Jerry Taylor

Jerry Taylor once worked for a libertarian think-tank, where he was paid to dispute the seriousness of climate change. Now he argues for climate action. Why? It all started after a nationally-televised climate change debate.

Taylor: “I argued on screen that the climate is simply not as sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources as we thought.”

He claimed that the climate had not warmed nearly as much as scientist James Hansen predicted it would during a Senate hearing in the 1980s.

The expert Taylor debated, however, later challenged him to go back and read Hansen’s actual testimony.

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Taylor: “He says ‘That’s not at all what the underlying testimony suggests!’ He said, ‘or don’t bother to look at it … be a hack!’ By God, I was going to go re-read Hansen’s testimony and prove him wrong!”

It did not work out that way. Taylor found Hansen had provided several scenarios of global warming – not just the extreme one Taylor was disputing. Further, Hansen’s most-likely scenario matched observed global warming.

So Taylor kept researching and found that the talking points he was given were often misleading or wrong. He realized there is strong evidence of global warming.

Taylor: “I think people can be persuaded by good arguments.”

Reporting credits: ChavoBart Digital Media and The Reckonings.
Photo credit: Niskanen Center

Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the Senior Editor of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist, and...