It is no longer possible to hide the decline of a once great newspaper, no longer possible to hide the decline of the paper that broke the Watergate story, but is now hanging itself on the Climategate story (see James Fallows’ blog).

The newspaper that just editorialized, “Many — including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible,” has just published a grotesquely irresponsible and falsehood-filled piece on climate science and the hacked emails by that leading light of science, ex-Governor Sarah Palin.  This is a woman that recently embraced the fact-free birthers

Palin is so practiced at repeating falsehoods — even in her supposed area of expertise (energy) — that during last year’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post itself gave her its highest (which is to say lowest) rating of “Four Pinocchios” for continuing to “to peddle bogus [energy] statistics three days after the original error was pointed out by independent fact-checkers.”  And then in July, the WashPost let her publish a falsehood-filled piece attacking climate action and clean energy.

And now they publish this unmitigated tabloid nonsense:

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The e-mails reveal that leading climate “experts” deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures….

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No, they don’t reveal that.

Seriously, does the Post have any evidence that records were deliberately destroyed?  In fact, that is a right-wing myth debunked weeks ago (see “Santer, Jones, and Schneider respond to CEI’s phony attack on the temperature record“) and again here.

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Is the Post the least bit concerned that the “hide the decline” email was not about any nefariously “manipulated data” — everything was done in plain sight — and it was not about hiding a decline in global temperatures, but involved one small dataset.  As Prof. Phil Jones himself explained at length:

The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure. It is because of this trend in these tree-ring data that we know does not represent temperature change that I only show this series up to 1960 in the WMO Statement.”

As the Union of Concerned Scientists explained, the phrase “refers to omitting data from some Siberian trees after 1960. This omission was openly discussed in the latest climate science update in 2007 from the IPCC, so it is not ‘hidden’ at all.”  See also Peter Sinclair’s video here.

On what basis does the Post allow Palin to assert:

That’s not to say I deny the reality of some changes in climate — far from it. I saw the impact of changing weather patterns firsthand while serving as governor of our only Arctic state. I was one of the first governors to create a subcabinet to deal specifically with the issue and to recommend common-sense policies to respond to the coastal erosion, thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice that affect Alaska’s communities and infrastructure.

But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.

In fact, we can say with assurance that man’s activities cause the very climate change she points to — thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice.  That is precisely what the IPCC’s 2007 review of the scientific literature concluded, that there is a better than 90% chance humans are the cause of most of the recent warming:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

Is Palin a scientist?  Does the Post simply allow anybody to make anti-scientific assertions?

Never mind.

It is ironic that Palin set up a subcabinet to study responses to retreating sea ice, but proudly states in the op-ed:

As governor of Alaska, I took a stand against politicized science when I sued the federal government over its decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species despite the fact that the polar bear population had more than doubled. I got clobbered for my actions by radical environmentalists nationwide, but I stood by my view that adding a healthy species to the endangered list under the guise of “climate change impacts” was an abuse of the Endangered Species Act.

Both she and the Post seem unaware of the fact that the polar bear has little chance of surviving once its primary habitat is melted away (see Will polar bears go extinct by 2030? — Part I and Part II).

And, then the Post lets Palin assert without citing a single source on her behalf, “We can say, however, that any potential benefits of proposed emissions reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs.”  Again, that statement has no basis in fact (see “Waxman-Markey clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill creates $1.5 trillion in benefits“).

For the record, here’s what serious media outlets and journals think of the email story:

In a desperate effort to save itself in a dying industry, the Post has morphed into a tabloid newspaper.

UPDATE:  Media Matters has more debunking here.

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