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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Misreading Climate Change on Scientific American

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We appreciate the attention that the November feature article "Climate Heretic," by Michael Lemonick, is receiving. But some have misread Scientific American's intent.

For instance, two sites, Climate Progress and FAIR, accuse Scientific American of having "jumped the shark" on climate.


In actuality, Scientific American reports on climate-related science in depth in nearly every issue and frequently online. You can see a sample list of past print and online-only articles at "Want to Learn More about Climate Change?," including coverage of carbon and climate back to 1959. Climate is the issue of our time. We covered the debate surrounding Judith Curry as a news event in this topic area—and as a way to foster discussion of climate issues in general. As is clear in the article, the vast majority of the scientific community—and Curry herself—believe the evidence supports the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

(For further background, Michael Lemonick has also posted "Why I Wrote about Judith Curry" at Climate Central.)


Climate Progress and FAIR also have criticized a related reader poll about climate change: Consumer media outlets frequently conduct reader polls about content, and Scientific American is no exception. The October issue, for instance, included a poll on the public’s attitudes about science. We learned that respondents were "more convinced" about the reality of climate change today than they were a year ago. Such polls are surely not "scientific," and nobody claims they are, but their interactive nature promotes audience engagement. It's unfortunate—although in hindsight not surprising—that certain people would take the opportunity to manipulate the results by repeat voting.


Last, both sites have noted a Shell poll with advertisement, and speculated about its significance. Advertisements are handled by the ad-sales department without the editorial board’s input or consent.

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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