If 95% of scientists believe the fundamental principles of climate change, why are we still loathe to both believe and act on their worrying claims?
Perhaps one of the key reasons why the threats of climate change are continually debated and disagreed upon, is that it is not an individual experience for the majority of the public world. We are not yet affected by flooded streets, extreme weather patterns or severe tropical storms; our experience of climate change is highly mediated. I, myself, find it quite worrying that this hugely consequential environmental issue is being left to the mercy of the media world and the way in which they choose to present the issue. How can we ever understand global issues through the media? And how can we possibly develop responses to such complex, global problems? I don’t know if we’ll ever work it out in today’s convoluted media web.
When it comes to climate change, the media is big on celebrity endorsements.
The fabulous Miranda Kerr has been the well-known face of Australia’s Earth Hour campaign for the last few years. Once a year she floods onto our screens and tells us how we should all switch off our lights to save the earth. When media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced in Tokyo in 2006 that he, while still a bit skeptic about climate change, believed the earth deserved the benefit of the doubt, his many newspaper publications didn’t necessarily follow suit and endorse these new opinions, which is what you would expect to happen.
There is a real ‘false balance‘ in the media today… journalists are increasingly presenting opposing opinions about climate change as being more balanced than they are, when in fact, a very small percentage of professional scientists would dispute the fundamentals of climate change.
Distressingly, the media seems to be distracting us from the severity of this issue. A comparison of polls conducted in 2006 and again in June 2011, reveals that the numbers of those who believed that global warming was a real threat and should be immediately dealt with, was down from a huge 68% in 2006 to a meager 41% in 2011.
And even though it has been constantly repeated, there is very little debate when it comes to climate change! Scientists are busily working on the extent and impact it will have, not whether it is actually occurring!
Sadly, however, as one audience member said at a recent climate change forum in Parramatta, ”I try not to believe [in climate change] because I don’t like to believe the worst.”
Lecture Notes, Tanja Dreher, 14/05/2012.