Margaret Wente's Climate Conversion: From Denial to Despair

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, who was still contesting the science of climate change as recently as last December, has become a convert.

In her column today (we regret that the Globe finds her prose too precious to share online) she begins by saying:

“Last week a clear-headed woman (Frances Cairncross, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science) got up and said in public what no politician, not even Stephen Harper, is brave enough to say.

Her message: We should stop pretending that we can prevent climate change. No matter what we do, global warming is inevitable. Slowing the process is important - but we should also start figuring out how we're going to adapt.”

Unfortunately, this revelation has not moved Wente to actually want to take action. In fact, she seems to dismiss her own injunctive that “slowing the process is important,” saying:

“The notion that we can meaningfully alter the course of climate change anytime soon is a piece of stupifying hubris.”

Certainly the DeSmogBlog would never challenge Wente's expertise when it comes to stupifying hubris. Still, it seems disingenuous for her to go from a position of saying, climate change is too complicated, so we should ignore it, to saying, climate change is too far gone, so, well, we should ignore it.

Actually, Wente does make tiny inroads on the question of adaptation, but you have to wonder what relevance “tougher rules about building on flood plains” is going to have for 60 million Bangladeshis.

Wente concludes today's lesson with this:

“Caircross has one other case to make. She argues that we desperately need to improve scientific literacy among the public, so that citizens will have a better understanding of environmental issues. I'll second that. Maybe we can include the politicians, too.”

Would it be too obvious to add newspaper columnists to that list?


It’s amazing how much energy some people will devote towards the achievement of feeling satisfied with the prospect of having to do nothing about anything really important.

Richard Littlemore said: “Would it be too obvious to add newspaper columnists to that list?

 Newspapers should make it their number one priority to increase the scientific literacy of their columnists, journalists and editors. The majority of people, these days, get their scientific information from the popular main stream print media and TV. As a scientist, it makes me mad whe I see science reported in such a haphazard and misinforming way as it is in the popular press. Surely it cannot be such a hardship for these media to hire a few good scientists to ensure accurate reporting on scientific matters.

 Ian Forrester 

“Like our staff, our board of directors has also shown a long-term commitment to our foundation and to the environment. ” (From Energy Probe’s online background description )

After reading several of her columns of a similar nature, the answer to the title question continues to baffle me. Note the last name on the list:

For those regularly annoyed by Wente’s column, I’ve created a new blog: Wente Watch.  You can see it at