In his recent statements on the poor state of the Australian debate on global warming (meaning discussion of its causes, and how to deal with it in policy terms) Professor Ross Garnaut drew attention to the role of the media.
He argued that “debate about scientific matters that occurs in the public domain (such as in newspapers and blog sites) can come to be divorced from scientific quality, rigour and authority”. As a result, people are confused, and losing faith in the science of climate change.
Not that the media are the only source of growing scepticism as to the seriousness of global warming. Garnaut acknowledges that the leak of emails from a British university which appeared to show scientists manipulating data – Climategate – was damaging to public belief in the reality of human-generated, or anthropogenic climate change
Then came the damp squib of the Copenhagen climate summit, when the politicians signally failed to agree on meaningful action. And in Australia, after a decade of drought rashly attributed by some environmental zealots to global warming, came the great floods. No wonder, as Garnaut noted, more than half of Australians are “confused as to what to believe”.