Last year was the hottest year in human history, and last week we learned that the Great Barrier Reef is already heavily suffering the consequences of warming oceans. Yet some media are still reporting misleading information that sows doubt about the science of climate change, which confuses the public and undermines democratic support for dealing with the issue.
Scientists are now collaborating to tackle this issue and support accurate journalism. Climate Feedback is a global network of scientists who sort fact from fiction in the media’s coverage of climate change. It works like this:
When an influential story on climate change breaks, scientists with relevant expertise comment on the article using the new web annotation platform Hypothesis. They also rate the article’s credibility so that people know right away whether they can trust what they are reading. Climate Feedback then publishes an accessible summary of the scientists’ comments and provides feedback to reporters and editors so they can improve the accuracy of their reporting.
This approach has already had impacts, leading journalists to improve their articles or, in one particularly misleading case, to issue a public correction. In just over a year, Climate Feedback has gained a reputation as a trusted reference. Last week, for instance, one of Climate Feedback’s analyses was used as a reference by members of the House of Lords in the UK, who asked The Times of London to report the reality of climate change more accurately.
Climate Feedback has also started to build a record of news outlets’ scientific accuracy: The “Scientific Trust Tracker.” It aggregates scientists’ comments and scores into an index that rates major news sources on the scientific merit of their climate change coverage. This will provide a healthy incentive for better reporting and guide the public to information they can trust.
To increase its impact, Climate Feedback has launched a crowdfunding campaign, with a minimum goal of $30,000, to support the growth of the project and allow a substantial increase in the frequency of scientists’ reviews. If you would like to see more accurate reporting of the realities of climate change, please consider supporting this initiative and spreading the word!