Met Office wants scientists to step up and be clear about climate change
The cold snap or ‘big freeze’ disproves global warming. The heat wave the UK experienced last June proved it was real. Sometimes what’s obvious or ‘crystal clear’ is anything but. Climate change and global warming are – precisely as their names would suggest – global phenomena concerning climate, and not local weather events, as many apparently believe. And so the UK’s Meteorological Office – commonly referred to as the Met Office – would like climate scientists to better inform the public because, as this BBC News opinion piece by Dr Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, states:
‘No matter how many times we say that “global warming” means a rise of average temperature across the world, decade by decade, and not every year being consistently warmer than the last in every place on Earth, there are still those that get this mixed up.’
But climate scientists aren’t media men. The media generally likes things simple or most people won’t bother reading it. That’s why The Sun runs stories with names like ‘Fatties cause global warming’. It’s no coincidence that it’s the biggest selling paper in Britain. After all, all the info you need is right in the headline.
Scientists have to be honest and accurate, balanced and therefore usually kind of boring, while news is constantly – and increasingly – trying to jazz things up for higher ratings. Even science media has had trouble remaining scientific and in some instances seems to have given up. When is the last time you turned on the Discovery channel and it wasn’t showing some program featuring big, goateed dudes fixing motorcycles?
Still, there is plenty of good science and climate journalism out there. I like (among others) the Guardian, the BBC, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and – before you accuse me of being a big commie leftist – the Economist.
Read Richard Betts’ entire piece, entitled ‘Science must end climate confusion’, on the BBC News website. It’s pretty good.
by Graham Land