The New Year has begun with a blast of arctic air freezing much of the country. The winter weather – and of course it’s weather and not climate – isn’t exactly the kind of motivation people need to think about the globe’s warming.
With an incoming U.S. President vowing to seriously address climate change, and his cabinet filling with outspoken advocates for such action, the United States, its economy, and its approach to the climate issue are poised to change in profound ways.
Common Climate Misconceptions
In reporting on climate change, the carbon, carbon dioxide (CO2), greenhouse gases, radiative forcing, and CO2-equivilent (CO2-eq) are often used almost interchangeably to refer to the human contribution to recent warming.
Looking Back to Learn Going Forward
Eight years ago, to limited press coverage, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Ph.D., led a team in a significant report on climate change and New York City.
The findings, published in July 2001 as “Climate Change and a Global City: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change,” were sobering: They asserted that the New York City region was warming faster than the global average – by nearly 2 degrees F over the previous century.
Coverage of climate change in 2008 pales quantitatively when compared with previous years’ upward trends. Victim of the global financial crisis? Of news room “down sizing”? Of polar bears having become “old news”? Of short attention spans and perhaps “climate fatigue” on the part of editors and audiences? All this and more?
A quantitative and qualitative look at mainstream media coverage of “the story of the century.” And what a new year, a new administration in Washington, and a critical year-end international negotiation may mean for coverage in 2009.
Business Beat Perspective
John Carey is a Business Week Senior Correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has covered science, technology, medicine, health, energy, and the environment for the magazine since joining it nearly 20 years ago and has written extensively and insightfully on climate change. He earlier had worked for six years for Newsweek and in other journalism positions, and his reporting has earned a number of respected journalism awards, including one from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS.
Carey has a B.S. degree in biochemistry from Yale University, an M.Sc. in marine biology from the University College of North Wales, and an M.F.S. in forest ecology from Yale. In this e-mail Q&A, he looks back at coverage of climate change in the year now ending … and ahead to what 2009 may hold in store.
The Mix - Climate Scientists and Op-Eds
Last summer the head of Harvard University’s Science, Technology and Public Policy program, John Holdren, penned an argument on the subject of climate change sufficiently compelling that The Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune eagerly published it. On the morning of August 4, 2008, however, subscribers opened their newspapers and read in the Opinion pages a different version of Holdren’s original viewpoint, “Climate Change Skeptics are Dangerously Wrong.”