Environment

Tuning Out the Latest NAS Report is Misguided

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 13, 2011 7:25 PM

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Some regular readers might be surprised to learn that I think this latest National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, called "America's Climate Choices," should inspire more than a collective yawn from the media. But as Charlie Petit explains, there are institutional reasons for this:

The news business is about what's new. If a prestigious body says something new and very important, it's big news the first time. The second or third or fourth it's gets attention but fades from the front page. It gets what old-timers at a newspaper I once worked for called DBI status. Dull but important. So one dutifully may cover it. Or not. Mostly not, as seen by the coverage of the US National Academy of Sciences "“ via its National Research Council "“ issuance yesterday of a report called America's Climate Choices. Bad enough that much of its contents has been previewed as much as a year ago, with four volumes already published. All this new one says is that that if we don't do something fast the world as we know it will probably end and the next one won't be fun. Well, not in so many words, but blah blah blah. One might as well write a report about overpopulation, or the soul-destroying impacts of extreme poverty, or the scientific emptiness of astrology, homeopathy, or a search for Big Foot. True, but not new.

Charlie's larger point is well taken. Look at this NYT headline from a year ago, and this AP headline from yesterday. Still, the latest NAS report contains seven recommendations related to mitigation, adaptation, and future research that I think are deserving of coverage. Here is the NAS summary, containing those recommendations, if you want to take a look. It's true there's not much actual news in the report, but I thought some of those recommendations would have made for good story pegs (even at the local/regional newspaper level) and fodder for more climate blog discussion than I'm seeing.

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