By Tim Webber
Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report indicating that 2014 will be the warmest year on record. The report details multiple records that 2014 has or is expected to break, which are all just different ways of saying that the Earth is getting pretty hot.
NBC News compiled the data into a nice article yesterday, and, of course, articles on news websites have comment sections. A cursory glance at this article’s comment section appears to reveal how divisive the issue of climate change is. The rage-fueled arguments get hotter than, well, Earth. One commenter, baffled by how everyone could buy into the global warming scam, concluded his statement by saying, “If you don’t think it’s getting colder, try going outside.”
The rest of us know that feeling as winter. But don’t be too hard on this anonymous Internet commenter. As I’ve written before, this guy is not alone. What he is alone in—figuratively speaking—is arguing against the existence of climate change.
Back in October, I went to the Iowa Environmental Council’s annual conference, which was held in Upper Olmsted. The keynote speaker, Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, spoke about climate change and effective ways to communicate about the issue. Leiserowitz was very clear—nearly all scientists agree that climate change does exist and should be addressed. The bulk of the public agrees. The people you see commenting on climate change articles are an extremely vocal—but extremely small—minority.
So how should journalists handle writing about climate change and similar issues? I think NBC News did well in their article. They reported the facts and connected most of the dots, but weren’t in your face about global warming. The trolls will always show up to any article about climate change, so there’s no point in trying to appease them. Be fair and accurate with your readers, and no one with any semblance of intelligence will be able to complain about your writing.