Veteran Science Writer Cris Russell Explores ‘Now What?’ for Covering Climate

Veteran science writer Cristine Russell, now a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, asks “Now What?” in a July /August 20087 Columbia Journalism Review feature.

Her answer, in part, calls for a sharpening of reporting on politics, and business in coming years while not ignoring the continuing importance of climate science (“The devil is in the details.”)

Russell, a former science reporter with both The Washington Post and, before that, with The Washington Star, urges reporters to avoid “yo-yo” coverage of each new scientific study. “Put the latest findings in context,” she writes.

“Avoid attributing any specific weather event directly to climate change,” she cautions, and beware “techno-optimism.”

“Proponents of new energy technologies often hype the potential benefits – without knowing the effectiveness, cost, time frame (always longer than expected), risks, or potential impact on the larger energy picture. It’s a reporter’s duty to explain the potential downside as well as conflicts of interests.”

Russell’s piece includes a useful compilation of key web sites for journalists covering climate change.

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