AP memo: Instead of climate change skeptics, use ‘those who reject mainstream climate science’

September 22, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

The Associated Press

The Associated Press updated its global warming entry on Tuesday, according to a memo.

We are adding a brief description of those who don’t accept climate science or dispute the world is warming from man-made forces:

Our guidance is to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers.

Paul Colford, vice president and director of media relations at the AP, wrote about the memo from Stylebook editors Sally Jacobsen, Dave Minthorn and Paula Froke. The memo also included a bit about how the AP makes decisions on stylebook changes.

Here’s the full climate change entry:

global warming The terms global warming and climate change can be used interchangeably. Climate change is more accurate scientifically to describe the various effects of greenhouse gases on the world because it includes extreme weather, storms and changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and sea level. But global warming as a term is more common and understandable to the public.

Though some public officials and laymen and only a few climate scientists disagree, the world’s scientific organizations say that the world’s climate is changing because of the buildup of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, from the burning of coal, oil and gas. This is supported by more than 90 percent of the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

In a joint publication in 2014, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom stated: “Human activities – especially the burning of fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution – have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by about 40 percent, with more than half the increase occurring since 1970. Since 1900, the global average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This has been accompanied by warming of the ocean, a rise in sea level, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and many other associated climate effects. Much of this warming has occurred in the last four decades.”

To describe those who don’t accept climate science or dispute the world is warming from man-made forces, use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science. Avoid use of skeptics or deniers.

Previously: The AP Stylebook is now an interactive e-book


Correction: An earlier version of this story noted that the AP’s Paul Colford wrote about how style book changes are made. That information was in the memo, not Colford’s post. It has been updated.