Climate deniers have garnered far more media attention than prominent climate scientists over the years, fuelling public confusion and slowing the response to global warming, researchers reported Tuesday.
From 2000 through 2016, hundreds of academics, business people and politicians who doubted global warming or attributed rising temperatures to “natural” causes got 50 percent more ink than an equal number of top scientists, according to a study in Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed journal.
Even in a more select group of mainstream English language news outlets with high standards of evidence — from the New York Times and The Guardian to The Wall Street Journal and the Daily Telegraph — sceptics were still cited slightly more often.
In reality, there has long been overwhelming agreement among climate scientists that global warming — caused mainly by burning fossil fuels — poses a major threat to civilization and much of life on Earth.
An increase of only one degree Celsius had triggered rising seas and a crescendo of deadly extreme weather, and Earth is on track to heat up another three degrees by century’s end.
“Climate change contrarians have successfully organized a strong voice within politics and science communication,” noted the authors, led by Alexander Petersen at the University of California at Merced.
“Such disproportionate media visibility of contrarian arguments and actors misrepresents the distribution of expert-based beliefs,” they continued.
“It also undermines the credible authority of career climate change scientists and reinforces the trend of climate change contrarians presiding over public scientific discourse.”
Over the last year, public concern over global warming has grown dramatically, sparked in part by an October UN report warning that only a wholesale overhaul of the global economy and consumption patterns can forestall climate chaos.
In Europe, green parties running on a platform of climate action gaining nearly two dozen seats in EU parliamentary elections. Climate protesters drawing from the civil disobedience playbook of Marin Luther King and Gandhi, meanwhile, have spilled into the streets.
– Sowing doubt –
In the United States, a call for climate action has become a litmus test among Democratic candidates for president, and many young people have rallied around the legislative initiative known as the Green New Deal.
A handful of western governments have pledged to slash carbon emissions to “net zero” by mid-century.
But even today, established media continue to provide platforms for dubious or discredited assertions about global warming.
Last week, for example, US business magazine Forbes published an article on its website entitled “Global Warming? An Israeli Astrophysicist Provides Alternative View That is Not Easy To Reject”.
The “alternative view” — that warming is caused by the Sun and not CO2 emissions — is thoroughly discredited, and the magazine was compelled within hours to remove the piece.
In testimony last month before the US Senate that took on confessional tones, long-time Republican Party strategist Frank Luntz revealed a key moment nearly 20 years ago in the campaign to blunt action against global warming.
“You need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate,” he told party operatives in a memo during George W. Bush’s first term in office.
The disquieting term “global warming”, he further suggested, should be replaced with “climate change”.
“I’m here before you to say that I was wrong in 2001,” he told a Senate committee.
In the new study, Petersen and colleagues scanned 100,000 news items published from 2000 through 2016 for bylines, citations and mentions of 386 scientists, and 386 “contrarians”.
“Tallying across all media sources we find climate change contrarian media visibility to be 49 percent greater than climate change visibility,” they wrote.
The imbalance was made worse by the amplifying effect of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, they added.
Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him
Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.
In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.
The faith of Fox News: How the network’s propaganda warps viewers’ sense of reality
A longtime sticking point among Fox News employees is their insistent differentiation between its news division, where employees practice actual journalism, and its opinion division, where employees practice actual nativism, spew misinformation, and have been actively campaigning for Donald Trump’s re-election since 2016. Inside the organization, they claim to believe that the news side is separate from the opinion side, and insist that the audience can tell the difference.
News anchor Shepard Smith once characterized comparing the two as “apples and teaspoons.”
Maddow warns Russia is interfering in the 2020 election in ‘exactly the same way’ as they did in 2016
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday warned that Russia and the Republicans are running the "exact same play" against Democrats in 2020 -- and this time will be aided by the United States Justice Department.
"And they are playing it again already for the next election. And some of it is happening just like it did in 2016. And some of it is worse and I think it’s going to be more powerful than it was in 2016. In part because this is a second draft for these guys, right? They ran this play in 2016. They worked out some of the kinks," she explained. "Now they’ll do it again with the benefit of knowing what worked for them and what didn’t work the first time around. It’s a second draft. It’s going to be better and more polished."