More Disconnects In The Media Between Climate and An Environmental Response

There are two recent news articles that clearly show how little the media is investigating the linkage between an environmental change and climate, as well as their lack of knowledge of how the climate system really works.

The two news articles are

1. An AP story

Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy.

The text reads

Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy.

The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report Monday.

And a CO2-driven vine also produces more of its rash-causing chemical, urushiol, conclude experiments conducted in a forest at Duke University where scientists increased carbon-dioxide levels to those expected in 2050.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas — a chemical that traps heat similar to the way a greenhouse does — that’s considered a major contributor to global warming. Greenhouse gases have been steadily increasing in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

Poison ivy is common in woods around the country, making it a bane of hikers, campers, fighters of forest fires, even backyard gardeners. Its itchy, sometimes blistering rash is one of the most widely reported ailments to poison-control centers, with more than 350,000 reported cases a year.

Compared to poison ivy grown in usual atmospheric conditions, those exposed to the extra-high carbon dioxide grew about three times larger — and produced more allergenic form of urushiol, scientists from Duke and Harvard University reported.

Their study appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The fertilization effect of rising CO2 on poison ivy … and the shift toward a more allergenic form of urushiol have important implications for the future health of both humans and forests,” the study concludes.

First, the statement that “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas — a chemical that traps heat similar to the way a greenhouse does” shows that the reporter fails to understand how a greenhouse traps heat (it is primarily by the glass panes preventing the mixing of heat from inside the greenhouse upwards – see). More significantly, the added effect from CO2 reported by Duke is a biogeochemical effect, not a “global warming” effect. Also, even in the context of climate, the poison ivy responds to its immediate environment, not a global average warming.

 The second article is

2. an Los Angeles news story

Marmots thriving amid climate change — for now

Excerpts from the news article read

“In a rare example of animals benefiting from global warming, marmots are emerging earlier from hibernation, and eating more, a study finds. But ultimately, climate change is likely to spell their doom.”

“Over the last decade, the work has gotten more tiring. Now they know why — the population of squirrel-like critters has vastly expanded as a result of environmental changes brought on by global warming, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature.”

Here again, the reporter claims “global warming” is the culprit when it reality the marmots respond to their immediate environment including the microclimate they live in. The marmots do not respond to an increase in the global average temperature.

These two articles  grossly oversimplify the climate system and its interaction with specific components of the environment.  This yet another reason the issue of climate change is becoming progressively less important to the public and many politicians. This is unfortunate as there are real climate issues (both natural and human-influenced) that society needs to address (e.g. see).

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