Archive for the ‘Media’ Category


Nothing New Under the Sun

Science in the days of John Tyndall, the man who in the mid 19th century identified the greenhouse gases (the greenhouse effect itself was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824) certainly had to deal with Deniers.

After all, it was a period of great scientific discovery, including Darwin’s Evolution by Natural Selection. Scientific discoveries that threatened orthodoxy and ignorance.

Tyndall knew the consequences of Denial and the measure of the people who wallow in it:

It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste.” ~ John Tyndall

He also knew how much point there was to presenting them with facts and reason in the hope that they would assess the facts fairly and objectively:

Religious feeling is as much a verity as any other part of human consciousness; and against it, on the subjective side, the waves of science beat in vain.”

So it’s no surprise that Tyndall took the time to try and help educate a broader public about science and scientific matters (“Fragments of science for unscientific people“). Those were simpler times when gentlemen wrote books and gave public talks for other gentlemen. Now with dozens of different types of media and instant global communication that can potentially reach almost any inhabitant on the planet the art of communication has become mind boggling.

Actually it’s not particularly any more complicated or difficult than it ever was, it’s just more incoherent and bewildering. What could and needed to be done was easier to discern then, now it is not so obvious, but the fundamentals remain the same.

In an earlier post I spoke of the need for a coherent, proactive media strategy. It is not my intent to lay one out, but rather to talk about what a media strategy is and what some of the options might be for implementation.

Further, as I stated in another earlier post: “Granted the climate science community is a loose network of a broad spectrum of individuals and groups, with occasional nodes that might be described as coalitions and the like, so I am not suggesting a unified strategy. It’s not only impractical, it’s probably impossible.

Even so, it is possible for us to have a loose strategy that is constantly discussed and reviewed, and which many in the network implement in ways that are suited to their strengths and abilities.


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Recently Joe Romm was very impressed with Dave Roberts’ Policy in an age of post-truth politics” where “the referees have left the building” and for the most part I have to agree (hint, read it).

However, I think there is one significant disagreement, less so with Roberts than Romm I think, who summarized Roberts’ article as:

“It speaks to what happens when the referees — the media — don’t call balls and strikes anymore but mainly report the play-by-play.”

The referee metaphor is indeed Roberts’, and he does say “But the referees [media] have left the building.” He is talking about a broken system, ie civic society generally, and the dysfunctional dynamic between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US specifically. The media reference is about the medias’ failure to play a watchdog role.

To which I say, what? Since when has the media been an impartial referee? Below is a sampling (and it is merely a small sampling) of quotes about the press over the past two and a half centuries. Use a search engine to find ‘Quotes “the press”‘ for many hours of more like them.

“The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where their interests are involved. ” – Henry B Adams


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BPSDB  This trailer for a new documentary that is still in production popped up five days ago and it looks interesting. Clips from the interviews have been being posted every day since (selection below). See what you think.

Oooh, they just added Elizabeth Kolbert and Barbara Bramble (The Birth of the Rainforest Action Network) (and look for Steve Schneider in the trailer).

A Fierce Green Fire Official Trailer


Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Bill McKibben – Public Consciousness and Climate Change


War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Lois Gibbs – The Uniqueness of Love Canal


Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way


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Shoot out at the “I’m OK” Corral

BPSDB Tom Yulsman at CEJ is not upset. Apparently people are criticising media coverage of climate issues, leading him to ask “Environmental journalists: Are we really that awful?

At first he was upset with Anthony Watts, Brad Johnson and Joseph Romm, but now the list includes  Michael Tobis, Scott Mandia, Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, and Kevin Trenberth.

This began as a very different post, but then I read the materials more closely and it changed everything. Actually reading the material I intend to discuss is a nasty habit which ruins all of my best ideas; I really should stop doing that.

A day in Tombstone

At the Progress Saloon

1) Joseph Romm posted “And the 2010 Citizen Kane award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to …“, an overview of quite a lot of really ghastly penny dreadfuls masquerading as irresponsible tabloids reporting on climate in 2010.

2) Brad Johnson of Think Progress comments on the piece, being critical of media generally, environmental journalists and climate scientists in particular. A bit over the top in some respects, but he makes some good points.

Down by the stables

3) Time Magazines’ Bryan Walsh did a piece Holiday Blizzard: More Signs of Global Warming discussing how snow storms were consistent with the science of climate change and in no way supported the Denier position.

4) Watts Earp(withthat) took exception to the Walsh (3) piece. He strongly objected to the “Preemptive straw man arguments” in Walsh’s “annual piece on global warming causing blizzards.”  Presumably what upset Watts most was that Walsh’s “preemptive straw man” anticipated Watts’ idiotic annual piece on blizzards proving there is no global warming.


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BPSDB That’s right, Faux News thought Stewart’s coverage was just great, no irony or sarcasm at all.

The sad news is, Fox is right. The Daily Show earned that praise and deserves it, unfortunately.

Once again Stewart acted largely as an echo chamber for a climate story rather than as the insightful wit that cuts to the truth with clever juxtapositioning. Completely absent was Stewart’s trademark of letting a talking head crawl out on a limb, and then presenting some visual or commentary that exposes the lie.


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Fontaines à boules de Pol BuryBPSDBClimate change Denier writers and journalists like Jonah Goldberg have a very difficult challenge. How to report a story such that you can end with a conclusion that is the exact opposite of the obvious truth?

Often they don’t have the luxury of too much outright lying such as much of the Denialosphere practices, at least if they write for publications that hope to retain some shred of credibility. So what to do?

I thought it would be useful to look at how National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg handled one recent Denier meme to underscore the principle techniques used. By being aware of them we are able to pick them out quickly and expose them for others.

A week ago Meehl et al published “Amplifying the Pacific Climate System Response to a Small 11-Year Solar Cycle Forcing” in Science Magazine. This quickly found it’s way into the popular media in articles like ” Study says shines light on sun spot-climate link” (???) and and the even more poorly titled (in terms of accuracy, not grammer) “How Sunlight Controls Climate.”  From there it jumped to the Denialosphere as the standard ‘It’s all just the Sun’ meme … again.


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HMS Pinafore (10)

BPSDB The Plimer / Monbiot debate saga continues.  In brief, climate change Denier Ian Plimer challenged prominent (climate) journalist George Monbiot to a debate. Monbiot accepted but with the condition of the submission of written questions prior to the debate. Monbiot submitted a rational and reasonable set of questions directly related to Plimer’s book. Plimer responded with juvenile and irrelevant bafflegab.

What does the Plimer Monbiot debate tell us about how we approach educating the public about climate change / global warming? Is there anything more of interest to learn from the Plimer farce? can his recent infamy inform our efforts to better educate the public? are there any take away lessons?

Drops the wind and stops the mill

As reported earlier Deep Climate submitted a complaint to the Australian Broadcasting Company about giving Plimer a soapbox when they know full well he is distorting and misrepresenting the facts. Predictably the outcome is not satisfactory.


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