WATCH LIVE: Have the Media Failed Us on Climate Change?

Journalists from Slate, the Guardian, the Atlantic Cities, the Huffington Post, and Mother Jones meet up at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas, to hold the press to account.

Climate Desk’s SXSW Eco panel will examine the media’s coverage of climate change. Watch it live here at 4:30 pm Central Time on October 8.

This past month should have been the biggest month for climate change journalism in six years.

With the release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report in Stockholm, there were a wealth stories for journalists to pursue. Scientists are now more certain than ever that humans are causing global warming. Sea level rise projections have been increased—extremely bad news for coastal mega-cities. And researchers have  given a stark warning about the irreversibility of much of global warming, and how it will literally play out over a millennium.

But in recent weeks, we’ve seen a flood of media coverage advancing dubious claims pushed by global warming skeptics, including:

* A large number of news article headlines framed around an alleged global warming “pause” that scientists have dismissed as statistically meaningless and insignificant.

* A British tabloid, The Mail on Sunday, portraying the sixth lowest Artic sea ice level on record as a “rebound” that undermines climate science—a claim that then reverberated in conservative media and even made its way to the halls of Congress.

*Contrarian opeds in major papers minimizing the dangers of climate change and even suggesting that it might be beneficial.

Granted, this problem isn’t new: There’s a long history of the press relying on phony “balanced” coverage to cast doubt on what scientists know about the climate. That was the case even before the major cutbacks in science and environmental reporting at many media outlets over the past decade.

The Climate Desk Live panel will be at 4:30 pm, Central Time, on October 8 in Austin, TX. For more details, see here. SXSW Eco

At SXSW Eco, the acclaimed environment and sustainability conference, Climate Desk is convening a panel of top climate journalists to diagnose and address the media’s chronic failings in covering this issue. The event, part of our Climate Desk Live series, will be at 4:30 pm Central Time on October 8, 2013, at the Austin Convention Center, and will feature journalists Kiera Butler from Mother Jones, Suzanne Goldenberg from The Guardian, John Metcalfe from The Atlantic Cities, Phil Plait (aka the “Bad Astronomer“) from Slate, and Kate Sheppard from The Huffington Post. It will be hosted by Climate Desk’s Chris Mooney (me).

The conversation will focus on why the media at large has struggled when it comes to reporting on climate change, and on why there is so little apparent interest—from the media, politicians, and public—in understanding and addressing the climate crisis. The panelists will also cite examples of good climate journalism and explain how the media can do a better job in reporting climate change.

This panel will be live streamed on sxsweco.com, motherjones.com, and climatedesk.org. Check back here on October 8 to watch it live!

This post has been updated since publication.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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