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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Olive Heffernan: No time to retreat (Mainstream media fails to communicate global warming danger to public and policymakers)

Nature Reports Climate Change, published online 2 April 2009 | doi:10.1038/climate.2009.32

Editorial -- No time to retreat

by Olive Heffernan

Last month over 2,000 climate experts convened in Copenhagen with a common cause — to provide a scientific update to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 assessment on global warming. They also shared a common concern that despite the gathering pace of climate change, their message is simply failing to permeate through to policymakers and the public.

Delegates at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change, held on March 10–12, 2009, heard a grim portrayal of the state of planet, with Arctic summer sea-ice being lost faster and sea-level rise expected to be more severe than anticipated just two years ago (Nature News10.1038/news.2009.165; 2009). The take-home message — that only urgent action will give a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous effects — needs to be conveyed more clearly now than ever before. Despite the political will garnered since the IPCC's last report, the economic downturn could well make a damp squib of efforts to agree a meaningful global climate deal in December.

But rather than encouraging more engagement with the media, some scientists at the Copenhagen congress called for quite the opposite. Dismayed with the mainstream media's portrayal of the problem, (, congress chair Katherine Richardson (see page 51) from the University of Copenhagen said that a new strategy is needed for communicating climate change, one that sidesteps journalists, and the money-making organizations they work for, entirely.

It is true that the mainstream media has at times served the public poorly on the issue of climate change. Some well respected outlets have occasionally struggled to differentiate issues of consensus from those where there is legitimate contention. Even worse, there have been deliberate efforts to misreport the facts, such as by the Telegraph's Christopher Brooker in the U.K. But even though the role of human activity in recent warming is clearly established — and media coverage ought to reflect that — there is still plenty of discussion on the exact action needed. Here, impartial and measured reporting still has a crucial part to play, one that can not be undertaken by those involved in the process. How else can the public be informed of the pros and cons of carbon trading, or on the perverse incentives of certain mitigation efforts?

Authorities on climate change are irreplaceable in informing the media, whether they do so by being a reliable source for science reporters, by writing op-eds in mainstream newspapers or by contributing to blogs. With recent cuts in core science reporting staff, such as those at CNN, it is especially vital that scientists continue this service to society. It would be better still if they combined this with more direct communication through avenues such as blogs, which are becoming increasingly important resources for reporters and interested citizens (Nature 458, 274–277; 2009). But such efforts should be seen as complementary to, rather than as a replacement for, mainstream media. By embracing both, scientists may well see their messages begin to permeate more effectively.

Link to this editorial:


Anonymous said...

In your 'A SAFE SPACE' editorial you make the outrageous statement: "With just ten weeks left until negotiations begin in Copenhagen, it’s all too easy these days to view global sustainability solely in terms of climate change."

First, no sensible person cares about group think inbreds that CLAIM to be "experts." Don't make us laugh.

Second, who are you trying to fool? It was AGWA nutcases, just like you, that defined what sustainability was, and in no uncertain terms did-so for DECADES: You proclaimed that it was that evil "pollutant" carbon dioxide and "global warming." When true environmentalists wanted to spend money of REAL issues, it was AGWA just like you that declared even-them to be "deniers."

What is really laughable is that you would trot-out that lying lowlife Winston Churchhill as a model of/for the truth.

You're not very bright are you?

Tenney Naumer said...

Dear Paul,

Normally, I do not publish comments from skippies like yourself, but this was just too good to pass up.

Who are you writing to anyway? I didn't write the article -- Olive Heffernan did.

You're not very bright, are you?

Anonymous said...

Little Tenney Naumer: It is YOUR pathetic post that confirms your low wattage, and at levels not exposed prior. First and foremost your abjectly stupid and open admission that rot like you implicitly resorts to censorship of anything/one you cannot cope with at any level approaching ethical/competent. When in doubt just censor them; you're a Bolshevik through and through.

Second, you posted that heffernan garbage not as a demonstration of what you do not believe but as a proxy for what YOU believe; or are you so demented that you have no idea what you are doing or what I just said?

Perhaps you too look good in orange, ala Phil Jones and the whole lying filth of AGWA. What's wrong sweetheart, no posts here about the lies coming out of the CRU?? You coward.

In any case, get fitted for an orange prison suit, for a prison that uses windmills for power.

You truly are pathetic.

Tenney Naumer said...

Dear Readers,

For those who wonder what it is like over on the dark side, here is another telling "comment" by a truly ignorant and stupid reader.

Actually, the guy is obviously a wingnut, but I find it useful to show what's out there.