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Posts tagged "communications"

A survey by George MasonU’s Center for Climate Change Communication. Via Yale360.

Really nice climate communications journal article on how journalists cover climate change. The author’s analyzed key words in coverage from four leading newspapers. They concluded that both U.S. and Spanish journalists increasingly favored using negative language and a tone of uncertainty in their writing - despite the increasing certainty of climate science over time.

[Scientists need] to determine why US climate news continued to employ mitigating language with such frequency, despite ever- strengthening scientific understanding of and consensus around climate change. One possibility is that news reports reflect a natural tendency to hedge scientific information. Consequently, the more scientific information contained in a single article, the higher the epistemic density.

In other words, over the years, climate science has become more certain, while the language of media has increasingly expressed doubt. For example:

Regardless of [journalist’s] intention, by presenting side-by-side comparisons of past IPCC conclusions and either new findings or contrasting observations, the US newspapers created an apparent sense of discrepancy. Readers lacking the background information necessary to understand these seeming discrepancies could have interpreted them as indications of uncertain science.

If I understand the article correctly, the authors conclude that climate deniers have been very effective in changing the perspectives of the journalists.

Another possibility is that politicized attacks on climate science throughout the 1990s and 2000s have resulted in a more cautious presentation of new scientific results by journalists. The influence of contrarians in shaping climate news appears evident in that the two Spanish newspapers referred more frequently to deniers, disagreement, and debate in 2007 than in 2001. Tracking the influence of contrarian arguments on climate reporting would be another important direction for future research and one that would provide valuable feedback to climate communication efforts.

I highly recommend reading this article - or at least give it a good skim. It’s also rare that Taylor & Francis publish big articles like this one for free, so take advantage and download it, here.

What happens when the power goes out in a big city? 19 photos of the Northeastern Blackout 2003.

Summary findings:

  • A large majority of Americans (87%, down 5 percentage points since Fall 2012) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (26%), “high” (32%), or medium priority (28%). Few say it should be a low priority (12%).                                                                                                  
  • Most Americans (70%, down 7 points since Fall 2012) say global warming should be a “very high” (16%), “high” (26%), or “medium priority” (29%) for the president and Congress. Three in ten (28%) say it should be a low priority.
  • Six in ten Americans (59%) say the U.S. should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do. Relatively few (10%) say the U.S. should reduce its emissions only if other industrialized and/or developing countries do - and only 6 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Americans say that corporations and industry (70%), citizens themselves (63%), the U.S. Congress (57%), and the President (52%) should be doing more to address global warming.
  • Majorities of Americans support:
    • Providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (71%);
    • Funding more research into renewable energy sources (70%);
    • Regulating CO2 as a pollutant (68%);
    • Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to pay down the national debt (61%);
    • Eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (59%);
    • Expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast (58%);
    • Requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year (55%).
  • Support for some of these policies, however, has fallen since 2008, including funding renewable energy research (-21 percentage points), expanding offshore drilling (-17 points), and tax rebates for energy efficient vehicles and solar panels (-15 points).
  • Half of Americans (50%) have never heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. Moreover, few Americans say they are following the issue closely (18%). Among those Americans who have heard of the Keystone pipeline, about two in three support the project (63%).


The report includes an Executive Summary and reports trends in key indicators over the past several years. It can be downloaded here:


 Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies in April 2013

New survey from the Center for Climate Change Communication: Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind.

 Some highlights:

  • About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”

  • Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
  • About two out of three Americans say weather in the U.S. has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012. By contrast, fewer Americans say weather has been getting better over the past several years - only one in ten (11%), down 16 points compared to a year ago.

  • Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) or an extreme heat wave (51%).
  • Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012).

  • Over half of Americans (54%) believe it is “very” or “somewhat likely” that extreme weather will cause a natural disaster in their community in the coming year.
  • Americans who experienced an extreme weather event are most likely to have communicated about it person-to-person - either in person (89%) or on the phone (84%). 
The report includes an Executive Summary and a breakdown of results by region and can be downloaded here.

Life as a Target 

Attacks on my work aimed at undermining climate change science have turned me into a public figure. I have come to embrace that role.  By Michael E. Mann | March 27, 2013

As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked. Politicians have demanded I be fired from my job because of my work demonstrating the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. I’ve been subjected to congressional investigations by congressman in the pay of the fossil fuel industry and was the target of what The Washington Post referred to as a “witch hunt” by Virginia’s reactionary Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. I have even received a number of anonymous death threats. My plight is dramatic, but unfortunately, it is not unique; climate scientists are regularly the subject of such attacks. This cynicism is part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged by fossil fuel companies, front groups, and individuals aligned with them in an effort to discredit the science linking the burning of fossil fuels with potentially dangerous climate change.

My work first appeared on the world stage in the late 1990s with the publication of a series of articles estimating past temperature trends. Using information gathered from records in nature, like tree rings, corals, and ice cores, my two coauthors and I had pieced together variations in the Earth’s temperature over the past 1,000 years. What we found was that the recent warming, which coincides with the burning of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, is an unprecedented aberration in this period of documented temperature changes, and recent work published in the journal Science suggests that the recent warming trend has no counterpart for at least the past 11,000 years, and likely longer. In a graph featured in our manuscript, the last century sticks out like the blade of an upturned hockey stick.

The graph, now known as the hockey-stick graph, has become an icon in the climate-change debate, providing potent, graphic evidence of human-caused climate change. As a result, the fossil fuel industry and those who do their bidding saw the need to discredit it in any way they could, and I have found myself at the receiving end of attacks and threats of investigations, as I describe in my recent book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) denounced my work on the Senate floor and called me to testify to his committee under hostile questioning. Two years later, House Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) attempted to subpoena all of my emails and research documents from my entire career, and the correspondence and files of both my senior coauthors, presumably looking for some way to both intimidate and discredit me. Inhofe and Barton are two of the largest recipients of fossil fuel money in the U.S. Congress. More recently, Ken Cuccinelli, the newly minted “Tea Party” Republican Attorney General of Virginia, took a page out of the same playbook, demanding all of my emails with 39 different scientists around the world from my time at the University of Virginia, claiming that he was investigating potential state fraud.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been subject to a constant onslaught of character attacks and smears on websites, in op-eds, and on right-leaning news outlets, usually by front groups or individuals tied to fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil or the petrochemical tycoons, the Koch Brothers. As the journal Nature put it a March 2010 editorial, climate researchers are in a street fight with those who seek to discredit the accepted scientific evidence simply because it is inconvenient for some who are profiting from fossil fuel use.

But being the focus of such attacks has a silver lining: I’ve become an accidental public figure in the debate over human-caused climate change.

Rest of his post at The Scientist

Now watching: Climate Skepticism & Science’s Role in Political Science. 

A panel of climate and science experts discuss the role science plays in fostering healthy skepticism of political science regarding the climate. The percentage of Americans today who say humans are the primary cause of global warming is much lower than it was in the second term of President George W. Bush.

Skeptics are winning the climate communication battle even as temperatures rise and the number and intensity of floods and droughts increase worldwide. What role does the scientist play in the communication, and what messages will reach the skeptics’ ears?

Michael Mann, professor of Geosciences at Penn State and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, spoke of the so-called “hockey stick” curve he and his co-authors published more than a decade ago. The curve showed that “recent warming exceeded anything that we’ve seen for at least the past 1,000 years,” Mann explained. The graph became an icon in the climate change debate. “If I’m going to be put in the limelight in the way that our detractors have tried to put me in the limelight,” Mann stated, “I’m going to try to take advantage of that, and the book was part of my effort to do that.”

According to Katharine Hayhoe, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University and co-author of A Climate for Change, Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, climate change is so polarized right now, “that if we, as scientists, are not getting attacked, then we’re not talking to the right people.” Comparing herself to a doctor who finds a red flag for a potential disease, she said, “We’re taking the temperature of the planet, we’re seeing some red flags and we have a responsibility to tell people about that.”

Bill Anderegg, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University researching forests and the American West, spoke of a study his team did on climate change, which was widely accepted by scientists. According to Anderegg, the study did two things: “First, we found that there’s an incredibly high agreement behind what the IPCC had articulated as the main components of human-caused climate change. And second, that those who are publicly doubting and expressing their lack of agreement essentially were not very well qualified.” He spoke of his surprise at the immediate backlash: “Suddenly, your e-mail address is across a dozen blogs that are not very friendly.”

How does an organization that reports on the weather insert itself into the debate without getting political? Just take a look at the Weather Company, the parent company of the Weather Channel and Weather Underground.

We insert climate into every weather story,” says David Kenny, CEO of the Weather Company. “We’re scientific journalists. We start with science and try to tell scientifically based stories. It’s not a political point of view.”

That means a story about Superstorm Sandy doesn’t just discuss the facts of the storm. It also delves into the science behind it—and how that might relate to climate change. A blog from meteorologist Stu Ostro on Weather Underground, for example, goes into detail on the storm’s path, and then explains how climate change plays a part.

In an on-camera segment on the Weather Channel, he stated the issue plainly: “In the wake of Sandy, there have been two opposite, extreme reactions: either, ‘Of course global warming caused it,’ or, ‘That’s balderdash!’ What we need to do take a step back, take a deep breath, and objectively assess what role if any global warming may have played. When we do that, given the storm’s track and meteorological nature, its context amongst other extreme events and patterns in recent years, and what one would expect to see in a warmed climate system and the physical processes involved, a reasonable initial conclusion is that global warming—the changing climate—did contribute to the outcome.”

Via FastCoExist


EcoWatch is Hiring
Do you have what it takes to be a part of the fastest growing environmental news service?

PSA. Neat job. Via the hard working crew at EcoWatch.


EcoWatch is Hiring

Do you have what it takes to be a part of the fastest growing environmental news service?

PSA. Neat job. Via the hard working crew at EcoWatch.

What happens when you trade the foundations of your society for cash?” - Céline Rouze, a brave journalist who wrote Exxon Mobil’s Papua New Guinea LNG Project. This project is the largest energy project in the history of the entire Pacific Rim. Exxon’s promises of economic development has instead brought chaos and violence.

Céline Rouze is very courageous journalist. People like her give me hope…


From the Pulitzer Center’s Meet the Journalist Channel:

Papua New Guinea is a country torn between its traditional culture and the global economic system.

Journalist and radio documentary-maker Céline Rouzet shares what attracted her to this place, why she decided to investigate this topic, and the main challenges she faced reporting there.

Her reporting series, “Exxon Mobil’s Papua New Guinea LNG Project,” explores the social and economic issues related to the biggest development project undertaken in the history of the Pacific region.

I had a client tell me the other day that we're not headed towards a warm climate, but an ice age. The planet has to warm up in order to cool down. (or so he claimed). Is there any truth to this?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi nturlbruntt!

Thanks for your note and absolutely not! The earth is at its hottest point in over 11,000 years.


Your client believes a rumor from the 1970s, one that won’t die apparently. It was dismissed, debunked, defrocked, and deblorgged decades ago, but has resurfaced as a rather brilliant right-wing political talking point.

97% of climate scientists agree the earth is warming. This is the highest agreement in any of the sciences in all of history. Second, the vast majority of scientists in the 1970s agreed global warming was occurring, that humans are causing it by emitting greenhouse gases, and that the earth is in big, big trouble.

Back in 2005, climate scientists at Real Climate took the time to discuss the origins of the rumor, show who restarted it, and describe why it’s completely false. You an read their post, here.

In 2008, the American Meteorological Society published a special article on this myth. It’s a great read, very short. It describes the history of the myth (it also gives a glimpse at how scientists suck at PR).

Lastly, Skeptical Science ranks it as the 11th most discussed myth. They published a simplified, easy to read summary of the myth called: “What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s?, which shows that scientists back then were very worried about warming.

At the end of the day, your client is acting as proxy for the fossil fuel industry. This may sound crazy, but his/her’s real argument is that oil and gas should not be regulated, that they should be able to pollute without regulations. People who argue that that the world is cooling, instead of warming, are really saying that there is no need to regulate pollution or emissions.

What’s even more bizarre is that they may not even realize this.

Naomi Oreskes discusses how this happened in her book, Merchants of Doubt, which shows that oil and gas industries hired the same public relations experts that defended the tobacco industry in the 80s. Recall that the tobacco industry - and the politicians they donated to - denied that cigarettes caused cancer (seriously), and they successfully perpetuated that myth for decades.

And that, my friend, is how an industry and politicians manipulate public opinion.



Postscript from yesterday’s announcement via Andrew Revkin: Looks like “Dot Earth" will stay open - for now.

From a logistical standpoint, the shutdown of Green was probably inevitable once the environment desk was closed in January. The two editors have new duties, and a blog is a lot of work. [Read “The Changing Newsroom Environment" for more.]

But inevitability doesn’t take away the sting.

Curtis Brainard, who writes about science journalism for the Columbia Journalism Review, harshly criticized Times management for the move and posted an apologetic e-mail message sent by Nancy Kenney, the former deputy environment editor, to the blog’s contributors.

The news side of The Times has nine sports blogs; nine spanning fashion, lifestyles, health, dining and the like; four business blogs; four technology blogs (five if you include automobiles as a technology); and a potpourri of other great efforts, with four of my favorites being the Learning Network blog, Scientist at Work, the IHT Rendezvous blog on global news and Lens, run by the paper’s photo staff. You can tour the paper’s blogosphere here.


Presumably because the two former environment editors are moving to new tasks, making it an orphaned effort in a shrinking newsroom: Tracking the Green Blog’s Reporters.”

I note that at the time of this posting, the above reader-notice has “0” comments…

The Anti-Science Left. A wonderful set of interviews on how the left denies science. (Warning: Chris Moody is as smug as ever, but the rest of the video is great.). They discuss Mark Lynas’s switch from anti-GMO to supporting GMOs by looking at the reams of scientific data. The great science writer Michael Shermer discusses evolution and climate change, and makes the case that despite all the doom in the news, humans and the environment are much better now than ever in history. Great conversation.