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National Academy of Sciences slams climate disinformation campaign, flawed media coverage

WashPost editorial: Climate change denial becomes harder to justify

Last week I blogged on the major new climate report from the National Academy of Sciences, which called on nation to “substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions” starting ASAP.

A commenter pointed out a paragraph I missed buried on page 35 in the brief discussion of how “Many factors complicate and impede public understanding of climate change”:

Most people rely on secondary sources for information, especially the mass media; and some of these sources are affected by concerted campaigns against policies to limit CO2 emissions, which promote beliefs about climate change that are not well-supported by scientific evidence. U.S. media coverage sometimes presents aspects of climate change that are uncontroversial among the research community as being matters of serious scientific debate. Such factors likely play a role in the increasing polarization of public beliefs about climate change, along lines of political ideology, that has been observed in the United States.

Wow (considering the source).

The NAS is pretty darn bland and conservative as evidence by 90% of the contents of this report. So this is a hard slam against the mass media for being suckered by the fossil-fuel-funded anti-scientific disinformation campaign and generally miscovering the story of the century.

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And for those in the anti-scientist and/or breakthrough bunch who primarily blame the victims for both the disinformation campaign and the resulting polarization, the U.S. National Academy is calling BS on you.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has another editorial slamming the deniers, based on the NAS report. The whole thing is worth reading. Here are some excerpts:

… In a report titled “America’s Climate Choices,” a panel of scientific and policy experts also concludes that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks or disadvantages of action.

And the most sensible and urgently needed action, the panel says, is to put a rising price on carbon emissions, by means of a tax or cap-and-trade system. That would encourage innovation, research and a gradual shift away from the use of energy sources (oil, gas and coal) that are endangering the world.None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change….

Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be “” and the more drastic the needed response…..

What happens when Congress asks a question and gets an answer it doesn’t like? The response from Texas Rep. Joe Barton, senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, provides a clue. “I see nothing substantive in this report that adds to the knowledge base necessary to make an informed decision about what steps “” if any “” should be taken to address climate change,” Mr. Barton told the New York Times.

He’s right, of course “” there is essentially nothing new, and that’s the point. Every candidate for political office in the next cycle, including for president, should be asked whether they disagree with the scientific consensus of America’s premier scientific advisory group, as reflected in this report; and if so, on what basis they disagree; and if not, what they propose to do about the rising seas, spreading deserts and intensifying storms that, absent a change in policy, loom on America’s horizon.

Great editorial. Now the WashPost just needs to fix its own reporting (see Washington Post story about impact of global warming on Greenland never mentions sea level rise).

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