A couple of weeks ago new research into an Antarctic ice shelf made the news. Headlines ranged from the accurate: Research reveals ice sheet stability in West Antarctica under threat – Phys.org; to the absurd: Big Antarctic ice sheet appears doomed – ScienceNews.
The media’s response to the research has been critiqued by the Columbia Journalism Review – which points out that an overstatement of the findings by the study’s lead author and uncritical reporting led to articles which misreported the research’s findings.
Overstatement about research adds to the confusion that often clouds the climate change debate in the media, and provides ammunition in what has become a rather polarised space. Perhaps most irritatingly, it can lead to solid conclusions from cautious pieces of research becoming distorted and identified with inaccurate and sensationalist reporting – of which more below.