October 04, 2007


From John C. (Jack) Garner:

Re: Arctic ice disappearing (Sept. 20): I have enjoyed reading practically every article in WORLD SCIENCE since I discovered the magazine serendipitously over a year ago. Generally, the reporting has been well within ‘neutral boundaries’, e.g. reporting factual data and properly assigning commentary to those who said it. However, I get very frustrated when I read articles by reporters/editors who pass on statements by others as if they were factual when they are not. Usually I will “bite my tongue” and remain silent. But not this time. The following errors in reporting are too blatant to ignore.

In particular, several comments in this article ‘rile’ me. --Third paragraph: “Sci­en­tists have at­trib­ut­ed the van­ish­ing ice to glob­al warm­ing and said it could dis­ap­pear in sum­mers by mid-century.” Who are these “scientists”? What are their qualifications? Do their writings represent scientific fact or their own personal agenda-driven opinions? Are those opinions written, reflecting the fact that their research/opinions are paid for by politicians/political groups with an agenda (such as the UN Council on Global Warming)? - Also third paragraph: “Ris­ing con­centra­t­ions of heat-trapping green­house gas­es in the at­mos­phere, mostly due to hu­man ac­ti­vi­ties, . . . OH, REALLY?? Where did this come from other than from some politically correct sheet of ‘talking points’’? The statement is not even attributed, this time, to that generalized “scientists”. We are in a time when those “scientists” cannot get a local weather forecast correct beyond a 50/50 guess, when the existing woefully inadequate climate models cannot repeat results consistently, when again, those same “scientists” cannot explain long-term climate change: (Which of them has explained how the Ice Ages started or how they stopped?; which of them has explained why for approximately 90% of Earth’s history the global climate has been warmer than present day?) How, then, can the claim be made that global warming is “. . mostly due to hu­man ac­ti­vi­ties, . . “?

As a smaller side issue in the first paragraph: The statement by Mark Serreze “. . ab­so­lutely stunned us. .” I suppose can be understood within the context of a personal, first response. However, This statement has me puzzled: “. . ap­pears to have reached a min­i­mum on Sept. 16, shat­ter­ing all pre­vi­ous lows. . “. It also is an un-attributed comment. Most articles I read containing this type of verbiage, and then only rarely in headlines, is confined to publications such as THE ENQUIRER. In scientific reporting, the use of these adjectives is generally considered inflamatory and is not allowed! Is this because your magazine is oriented more toward the general public? I had previously viewed your reporting standards as adhering to a slightly higher scale.

The remainder of the article is well-written, confining reporting to factual statements and analysis with no other commentary.

I sincerely ask you to evaluate your reporting standards and consider avoiding these types of reporting pitfalls. Please don’t make me write comments again in the event that I read: “Melting Sea Ice Raises Ocean Levels”!!

My comments are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the staff or management of my company.

Thank you, otherwise for your publication.

John C. (Jack) Garner
EnviroGroup Limited
7009 So Potomac St., Suite 300
Centennial, CO, 80112-6026


(Editor’s note: We thank Mr. Garner for his compliments on our other articles. For this story, too, we believe an attentive reading will show that all statements within it are attributed. If we attribute a claim generally to “scientists,” this means we’ve found that at least the great majority of scientists in the field agree with it. World Science stands by the article in full.)



Following are additional com­ments on this ent­ry. Type your own in­to the space right of the first one.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Pieter Folkens said...

John Garner is reasonable and accurate in his critique. When the editor writes "at least the great majority of scientists in the field agree", there is no citation of where such agreement was quantified. Was it the Geophysical Union, American Society of Meteorologists, or ? I have yet to find such a poll documented and referenced. I don't think one exists, and, therefore, such a statement should not be made.

October 28, 2007 9:13 PM  

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