position is not a popular one, and I fully understood when I assigned the article to our correspondent, Ken Milam, that some readers would take exception to his arguments. That’s no reason not to cover it, though. That’s actually one of the best reasons for covering it – not to stir the pot or to publish click-bait by provoking controversy, but to give our readers the opportunity to evaluate his position for themselves.
Some remarked that the article was too one-sided, and that we should present “a balanced discussion of this complex issue.”
I agree wholeheartedly, but one of the difficulties of covering such a complex issue is that it simply isn’t possible to give due attention to all sides of it in a single sitting. That would be a daunting challenge even in the span of an entire book, much more a lone magazine article.
We have included coverage of other perspectives on climate change in the pages of the EXPLORER before, though – some that reinforced the standard narrative, some that challenged it. And, we intend to continue doing so. This was something we considered before running this article. We know that as Earth scientists, our readers care very deeply about the Earth and the environment, which is why we cover this topic and we know that, as scientists, our readers want to know the data from all perspectives before coming to conclusions.
Next month, I plan to include a rebuttal to Wrightstone’s arguments from one of our Visiting Geoscientists, Ray Leonard. We appreciate the discussion and debate that this has driven among our readership.
EXPLORER Managing Editor