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Forbes’ rich list of nonsense

Filed under: — group @ 6 January 2011

Guest commentary from Michael Tobis and Scott Mandia with input from Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth

While it is no longer surprising, it remains disheartening to see a blistering attack on climate science in the business press where thoughtful reviews of climate policy ought to be appearing. Of course, the underlying strategy is to pretend that no evidence that the climate is changing exists, so any effort to address climate change is a waste of resources.

A recent piece by Larry Bell in Forbes, entitled “Hot Sensations Vs. Cold Facts”, is a classic example.

Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, named after a master of the style, anti-evolutionist Duane Gish. The Gish gallop raises a barrage of obscure and marginal facts and fabrications that appear at first glance to cast doubt on the entire edifice under attack, but which on closer examination do no such thing. In real-time debates the number of particularities raised is sure to catch the opponent off guard; this is why challenges to such debates are often raised by enemies of science. Little or no knowledge of a holistic view of any given science is needed to construct such scattershot attacks.

The approach also works somewhat in print, if the references are sufficiently obscure and numerous. Ideally, someone will take the time to answer such an attack, but there is a fundamental asymmetry of forces at work. It is, in fact, easier to form an allegation than to track down a reasonable explanation of what it means and how it really fits in to the balance of evidence. Also, the skills required to reflect the science are deeper than the ones required to attack it; hence the defenders are outnumbered and outgunned. Still, sometimes an article is prominent enough that it merits a detailed response.

The slightly out of the ordinary thing about Bell’s piece is that he casts his attack not as an attack on science (his usual method) but on the media:

As 2010 draws to a close, do you remember hearing any good news from the mainstream media about climate? Like maybe a headline proclaiming ‘Record Low 2009 and 2010 Cyclonic Activity Reported: Global Warming Theorists Perplexed’? Or ‘NASA Studies Report Oceans Entering New Cooling Phase: Alarmists Fear Climate Science Budgets in Peril’?” he begins.

But the remainder of the article is true to the form. Bell gallops through all the purported “good news” that the media ignored. The implication is that the media is complicit in overstating the climate change story.

But these aren’t the sorts of observations that most people generally receive from the media. Instead, they present sensational statements and dramatic images that leave lasting impressions of calving glaciers, drowning polar bears and all manner of other man-caused climate calamities.

Many intentionally target impressionable young minds and sensitive big hearts with messages of fear and guilt. Take, for example, a children’s book called The North Pole Was Here, authored by New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin. It warns kids that some day it may be “easier to sail than stand on the North Pole in summer.” Imagine such images through their visualization: How warm it must be to melt that pole way up north. Poor Santa! And Rudolph! Of course it’s mostly their parents’ fault because of the nasty CO2 they produce driving them to school in SUVs.

Lots of grown-ups are sensitive people with big hearts too. Don’t we all deserve more from the seemingly infinite media echo chamber of alarmism than those windy speculations, snow jobs and projections established on theoretical thin ice?

Whether the enemy is the “mercenary” scientific community, the “power hungry” liberal politicians or the “sensationalist” press matters little. What matters is to suggest the public has been manipulated, before starting the manipulation in earnest. The strategic point is to divert attention from what most scientifically informed people consider the key facts: the climate is changing as a result of human intervention. The longer we delay taking policy action, the more damage we will take and the more an effective policy will cost. It is conceivable and increasingly foreseeable that we will delay long enough that useful policy becomes infeasible and both human civilization and the biosphere will be permanently damaged.

The near-silence of the media on these matters is considered by many to be a key part of the problem. Yet, in this context, Bell suggests we are ignoring “the good news”.

Does he have a point? Is there really much of substance that qualifies as good news justifying his conclusion? The value of his piece depends crucially on how newsworthy his good news was, and how these items fit into the big picture.

We counted eleven assertions of fact in his gallop. Let’s look at each of them and place them in context. Bell especially emphasizes his first two points, so we examine them in detail (quotes from the article are bolded).

Record Low 2009 and 2010 Cyclonic Activity Reported

Bell’s first claim is not a confidence builder.

It’s possible that Bell is referencing a specific metric of hurricane activity (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), but that does not give a full story, nor does it show ‘record lows’. According to NOAA the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Dec 31, was one of the busiest on record. In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied with 1969 for second highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher. 2010 was just behind 2004 and 2005 for earliest occurrence of a third category 4 hurricane.

It is true that none of the 12 hurricanes made landfall in the US (though tropical storm Hermine made landfall in US and hurricane Karl made land fall in Mexico but caused major flooding in Texas. But the climate system cares nothing for national borders. This may be just a lucky break . Looking in detail it is attributable to some other features of the prevailing winds last year.

What is certainly untrue is that there was “record low” cyclonic activity in the Atlantic!

What about elsewhere? A tie for the strongest eastern Pacific hurricane on record (Celia). A category 5 hurricane hitting the Philippines (Megi).

Did the press ignore this story? Even on this Bell’s leading point is dubious. But in the context of climate change, sea surface temperatures continue to increase and strong tropical cyclones continue their upward trend. So Bell leads off with a real clunker.

NASA Studies Report Oceans Entering New Cooling Phase

Bell’s second point, also from the lead paragraph:

According to two separate NASA studies, one conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the other by the Langley Research Center, the oceans now appear to be heading into another natural periodic cooling phase within a typical 55- to 70-year dipolar warm/cool pattern.

We traced this claim to an internet article by Justin Berk that says:

Two separate studies through NASA confirm that since 2003, the world’s oceans have been losing heat. …

Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, published his first report about the warming oceans. The article Correcting Ocean Cooling published on NASA’s Earth Observatory page this week discussed his and other results. Willis used data from 1993-2003 that showed the warm-up and followed the Global Warming Theory. In 2006, he co-piloted a follow-up study led by John Lyman at Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle that updated the time series for 2003-2005. Surprisingly, the ocean seemed to have cooled. He was surprised, and called it a ‘speed bump’ on the way to global warming.

But the excellent article “Correcting Ocean Cooling” which Berk references (and to which Bell is implicitly referring) for this actually explains how Willis went back and found that his earlier report of cooling was erroneous!

So the new Argo data were too cold, and the older XBT data were too warm, and together, they made it seem like the ocean had cooled,” says Willis. The February evening he discovered the mistake, he says, is “burned into my memory.” He was supposed to fly to Colorado that weekend to give a talk on “ocean cooling” to prominent climate researchers. Instead, he’d be talking about how it was all a mistake.”

Berk is so happy to find the word “cooling” in an article that despite the title “Correcting Ocean Cooling” he doesn’t bother to read or understand the whole point of the article. It’s really a very compelling example of how superficial this kind of journalism is; Berk gets something backwards, Bell picks it up, and Forbes, no less, uses it to lead off an article (albeit an op-ed column).

What’s more, the NASA article itself is from 2008, so even if the press had reported it as news as Larry Bell suggests, it would not have been in 2010. But in fact, the news was that the previous evidence of cooling was erroneous. Bell’s second point is simply wrong as well.

Now that we have some sense of the quality of Bell’s research, we’ll go a little more quickly through most of the other points, saving for last a case where he might have a stronger point.

A special press conference called by IPCC spokesman Kevin Trenberth announced “Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity.” Christopher Landsea, a top U.S. expert on the subject, repeatedly notified the IPCC that no research had been conducted to support that claim–not in the Atlantic basin, or in any other basin.

This famous controversy occurred in 2004 and is not 2010 news. Nor was it ignored by the press. We doubt that Landsea went so far as to claim that “no research had been conducted to support that claim” but if he did he is certainly incorrect. This topic goes back at least to 1987 with a paper in Nature by Kerry Emanuel. Kevin Trenberth offers some salient points about the controversy from his point of view:

  1. I was not an IPCC spokesperson and I was not advertised as such. Landsea claimed otherwise.
  2. I did not call the press conference, it was called by Harvard university (Paul Epstein and Jim McCarthy), I participated.
  3. There was a ton of research including my own on changes in the hydrological cycle that were pertinent but not specifically Tropical Storm based, as well as Kerry’s work.
  4. Landsea did not notify IPCC once, let alone repeatedly. He called a press conference and resigned from IPCC but he was not even part of IPCC. He had been asked by me to write something as a contributing author. It was a horrible distortion of many facts.

A globally viewed December 2005 BBC feature alarmingly reported that two massive glaciers in eastern Greenland, Kangderlugssuaq and Helheim, were melting, with water “racing to the sea.” … Only 18 months later, and despite slightly warmer temperatures, the melting rate of both glaciers Kangderlugssuaq and Helheim not only slowed down and stopped, but actually reversed.

This again is not 2010 news since it happened in 2007. It is a fact that after a massive retreat from 1991 to 2005 Kangderlugssuaq regained a tiny fraction, less than a tenth, of that retreat by 2007. This may be of interest to glacier dynamicists, but its climatological importance is nil. Glaciers worldwide are in massive retreat. Indeed, Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier lost another 5.2 square km in 2009.

[The] ice cap has been accumulating snow growth at a rate of about 2.1 inches per year

The top of the ice caps are growing slightly as expected, since warmer air contains more moisture which will fall in those places as snow. The issue that the public ought to pay attention to is the much larger and accelerating melt at the edge of the ice sheet. This is not especially 2010 news, but in any case it is sleight of hand. The real action is the instability at the edges, which already dominates the accumulation in the interior and looks likely to overwhelm it.

The new sea level, which has been stable, has not changed in the last 35 years.

Just wrong:

Figure showing the last 18 years of sea level rise derived from satellites and validated against tide gauges. (Update: longer records available here).


… if you want a grant for a research project in climatology, it is written into the document that there ‘must’ be a focus on global warming.

There are many grants supported by the grant agencies. Some are very broad and some very narrow. While it is possible that some grants specify “global warming”, it is relatively unusual. Currently open climate calls in the US through NSF can be seen at here. The claim simply isn’t true.

The Indian Ocean, for example, was higher between 1900 and 1970 than it has been since.

This is at least a current topic. It probably is based in Patterns of Indian Ocean sea-level change in a warming climate, Han et al. Nature Geoscience 2010. They conclude that “sea level has decreased substantially in the south tropical Indian Ocean whereas it has increased elsewhere. This pattern is driven by changing surface winds associated with a combined invigoration of the Indian Ocean Hadley and Walker cells, patterns of atmospheric overturning circulation in the north–south and east–west direction, respectively, which is partly attributable to rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.”

So yes, there are apparently parts of the Indian Ocean where sea level has declined. This just leaves more water to pile up elsewhere. In fact, it shows how powerful the forces of climate change already are, in order to be able to outweigh the generally rising ocean volume in a limited area. It is hard to see how this rises to a general interest topic or how it qualifies as “good news” though.

The Northwest Passage has certainly opened up before.

This is untrue in recorded history. The traversals prior to 2007 were in very specialized boats and often took years. In 2007 and 2010, genuine shipping lanes opened up for the first time. It was possibly open in the mid-Holocene about 6,000 to 8,000 years ago and was certainly open millions of years ago. But since the opening of the passage itself received far too little attention (in our opinion), it is hard to see what Bell is complaining about.

in February 2009 it was discovered that scientists had previously been underestimating the re-growth of Arctic sea ice by an area larger than the state of California (twice as large as New Zealand)

“Previously” is grossly misleading. This was an instrumental glitch that lasted a few weeks. And February 2009 was not in 2010 either.

… previous estimates of Greenland and West Antarctica ice melt rate losses may have been exaggerated by double.

We’ve saved this for last because here Bell has a fraction of a point; as far as we can tell the only thing he raises that is 1) current and 2) arguably of general interest and 3) arguably good news. The use of the word “exaggerated” however is malicious and unjustified.

There are a number of ways of estimating the large scale mass balance of the ice sheets. Prominent among them uses information from the GRACE satellite, which measures the gravitational field of the earth. By its nature, the resulting measures are very large scale. They are complemented by precise local measures of ice altitude, for example, which are precise but cannot give broad coverage. To estimate ice cap melting the GRACE results also have to be combined with an estimate of the post-glacial rebound from the last ice age (which is still affecting the mass distribution of the Earth’s crust). Observing a planet is tricky business.

A recent publication by Wu et al makes the claim that:

“these [previous] results were not properly corrected for glacial isostatic adjustment, the phenomenon that the Earth’s crust rebounds as a result of the melting of the massive ice caps from the last major Ice Age around 20,000 years ago. These movements of the Earth’s crust have to be incorporated in the calculations, since these vertical movements change the Earth’s mass distribution and therefore also have an influence on the gravitational field.”

There is some contention here. If it proves true, it is an example of science at its best; a sequence of corrections converging on objective truth. The original estimates would have been corrected, pretty much by a factor of two as Bell says.

So this is current, substantially good news, and possibly salient for a general audience. On the other hand it is only good news about bad news; the ice retreat may have been overestimated, but we are still talking about hundreds of billions of tons more ice melting than accumulating every year, and this rate still shows signs of accelerating.

In this case, it is worth noting that all the evidence is that the ice sheets are losing mass and that the loss is accelerating. The Wu et al paper would be simply a recalibration of the net loss. This is good news, but not great news, and is certainly no evidence at all that climate change is negligible.

Please notice how we are trapped in a polemical double bind here.

What the naysayers will do is celebrate every correction that makes matters look less dangerous and criticize every correction that makes matters look more dangerous. In the former case, the older measure will have been “exaggerated”, and “corrected” by some noble and courageous hero. In the latter case, the newer measure is treated as the “exaggeration”. Thus, every single change in the estimate of any quantity is treated as evidence of the grand conspiracy.

What should be celebrated as advances of truth are instead recast either as the bad scary science defeated by the good non-scary science or the other way around. This is especially evident in the clumsy way the Willis tale is told, wherein the casting is confused because one person takes both roles.

So what remains of the criticism Bell raises? Very little indeed! The only unreported good news is that ice cap melting might have been overestimated, though it is still large and probably accelerating. The other ten of his eleven points are essentially nonsensical. I am not being partisan or oppositional here. I examined every point with an open mind and came up with ten points that boil down to complete nonsense and the last one a bit heavy on the spin.

Ultimately, though, the criticism of the press is ludicrous. The naysayers ought to be thrilled at the lack of interest in climate change shown in the press, at least in North America. The longer we delay, the bigger the topic gets, and the more ridiculous the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with it becomes.

Yet widely respected publications like Forbes seem eager to promulgate great clouds of rhetorical ink to make the problem seem ever more trivial and distant. If there is good news of general interest, of course it should be reported. But Bell seems to want, instead, to invent it.

334 Responses to “Forbes’ rich list of nonsense”

  1. 101
    JiminMpls says:

    #22 nobody has any idea about the number of hurricanes forming over the oceans before satellite era

    Poppycock. Extensive shipping records for the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic goes back 400 years.

  2. 102
    Snapple says:

    Forbes has an article by S. Robert Lichter, “professor of communication at George Mason University, where he directs the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the Statistical Assessment Service.”

    It is called “What Scientists Really Believe about Climate Change.”

    He cites an organization he runs called Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) that claims to have statistics about this.
    I don’t believe him, of course.

  3. 103
    Menth says:

    Argh! I couldn’t agree more about how awful the media has been about conveying the AGW argument to the public. It probably doesn’t help that the so-called “skeptics” are ideologically driven and well funded while those who are advocating measures to stop climate change are completely ideologically neutral and probably have little to no funding at all!

    What needs to happen in my opinion would be for a prominent climate scientist to be occasionally given space in the opinion section of a major newspaper (say, the Washington Post or something like that) so they could relay the message directly to the public. Fat chance that would happen but one can dream!

  4. 104
    sHx says:

    @Nick and @Kevin #85 and #94

    The key question is if Beluga Shipping thought there’s money to be made already in Northwest (NWP) and Northeast (NEP) routes, why did it not follow up the ‘proven concept’ and the apparent 2009 profitability with even greater numbers in 2010? Or, why is it that no other shipping lines followed Beluga’s footsteps, so to speak?

    One of the links above crows about 18 ships (what size? how much cargo? what period? which shipping lines?) that passed through the NWP in 2010. By way of comparison, approximately 35 to 45 ships pass through each one of the two great canals, Panama and Suez, each day. Here are the traffic figures:

    Indeed, the two greatest limitations on the size of ocean-going ships, especially tankers, bulk carriers and container ships, are Panama and Suez canals. If you build the ships too big, you have to swing them around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. Here is a simple page about the sizes:

    And here is a quote from the same web page about Arctic navigation:

    The consideration of arctic routes for commercial navigation purposes remains a very speculative endeavor, mainly for three reasons:

    * First, it is highly uncertain to what extent the receding perennial ice cover is a confirmed trend or simply part of a long term climatic cycle.

    * Second, there is very limited economic activity around the Arctic Circle, implying that shipping services crossing the Arctic have almost no opportunity to drop and pick-up cargo as they pass through. Thus, unlike other long distance commercial shipping routes there is limited revenue generation potential for shipping lines along the Arctic route, which forbids the emergence of transshipment hubs. This value proposition could improve if resources (oil and mining) around the Arctic are extracted in greater quantities.

    * The Arctic remains a frontier in terms of charting and building a navigation system, implying uncertainties and unreliability for navigation. This implies that substantial efforts have to be made to insure that navigation can take in place in a safe manner.

    In view of all of the above maritime shipping companies are not yet considering seriously the commercial potential of the Arctic.

    NEP and NWP offer unique challenges to large vessels as well as to merchant mariners, who are otherwise very used to warm waters. Merhcant vessels that will be using these routes will have to be purpose built. They need stronger hulls and more powerful propulsion. They need many more tugs and ice-breakers to clear the path and to remain on stand-by. They need many, many trained sea-pilats familiar with the Arctic coastline and waters, not to say ice floes and icebergs. Risks will be very high and the insurance costs much more. Remember the Titanic? And, to top it all up, they will only be useful for several months a year!

    So, folks, to reiterate the point again, the NWP and NEP is closed to commercial shipping traffic and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This doesn’t mean that there is no Arctic warming, or there’s been no navigation through these passages for the enterprising spirit. What it means is that those who keep saying the Northeast and Northwest passages are open to commercial shipping are wrong.

  5. 105
    dhogaza says:


    Part of an outstanding series of Great Basin natural history guides by U Nevada Press I might add..

    Yes, indeed, I own most of them, but I think the bird volume’s the best :)

    [Response: The reviews are terrific–I’ll have to try to get it. Perhaps it can cure even an ornithological moron such as I…at the very least it should work well as an excuse to explore more of the Basin ;)–Jim]

    … funded by Max C. Fleischmann, and if that last name sounds familiar, yes, he did inherit the yeast fortune …

  6. 106
    gavin says:

    #45, #47 It’s worth pointing out that even if the Maue index for global ACE is used, 2009 and 2010 were still not record lows. They were low, but not records (1978 and 1975 were lower). So Bell’s statement is incorrect, regardless of where you think he got his information from.

  7. 107
    dhogaza says:

    One of the links above crows about 18 ships (what size? how much cargo? what period? which shipping lines?) that passed through the NWP in 2010. By way of comparison, approximately 35 to 45 ships pass through each one of the two great canals, Panama and Suez, each day

    Oh, sHx’s back must ache with the weight of those goalposts he’s been moving.

    First he claims that the NWP has been open many times before, having been thwarted in that false claim, now he’s arguing that there’s something relevant and important about the fact that the NWP and NEP aren’t as buzy as suez or panama…

    18 ships through the NWP and/or NEP is a lot more than the zero that were able to do so two, three, or more decades ago.

  8. 108
    Tom Yulsman says:

    Forbes published another howler today — a post claiming that a “growing number” of climate scientists are promoting Nazi-like authoritarianism as a way to tame climate change. You really cannot make this stuff up. His evidence? A snippet from the jacket blurb of a book co-authored by an Australian MD three years ago. It’s making the rounds of the conservative blogospheric echo-chamber. You really can’t make this stuff up…

    [Response: But they do! – gavin]

  9. 109
    Snapple says:

    John Mashey at #50–

    Gazprom-affiliated media (surprise! Alisher Usmanov’s business daily “respected” Kommersant) almost bought Russian Newsweek, but then Russian Newsweek just closed. (Official Russian press agency.)

    The Russian Newsweek seems to be owned by Axel Springer.

    Russian Forbes is owned by a Russian-owned subsidiary of Axel Springer (whoever that is).

    The powerful Russian fossil fuel entities have financial ties with Western fossil fuel partners and also own/control a lot of media. The fossil fuel companies own the new information organs of Russia.

    You can own a fossil-fuel company and media as long as you play ball with the Kremlin. They put you in jail and take your companies if you do anything else.

  10. 110
    Tom Yulsman says:

    Did I mention that you really can’t make this stuff up? (Sorry, I’m just astonished by it all and that phrase spilled out of me twice.)

  11. 111
    doug says:

    This is a little bit off topic, but I would just like to thank Gavin and the other scientists on here, but especially Gavin for what he is doing. Noam Chomsky was a world renowned linguist before becoming known for his politics. I see two extrordinary skills in what Gavin is doing as well. To be the scientist he is..and I believe he is respected to no end by his peers…AND for him to be able communicate SO EFFECTIVELY on this blog with everyone is truly incredible. I don’t know if you get appreciated enough Gavin..I think you are a genuine hero, and that cannot be stated enough.

  12. 112
    sHx says:

    18 ships through the NWP and/or NEP is a lot more than the zero that were able to do so two, three, or more decades ago.

    Prior to 1953, despite many attempts, nobody succeeded in climbing the Mount Everest. Since 1953, many hundreds have done it. What does this mean? That the Everest is getting shorter? That climate change making it easier to climb? That the atmosphere in high altitude is more breathable?

    What it means is that more people are attempting it. They are better prepared, better equipped and better guided. The territory is well-reconnoitered, marked and charted. Those who have gone ahead have made it easier for those who follow.

    The same applies to the Arctic passages. The melt has certainly made it easier than in the past. But there are many more reasons than that for the sudden surge of ability to traverse difficult waters. And yet, commercial maritime operators are still avoiding the area.

    The Arctic passages are open for adventurous spirits, as it always was since Amundsen opened it up. And the same passages was closed to commerce in the past and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

  13. 113
    Don Lewis says:

    Thanks for taking the trouble to gut the piece in Forbes.

    It is, of course, exactly an example of the journalism one would expect from Forbes. Most of big-business cheerleaders are attuned only to the thunder of the “gallop”; there is either a rational veneer applied to an analysis of the current direction of the thundering herd
    or the application of some sort of ‘barking’ to steer the herd. That is their lot in life. In this case we hear desperate barking. The article you described is all “Bark! Bark! Bark!.”

    I am not sure I ever understood the Maoist epithet from the 1960’s “Capitalists and their running dogs.” Perhaps now I am getting a new glimmer of insight into the implied metaphor through a kind of (disturbing) logic that challenges and muddles climate science.

  14. 114
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    sHx #111 “The melt…”
    Ah, so it is happening, then. The rest of your assertions I can cheerfully ignore.
    “Sherpas say ice melts making Mt Everest more dangerous to climb”

  15. 115
    Keith Kloor says:

    Gavin writes (inline comment, #75):
    “It is not churlish of us to want the media to do a better job – regardless of the fact that a few individuals do a great job.”

    Not, it is not churlish at all, but you’re still missing my point–or you simply don’t agree with it. I’m saying that there’s plenty of good climate change journalism–that’s right plenty. But because critics focus inordinately on stories/commentary they find fault with, the meme has become the media sucks, or the Media “blows the story.”

    As Tom Yulsman says, this has a “corrosive” effect. Just look at Ray Ladbury’s sweeping dismissal of nearly all mainstream media outlets in comment #100. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater, here’s a sample of the journalistic publications he finds without merit:

    “As to the news weeklies, I don’t even read Time or Useless News and World Report or NewsWeak anymore. I wouldn’t train a puppy on the Wall Street Urinal or Forbes anymore. The Gray Lady is a joke. The Washington Post has fallen victim to the “Fair and Balanced” myth.

    This kind of blanket denunciation is akin to someone saying all politicians are corrupt. I just don’t get it. But his attitude is one I see expressed often in the comments at popular climate sites.

    So what I’m saying, Hank (#98), is not that the Forbes is not fair game. I agree with the criticism of it expressed in this post. What I’m saying is that the authors tack-on swipe at the end of the post reinforces the cynicism of people like Ray and others, who already think the media either isn’t covering climate change enough, or is just doing a flat-out bad job of it–or both.

    In my post at my site, I argue this simply isn’t true. And by the way, I also acknowledge in that post that RC periodically applauds excellent examples of climate journalism.

    [Response: Keith. As I understand it, your objection here is strictly to the specific blanket statement referring to “the press”. That’s fair enough. And yes, thank you for acknowledging our highlighting of good journalism, such as my commentary on the Economist. And yes, I agree with you that some commenters here are a bit (!) over the top. At the same time, I actually think the amount of *really great* journalism on climate change is rare. A salient example is Tom Yulsman and Andy Revkin’s reaction to the ‘climategate’ story. I thought what they said about it, in the early stages especially, was startlingly lacking of much thoughtful analysis, and I told them so. Let me be clear, too, that I was *not* talking about the politics here, but about the way they presented the implications of climategate (even if true) on the scientific facts. Since those guys are among the very best, the even they could handle this issue so poorly does not speak very well to the quality of ‘the press’ in general. In short, while I agree with you that Tobis and Scott Mandia’s blanket statements about the press was perhaps a bit over-generalizing, it isn’t entirely off the mark either.–eric]

  16. 116
    Hank Roberts says:

    > (even if all the allegations of wrongdoing were true,
    > which of course they were)

    Er, allegations cited to direct quotes were true; allegations of hidden conspiracy and motivations behind the directly quoted text, not so much.

  17. 117
    dhogaza says:

    Prior to 1953, despite many attempts, nobody succeeded in climbing the Mount Everest. Since 1953, many hundreds have done it. What does this mean? That the Everest is getting shorter? That climate change making it easier to climb? That the atmosphere in high altitude is more breathable?

    They’re still climbing ice.

    The 18 ships mentioned by you sailed through open water, where open water did not exist before. Analogy fail.


  18. 118
    dhogaza says:

    Not, it is not churlish at all, but you’re still missing my point–or you simply don’t agree with it. I’m saying that there’s plenty of good climate change journalism–that’s right plenty. But because critics focus inordinately on stories/commentary they find fault with, the meme has become the media sucks, or the Media “blows the story.”

    Knowing Keith Kloor to be an honorable man who would never just make stuff up, I’m sure he’s gathered data to support his point, and having done so, will share that data with us?

    Data wants to be free, Keith.

    Presuming you’re not simply waving your hands in an evidence-free fashion, I’m sure you’ll post your supporting data soon…

  19. 119
    M says:

    “even if all the allegations of wrongdoing were true, which of course they were”
    I think you meant, “were not”.

  20. 120
    dhogaza says:

    A salient example is Tom Yulsman and Andy Revkin’s reaction to the ‘climategate’ story. I thought what they said about it, in the early stages especially, was startlingly lacking of much thoughtful analysis

    Let us not forget Monbiot …

  21. 121
    Keith Kloor says:


    You mention something that I think is influencing this larger discussion –the hangover from the climategate coverage. Fair enough (though I don’t totally agree with your assessment). I can see that it’s going to take time for folks get over that.

    I also don’t think its reasonable to expect “really great” journalism from reporters with fast deadlines. I don’t meant that the marker should be subpar or mediocre. The really great stuff that is deeply reported often takes time to gather and put together. We’ve seen recent examples of it at the NYT, but it’s more the domain of magazines.

    Most journalism is reactive, responding to fast-moving events. So as Tom Yulsman noted (somewhere, perhaps in one of his posts), we’re usually talking about the proverbial first draft of history here. With time, that draft gets improved and yes, corrected. I’m not making any excuses and nor do I suggest that journalists don’t make mistakes and should not be criticized.

    I just think the constant criticism has become disproportionate, to the point where it’s breeding cynicism of all media.

  22. 122
    Rattus Norvegicus says:


    So nice that you ignore the fact that Amundsen got iced in at Goja Haven for 2 f’in winters. In other words, for one entire year he couldn’t move.

    Today yachts (not sealers which were designed for icy waters) can circumnavigate the arctic basin in one f’in year. The whole thing and not just the NW passage (which Amundsen did not do due to excessive ice in the McClure straight). GPS ain’t got much to do with this — if you can get a good noon sight you can find the entrance to the passage. No GPS needed, just a chart and a sextant. Hell, the passages up there are narrow enough that with a decent chart and a compass with which you can make a sight standard coastal navigation techniques plus a little dead reckoning would probably do the trick as long as you can ascertain your position via landmarks or celestial every once in a while.

    Whether or not Beluga thinks they can make money (and their prospectus indicates that they think they will be able to) the fact remains that for the last couple of years anyone with a yacht who wants to try can probably make it.

  23. 123
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Keith Kloor #121 “…the hangover from the climategate coverage…”

    The only reason there’s a “hangover” from it is because of sloppy journalism. Sure, some of them were bound to get it wrong from the start, but nowadays there’s no excuse. One might think, “but Big Oil will keep funding them to say it anyway” but that’s half the point: if it isn’t “Climategate” they’re spinning they’ll manufacture something else. I live in a small town. Our local council, regional council, and government are planning for a medium to high level disaster. I keep on scratching my head, and trying to figure out why the countries whose scientists (take a bow RC volunteers) do the best work in the field are the ones dragging their feet the most. Then I remember: “It’s politics”. How can we lobby more effectively?

  24. 124
    Sou says:

    Anyone who thinks that overall media reporting of climate change in recent years has been good or even acceptable, has very low standards (if a journalist), very poor expectations of the media, is illiterate or is a denier.

    The number of articles on climate change is decreasing despite the increasing signals from extreme weather and other signs. The ratio of denier articles to factual reporting seems extraordinarily high. The tendency to balance scientific fact with denier nonsense shows the laziness and ignorance of many journalists.

    Climate Progress publishes some stats here:

  25. 125
    john byatt says:

    talking about howlers, this graph at denialdepot almost as funny as the comments of support

    place head in vice before viewing

  26. 126
    Philip C James says:

    A quote about the institute Bell claims to have founded from his promotional website

    “A central priority is to explore and apply sustainable design and living approaches that can prevent unnecessary extreme conditions from occurring everywhere on our planet. In this regard, Larry believes that a “Spaceship Earth” perspective is entirely realistic. Municipalities, states, and nations are beginning to realize that we are all in that tiny fragile spacecraft together. All of us depend upon the same limited support systems and share a vital mission that will determine the future of all life.”

    Yet he appears to understand little about how changing the balance of atmospheric constituents can have detrimental effects on an ecosystem _at_any_scale_.

    It is true that Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant but you can have too much of a good thing. Ask the astronauts of Apollo 13.

    Climate Change Deniers fail to answer one central question:

    How can you expect a system not to change if you put back into that system in less than 300 years all the carbon that life processes have spent the last 300 million years or more locking away in the rocks?

    Once you accept that, it’s a question of detail. Important details of course. What will the effects be; how will they change the system and what will be the impact for humanity.

    BTW, I for one will not be spending any length of time on a space habitat designed by this gentleman. LOL

  27. 127
    Snapple says:

    This may give some context about media and climate science, but it’s hard to know.

    A Russian journalist named Oleg Kashin was recently assaulted. He worked for Kommersant–owned by the Gazprom mogul Alisher Usmanov–but he also worked for Forbes Russia. He had been reporting on an evironmental issue.

    I really dislike Kommersant’s owner Alisher Usmanov, and his Kommersant publisher an infamous attack on the British climate scientists which is even cited in Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s EPA suit as “proof” that British climate scientists are corrupt. The Kommersant article cited Andrei Illarionov as their expert, but what Cuccinelli cited was a redaction by RIA Novosti that left out that revealing bit.

    It’s interesting that the US Forbes publishes this article by Bell. I wonder if it will appear in Russian Forbes.

    Bell seems to have received some rewards from Russia:

    “two of the highest honors awarded by the Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics of the Former Soviet Union – the Yuri Gagarin Diploma and the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal – for his contributions to international space development. His name was placed on the Russian Rocket that launched the first crew to the International Space Station.”

  28. 128
    Keith Kloor says:


    In my post, I wrote there was “voluminous reportage and commentary produced daily on an array of sites, from The Guardian and Grist to Scientific American and The New York Times.”

    In his post, Tom Yulsman cites the work of great regional publications such as High Country News (who I am proud to have written for), and the work reporters belonging to SEJ. In his related post, Andrew Revkin cited the fantastic enterprise work by his colleagues.

    I should also point to the collaborative venture by The Climate Desk, of which various outlets (both mainstream and niche) have collaborated. (I’m not sure of the depth of the collaboration, though. It appears the stories are produced independently but the editors confer on coverage. I have no involvement with this).

    Science has Eli Kintisch, Time has Bryan Walsh, the NYT has Dot Earth (which I will note is often featured prominently on the Times’ home page) and the excellent reported blog, Green…and on and on. I could spend the rest of my morning pointing out all the places where climate change journalism appears on a consistent basis.

    People need to rein in their expectations, perhaps. It’s not realistic to have deeply reported stories appear on a daily or even weekly basis.

    Tell you what I’ll do, though. To support my argument, I’ll spend all next week–Monday through Friday (a random week), noting every single piece of climate change-related journalism at mainstream and niche outlets (not sites that specialize in climate blogging). I’ll do this on my blog, using the headline “Climate journalism story,” or some other hed that is catchy.

    It won’t be hard, since I follow the coverage already with various feeds, alerts and my blogroll.

    [Response: Keith, I think this is a good idea. However, let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. This RC post did not take ‘the press’ to task simply for ‘not reporting.’ The reference was to the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric]

  29. 129

    #112–\commercial maritime operators are still avoiding the area.\ (Ie, the NEP and NWP.)

    No. Maybe \most\ are, still, for the reasons the Hofstra site gives. But for several years now there have been commercial operations going on, both transport and touring. This is new and remarkable. And nearly every source–including the Hofstra page sHx cited–expects the activity to increase. Everybody, apparently, except sHx.

    Well, he/she is entitled to an opinion, of course. But dogmatic assertions such as \closed to commerce in the past and will remain so for the foreseeable future\ are not credible.

    sHx’s Hofstra page, linked above, says:

    . . . warming of global temperatures is offering new opportunities for international transportation networks, notably with a trend of receding ice around the North Pole. If this trend continues the Arctic could be used more reliably for navigation, at least during summer months. The Northwest Passage crossing Canada’s Arctic Ocean could become usable on a regular basis by 2020, lessening maritime shipping distances substantially.

    It’s always odd when someone fails to \foresee\ something, then cites folks who apparently have no such difficulty. 2020 is not all that far in the future.

    FWIW, my gut feeling is that we’ll see the first ice-free summer by then–though other projections put it quite a way further out, circa 2050, for instance. For clarity, \ice-free\ uses Dr. Maslowski’s criterion:

    80% drop from the 1979-2000 summer volume baseline of ~200,00 km³.

    We’ll see.

    As to what I think, should any be interested, they can read more here:

  30. 130
    tomasyn says:


    And what will that prove, exactly? It might be meaningful if you gave us a ratio of climate news/all news, or perhaps climate news/Lindsey Lohan news. Or a percentage of climate topics that are covered. Or a ratio of well-reported climate news/bogus misleading denialist garbage.

  31. 131
    Michael says:

    I for one will be very interested in keiths proposal, as I have the strong impression from my casual comsumption that journalism has failed badly on this. Where Keith sees disproportionnate I see a volume of criticism coming from a deluge of sloppy/lazy/superficial/mendacious reporting.
    However my perceptions are open to correction via objective assesment.

  32. 132
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Keith, I agree that most of the outlets you’ve cited do a reasonable job, but…

    The Gruniad? They were so far of the mark with the UEA email thefts that they’re still trying to find their ass with both hands, a flashlight, a GPS and the full longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates!

    The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade. In its effort to be “fair and balanced,” dot Earth has become an anti-science cesspit.

    And the rest? What is their combined circulation? I would suggest that you monitor reporting in the mainstream press/tv/radio, but I am not that cruel a man.

  33. 133
    Susan Anderson says:

    While I respect Keith Kloor for hanging in here and trying to make sense of the “argument” the fact that there is this much of an argument is part of the problem. For sure, many of us have watched – appalled and fearful for our futures – as the professional rollout of the climategate attacks and the professional follow-through appeared to derail even the weak attempt to begin to face the future. There are hard decisions to be made and no appetite for them. This campaign has proved a godsend for those who wish to discredit almost all of the work being done to elucidate the world situation. You could argue that Andy Revkin has been asking these kinds of hard questions this week and has tried repeatedly to bring the conversation back to solutions, but the overall picture is bleak. Even he provides a platform for those “centrist” “voices of reason” and a few outliers who have gained credibility out of proportion to their research. To mention an extreme example, every time Monckton is mentioned, no matter how tangentially, it increases his visibility. The Cato and Heartland people, and a raft of others, and even the well respected Lindzen get more than their share of coverage.

    There was a story going the rounds not long ago about how a CNN weather report included words to the effect that this kind of extreme weather was characteristic of what we might expect as climate change due to global warming (GW being the metaphor we use, no matter how incomplete) develops; advertisers complained, and the meme disappeared from the airwaves. No other mainstream weather reports have since been able to make this rather obvious connection. This is likely oversimplified, but if you think about it you can see the problem.

    Ordinary people going about their daily lives are not encouraged to think about how their simplest decisions (bottled water) affect their children’s futures. They can’t be bothered.

    Of course I see Andy Revkin trying to point out the errors in the comment section (which you are mostly so wise to ignore) but the response is solid rubber. Readers are impressed by the unfailing politeness of the principal propagandists, and by the appearance of an argument, and ignorance prevails. Statements like that RealClimate is a solid propaganda site meet with strong approval and belief.

    Judith Curry, for example, seems to be going through, at a higher level of expertise for sure, what I did in the early oughts. She sees the argument and its plausibility and buys the whole story. It will be a while before she takes a good hard look at the bad science and realizes it’s wrong.

    Of course the weather (being incidentally a small piece of climate) is piling on with the evidence and that will be pretty obvious in a few more years to those it hasn’t yet convinced. Unfortunately, the heat exchange and increased moisture look to those of us in the north to be unpleasantly wintry, and people seem to forget the months just past rather quickly.

    To some extent the prevalence of the alternative universe of the virtual world is to blame. The entertainment/advertisement nexus has a firm grip on the general population. Children no longer have to be “bored” in the classroom as they have learned to text in their pockets. Education is being defunded, so the difficult lessons of critical thinking, geography (not difficult) and history are falling off. People don’t have to look at reality any more, they can get their news from people they agree with.

    This rant is getting too long, but the point is that we need those hardworking press people willing to risk the skin they have in the game to be more heroic to make up for the vast history which amounts to a big “fail” for the future.

    By the way, I strongly recommend Climate Central:
    as a source of news that provides lively material.

  34. 134
    Keith Kloor says:

    Eric (in response to inline comment at #128),

    I’m glad you think this is a good idea, but I feel you are slightly moving the goalposts. You left out the preceding sentence in that passage:

    “The naysayers ought to be thrilled at the lack of interest in climate change shown in the press, at least in North America.”

    This seems pretty clear to me, and not supportable by daily evidence, which I expect to prove next week.

    Now, the next sentence is an elaboration, but adds another element:

    “The longer we delay, the bigger the topic gets, and the more ridiculous the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with it becomes.”

    No argument from me that the policy sector (at least politically) is not grappling with it. But perhaps the authors of the post ought to better define by what they mean by how the press should be “grappling with it.”

    Does this mean the press should be doing more solution-oriented stories, discussing cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, energy policy, etc? Well, again, as I’ve said before the press is largely reactive, responsive to external events, such as treaty negotiations, congressional hearings, legislative bills, etc.

    As has been noted (and should be agreed by all), we have a vacuum now in terms of political and policy action. This means there is much less for the press to report on. So in the absence of policy and political movement on climate change, what you have the press grapple with? Journalists aren’t in the business of creating the news (most of the time), they report it.

  35. 135
    Hank Roberts says:

    Keith, besides Eric’s point (“… to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric])

    I’d also suggest you need to count attention — clickthroughs, eyeballs captured, pages turned, actual attention by the public readership. Google must know the numbers and a “compared to what” background level of reading.

  36. 136
    dhogaza says:

    “The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade.”

    Ray, their piece on Keeling (which went far beyond simply talking about him or rising CO2 levels in its explanation of global warming) was very good.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due …

    Of course, when I saw that piece which began on the front page (above the fold) and continued on for a couple of facing pages inside the A section … I was very surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but still, surprised. Wow, a really good piece by the NYT that barely mentions Lindzen and talks about skeptics in a way that highlights the crankdom factor …

  37. 137
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “You know, when I read something like this in a journal that purports to give me advice on financial matters, it discredits everything the journal says about any subject.” – 15

    And did this journal warn of the imminent danger of a housing market collapse and the bankruptcy of all leading American banks as a result?

    No. I would say that on that basis alone Forbes or any of the other Financial publications have anything of value to offer on Economic matters.

    You will note however, that the systems that lead to the collapse have been re-created and criticism of the structure that caused the decline has been successfully purged from the Business press, now that they have found a chain of improbable events with which to reclassify their own failings as mistakes made by Da Evils Gubderment.

    You aren’t part of the Forbes target audience. The people reading here are a minute fraction of those who might read Forbes. The vast, vast majority are those who have already drunk the Conservative Coolaid, or are not edgimecated enough to find or even follow the counter arguments.

    Thes complaints about the article in FORBES, are arguments without an audience. They are dust in the wind. A rain drop in the ocean.

    And that is why they perpetually amount to NOTHING.

    Traction requires publicity.

    Lets see you get you dissenting opinions published in a mass media business circulation like for example — FORBES.

    Forbes is right on one thing. The Media is Complicit in this conspiracy of ignorance. Media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the Washington (Moonie) Times, FAUX News, and Forbes itself of course.

    The defense of the truth requires a high profile defender to keep it in public view.

    You (The scientific community) had your chance to strongly back Gore.

    You (The scientific community) blew it.

  38. 138
    Keith Kloor says:

    Ray (#132) writes: “The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade. In its effort to be “fair and balanced,” dot Earth has become an anti-science cesspit.”

    If I thought this comment was not commonly shared by too many denizens of various popular climate sites, I wouldn’t draw attention to it. But I see variations of this sentiment a lot. I can understand that some people take issue with isolated examples of Andy’s reporting or posts (and the NY Times on the whole), but really, this is just beyond the pale. Andy’s output at Dot Earth (often supplemented by actual reporting and interviews) is not only impressive but regularly characterized by an edifying discussion of the complexities of the climate change/energy interface. It boggles my mind that anybody could call Dot Earth anti-science.

    I’m glad to see it put in some context with saner voices like Susan Anderson’s (#133).

  39. 139
    Didactylos says:

    I think it is a little unfair to pick on the media’s treatment of climate science. After all, consider a topic on which you are expert (whether it is fly-fishing or quantum mechanics) and cast your mind over the media coverage of that topic. How many times have you come close to apoplexy after reading or hearing complete nonsense mixed with the reporting? How many exaggerations, omissions, half-truths?

    My own experience, on the subjects where I am well-informed, is that the media butchers everything, particularly science. After all, when they screw up arts reporting, it is mostly only a matter of opinion. Science isn’t so forgiving.

    So, I’ve generally given it up as a bad job. These days, I just hope they manage to get the narrative pointed in generally the right direction.

    There is bad journalism and worse journalism. Let’s just try to raise the bar just a little bit, instead of agonising over who is the best or worst.

  40. 140
    Septic Matthew says:

    128, eric in comment: [Response: Keith, I think this is a good idea. However, let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. This RC post did not take ‘the press’ to task simply for ‘not reporting.’ The reference was to the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric]

    That was just one of numerous comments that reminded me of what I took to be the main outcome of the Copenhagen conference, namely the clear emergence of African nations, BRIC nations and other nations as unambiguous opponents of attempts to promote AGW-based limits on fossil fuel consumption. Sure, the African nations want money from the richer EU and N. American nations and they are willing to mitigate CO2 in return; and China and Brazil are building their alternative energy sectors along with their fossil fuel sectors, but that is mostly for future economic growth, and neither nation is reducing CO2 output. With the growth of fossil fuel consumption, and most actual use, outside of the US and EU, “grappling” with the threat of AGW by the US strikes many Americans as Quixotic at best, actually a useless sacrifice of American economic growth. For the time being, this political contest has, in the US, been won by opponents to CO2 controls. Because the press likes conflict, and this conflict has for the time being been decisively won by the AGW opponents, this is simply a less interesting story for most of the press than it was a while ago.

    The only part of the story that still excites widespread interest is the growth of alternative energy supplies, and that is of interest for economic and military reasons.

    Well, maybe. That’s the way it seems to me now.

  41. 141
    Eric Swanson says:

    Here’s a speaking event featuring Bell for those in the Woodlands, TX area.
    <a href="; title="Larry Bell, Guest Speaker"

    An internationally recognized commentator on scientific and public policy issues, Larry Bell has written extensively on climate and energy policy and has been featured in many prominent national and international newspapers, magazines, and television programs…

    Time: January 18, 2011 from 6pm to 8pm
    Location: Tea Party Office
    Street: 9391 Grogan’s Mill Suite, A4
    City/Town: The Woodlands, Texas

    One hopes that someone with understanding of the science will appear to rebut Dr. Bell. Come on folks, it’s put up or shut up time. Preaching to the choir is an old problem amongst the educated (elite) greenies…

  42. 142
    John Mashey says:

    re: #141 Eric
    If is very difficult to refute a Gish Gallup in front of a live audience.

    The best “debate” I’ve ever seen was Ryan vs Valentine, online, spread over days, so that people could check references/graphs and link to good ones.

    If you were the moderator for this event, at the Tea party HQ, could you manage to assure Larry bell wouldn’t get refuted? I’d be astonished if Bell weren’t practiced at deflecting awkward questions. It’s not like the techniques are unknown. A difficult questioner would get at most one question and no followup. A smart moderator would make sure to know a bunch of people and prime them to ask softball questions and in “fairness” call on them.

    On the other hand, it might be worthwhile for someone to attend and take notes.

  43. 143

    That the business press gets this wrong is nothing new. IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the world’s larges engineering organisation, regularly publishes reasonably good articles, sadly attracting right-wing diatribes in reader comments. The latest, What to Watch for in the New Year, has mostly attracted denialist comments. I’ve posted a fair number of responses, but a bit of support would be good. The author, Bill Sweet, comes under a fair amount of attack from the troglodyte section of the engineering community.

  44. 144

    Forbes style themselves as “The Capitalist Tool”. They should look up alternative meanings of the word “tool”.

  45. 145
    Anna Haynes says:

    Anonymous domain registration, for the domain.

    Off the topic of climate science, but the late Ryoichi Sasakawa (whose foundation funded Larry Bell’s Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture) seems to have been quite a character; worth looking into, if you’re partial to seamy underbellies. (Not that this has any bearing on the quality of Bell’s climate science, it’s just interesting.)

  46. 146
    Anna Haynes says:

    This Kloor-and-Yulsman “don’t diss journos” flap is silly; let’s get data.
    Who’s interested in setting up readers’ circles from various news outlets, to measure (and compare) readers’ grasp of climate science?

    If journalists are doing a good job, we should be able to see it in their readers’ level of informedness. No evidence-free assertions needed.

  47. 147

    John Mashey #142: I dispute your assertion that a Tea Party audience can be described as “live” ;)

    I would have thought the fact that he was reporting back to a Tea Party coven is sufficient evidence that he is not a serious scientific commentator.

  48. 148
    calyptorhynchus says:

    Didactylos 139 “I think it is a little unfair to pick on the media’s treatment of climate science..”

    It would be difficult to think of a topic on which we have so much reporting which is completely untrue. Occasionally nowadays we get a piece on ‘smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ or ‘bike helmets cause deaths’, but the sheer volume of denialism is incredible. Here in Australia the Australian Broadcasting Commission, terrified of…. something, regularly puts denialist pieces up, none of which have any merit at all. I keep on commenting that the balance between reporting an incorrect view and a correct view is only reporting the correct view (otherwise they would have to put up white supremacist, Holocaust denial &c arguments), but this doesn’t seem to make any difference. Most of the other comments on these pieces that aren’t supportive say the same thing… but still it goes on. If publicly funded broadcasters are so lacking in journalistic nous, how can we expect any private media to be any better.

    It makes you despair.

  49. 149
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    I also posted this link in the “Blog updates and suggestions” thread, so it’s possible this comment will end up in the Bore Hole, but I think Potholer54’s (Peter Hadfield’s) Youtube channel is an excellent media and educational resource on science issues including global warming. I’m sure that any efforts to better communicate science to and through the MSM would benefit enormously from his expertise.

  50. 150
    Menth says:

    Here’s something to ponder:

    Nope, that’s not what’s going on here. More likely it’s some sort of giant, oil funded conspiracy; that’s the rational conclusion.