In 1994 I attended a conference on climate change in St. Paul. One of the presenters, a scientist involved with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pointed out a phenomena he felt likely contributed to the difference between the consensuses among climate scientists that the climate was warming due to human influences and the more even split general public opinion at that time. He noted the media thrive on controversy, which draws more attention than agreement, and how the small percentage of scientists who disagree with climate change as human-caused were quoted in the press far more often than the average climate scientist. He showed example articles that gave even space to arguments for and against that gave the impression that there was in fact an even split of professional opinion.
The April 6 "Pro/Con" columns on the News Tribune Opinion page, each in answer to whether a new climate panel would give President Donald Trump good advice immediately reminded me of that presentation 25 years ago. I am all in favor of newspapers sharing varying views on topics for which there is factual basis for debate. In the case of climate change, however, where 97 percent of peer-reviewed papers on the topic concluded that global warming is real and a direct result of our actions, giving even time to both sides just feeds public misperception.
I encourage the News Tribune to pose the question, and then answer through its own research, "Given Trump's selection of climate-change skeptic William Happer to lead the new panel, can the commission be trusted to provide sound advice?"