2011-05-16 00:12:57Media and Climate Change
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Forever, most of us trying to get the word out about the risks of AGW have been discussing the media's failure at accurately portraying the reality.  They've gotten much better at not running off to Pat Micheals to give a counter story (much too late), but there is still a significant problem.  Now that the scientific consensus is "in" and many stories have been out there, AGW is no longer an intersting story (how this is, I have no idea).  Case in point is Charlie Petit's article on climate and the media.

No Media Splash: National Research Council says climate change getting worse, we gotta act fast. Again. Not at all the first time. Yawn. Wotta system.

 

The news business is about what’s new. If a prestigious body says something new and very important, it’s big news the first time. The second or third or fourth it’s gets attention but fades from the front page. It gets what old-timers at a newspaper I once worked for called DBI status. Dull but important. So one dutifully may  cover it. Or not.

Mostly not, as seen by the coverage of the US National Academy of Sciences – via its National Research Council – issuance yesterday of a  report called America’s Climate Choices. Bad enough that much of its contents has been previewed as much as a year ago, with four volumes already published. All this new one says is that that if we don’t do something fast the world as we know it will probably end and the next one won’t be fun. Well, not in so many words, but blah blah blah. One might as well write a report about overpopulation, or the soul-destroying impacts of extreme poverty, or the scientific emptiness of astrology, homeopathy, or a search for Big Foot. True, but not new.

 

Keith Kloor posted this (he's no better at understanding the risk than Charlie).  Here's my response:

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.“  ~George Bernard Shaw

 

I find this very disturbing.  So with false balance behind us (sort of), we now have to deal with the fact that climate change is too boring.  How do we fight that?

2011-05-16 02:14:31Gyrpo et al
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
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You'll be pleased to know that Dana has drafted a SkS Blog article on this report. I suspect that he'll "publish" it either today or tomorrow.

I also believe that SkS could do a better job of publicizing major reports like this one. It is actually the fourth and final report of a series. To the best of my knowledge, SkS did not post anything about the first three reports when they came out.

Note: I posted a blog on General Chat about this report a couple of days ago.

2011-05-16 02:40:09in defence of media and Charlie
Stephen Leahy

writersteve@gmail...
208.74.213.247

Charlie Petit was reporting on, (and lamenting) the lack of media coverage of the NRC report. News media like to cover disasters and conflicts but not so good at covering ongoing, developing stories like climate change.

Ok so I'm a science jurno covering global enviro issues. I took a quick look at the NRC release - not the report cause I don't have time. My reaction - it appears to essentially confirm what we already knew from several years ago vetted by some prominent scientists. Great but I saw nothing to new to write about other than a strongish statement that 'every additional ton of carbon increases the risk'. Quite like that and almost enough to do a piece around. But I've got half dozen other pressing stories to chase down - some are climate stories with new findings. 

2011-05-16 02:49:32The Role of Elected Officials
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.68.19

If climate change were high on the agenda of the Obama Administration and members of Congress, the NRC report would have been trumpeted by them. 

 

2011-05-16 03:42:32
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Yeah I'll have to bump the NRC post up the schedule since everyone else is talking about it now.

2011-05-16 07:35:03Big fan of SkS talking about significant reports as they come out
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
60.242.192.74
Would be very positive if we weren't just rebutting skeptics in our posts, we need a mix of rebuttals, infographics, education and discussion of new reports/research. I notice lots of new items are regularly discussed here on the forum. I strongly encourage SkSers to consider not just posting it here where we hide our light under a bushel but also turn it into a post where we can educate and inform the public.
2011-05-16 11:58:14
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Charlie Petit was reporting on, (and lamenting) the lack of media coverage of the NRC report.

Thanks Stephen.  Unfortunately, "lament" just isn't good enough in this situation.  I'm a bit tired of this, and this, as Keith Kloor points out, is an institutional problem in journalism.  And I've had it out with Keith over this a few times.  This isn't just about the NRC report.  I remember another Kloor thread; he describes a conference where Seth Borenstein had a back and forth with Gleick about how Seth would write a story about the number of anomalous months of heat, only if the record were broken.  And Gleick's response was something like, "why not write about all the anomalous months anyway?  Is that not a story worth it?"  So while Charlie may be knocking on the door of a real story, he isn't busting it open like he should be.  Perhaps the real story is about why the NRC needs to announce dire risk posed by AGW several times over a year and the media doesn't care.  The public will not move unless they understand the risk.  They don't understand it.  It's really that simple.  I'm still wondering whose job it is to let them in on it.  The people with the biggest microphones can't find the "hook" to this story to tell it.  That explanation is just not good enough.

 

2011-05-16 22:40:52National Academy of Sciences slams climate disinformation campaign, flawed media coverage
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.68.19

Direct from Joe Romm's Climate Progress (May 16)

A commenter pointed out a paragraph I missed buried on page 35 in the brief discussion of how “Many factors complicate and impede public understanding of climate change”:

Most people rely on secondary sources for information, especially the mass media; and some of these sources are affected by concerted campaigns against policies to limit CO2 emissions, which promote beliefs about climate change that are not well-supported by scientific evidence. U.S. media coverage sometimes presents aspects of climate change that are uncontroversial among the research community as being matters of serious scientific debate. Such factors likely play a role in the increasing polarization of public beliefs about climate change, along lines of political ideology, that has been observed in the United States.

Wow (considering the source).

The NAS is pretty darn bland and conservative as evidence by 90% of the contents of this report.  So this is a hard slam against the mass media for being suckered by the fossil-fuel-funded anti-scientific disinformation campaign and generally miscovering the story of the century.

And for those in the anti-scientist and/or breakthrough bunch who primarily blame the victims for both the disinformation campaign and the resulting polarization, the U.S. National Academy is calling BS on you.

http://climateprogress.org/2011/05/16/national-academy-of-sciences-media-coverage/

2011-05-17 01:03:58
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

I'm working on a post. and waiting hear back from Bud Ward (Yale blog) about a session he attended for media and science roles.  Stay tuned  Here it is

2011-05-17 01:59:05Grypo
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.68.19

I presume that you are aware that this issue is one that Joe Romm has been posting on for years. Hardly a day goes by that he doesn't address this matter in some fashion or another in his daily blog posts.

2011-05-17 02:10:58
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Yes, but I'm trying to take another approach.  but I could use a quote from him on solutions.  I'm bare there.

2011-05-17 03:46:18grypo
Stephen Leahy

writersteve@gmail...
208.74.213.247

put my response as comment to your post - good summary and hope sparks some discussion

2011-05-17 04:20:05
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Thanks.  That's an important point that muddies the waters for journalists.  

 

But the post has not gone live yet and I'm still fishing for add ons before it gets published.  Do you have any solution ideas, as a member of the media, to end the blame game and combine the talents of the old-school media and old school science establishements?  not an easy question, I know :)

2011-05-17 05:27:13Wegman
oslo

borchinfolab@gmail...
90.149.33.182

The Wegman story goes on - multiple updates on DeepClimate.

Also at USA today, which to my knowledge is the only (?) MSM who follows the case.

Climate study gets pulled after charges of plagiarism

Wegman does the hide the lead author trick:

- In a March 16 e-mail to the journal, Wegman blamed a student who "had basically copied and pasted" from others' work into the 2006 congressional report, and said the text was lifted without acknowledgment and used in the journal study. "We would never knowingly publish plagiarized material" wrote Wegman, a former CSDA journal editor.

As DeepClimate comments - this will put pressure on the university:

- There will now be even more pressure on George Mason University to finally resolve the myriad misconduct complaints launched against Wegman and his team. Not to mention increased calls for the retraction of all the other examples of the pair’s dubious scholarship – including the Wegman et al report to Congress itself.

(update: sorry, this comment was a bit late - new thread covers the issue)

2011-05-17 07:20:21solutions?
Stephen Leahy

writersteve@gmail...
208.74.213.247

Mutual understanding goes a long way. I did a session in front of 500 ecologists at a conference a few years ago about how media works - deconstructing the process for them. They vented their worst media experiences - some were really awful. I offered advice/tips. No one punched me when it was over.

One of the main things I emphasized is the need for scientists to ask questions before they answer them. Who is the reporter, what have they done, what media etc. Media is not monolithic. In fact it has become extraordinarily diverse making it easy for fakers, pretenders, disinformers to operate with impunity.

I've had lots of science training, workshops etc - way more than any scientist has had or needs about media. But few journalists have. 

My advice for the reading/viewing public from a 2008 post - Tips on improving the old Global Warming BS Detector

take whatever is useful.