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Stanford Study Confirms That “Balanced” Media Stories Quoting Skeptics Mislead The Public

Skeptics Skew Public Understanding of Climate Change

Providing climate skeptics a voice in “balanced” mainstream media coverage skews public perception of the scientific consensus regarding climate change, leaving viewers less likely to understand the threat of climate disruption and less likely to support government actions to address global warming, according to the results of a Stanford University research effort

The Stanford researchers probed the impact on public understanding of climate change when media coverage features a climate skeptic alongside a climate scientist.  Media stories featuring only a mainstream climate scientist “increased the number of people who believed that global warming has been happening and that humans have caused global warming.”

However, when media stories also include a climate skeptic, ostensibly to add “balance” to the story, the result is a “significantly reduced” number of people who understand the issue and endorse government action to address the problem.

“Watching a skeptic decreased perceptions of consensus among scientific experts, and this decreased perception of consensus led respondents to be less supportive of government action in general and of cap and trade policy in particular,” the researchers found.

New Poll Results Reveal The Impact of Decades-Long Climate Confusion Campaign

A new report published jointly by Yale University and George Mason University finds that Americans are much less concerned about climate change than they were just a year ago.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled believe climate change is happening, compared with a figure of 71 percent in October 2008, a 14 point drop. 

The reason ought to be clear.  The climate confusion campaign - waged by the like of Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Petroleum Institute and American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) - is alive and well, and obviously still inflicting damage.

Republican pollster confirms Americans' energy concerns

Frank Luntz, an expert cherished equally by Fox News and the Republican Party, has just released a new poll showing bipartisan support for climate legislation that would promote energy independence and protect the environment.

The poll is important in its own right: it confirms that Americans are thoughtful and concerned about energy security, climate and the environment, and that the Republican Party’s ideologically driven opposition to climate legislation is out of step.

But the subtext is even more fascinating: here you have a poll, sponsored by the Environmental Defence Fund and executed by an ideological darling of the American right - someone who has been incredibly effective at coaching Republican politicians to mislead, distract or dissemble on environmental issues. It is an unlikely professional relationship - and therefore a surprisingly credible one.

ClimateSpin: Using the Stolen Emails to Cripple Policy

The stolen email narrative is beginning to take shape, in a way that is both disingenuous and damaging, and a prime example is attached and linked here.

This article, by Stephen Hayward in the Weekly Standard, is a mash of good information and bad analysis - a strident overstatement of the case “proven” by the emails that were stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and released last month. It also seems to provide a case study for how the emails will be used to undermine action by people who are not well-informed about climate science and can be misled with a few sensible-sounding references.

It’s appropriate to acknowledge - on this and every occasion - that the emails in question, 13 years worth, contain some embarrassing excerpts. They show some of the quoted scientists to be frustrated, sometimes petty and, in a few unfortunate cases, prepared to hide data from critics.

An independent analysis of the emails, however, show that they did not, in any way, undermine the scientific foundation for our understanding of how and why the climate is changing. Even Hayward acknowledges that “Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future.”

The Copenhagen Tea Party

The American Tea Party phenomenon unfortunately has a long arm, reaching all the way to the international climate negotiations currently underway in Copenhagen, Denmark.

With their outrageous signs and over-the-top rhetoric, the Tea Party claims can be easily dismissed as fringe players, but they are nevertheless playing a role in blocking action in Washington on the issue of climate change.

This is something the fossil fuel industry and their think tank network are very aware of and are using to their full advantage. One need not look any further than the notorious Americans for Prosperity, one of the leading groups organizing Tea Party attacks on healthcare reform, and now climate solutions.

The AFP is an organization that has recieved millions of dollars in funding over the years from the Koch Family Foundations - Koch Industries Inc., is the largest private energy company in the United States and a major Big Oil force. When it comes to funding the right-wing think tanks and the climate denial industry, Koch makes ExxonMobil look like a minor player.

AFP is a non-profit organization that will not disclose its donors when asked. However, Media Transparency shows that Americans for Prosperity, and their previous incarnation “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” have received over $13 million from the Koch foundations. 

Canadian Climate Plan: All Public Relations; No Policy

The Canadian government’s climate plan is pure politics - pure public relations. It’s all hot air, with no regulation or legislation to back it up. The government is not passing laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is not setting science-based targets and it’s not financing renewable energy.

And now we learn that the governing Conservative Party has been contemplating a rollback in the inadequate emission regulations that they have advertised but never enforced. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Environment Minister Jim Prentice appear to be fiddling while their friends and political supporters in the tar sands capitals of Alberta set fire to Rome.

Canada has already earned international humiliation in Copenhagen as a country that is lobbying AGAINST a reasonable agreement. It is fighting to trash the Kyoto accord, regardless that no legally binding alternative is in place. It is one of only only two parties to the Protocol that is fighting against using a common base year (1990) that would make its stated emission limits transparent.

If only it was Canada making the Copenhagen announcement

Today at the Copenhagen climate talks there was a press conference held that unfortunately turned out to NOT be the new stance of the Canadian government.

Along with some great new COP-15, Environment Canada and Wall Street Journal sites, the spoofers conducted a press conference announcing Canada’s “Agenda 2020.”

Here’s their press release:

December 14, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CANADA ANNOUNCES NEW AGENDA FOR CLIMATE AND WORLD DEVELOPMENT
Plan includes stricter emissions reductions and immediate “climate debt” bailouts for most affected countries

Revisionist History and the CRU East Anglia stolen emails - the Baliunas example

One of the more egregious examples of the public relations spin on the East Anglia hacked email story involves a six-year-old research paper authored by Sallie Baliunas, an American astrophysicist affiliated with at least nine oil-industry-funded organizations.

In the stolen East Anglia emails, there is a conversation between scientists about and her paper, which argues that the current global warming trend is not unique and that an even more dramatic episode occurred centuries.

The conversation contained in the email is being made to appear like it was an attempt by climate scientists to “muzzle” the Baliunas research paper. Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), claimed last week that the exchange between academics amounts to a case of “scientific fascism.”

Climate Cover Up Book Salon on Fire Dog Lake

Just finished a great two-hour book salon conversation over on one of the best blogs around, Fire Dog Lake.

Jane Hamsher, who runs FDL, is a big fan of DeSmogBlog on our new book Climate Cover Up and she was kind enough to host the event along with FDL administrator Bev W and salon host Tim Lambert from Deltoid blog.

You can check out the conversation here, and add your own comments and thoughts if you would like.

Thanks to Jane, Tim and Bev for hosting such an interesting conversation!

Mainstream media misdirected in stolen email story

Unless you live under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard by now about the emails stolen from a computer server belonging to the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in Britain.

This hack job was committed by an unknown individual or group who illegally infiltrated the university’s system, stole thousands of emails from a select group of climate scientists spanning over a decade, and then published a subset for the world to see, ostensibly to prove that global warming is a ‘hoax.’

While the scientific evidence demonstrating that climate change poses a very real threat to our health, economy, and planet has never been clearer, an army of climate deniers has used its extensive echo chamber to manufacture a ‘scandal’ out of this rather bland collection of email banter.

The mainstream media has swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker, developing an obsession with ‘Climategate,’ without ever asking the most fundamental questions this ‘scandal’ raises:

Who performed this illegal hackjob, and how did they do it? Who paid for it? What was their motivation?

 

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