Announcing my Next Point of Inquiry Guest: Dot Earth Blogger Andrew Revkin (Ask Your Questions)
Posted: 05 March 2010 03:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Dear Point of Inquiry Listeners and Forum Participants,

For my next hosted episode of Point of Inquiry, to be recorded this Sunday—roughly two days from now—I’ll be hosting Andrew Revkin, the prominent blogger of the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog, http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/, science and environment reporter for the Times from 1995 until last year, and now a Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University’s Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Revkin

Revkin has covered a multitude of science-related topics during his career, ranging from climate change and energy to politics and science in the Bush administration. But he has also traveled the globe covering numerous natural disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and beyond. At a time when we’ve seen two devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, one thing I want to discuss with Revkin is why human societies, and even wealthy countries, seem to have such a hard time preparing for and protecting against these types of extreme risks. We’ll also inquire about which kinds of natural disasters most threaten the U.S., and why we’re not doing much of anything to increase our resiliency to them.

You might think of the intended show as a kind of real life version of the movie 2012.

But the conversation will be much more wide ranging, and I’d be very interested to hear what else you folks think I ought to be asking of Andy Revkin….so please pose any questions in the next two days, so that I can read them before the interview is recorded. And thanks!

chris

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Posted: 05 March 2010 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Chris,

Our population is well past the carrying capacity of our planet. We are depleting natural resources at rates much faster than earth can replenish them. Species are dying off faster than the mass die-off at the K-T boundary. Plastic waste is finding its way into our oceans and getting spread into the food chain.  All this due to our overpopulation.

What can we do and what should we do to reduce human population to a sustainable level? What are the consequences if we do not?

Darron

[ Edited: 05 March 2010 04:27 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 05 March 2010 05:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Chris, my question for Andrew

Increasingly it would seem views on climate change are becoming split along partisan political lines: conservative versus liberal. In the US, Australia and other countries conservative parties are becoming “more sceptical” of the science. Do you believe a bipartisan approach to mitigating climate change is still possible?

Mike

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Posted: 05 March 2010 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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These are some good questions…but my post doesn’t seem to have triggered that much reply. So I am broadening the scope of the interview with Revkin. We are also going to talk about the death of science journalism—of which he’s the poster child, as he ceased to be the Times science and environment reporter in 2009 and now centrally just does the Dot Earth blog.

So I encourage questions on this heading as well….

chris

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Posted: 05 March 2010 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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How about discussing the ethics of science journalists taking money from religious organizations such as the Templeton Foundation?

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Posted: 05 March 2010 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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In the unlikely event of a “doomsday” scenario occurring in our lifetimes, do you think that the world would be prepared for the massive numbers of refugees and the sheer amount of destruction that could be caused?  Is there any way that the world could prepare itself for these scenarios?

On the flipside, do you think that the disastrous effects of slowly-evolving threats can be mitigated through advance planning in areas that are likely to receive the highest casualties?

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Posted: 05 March 2010 08:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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CMooney - 05 March 2010 05:51 PM

These are some good questions…but my post doesn’t seem to have triggered that much reply. So I am broadening the scope of the interview with Revkin. We are also going to talk about the death of science journalism—of which he’s the poster child, as he ceased to be the Times science and environment reporter in 2009 and now centrally just does the Dot Earth blog.

So I encourage questions on this heading as well….

chris

Chris, the Point of Inquiry podcasts are great—the 3 new hosts are bringing it back with a lot of energy. I appreciate the numerous links with information which you are drawing to this forum.

You are much more networked into science journalism than most of us and probably know the questions. A general question from me is how does science journalism work these days… there was an article in Science about methane in the Russian Arctic,and today it gets mentioned in the dotearth
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/the-heat-over-bubbling-arctic-methane/
and also by Gautam Naik in the WSJ
“Arctic Site is Oozing Methane WSJ 3/5/2010” 
Some of the same stories that were in NY Times Tuesday Science Times were in Science News the same week.
Has it always been this way or does the internet just synchronize everything.

On this line of thinking—how does Andrew decide what stories he wants to pursue. Does he find more topics come in than he has time to cover or that it’s irregular or what—

Finally does Revkin find experts believe human population numbers can stablize or slowly decline or is it far more likely that there is a bubble and some crash will occur.

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Posted: 05 March 2010 10:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Chris, I’d be keen to ask a question along the following lines:

Journalists strive to be objectively neutral, and if there are “two sides” in a debate they have a duty to present the arguments for each side> The intention, as I understand it to allow the reader to make their own determination. However, in reporting on science related news can we really say there are “two sides”. For example: those claiming vaccines cause autism would appear to ignore the overwhelming evidence that they do not. Should mainstream media give “air time” to those clearly opposed to “the science” and give their views equal treatment? Especially since the anti-vaccination movement has been convinced many parents to *not* vaccinate their children, leading to outbreaks and even deaths. Should the journalist treat their claims with far more scepticism?

Just how “objective” can a journalist be without appearing biased? When does a duty to the public override objectivity and reporting both sides?

(Edited later)

Cheers
Mike, Melbourne Australia

[ Edited: 06 March 2010 01:35 AM by Mike from Oz ]
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Posted: 06 March 2010 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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If you’re still taking questions,

Widespread science illiteracy in the US is a major problem. With many newspapers shutting down science sections, and so many people getting information solely from propaganda vehicles like Fox news, it seems like it can only get worse, further reducing the chances of any political actions to successfully address various large-scale environmental problems.

Any ideas about how we should combat the illiteracy?

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Posted: 06 March 2010 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Still taking questions for roughly another 24 hours….thanks everyone!

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Posted: 06 March 2010 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Chris,

As a supplement, or follow-up to Sean McCorkle’s question above about science illiteracy, I’d like to hear Andrew Revkin expand upon his concept of a “Media Mania for a Front Page Thought” and answer his own question:  “Can society grasp the basics here without having to be pummeled with messages overstating the case?”

I’d also be interested in hearing if he agrees or disagrees with Alan Thorpe’s conclusion in the 2/27 New Scientist:
“No doubt mistakes will be made along the way; scientists are human beings with failings like anyone else.  But society is surely able to factor this into its assessment of climate science without throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

How sure are we?  And what should our approach be?

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Posted: 06 March 2010 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi Chris!  I’ve been loving the Point of Inquiry podcasts! 

Question:
We know that the glaciers of Greenland and the South Pole are being adversely affected by the rise of temperatures.  In the South Pole, ice sheets that were once a brake on glacier flow have disappeared.  What I’m curious about is the controversy of the rate of glacier disappearance in the Himalayas.  The Peoples Republic of China seem to take this disappearance very seriously, but the news most commonly reported suggests that this is “bogus science”.  Please enlighten us?

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Posted: 06 March 2010 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Assuming that traditional newspapers (and traditional journalism) will continue to decline and that audience fragmentation will continue its growth. Assuming that there will be more and more of good science journalism on blogs and other Internet tools (and bad ones too, but that’s not my point).

Some of those people will have to be paid somehow. The “market invisible hand” does not seem to be the best way to promote quality science journalism. Do you believe that charitable trusts, not-for-profit organisms, are the best hope for the future of science journalism? Or do you see other roads?

Pascal

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Posted: 07 March 2010 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks everybody! Got to use a number of these. The interview is recorded and you will hear it soon….

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Posted: 07 March 2010 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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CMooney - 07 March 2010 10:54 AM

Thanks everybody! Got to use a number of these. The interview is recorded and you will hear it soon….

Terrific, look forward to hearing the interview.

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