Home > AGW, Catastrophism, Climate Change, Global Warming, Omniclimate, Policy, Science, Skepticism > Yes, The News Media Can Only See Alarmism

Yes, The News Media Can Only See Alarmism

Andy @Revkin and others (here and here) note with John Fleck of inkstain that

Fleckstain: Media skip Science paper on energy solutions while hyping 1 on Arctic CH4. Problems hotter than solutions?

I do not think so. Simply, it’s all been Allcott’s and Mullainathan’s (the original authors’) fault. In fact, this is what they wrote:

Just as we use R&D to develop “hard science” into useful technological solutions, a similar process can be used to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations. Cost-effectiveness can be rigorously measured using scientific field-testing. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns.

And this is what they should have written instead:

It might be one of the most ominous bits of evidence yet that global warming could run out of control. Unless we use R&D to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations, the most-feared potential self-reinforcing effects of climate change may be starting to get under way. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns. Otherwise, the effects of climate change will persist becoming evident faster than anyone predicted.

(click here for the original alarmism)

Obviously, Climategate notwithstanding, an enormous percentage of newsmedia people still firmly believe only titillating stories about upcoming disasters will ever attract the interest of their readers. I have a feeling that’s the kind of newsmedia most likely to go the way of the dodo, at least regarding scientific journalism.

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  1. cmb
    2010/03/10 at 16:23

    To previous poster – it’s easy. It says so right in the article. That exact sentence, in fact. =)

  2. 2010/03/07 at 23:09

    Have you read Denis Rancourt’s essay “Global Warming: Truth or Dare?”

  3. papertiger
    2010/03/06 at 12:05

    I cruised through earlier, took a look at this post and thought, “eh. I got nothing much to say on this.”

    Then I turn around and BAM. The topic hits me in the face at the next establishment source I ran into.

    At the local Public television station’s online site Molly Samual posts:
    (Some) Pika Persist at Low Elevations.

    One of the authors, Connie Millar, said she saw pika far more often and in a broader elevation range than she had expected she would.

    This newest study would seem to support the federal decision. But Shaye Wolf, staff biologist with the CBD, says that though the study “provides a snapshot of where pika are now, long-term in-depth studies have found that pika populations are declining.”

    The majority of those declining populations are in Nevada’s Great Basin, at relatively low elevations for pika colonies. One paper Wolf cites was recently published in Ecological Applications. Authors Erik Beever and Chris Ray concluded that shrinking pika populations in the Great Basin could be partially attributed to climate change. Pika have an extremely narrow band of temperature tolerance and can suffer heat stroke in temperatures comfortable to humans.

    Meanwhile, even though the Fish and Wildlife Service has denied federal protection to the pika, CBD is still working on gaining state-level protection in California. CBD biologists consider the pika to be a bellwether species for climate change.

    Molly wrote that after reading this; American Pika are thriving in the Sierra Nevada and southwestern Great Basin

    Rock formations buffer pika from warming temperatures ALBANY, Calif., March 1, 2010—

    New research addressing climate change questions, a priority focus of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, documents that American pika in the Sierra Nevada and southwestern Great Basin are thriving and persist in a wider range of temperatures than previously discovered. Results were recently published in a paper titled “Distribution and Climatic Relationships of the American Pika (Ochotona princeps) in the Sierra Nevada and Western Great Basin, U.S.A.; Periglacial Landforms as Refugia in Warming Climates,” by Constance Millar and Robert Westfall in the February 2010 issue of the journal “Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research.”
    A small mammalian relative of rabbits and hares, the American pika inhabits rocky slopes of western North American mountains. Pikas tolerate cold climate environments through a combination of physiological and behavioral adaptations where these same adaptations may make them sensitive to even mildly warm climates. Vulnerability of pika habitat to global warming has been an escalating concern, causing speculation that the range of suitable pika habitat will contract upward in elevation as lower elevation site temperatures increase. Millar and Westfall developed and used a rapid assessment method to detect recent presence of American pika in 94 percent of 420 sites in the Sierra Nevada, California, southwestern Great Basin, central Great Basin and central Oregon Cascades ranges. Occurrence and non-detection sites were then compared to pika’s habitat affinities to rock formation types and the climatic features of those sites. Rock-ice feature landforms are important habitat components providing insulation and refugia from outside air temperature increases and accounted for 83 percent of the sites. Site climate data indicate that in this study region, pika tolerate a wider range of temperatures and precipitation than previously interpreted.
    Low elevation populations are usually in relatively warmer locations, so have been thought to be at risk due to rising 20th-21st century temperatures. Millar & Westfall found, however, that 12% of their occupied sites were lower in elevation than the historic (early 20th century) records indicate, revealing that pika live 500 meters (1640 feet) below what was previously known for this region.
    Results of this study suggest that pikas in the Sierra Nevada and southwestern Great Basin appear to be thriving and tolerating a wide range of thermal environments. This study also suggests a greater distribution in the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin than has been found in other studies in these regions, and provides important baseline surveys that can be used in future pika ecology and population studies.

    How in the hell can you read this, and then interpret it as “…shrinking pika populations in the Great Basin could be partially attributed to climate change”?

    It’s enough to make me want to pull my hair out.

    Channel 6 is local to me, so what I need is someone to talk me out of beating the crap out of Molly.

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