Sunday, August 7, 2011

OurSay on climate must be more than popularity poll

Today the Sunday Age launched its OurSay initiative on climate change, entitled "You Decide: The Climate Agenda". A Sunday Age team will investigate the ten most popular questions submitted to the OurSay website by 2 September. Here's my first question, which you can comment or vote on at the site (you'll need to scroll down to "The Question").
How will the Sunday Age ensure that questions of little value in terms of the peer-reviewed science do not, through mere popularity, displace genuine questions that can be answered by scientists in a way that will help people understand the climate challenge and the need for urgent action? Perhaps the newspaper's team should investigate the top ten questions assessed as genuinely at issue or judged as subject to popular misconception by an expert scientific panel. The panel could comment on any popular questions they omit from the top ten, giving their reasons for doing so - for example, where a question seems intended to mislead on the science. The panel could also be consulted by your team in responding to the top ten questions that make it through this quality check.
This is a really interesting project, but one that needs to be carefully thought through if its results are to genuinely progress the climate action agenda in Australia.

I hope you will engage with OurSay on climate, and feel welcome to leave your comments here as well. I will be tweeting on progress @NorthcoteIND

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.