When I first started writing on global warming here at DailyTech, I wrote much in the style I saw at rival news sites like CNN.com and BBCNews.com. However, in the days since my articles on global warming have grown scarcer and, in my opinion, more considered.
You see, there is an alarming trend in the coverage of global warming which I have witnessed -- one that goes both ways. Perhaps proponents that global warming is increasing and is anthropogenic (manmade) are indeed who launched this trend. Regardless, there are many articles which litter the news citing doomsday observations about global warming from sea level rises, to storms and droughts.
A lot of the problem, as I see it, is not so much the material behind these articles itself, which certainly has scientific merit, but rather the context that it's provided in. Global warming commercial press is overwhelming extremist -- whether for or against. For proponents, this means drawing sweeping conclusions from select climatological events and writing dire doomsday predictions.
For skeptics, writing has come to an equal extreme. I've seen articles, including from my fellow debate partner Michael Asher, suggesting global cooling could be the next big problem. Headlines in particular tend to be equally sensational, indicating that hoards of major scientists are forsaking global warming and that trends are sharply reversing. Again, these studies cite data, but place it in an extremist context -- in this case denialist.
In the end, though, I can only be my own worst critic. I promised Mike Asher a piece if the North Pole ice cap did not melt, as some news sites suggested and I blogged on. It didn't melt -- which really doesn't say much about whether global warming is occurring or not. However, it did help me to see the sadly extremist and unscientific state of climate writing on both sides of the aisle.
The truth of the matter, which any honest climatologist would tell you, is that we just don't know yet. Many believe there is solid data that a great deal of the Earth has been warming slightly over the last couple decades, but the exact reason why is still unknown. There's an abundance of theory about what might be causing it, but much research remains to be done. There also have been telltale signs that there has been some cooling this year, but again, this needs to be viewed in a broader context.
In the end, what people need to realize is just because it isn't the end of the world doesn't mean that global warming might not be happening. And whether it is or isn't; understanding and analytically examining our planet's climate is an endeavor worth devoting time, money, and some of the world's brightest brains to. Likewise, "environmental" initiatives like species conservation, land protection, fuel efficient vehicles, and alternative energy are good ideas with or without AGW beliefs.
It’s been an interesting year, and it the coming year to follow, I suggest that readers following the warming debate take into consideration both sides of the issue, even if you agree more with one. I am encouraged to see a trend here at DailyTech to provide a more balanced perspective, citing diverging opinions and putting things in a more scientific and less sensational context. I feel that I have seen this in both some of my recent pieces, and in some of Michael's, such as his excellent article on the decrease in sea level rise this year. I hope we both strive to continue this trend and continue to provide the best diverse coverage for our readers, and that the readership continues to provide both of us the feedback we find so valuable.
quote: It is rare to see a AGW advocate criticize sensationalism when it is for his/her own cause.