Maybe it's because I don't have the faith in people that I should, but I find this Newsweek cover really irresponsible. Actually, it's due to the polls cited in the article--and those I have seen elsewhere--that suggest that the American public thinks, among other things, that scientists are still trying to determine if global warming is for real and that it's a major issue in the upcoming Presidential election.
Sure, the cover is provocative and gripping, but it also may be doing a disservice to the general public and the people working hard to develop new ways to combat what is realistically the greatest threat to our livelihood: climate change. In fact, global warming isn't just a threat. Combating it will require us to dramatically change the way we live. (But, you've heard this all before.)
Anyway, as a journalist and magazine junkie, I spend a lot of time combing newsstands for new reads, eye-catching designs and little bites of information that can be gleaned from a cover line, a headline or a quick turn through a publication. So, if I am scanning a magazine rack--assuming I am not a science writer--what am I going to think when I see this Newsweek cover?
Probably not much. The Internet hasn't killed all journalism, but it certainly has deeply wounded news-weeklies like Time, US News and Newsweek. Am I going to take the time to read what the asterisk is referencing? Maybe. Another plausible scenario could be: I just read the big print, forget about it and then three weeks later--while I am talking to someone about politics or energy policy or compact fluorescent light bulbs--blurt out, "I read somewhere that global warming is a hoax."
I know I am being a little dramatic, but I think this cover would better serve readers (or, more importantly, casual observers), if it said something like: "Minority Report: The Global Warming Deniers".
Hat tip to Charlie Petit over at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker for bringing this to my attention.
*Actually, Newsweek does not deny the existence of global warming. But, this week's issue does have a story about "well-funded naysayers," who don't believe it's that big of a deal.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.