Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Coverage of today's congressional hearing on climate science

The U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing about climate science this morning, as a part of the deliberations on a bill that would challenge the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. These congressional hearings can seem like a circus, with a set of climate scientists countered by people with nice sounding credentials making arguments by analogy or just wholly baseless claims about climate science (case in point: just read or watch Donald Roberts' testimony).

This time the real circus may have been the coverage. After my morning class, I clicked on Science Magazine's (by then complete) live blog of the hearing with Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate in hopes of getting a feel for what had come to pass in the halls of Congress. Unfortunately, this legimate attempt at science coverage by a news organization with the aide of an expert from the field became more of a circus than most congressional hearings thanks to the commenters. I think commenter Roger Pielke Jr. posted more than Schmidt and blog host Eli Kintisch combined.

But that's the whole challenge, isn't it? Climate communication, like climate change, is a signal to noise problem.

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