Climate change – gagging the skeptics

Posted on March 6, 2010


Climate change - real, or made up?

The environment is something that journalists have to be very much aware of, especially when it comes to climate change.

At a recent lecture at Cardiff Journalism School, the head of school Justin Lewis described how people only started realising what effect we are having on the planet as little as 20 years ago. Since then, there was a great deal of scientific controversy – the scientists and the sceptics were given balanced airtime, with reporting levels relatively low.

Then, in 2006/2007, change started to happen. At the hands of overwhelming scientific evidence pointing definitively in the direction of climate change being real, the balance shifted in favour of the climate scientists. The debate was closed. End of story.

Except that wasn’t the end of the story. The recent scandal over leaked climate change emails left the reputation of climate change journalists scarred. A huge step back was taken. According to Lewis,  99% of climate change scientists believe that humans are causing climate change. That’s compared to just 26% of the general public.

Another interesting statistic – back in 2006, climate change was the 10th most covered topic in science and technology news. Tenth.

As a result of all of this, I typed “climate change” into the search of several news providers to see what’s happening right now. The results:

The Guardian: Met Office analysis reveals ‘clear fingerprints’ of man-made climate change

Following a major review of over 100 scientific studies, the Met office has concluded that it is an “increasingly remote possibility” that human activity is not the main cause of climate change.

The BBC: EU considers general carbon tax

The EU is planning a minimum tax on carbon as part of their green energy agenda, but the UK is opposing it as they want the flexibility to set their own agenda.

The Daily Mail: Climate scientists fight back: Mankind IS to blame for global warming, say researchers

The same story as the Guardian, but with a slightly different angle – “The study comes amid growing public scepticism about climate change,” they point out.

The Telegraph: Coastal homes lose gardens as land falls into the sea

Homeowners are losing parts of their land as it falls into the sea. Why? Climate change.

The Independent: Humans must be to blame for climate change, say scientists

Again, the same story. More interesting, though, is their article Climate change is not a matter of faith which sums up the feelings of a lot of people getting frustrated with the skeptics and apparently increasing levels of public scepticism:

“…the issue has gone beyond whether we should simply ‘believe’ in climate change. It is not a matter of faith. The evidence for anthropogenic global warming is there for anyone to study. If sceptics are to merit our attention, they need to come up with an equally powerful counter-argument.”

So, everybody’s picking up on what’s happening at least. Though climate change is apparently accepted as a cause of blame for certain things that happen, as in the disappearing gardens, there is also a trend of references to still justifying climate change. Like the ‘acceptance’ that it exists never happened.
One story has the power to change an awful lot. One man who said he thought the MMR jab caused autism prevented thousands of children from being vaccinated. One story about dodgy scientists has caused people to question climate change, providing a very convenient get-out clause for people who don’t want to accept that their habits might have to change to save the planet.
Image from tellytom‘s photostream.
Posted in: comment