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Category: Global Warming

Until today, the powerful language in the latest climate-change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change generated scant coverage, and little or no demand from reporters for government reactions.

Coverage of any kind was meager yesterday, as I pointed out in...

Until today, the powerful language in the latest climate-change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change generated scant coverage, and little or no demand from reporters for government reactions.

Coverage of any kind was meager yesterday, as I pointed out in my previous post. Today, some others caught up, running stories from The Associated Press or writing off of the IPCC report and press release. But aside from the handful of reporters who went to Yokohama for the release of the report, nobody was doing much original reporting.

I found one example of the kind of story I was looking for when I opened The New York Times today. There Coral Davenport wrote a news analysis reporting that the new data puts...

[Update 4/2: A couple of justifiably aggrieved friends at The Washington Post said the paper did more than run the AP.  Staff reporter Steven Mufson...

[Update 4/2: A couple of justifiably aggrieved friends at The Washington Post said the paper did more than run the AP.  Staff reporter Steven Mufson wrote a piece off of the report and the press release, with reaction from several scientists.]

On March 25, the Tracker's Charlie Petit predicted that few members of the Western press would fly to Yokohama, Japan for the release of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He was right. The problem, he explained, was that we've heard it all before and we'll be hearing it again and again.

It's the paradox of climate-...

"Here's How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse," read one headline on Mar. 18. Here was another, on Mar. 20: "NASA...

"Here's How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse," read one headline on Mar. 18. Here was another, on Mar. 20: "NASA Study: Civilization Doomed to Collapse Soon."

And there were others, some of which made the distinction that this was not a NASA study, but rather a NASA-funded study, which hedges a bit but still suggests vague NASA approval: "NASA-funded report says society is trending toward big collapse" read the headline in the Houston Chronicle on Mar. 18. (And as we will see, even "NASA-funded" isn't quite right.)

But as the coverage continued, it began to morph into something quite different...

  When an august and generally circumspect scientific society pulls together a panel of 13 esteemed scholars for a consensus report, one does not tend to expect this sort of punchy, plain-as-nails writing:

Against this backdrop of natural variation, however, something different is...

  When an august and generally circumspect scientific society pulls together a panel of 13 esteemed scholars for a consensus report, one does not tend to expect this sort of punchy, plain-as-nails writing:

Against this backdrop of natural variation, however, something different is happening. Greenhouse gases have supercharged the climate just as steroids supercharged hitting in Major League Baseball. Over the course of a baseball season in the steroid era, we witnessed more and longer homers, even though we cannot attribute any specific homer to steroids.

   That is just about as good as any explanation of specifics versus statistics I have ever read. Maybe the report writers cribbed it from somewhere? Dunno. [Update - Not original. See comments.] But it makes clear why it is inane to ask whether this storm or that drought or those icebergs are due to global warming. It is not as though other current weather events...

It was almost inevitable that a climate discussion would come up last Thursday as I waited at the Philadelphia International Airport for my second cancelled flight of the day. Thousands of people were stranded by unusual snow and ice. I struck up a conversation with a couple of bankers – frequent flyers with...

It was almost inevitable that a climate discussion would come up last Thursday as I waited at the Philadelphia International Airport for my second cancelled flight of the day. Thousands of people were stranded by unusual snow and ice. I struck up a conversation with a couple of bankers – frequent flyers with outsized carbon footprints. Amid the grousing, one of them interjected a comment more or less like, “So much for global warming, ha ha.” And then the other one chimed in, with a tone of mockery, recalling how liberals keep trying to explain to him that the cold really is a sign of global warming.

Moods were tense, and Philadelphia’s brotherly love was wearing thin. It was no time to get into a squabble, but as a responsible citizen I did at least point out that it’s rather balmy in Alaska and the west is parched.

Next time, I’ll start with a question. How big is the U.S. as a portion of the globe? I got that idea from ...

[Update 3 pm: Several folks have emailed me comments from scientists and others suggesting that Hansen's paper is more advocacy than science. I've edited this post to reflect that.]

It's been...

[Update 3 pm: Several folks have emailed me comments from scientists and others suggesting that Hansen's paper is more advocacy than science. I've edited this post to reflect that.]

It's been a busy week in climate news, notes Keith Kloor at Discover. The National Academy of Sciences is out with a new report on abrupt climate impacts, some of which might be more abrupt than we'd hope. And the climate scientist James Hansen has published a new--and likewise frightening--paper in PL0S ONE. But the paper, says a finger-wagging Kloor, has not received the critical coverage it should have.

And I've received several emails with...

Another report inthe works from the IPCC, another leak of its draft, and so what else is new? It's news is what it is, even if the underlying message has been reported so many times everybody from world leaders to the folks in line at the supermarket knows the gist of what scientists are saying: It's...

Another report inthe works from the IPCC, another leak of its draft, and so what else is new? It's news is what it is, even if the underlying message has been reported so many times everybody from world leaders to the folks in line at the supermarket knows the gist of what scientists are saying: It's getting warm, it's our fault, things are changing fast, and we'd better do something soon or we'll fry the future. Some of them don't not believe it. But most know the story.

   The topic has unavoidably come up during the CASW New Horizons in Science Writing half of the ScienceWriters13 meeting, hosted by the U. of Florida in Gainesville, that followed the Nat'l Assoc. of Science Writers workshops Saturday. New Horizons speakers are mostly academics providing insight and tips on hot fields in science. Some of the remarks here contrast sharply with the real world of science reporting that continues far outside this exceedingly pleasant...

"On a complicated, fast-forward planet enveloped in information, journalists who thrive will be those who offer news consumers the same sense of trust that a skilled mountain guide provides to climbers after an avalanche. A sure trail cannot be guaranteed, but an honest effort can."

That's...

"On a complicated, fast-forward planet enveloped in information, journalists who thrive will be those who offer news consumers the same sense of trust that a skilled mountain guide provides to climbers after an avalanche. A sure trail cannot be guaranteed, but an honest effort can."

That's Andrew Revkin on what he calls the Daily Planet--the world as we see it through the media. Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog for The New York Times, has long provided us with one of the clearest and sharpest lenses to view that perceived planet.

Revkin recently paused to reflect on his work and others' in a talk in Tokyo at an environmental forum sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. You can find a transcript at Dot Earth, and Revkin...

With uncanny timing, Seth Borenstein of the AP turned in a story on this year's quiet hurricane season just hours before the quiet ended with the formation of this year's first hurricane, Humberto.

"If Humberto stays a tropical storm through 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday...

With uncanny timing, Seth Borenstein of the AP turned in a story on this year's quiet hurricane season just hours before the quiet ended with the formation of this year's first hurricane, Humberto.

"If Humberto stays a tropical storm through 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday, it will be the latest date for the first hurricane of the season since satellites started watching the seas in 1967, according to the National Hurricane Center," Borenstein writes. Humberto became a hurricane just before the deadline, meaning that the record for the latest hurricane of the year is still held by Gustav, in 2002, according to Kim Hjelmgaard of USAToday.

All teasing aside, Borenstein's story is actually nicely...

Seth Borenstein at the AP has written a perfectly good story on a study in Science that says that "aggressive acts like committing violent crimes and waging war become more...

Seth Borenstein at the AP has written a perfectly good story on a study in Science that says that "aggressive acts like committing violent crimes and waging war become more likely with each added degree." And here's the money quote, further down in the story:

"The world will be a very violent place by mid-century if climate change continues as projected," said Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor of diplomacy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Ontario.

"In war-torn parts of equatorial Africa, [the study] says, every added degree Fahrenheit or so increases the chance of conflict between groups— rebellion, war, civil unrest—by 11 percent to 14 percent," Borenstein writes. And the researchers parse their predictions even finer: In the U.S., "the...

David Fogarty, a former environmental reporter for Reuters, says the news agency decided in early 2012 that environmental stories would no longer be a top priority. As a consequence, he says, editors are now wary of climate change stories, reflecting "a climate of fear"...

David Fogarty, a former environmental reporter for Reuters, says the news agency decided in early 2012 that environmental stories would no longer be a top priority. As a consequence, he says, editors are now wary of climate change stories, reflecting "a climate of fear" inside the company.

Strong stuff, if true. The charge comes in a July 15th post at The Baron, an independent blog covering Reuters and its people. Fogarty left Reuters, he writes, when he was stripped of his environmental beat and offered a role covering "regional shipping."

"Since I’ve left, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me why Reuters’ climate change coverage has changed in tone and fallen in volume," he concludes. Fogarty, who was based in Singapore, is one of three reporters who have...

A glance at that plot up there shows there's no surprise upon learning that CO2 is on the brink of 400 parts per million in the air tht you and I, plus all the coal CEOs in the world and all the tree huggers who despise what those rich guys do for a living, are sucking into their lungs. That is the famous curve...

A glance at that plot up there shows there's no surprise upon learning that CO2 is on the brink of 400 parts per million in the air tht you and I, plus all the coal CEOs in the world and all the tree huggers who despise what those rich guys do for a living, are sucking into their lungs. That is the famous curve amassed for the last 55 years by the Keelings of UC San Diego's Scripps Institution,  starting with the late Dave (Charles D) Keeling and continued by his son Ralph , on the flank of Hawaii's Mauna Loa shield volcano (CORRECTION NOTE:  initial brain fade id'd it on next volcano over, Mauna Kea).

   It's up from about 280 ppm before burning coal got popular in Britain and soon after that all over the industrializing world. It was at 316 when the observatory started work in the late 50s with the fervid backing of the towering climate chemist and, eventually, climate change worrier Roger Revelle.

 ...

  Thanks to a piece in Slate filed last Friday by Jonathan Mingle, I learned of a surprisingly candid and also coarse...

  Thanks to a piece in Slate filed last Friday by Jonathan Mingle, I learned of a surprisingly candid and also coarse paper title on climate change that a UC San Diego geomorphologist and complex modeling expert presented during the meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union last week:  Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism. The f-bomb got detonated without any asterisks flying out in the session itself. AGU hardly spotlighted it. Still, that word is a newsmaker at such a staid (on paper) place as this hallowed academic conference. It got further pickup and discussion on blogs but not many general media reporters went with it. I have a hypothesis why and it has...

 For about the last ten years, and peaking a few years back, many of us in the climate and science reporting biz met with and got a little bit tired of getting upbraided by a certain stripe of climate change activist, science or otherwise. Some of them said, again and again, that mainstream media's...

 For about the last ten years, and peaking a few years back, many of us in the climate and science reporting biz met with and got a little bit tired of getting upbraided by a certain stripe of climate change activist, science or otherwise. Some of them said, again and again, that mainstream media's misrepresentation of the science and policy debates on global warming are a big reason the public and many politicians, especially in the US, haven't done much of anything that might cost more than a nickel in GNP to slow or stop the rate of greenhouse emissions we make. Namely, we gave the doubters equal footing in the quote department with actual climate authorities. That made for false balance and a lot of bad journalism. So they said.

   I always denied that false media balance much existed, not in the big outlets anyway, and that to think it would matter much in any case is to way overestimate the power of the press. Oh, sure, some contrarians get a bit...

The idea of taxing carbon emissions to address climate change is once again in the air in Washington. But it could prove no more popular this time than it did in 2009 when President Obama tried to get a climate-change bill through Congress, and failed.

Seth Borenstein at The AP...

The idea of taxing carbon emissions to address climate change is once again in the air in Washington. But it could prove no more popular this time than it did in 2009 when President Obama tried to get a climate-change bill through Congress, and failed.

Seth Borenstein at The AP has written a nice scene-setter, which refers to recent reports on the subject (but doesn't link to them!) and surveys the political landscape. (Ouch; the mixed metaphors are mine, not Borenstein's.) To get a sense of the depth of feeling on this issue, note that Borenstein reports that the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking access to Treasury Department emails on the subject.

Before you place your bets for or against a carbon tax, read Borenstein.

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