But what about that IPCC report?
Results were different in the 2007 IPCC report period. Fewer articles in total covered climate change, with the US articles again containing the most sceptical voices, but with China taking second place. Painter and Ashe, however, caution that the Chinese percentage is to be taken with a grain of salt due to the low number of climate change articles found in the two sammple newspapers, People's Daily and Beijing Evening News.
"So again," the researchers write, "we can conclude that even in a period when sceptical voices are not the central media story, as they were for 'Climategate', the USA print media included in this sample contained nearly twice as many such voices as the next country, expressed in percentage terms, suggesting that there is a significant difference between the habits of US climate change reporting and the other countries examined."
Painter and Ashe also note the increase in skeptical voices between the two periods in the US and the UK, rising from 18 to 34 per cent in the US, and from 7 to 19 per cent in the UK.
Interestingly, the study found that sceptical voices were found slightly more often in what Painter and Ashe defined as left-leaning newspapers than they were in right-leaning papers. This distinction, however, is turned on its head when the type of article is part of the analysis: in left-leaning newspapers, more news stories contained sceptical voices than did opinion pieces, and this weighting was reversed in right-leaning papers, where more opinion pieces contained sceptical voices than did news stories.
Also of interest is the fact that the liberal-leaning New York Times ran 14 opinion pieces that included sceptical voices, but all of them also included arguments from non-sceptics. The conservative Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, ran 17 opinion pieces – but "all but one of which was left uncontested," Painter and Ashe report. The WSJ provided not balanced argument, but single-sided certainty.
Finally, the two researchers analyzed the types of sceptical voices as quoted in articles, country by country. "The country variations are notable," they understatedly state, with the US articles far and away more commonly using quotes from Type 1 sceptics – "those who deny the global warming trend" – than do other countries. Painter and Ashe do note, however, that this imbalance is partly due to quotes attributed to US Senator James Inhofe, the author of what can arguably be described as a massively self-aggrandizing book, The Greatest Hoax.
Types of individual sceptics quoted in articles, by country
Also of interest is that Type 3 sceptics – "those who accept human causation" but aren't terribly worried about it, don't think climate models are suffiencient, or believe that climate change requires strong intervention – are essentially absent in France, India, Brazil, and China, but are prevalent in the US and the US.
In addition, the study concluded that the UK has an exceptionally high number of quoted Type 2 skeptics: those who do not concur with the thesis that global warming is anthropogenic.
In Painter and Ashe's conclusion – as is common in research work – the authors call for more study, "including the study of other countries such as Australia, Canada, Norway and Eastern Europe, where climate scepticism is known to be prevalent."
From this Reg reporter's point of view, Painter and Ashe's work indicates a number of things – but I'll stick to three. First, the US and the UK are more adept at thrashing out the climate-change debate in public than are other countries, perhaps due to their traditions of printed, public arguments.
Second, the clear difference between the inclusion of both pro and con arguments in opinion pieces published by liberal US newspapers versus the lack of same in conservative newspapers is a reflection of the soft left's tendency to seek balanced arguments even when the current consensus belief among the large majority of the climate-science community points toward the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
And finally, when the IPCC releases the four volumes of its Fifth Assessment Report, with the first volume scheduled to appear in September 2013 and the fourth in October 2014, the debate will heat up again, many more articles will be published in newspapers around the world, and your humble reporter will have an awful lot of reading to do. ®
Re: They are only less balanced
Carbon plans may or may not be neutral. That is not the point of most informed sceptics concern. Instead it is that completely unjustified, contrary to geological history, faith in catastrophism. It is as if Lyell never published "Principles of Geology" or delineated the principle of Uniformitarianism.
The catastrophic outcomes of climate modelling are contrary to empirical facts. The planet has at times had many times the present atmospheric CO2 level. No run-away greenhouse effect has ensued. Current atmospheric levels in fact are either the lowest or tied with the lowest levels in over 600,000,000 years. The fact is that for most of the course of time that life has been on earth, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been at levels that current climate models have forecast as triggering run away green house effects. We ought to be far more concerned about halving atmospheric CO2 than doubling. The latter we can survive, possibly even prosper from, The former might well lead to a biological productivity collapse.
No sane person "denies" climate change. Change is self evident and only an urbanite would doubt it. Nor do any of the better known sceptics doubts that the planet has warmed over the last two centuries. We were after all in a small ice age. There are three main issues that are challenged: 1) data reliability, 2) data adjustment methods and methodology, 3) actual rates of warming.
No. 1 is not even a true dispute. Both the "warmist" and sceptic camps assumne that at least some data sets are no as accurate as they might be. In fact BOTH camps accept that urban heat island effects need correction. The disputes lies in the degree of warming bias UHI has on land surface data.
No. 2 There might be no dispute at all _if_ the methods used to make adjustments to raw land surface data and the methodology behind those adjusments was public. While there are discussions, no actual methodolgy is available and little of the actual code, which implements the methods rationalized by the methodology is public. We ALL no how absolutely trustworthy computers and computer programs are.
No. 3 is simple. None of the better known sceptics (e.g. John Christie, Roy Spencer, Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre, the Pielskes, Jeff Condon, etc.) questions warming over the last 200 years. What is questioned is the rate. If the data are "over adjusted" the data are just as misleading as unadjusted data. The public evidence of adjustments is that adjustments are strongly biased to make the data read warmer after 1950 and cooler before, and each iteration seems to do the same thing only more so. Despite this adjustment, which may very well be reasonable, IF the methodlogy were available, no climate model comes close to estimating a rate as low as that which has been measured, regardless of adjustments to the data, and the ensemble estimates are even farther off.
The short of it is that there is no threat to Homo sapiens from CO2. There ARE very serious threats from using anitbiotics in animal feed lots, from various kinds of truly toxic industrial pollution, politicians with agendas, plastic in the oceans. Why not worry about something real, if you want to feel virtuous worrying.
Re: They are only less balanced
I have been on the planet longer than you, and am, possibly, more cynical even than you. You wrote:-
"These "scientists" aren't any smarter than me, just have different disciplines"
Many scientists are aware of the motto of The Royal Society: "Nullius in verba " (Latin for "Take nobody's word for it"). The Royal Society chose this as its motto as this signified that they would establish facts via experiments and only disseminate objective science ignoring the influence of politics or religion.
One thing that us science types (who are trained to try and be always questioning) are made aware of is the Dunning-Kruger effect -
(The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes....
Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others")
Jesus, where do you people come from? Every time there's a story on climate it like someone opens a big box marked "retards" and lets you all out for an hour to play on the keyboards.