Bret Stephens defended his controversial first column for the New York Times about climate change as a "warning against intellectual hubris."
Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, faced intense backlash to the late-April opinion piece, in which he questioned any certainty in the political debate surrounding climate change. In it, he said, "if there were less certitude about our climate future, more Americans would be interested in having a reasoned conversation about it."
Not only did other members of the scientific community and the press criticize his skeptical take, but there were also declarations on Twitter by people saying they were going to unsubscribe from the Times in reaction to the piece.
The Times ran a correction, which fixed a wrong statistic on climate data.
Stephens specifically stated in the piece that he doesn't refuse the idea of climate change, and during an interview Sunday with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, he once again asserted he doesn't deny climate change or "that we need to address it."
"Seriously," he added for emphasis.
"The point of the article was to say that there is a risk in any predictive science of hubris," Stephens said, referring, as an example, to the 2007 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report claiming a very high likelihood that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 — which was later discredited.
The column, Stephen contended, was "an attempt to be was a warning against intellectual hubris." What it wasn't was an effort to "deny facts about climate that have been agreed by the scientific community," he added.
"I think that's a distinction that I'm afraid was lost in some of more intemperate criticism," Stephens said. "But people who read the column carefully can see I said nothing outrageous or beyond the pale of normal discussion."