Eventually, readers will see fewer and fewer of these essays. Hansen’s side will refocus on the agonizing details of exactly what it will take to mitigate climate change. Cockburn’s side will attempt to controvert the more specific facets of climate science, such as hurricanes, Saharan dust, and cloud formation. But it’s important to remember how the language and tone of the debate have evolved.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.