It’s different in Europe

Paul Thacker has an interesting interview with a European and a US journalist on the media coverage of climate science in Europe. The standard contrarian line does not get as much attention there as it does in the US (which is good), but whether that means that the journalism there is actually better is a tricky point. So what makes for good climate science journalism and do they do it better over there?

49 comments on this post.
  1. Ron Taylor:

    Maybe coverage is getting better in the U.S. as well. I just watched a two-hour special on global warming on the Discovery Channel, hosted by Tom Brokaw. It was co-produced by the BBC, NBC and the Discovery Channel.

    To my layman’s eyes, it was excellent. It covered all the major issues using excellent graphics and field illustrations, and featured interviews with Michael Oppenheimer and Jim Hansen, as well as others. It did NOT include the usual skeptics “for balance.” It covered that issue by having some of the experts used in the program comment on how they had been converted from skeptics to believers.

    This program seems very worthwhile and will be repeated in the future. Have any of you experts seen this and care to comment? I would like to refer it to others, but with some expert recommendation.

    By the way, the DC website also has some excellent resources for the average citizen. See here, especially the “Signs and Sources” item on the left
    http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/globalwarming/about/about.html

  2. David C. Greene:

    The following is peripherally related to European coverage of “global warming.” At http://www.giss.nasa.gov/data/simodel/ghgases/ in Fig. 6 there is convincing evidence (from James Hansen’s organization, yet) that, for centuries, temperature has been leading the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane rather than being driven by those gases.

    [Response: See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/ for some enlightenment…. – gavin]

  3. Roger Smith:

    “SEJ: The thing I noticed after looking at your coverage is that you don’t quote any of these people. In the United States you would probably have some editor asking, “Now, where’s the balance?”

    Harvey: Well, that’s the thing, and this is a key point. The reason we don’t have these voices in Europe is not because we aren’t balanced. We do try to be balanced. But most journalists and media outlets in Europe have taken the view that putting in a voice that is right out on the wildest extremes does not represent mainstream science. And by putting them in the story and giving them equal space and giving them equal validity, you’re suggesting that they’re equivalent. And they’re not.”

    I think this is better if that’s how the do it.

  4. Bill Settlemyer:

    I think the gate is swinging shut in the American media on those who argue for “balance” between the views of mainstream scientists and outliers on the issue of global warming.

    There is a larger issue that mainstream American media will be grappling with for years to come: How during the current era of Republican political dominance the media was cowed into relying on “he said, she said” journalism out of fear of being attacked from the right for not being “balanced.”

    This applies to many issues, not just climate science. Journalists and their news organizations abdicated the role of making intelligent judgments on the credibility of their sources based on the entire body of information available to them as journalists.

    The same evolution can be seen in the timidity of the media in the runup to the war in Iraq and in the months prior to the 2004 presidential election. Eventually, the Bush administration quietly conceded that almost everything they claimed to be true was not. The same process is now occurring with regard to climate change. The next president will be left holding the bag on the consequences of climate change, the war, buget deficits and a host of other vexing issues.

    We have lost precious time in moving towards a change in the political climate that will allow the U.S. to address what may be the most critical challenge in human history. In end, this is not about journalists, scientists or political leaders — Al Gore is correct to say this is a moral issue, for each and every one of us.

  5. Coby:

    Re David C Greene’s comment #2

    Note that that graph covers hundreds of thousands of years, not centuries, perhaps you didn’t notice that. As well as the RC article on CO2 leading or lagging you might like this discussion:

    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/co2-lags-not-leads.html

  6. Rod Brick:

    I’m sorry, but as a lay scientist and an iconoclast (and maybe an idealist in this case…), I’m discouraged with the lack of pure (maybe idealistic) scientific discourse. Even as the frenzied protaginism is couched in deliberative scientific tones. Why is it “good” that the Europeans don’t get the contraian view?? Why are all the contrarian views discarded out of hand, usually with ad hominems?

    The best (pure) scientific attitude is one that maintains the prospect that one’s laborious endeavor “might be all wrong’. None of that here. Though to be fair not in most scientific discourse either, now and throughout history. With bald boldness I guess I accuse the elite Eddington of the same fault (with his treatment of Chandrasekhar), but with apologies I calls ‘em the way I sees ‘em.

    I’m sorry again, but what I can glean through the heat (no pun intended) is that, as NAS just said, global warming caused by CO2 forcing is “plausible”. But there are some serious unanswered questions and doubts about this which ought to be considered not just summarily discarded.

  7. Brian Gordon:

    Reporting in Canada seems to be somewhere between the US and Europe, as we are on many things. There was an excellent BBC documentary on the CBC last night called “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeye/powerofnightmares/

    While it was about terrorism, the film pointed out that environmentalists used similar techniques in the 1970s and 80s: They pointed out the dangers of NOT acting, even if we didn’t KNOW that the suspected consequences of global warming would be. The assumption was that the consequences would likely be bad, and it was foolish to experiment with our life support system.

    Politicians used to promise us a better world, but their visions have failed to materialise. As a coworker expressed it:

    “Back during the World Fair in Chicago (1936 I think it was) there were
    proclamations about how in the year 2000 we would have all this leisure time because technology would be managing most all of our chores and running things for us.

    Question: How is it that in 2006, both parents must be working in order to survive and raise the average two kids, when in 1936 only one parent worked and the family size probably averaged six kids…”

    In order to maintain power, politicians latched onto the “dark side,” with whoever pitches the most terrifying future becoming the winner. This may well happen again, with Mother Nature replacing an invented global terrorist conspiracy.

  8. Ron Taylor:

    Re: Rod Brick

    Objective humility is certainly desireable in scientists. But when they personally and their work is being attacked through misstatement and misrepresentation for the purpose of undermining their credibility, then humility will only get them a quick exit from public discourse. That is the inevitable result of the degree to which science has been politicized by those who do not like the results.

    There are times when a strong consensus in the scientific community has been wrong. But have there been significant cases where the consensus represented a shift to a new paradigm and the skeptical few clinging to the old paradigm were proved to be correct? There have of course been many cases of the opposite, where the consensus reflected a reluctance to accept results or ideas undermining the cherished theories upon which established scientists had based their careers. The troubles of Alfred Wegener come to mind.

    I want to add this related comment: When the legitimate work of a scientist yields alarming results, it is not being “alarmist” to report them.

  9. Max:

    If we take the left-wing SpiegelOnline as a prime example of newspapes in Germany (and neglect the BILD Zeitung, which will never cover any such thing, except if the earth is already burning on all ends) is almost hysterical about Global Warming and Climate Change.
    Often the titles can’t even overshadow that the nature or science papers linked in it are a lot less dramatic.

    Since Green Activism and The Call for Big Brother go hand in hand in German newspapers, I don’t think of it as any more qualified than any US newspaper.

  10. Max:

    Ahhh, btw. I find the US approach better, even if you label those “denialists” as wackos, at least you have the chance to compare the so-called “contrarians” with the “mainstream”, which means that you can form your opinion by cross-examining the two groups. In Europe, we have a closed system with no cross-exermining, because every journalist article will be believed the second it is published in one of the bigger newspaper… far from critical thinking…

  11. Brad Hudson:

    RE: Number 6. While I agree that it is important to consider evidence in an objective manner, the problem I keep seeing is a distortion of evidence. For example, the NAS report did not say that Global Warming caused by CO2 forcing is “plausible.” The NAS report examined only one type of evidence of global warming, and made the “plausible” comment in regard to certain claims about historical surface temperature trends. It specifically noted that that one type of evidence was not among the primary evidence supporting the well accepted conclusion that humans are causing global warming.

  12. Kim D. Petersen:

    Re. #10

    I think the main problem about being presented both sides, is that you cannot determine which side is mainstream or contrarian. While this kind of “balanced” reporting is good on political issues – its non-productive in science – imho

    The European way of balance is in my opinion better, and it doesn’t as you indicate “censor” the contrarian side. In a European paper on the hurricane debate you’d still get both sides of the issue, because there really is a debate about the AGW signal in hurricanes.

  13. Mark A. York:

    I think the “false balance” is more prevalent in print pieces and editorials here, but as we’ve seen recently there have been some real zingers from Canada and the usual supects down under which I labelled the “Kookaburra Consortium” in my novel “Warm Front.” I have a good source reading it for errors in the science and other things book reviewers nail you for after the fact, and am hopeful of putting Michael Crichton to shame on this particular topic. The gang here get most of the credit for that if it happens. There is a high chance the media people in publishing won’t want the truth in this form. We’ll have to wait and see.

  14. Mark A. York:

    Why science stories make smart newspaper editors squirm
    Columbia Journalism Review
    If editors don’t understand something, they often think it can’t be right â?? or that it’s not worth writing about, says K.C. Cole. “[Editors] tend to be very accomplished people. They’re used to being the smartest guys in the room. So science makes them squirm. And because they can’t bear to feel dumb, science coverage suffers.”

    http://www.cjr.org/issues/2006/4/cole.asp

    KC is pretty good.

  15. Joel Shore:

    Re #6: It is important to distinguish between the discourse in the scientific community and in the public. While it is true that within the scientific community it is important to have wide discourse, this does not mean that the public should be told about all possible views as if they have equal weight when in fact one is the view of nearly all working scientists in the field and the other is the view of only a few (often with scant publication records in the field).

    Unfortunately, in climate science things are actually reversed. That is to say, there is such a strong consensus in the scientific community that there are very few papers that actually challenge that basic consensus view, and yet in the media the few deniers get much more air time. And, this is in fact why the denialists tend to be dismissed out-of-hand…i.e., because they are trotting out arguments to the public that have simply failed in the scientific community.

    Take Richard Lindzen as an example. He is probably the most prominent and scientifically-reputable of the denialists and he actually did some serious work proposing hypotheses…even if these hypotheses don’t seem to be correct. However, in his recent WSJ editorial, he made the statement “global mean temperatures have … risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early ’70s, increased again until the ’90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998.” This last claim that the temperature have been essentially constant since 1998, is one that anyone like him who understands statistics of noisy data must know is pure bogus B.S. and yet he trots it out anyway. Such a person is not trying to make a serious scientific argument. He is simply trying to mislead. And, as I noted, he is probably the cream-of-the-crop as far as the denialists go.

    [I also second the statement in #11 (Brad Hudson) that you have seriously misattributed the statement about what is “plausible” in a recent NAS report which dealt with just one small issue in the climate change debate…namely temperature proxy records and what they say about the warmth now relative to that during the “Medieval Warm Period”. To see what the NAS and the academies of 10 other major nations think in regards to climate change more generally, see this joint statement: http://www.nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf ]

  16. Mark A. York:

    Here’s another example of hyper conservatives at play: “But paleoclimatologists cannot even agree on the past. Was there a little ice age 400 years ago? Plenty of argument on that. And that’s only 400 years ago, when we have written history!

    Posted by John Moore at July 6, 2006 05:28 PM

    This guy is certified but has a large following.

  17. EDWARD LANWERMEYER:

    Our media, by which I mostly mean print media, coverage of climate change science cannot be separated in my opinion from the overall climate of timidity of our mainstream editors on a whole bunch of other political issues, as well. Try reading German media for a change, to get a feel for the difference. Its’ interviews online especially. Or on purely political matters, try at least one of the larger Israeli dailies, Haaretz is a good example, if you want to find out what real public discussion (the opinion page there) is still like. The latter is also online in readable English: haaretz.com, just for the experience..

    Except for places like this listserve,

  18. T. M. Ritter:

    Lest it be forgotten, one virtue of “balance” (meaning, conscientious attention to the contrarian position(s)), would be to make the majority position more compelling. To leave unaddressed, legitimate scientific questions or criticisms, calls into question the critical nature of the reporting. Accordingly, an uncritical approach is susceptible to the easy, and diversionary, charge of one-sided reporting. As a result, appeals to citizen distrust of the media insinuates itself into the debate (quite unnecessarily) and focus on the real issues is lost. Seriously, for those intersted in policy shifts, who would you rather convert (or, mariginalize, for that matter), Lindzen or Limbaugh?

  19. Andrew Dodds:

    Brian Gordon –

    There are a couple of reasons why we don’t have all of this leisure time..

    First, certainly in Europe, mass unemployment (and more hidden ‘incapacity benefit’) is effectively ‘leisure time’, just really badly distributed so that those who have time don’t have money, and vice versa. In the US and UK the ‘service economy’ has effectively moved in to mop up leisure time. This leads to a bizzare situation where people have to work long hours simply to service the needs of other people working long hours, when everyone *could* work shorter hours with little or no impact on actual useful-goods-and-services produced.

    Second is/was the introduction of mortgages based on more than one income. Quickly leading to people aspiring to a bigger and better house, which is fair enough but quickly becomes a millstone.

    In order to actually give us this leisure revolution, we would require the government to legislate things like compulsory job sharing, strong maximum hours legislation, and/or a sharply redistrbutive tax system; difficult enough for a single country in isolation, but in a globalized economy near impossible.

    And if you think there are problems now, wait 30 years until AI-like systems wipe out practically all unskilled or semi skilled jobs..

  20. Catherine Jansen:

    The difference in coverage jumped out at me when I was in the UK last year. There seemed to be something on the news every evening about climate change. In fact, the news reports got me so worried (they were about the melting Siberian permafrost) that I came home to Canada feeling desperate to know more, and found RealClimate, which has been by far the best source of information.

    British reporting – can’t speak for all of Europe – seems to
    a) devote more attention and news time to climate change
    b) be less likely to include the contrarian view
    c) be more likely to include extreme climate scenarios
    d) generally accept the consensus view of climate change and present it as fact

  21. EDWARD LANWERMEYER:

    re: ‘elsewhere’ and ‘Europe’

    Here are two web links, suggested by a previous comment by me, from German media news on climate change. Both s u g g e s t an altogether different social realtionship between big media (there), and the climate scientists in various capacities (working there). Different from what ? From the relationship between both these same two things in our system.

    The first of these is from TAGESCHAU which reports on a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, one of whose authors is from a German climate group in Potsdam, Viktor Brovkin.The subject is recent ice core studies in the Vostok. The title of the media piece (not the research paper) is ” Climate warming is indeed warmer than thought heretofore”

    Both of the Tageschau articles are short and to the point. Not much equivocation here. Yes, things are different in Europe. Especially in non Anglo Saxon Europe. Both websites (articles) have pictures. This is taylored clearly for laymen and for people who need to move, and read, quickly.

    http://www.tageschau.de/aktuell/meldungen/0,1185,OID552792_REF1_NAV_BAB,00

    the title of this second link, from the same date (7/19/06)is: “The worlds’ seas in heightened danger” and the basis for the report is a German institute and its scientific staff: “Regierung vom Wissenshaftslichen Beirats der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveraenderungen (WBGU)”, a German federal government entity.

    The report details the changes in food chains that will occur with the increasing acidity of the oceans, affecting mankind in time. In the words of the article “…unkalkuliere Risiken fuer die Ernaehrung der Menschheit…” or “…incalcuable risks for the nourishment of humankind….”.

    http://www.tageschau.de/aktuell/meldungen/0,1185,OID5582382_REF1_NAV_BAB,00

    Happy Reading

  22. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    I rarely see anything about global warming on TV (we don’t get cable), though it’s increasing from zero to a bit these last few months; and never in our newspaper or local TV news. Ergo, the problem doesn’t exist here in the U.S., esp not in our S. TX town.

    When I lived near Chicago, I did a computer search of the Chi Trib for 1995, the year GW reached 95% certainty. There was one story on GW in the travel section, about glacier melt threatening Swiss villages. The same year NIGHTLINE had a pro-con (esp tilted to the con) discussion of GW, “Is Science for Sale?” – basically denouncing Gore’s claim that it was for sale. Texaco was the sponsor.

    Just called Carmike Theater headquarters — we may possiblly get AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (which could also be called, A MORAL CHALLENGE) to come here. I wonder what the meager few locals who see it will think, since it will be a big surprise for them.

  23. Ron Taylor:

    Last Sunday night, the Discovery Channel presented a two-hour special on global warming hosted by Tom Brokaw, co-produced by the BBC, NBC and the Discovery Channel. It covered all the major issues using excellent graphics and field illustrations, featured interviews with Michael Oppenheimer and Jim Hansen, and did NOT include the usual skeptics “for balance.” Instead, some of the experts used in the program commented on how they had been converted from skeptics to believers. I am still waiting for some expert commentary about this program from RC. The program will be repeated. Check it out at

    http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/globalwarming/about/about.html

    My point is that programs like this have far greater potential for moving the masses than “An Incovenient Truth.” My guess is that 90% of those who see the latter will already have accepted AGW. Many who need to be reached will stay away simply because of the political baggage carried by Al Gore.

    Another point: I strongly suspect that the Brokaw program was originally intended to be a special on NBC. One wonders what pressures caused it to be kicked downstairs to the Discovery Channel, which, being cable only, has a much smaller audience.

  24. Jeff DeLaune:

    I do believe that there is value in â??balanceâ??, but â??balanceâ?? requires full disclosure. Individuals on both sides of the issue should be fully identified with their qualifications for providing input. This information could/should include where they work, how they are funded, their educational background, and their employment history in brief. Let the listener, reader or viewer make their own determination of who has the most credibility: an ex tobacco industry lobbyist, with a bachelorâ??s in Economics, who is funded by an oil company, or an individual with a PhD in Physics, with 20 years of direct research experience, who gets funded by a University of government agency.

  25. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    I think one of the reasons the U.S. press coverage is different is because of the efforts of the far-right political movement in the U.S.

    Environmentalists have been politically successful in the U.S. In response the conservatives are waging a public relation war on the environmentalists. The corporate-funded conservative think tanks are falsely portraying enviros as alarmist and are equating the scientific community with environmentalists. Unfortunately this mud-slinging has worked.

    The mainstream media I think has reacted to this by being cautious about reporting on environmental problems. They provide “balance” because they have bought into the propaganda that environmentalists and scientists are too unreliable to be believed without critical analysis. Unfortunately the critical analysis the press provides is false statements from conservative think tanks.

  26. wayne davidson:

    Overall media coverage fairs poorly with the basic science of GW. However medias cover GW news quite well,– how can’t they when its warmer everywhere? But the basic science suffers from a lack of exposure, insight, especially experimental examples, which Dr Bill Nye did a good job on it, from long ago memory. North American media is too prone to flaunt a person, or scientists, and pit them in a wrestling ring against the meanest contrarian they can find. This is a big mistake, emphasis on personalities should be secondary, in its place dull dry science, which in the long run, is more convincing than a Jerry Springer contest. Hopefully high profile science personalities can explain the proper science, in their own words, this may be better than saying GW is happening. Because one on one debates always fail to explain the science at hand.

  27. Richard Wesley:

    Re: #23.

    My guess is that 90% of those who see [An Inconvenient Truth] will already have accepted AGW.

    I spent last weekend in central Illinois surrounded by corn fields and I was rather surprised to see AIT still playing at the multiplex next to my hotel. This is not a population I would normally have assumed to be fervent AGW enthusiasts. Moreover, there seemed to be a certain anticipation of the impending biofuels revolution in some roadside signs. So maybe those who might blow it off if it has only theoretical implications for their lives are more persuadable when there may be money involved.

    Or maybe I just have an elitist attitude and need to get out more ;-)

  28. George A. Gonzalez:

    I would suggest putting Europe’s treatment of the global warming issue in a broader context. Compared to the U.S. the European Union (EU) is a very low per capita emitter of CO2, which means that the EU looks rather good on this issue. Such a public relations boost is especially important given the current dismantling of the welfare state throughout the EU. Hence, I would respectfully argue that the serious treatment that EU political and media elites give global warming can be interpreted as an effort to cast the EU as an ecological democracy — during a time when social democracy is being abandoned.

  29. George A. Gonzalez:

    I find it difficult to take Gore’s documentary or Discovery Channel’s treatment of global warming seriously. This is because the proposals they put forward to deal with this crisis are rather meek. They advocate technological solutions and personal consumer choice as the means to avoid catastrophe. If we are serious about dealing with global warming, we need very high carbon taxes and prohibitions on highly inefficient technologies — i.e., SUVs. Otherwise, media treatments in the U.S. about global warming are about making money, or political grandstanding.

    I specify the U.S. here because it is by far the highest absolute and per capita emitter of CO2. It is arguable that were it not for the inordinately high U.S. emissions of CO2 we would not have a global warming problem.

  30. Peter:

    Re: #28

    another possibility for the Europeans being more open to
    the scientific argument in favor of GW is the fact (attested to by the multitude of comparative studies of
    K-12 education in the Western democracies) that their
    publics are more scientifically-literate than our
    public here in the US.

  31. Martin Snoer Raaschou:

    There is almost no media coverage on GW in Denmark, it is almost only found in the independent left-wing newspaper “Information”, which over a period chose a policy of having at least two articles per day on “The Green Revolution”, as they optimistically labelled it. People tend to not know that there even could a problem at all. When articles on GW do arrive in the newspapers, they seem to be mostly about quoting Bjorn Lomborg for saying that cost-benefit-wise, helping the poorest countries out of their misery would be a lot better. It is my hope that Al Gores An Inconvenient Truth will bring the issue to the front of things. I do not think that danes have a problem with him being a democrat, or that they will se it as a political stunt. But Denmark is a small country (6 million people), and although it used to like the idea of itself as a maker of decisions, other countries could look up to, I believe that many people will think, that we are far too few people to be able to make a difference anyway. I feel very sad for almost all of the above.

  32. Ron Taylor:

    Re #27

    Richard, I grew up in the rural midwest and can tell you that folks who live close to nature, like farmers, outdoorsmen, etc., are very sensitive to unusual weather patterns developing over a period of time. They are accustomed to living their lives in accordance with familiar seasonal rhythms. They are very aware when those rhythms are out of whack. They also have an unusually strong sense of stewardship of the earth. That is why we should not forget that such people, though generally conservative, could be powerful allies. They can be won over, but not if AGW is successfully defined as a liberal issue by the right.

  33. Andrew Dodds:

    Re: 31

    Actually, this is probably the case in the UK as well; outside of the more highbrow Guardian and Independant newspapers, coverage of AGW is either non-existant (the tabloids) tending to contrarian (Times, Telegraph). Certainly I’d expect that the majority of people on the street don’t really think about it.

    Although as a European I may pride myself on having a lower personal energy consumption than an American, I may also note that simply due to higher population densities, I have a smaller house (Ok, probably better insulated), and high fuel duties combined with shorter commutes means much less oil consumption. This means that my lower CO2 emissions have little to due with higher virtue and a lot to do with historical circumstance.

    This is one of the reasons why I think that those who think our environmental problems will be fixed by a mass awakening are living in a dream world. The CFC problem was not fixed by people stopping the use of spray cans and fridges, it was fixed at source. The CO2 problem (If it is fixed..) will be fixed at the generating plant and in the manifacture of liquid fuels.

  34. JMG:

    Do prominent figures in the European punditry _blame_ scientists for global warming?

    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/07/20/blame-the-scientists/

  35. jhm:

    Which one of you was the [O]ne scientist which concluded that global warming was real and caused by humans, according to Hon. Sen. Inhofe, who also has the helpful comment that Hon. Sen. Gore is “full of crap.”

  36. Hank Roberts:

    Here ya go, jhm:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/about/faq.htm
    http://www.ipcc.ch/about/chart.htm

  37. Pekka Kostamo:

    Reflecting on the difference between Europe and the U.S. …

    In the U.S. two-party system, the political field is split into two apparently equal parties. Each party has to embrace all manner of issues to woo even the marginal fringe groups. It can even be that at times a party becomes hostage to some extremist grouping for this reason. Global warming science is rather clearly becoming a party issue, run by the various party spinmasters, rather than by the scientists. The political fight is also without rules, all dirty tricks allowed. Miracles are expected, and many believe that they still occur (quite literally).

    In Europe the majority of Governments are coalitions of several parties, variable with time. For the elections, this means that a rather restrained competition prevails. Blood is seldom drawn, bridges never burned. Indeed, in many countries there are complaints that the parties have become too similar. The extreme opinion leaders often form their own splinter parties, succeeding at times, more often not. Coalition building also requires that common grounds are identified and justified. Climate change has become one such common grounds issue.

    There is also a proud tradition of science in the major European countries. You will find an Avenue Foucault in every French city and the historical exploits of these national science heroes are in the curriculum of every school. This goes not only for France, but also for Britain, Germany, Sweden, Italy and so forth. I would say that the national heroes in the U.S. are rather engineering and business persons, quite different from the scientists.

    There seems to be two projects underway. On the one hand, there is the scientific project to understand the climate and its complex reactions to the disturbance in the natural carbon cycle, created by mankind. The second project is a purely political one, concerning eventual reactions to the scientific discoveries.

    Also the reactions of industry vary widely. A recent news release says that Ford Europe plans to invest 1.0 billion pounds towards developing cars with lower emissions, to be sold on the high volume market segments. It is a sizable commitment, perhaps some 8.000 engineering man-years worth of work.

  38. S Molnar:

    I think the notion that the United States press feels obligated to present balance (even if the balance is between right and wrong, or right wing and far right wing) is overdone. One point made in the interview is that the United States press refused even to run the story about the CEI’s propaganda offensive in Europe. The same can be said for the story of the Bush administration bugging UN delegates’ communications in the leadup to the Iraq war, the Downing Street memos, and many other news stories. Where is the balance in suppressing the news?

    I would also add to the point in #37 that it isn’t just science. In Europe, if a great poet or composer dies, it’s front page news (You mean those streets weren’t named after Michel Foucault?). In the United States, it’s buried in the Arts section, if it’s mentioned at all. That’s assuming there even is an Arts section, which, like Science sections, are increasingly scarce.

  39. Michael Schnieders:

    To me, the interview underscores a long standing problem in this country: that facts have been either suppressed or tainted, because P.R. has been considered cheaper than correcting for, or adapting to, a changing world. I choose not to wear blinders, but hunger for data; raw or compiled, it matters not(well, compiled and defined is rather nice).
    So I digress. Following the progress of Tropical Storm Beryl and its northward trek has made me consider the following questions:

    How will rainfall contribute to glacial melt?
    Is there already a chart or algorithim for temp/precpitation/area?

    Could anyone offer some direction? Apparently my search engine skills are lacking.

  40. George A. Gonzalez:

    To understand why CO2 emissions are much higher in the U.S. than in Europe I would humbly recommend the following articles:

    Gonzalez, George. 2006 August. “An Eco-Marxist Analysis of Oil Depletion via Urban Sprawl.” _Environmental Politics_ 15, no. 4: 515-31.

    Gonzalez, George. 2005 June. “Urban Sprawl, Global Warming, and the Limits of Ecological Modernization.” _Environmental Politics_ 14, no. 3: 344-62.

  41. savegaia.de:

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  42. S Molnar:

    As if on cue, the San Francisco Chronicle gives us “Scientists split on heat wave cause”:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/07/25/MNGGRK4TLT1.DTL
    (via climateark.org)

    Along with the usual “he said, he said” (not many women are asked), we also get a gratuitous attack on James Hansen from one James O’Brien, Florida’s state climatologist, who falsely claims that Hansen incorrectly told the US Senate the 1988 heat wave was caused by global warming. Why does O’Brien think he can get away with it? Perhaps because he knows the reporter won’t bother to check the record or ask Hansen – after all, it isn’t a reporter’s job to do research or find out the truth. Perhaps because O’Brien has got away with such attacks on Hansen in the past (you can Google it provided you aren’t a US reporter). Perhaps because O’Brien really believes what he says? No, despite Hanlon’s Razor, I don’t find that plausible.

  43. George A. Gonzalez:

    re: #42

    Not to defend the U.S. media (because it does such a horrible job on so many issues — climate change amongst them), but I would commend the _San Francisco Chronicle_ in this instance. The author of this article does stress that it is problematic to link any specific weather event to global warming. Nonetheless, the thrust of the piece is something I think most of us would agreed upon. That regardless of the cause of the current heat wave gripping the Western U.S., heat waves are going to become more commonplace as a result of global warming. Therefore, the article explicitly asserts that global warming is happening, and subtly warns the reader about the future if business-as-usual persists. Thanks for the link.

  44. Brusegadi:

    On the issue of “balance.” Come on people in the US. Look at balance. A couple of years ago there was a group (ties to the church) that stated their belief that the earth was FLAT. They are The Flat Earth Society (more on them here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society) Do you want to have a “balanced debate” on that?

    Today, in the United States, there is on going DEBATE about the theory of EVOLUTION. The right (because of their christian base) is supporting bills to teach INTELLIGENT DESIGN (read CREATIONISM) as science. Look at some propaganda here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4JxjLhvqnc
    My country has many christians but we do not have this problem. You see, I come form a poor country so most people do not go to school. Thus, there is no need to defame science in the name of religion! It seems like the US is trying to “catch up” to us.

    I do not care if the US wants to teach that the earth is flat and that we were designed. I have been through High School and I will teach my kids right. But, global warming, that can kill you later on so do not let them balance you into another fake debate.

    Today I was reading a newspaper article. One of the advertisers provided a link that said, “global warming science without the alarmism.” http://www.co2science.org/

    I did a little research on it. It is funded by Exxon. On their “scientific peer-reviewed” papers they call other scientists “alarmist” ,thus, giving it a political overtone certantly not to be found in true scientific discourse; another “paper” went on to say that “the alarmist think global warming is more dangerous than terrorism.” (paraphrase.) Is that scientific debate or political debate?

  45. Tony DiCarlo:

    What an interesting little political science blog you guys have going revolving around 350 ppm co2 on a carbon based planet. By all means, scrub the planet of co2.

  46. Naadir Jeewa:

    Darn right the contrarian view doesn’t get that much attention in Europe. Have a gander at this interview with the contrarian lobby group CEI – I don’t see how a single audience member could buy any of Myron Ebell’s arguments.

  47. Timo:

    James Hansen’s argument that we are living in GLOBAL historically warm period is lacking the facts. I’ll give some data, studies & proxies showing that “warmer than ever” doesn’t make sense e.g in climate history of Scandinavia and Russia.

    The temperature reconstruction for Finnish Lapland between 8300 and 4000 cal. yr BP indicates a mean July temperatures at least 2.6 ?C higher than at present. This is somewhat higher than previous mean July temperature reconstructions from Finnish Lapland suggest. Since the reconstruction between 8000 and 4000 cal. yr BP is based on only one location (Lake Toskaljavri, Seppä et al., 2002), the temporal variations during this time cannot be reached with this method. The ascending shape of the curves towards the present is artificial due to temperature adjustment for
    glacio-isostatic land uplift.

    Reconstructed temperatures from other proxies (Korhola et al., 2000; Seppä and Birks, 2001;Korhola et al., 2002; Seppä et al., 2002;Seppä and Birks, 2002) suggest the Holocene thermal maximum at ca. 8000?6000 cal. yr BP. In the Abisko area, Sweden, estimated summer temperatures prior to 4500 cal. yr BP are 1.5 ? 2 ?C higher comparedto present, having an optimum at ca. 6500 cal. yr BP (Barnekow, 2000).Therefore,it is presumable that the highest temperatures have prevailed between 8000 and 6000 cal. yr BP, not at 4000 cal. yr BP.

    After 4000 cal. yr BP, a sharp decrease in subfossil pine sample frequency and site frequency might reflect an abrupt change in the growing conditions of pine, forced by climate. However, the divergence in the reconstructed onset dates of withdrawal of pine forest between different sites and regions suggests that climate cooling in the Mid-Holocene has been gradual rather than abrupt.

    No megafossil evidence on a presence of pine beyond the present forest line in Finnish Lapland exists between 2537 and 1721 cal. yr BP . The lack of data does not enable prediction of mean July temperatures at that time. Nevertheless, there is indication of climatic change during the first millennia BC (Eronen et al., 1999; Oksanen, 2002; Oksanen, submitted. Permafrost aggradation in northern Finland indicating a cold environment has been observed in the palsa mires at ca. 2500 cal. yr BP (Oksanen, submitted). Oksanen (2002) has interpreted from the previously studied palsas the permafrost aggradation to have occurred at ca. 2100 cal. yr BP in Faerdesmyra, Norway (Vorren, 1972), and roughly at the same time (late Sub-Boreal) appearance of permafrost in the Kola Peninsula (P?yavchenko,1955). Permafrost aggradation has also been observed in north-eastern European Russia between 3400 and 1800 cal. yr BP (Oksanen et al., 2001).

    Between 1850 and 720 cal. yr BP, reconstruction suggests 0.55 ?C higher mean July temperatures than at present (Paper I). The number of samples has a distinct maximum between 1000 and 770 cal. yr BP in Finnish Lapland. Similar results, suggesting ca. 0.6 – 0.8 ?C higher temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period have been achieved from Sweden (Kullman, 1998), from the Kola Peninsula (Hiller et al., 2001)and from the Ural Mountains (Shiyatov, 1993).

    Several studies consider the 20th century as the warmest in the northern hemisphere during the last millennium (Mann et al., 1999; Crowley and Lowery, 2000) or the last two millennia (Briffa, 2000). However, this study suggests that climate during the Medieval Warm Period was even warmer than during the 20th century (Paper IV). Nevertheless,it has to be pointed out that the migration
    of the forest belt might show a significant lag in response to warming or cooling climate and, therefore, the current pine forest line might not be in equilibrium with temperatures, as it is assumed in reconstruction of this study. The recent altitudinal shift of young pines suggests climate amelioration since the Little Ice Age. This is corroborated with a permafrost aggradation in Utsjoki region that has been dated to 650 cal. yr BP (Oksanen, submitted)

    CONCLUSIONS

    The mean July temperatures in Finnish Lapland have been ca. 2.5 ?C higher during the maximum extent of pine, between 8300 and 4000 cal. yr BP. According to the pine
    forest line-climate model, mean July temperatures
    ca. 0.5 ?C higher than at present prevailed during the Medieval Warm Period in Finnish Lapland.

    (“Holocene changes in treelines and climate from
    Ural Mountains to Finnish Lapland”. To be presented
    with the permission of the Faculty of Science of the University of Helsinki, for public criticism in the Lecture Room E 204 of Physicum, Kumpula on April 2nd , 2004 at 10 a.m.Helsinki 2004)

    There are other studies showing e.g treeline of oak was about 100 km more north in Medieval Warm Period than in late 1900’s (Lena Hulden). Altogether these proxies& studies proves that Medieval Warm Period was indeed warmer than current warm period at least in Scandinavia and in many parts of Russian.

    James Hansen has something to explain now.

  48. software reviews:

    However, the divergence in the reconstructed onset dates of withdrawal of pine forest between different sites and regions suggests that climate cooling in the Mid-Holocene has been gradual rather than abrupt.

  49. adam smith:

    Not to defend the U.S. media (because it does such a horrible job on so many issues — climate change amongst them), but I would commend the _San Francisco Chronicle_ in this instance. The author of this article does stress that it is problematic to link any specific weather event to global warming. Nonetheless, the thrust of the piece is something I think most of us would agreed upon. That regardless of the cause of the current heat wave gripping the Western U.S., heat waves are going to become more commonplace as a result of global warming. Therefore, the article explicitly asserts that global warming is happening, and subtly warns the reader about the future if business-as-usual persists. Thanks for the link. info