We heard Joe Romm speak with John Podesta at the Center for American Progress on April 19, promoting his new book Straight Up: America’s Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions. Romm runs Climate Progress, a must-read blog project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund “dedicated to providing the progressive perspective on climate science, climate solutions, and climate politics.”
Romm told a Washington, DC, audience that for some time he hadn’t understood the depth of the climate problem. But then he talked to the scientists, and that’s when he realized that about one person in a hundred actually understands what climate scientists know about anthropogenic global warming.
He said the biggest failure in scientific communication is in conveying the impacts we face if we take no action to curb emissions. Focusing on climatic disruption impacts scenarios is somehow not considered a key, or even legitimate, part of the current policy and legislative debate in the nation’s capital.
Romm says these days he blogs to give voice to those scientists who are not communicating effectively, unaided by a mainstream media environment that is shedding science and environmental reporters.
While the mainstream media may address events like bark beetle outbreaks and wildfire, it does a poor job of putting stories like these and phenomena like extreme weather events into a larger scientific context, he said. Newspapers losing expertise have not been able to address this complicated, cross-cutting issue in a sophisticated and integrated fashion.
Traditional media also likes conflict, casting the state of climate science as a “he-said, she-said” debate. Using this frame, many news outlets seek out an “opposing viewpoint” when covering climate change stories, which is often given comparable weight to the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. Romm said that because new media outlets like his blog don’t feel the pressure to create a false sense of controversy, they are free to omit sources that lack legitimacy.
Romm’s number one recommendation for the mainstream media? Talk to actual climate scientists. He also urged scientists to blog, and to conduct media outreach activities like regular conference calls on particularly salient stories.
Visit http://climateprogress.org/2010/04/19/straight-up-joe-romm-book/ to pick up a copy of Straight Up. We’ll also be following up with our review.