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War of Words

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Why is the global climate change message so garbled? And what can we do about it? Former WCCO-TV anchor Don Shelby offered his insights on the issue to a standing-room-only crowd at Wednesday's Frontiers lecture at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Among the challenges Shelby sees:
* Audiences don't always understand. The general public has insufficient scientific knowledge and interest to give the issue the attention it needs.

* Scientists don't communicate as well as they could. Scientists tend to talk with other scientists, using the language of science - limiting their ability to influence the popular buzz on a topic.

* Mainstream media no longer have the time or human resources to give adequate attention to covering science and the environment.

* Journalists who do cover climate change tend to inadvertently distort the message by confusing balance with bias.

* Much of the conversation is orchestrated by online communicators who can "hide behind the nonrules of the Internet" rather than abide by the rules of mainstream journalism.
Shelby called on scientists to help correct misinformation and take the offensive in bringing the truth about climate change to those who create public policy.

"I'm a little bit pissed off at the scientific community," he said. "It's time you throw some punches, time you fight back."

Watch the archived talk online - and check out the rest of this spring's series - at http://z.umn.edu/ionetalk. Opinions expressed in Frontiers lectures are those of the speakers and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment or the University of Minnesota.

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  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.