In a talk last week at the environmentally-minded Bren School at UCSB, the nation’s best-known climate reporter said he had grown very sick of the anger and “the yelling” around the issue of global warming. After more than two decades at the New York Times as a science reporter, specializing in climate issues, two years ago Andrew Revkin announced his frustration with the partisan divide over the science of climate change.
“Professional partisans are having a field day right now,” he said. “People like Marc Morano at ClimateDepot.com put out stuff that says we don’t know anything about global warming, and that gets picked up by talk radio and amplified. It’s divisive and toxic.”
After years of attempting to factually referee these climate disputes, only to be attacked from both sides, Revkin gave up daily reporting to take a journalism teaching position at Pace University. He still oversees the Times’ Dot Earth blog, perhaps the leading blog for discussion of climate and sustainability issues, and hopes that the site can open doors to new solutions from people around the planet, and not just in the United States.
“What I have tried to do at Dot Earth is build something that says that this yelling is implicit,” he said. “It’s out there, there’s always going to be people trying to exploit those natural divisions. I’m not going to be able to solve that at Dot Earth, but at least I’m working to build a reality base.”
Revkin calls this concept “the Knowosphere,” and cited a number of innovative websites that are attempting to bring factuality to environmental issues. On the question of sea level rise, he spoke of a British site called Atlantic Rising, which embarked on a 28,000-mile circumnavigation of the Atlantic Ocean to encourage schoolkids in the UK to investigate the issue. On the question of “fracking,” he mentioned a cite called FrackTrack, which compiles public geospatial documents in Pennsylvania, allowing anyone with an interest to research hydraulic fracturing in the state or their neighborhood.
“In a post-media world, which is what we’re entering, it’s a great opportunity for institutions, or for individuals who understand these issues, to create a new space for scientific discussion,” he explained. “I think that’s the way forward.”