Environment

Mar 16, 2010

Research physicist despairs: on climate change, and beyond, the media fails science

The most important science story in the media right now is climate change, says quantum physicist Ben Buchler -- yet the black and white eyes of the media seem totally incapable of reporting this issue with the nuance that is required.

From ABC Radio's AM on March 3:
TONY EASTLEY: Scientists say the Chilean earthquake was strong enough to affect the day-to-day lives of everyone on earth, by making each of those days a tiny fraction shorter. The quake was violent enough to shift the earth on its axis, which means the planet is spinning faster.
A short time later....
DR DAVID KERRIDGE: Inevitably there will be some change in the earth's rotation rate, an associated change in the orientation of the axis. But these are very, very tiny effects... It's nothing that's going to affect anybody in daily life, but it's something that just follows from the basic physics of how rotating objects behave.
What is it that makes a science story newsworthy?  I have a rule of thumb:

1) anything to do with dinosaurs, evolution or space;

2) anything else that will impact the "person on the street".

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