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Meet the plug-in that'll rate the accuracy of climate change reporting

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 2:03 PM - Wondering if the science in that climate change article you're reading is legit? MIT researcher Emmanuel Vincent has you covered.

He's developing Climate Feedback, a browser plug-in that will allow real-world climate scientists to annotate individual climate change articles.

Using web annotation software hypothes.is, recruited scientists can provide comments on individual points, links to sources either supporting or debunking a claim, and a final accuracy score out of five.

You can see an example of its use on a Wall Street Journal article here, and below a look at how it's applied to an article in the Daily Mail.

Image courtesy Climate Feedback

Vincent, whose expertise is in cyclones and climate, said he'd often have friends and relatives send him links to climate change articles, hoping he'd help them make sense of the sometimes conflicting narrative.

"They are confused when they read one article stating that “climate change has stopped”, and another one saying the opposite," he told The Weather Network last week. "If my friends are confused, I’m sure there are plenty of others who could benefit from a thorough analysis by those knowledgeable about the topic."

Vincent says he hopes Climate Feedback can bring scientists closer to readers and journalists.

"They will get to hear scientists’ voice directly, get to know experts in climate science and get a sense of the thoughts of the community, rather than just a few scientists who are actively blogging," he says.

As for the "stable" of scientists, Vincent says they'll start with a "representative sample" of the community, and keep growing it as they wade through more and more articles. 

"The limitation for regular people will be their lack of knowledge of the underlying science," he says. "It’s important that we ensure that all those contributing to our Climate Feedback channel have strong scientific credentials."

So far, he says, he's included scientists who've expressed interest in the project and are actively publishing peer-reviewed climate science articles themselves.

"The exact criteria for our launch may be more restrictive," he adds.

There's instructions here on how to make it work for you.

MEANWHILE IN CANADA: Our country's climate is changing. See below for what that means for active weather.

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