Sci Am Worried Newsweek’s ‘Global Warming Is A Hoax*’ Headline is Misleading

August 8th, 2007 4:48 PM

I received an e-mail message from a global warming skeptic yesterday suggesting that Newsweek's disgraceful article about climate change "deniers" could backfire given the facetious headline "Global Warming Is A Hoax*" on the cover.

The thinking was that since far more people would see the magazine at the newsstands than would actually buy it and read the article, a much larger number of people would think Newsweek was indeed claiming global warming was a hoax, and would never understand the sarcasm.

It seems that one of the editors of Scientific American agrees, and posted his concerns at that magazine's editors' blog Wednesday with a headline "Newsweek Denies the Existence of Global Warming" (emphasis added throughout):

Maybe it's because I don't have the faith in people that I should, but I find this Newsweek cover really irresponsible. Actually, it's due to the polls cited in the article--and those I have seen elsewhere--that suggest that the American public thinks, among other things, that scientists are still trying to determine if global warming is for real and that it's a major issue in the upcoming Presidential election.

Sure, the cover is provocative and gripping, but it also may be doing a disservice to the general public and the people working hard to develop new ways to combat what is realistically the greatest threat to our livelihood: climate change.

How fabulous. But it got better:

[I]f I am scanning a magazine rack--assuming I am not a science writer--what am I going to think when I see this Newsweek cover?

Probably not much...Am I going to take the time to read what the asterisk is referencing? Maybe. Another plausible scenario could be: I just read the big print, forget about it and then three weeks later--while I am talking to someone about politics or energy policy or compact fluorescent light bulbs--blurt out, "I read somewhere that global warming is a hoax."

This is one instance when I can definitely say that I hope a global warming alarmist is right.