Yes, The News Media Can Only See Alarmism

Andy @Revkin and others (here and here) note with John Fleck of inkstain that

Fleckstain: Media skip Science paper on energy solutions while hyping 1 on Arctic CH4. Problems hotter than solutions?

I do not think so. Simply, it’s all been Allcott’s and Mullainathan’s (the original authors’) fault. In fact, this is what they wrote:

Just as we use R&D to develop “hard science” into useful technological solutions, a similar process can be used to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations. Cost-effectiveness can be rigorously measured using scientific field-testing. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns.

And this is what they should have written instead:

It might be one of the most ominous bits of evidence yet that global warming could run out of control. Unless we use R&D to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations, the most-feared potential self-reinforcing effects of climate change may be starting to get under way. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns. Otherwise, the effects of climate change will persist becoming evident faster than anyone predicted.

(click here for the original alarmism)

Obviously, Climategate notwithstanding, an enormous percentage of newsmedia people still firmly believe only titillating stories about upcoming disasters will ever attract the interest of their readers. I have a feeling that’s the kind of newsmedia most likely to go the way of the dodo, at least regarding scientific journalism.