Archive for the ‘Independent on Sunday’ tag

Can newspapers 'do' climate change?

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The science of climate change, complicated even for those who make a career of studying it, is made more complicated still by the way our newspapers cover it.

Depending on their political persuasion, the papers seem quite happy to wade in on one side or the other with the latest ‘proof’ of global warming or countervailing ‘proof’ that global warming isn’t happening.

Read yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph and you’d have seen Christopher Booker trumpeting the sceptical argument (in ‘Even the warmists can feel this chill’). Based on a number of freak snow showers in Greece, Crete and Turkey, and on ‘scientific data showing just how abnormal this winter’s cooling has been’, Booker casts his own serious doubt on whether CO2 is causing global warming. “[S]uch drastic cooling hardly accords with the classic global warming theory”, Booker posits.

Given that Booker is neither a scientist, nor even a science journalist (he studied history at Cambridge according to Wikipedia), it seems odd that he should be so determinedly sceptical of the science of climate change.

But choose another paper – this time the Independent on Sunday – and you get a similarly tenuous assertion, just in the other direction. Page 3 of the paper records the arrival of the Red Admiral butterfly to a Dorset churchyard. It quotes Dr Martin Warren, chief executive of Butterfly Conservation, as saying that this is “real proof that the climate is changing”.

Snowstorms in Turkey or Red Admirals in Dorset. It doesn’t seem like either is a particularly firm foundation on which to base scientific proof.

Written by Martin Moore

February 25th, 2008 at 1:31 pm