America's Arid Southwest

Learning Lessons from the Lost Anasazi

The Anasazi culture of the southwestern United States reached its zenith between 1050 and 1125 A.D. before experiencing a dramatic collapse. Despite their advanced industrial society known for their cliff dwellings and ornate baskets, no authoritative written record adequately explains this phenomenon. Archeologists aren’t even sure what the Anasazi, Navajo for “Ancient Ones,” called themselves.

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Advice from Auto Beat Experts

Covering Autos, Climate, and Energy: Overcoming Challenges Facing the Media

Covering the auto industry has gotten a lot more interesting … and a whole lot more challenging too.

Reporting on climate change, energy, and auto issues continues to pose daunting challenges to popular media reporters, especially as their own institutions undergo unprecedented economic challenges and restructuring.

Challenges and hurdles aside, this is an exciting time to cover the industry, as domestic automakers struggle to stay afloat while responding to government pressures to reduce their emissions and at the same time develop a viable business model.

So what’s a general assignment reporter – or even a non-auto beat specialist – to do?

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Growing Role for New Media Foreseen As Climate Science/Public Opinion Diverge

Several public opinion polls of Americans’ attitudes suggest that much of the science of climate change is getting lost in the fury surrounding its politics.

A recent Pew survey, for instance, reports that the percentage of Americans who believe “solid evidence” of global warming exists dropped to 71% in 2008, down 8% from 2006 (mostly because more Republicans dispute the evidence). Even fewer – about 18% of Americans – say the issue warrants a “great deal of concern,” the lowest level among industrialized countries, and comparable only to China among countries surveyed.

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Common Climate Misconceptions

Recent Lower Global Temperatures Do Not Undercut CO2/Warming Relationship

Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the primary factor contributing to the warming of the Earth’s surface over the past half-century.

However, for the past few years global temperatures have been stagnant or slightly decreasing even as atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing faster than ever. This situation has led some voices in the media and blogging world to challenge the relationship between the CO2 concentrations and warming. These critiques are flawed, however, as short-term changes in global temperature are driven by numerous factors going beyond CO2, and the recent disconnect between the two is not particularly unusual in light of their past relationship.

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Four Experts Pass Judgment

Commenting on Journalist Eric Pooley’s Analysis of Press Coverage of Climate Policy

Journalist Eric Pooley’s January 2009 Shorenstein Center critique and analysis of press coverage of climate change policy issues has generated substantial attention and on-going “buzz” in climate journalism circles.

After publishing freelance writer John Wihbey’s February 17 article and analysis of Pooley’s “discussion paper,” The Yale Forum asked four respected university-affiliated environmental and science writers their views on Pooley’s analysis: Their comments and Eric Pooley’s own reaction to those comments follow.

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Reporting on Municipal Sustainability Efforts; A roadmap to covering the ’2E’s and an S’ of the Story

Media coverage of Seattle’s citywide effort to reduce the use of plastic bags became a story on the impact to low-income people.

A newspaper report of New York City’s climate adaptation plan to respond to a potential 12- to 23-inch sea level rise featured a photo of a submerged Statue of Liberty from the fictional disaster flick “The Day After Tomorrow.”

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Mainstream Reporting Raising Doubts

Gallup Poll Finds More Americans Say Media Overstate Warming Risks

A March 2009 Gallup Poll survey points to “the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade” of Gallup polling on the issue.

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