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Climate change denial

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Economic growth is a significant contributor to the climate change crisis. www.shutterstock.com

To get climate change under control, our growth fetish must go

The recent US-China climate announcement is a significant development in humanity’s equivocal response to the climate crisis. Despite over four decades of political engagement with climate change, tangible…
Nationals MP George Christensen told Parliament that the hot temperatures of 1896 have been “wiped from the official record”. It’s a bit more complicated than that. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

FactCheck: was the 1896 heatwave wiped from the record?

“How could it be getting hotter … if it was really hotter 118 years ago? It’s relatively simple: the early years are simply wiped from the official record.” – Nationals MP George Christensen, House of…
As both a word and an idea, ‘medieval’ carries centuries of connotation of a murky and brutal pre-scientific age. US Fish & Wildlife Service/Swanson Scott

So hot right now: the Middle Ages in the climate change debate

“Medieval” has become the accusation du jour in Australian domestic politics, used with equal conviction across the spectrum to discredit opponents’ views. One debate where this accusation has taken centre…
Conspiracy theories are so hard to debunk because they use science. Flickr/dexterd

The ironclad logic of conspiracy theories and how to break it

As the United Nations warns of the dire consequences of global warming, the commitment of the current Australian government to the reality of climate change remains unclear, with a history of disturbingly…
If you debate with trolls you soon learn some of their tactics. Flickr/Kenny Louie

What I learned from debating science with trolls

I often like to discuss science online and I’m also rather partial to topics that promote lively discussion, such as climate change, crime statistics and (perhaps surprisingly) the big bang. This inevitably…
Climate change tends to attract some form of protest such as this in 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Flickr/Simon Leufstedt

Why do some controversies persist despite the evidence?

The debate over climate change is relatively young while nuclear power and pesticides have been heated topics since the 1960s, and fluoridation since the 1950s. So what is it about these scientific controversies…
The threat of legal action can have a “chilling effect” on academic freedom. Shutterstock

The journal that gave in to climate deniers' intimidation

In February 2013, the journal Frontiers in Psychology published a peer-reviewed paper which found that people who reject climate science are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. Predictably enough…
Better communication may have saved lives in Italy’s L'Aquila earthquake. TheWiz83

Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?

The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated. Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death…
Facts not enough: the climate message is still not getting through. Shutterstock

Facts won’t beat the climate deniers – using their tactics will

A colleague of mine recently received an invitation to a Climate Council event. The invitation featured this Tim Flannery quote: “An opinion is useless, what we need are more facts." My first thought was…
Smoking: bad for pretty much everything. SlapAyoda

Establishing consensus is vital for climate action

What’s the best way to reduce the roughly half a million annual deaths from smoking in the US alone? Nearly half a million lives cut short, often with untold suffering, by a commercial product that has…
The truth is out there. Flickr/J

The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?

Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter. Here, I look at two contrasting…
Stormy weather hits New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Flickr.com/wiifm69 (Sean Hamlin)

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science

A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable…
To whom does one complain about the PCC? Yui Mok/PA

Freedom of speech is not freedom to spin

Free speech does not imply the freedom to mislead. We want our media to be free, but also honest and reliable. Balancing those sometimes competing demands is a subtle and difficult task. In many countries…

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