Monday, October 07, 2013

English major Chris Mooney on press coverage of the pause: "Skeptics must be in heaven"

Who Created the Global Warming "Pause"? | Mother Jones
...The IPCC responded by ramping up its communications efforts. It "upgraded" a prior communication staff job to a senior-level position, and added an additional junior staffer. In addition, the IPCC's budget documents outline an array of communications expenditures related to the Fifth Assessment Report's release. However, it is noteworthy that most of the budget total is for next year, not this year, even though it's likely that the peak moment for media attention has already passed. Furthermore, more than half of the 2014 budget is dedicated to scientists' travel (720,000 Swiss francs, or about $800,000). The total communications budget for 2013 was 240,000 Swiss Francs (about $265,000), and for 2014 is 1,145,000 Swiss Francs ($1,265,000).

Such investments notwithstanding, one plainly avoidable communications blunder occurred in the rollout: The IPCC released the report on a Friday, which is infamous for being the day of the week when you try to bury bad news so it won't be noticed. More important, it's not clear that the panel's communications ramp up prepared it to deal with a new, combined media-skeptic line of attack: the "pause."
...At the press conference in Stockholm when the report was released, journalists relentlessly questioned the report's drafters about the pause.
It remains to be seen just how much damage has been done. But at minimum, we can say that during a major moment for climate scientists to communicate the direness of our plight, they were instead being questioned about why global warming has "paused." Skeptics must be in heaven.

Whose fault is all this? The skeptics, the journalists—but yes, the scientists too.
"I think the deniers deserve most of the blame. They're still trying to confuse people," says Susan Joy Hassol, who directs Climate Communication, a nonprofit science and outreach group.

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