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Climate change scepticism

Analysis and Comment (58)

Kiribati: island in danger. Kiribati: island in danger. United Nations Photo

Science can’t settle what should be done about climate change

The sight of speakers known to dispute the scientific evidence supporting climate change being called to speak at a parliamentary select committee on the latest IPCC report last week has raised certain…
The sky is falling! Oh wait, no: it’s just the clouds moving… The sky is falling! Oh wait, no: it’s just the clouds moving… Sarah Smith

Look out for that turbine! Climate sceptics are the real Chicken Littles

Several Australian corporate figures have recently disparaged climate scientists. First, former banker David Murray questioned the integrity of climate scientists on national TV. Casting such aspersions…
A new study finds a third of Australian newspaper articles reject climate science. A new study finds a third of Australian newspaper articles reject climate science. Flickr/pasukaru76

Big Australian media reject climate science

Australia has the most concentrated press ownership in the world. What does that mean for significant issues such as climate change? In 2011 and 2012 we at the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism…
Why would more science make any difference to people who don’t care about science? Why would more science make any difference to people who don’t care about science? Larry He's So Fine/Flickr

IPCC report will make no difference in culture of denial

This week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will be compendious, cautious, thorough and as authoritative as a scientific report can be. But it will not make much difference. In…
Dead science lives on, thanks to the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change. Dead science lives on, thanks to the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change. Scott Beale

Adversaries, zombies and NIPCC climate pseudoscience

The warm start to Australian spring has been accompanied by a deluge of pseudoscience. Anti-vaccination campaigners and aliens made appearances, but the deluge was primarily climate pseudoscience in the…
Hands up if your research endorses the existence of human-caused climate change. Hands up if your research endorses the existence of human-caused climate change. ☻☺/Flickr

It’s true: 97% of research papers say climate change is happening

Today, the most comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed climate research to date was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Our analysis found that among papers expressing a position…
Believing climate change isn’t happening won’t make it go away. Believing climate change isn’t happening won’t make it go away. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Your MP doesn’t ‘believe’ in climate change? Ask the tough questions

As we head into an election, you’d be justified in asking what your local member is basing their climate change decisions on. If your MP says “I don’t support policies to prevent dangerous climate change…
Remember the Theory of Relativity sceptics? As with the Einstein debate, the modern climate debate is based on politics and strawmen, not facts and details. Remember the Theory of Relativity sceptics? As with the Einstein debate, the modern climate debate is based on politics and strawmen, not facts and details. Flick/beautyredefined

Nature v technology: climate ‘belief’ is politics, not science

It is hard to imagine a scientific breakthrough more abstract and less politically contentious than Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Yet in Weimar Germany in the 1920s it attracted fierce controversy…
Presenting scientific information isn’t likely to change made-up minds, but there are a lot of un-made-up minds out there. Presenting scientific information isn’t likely to change made-up minds, but there are a lot of un-made-up minds out there. Department of Energy and Climate Change

Science alone won’t change climate opinions, but it matters

Does scientific knowledge matter in the climate debate? Recent research suggests that it is not “what you know” but “who you are” that counts in making up your mind about climate change. What are the implications…
Straw man climate science is like real climate science, but without all the annoying science. Straw man climate science is like real climate science, but without all the annoying science. Robin Ellis

Straw man science: keeping climate simple

Straw man: an argument, claim or opponent which is invented in order to defeat or create an argument. Climate change is controversial and much debated in the media. But did you know much of the debate…
Worrying about the future is bad for your survival - have we evolved to prefer optimism? Worrying about the future is bad for your survival - have we evolved to prefer optimism? Vassilis Galanos

How we evolved to reject climate science

Is it any wonder so many people turn their back on climate science? Who wants to hear - as the World Bank told us today - we’re heading for a four-degree-warmer world, with more heatwave deaths and life-threatening…
If British Conservatives are worried about the environment, they would do well to focus on reducing emissions, not stopping wind turbines. If British Conservatives are worried about the environment, they would do well to focus on reducing emissions, not stopping wind turbines. floato/Flickr

Corby by-election: British Tories all talk on wind power

There are few cardinal sins in politics – but campaigning on behalf of your opponent has to be one of them. So when news broke this week that the British Conservative Party MP Chris Heaton Harris had boasted…
After defeat in the 2012 election, it is back to the drawing board for the Republican Party. But will they address the true concerns of the electorate? After defeat in the 2012 election, it is back to the drawing board for the Republican Party. But will they address the true concerns of the electorate? EPA/STEPHAN SAVOIA/POOL

Republicans trust voter modelling - why not climate modelling?

Tuesday, November 6 was a game changer. The Republican Party in the United States has come to understand that the political environment has been altered. White males can no longer dictate the results of…
Ignoring climate change isn’t stupidity, it’s ideology. Ignoring climate change isn’t stupidity, it’s ideology. Peter Foley/EPA

A storm of stupidity? Sandy, evidence and climate change

“It’s global warming, stupid” – Bloomberg’s Businessweek cover last week left little doubt about their opinion concerning “Frankenstorm” Sandy. The accompanying tweet anticipated that the cover might “generate…
Misinformation spreads rapidly and sticks tenaciously. Misinformation spreads rapidly and sticks tenaciously. Moon_son/Flickr

Where does misinformation come from, and what does it do?

Obama is a Muslim, vaccinations cause autism, asylum seekers are breaking the law, GM foods cause cancer. These are all pieces of unsubstantiated misinformation that are commonly encountered on TV, talk-back…
In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, people find ways to reject that evidence if it does not fit with their world view. In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, people find ways to reject that evidence if it does not fit with their world view. NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

How do people reject climate science?

In a previous article on The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky asked, why do people reject science? I’m going to take a slightly different angle and consider how people are able to reject climate science…
Could listening be the way forward for scientists and science? Could listening be the way forward for scientists and science? shannonkringen

Help needed: can you fix the science/ society divide?

Want to help fix the science/ society divide? We’re making a documentary looking at how we might do this, and we’re looking for your help. Why? Well … You don’t need to be a rocket sociologist to know…
Relax and have a drink, old chap; the planet has managed to look after itself so far without any fuss. Relax and have a drink, old chap; the planet has managed to look after itself so far without any fuss. Flickr/cyclonebill

Climate change and the soothing message of luke-warmism

We are familiar with the tactics, arguments, and personnel of the denial industry. Yet there is a perhaps more insidious and influential line of argument that is preventing the world from responding to…
Most climate researchers expect to work quietly in a lab, not deal with an angry and threatening public. Most climate researchers expect to work quietly in a lab, not deal with an angry and threatening public. Danny Wolpert

Science under siege

When the denial machine goes after climate scientists it is, as one of them said, like the marines going into battle against boy scouts. The brutality of the attacks has once again been confirmed by the…
The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. University of Iowa

Teaching kids to think critically about climate

Two recently published books suggest that the public - and school children in particular - are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books - “How to Get Expelled from School…
One of the benefits of using the health frame is that it makes the issues more tangible – here and now and about people, not just polar bears. One of the benefits of using the health frame is that it makes the issues more tangible – here and now and about people, not just polar bears. Roderick Eime/AAP

Reframing climate change could deliver health benefits

Climate change is a complex problem but appears to many people as lacking immediate impact on their lives. Reconceptualising it as a health issue may allow for both better understanding of the issue and…
Australians think they know what other Australians are thinking, but they’re often wrong. Australians think they know what other Australians are thinking, but they’re often wrong. Callum Alden

I can change your mind about (other people’s minds about) climate change

The ABC recently ran the documentary I Can Change Your Mind About … Climate Change, exposing Nick Minchin, former conservative politician, and youth activist Anna Rose, to science and argument in favour…
People put up all kinds of psychological barriers to changing their minds. People put up all kinds of psychological barriers to changing their minds. Thomas Galvez

No one likes to change their mind, not even on climate

Last night’s ABC documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Climate was about two people — conservative former politician Nick Minchin and youth activist Anna Rose — exposing themselves to information that…
Philosophers talk about the “dirty hands” problem: are lies OK in the pursuit of truth? Philosophers talk about the “dirty hands” problem: are lies OK in the pursuit of truth? Le Mast/Flickr

The morality of unmasking Heartland

“Truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Winston Churchill’s famous words were uttered during the war against the Nazis and referred to Operation Bodyguard, a deception…
Uncertainty exists – but that’s no excuse for a lack of action. Uncertainty exists – but that’s no excuse for a lack of action. @Doug88888

Hot and bothered: the uncertain mathematics of global warming

These are painful times for those hoping to see an international consensus and substantive action on global warming. In the US, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said in June 2011: “The…
Valiant sceptics have taken on the evil dragon of climate change conspiracy. Valiant sceptics have taken on the evil dragon of climate change conspiracy. magia e/Flickr

Think tank’s talking points deepen the divide over climate change

The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they’ve been in. – Dennis Potter Readers following the Australian news media’s coverage of climate change will probably have detected the conspiracy…
There’s not much money in newspapers, but plenty of chances to promote your views. There’s not much money in newspapers, but plenty of chances to promote your views. AAP

Rinehart’s media ambitions: bad news for coverage of climate change

News that Gina Rinehart has reportedly attained a 12.8% stake in Fairfax Media (and is seeking just under 15%) is bad for the Australian media environment: it potentially puts yet another billionaire in…
‘Concerned scientists’ say, relax, climate change not so bad after all. ‘Concerned scientists’ say, relax, climate change not so bad after all. Yukon White Light/Flickr

We do need drastic action on climate change: a response to the Wall Street Journal

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter from “16 concerned scientists”, telling the world we don’t need to worry so much about climate change. Unsurprisingly, the opinion piece has been picked…
Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science. Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science. woodleywonderworks

Plimer’s climate change book for kids underestimates science education

The forces of climate science denial have geared down a level. Having failed in their attempt to confuse adults and stop the parliament adopting a timid first step in response to climate change, they are…
Eleven FA Cups is good news for the Red Devils, but is it bad news for the climate? Eleven FA Cups is good news for the Red Devils, but is it bad news for the climate? freefoto.com

How David Beckham caused global warming: the Man U climate model

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: With the UN Climate Conference underway in Durban, climate “sceptics” have been particularly active in the media and blogs. Many climate “sceptics” claim that alternate…
Australian newspapers took a largely negative view of carbon pricing. Australian newspapers took a largely negative view of carbon pricing. avlxyz/Flickr

Carbon pricing policy in the media

While corporate media often criticise the poor communication of others, they are reluctant to critique their own power to influence public opinion and debate. Today the Australian Centre for Independent…
The scandal isn’t the emails, it’s the hacking. The scandal isn’t the emails, it’s the hacking. UN Climate Change

There is a real climategate out there

Emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit have once again been hacked and released on the internet. The timing is similar to the “climategate” scandal of 2009, with emails published…
The climate change “debate” bears the stains of Orwellian interference. The climate change “debate” bears the stains of Orwellian interference. Truthout.org

An Orwellian climate

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts” – Senator Daniel Moynihan Science is a systematic, evidence-based, testable and self-correcting way of investigating the world. This…
Sections of the Australian media are tipping the debate in the wrong direction. Sections of the Australian media are tipping the debate in the wrong direction. Digitalnative

Scientists vs farmers? How the media threw the climate ‘debate’ off balance

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Natalie Latter wonders if there are some subjects that don’t really require balance. There’s a principle of balance that applies to news reporting. It’s important for journalists…
The media does the public a disservice when it misrepresents climate change. The media does the public a disservice when it misrepresents climate change. danny birchall

Selling climate uncertainty: misinformation and the media

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Today, The Conversation launches a week-long series, looking at how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy. To kick off, Stephan Lewandowsky asks how media…
Evolution was put on trial: let’s get climate change in the dock. Evolution was put on trial: let’s get climate change in the dock.

The Jones weightless, invisible gas trial

On the weekend of 12-13 August the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party passed a resolution calling for a Royal Commission into the science of climate change. Apparently the party members are…
Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP. Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP.

Why academics should steer clear of public debate

The most important issue raised by Lord Monckton’s controversial appearance on two Western Australian campuses is not the limit of free speech or Monckton’s scientific competence. Rather it is whether…
Monckton is leading the public on a merry dance with his claims. Monckton is leading the public on a merry dance with his claims. Jeff Hardcastle

Hear ye, hear ye – Monckton’s medieval warming tale is climate heresy

It is a thankless task to track the frequent mistakes Christopher Monckton makes as he misinterprets science, as his statements are frequently at odds with the very scientists whose work he cites. It is…
Is stopping someone speaking ever the right approach? Is stopping someone speaking ever the right approach? sjgibbs80/Flickr

Monckton and Notre Dame: a case for free speech?

Is it wise to try to block a speech by Christopher Monckton? Are there other options? Monckton, a well known climate change sceptic, was invited to speak at Notre Dame University in Fremantle on 30 June…
Lord Monckton will appear at two Western Australian universities over the coming days. Lord Monckton will appear at two Western Australian universities over the coming days. AAP

University of Western Australia’s VC disowns Monckton event on campus

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia has distanced himself from climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton, who will appear on campus next Monday. Professor Alan Robson today…
While the debate rages, the planet is changing. While the debate rages, the planet is changing. AAP

Clearing up the climate debate

The majority of the world’s climate scientists agree: climate change is real, we are causing it and it’s happening right now. Despite the scientific consensus, Australia is still deeply divided about what…
Bob Carter sees the world a little differently to the rest of the scientific community. Bob Carter sees the world a little differently to the rest of the scientific community. AAP

Bob Carter’s climate counter-consensus is an alternate reality

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Professor David Karoly goes down the rabbit hole of Bob Carter’s climate theories. In his book Climate: The Counter-consensus, Bob Carter describes three different realities…
We’re putting Christopher Monckton’s scientific claims to the test. We’re putting Christopher Monckton’s scientific claims to the test. Don Irvine/flickr

Monckton watch: interrogating the Lord’s science

Christoper Monckton has returned to Australia where his unique brand of climate contrarianism is expected to get another good run in the media. At The Conversation, we’re giving him a run too, but of a…
The Galileo Movement co-opts the father of science’s name to pursue an anti-science agenda. The Galileo Movement co-opts the father of science’s name to pursue an anti-science agenda.

Rogues or respectable? How climate change sceptics spread doubt and denial

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Professor Ian Enting takes a look at the front groups and published texts of Australia’s climate sceptics. The “name-calling” in what passes for public debate on climate…
Just some of the people and organisations climate deniers think are coming to get them. Just some of the people and organisations climate deniers think are coming to get them. -(Jonathan)-/flickr, scottgun/flickr, Kew Gardens/fickr

A journey into the weird and wacky world of climate change denial

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Professors Stephan Lewandowsky and Michael Ashley step into the twilight zone of climate change scepticism: where the sun is made of iron and the royals are out to get you…
Scientists have begun to make more noise about climate change. Scientists have begun to make more noise about climate change. afagen/flickr

When scientists take to the streets it’s time to listen up

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Dr Michael Brown exposes the tactics used by purveyors of “non-science” to attack climate change research. It takes a lot to get scientists out of their offices and marching…
People can get pretty riled up about hockey sticks. People can get pretty riled up about hockey sticks. AAP

Climate change denial and the abuse of peer review

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Professor Stephan Lewandowsky holds “sceptics” accountable for their subversion of the peer review process. On 20 April 2010, a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico…
A jury of one’s peers should assess scientific claims. A jury of one’s peers should assess scientific claims.

Who’s your expert? The difference between peer review and rhetoric

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Director of the Global Change Institute, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg submits some climate “sceptics” to peer-review and finds them wanting. Peer review is the basis of modern scientific…
Sound the alarm. It’s a scientist’s job to alert the public to the threats of climate change. Sound the alarm. It’s a scientist’s job to alert the public to the threats of climate change. AAP

Speaking science to climate policy

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: CSIRO’s James Risbey explains why it’s not “alarmist” to describe the threat of climate change to the public and how the climate system will respond to half measures. With…
It’s undeniable: our planet is changing. It’s undeniable: our planet is changing. NASA

Climate change is real: an open letter from the scientific community

Today, The Conversation launches a two-week series from the nation’s top minds on the science behind climate change and the efforts of “sceptics” to cloud the debate. The overwhelming scientific evidence…
Their voices may be loud, but climate change sceptics are in the minority. Their voices may be loud, but climate change sceptics are in the minority. AAP

Australians and climate change - beliefs about public belief may be quite wrong

Do you believe in climate change? It’s seemingly a simple question. But there are many reasons why it is not. Who is asking, why, and who is being asked? This is why we read such widely varying reports…
The tone of public debate sets the stage for threats to scientists. The tone of public debate sets the stage for threats to scientists. AAP

Climate scientists the target in culture war

The death threats received by Australian climate scientists such as Will Steffen, Andy Pitman and David Karoly haven’t come out of the blue. They are an extension of the vicious attacks on climate science…

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