This news article was published in The New York Times and took me by surprise, in a good way. I was intrigued by the title, though it was not clickbait. The story centres around a recent study of climate models, weather patterns, and other environmental circumstances related to climate change that could have increased the likelihood of a wildfire as widespread and destructive as the one we saw in Australia only a few months ago. Because the title seemed confident, I thought the article would be biased towards the study results, but the author did a great job of explaining the study and what it can and can’t explain. As well, the author interviewed not only the study authors, but experts in the field outside of the study. The author remained neutral and objective and reinforced that while the study results and general belief all seem to point towards climate change affecting the wildfires, wildfires are also a complex natural disaster to understand. This news article was easy to read, written well, objective, and informative, with only minor causes for concern. Thus, I gave it a 5 out of 5.
What the author did well was remaining neutral, putting study results into context for the general target audience of the popular newspaper, and sourcing. Many links to sources were clear within the article, besides a couple of casually unsourced claims such as when the author was describing how many acres were burned. Bringing in multiple perspectives on the results was also good to lessen the likelihood that the original study results were biased. As well, the author’s contact information, social media, biography, and other written works were easily accessible upon the click of their name.
What was slightly concerning was the link to the original study. First of all, it did not link directly to the study, but to a website that happened to contain the study on the front page. Even then, you still had to go through another link to find the full study. Even so, it seems only a minor concern. That said, it should still be paid attention to though in case during the peer-review process, one of the reviewers found some bias or problems in the results. Overall though, I think because the author never made any definitive claims and was outlining the relationship between climate change and wildfires as complex, the news article still holds enough legitimacy.
This article was published by the New York Times, and discusses research done on climate change, with a focus on Southeastern Australia during the months of December and January, which are peak months for wildfires. The research aimed to assess different factors that go into causing a wildfire and calculate how those factors have changed over the past century. It was found that the values of these factors were not only very high, which was the basis behind the record-breaking wildfires of 2019 and early 2020, but also that these values have a 30% higher chance of being abnormal high compared to conditions in 1900. This means that, due to these aspects of the climate being altered by humans, wildfires are much more likely to occur in this region of Australia. This is something that climate simulations were not able to predict, due to the significant heat spikes in Southeastern Australia.
This article provided quite a comprehensive summary of the research that was done and did not spare any essential details. It did a good job at summarizing important details, while keeping the jargon and complicated methods to a minimum so as to not confuse the target audience. The New York Times has a very large and diverse audience, so not all of the readers are expected to have a science background. With that being said, the article still goes into great detail in terms of the results and impact of the study. This was effective because it ensured that the readers would learn something new without being confused. The main issue with this article was the number of banner advertisements that appeared while scrolling, which were quite annoying.
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