Reporter John Broder used the East Coast snowstorms as a hook to discuss political prospects for "climate change" legislation - and made clear where he stood on the issue - in Thursday's front page story, "Climate Fight Is Heating Up In Deep Freeze."
As millions of people along the East Coast hole up in their snowbound homes, the two sides in the climate-change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments.
Skeptics of global warming are using the record-setting snows to mock those who warn of dangerous human-driven climate change - this looks more like global cooling, they taunt.
Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events.
Speculating on the meaning of severe weather events is not new. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a deadly heat wave in Europe in the summer of 2003 incited similar arguments about what such extremes might - or might not - say about the planet's climate.
But climate scientists say that no single episode of severe weather can be blamed for global climate trends while noting evidence that such events will probably become more frequent as global temperatures rise.
In his conclusion, Broder leaned toward the view that climate change was real and posed a danger:
A federal government report issued last year, intended to be the authoritative statement of known climate trends in the United States, pointed to the likelihood of more frequent snowstorms in the Northeast and less frequent snow in the South and Southeast as a result of long-term temperature and precipitation patterns. The Climate Impacts report, from the multiagency United States Global Change Research Program, also projected more intense drought in the Southwest and more powerful Gulf Coast hurricanes because of warming.
In other words, if the government scientists are correct, look for more snow.
Broder's previous reporting has assumed as undisputed fact the alarmist claims of climate-change advocates.
In an accompanying "Back Story" podcast, Broder called those who don't believe that man is causing the planet to dangerously overheat "deniers" (a hostile term in the context of the running debate) and suggested some making the argument were "relatively uninformed."
John Broder: "Well, naturally the skeptics and those who are, you know, relatively uninformed about the climate debate will look out the window and see two or three foot of snow and more coming down, and ask themselves, "What's with all the global warming?" But the scientists will reply that their models have shown over quite some period of years, decades even, that the relatively slow warming of the planet is putting more moisture into the atmosphere, and their models have shown that rainstorms, snowstorms, will become more frequent and intense as a result of that And that's what they say you're seeing out your window right now."
Asked later on by the host to discuss the political impact of the debate, Broder responded:
Broder: "Well the climate skeptics and deniers who tend to be, at least in Congress, tend to be Republicans, are having a field day with this. In Virginia, the state Republican Party has put up a web ad against two Democrats from Virginia who voted for the global warming bill in the House. Asking them, you know, 'How many inches of global warming are outside your window?' and write your representative and ask them to come and shovel your driveway."
Host: "Which is pretty amusing, actually."
Broder: "It is mildly amusing."
Host: "And on the other side?"
Broder: "Well, on the other side, the climate-change advocates and those who are pushing for legislation are basically saying, look, these are the kind of weather events that you have to begin in expect over the next few decades as man continues to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and heat the planet. And that is going to require quite a bit of adaptation, whether it's moving towns inland from rivers and seacoasts that are going to be flooded, or buying more snow-shoveling equipment in the Northeast."