Saturday, February 6, 2010

So who'd be a journo?

I know I really shouldn't but I'm starting to develop a lot of sympathy for the journalists over at The Land. Normally I treat journos with a great deal of suspicion (says he with two in the extended family, though one does sport and the other horsey stuff) and have been known to yell at errors, blunders (and what I at least perceive to be) obvious biases (and don't get me started on science reporting) and quite obviously many others do as well.

Prior to the internet if you felt aggrieved or annoyed at an obvious error or bias it would be dust off the old Remington typewriter and rattle off a missive to the editor. These days with many papers publishing online and allowing reader comments more people are replying to stories (or at least people are replying to more stories - there's a subtle difference which we'll get to later) and doing it instantly without giving a great deal of thought as to what they write (and often without proofreading to see whether the writing make sense). Obviously it's a two edged sword people can write in giving, or asking for, more clarification on a story or giving an alternate view, that's the good side.

The bad? Well that's where we come back to reporting in the Land, it's quite Pavlovian really there are a number of words which will just set people off over there, Carbon Dioxide and Climate being two of the better examples.

Have a look over here.

The story is that rising atmospheric CO2 levels are likely to increase the growth rates of woody weeds, which you'd hardly think was controversial after all one of the sceptics big arguments is that CO2 is just plant food. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. apparently that's all part of the conspiracy as well.

The other part of the story that I find quite interesting is that while C3 plants could benefit from extra CO2, C4 plants (which evolved later in the Earths history when atmospheric carbon dioxide had dropped below about 500 ppm) may be adversly affected (C4's have evolved a mechanism to concentrate CO2).

Quite a number of our important grasses use the C4 photosynthetic pathway, particularly our summer growing and tropical species, any adverse impacts on our summer grasses should be of concern to farmers and graziers and rightly so should be reported but comments such as:

The propaganda is sure being turned on! Two articles of pure bull in a row. One from an economist who would surely have a good understanding of matters of science, followed by a scientist, who surely has abandoned all thought of 'truth'!!

really do have you shaking your head. I do notice that it is mostly the same dozen or so making these sort of comments so there is some hope.

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