Climate change is all over the news, but just how reliable are the facts and figures the media toss around? Now with a new Climate Feedback app, it’s possible for scientists to hold journalists accountable for reports made about global warming. A development which environment groups say is long overdue as the news is often marred by politics or careless inaccuracy.
The Climate Feedback app was created to give climate scientists the opportunity to give feedback to the way the topic of global warming is presented in an article. Created by Emmanuel Vincent at Yale University, the project was designed to help scientists, science writers and journalists evaluate the quality of a news article.
Climate Feedback app – an easy way to assess accuracy
Mr. Vincent, who just finished his fellowship in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), says the app will also provide researchers with “better sources” for checking facts. At the same time, the Climate Feedback app helps the general public determine how accurate the news they are reading is.
The importance of this program cannot be stressed enough, scientists say. As it is, there are a lot of so-called “experts” who write articles and give interviews on websites that are totally misleading and filled with factual errors. However, there is no way for the casual reader to determine if the report is accurate.
With the Climate Feedback app, it’s now possible to fact check any report. The app, a browser plug-in actually, is very easy to use. Once installed and activated, the user can check the annotations and read what scientists think about the article in question. Articles are reviewed by experts in climate and global warming issues, so the results can be depended upon.
Factual assurance guarantee forexperts as well as the casual reader
Articles are rated on a scale of 0 to 4 with 4 being the highest in terms of scientific quality. However, the feedback does not just focus on negative aspects of a news article but also the positive ones. Furthermore, Vincent says the scientists that review the Climate Feedback app provide references to back up any criticisms or comments they make.
Most importantly however, Vincent says that the Climate Feedback app is nonpartisan and non-political. As anyone who’s tried to do research on the subject knows, climate science is a fiercely debated subject with political and economic repercussions, and even the reporters with good intentions get some facts wrong.
The app gives a ‘critical analysis’ devoid of political and economic influences
In an interview, Vincent said the purpose of the Climate Feedback app is to “provide critical analysis” of news reports regardless where it came from. He also said that the initial focus of the project will be popular, influential and widely read articles about climate science, but that it will expand over time. Vincent also said that the app checks for different types of inaccuracies including sensationalism.
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The last point is especially important, he says, because there are many reports that exaggerate scientific discoveries and news. Other media outlets misunderstand the scientific method and add political overtones to the report. While it may be impossible to stop some reporters from exaggeration or outright lies, the Climate Feedback app gives readers the opportunity to determine how the article stands when scrutinized by other scientists.