Turns out, the way that the mass media report on climate change has exaggerated the debate between scientists who argue that global warming is a real and urgent problem and the skeptics.
That’s according to a scientist at the University of Colorado, Maxwell Boykoff, whose research over the last couple of years has ranged from the perils of celebrity involvement in climate change to the way newspapers have reported on environmental issues.
In the course of his research, Boykoff has followed climate change coverage in 50 newspapers across 20 countries and six continents. His latest research shows that the media often give too much ink to climate change deniers, amplifying conflict and drama (and other things that tend to sell papers).
He says that the media are also guilty of lumping all skeptics together, no matter whether they’re fellow scientists (with, likely, a more credible concern) or politicians and others who have never studied the climate.
If you are a Coloradan and concerned about the environment, firstly, thanks for reading and, secondly, we’re worried that you may have come across a story recently that would lead you to believe that Denver is the worst polluter in the world.
We don’t blame you for coming to that conclusion, since a few sites, to which I am hesitant to link, have blared that as an attention-getting headline. And why not? What a great headline! DENVER BIGGEST POLLUTER IN THE WORLD!
Got your attention, right? You’re thinking, but surely there must be another city that pollutes more. Well, not according to science, say these blogs. Yes, they even link to a scientific study!
I wasn’t going to freak out about this until it was brought to my attention that it had spread to several sources — including some that you’d be likely to trust on this sort of thing. The first place that I saw it was on TheDailyGreen, which I usually like. Then I was sent links to similarly misleading stories/posts/releases on ScienceDaily and Huffington Post Denver (whose post is the least misleading of the three, but still a bit unclear; bonus points to the author, though, for simply making the point that regardless of Denver’s spot on the apocryphal list, there’s work to be done). Read more