16 February 2014

Meet The Press Shows How Not To Cover Science

Posted by Dan Satterfield

This xkcd.com strip illustrates one of my fave quotes from Neil deGrasse Tryson: "The great thing baout science, is that it's true whether or not you believe it."

This xkcd.com strip illustrates one of my fave quotes from Neil de Grasse Tyson: “The great thing about science, is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.”

My friend Heidi Cullen will be on ABC’s THIS WEEK Sunday morning (Feb16, 2014) talking about climate change, and our 2013 President of the American Meteorological Society, Marshall Shepherd will be on Face the Nation. Dr. Cullen works for Climate Central (a non-profit clearing house that helps science communicators (like me) keep up to date on the latest real science), and Dr. Shepherd has been a great supporter of our AMS Committee on Station Science ( I’m the chair). Both will speak eloquently about climate science.

On Meet the Press there is a debate between Bill Nye who does have a science background and a politician who doesn’t. A perfect example of false balance and of course lousy journalism. IMHO, Bill Nye (who recently spent an evening trying to convince people in Kentucky that the world is more than 6,000 years old) should have told NBC no. Now, NBC could have gotten one of the few climate scientists who disagree (with the other 97%) to go up against someone like Kevin Trenberth, or NASA’s Gavin Schmidt or Penn. State’s Michael Mann, but they chose a false balance instead. They could have gotten some political leaders on their program to talk about what we do about it, because that is a valid political question. The reality of climate change is not decided by politicians or even public opinion. It’s decided by the scientific facts published in peer-reviewed journals.

Meet the Press is already being heavily criticized for their program, and they deserve it. If you want some real truth, then CBS and ABC will have it with Dr. Cullen and Dr. Shepherd. If the politicians (and that tiny faction of scientists have a problem with it), they should submit a paper showing what they found wrong in all those papers (Funny, how they never seem to do that). Bill Nye, is a great science communicator, but he needs to learn something that a lot of my fellow meteorologists have learned; it’s fruitless to argue science with someone who will refuse to believe it, no matter how many scientific facts they are shown.

Oh, and NASA announced yesterday that January 2014 was the 4th warmest on record globally, and 3rd warmest in the Northern Hemisphere.