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Andy Revkin: How Does Our Collective Failure Make You Feel?

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This is article 2 of 8 in the series about interviews with speakers at Cancun's "Forum on Communicating Climate Change." Click here to read the introduction.
Cross posted on Hub Culture

I spoke with Andy Revkin fairly late in the day. He looked tired and hurried, although he perked up once the camera started rolling. Andy has been one of the U.S.'s top environmental reporters over the past few decades, including a 15-year stint at the New York Times. Although he is no longer a full time employee of the paper, he still blogs there at

I have always enjoyed Andy's columns, but because journalists are not encouraged to share their opinions, I have had no idea how it made him feel that his profession had communicated so poorly. I also wanted to know if he has been surprised by how public opinion has changed over the past two decades. Did it surprise him that public belief in climate science has actually eroded?

In the interview, Andy said that he's not surprised that public opinion on climate science has waned, largely because public opinion on this issue has never run very deep. Other than a small percentage of the population, people don't give climate change much thought or hold their beliefs too strongly. The changes in opinion are, as he says "Waves in a shallow pan."

As for how he felt, Andy expressed muted frustration. He then said that the apparent failure of conventional journalism is one reason that he left the New York Times. He sees the future of communication as being more innovative: using blogs and improved multimedia. He finished by saying that he did not lament the end of 20th century journalism because these new forms of communication forms allow more engagement and feedback.

Next article - Jennifer Scott: A Survey of COP16 participants reveals deep pessimism.

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