Mainstream Media Has Accurately Portrayed Sea Level Rise Projections For Past 20 Years

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photo: Woodley Wonderworks/Creative Commons

Think mainstream media exaggerates how bad sea level rise might get, pays too much attention to it? Well, a new media analysis published in Environmental Research Letters finds that by and large in the past two decades decade mainstream media in the US and UK have accurately portrayed scientific reports on sea level rise.The full article is available at the link below, but this is the gist of it:

The number and ranges reported suggest, in aggregate, reporting on sea level rise among the sources that we have examined has been consistent with scientific literature on the issue. While there have been challenges over time regarding US and UK media coverage of anthropogenic climate change, this study has found general success in media portrayals of this facet of climate science.

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That said, the analysis also found that though journalists have most often quoted the most recent IPCC report's projections for sea level rise--keeping in mind that at the start of 2011 that report is going on four years old and there has been a great deal of new research published since then--even though that 2007 report is most often cited, the authors say "We note again that many in the scientific community believe the most recent report underestimates sea level rise projections by 2100."

As for the frequency of reporting on sea level rise, this report finds that there has been a general increase in the amount of sea level rise coverage over the past two decades, which spikes in reporting occurring when a new IPCC report is released, as well as in 1997 (due to the Kyoto Protocol) and in 2009 (due to COP15). In between years, even though ongoing research into sea level rise continues to be regularly published, these reports and their revisions to projects don't get nearly as much coverage.

Read more: Effective media reporting of sea level rise projections: 1989-2009 [PDF]

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More on Sea Level Rise:
Roman Ruins Show Modern Sea Level Rise Didn't Start Until Industrial Revolution
Sea Level Rise Best Case Scenario: 50cm Rise, 10% of World Population Hit
Two Meter Sea Level Rise Now Inevitable - But How Fast Will It Happen?
See For Yourself: Interactive Sea Level Rise Explorer

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