NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where do they get their misinformation?

Fredric a frequent poster to this blog raises a question:
Russ, you can post graph after graph as you may, but the fact is that we are laymen and very likely to miss vital facts. When scientists provide conclusions and reasoning, I don't go through all of the data and graphs again myself.
What do layman read? The reports published in the newspaper? On TV? Science magazines? What do the hysterical climate change folks read? I can assure you that most reporters do not read the whole report, or they intentionally leave out key material that does not fit their agenda.

Let me show you the problem with an example, give the latest report on hurricane strength report by Webster, which is creating headlines about increasing storm strenghts in the Atlantic Basin. Analysis is done by Roger Pielke at Climate Science:
Finally, the same analysis, as shown by Pat Michaels , when applied to an earlier time period (starting in 1945) than in the Webster et al. Science study, indicates that a high proportion of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes also occurred then.

000

Webster et al. do appear to recognize this issue. The Science article concludes with the statement (referring to the trend towards more frequent and intense hurricanes),

“This trend is not inconsistent with recent climate model simulations that a doubling of CO2 may increase the frequency of the most intense tropical cyclones, although the attribution of the 30-year trends to global warming would require a longer global data record and, especially, a deeper understanding of the role of hurricanes in the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, even in the present climate state”.
This qualification of their work was lost when the news media highlighted in their reports.
My highlights. Here we have Webster et al qualifying their work. Yet the headlines, and the stories, omit this key point: Webster's findings do not support the current models and a longer trend analysis is required for a deeper understanding to the problem. Did that come out in any of the newspaper articles? None that I could find.

So, if the “lets fix global warming now” advocates, our State Legislators, and Governor get their information from the newspapers, or web sites quoting the newspaper, without reading the full science report, or if commentors to this blog can not take the time taking to understand the graphs of real data, they cannot understand the whole global warming story. Is this on purpose or just lazyness?

Are we being fed misinformation by people who only grasp part of the story! Or, do they have an agenda for ignoring the qualifications at end of published scientific articles?

Science includes a lot of uncertainty, which is often ignored in the press and some blog readers.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Frederic Christie said...

"What do layman read? The reports published in the newspaper? On TV? Science magazines? What do the hysterical climate change folks read? I can assure you that most reporters do not read the whole report, or they intentionally leave out key material that does not fit their agenda."

Yes, and that happens both with right and left individuals, but in fact the media gives dissidents on global warming far more weight than they are given in the scientific community. However, even in your and my debates, we've cited probably 20 scientists and numerous charts and graphs. And all the advocates I've met who argue against global warming have plenty of facts and scientists on hand. I hardly think your claims about irrational panic spread by some kind of liberal menace hold any water.

“This trend is not inconsistent with recent climate model simulations that a doubling of CO2 may increase the frequency of the most intense tropical cyclones, although the attribution of the 30-year trends to global warming would require a longer global data record and, especially, a deeper understanding of the role of hurricanes in the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, even in the present climate state”.

Indeed, it would, and yet the evidence isn't surprising and will probably be borne out. Further, Russ, a lot of your arguments are a decade old. It only WAS a problem that we didn't have a good record of temperature. Now with ice core measuring we have good records for millenia. By the way, these are PRECISELY the data you'd use to say that we're in a warming or cooling cycle that's naturally caused, so you again are busily undermining yourself.

"This qualification of their work was lost when the news media highlighted in their reports."

Yes, that happens, and with conservative reports too. You lost the qualification provided in the original article when you discussed mosquitos, or the Sierra Club's suit. An article in a newspaper, even the New York Times, can't count on the necessary space or readership to discuss all the qualifications and nuances. Yes, sometimes polemics get inspired by this.

"So, if the “lets fix global warming now” advocates, our State Legislators, and Governor get their information from the newspapers, or web sites quoting the newspaper, without reading the full science report, or if commentors to this blog can not take the time taking to understand the graphs of real data, they cannot understand the whole global warming story. Is this on purpose or just lazyness?"

But here's the thing, Russ: I didn't say "read newspapers", though your one ALLEGATION (notice that you didn't even do a study of the reaction to that study even across all the main newspapers) doesn't disprove that the newspaper can't be cited. I've been citing scientists, graphs, etc. too. My point was that to cite the conclusions of scientists and their perosnal opinions seems to make a lot more sense than linking graphs to let laymen analyze.

"Are we being fed misinformation by people who only grasp part of the story! Or, do they have an agenda for ignoring the qualifications at end of published scientific articles?

Science includes a lot of uncertainty, which is often ignored in the press and some blog readers."

And blog writers. But Russ, I've been able to answer pretty much every one of your arguments, and have included fairly nuanced positions, I've thought. The uncertainty and difficulty of science does NOT change the general conclusion, which is that the scientific consensus very broadly is that warming is real.

Tue Sep 20, 10:01:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Russ Steele said...

Frederic:

Warming is real. We have not proven it is human caused and connected to CO2 emisions. As for the ice cores, they seem to show that over the past 400,000 years, CO2 consentrations follow the rise in temperature by 200 to 400 years. So, how was CO2 the cause of the warming? I will find the reference in my archives and post here.

Tue Sep 20, 01:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

"Warming is real. We have not proven it is human caused and connected to CO2 emisions."

Depending on what you mean by "proof", there is no "proof" of gravity. What there are are plausible theories. Anthropogenic global warming is the most plausible theory: it explains the correlations the best.

That's precisely the point, Russ. We know that the greenhouse effect exists. It seems that previously warming was due to solar effects. But now we see that the heating is so far beyond that that it's impossible to bae caused by any natural effect. The only logical alternative left is anthropogenic activity. The historically unprecedented nature works for the theory, not against it.

Tue Sep 20, 01:50:00 PM PDT  

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