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The Good And The Bad Reporting About Rising Sea Levels

Good: “How high is the sea rising?” (March 12, in German, Sueddeutsche Zeitung), where journalist Axel Bojanowski illustrates the not-so-worrying, middle-of-the-road and worst scenarios (respectively, with a rise in sea levels by 2100 of 18-30cm, 95cm and 2m). Tellingly, Bojanowski writes: “The problem is, all scenarios are based on good arguments”.

Bad: “Sea rise ‘to exceed projections’” (March 10, in English, BBC News), where journalist David Shukman goes for big scary numbers (a metre or more by 2100, 600million people potentially affected) and a collection of adjectives in comparative form (higher, faster, hotter). There is no indication whatsoever about any scientist convinced of lower estimates.

Bad: “Copenhagen summit urges immediate action on climate change” (March 12, Nature News), where journalist Olive Heffeman reports that “sea levels could rise as much as 1 metre by 2100” and forgets to mention any scientist thinking otherwise.

What makes one of them good, and two bad? Well, if you cannot spot the difference between presenting the scientific debate as it is, and  selecting only the stuff that a journalist deems worth noticing, I am not sure I would be able to help.