A Flood of Unusual Accuracy

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Credit: Malene Thyssen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Credit: Malene Thyssen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

An interesting analysis in Environmental Research Letters of the accuracy of media reporting of climate-related sea level rise. The premise: That the mass media associates sea level rise with climate change and reports on it frequently, yet the scientific community remains dubious of the media’s accuracy.

So how good or bad is the situation really? The authors examined the accuracy of reporting between 1989 and 2009 by seven prominent US and UK newspapers:

  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Financial Times
  • The Times (London)
  • The Guardian
  • The Telegraph
 Credit: NASA.Credit: NASA.
 
Their findings—a surprise to me and I suspect to the authors too—that journalists have done an excellent job portraying scientific research on sea level rise projections to 2100.
 
So why the unease? 
 
Well it turns out that while coverage of the issue of sea level rise has risen in the past 20 years, it’s done so in fits and starts pegged to major news cycles—the release of an IPCC report, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2009 COP-15.
 

 

Credit: Environmental Research Letters DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/6/1/014004)Credit: Environmental Research Letters DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/6/1/014004

There’s been little to no coverage of direct research, the completion of specific projections, or the publication of incremental but important papers. For those milestones, the mass media is largely silent. Obviously this speaks to the different tool sets of media and science—media being the microphone, science the microscope. If we can ever get them working together, we’ll get real traction against the flood.

 

Credit: Wikinedia Commons.Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The authors conclude:

Mass media presentations of climate change remain key influences that bound discourses and shape the spectrum of possibility for climate mitigation and adaptation actions. Amid much recent criticism of climate science and the media on the high-stakes, high pro?le and highly politicized issue, accurate reporting on projections for sea level rise by 2100 demonstrates a bright spot at the interface of climate science and mass media. These ?ndings can contribute to more measured considerations of climate impacts and policy action in the public sphere.
  
The paper:

 Crossposted from Deep Blue Home.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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