Friday, May 04, 2007

Media coverage of climate change report

Today's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "Mitigation of Climate Change," outlines ways to mitigate global warming.

Wednesday's USA Today story previewing the report is headlined "Fixing climate carries big costs." As a result, many may resist taking action to fix climate change because they believe the costs are big.

What is missing from the headline, however, is any consideration of the costs of not taking action. As the report's "Summary for Policymakers" states, "The projected mitigation costs do not take into account potential benefits of avoided climate change.", p. 10. Moreover, available evidence, notably the Stern report, indicates that "the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting."

To be fair, USA Today's story beneath the headline went on to say, "The report will underline the environmental and financial benefits of quick action to cut emissions." But the headline is an example of how incomplete analysis can paint a misleading picture.


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