Quote of the Day: Climate Change and the Media

| Mon Feb. 22, 2010 6:28 PM EST

From Matt Steinglass, on a Daily Mail headline claiming that a top climate scientist now admits there has been no global warming since 1995:

What's truly infuriating about this episode of journalistic malpractice is that, once again, it illustrates the reasons why the East Anglia scientists adopted an adversarial attitude towards information management with regard to outsiders and the media. They were afraid that any data they allowed to be characterised by non-climate scientists would be vulnerable to propagandistic distortion. And they were right.

The reality is that climate scientists need to be open with their data and methods regardless of what others are going to do with it. But yes, the incident Matt describes is exactly what they're afraid of if they do this: laymen with an axe to grind (and money at stake) are going to inundate them with bogus criticisms. They ignore this stuff at their peril, but if they respond to all of it they'd essentially have to stop doing real work. One part of the answer is for the media to insist on a certain level of rigor before they publish stuff from the skeptics, but obviously that's not going to happen. In lieu of that, maybe we need a new kind of rapid-response think tank devoted solely to climate change: one staffed by both experts and communicators, who can deploy quickly to address climate criticisms in a deep and fairminded way and then promote their findings in TV-friendly ways. Anybody got a few million dollars to spare to start one up?

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