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The Sciences

The Center For American Progress Blew It (Or, CRAP from CAP)

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumOctober 2, 2007 7:08 PM

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[DISCLAIMER: I expect Chris may not like what I'm about to compose because we both generally support the Center for American Progress. Still, you bet I'll speak up when they publish something downright irresponsible - even with the best intentions. That said, readers: What follows in no way reflects the opinions of Chris Mooney. And to my favorite co-blogger: Although I expect you're going feel I'm too hard on CAP, we both know you didn't bring me on board to agree on everything.]

So here goes...

bullshit800x600.jpg

As stated above, until last week I thought the Center for American Progress was alright. I mean they had Chris and Matt as speakers and are a leading policy think tank. And now they go and make my job of, you know, presenting the real science behind climate change a whole lot more difficult. Needless to say, I'm not at all impressed with this poor attempt at framing global warming where they basically cut and paste a long list of alarmist predictions without proper fact checking--let alone an understanding of what they claim. It's such a miserable job, I half wonder if some clever denialist has infiltrated CAP from the inside. This nonsense called Top 100 Ways Global Warming Will Change Your Life is so grossly inaccurate and overwhelmingly panicked in tone, I find it difficult to trudge through without wondering if it it was first printed by The Onion. Assuming that no one is working covertly for the 'other side' (and in terms of climate change - we should not have sides), I can only say that this is a terribly sloppy attempt to make this subject relevant to all of us. But let me assure you, the potential impacts of our planetary fever will be devastating enough that everyone will take notice without this kind of ridiculous approach that mocks the severity of what's at stake. It's a bombastic presentation that undermines the real progress being made by folks working to portray the science accurately. Most troubling, this list provides denialists with a ton of ammunition to point to scientists as a bunch of alarmists.

'Say Goodbye To Baseball?' 'Say Goodbye To French Fries?' 'Say Hello To Bulgarian Hooker Shortages?'

Are you kidding me? This is possibly the most backward attempt at framing I've ever read. It's an organization that everyday people look to for answers and they're highlighting 'More Stray Kitties' and 'Burning Poo.' And halfway through comes a particularly egregious suggestion to my marine biologist sensitivity:

'The Oceans Are Turning To Acid.'

They're certainly not! (But gee, way to scare folks!) Now honestly, I still genuinely like you CAP, but this article is CRAP! The oceans are NOT turning to acid! This demonstrates a lack of taking the time to explore and understand what Ocean Acidification means (expect a post on that soon)--The term is used to describe the way the pH of oceans is becoming less basic as they absorb excess CO2. Yes, it may indeed be an enormous and extremely frightening problem because of potential implications for organisms that depend on calcium carbonate like corals, algae, oysters and on... but this kind of inaccurate bold text invokes visions of the demise to the Wicked Witch of the West upon poking a toe in the ocean. Sheesh, who the heck is fact checking over there? And speaking of which:

Say Goodbye to Lobster Dinners. Lobsters thrive in the chilly waters of New England, but recent numbers show that as those waters have warmed up, "the big-clawed American lobster -- prized for its delicate, sweet flesh -- has been withering at an alarming rate from New York state to Massachusetts." [Bangor Times]

Ummmm... I've lived in Bangor. There is no Bangor Times. Be careful about those sources. Okay, so they did get some potential impacts of global warming correct, but what was their intention with the tone of ridiculous list now widely circulating the internet? These alarmist predictions either scare folks into holing up for impending apocalypse or shrugging off the crazy alarmists pushing a partisan agenda. I'm terribly disappointed because this kind of shoddy framing only succeeds in setting us back. For PZ's sake, the next time CAP publishes something on climate, I hope they'll check the details, nix scare tactics, and work with someone who understands the importance of incorporating the best science available.

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