Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Critique the news story!

Hey all, if you missed the article on the 6:00 news on ABC, channel 18, follow the link (click on the title to this blog post above) to the WQOW website, the local ABC affiliate, and you can either read the story or view it online.

This would a great way to start off your (yes, all the students') comments on the blog, critiquing my first on-air television interview! Please let me know what you liked and didn't like, as it relates to what we're talking about right now! (I have a few ideas of my own too, so I won't mind...)

And while you're there, check out another short bit on a new student movement on campus (part of the Conservationists club) to build a petition campaign to eliminate coal as a fuel in the campus steam plant. This is a critical issue for the carbon footprint, and so congratulations to them and their efforts. This issue is so big and will be difficult to accomplish, despite a lot of good progress from the folks at Facilities already. So having everybody (students, staff, administration, community) on board is good, especially if we can work together toward this long-term goal that I think we can all agree would be a huge step forward for UWEC.

P.S. Here's the link to the other story...

Now, in REAL climate news, I understand that the groundhog didn't see his shadow today - what's that mean for climate policy?!?


  1. It is very disheartening to hear of a state senator giving up on something as pertinent as global climate change. However, I feel his views directly represent what we, as a group of people seeking change, are going up against. People do not understand, and in many cases, are misinformed of what we as a society are facing.

    One thing I liked about the interview was how you did point out the difference between weather and climate. On the other hand, I felt you should have played on the viewers' emotions to make your statement more effective. If I were not involved in the carbon course and had seen the interview while flipping through the channels, I would have focused on one thing from the story: my bills are going to increase by 30 percent.

    It was nice to see climate change making the news for once!

  2. I agree with Elizabeth - it is extremely disheartening and discouraging to see any sort of disagreement and misinformation in regards to global climate change, especially when it comes from our elected officials. I also thought pointing out the difference between weather and climate was extremely helpful and something a viewer could easily understand in a fast interview. However, you were too nice! This is why I should never be in politics, my response to the senator's comments would have been neither as eloquent nor probably as informative and respectful. A great interview!

  3. I agree with the other posts so far completely- that it's disheartening to see what's happening in our legislature. However, I would also agree that, up until about a week ago, I felt the same way as the senator and a lot of Wisconsinites. I think that it's difficult for us to acknowledge that climate change is occurring because of the extremely cold weather we're experiencing and it is very easy to wait to see what happens rather than acting now. However, based on what I know now, if we wait there may be no turning back once we hit a certain point. Similarly, I can understand why people might be hesitant to employ means such as wind power, but seeing how much it will cost to relocate villages such as Shishmaref is making me think that we'd be better off acting now than later. As far as the interview goes, I think it was great! I agree with the other posts that the differentiating of climate and weather was very helpful. It's unfortunate that they did not give you more time to speak on the subject and alert viewers of the true dangers of the senator's actions. Also, next time you should display all your degrees in the background so that the viewers see them and are like, "Whoa! He's qualified to speak on that for sure! I should listen to him!"

  4. I also agree with the previous comments that it is sad that a member of the legislature does not believe global climate change is true. I hope that there are not too many other state senators that hold the same view. I thought it was helpful for you to explain the difference between weather and climate because I think that is one of the most misunderstood aspects of global climate change. I also wish you had more time to explain a bit more about global climate change and that it is global climate change not just global warming.

  5. I found it alarming that an elected offical of Wisconsin is so misinformed about global climate change and so willing to give up on pursuing alternative energy options. As we discussed in class, many people think that just because temperatures have been below normal, that global "warming" isn't occuring. I think it would have been a good point to make in your interview that it's global climate change that is the issue and that it is not equivalent to warm temperatures. Also, Senator Grothman made a point that we should wait to see what happens. On page 11, Kolbert makes the point that waiting for evidence of warming is the "riskiest possible strategy." It was nice to see climate change in the news, but I think there is so much more that the media needs to cover to for the general public to be informed.

  6. Thanks for the comments - being new to TV interviewing, I had some simiar thoughts to the ones you wrote here! Elizabeth - right on; While I felt ok about the first part, I agree that connecting to others in emotional ways is often much more compelling. This is a great example of a speaking style that many scientists aren't often comfortble with, and could benefit from some training. I was also disappointed in the story conclusion (take-home message): that energy costs will go up. Naturally, they left out my comments that, if we do nothing the costs to our children and grandchildren are going to be much, much greater! Exactly as you say, Steph. Julie - I wish looking back that I had been more specific in describing HOW much longer and larger scales differentiate weather from climate, but thanks for your comments. Livkruger, wait until you read the letter I sent to the senator - I wasn't nearly so nice... What do you all think, is that better for the TV audience, or do they want to hear controvery and conflict? Finally, what do you all think of Steph's comment that the degrees on the wall would help with convincing the viewers? Or do you think it would distance them from an "expert"? Thanks again - I'll see you all Friday AM!

    Dr. B

  7. What a shame that because average temperatures over the past two years "convince" someone who is supposed to represent Wisconsins' best interest that climate change is not happening. Shame on him.

    I think that it is both unwise and unfortunate that Americans put such faith in politicians, but tend to overlook professors. Ironic, isn't it, since a politician is to know a little about a lot, and a professor is particularly knowledgeable about specific issues at hand...
    I don't believe that there is any doubt amongst those of us in this class that our senator friend is quite mistaken, and embarrassingly so.

    I'd like to set up a few things that I think could have improved this article/news clip in a relatively scientific and non-emotional manner:
    1. Why were variables not defined? Does the average viewer truly know what "global warming" or "climate change" entail? Does the narrator? Do the guests? One of the speakers clearly does not. Any time there is something being debated, that topic needs a sturdy, non-biased definition.
    2. I thought it was unfortunate that this news clip, though short, only portrayed visual support for one side of the debate (global warming NOT occurring - hence the snowy scene in front of Zorn.)
    3. For filming and news especially, it is best to talk in sound-bytes. A short, powerful sentence, backed up by some sort of stat or quote that can be used for commercials and remembered. (Actually, Kolbert usually ends her sections and chapters with what would be considered a sound byte.) Should Grothman be in sound bytes. "If we have 2 years of below average temperatures in Wisconsin, why are we doing it?" For him, it would have been best to say "fighting global warming" instead of "it." Imagine that one sentence playing to the ears of people who either don't or don't want to believe in climate change - or those who are sitting on the fence. If there's no definition established before the debate begins, any rebuttal will seem futile. Dr. Boulter, I think that it would have been most efficient to come flat out and say, "I think that Senator Grothman has been misinformed as to what climate change is," and then go on to define it in short words. A power punch of "The fact is, global climate change is occurring, and scientists of all fields agree - we've already waited too long." I liked when you brought up the fact that as Americans, we owe it to the world - you used the word "responsibility." Strong word, strong sentence(s) that follow. In a sound-byte: "Americans contribute ___% of the worlds greenhouse gasses. It is our responsibility to our make a positive change for our children. We have already waited too long."
    These sound-bytes give the average person something to hold on to, and (perhaps more importantly,) something that they can repeat to people they converse with.

    Overall, I was content with the news article; however, I do think that because of the lack of definition, it was skewed - and not in the best interest of the globe. The visual effects, lack of alternatives other than wind, which Dr. Boulter was filmed admitting, "Wisconsin does not have particularly good wind potential." There are other options - why were these not discussed by any party? (Other than the length, of course.) Why were there no "If you're interested in the science and debates concerning climate change, go to these sites" from the narrator?

    Way to go, Dr., and I think Senator Grothman needs a letter from us.

    (PS- did anyone notice the irony of Grothman's screen laying out (R) and Dr. Boulter being filmed with Obama in the background?)

    See you all Friday.

  8. Overall, I agree with the comments the rest of my class members have posted. Dr. Boulter, I really think that in this article, you come across as someone with authority and knowledge, while Senator Grothman does not fair as well. Good job! I was absolutely blown away by the fact that the senator argued that global warming was not happening because Wisconsin is a little colder this year. I was very frustrated that a person with political power could be so misinformed and, as a citizen of the world, was upset that he refused to consider the impact climate change has on the entire world. Additionally, I really agreed with Elizabeth's point that you should have tried to connect more emotionally with the audience. People want to be able to connect the news with their own lives, and if they see that they too should be invested in solving the problem, they are more likely to become involved.

  9. The "Weather vs. Climate Change" misconception is one that needs to be addressed. Many Americans have this ethnocentric view that “our weather is not showing signs of warming, thus there is little that can be done on a local scale.” This mix of individualism is a bit deterministic to say the least.

    As someone who is interested in sustainable development as a career path, I think it is essential to address this short-term thought framework where we emphasize our costs in the short-run, and over look the reduced costs in the long run. It’s a shame, Dr. Boulter, that your comment about the short term vs. long term costs was omitted.

    I think you did a good job Dr. Boulter. It is not your fault that the news station played editor and decided what to include in the story.

    I think that the drive home points of the story were a bit discouraging for American society. If this individualism keeps resonating, our future generations are going to have to pay for our unwillingness to change, literally.

    Andi, good observation with the background.

    See everyone tomorrow!

  10. Excellent comments by all.

    I agree that it is disheartening to know that there are people in influential positions such as Senator Grothman who continue believe that global warming does not exist. Other non-believers I have encountered don’t believe because they don’t want to ‘give up” the life they lead; one of excess consumerism and massive deficit spending. That philosophy relates to the “story of stuff”, a process that fuels global warming. In a nutshell, they view it as “it’s just not good for business”. With that perspective, it’s understandable why they really don’t want to believe that global warming is a fact that is currently happening. It amounts to desperately clinging to an unsustainable past rather than embracing change for a bright, sustainable future.

    Dr Boulter did a great job in a very short time but maybe next time he should do a “mic check” with Andi before he goes on camera. And Andi, if you are a marketing student, you are in the right place at the right time.

  11. I think you did a really good job especially since you explained the difference between climate and weather, but you didn't make the Senator sound dumb. It is hard to do much good in such a short piece though because climate is so complex. I have had two science courses in my time here that had sections going in depth on climate change, but before that I didn't know what to think.

    To the viewer, articles like this are more of a he said she said kind of thing. Both people are spitting out numbers and facts, but without taking the time to look into things yourself it is hard to see what is most important. I do think that a Senator should take more time looking into something and be more forward thinking than Senator Grothman was in this situation. If he was than it would be much easier to get more people to back the cause.

  12. I agree with everyone's comments about adding emotion, the disheartening feeling of hearing a politician battle the facts, and the overall good job by Dr. Boulter. I would like to add that one thing struct me over and over again in the article and video. The reporter talked about the senator's feelings that global warming is not "happening in our state." Even the senator himself refers to the low average temperatures in our state, but shouldn't we consider that the major effects of GLOBAL warming could be happening somewhere else? Shouldn't we try to do our part to help the entire planet and not just worry about where we live? And as we all know, most of the evidence isn't blatantly obvious to the common citizen (or politician), but that doesn't mean it's not there. One example, in particular, was when one of the RAs here in Putnam told several of my friends and me that Eau Claire was 12 degrees colder than the North Pole that particular night. A lot of my friends asked, "How did Wisconsin get so cold?" I asked, "How did the North Pole get so warm?"

    I still say that you did a great job, Dr. Boulter, and I know that when I talk about global warming, I can never regurgitate more than 2 of the thousands of statistics I've heard on global warming. That's one of the reasons I look forward to having a presentation planned out for once rather than just discussing with friends.

  13. I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments and I agree with many of the statements made so far. I definitely am glad that the issue of "weather vs. climate" was addressed in the story, Dr. Boulter, as this is a misconception that so many people I know still have! Jason, I was also taken aback for a few reasons by Sen. Grothman's comment regarding Wisconsin's lack of global warming. First, he seems to be ignoring some pretty compelling information supporting the existence of climate change and to be only looking at a few years of weather patterns that are simply reinforcing his ideal views. Second, he neglected to state whether or not he believes global warming is occurring in different areas of the world. As he did not mention this, I took it to mean that he believes it is, in fact, happening elsewhere, just not in Wisconsin. Is he not concerned about the rest of the world of which we are all a part?

    I believe you did a good job relaying the information during the interview, especially after being given such short notice. I agree that it is a shame that the network worked its "editing magic" to relay only the information it deemed most interesting to its viewers, or perhaps more accurately, most critical to its view.

    Interestingly, I just received and e-mail this afternoon containing a link to a special report by John Coleman of the Weather Channel, entitled "Global Warming: The Other Side." I watched it and was rather disappointed that I had received the e-mail from my father! However, watching it did bring up one question in my mind. Were there some scientists that falsified information to support their theory of global warming? I do believe that global climate change is a very real issue, but I want to explore this statement more to find out if these scientists did falsify information. Then if I encounter people who have seen this and don't think climate change is real, I can set them straight by providing them with some real facts from truthful scientists and scholars!

  14. I have been trying to figure out how to post a link if that is possible, but haven't succeeded...so here is the address for the report by John Coleman, if anyone is interested: http://www.kusi.com/home/78477082.html?video=pop&t=a

  15. I was really shocked by the Senator's comment about global warming not existing, and how he wanted to discontinue alternative energy research, but then I though about it for a bit and realized that there are probably many people who disregard the effects of climate change. People are uneducated about what exactly global warming is and what could happen to our planet if we let it continue. I agree with the other posts that the comment about the distinction between weather and climate was a very good one, and I hope that it helped open the eyes of people who were watching.

    But I feel that this problem of having the general public so uneducated about the effects of climate change goes much deeper and can't be fixed with a news report. People are more concerned about paying their bills than they are with reducing their carbon footprint. But hopefully, with things such as this news report, people will realize the extent to which global warming will affect and is already affecting our planet.

  16. In agreement with all the previous comments, I couldn't believe that Grothman is ready to completely abandon the Clean Energy Committee based on a two year weather pattern. Now I've always been a little skeptical of the seemingly alarmist tactics of many global warming activists but it didn't take me very long, once I actually looked at the facts, to realize that climate change is happening and it is ignorant to say otherwise. Opinions may be very different on whether the warming trend is being caused primarily by humans or whether it is just a natural part of Earth's constantly changing climate patterns, but to flat out deny the existence of climate change shows a complete disinterest and ignorance of the facts on the part of Senator Grothman. I am also more than slightly concerned that the state allows senators to serve on committees that they apparently know nothing about nor do they care to know anything about. Maybe that's extreme on my part, but I am just trying to convey my initial gut reaction to the video.

    Dr. B, I think you did a good job of presenting the information that Grothman didn't care to find out for himself. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, those doing the editing have a lot of power (I do a lot of work in radio and I know how easily an editor can tamper with and even completely skew an interview). It would have been nice if they had included your comment about our children and grandchildren, but faced with biased editors (and everyone is biased)and time constraints one can merely say what is on their mind and cross their fingers and see what the final product ends up sounding/looking like. Fortunately they used your comments on the difference between weather and climate which I think is a HUGE point to be made and one that I myself did not fully understand until this class. Good job though overall...you seemed comfortable in front of the camera and made some excellent points!

  17. I thought the comments were good. While abbreviated they still good argument to the point. The setting however I feel could have been adjusted, I feel like if it was done in a classroom it would show consistantly that you are a professor. The office just congests things and if I were to turn on the news after the initial introduction I would have no idea who you were. Just an idea for next time.

  18. I recently received my copy of the latest Discover Magazine and in it there is an advertisement for the discovermagazine.com blog "The Intersection" and a recent blog titled "The Strange Spread of Climate Denial". I logged on and checked it out and I found this interesting information which may shed some light on the Wisconsin senator's comments and changed position.

    Information from the Blog.
    A new national survey out of Yale and George Mason regarding public beliefs and attitudes on global warming found the following:
    The percentage of Americans who think global warming is happening has declined 14 points, to 57 percent.
    The percentage of Americans who think global warming is caused mostly by human activities has dropped 10 points, to 47 percent.
    Only 50 percent of Americans now say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” about global warming, a 13-point decrease.
    Sixty-five percent distrust Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin as sources of information.
    Fifty-three percent distrust former Democratic Vice President Al Gore and 49 percent distrust President Barack Obama.
    The percentage of Americans who believe that most scientists think global warming is happening is now at 34 percent.
    There were numerous comments on this blog about the leak of the climate scientist's emails and the damage this has done to climate science credibility. The term "ClimateGate" was being used.
    My Question: Do you think the senator is just reacting to what he perceives is a shift in public sentiment and trying to align himself with that shift?

  19. Here are are couple of links that may suggest something about Senator Grothman's past and present views:



  20. I found a voting record for Senator Grothman online and it appears as though he has recently voted against two bills (2008 and 2009) that would help out the environment, so to speak, but in 2006 he voted yes to a bill having to do with ethanol requirements for gasoline for automobiles. Now I don't want to immediately point fingers because he could have easily voted for this bill in exchange for another Senator's support on a bill he wanted passed, but it still makes him appear as though he is changing his position to follow public sentiment. Similarly, I found it rather interesting that he wouldn't agree to taking a Political Courage Test (the test would basically outline his views on major political issues). From a political standpoint I can certainly understand the risk in placing your views for the public to see online, considering the fact that occasionally you might end up voting against your views for circumstances the public might not understand or be informed of. However, all signs would point to the fact that he's just acting based on public sentiment rather than any core beliefs he has. Here's the website I was looking at if anyone wants to check it out.

  21. I can't figure out how to label that!

  22. I'm going to have to agree. Ultimately, I think that the politicians (for the most part) cater to what they think their party wants to hear - regardless of whether they're Democrats or Republican. That's how they get and stay in office. Hence, I think the senator goes along with whatever is "popular" with his voters at that time. If that's conserving money at the expense of our planet and the generations to come, "so be it."

  23. I feel that he, along with other elected officials, are attempting to be accountable to their consitutents. Aligning himself with the changing attitudes of the local public opinion is a strategic move to keep him in his elected seat. It is a problem inherent in politics today...our elected officials are worried more about staying office, rather than making decisions that will benefit our lives.

  24. Actually, you've touched on a debate inherent in any representative democracy. Should elected officials follow the wishes of those who elected him or her, or, figuring that the official was elected for their intelligence and wisdom, should he or she make whatever decision appears best for their constituents and the country as a whole?

    I don't really know what I believe. In a country that doesn't have national referendums, it is nice for members of Congress to do what we want them to do. At the same time, however, there are situations, such as global warming, where we really do need someone willing and able to take the long view, even if that creates problems in the short term. I suppose all we can do is try to make it clear that not only is dealing with climate change a necessity for the safety and security of this country (not to mention the entire world!), but also what we, the constituents, demand that they do.

    (Sorry for the long digression. Can you tell I'm a PoliSci major yet?)

  25. One of the interesting phenomenons I've noticed when doing some basic web searches about climate change is just how vocal climate change skeptics have become. I assume this is a recent trend - five years ago no one needed to gather in chat rooms and on blogs to complain about all the horrible liberals who are going to destroy the world economy and infrastructure despite the fact that global warming isn't happening, it isn't caused by humans if it is, and whatever the cause, it really will be an improvement to live under "a warmer sky". (Yes, these are all really arguments that I've seen posted, complete with a call for liberals willing to stand trial for all the murders they're going to cause with their dangerous and unnecessary policies - and a serious lack of actual facts to back up their claims.) In fact, it's an interesting education in an opposing viewpoint, at least so long as you don't suffer from high blood pressure. (I suppose this really is a case of there being none so blind as those who will not see.)

    Honestly, this is probably one of the bigger problems facing those working for climate change. Quite a bit of the information on the web that talks about climate change is locked up in websites like the IPCC, which can be a bit hard to wade through even if you agree with what they're saying. Unfortunately, much of the more accessible "information" is of dubious quality. That doesn't mean that good sites aren't out there - the links on this blog being a good example - but not every internet user is going to go beyond the scandals to look for what's really going on.


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