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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

 

March-April 2011

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Responding to Climate Change: “America's Climate Choices” Lays Out Options

There is no doubt that climate change is a hot topic in the news. Coverage of the issue from all sides of the debate has presented a lot of conflicting information that, unfortunately, has left many people confused about what is really known about climate change. Making matters worse, there is evidence that journalists may not be focusing on the actual science of climate change in their coverage.

A report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford (Summoned by Science, Reporting Climate Science at Copenhagen and Beyond, 2010) estimated that about 4,000 journalists attended the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009, where world leaders including President Obama gathered to negotiate an international climate treaty. The study found that a slim 10 percent of the journalists' coverage focused on the actual science of climate change; the vast majority was focused on other aspects of the issue. The study's author points to the failure to place the summit's discussions in the context of current scientific understanding as a major shortcoming of the coverage.

Edward J. Dunlea is a Senior Program Officer at the National Research Council's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

Laurie Geller is a Senior Program Officer for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and served as study director for Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change.

Ian Kraucunas is a Senior Program Officer for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and served as study director for Advancing the Science of Climate Change.

Martha C. McConnell is a Program Officer for the National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board and served as study director for Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change.

Claudia Mengelt is a Senior Program Officer for the Ocean Studies Board and served as study director for Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change.

Nancy F. Huddleston is Communications Director for the National Research Council's Division on Earth and Life Studies.

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