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10.31.2006

Antilla speaks in Nairobi at UN Conference on Climate Change Side Panel Event: Communicating Climate Change

Presented by CICEROReport on event published by the Int'l Institute for Sustainable Development.

                                                               Video: presentation by Liisa Antilla
AP story (International Herald Tribune):

11/14/06 NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - A spokesman for the U.S. senator who described global warming as a hoax showed up at a gathering of believers Tuesday, claiming scientific dissent on the issue was being suppressed and demonized.
One scholar shot back that the Senate aide must be living on another planet. The exchange took place at the UN conference on climate change, which has drawn more than 5,000 diplomats, activists and scientists to consider new steps in combating global warming.

"The skeptics who get vocal are vilified," said Marc Morano, director of communications for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee chairman, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, has enraged environmentalists by calling global warming alarmist and a hoax.

Morano was invited to be part of a panel discussion on how best to convey the issue of climate change in the media. His fellow panelists, including Jules Boykoff of Pacific University in Oregon, argued that skeptics actually get too much attention in the press.

Efforts by journalists to create "balanced" stories on global warming allow "a handful of skeptics . . . to be treated as equals to thousands of scientists," said Boykoff, an assistant professor in the department of politics and government.

Liisa Antilla, a geographer and scholar of global warming, said it was wrong for journalists to "frame climate science as uncertain."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN network of more than 2,000 climate and other scientists, says rising temperatures will expand oceans via heat and runoff of melting land ice; shift climate zones, disrupting agriculture, and lead to more frequent and intense climate events, such as the drought now in its fourth year in East Africa.

Major climate scientists point out that skeptics on global warming rarely publish in peer-reviewed journals, the cornerstone of modern science. As evidence of climate change has mounted in recent years, the skeptics' voices have lessened.

"The shrillness of these skeptics and their numbers have been on the decline," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, told The Associated Press before the panel discussion.

But Morano referred to the two-week UN conference as an "echo chamber" where "the media and climate alarmists demonize climate skeptics."

Pal Prestrud, director of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, shot back that "we're on different planets or maybe even different galaxies."

Scientists attribute at least some of the past century's 0.6-degree- Celsius rise in global temperatures to the accumulation in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil-fuel-burning sources.

The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls for mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases. U.S. President George W. Bush says it would harm the U.S. economy, and that it should have required emissions cuts in poorer countries as well.

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MA: King's College London; BA: University of Washington; Association of American Geographers; International Environmental Communication Association; PUBLISHED WORK Antilla, L. (2010) “Self-censorship and science: a geographical review of media coverage of climate tipping points,” Public Understanding of Science 19(2): 240-256; Antilla, L. (2005) “Climate of scepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change,” Global Environmental Change 15(4): 338-52