In an Age of Sound-Bite Dumbing-Down Journalism
Most journalists these days would love to have the choice John Mecklin faced three years ago.
As editor-in-chief of High Country News, Mecklin was attending a workshop on covering climate change when he received word that Sara Miller McCune wanted to speak with him about launching a public policy magazine. McCune, founder and chair of the 45-year-old academic publishing house, Sage Publications, Inc., had been considering the idea for years.
The goal: to create intelligent and compelling journalism that reports on how academic research can be applied to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. “Smart Journalism. Real Solutions,” the 8×11-inch full color magazine says on its cover.
Tony Broccoli has spent the past two decades working to engage lay audiences about climate change. For him, that interest has meant using concrete, relatable images: ice skating on backyard ponds and present-day heat waves and unusual storms.
Broccoli is a professor at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where he works on climate modeling. Before returning to his alma mater, he spent 21 years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, GFDL, in Princeton, N.J. He is also the editor of the Journal of Climate, and he has been a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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|Schneider and wife Terry Root at 2008 Rothbury Festival Global Warming ‘Think Tank.’
The planet feels hotter now, and certainly more at risk. The world is smaller for the death of Stanford University climatologist Stephen H. Schneider. And certainly a whole lot less intelligent and decent.
Schneider was one-of-a-kind, “the real thing,” as they say. No one is irreplaceable, it’s true, but there is at this point no telling which scientist (or likely which scientists) it will take to fill the science and communications voids he leaves behind.
Black carbon, a component of soot, and potentially one of the most important contributors to climate change, rises into the atmosphere each time someone fires up a traditional cook-stove or switches on an older-model diesel vehicle. The author recently co-organized a workshop under the aegis of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute (YCEI), which brought together scientists, policymakers, and development experts to discuss controlling black carbon.
That workshop had three key conclusions: stop throwing cook-stoves at the problem; target diesel; and be very careful about comparing black carbon with carbon dioxide. The first part of this article examined the limits of targeting cook-stoves as a bid to slow climate change. Part II looks at the case for phasing out diesel emissions, and urges a more cautious approach to comparing black carbon with carbon dioxide.
Change is afoot in the number of international journalists in developing countries reporting on global climate change.
With a yearly budget of $1 million, the Earth Journalism Network, EJN, has become a leader among nonprofit organizations actively building networks of environmental journalists and communicators in the poorest of nations. In the past five years, the group has trained 1,000 journalists who have produced some 2,000 stories on the environment.
Media reporting on climate change has emerged as EJN’s main focus in the last two years.
Leaving No Doubt on Tobacco, Acid Rain, Climate Change
In their climate science history book Merchants of Doubt, authors Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway leave little doubt about their disdain for what they regard as the misuse and abuse of science by a small cabal of scientists they see as largely lacking in requisite climate science expertise.
In Post-BP Gulf Oil Leak Climate
Until BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion in April and continuing oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, many in the news media covered deepwater oil exploration with a sort of awe. The practice, after all, is relatively new — most projects date back to just the 1990s, and a Gulf boom is only a decade old — and only a few companies know how to drill a mile or more below the ocean surface.