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E-M:/ Nominee for BAD SCIENCE REPORTING



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Folks:

In the Detroit Free Press today (prominently placed under the Nation/World
banner on page 4A, but on the web page listed under weather) is an article by
Seth Borenstein, Free Press DC Staff, entitled "US becoming cooler, wetter,
study says:Global warming theory during last 33 years is challenged".   The
story goes on to say that a new study "which detected a shift in the climate
in the lower 48 states since 1966, runs counter to what many Americans have
been feeling and what scientists have been theorizing."  The story spends most
of its time explaining that parts of the country have registered as cooler and
parts have been warmer during the last 33 years.  The lack of a "definite
physical cause" is cited by one scientist, an appropriate response for climate
change.

Then the story says "There is debate about what this means in the ongoing
argument about global warming.  Skeptics of global warming say the study
confirms what they thought: The world isn't getting hotter; maybe parts of it
are, but not the globe as a whole."  Please note -- "skeptics" are unnamed, no
source is cited -- it is not clear whether the reporter has anyone providing
this point of view.

Right after that is this "But climate change theorists say this doesn't
contradict the global warming theory.  'Global warming doesn't mean that
everywhere warms up at once, but rather there's complicated changes in
weather,' said Kevin Trenberth, leader of climate analysis at the nonprofit
National Center for Atmospheric Research.  He said the artic, including
Alaska, Russia and Europe are warming tremendously."  The rest of the story
discusses specific findings and differences among studies.

What I find MOST disturbing about this is that based on the actual people
QUOTED in this article, the story SHOULD have been written to say that Global
Climate Change theories upheld by complicated changes in weather, and cited
the differences in this country, along with those in others, to bolster what
is in fact a valid conclusion.  Instead, it appears the reporter has
misinterpreted, as many do, what "global warming" means, then attempted to
show that the study was disproving global warming or climate change scenarios,
when in fact it wasn't.  THIS is BAD reporting!!

As science becomes more complex and environmental effects are more and more
subtle, we desperately need reporting that ACCURATELY explains what is
happening in the scientific world. Sometimes, those results will be contrary
to what some of us think -- that's the great wild card of science, that GOOD
science is open to findings that are unexpected.  But when the findings are
misunderstood or misreported, the public is badly served.  I would be
curious about others' reactions to this as well.

The website for the story is:

http://www.freep.com/news/weather/qcool20.htm

Anne Woiwode



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