It seems most of the climate change debate is waged in the media and the halls of government, where the misinterpreters of science can joyfully, and with impunity, run afoul of facts. Not what one expects of the most pressing scientific issue of any era but our own.
Provocative articles in the UK’s Mail on Sunday and Telegraph newspapers have prompted heated response on both sides of the Atlantic. They are an object lesson in the controversy that can be drummed up about climate science once it leaves the hands of the overwhelming majority of scientists who agree that human induced climate change is real.
Now, if the phrase “overwhelming majority of scientists” went down easy, you know where you stand. But they are fighting words if you believe in the “climate hoax.“ Of course, “climate hoax” rightfully provokes at least as outraged a reply from believers.
In yesterday’s Slate, Phil Plait focuses on the Mail article by David Rose, who has a little too much fun playing the obtuse climate denier. Says Plait:
Rose is a guy who denies climate change in the way creationists deny evolution . . . That is to say, with claims so ridiculously wrong it’s charitable to call them “ridiculously wrong.”
The article in the Mail bears this out. In it, Rose makes a lot of jaw-dropping statements. To pick three, he says the world is cooling, Arctic sea ice increased 60 percent over last year at this time, and the International Panel on Climate Change is under so much attack they had to hold a “crisis” meeting.
These claims are at best misleading. The first and third are just wrong, and the second hugely cherry-picked.
But the best response to both articles came in a blow by blow rejoinder by Dana Nuccitelli and John Abraham in the Guardian, which regularly features distinguished environmental reporting. (By contrast, the Mail’s best-known feature is Femail, a regular mix of cheesecake photos and breathless confessions.)
Links below bring you to the Mail, Telegraph and Guardian stories. Taken together, they point to the difficult straits in which a concerned and inquiring public too often finds itself.
Mail on Sunday:
And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year
A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent. More . . .
Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists
A cold Arctic summer has led to a record increase in the ice cap, leading experts to predict a period of global cooling. More . . .
Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph
When it comes to climate science reporting, the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph are only reliable in the sense that you can rely on them to usually get the science wrong. More . . .
One often-unsaid aspect of the public discussion on whether human-induced climate change is real, is ideology. Several months ago, the University of Kentucky hosted of forum on climate change with three excellent speakers who were all self-described conservatives. Liberals reported how they better understand that there are thoughtful conservative perspectives on, and solutions to, climate change, thus allowing for a broadened public discussion. In turn, conservatives in attendance learned the same thing. You can watch the recording of this event at http://bit.ly/135gvNa. The starting time for each speaker is noted at this page, so you can listen to the speakers of greatest interest to you.