Friday, January 30, 2009

Wait for the buzz to begin

NOAA scientists just published a paper in PNAS relating to questions of how quickly temperature drops if GHG emissions drop. It doesn't, they found.

Not really big news. We've suspected this for years. This update from Susan Solomon and her team is a nice confirmation and recalibration for modelers.

What is novel is the buzz that this thing will inspire. You see, the NOAA press release, not exactly a work of PR excellence, was written is such a way as to allow journalists to easily choose the oversimplified tag-line "climate change irreversible" for a headline. And they will. They can't resist that tag-line even if it's not true. I bet hundreds of papers all around the country will reproduce it with nary a serious thought about the trouble they're causing or whether they're telling the truth.

Which of course is a nice boon to the anti-GHG emissions control lobby. If climate change is irreversible, then why bother reducing emissions? We're all doomed anyway! Let's have a big ole fossil fueled party and burn it all up!


And of course, the original paper means nothing of the kind. It's just some slightly newer information about the longevity of GHGs in the atmosphere and the time taken to remove them. The paper suggests that there's a flat spot in the AAT curve because of GHG removal, but it says that if we keep releasing GHGs right now, the flat spot can still get higher and things will still be much worse than if we stop as soon as we can.

Bottom line for short-attention span readers: we still need to stop putting GHGs into the atmosphere.

Journalists are crap. Let's just say it out loud. Apart from a few decent types like Revkin of the NYT, or a couple Guardian writers I like, as a profession they can't seem to get anything right about climate change. Worse, I guess, is the gullible section of the public that demands the stuff they write. Can we please all begin to learn to think more complex thoughts and stretch out that attention span a bit?

Another example of how ridiculous journalism is right now, is the flurry of Google-inspired Jimmy Carter solar panel articles asking for Obama to put them back on the White House roof.

There are solar panels on the White House, you morons. They've been there since 2003. The Park Service put them up.

If this keeps up, I'm going to become the Lewis Black of sustainability bloggers. But honestly, whatever happened to research, getting the facts right, journalistic integrity? Did it ever exist?

No comments: