Covering climate policy: science versus politics

By
Monday, November 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Maybe it’s time to renew my pledge to write more often about climate science and how it shapes the political debate.

Reuters reports on a new study that shows that under 10 percent of the articles written about last year’s United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen focused primarily on climate science:

Much coverage from Copenhagen instead focused on hacked e-mails from a British university that some skeptics took as evidence of efforts by scientists to ignore dissenting views. The scientists involved have since been cleared of wrongdoing.

There’s no doubt that reporters (myself included) are under-serving their readers when it comes to a substantive discussion of climate science. Because many of us in Washington cover energy and the environment through the lens of politics, climate science often gets short shrift. But climate science and climate politics don’t have to be separate beats. In fact, they must not be.

More often than not, science plays a minimal role in politicians’ public discussions about various energy and environmental policies because polling says it doesn’t test well with the average constituent. Instead, policies are explained in terms of jobs, the economy and national security — the key issues of the day. But what’s lost in those explanations (e.g. “a renewable energy standard will create jobs” or “building a new fleet of electric vehicles will lessen our dependence on foreign oil”) is the scientific rationale for these policy choices. The wealth of scientific research shows that inaction will have dire consequences: drought, deforestation, sea level rise.

But one line in every story about the “scientific consensus on climate change” is not enough. Increasingly, readers don’t trust reporters, so it’s important to show them the research and then explain it. I haven’t been doing that enough and will work to do it more.

I can tell you all from experience that my own posts about climate science don’t traffic well. So the question is this: How can reporters balance the often-juicy political reporting that readers crave with the take-your-medicine science reporting that readers need?

I’ve got a few ideas, but I’d be interested in hearing your suggestions.

Follow Andrew Restuccia on Twitter


Comments

44 Comments

Tweets that mention Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent -- Topsy.com
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Green Economy Post and Andrew Restuccia, WashIndependent. WashIndependent said: Covering climate policy: science versus politics http://bit.ly/93Bmr3 [...]


Butchered or trampled? Gloves come off in bone mark debate | Not Exactly Rocket Science | The News of World
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

[...] Covering meridian policy: science contra governing body « The Washington … [...]


Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … | Navaneeth.in
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

[...] posted here: Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


PolyStation 3 Review
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent [...]


Bio Guard Plastic Silver Ion Antimicrobial Cutting Boards – SWIM Fishing Leagues Newest Sponsor | Round Cutting Board
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « Th&#1077 Washington Independent [...]


Out of the Archives – Calculators, Computers….and Stuff – Zoonomian | printer2 home
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Climate scientist at the heart of emails controversy says he did nothing wrong | The News of World
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: scholarship contra governing body « The Washington … [...]


My Dog Mya: Feral Cat Management: What's New Pussy Cat? | feed cat
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Health Policy Brief: Medical Loss Ratios – Health Affairs Blog :: Natural Health
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Brasil - Brazil | Climate science “under-reported” at 2009 U.N. summit
Pingback posted November 15, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Head Lice Blog » Blog Archive » School board amends head lice policy
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 12:12 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Lab Manual for Schneider/Gersting’s Invitation to Computer Science | Best all_books Books
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 2:05 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Lab Manual for Schneider/Gersting’s Invitation to Computer Science"; a2a_config.linkurl="http://all_books.booksharecentral.net/2010/computers/lab-manual-for-schneidergerstings-invitation-to-computer-science/"; [...]


Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … | feed cat
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 3:25 am

[...] The rest is here: Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Steve Spangler on The Ellen Show September 2007 | Work From Home
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 3:55 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Q&A: Does anyone know where I can apply for a loan online and get an instant decision? :: apply for a loan online
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 8:37 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent [...]


A look at the latest climate research and its impact on the energy debate North Capitol Street
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 8:57 am

[...] the spirit of writing more often about climate research, I thought I’d share some new research on the impact of climate change on coral reefs and [...]


Cheat Your Way Thin: An Interview with Joel Marion :: Step To Good Diet
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 9:40 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Sandbox Scientist: Real Science Activities for Little Kids | Outdoor Sandbox
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 10:22 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent [...]


Cancer and Indigenous health: the pitfalls of assumption-based policy. November 4, 2010 ? … http://reduce.li/ynlo2q #assumption :: Natural Health
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 10:25 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Maine Has Most Improved Health Care Quality; Kansas Needs More … :: Natural Health
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Life insurance death claims, on a temporary policy – can they deny a claim? :: news-insurance.co.cc
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


How to make a floating concrete boat? | Travel First Aid Kits
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « Th&#1077 Washington Independent [...]


dawn of war 2 rs | StarCraft2 Guide
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Airport Scanners: Invasion Of Privacy Rights « Fresh Healthy Body
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


NOSTRANAU (Astronomia)-Astrologia
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent [...]


Pet Insurance Coverage Plans – Some Ways To Know If You Will Want It
Pingback posted November 16, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


How To Make Your Own Gourmet Coffee At Home In Seconds – Put Starbucks To Shame!
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 12:08 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


terapias alternativas
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 1:52 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington Independent [...]


Nice Endowment Policies photos :: Endowment Policies
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 2:56 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Big Bear Cabins For Rent – boosted by feedcat.net | feed cat
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 3:04 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Develop Powers Of Clairvoyance
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 7:33 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Learn Telepathy – A Natural Way To Communicate
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Why Is Chakra Meditation So Important?
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Shield Your Eyes From Certain Factors That Decrease Vision
Pingback posted November 17, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


Solar Panel System – Know How To Save Our Mother Earth With This System And Save The Future Now!
Pingback posted January 19, 2011 @ 7:16 am

[...] Covering climate policy: science versus politics « The Washington … [...]


rats as pets
Trackback posted August 23, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

dumbo rats…

[...]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[...]…


stainless steel butter
Trackback posted August 25, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

bread serving tongs…

[...]the time to read or visit the content or sites we have linked to below the[...]…


hawaiian tropical flower
Trackback posted August 25, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

nwt betsey johnson…

[...]while the sites we link to below are completely unrelated to ours, we think they are worth a read, so have a look[...]…


jobs in damascus ga
Trackback posted September 2, 2011 @ 4:27 am

[...]click approve so we can link to you[...]…


Sleep Apnea Treatment
Trackback posted September 4, 2011 @ 7:13 am

How To Stop Snoring…

[...]free of charge provided back links who have up to now associated with as a result of cost-free advancement[...]…


Head and facial sweating be gone review
Trackback posted September 6, 2011 @ 8:19 am

Improve your Physique…

[...]we would like to help promote some of the more high end blogs on our list here[...]…


שטיח
Comment posted September 6, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

שמעתם על אתר עם היצע ענק של טפט, פרקט ווילונות . באתר מגוון רחב של פרקט בשרון,ריצוף PVC, טפטים לקירות ועוד.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.