Will the media twig now?

By November 7, 2019Environment, Media

Although similar things have happened before with regard to the danger we face from climate change, they have never been this large: More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries around the world have put their names to a scientific paper explaining the extreme danger the world faces1,2,3. For Australia, this is on top of a petition presented to parliament signed by over 400,000 people urging the Coalition government to declare a climate emergency, something that they voted down last month4.

It has been clear that the climate is changing at least since the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which came out in 19905. Indeed, the First World Climate Conference, held in Geneva in 1979 had rung alarm-bells over a decade earlier1,2. The predictions in the 1990 report were pretty close to what has been observed since then4. However, over the last few of years, it has become clear that the pace of change has increased. Global Average Temperature, Ocean heat content, the number of extreme weather events are all increasing faster than previously1,2. In addition, Arctic sea ice and glacier thickness are decreasing at a faster rate than previously. Records of the Greenland ice mass and Antarctic ice mass do not go back beyond 2002, so rate comparison is impossible. However, the mass of the Greenland ice is decreasing at a rate of 261 billion tonnes per annum, while that of Antarctica is decreasing at a rate of 123 billion tonnes per annum1,2.

Will this eventually make a difference to the Australian political scene, and especially to the numerous climate change deniers in the Coalition? I suspect not. Their parties are paid too much by the likes of Gina Rinehart and other billionaires and millionaires to ignore science and to keep the fossil fuel subsidies flowing. One hopes that it will make a difference to members of the Labor Party who often seem reluctant to call out the deniers in the Coalition for fear of being wedged somehow. There is no hope with vegetative halfwits like One Notion, who are impervious to knowledge, let alone evidence of any sort.

I suspect that the only way the Australian political scene will be made to notice is if the mainstream media realises how dire the situation is in which we humans find ourselves. Given that a large proportion of them (i.e. mostly NewsCorp media) have been denying the science for as long as the Coalition, I suspect it will make no difference to them at all. This is because, as Naomi Oreskes has demonstrated, discrediting science is a political strategy, used by corporations to prevent or slow action in dealing with the deleterious result of their products. It worked for the tobacco industry (lung cancer), the chlorofluorocarbon industry (ozone hole), and now the fossil fuel industry6. The non-Murdoch remainder of the commercial mainstream media are so bereft of any concerns except selling advertising and making do with fewer journalists, that it is unlikely they would be capable of interpreting the paper by Ripple et al. (2019)1,2, as there are so many more important stories about tennis, cricket, the Melbourne Cup and flammable cladding on buildings, to name a few. Indeed, much of the mainstream media including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation seems to think that science is just a matter of opinion and that while the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is an existential threat, some other scientists don’t seem to. Almost all of those ‘scientists’ either work for or are paid indirectly by the fossil fuel industry, and yet much media gives them equal time. This is exactly how the fossil fuel industry’s denialism system operates, by creating doubt in the minds of the ignorant. The problem is that many of the ignorant are journalists.

Despite well over 30 years of global climate negotiations, we have gone blithely on largely conducting business as usual, while failing to even consider addressing the problem in any serious way. Now the climate crisis has arrived and it is accelerating faster and is more severe than most scientists expected. It not only threatens ecosystems, but humanity itself1. Especially concerning are the feedback cycles7, which seem to have begun already, much earlier than expected8,9. These could lead to a catastrophic runaway global warming which will be well beyond the control of humans. These could destroy some ecosystems, economies and societies, and could make large areas of the Earth uninhabitable. Some of those uninhabitable parts of the world will likely be in Australia.

When it becomes obvious to the denialist politicians in parliament that climate change is real and that it is an existential threat, they will likely say something like: ‘we didn’t know it was so serious’ or ‘why didn’t the scientists tell us earlier’ or ‘the scientists should have made it clearer’ or ‘we only did what we were elected to do’. They will blame anyone and everyone but themselves. The concept of evidence is alien to them, as is the concept of leadership. One relatively new word makes it into the Ripple et al. (2019) paper which I have used elsewhere10, and that is ‘ecocide’, and it is in the context of litigation. Ecocide should rank, not as a litigation topic, but as a crime against humanity. This is because the global warming deniers, in preventing or delaying action, have effectively aided and abetted ecocide, and will have given us a planet on which many millions will be displaced or will die. It will make the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot seem like chicken feed by comparison. Litigation is not sufficient to punish these deniers; they need to face criminal justice for their crimes against humanity.

The fact that so many scientists have signed a paper detailing the data is something that should wake the media up to the catastrophic threat we face. If they do not than they are complicit in this crime against humanity.

Sources

  1. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806
  2. Ripple, W.J., 2019. World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency. BioScience biz088, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088
  3. https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2019/11/06/world-scientists-declare-climate-emergency.html
  4. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-06/climate-change-emergency-11000-scientists-sign-petition/11672776
  5. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/03/17/stating-the-obvious-30-years-too-late-2/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/nov/03/naomi-oreskes-interview-why-trust-science-climate-donald-trump-vaccine
  7. http://www.blotreport.com/2018/09/03/the-danger-of-feedback/
  8. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/06/08/methane-and-the-international-criminal-court/
  9. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/06/28/are-feedbacks-here-already/
  10. http://www.blotreport.com/2019/09/08/the-crime-of-ecocide/

5 Comments

  • clive pegler says:

    Geez Mr Blot, you’ve been a bit ‘fuffy mittenish’ with the deniers mate. but good on ya. i wanted to post a (funny ?) little meme here called “climate change a timeline meme” … oops!

    with regard to the “nobody told us” theme ….. i am reminded of one C A Gardner (and others)who warned, about a century ago, of excessive clearing and the resulting impacts on our fragile soils, especially in SW Aust, and yet soil managers (ie the clearers) continued to treat our soils like they were European and when their farms became plagued by dryland and wetland salinity and other issues, the response was “nobody told us”. Actually they effin DID!

    and…. that silly bloody repug senator (graham) said on telly that he will only believe in Spanky’s ‘quid pro quo’ if and when he sees the proof and then the very next day when confronted by journalists states “no, i will not be reading the transcript”. …. same thing, sorta …. choosing which scientists or commentators one desires to listen too.

    But, not only are murdock and his ilk an issue, but so are roughly 50% of the dipstick electorate (sorry, i mean ‘aspirationals’) . Dunning Kruger virus is alive and well here. grrrrrrrrr

    i could go on (and on and on) but i fear it’ll become my own mini blog.

    cheers matey 🙂

    • admin says:

      Clive,
      It is hard to believe that in the 21st century we are still clear-felling forests and bulldozing bushland. Aiding and abetting desertification. It’s criminal.

  • Chris says:

    Agree 100% Blot unfortunately the stuff up with insufficient QA of the signatories (viz Micky Mouse) has invalidated the whole thing in the eyes of the deniers and knocked the gloss off a bit. I would have thought in view of everyone having roundly sunk the boot into the Oregon Petition way back when for the same shite that *someone* would have gone over it with a fine tooth comb, multiple times, before publishing. Anyway, it is what it is but the useless deniers are now capering, gibbering, and flinging faeces all over social media. Muppets.

    All the best.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    There is an essay written by a woman called Catherine Ingram (and I apologise if you have already discussed this before because you may well have) called Facing Extinction which I have found quite moving, and also interesting. She discusses the grief that so many of us are feeling as we see the destruction of our beautiful world and the failure of our species to deal with that destruction. She also talks about some of the reasons for people denying what is so obviously happening. As she suggests there are many people who cannot deal with this issue for exactly the same sort of reason that they cannot deal with their own mortality. It is unthinkable and therefore it shall not be thought about. This is the appalling tragedy of our kind. Unlike our own deaths we can stop this. We can deal with it. It may take centuries but we can restore our world. But, at this stage, it seems we won’t, simply because it is too unpleasant to think about. Therefore we will just pretend that it isn’t happening. And in a way the lack of will that you see from people who smoke, or overeat, or do other things that will probably shorten their lives, is translated into this larger, much more terrible, scenario. Most people, even though they try not to think about it, do know they will die. They just don’t care if they die a little bit before they might have. What they don’t consider is the agony they, and every other living thing, will suffer from the choices they have made. We live in a world where there is quite deliberate thoughtlessness, selfishness and laziness. That thoughtlessness, selfishness and laziness, is encouraged, and nurtured by very evil individuals and organisations.

    • admin says:

      Mark,
      There is a considerable amount of interest in denialism by psychologists. I have looked at it a bit, but not in detail (too many other things to do). What amuses me, in a black sort of comedic way, are the people who cannot differentiate weather from climate, and who are adamant that they know better than all the climate scientists on the planet. I tend to ask them where they publish their research. We call ourselves Homo sapiens (Man the wise), yet we do not have the wisdom to deal with this impending calamity, and this is farcical, given that we were initially warned about it in 1979.

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