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More on Why We Need to Cover Global Warming Skeptics

Today’s installment of the NPR/National Geographic series, "Climate Connections," may get under the skin of some environmentalists, but I rather liked it. The story, "Teenage Skeptic Takes on Climate Scientists," profiles Kristin Byrnes, a 16-year-old global warming skeptic. Byrnes’s website, "Ponder the Maunder" became a huge hit among those who question whether humans have a hand in climate change when it featured her critique of the Academy Award winner, An Inconvenient Truth.

I liked the NPR story even though I don’t agree with Byrnes. Unlike some who say global warming is a hoax, Byrnes believes that the earth is getting warmer. She just doesn’t think human energy consumption is causing it. Rather, she would argue that the global climate is changing as a result of a natural climate cycle.

Activists like Byrnes have played an important role in the broader debate over climate change. Consider a poll NPR cites that found only 50 percent of those surveyed agreeing that humans were contributing to climate change. If that’s true, it’s especially important for media outlets to cover global warming skepticism — even if that skepticism comes from scientists not well respected by the mainstream scientific community. Reporters should certainly note scientists’ standing among their peers, too. Last month, I blogged about the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, a conference attended by climate skeptics. You can’t understand the full story of climate change and ignore the fact that there are still scientists, politicians, lobbyists and those in industry who say they don’t think global warming is a man-made problem.

Here’s what I think is funny, though. The blog Global Warming Hoax hardly had anything good to say about NPR’s piece today, rolling its eyes at media bias supporting climate science:

The NPR Interview was probably as fair as NPR can be on such an issue. It is still obviously difficult for them to give any legitimacy towards the side of the issue that they feel so strongly against. But Kristen was able to get in most of her points before NPR felt obligated to state that her’s is minority opinion and that most prominent scientists disagree with her.

Uh…but that’s true. Most scientists do disagree with her. So does the UN. So do the majority of people in 21 countries around the world, according to a BBC poll. It’s important to cover all sides of this topic, but it’s also important to be honest about what those sides are saying.

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