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Climate

AP’s Updated Style Guide Goes All In On Silencing Climate Dissent

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Most news outlets rely on The Associated Press style guide—officially known as the AP Stylebook—as the arbiter for grammar, spelling, and terminology in news coverage. [emphasis, links added]

While AP puts forth its style guide as an impartial rubric for fair coverage, its rules often exclude conservative views from the outset.

Take AP’s latest round of updates, released Friday. The updates include guidance on how to avoid “stigmatizing” obese people, admonitions to avoid calling people “homeless” as it might be “dehumanizing,” and warnings to avoid the term “female” since “some people object to its use as a descriptor for women because it can be seen as emphasizing biology and reproductive capacity over gender identity.”

AP’s style guide prefers “anti-abortion” and “abortion rights” as adjectives, urging journalists to avoid “pro-life,” “pro-choice,” and “pro-abortion.”

Yet one of the largest sections of the updated style guide involves “climate change,” a term that AP says “can be used interchangeably” with the term “climate crisis.”

Climate change, resulting in the climate crisis, is largely caused by human activities that emit carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to the vast majority of peer-reviewed studies, science organizations, and climate scientists,” the AP style guide intones. “This happens from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, and other activities.”

“Greenhouse gases are the main driver of climate change,” the guide adds.

AP insists that this is true, with a capital T. When “telling the climate story,” the style guide urges journalists to “avoid false balance—giving a platform to unfounded claims or unqualified sources in the guise of balancing a story by including all views.

“For example, coverage of a study describing the effects of climate change need not seek ‘other side’ comment that humans have no influence on the climate.”

Naturally, this is a red herring. Those who doubt the climate-alarmist narrative don’t maintain that “humans have no influence on the climate.”

Rather, we say that the direct impact of human activities—including the burning of fossil fuels—is poorly understood and that efforts to predict future events based on various climate alarmist models have repeatedly failed.

In the 1970s, alarmists warned of a coming ice age. In the 1990s, the form of the destroyer would be global warming. Now, the alarmists have adopted the catch-all term “climate change,” so they can retroactively assign human agency to any disaster that strikes us at the moment.

It’s quite clever if you want a perpetual fearmongering tactic. Of course, the narrative is rather inconvenient for the rest of us who want cheaper energy and wish to solve the humanitarian crisis of extreme poverty in other parts of the world.

In fact, The Associated Press tacitly admits that the climate alarmists have no smoking-gun evidence that human activities are bringing about Armageddon.

Avoid attributing single occurrences to climate change unless scientists have established a connection,” the style guide advises. “At the same time, stories about individual events should make it clear that they occur in a larger context.

AP’s willingness to completely write off the “other side” proves particularly instructive, considering the style guide’s claim that climate change affects many other issues.

“The climate story goes beyond extreme weather and science,” the Stylebook notes. “It also is about politics, human rights, inequality, international law, biodiversity, society and culture, and many other issues. Successful climate and environment stories show how the climate crisis is affecting many areas of life.

If journalists can throw out any pretense of objectivity on climate, and insist that climate change impacts all other social issues, can they also safely dismiss the obligation to cover “both sides” on politics, inequality, society, and culture?

How does AP aim to prevent this rot from spreading across other topics and preventing fair coverage entirely?

The prognosis is not good. AP has repeatedly put its thumb on the scale to silence criticism of abortion and gender ideology—even going so far as telling journalists to avoid the term “transgenderism” because it “frames transgender identity as an ideology.”

Even while urging journalists to avoid using the terms “climate change deniers” and “climate change skeptics,” the AP style guide suggests a more “specific” alternative, such as “people who do not agree with mainstream science that says the climate is changing” or “people who disagree with the severity of climate change projected by scientists.”

Talk about “stigmatizing.”

AP doesn’t admit that the supposed unanimity of scientists on man-made catastrophic climate change is based on a lie—that 97% of scientists don’t believe the world is going to end because we burn fossil fuels.

The study claiming to reach that conclusion merely analyzed peer-reviewed research papers, put them in seven categories, and then artificially claimed that the vast majority of the papers making any claim favored the alarmist view.

Many scientists have said the study mischaracterized their research.

It remains unclear exactly how greenhouse gases are affecting the planet, mainly because the global atmosphere is extremely complicated. Most climate models fail to predict exactly what will happen.

Perhaps decreasing carbon emissions will help the climate, but the science is far less settled than AP would have journalists believe.

If news coverage dismisses all skepticism of an alarmist narrative, it will skew the information ecosystem and disincentivize the very research that helps determine what precise impacts greenhouse gases have on the environment.

It may also lead skeptical Americans to dismiss climate science altogether, in the same way that the medical establishment squandered much of its public credibility by suppressing concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So why does The Associated Press put its thumb on the scale? The creators of the style guide may legitimately believe there is only one perspective, but they also have a hefty economic incentive to act like it.

AP has received large grants from left-wing foundations, particularly for its climate reporting.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation spent $2.5 million on AP’s climate and education reporting, the Washington Free Beacon reported. That foundation also funds Planned Parenthood.

The Rockefeller Foundation awarded AP a $750,000 grant in 2021 for a climate change initiative to report on “the increased and urgent need for reliable, renewable electricity in underserved communities worldwide.”

The KR Foundation, a Danish nonprofit that seeks the “rapid phase-out of fossil fuels,” gave approximately $300,000 to The Associated Press in December 2022, but AP appeared to hide that donation until late last year.

AP may push climate alarmism even without these funds—the latest style guide appears to feature left-wing groupthink on a host of issues—but the money still provides extra incentive.

The AP’s increasingly leftward tilt—and its attempt to force its groupthink through its style guide—creates a rather hostile climate for actual journalism, let alone good science.


Tyler O’Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal at The Heritage Foundation, and he is the author of “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Read more at PA Pundits – International

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