False Meme #213: Putin Got Behind Climate Change Only Recently

How Sewell Chan and the Senior Science Editor of the New York Times Michael Roston simply repeat agitprop about Putin mocking Climate Change when the documented evidence shows the dead opposite, thus showing that instead of dealing in facts and doing research, these journalists are following Climate Change-denier like agitprop and ridicule in the pages of the Science section to try and score political points.

Dec 25, 2015


On December 8, 2015 The New York Times Science Twitter account in a predictably Russophobic tweet “Russia’s climate proposal in Paris seemed largely geared toward promoting a government-funded nanotechnology company” linked to a running blog on the Paris Climate Change Speech, an article by London news editor Sewell Chan on a speech by Putin a week earlier:   

I asked whether there was any evidence to back up this claim.  Of course there was no reply.

On December 10, 2015 as part of a quiz titled “Eight Questions About Climate Change and the Paris Talks“, ironically to test the readers factual knowledge, the New York Times’s Michael Roston, the Senior Staff editor for the otherwise excellent Science section expanded on this theme by being specific about how Putin had mocked climate change by asking the following question and with the following answer key:

 So basically Chan and Roston are writing in the New York Times Science section – a section that should be devoted to factual, reason based statements and arguments – that:

1. Putin has mocked climate change;

2. At least one case was him joking in 2003 saying Russians can save money on fur caps if global warming happens;

3. Delegates in Paris were surprised that he made this speech on December 7, 2015;

4. It will be even more surprising if he comes through with these promises

The Facts: Climate Change Conference Speech of September 2003

Simply perusing the public, Kremlin site in English and keying in “Climate Change” as a search parameter yields 509 results as of date from as far back as 2003.  (Note: this includes both Putin and Medvedev’s terms).

The speech in 2003 where Putin mentioned fur (there were no other hits), would have been on September 29, 2003, at the Opening Address at the International Conference on Climate Change

This is the quote and context:  

So far from making light of it, he is acknowledging it’s a serious issue, indeed also saying this in the same speech.   

In other words Putin has acknowledged as far back as 2003, that climate change is real, impacted by human activities, needs focus for the benefit of mankind and that Russia has made strides in trying to cut down greenhouse gases.

Again this is in 2003, when George Bush was in the White House and the US Government was in full denial of climate change, human responsibility and the severity of the problem.

The Facts: UNGA Speech in New York, September 2015

On September 28, 2015, in a speech given in front of the UN General Assembly, Putin said this :   

In other words altering the attendees of the seriousness of Climate Change and his looking forward to the Paris Conference and a summary of his goal to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Facts: Climate Change Convention in November, 2015

He followed up with the speech at the Paris Climate Change conference on November 30, 2015 where he expanded on the theme he mentioned two months earlier. 


As can be seen by anyone who is committed to facts and research, Putin, far from mocking climate change:

1. Has taken it seriously and calling it man-made and of concern to mankind, from as far back at 2003 (when the US Government was still dithering). 

2. Announced the seriousness of the problem to mankind again at the UN General Assembly so no one who was following Putin should have been “surprised” when he said the same thing at Paris two months later;

3. Gave an expanded talk in Paris about what Russia has done from 2000-14 to meet and exceed its obligations as well as goals for the future.

(Incidentally I pointed this out to Reston also alerting the public editor, Margaret Sullivan in a series of tweets within minutes of New York Times Science’s original tweet disparaging Putin in the Quiz.)


Chan and Roston are simply repeating propaganda they heard as fact with no links to back their anti-Putin assertions that Putin mocked climate change until “surprisingly” recently (while transcripts from as far back as 2003 prove the exact opposite).

And that this in a Science section, one that should be immune from the pettiness that marks the politics section,  and about Climate Change whose critics often make such unsupported allegations is especially damning.

In short Chan and Reston are engaging in climate-change denier like political  agitprop in the pages of the Science section.

Ironic doesn’t begin to cover it.

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