Finally found the time this evening to tack a comment onto a post at Roger Pielke Sr.’s blog, in which he suggested the media hasn’t been writing about a new NAS report because it “is inconvenient for those who view the radiative effect of human-caused CO2 increases as the dominant forcing of climate change.”
Roger’s been flacking this report in his blog, and I finally felt needled enough by his complaint about a lack of media coverage to read it. (And by “read it,” I mean “read the executive summary.”) It raises some interesting issues that are relevant to the climate writing I’m trying to do – the need to better understand effects at the regional level.
He’s wrong, I think, to blame the lack of media coverage on some sort of bias in favor of a simplistic picture of CO2 forcing. That assumes greater sophistication on the part of the reporters covering this issue than I think is the case. The more likely explanation, as I suggested in the comments, is that it’s a nuanced report with no obvious “bang them over the head” take-home point. Or William Connolley’s explanation may the right one – that we’re just stupid: “The media wouldn’t have a clue what it was about.”
If I were to write about it, though, I’d have grabbed at something different than what I think Roger wants me to. The report suggests that some of the secondary climate forcings that are not terribly well understood, especially tropospheric aerosols and land use changes, are significant at a regional scale: “Improving societally relevant projections of regional climate impacts will require a better understanding of the magnitudes of regional forcings and the associated climate responses.”
As I’ve written before, I’m a consumer of climate science trying to help inform policy choices at the regional level. This is the sort of thing I need.