Climate change experts impress top US news editors at Stanford University

September 9, 2007 at 3:35 pm | Posted in California, Climate change, Editors, Leadership, Newspapers, Scientists, United States, US media | 4 Comments

THERE SHOULD be no doubt that global warming is the most compelling issue of our time. If unchecked, it will threaten our national security, stress our economy and degrade our quality of life in so many ways. Our willingness to confront this unprecedented heating of the planet is a test of our moral obligation to our children and their children.

Yet it remains a second-tier issue among the candidates for president of the United States. This is unacceptable. California, which elevated its clout by moving its primary to Feb. 5, must demand that candidates who want to compete for votes here must prioritize an issue that is at once very local and very global.

The world effectively lost eight years in the effort to apply a brake to climate change while the Bush administration slowly evolved from denial to foot dragging in response to a strong scientific consensus that human activity – namely, the consumption of fossil fuels – was putting life on Earth on a collision course with disaster.Some of the nation’s leading experts on climate change gathered at Stanford University last week to discuss climate change with top editors of major U.S. newspapers. One of the striking features of the all-day sessions was the ability of the scientists to present such eye-popping findings with clarity and professional calm.

Read more of today’s Editorial The issue of our time dated Sunday, September 9, 2007 in my transatlantic local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, at SFGateDOTcom 😉

This one’s for Rob over at climatespin because he wrote a great post on climate change opinions and editorials, tying together the views of Steve Outing and Mark Lynas. (That followed his earlier post The morality of global warming which highlights the spineless attitudes of some reporters.) The media has contorted itself into a twisted bind and has lost direction over the business of objectivity when it comes to climate change. Rob is right that Jay Rosen provided useful background—that is, objectivity was originally intended to blunt the pen so it’s no longer mightier than the sword. Instead of demobilising an attack weapon to prevent harm to innocents, we have lost a tool that carves out the truth in plain letters to enhance understanding.

So, here I am, keeping track of news reports on that meeting at Stanford University last Wednesday, 5 September 2007. As more appear (if they do) I shall add them to this list:

The issue of our time
San Francisco Chronicle, USA
THERE SHOULD be no doubt that global warming is the most compelling issue of our time. If unchecked, it will threaten our national security,

Rick Rogriquez: Global warming — a hot issue that won’t go away
Sacramento Bee, USA
A group of the world’s leading scholars on climate change had a message for news executives earlier this week: In reporting the global warming story,

So this editor walks into a bar with three climate scientists. . .
Seattle Post Intelligencer
OK, we have to admit that we have no joke to go with that headline, although Stephan Pastis of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip did provide this little gem just in time to save our bacon. …

Stanford’s Jon Krosnick, who studies communications, political science and psychology, said the public has realized there’s a problem and “that

Here is an audio file of the whole plenary session. And the Watchdog Earth blog also covered this session — look here.

The reason this intrigues me, is that this is the first time I have heard of such a high-level meeting of senior editors and scientists in America. It seems to have been very effective for the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, who sounds quite impressed by the scientists’ clear and honest explanations, though the scientists’ efforts seemed to have less clarity for the editor of the Sacramento Bee. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting, and seen how the other 16 senior media representatives responded (though I’d have to buy more carbon offsets to get back there, so I shall make do with t’Internet for now 😉

My husband took this beautiful gold-backed mosaic of the angel of HOPE on Stanford Memorial Church speaks volumes. Particularly poignant is the way HOPE is dressed in green and clutching an anchor.

Hope mosaic on Stanford Memorial Church at the University


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  1. Well done on your attention to this issue. One element of a lot of talk on the blogosphere about climate change remains over the science, but we need to realise that, despite the uncertainties that remain (over what Oreskes calls “tempo and mode”), the real fight will be over the media. When people see scientists and doubters squabbling over numbers and data, we lose the opportunity to advance the debate.

  2. It’s my pleasure to track these stories down. I just found the Seattle PI blog including more good links to the plenary session and beyond!
    Climate change reality is not a big front page ticket item yet in America (as it has been in Britain for a while), but I do think that there is some media catch-up going on, and the leaders will be the ones with the confidence to discover, confirm and speak the truth despite the naysayers’ loud protestations.
    Money talks, but only as long as the public will let it, I guess.

  3. Yeah—good job, inel, in finding these great pieces.

    You’re right, but hopefully people like you and me can work on bringing the issue to the forefront….

  4. Dear Robert Schreib, Jr. aka Techrex,

    As you can see, I have not posted your comment. In fact, I have reported it as SPAM because that will help Akismet prevent you from pestering other sites.

    I did check up on your profile, and saw this:

    Favorites: Movies, superhero TV shows, and butter pecan ice cream, and sending out unsolicited technical recommendations or ‘Techrex’ all over the Internet.

    There must be a better way for you to play your part in combatting climate change, without spending a dime, and without sending out Techrex to all and sundry. You do not have to be rich to have a low carbon footprint, but I do agree with you that there are many more options available to the wealthy, should they choose to reduce their carbon footprints (which also means they maintain their lifestyles by continuing to consume energy, but if its renewables they are adopting that’s not such a bad thing).

    I do think we need to think outside the box and realise that there are some cases now whereby homeowners who already have fully insulated homes and renewable sources of energy could help others of lower income to insulate their homes to avoid energy waste. I don’t think governments can get their act together quickly enough on things like this. But I do think there are situations where families or neighbourhoods can help others in their family or community cut energy waste or convert to renewable sources and have a greater impact (and at a lower cost than upgrading their own homes).

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