Don’t believe the hype over climate headlines
Connor is complaining about the story run in the Independent a decade ago, claiming that
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Three years of cold winters have caused sceptics to revisit claims about the UK’s winter climate and climate change.
Connors defence of the Indy’s headlines is that
Headlines are meant to draw people into a story and have to conform to quite rigid restrictions on space in the printed medium – where this headline first appeared. They are meant to be accurate, but they can never do full justice to the nuances of reporting. This is even more true when it comes to the more complex nuances of science.
Gosh, the Indy are worried about scientific nuance being lost in the headlines…
But the original article had indeed said what the headline said.
According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes – or eventually “feel” virtual cold.
So while, Connor may be right to claim that
The headline in this case is not what the story itself said, as Dr Viner made clear. The story was about the frequency of snowfalls, and how “snow is starting to disappear from our lives”, which the it stated clearly.
He is only half right… And the fact is that the journalist, Charles Onians, incredulously reported the claims, giving emphasis to their shock value. Nonetheless, Connor blames the sub:
A more accurate headline would be something like: “Snowfalls are becoming less frequent in our little corner of the world but that doesn’t necessarily mean that snow will disappear from our lives completely and forever.” Unfortunately, any sub-editor who would suggest such a tediously long headline is unlikely to last very long.
Hmm. Yeah. Blame the sub… who, presumably also worked up this little gem from the delicate, scientific nuance contained in the story…
Who does Connor think he’s kidding? The Independent is just about as alarmist as it is possible to be. And that’s why things like this happen: