Mid-way through last year, there was a series of articles and discussions about how climate campaigners could be more effective at promoting their message in an environment where they seemed to be under more attack than ever before.
A sense of the concern at the time comes across from articles like Bob Ward’s piece in New Scientist (behind a paywall, though I wrote about it here) and Guy Shrubsole’s article on Left Foot Forward. The latter refers to Oxfam’s analysis of how the Climategate claims were spread by people who don’t believe in climate science, which formed another part of the discussions. Some of the intensity may have ebbed slightly (at least this is my sense), but nothing fundamentally has changed.
One of my conclusions from these conversations was that there was a real need for an organisation that was both an online hub and a communications unit that reacts quickly and effectively to stories that affect public perceptions of climate change. Although Climategate may not have had much direct impact on public attitudes towards climate change, it certainly demonstrated that there are few people ready and willing to react to breaking stories about climate change in order to help journalists to get the accurate information they need.
It may be that this is beginning to change – enter Carbon Brief. Launched this week, for now it’s small, but it’s mission is potentially very influential. According to the website, Carbon Brief fact-checks stories about climate science online and in the press. We provide briefings on the people and organisations talking about climate change, and we produce background materials on science issues and news stories.
If they build a name for themselves, and become a key contact for journalists throughout the media (not just the friendly ones), as well as a resource for bloggers, Carbon Brief could be very interesting to keep watching.