Search Results for Tag: Media
The Arctic headlines that weren’t?
Although I’m a journalist myself I still often find myself wondering why some things make it into the headlines with some media and others don’t. Sometimes you hear something in the news in the morning that disappears very rapidly. And sometimes, especially if you’re interested in and concerned about climate change, you read and hear things that shock or worry you then, again, don’t make it into any other media.
I have a couple of examples here. The first I can find an explanation for, although I don’t find it justified and hope the situation will change in the next few weeks.
Scientists from one of Germany’s most renowned scientific institutes, the Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences at Kiel University, set off on an Arctic expedition today.They’ve joined forces with Greenpeace. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is transporting some giant “test-tubes” up to the Svalbard archipelago, where they’ll be lowered into the water to look into the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystems. The scientists are particularly interested in the acidification of the oceans. I’ll be writing more about this later – in fact I’ll be catching up with the team and finding out more first-hand. But the reason I’m mentioning it today is that when I searched the news agencies, I didn’t find anything in English about this venture, although it’s using new, unique technology, and we know how susceptible the Arctic is to climate change – and what a key role it plays in regulating the world’s climate. I assume the reason is the ship left from the German port of Kiel, so only attracted German media. But come on folks, this is not a German story, the implications are as global as you can get.
I wasn’t able to go up to Kiel for the launch, but one of my colleagues went, so I’ll have more on that soon.
The other story which is even more worrying is one I came across in the online version of the German news magazine Focus
It’s headlined (in German)”Melting poles: No Ice, No Summer”.
The article reports on a story in the magazine Science which warns of the dangerous effects of melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctic on the deep ocean currents which help regulate the climate. In a highly over-simplified nutshell, it seems possible that at some point in the future, melting fresh water from the glaciers could reduce the salinity of the sea-water to the extent where the pump effect of dense salt water sinking into the depths would be hampered. This could interrupt the flow of warmer water which helps keep the climate of the British isles, southern Scandinavian and part of northern Germany mild.
Now why am I finding it difficult to get any more information on this from other media?
DateMay 14, 2010 | 1:25 pm
Climate scepticism on the rise?
A poll conducted recently for the BBC indicates that the number of people in the UK who are sceptical about science has risen. Of the 1,001 adults who were questioned, 25% said they did not think global warming was happening. BBC news says this shows an increase of 10% since a similar poll in November.
The percentage who accepted climate change as a reality apparently fell from 83% in November to 75% in the latest poll, and only 26% of those interviewed said they believed climate change was happening and “now established as largely man-made”.
The poll was conducted by Populus, the same group who carried out a similar poll for the Times paper in November 2009. At that time, 41% agreed climate change was happening and was largely the result of human activities, so that would appear to be a considerable drop.
Although these polls refer to the UK – home to the University of East Anglia, at the centre of the leaked emails controversy – I feel sure the trend will not be limited to that country.
Populus poll for bbc results
It appears to confirm my fear that the email scandal and the faults in IPCC reports have seriously damaged the credibility of climate science.
The failure of the Copenhagen summit after all the hype could also have made a lot of people doubt the seriousness and urgency of the climate change issue.
DateFebruary 17, 2010 | 2:01 pm
Hacked emails and faulty data: the saga continues…
Apologies for blog-silence. I had a few days off thanks to the “Karneval” holidays in Germany, so I resisted the temptation to sit down and blog.I have been doing a lot of reading though, trying to get to the bottom – or at least fairly deep down into – the controversy over the IPCC figures, the emails leaked towards the end of last year etc. I have strong feelings about people illegally hacking into other people’s emails. However, I must admit to being very disturbed by what I have read recently about the background to this whole affair.
In a comment posted on the Ice Blog Victoria Quade says she thinks “the emphasis on exact figures is a distraction when talking about global warming.” She continues:
“The only thing we can say with certainty is there is sufficient evidence that industrialized society is having a detrimental effect on the environment, one of which appears to be global warming. For me this is enough of a reason to support efforts aimed at reducing human behaviour that contributes to global warming.”
Victoria, I agree with the spirit of what you say. Too much nit-picking about details is distracting and doesn’t change the general trend. There are too many people who will use this kind of thing as an excuse for not changing that behaviour contributing to global warming.
But at the moment I’m worried about the effect on the credibility of scientists. The IPCC reports are based on the “peer review” process, which should mean papers are reviewed anonymously and independently. If it is true that some influential scientists are blocking the publication of research which doesn’t fit in with theirs or the mainstream view, then we have a real problem.
I come back to the talk I had with Professor Adil Najam, IPCC lead author, a couple of weeks ago. He stresses that, unfortunately, because of the huge implications for human society, climate science is being argued out in detail in our “everyday” media, where in other branches of science, the experts will conduct their debates in scientific journals without being constantly in the spotlight. At the same time he says a lot of politicians “hide” behind this scientific to-ing and fro-ing, using it as an excuse for inaction.
Let me finish for today by directing your attention to an article by climate scientist Dave Stainforth from the
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Climate science in the spotlight – on GUARDIAN website
He says we have to distinguish between “school” science and “research” science, with the latter being constantly in progress.He says whatever the disputes over details and the impossibility of exactly how and to what extent climate change will affect particular regions at particular times, there should be no disputing the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are changing the climate and we would do well to do something about it.
DateFebruary 16, 2010 | 1:51 pm
Out of all proportion?
Bob Rau in Australia has posted a comment expressing his amazement that amongst all the scientific data, one figure can be extracted and blown up out of all proportion.
I agree with you to some extent Bob, but I think there’s method in it. Of course we have a right to expect something like the IPCC report to be extremely well checked and checked again, but I also think there are people who seek out things like this, not necessarily in the interests of scientific accuracy, but because they want to encourage climate scepticism. It’s certainly a mistake that shouldn’t happen and has done a lot of damage in terms of the climate scientists’s credibility, but I agree it should not be allowed to throw a question mark over all the data.
My colleague Nathan Witkop recorded an interview with the IPCC lead author Adil Najam, as mentioned in a previous entry, for this week’s edition of Living Planet. By tonight (Thursday) or Friday morning, both European time, it should be available to listen or download. Highly recommendable.
Living Planet Environment Magazine (weekly)
DateJanuary 28, 2010 | 1:53 pm
Faulty figures but glaciers still melting fast
(Aerial view, Greenland 2009)
The latest report by the World Glacier Monitoring Service says glaciers around the world are melting so fast that many will disappear by the middle of this century.
The organisation’s results come from monitoring in nine mountain ranges on four continents.
Unfortunately, quite a few people will probably be sceptical about the news after the revelation that a figure in the 2007 IPCC report warning of a “very high” risk that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 was false. This mistake has done a huge amount of damage. It has shaken people’s trust in the reliability of the scientific monitoring and peer reviewing process and provided more ammunition for the “climate sceptics”.
I had the chance to talk to one of the IPCC lead authors, Professor Adil Najam, born in Pakistan, now Professor at Boston University. He was taken by surprise when the mistake was revealed while he was on a lecture tour in Germany.
I’d like to quote him on this issue here:
It’s a bad mistake and a matter of serious concern, he says, because it questions climate and shakes people’s confidence in science. Coming from South Asia, Pakistan, which depend on the glaciers of the Himalaysa for their existence, the Professor says, “I am happy they were wrong… But science and the IPCC need to be much more careful, because climate science is happening in the public view.” He says allowing scientific details to dominate the headlines is detracting attention from the necessary process of accepting climate change is happening and pushing political action to help countries adapt.
There was apparently a kind of “Chinese whispers” game approach to the communication of the worrying Himalayan figure. It was quoted by a journalist, who had interviewed an expert (who says he was misquoted), and WWF, an organisation I normally respect for their thoroughness and professionality, took it over from there, and then it found its way into the report.
Let me quote Prof. Najam again: “The IPCC needs to be more rigorous. But one mistake should not sully all the very clear data”. This is the crux of the matter. Mistakes happen. This was not a deliberate exaggeration but an “honest mistake”, the Professor says. And he is convinced the data we have is worrying enough without anyone having to exaggerate anything.
The World Glacier Monitoring figures would seem to confirm that. The most vulnerable glaciers are not in the Himalayas but lower mountain ranges like the Alps or the Pyrenees in Europe, in Africa, parts of the Andes in South and Central America, and the Rockies in North America.
The WGMS figures show glacier melting is less extreme than in the last couple of years, but that the important 10-year trend show an unbroken acceleration in melting.
Somehow this has not made as many headlines as the IPCC mistake.
DateJanuary 26, 2010 | 1:30 pm