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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Are emotions taking over from science in the climate debate?

I’d like to share an interesting conversation I had at the Arctic Station in Ny Alesund with Max Koenig, head of the
Sverdrup Station run by the Norwegian Polar Institute. We were speaking in German, as Max is a native German speaker, so I have translated what he said.

Max finds the idea of believing or not believing in climate change a strange and interesting development. He says it has turned into a question of faith for a lot of people. But the climate change issue is not about faith, he says, but about facts on the table. He is surprised that there seems to be a lot of “false information” floating around. “If you consider that 95% of climate researchers are generally in agreement about the nature of the problem, then I really wonder where the scepticism comes from”, says the polar specialist. “On average, our planet is warming. And we understand the physics, he says. “
When it comes to the role of the media, Norway’s Arctic station chief says he is often surprised to find different views expressed in one publication, depending on which researcher is being interviewed. He sees one of the main problems in the tendency to always have a climate scientist and a sceptic placed one against the other.
“This can give the public the impression that half of the researchers think climate change is happening and the rest don’t”, he says. “Actually, almost all researchers say climate change is taking place and yes, something has to be done now.”
The debate has also become too emotional, Max says. He thinks a real discussion is becoming increasingly difficult.
Thanks for sharing those ideas with me Max, and with the Ice Blog readers. Thanks also once again for your hospitality and the coffee, looking out onto the melting snow around the bust of Roald Amundsen.

(Ny Alesund, early June 2010)
As we get ready for a big conference here in Bonn, starting on Monday, Global Media Forum
“The Heat is On: Climate Change and the Media”, these are exactly the sort of thing we’ll be talking about. I feel a huge sense of responsibility as a journalist. Of course we want to present the “whole picture”. But we don’t want to distort the facts by getting the balance wrong.


June 18, 2010 | 10:11 am