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Asymmetric Coverage of Climate Science Fools Very Few, and It's Not the Koch Brothers' Fault

March 1, 2013 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

USA Today has run yet another dire climate change feature, this time riffing off a federal compendium on climate change that hasn’t even been published—it is in draft form and is being severely criticized at this very minute.

Judging from what people really think about global warming, the paper should have saved its talent for something they are actually interested in.

Hardly a day goes by without some climate scare, and earlier this week we found a terrific example of how biased the reporting on this issue has become. This particular threat, coming from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Eastern Germany, is that increasingly persisting jet stream patterns “almost freeze” weather anomalies in one place. This would create longer heat waves and persistent rainfall anomalies (high or low), which, they say, “can result in a high death toll, forest fires, and dramatic harvest losses”. The cause, of course is dreaded global warming caused by pernicious economic activity.

Needless to say, that generated a lot of news traffic.

At precisely the same time, two University of Melbourne scientists published a paper in Geophysical Research letters, studying virtually the same data and finding little significant change. Further, they found that any changes in these patterns, known as atmospheric “blocking”, under which weather tends to stagnate, were small compared to natural year-to-year variability. In what is always a bad sign for solid science, they found that any connections between blocking frequency and global warming are highly dependent upon the methodology they used. Bottom line: they couldn’t find much of a signal, and even if they did, they weren’t sure what it all meant.

News traffic? Zilch.

The difference is that death and destruction sell ad copy, while, as the story goes, “plane lands on time” doesn’t. But, in climate change, there’s a remarkable disconnect between what people read and what they think.

A large number of people will be exposed to the story that scientists are reporting that global warming is leading to more severe weather. Meanwhile, no one will hear about the negative results in Geophysical Research Letters.

In climate change, there’s a remarkable disconnect between what people read and what they think.”

The type of global warming science reported to the public grows asymmetrically, with alarming evidence receiving far more exposure than evidence for more modest changes and impacts, or, climate-as-usual.

And what’s the bottom line? People still don’t give a darn.

The prestigious …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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