Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How to cover Global Warming?

I'm leaving for Columbia in a few minutes for a chance to sit down with a University of South Carolina scientist to talk about global warming. And the thing is, this isn't so much an interview as it is a conversation about how to proceed on a story.

I write about science for a Southern metro paper, and I'm not going to be the guy who breaks big stories on global climate. So what's my role? Why should I even be interested in this story? Am I up to it?

My hypothesis: I want to know what I can trust, and so do my readers. Is global warming real or an elaborate fake? How do we know? How should we judge? Who can we trust?

To me, global warming is the perfect example of the potentially world changing story that my profession fails to tell. We fail because we don't understand it, but we also fail because we think we are somehow doing our jobs when we assign equal weight to all voices. That's fine in a local debate about zoning, but on science?

Can I write a story that helps people to understand the truths and the distortions and the folly, an objective story written by a subjective person? Can I ever hope to understand it all myself?

I write about science, and truth be told, half the time I don't know as much as the average high school student.