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Media ecoevangelists by Professor Bob Carter September 28, 2009

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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Media ecoevangelists

by Bob Carter
Quadrant Online, September 27, 2009

Our ABC: mired in a moral morass

A broadcaster is in trouble when it, rather than the news that it carries, becomes the story. And thus it now often is with the ABC.

Why are today’s media directors and reporters so incapable of making accurate critical judgements on environmental issues?


It is a commonplace that the mainstream media distort the public debate on environmental issues of the day.

A case in point is the continuing uncritical alarmism about allegedly human-caused global warming, at a time when the globe has been cooling for ten years and human causation remains chimerical. The Fairfax press, together with public broadcasters ABC and SBS, furnish egregious examples of this on a regular basis as they dutifully promulgate – without a trace of critical analysis – the unrestrained, apocalyptic imaginings of the many scientific, environmental and business lobby groups who are now poised to benefit from a carbon dioxide taxation system (aka emissions trading scheme; ETS).

Daily, Australians are confronted on the radio and TV news with politically opportune opinions on “urgent” environmental matters by scientifically ignorant spokespersons for unelected, unaccountable and inexpert lobby groups: Greenpeace, ACF , WWF and the Climate Institute, to name but a few. By what authority does the ABC allow these ecoevangelists to grandstand their relentless and extreme views at public expense – effectively providing their organisations with continuous free advertising at the taxpayers’ expense?

Unbalanced misreporting on global warming and other environmental issues is, of course, deplorable, but it is not in the least surprising. For as we are constantly told, alarmism rather than good news is what the punters and therefore the advertisers demand. As Julian Cribb, one of Australia’s most experienced science editors, has related:

The publication of “bad news” is not a journalistic vice. It’s a clear instruction from the market. It’s what consumers, on average, demand.… As a newspaper editor I knew, as most editors know, that if you print a lot of good news, people stop buying your paper. Conversely, if you publish the correct mix of doom, gloom and disaster, your circulation swells. I have done the experiment.

A recent case history demonstrates well the severity of the misinformation campaign about global warming that our media outlets have now waged with increasing intensity for many years.

On September 7, ABC’s Four Corners programme screened a documentary film entitled “The Coal Nightmare”.

The first sentence of the script intoned by presenter Liz Jackson – “We all know that coal is polluting the planet” – being utterly untrue, the quality of the film as a documentary was doomed from that moment on. Presumably the programme was intended to be a serious contribution to public discussion about global warming, but as with so many other previous ABC efforts on the same topic it turned out instead to be a parody.

One was reminded irresistibly of the famous, scientifically illiterate first sentence of Climate Minister Wong’s Green Paper on emissions trading last year, which contained no fewer than seven basic errors. As Ian Plimer sagely observed, an error rate of almost one mistake for every two words is surely deserving of an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Read the rest here



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