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What happened to climate change? Fox News and the US elections

Climate change has been significantly absent from the US presidential election campaign. President Obama, who made climate change a key plank of his 2008 campaign, has not been anywhere near as vocal in…

Mitt Romney and the Republicans are openly sceptical of climate change. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Climate change has been significantly absent from the US presidential election campaign. President Obama, who made climate change a key plank of his 2008 campaign, has not been anywhere near as vocal in this race.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney, recognising the active disbelief in climate science among his party base, only raises the issue to sneer at it as the obsession of a deluded middle class.

But how did we arrive at this point? Why is the defining issue of the age so pointedly absent from the most important political decision making process? Where are voters getting their information - or lack thereof - from?

Fair and balanced?

The News Corporation-owned Fox News is by far and away the most popular news channel for Republicans. And its coverage of climate issues leaves a great deal to be desired.

An analysis of prime time programs on Fox News has found that 93% of their coverage of climate science in 2012 was misleading. The report, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, analysed six months of prime time segments covering climate change in early 2012.

The Wall Street Journal, News Corporation’s other media flagship, didn’t fare much better. The report also included WSJ opinion pieces over the last year and found 81% of their climate change coverage was misleading.

To characterise this coverage as biased doesn’t capture the magnitude of their treatment of climate science. News Corporation is promoting an inversion of reality. For the past several decades, there has been a strengthening scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Surveys of the climate science community since 1996 have found the percentage of climate scientists agreeing on human-caused global warming has steadily increased to the point where in the last few years, several independent surveys have found 97% agreement among actively publishing climate scientists.

Fine words from Murdoch but …

As the scientific consensus strengthened, there have been signs of improvement in media coverage of climate change. From 1988 to 2002, US prestige press newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post (and yes, the Wall Street Journal) gave disproportionate attention to climate contrarians. However, coverage improved to the point where in 2007, 96% of U.S. prestige newspaper coverage of climate change depicted human contribution to climate change as significant.

At this time, Rupert Murdoch pledged that News coverage of climate change would improve. In 2007, he said “I think when people see that 99% of scientists agree about the serious extent of global warming, it’s going to become a fact of life”. In fact, the link between perception of scientific consensus and acceptance of climate change has been demonstrated by researchers. The important consequence emerging from this research is that perception of consensus is also a strong predictor of support for climate policy.

Despite Murdoch’s promise to improve Fox coverage, this 2012 analysis shows that coverage is worse than ever at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Before we shake our heads and mutter “only in America”, we mustn’t overlook that Australian media is not immune to this form of reality inversion. An analysis of media coverage of climate change policy by News Limited newspapers from Feb to July 2011 found 82% of their coverage was negative with only 18% positive coverage.

In contrast, Fairfax newspapers were more balanced, with 56% positive articles and 44% negative. A survey of climate coverage by The Australian newspaper found that they accept contributions from climate contrarians such as Bob Carter, Ian Plimer and Christopher Monckton ten times more than recognised climate change experts such as veteran climate scientist James Hansen.

The importance of reliable information

Why does this matter? Mainstream media is where most people get their information about climate change and television is the predominant source. Fox News is the most popular cable channel in the US and the Wall Street Journal is the country’s largest newspaper. How the media covers climate change has a strong influence on public views on climate change.

Consequently, a survey of the American public published this month found that only half of Americans think most scientists agree global warming is happening. Of course, public opinion is not monolithic with different demographics showing strongly divergent views. While 65% of likely Obama voters believe that humans are causing global warming, only 27% of likely Romney voters thought the same. This is not a surprising result – a number of studies have found a strong link between conservative ideology and the rejection of climate science.

The Republican willing blindness

The conservative aversion to climate science was no more evident than during the Republican primaries when every Presidential candidate except Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman espoused views casting doubt on human-caused climate change. The peer-pressure was too great for Romney who retracted his support for climate science. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan has long been outspoken about his rejection of the scientific consensus.

However, while the recent survey of Americans was unsurprising in showing the link between conservatism and science rejection, one intriguing result did emerge from the results. It turns out 65% of undecided voters also believe global warming is human caused. This degree of acceptance of climate science is the same as likely Obama voters. This result takes on extra significance as climate change is one of the important factors that undecided voters are considering when casting their vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Perhaps this is why for Republicans, climate change has been the issue “that shall not be named”.

Join the conversation

109 Comments sorted by

  1. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "President Obama, who made climate change a key plank of his 2008 campaign, has not been anywhere near as vocal in this race."
    Why should he? He already has caused the oceans to stop rising in 2008, what more do you want him to do?

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  2. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Hi John,

    What happened to climate change is a good question.

    The fact that the seas haven't risen any faster (and sometimes slower) than the average rate over the last hundred years; the rise in global temperatures has stalled while CO2 increases have become more rapid; the modelled "signature" of the Enhanced Green House Effect has never been found; no model has yet been demonstrably able to reproduce from scratch any known climate or temperature distibution over the earth in spite of increased…

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    1. Robert Henderson

      IT

      In reply to John Nicol

      You say "the seas haven't risen any faster (and sometimes slower) than the average rate over the last hundred years"

      Actually the seas =are= rising faster than the average rate of the last hundred years. In other words sea level rise has accelerated.

      You say in 2012 "there is still ice in the Arctic". But this rather glosses over the fact there is far less ice in the Arctic in summer 2012 than most people, especially climate skeptics, expected.

      The rise in global temperatures is expected in the longterm, not the short-term. Like you point out with sea level sometimes it rises faster sometimes slower on the short-term. It's the longterm that matters.

      You say "the modelled "signature" of the Enhanced Green House Effect has never been found"

      The hotspot, if you mean that, is not a signature of a enhanced greenhouse effect. It's expected from any source of warming.

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    2. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to John Nicol

      Jon, I won't go through your whole litany of arguments but one comment you made jumped out at me: "the modelled "signature" of the Enhanced Green House Effect has never been found". I'm surprised to hear you say this because you were at a talk I gave at the University of Queensland where I discussed that very subject - the many human fingerprints of climate change that have been measured. Less heat escaping to space at the wavelengths that greenhouse gases absorb energy (across a range of different…

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Cook

      Perhaps Mr Nicol's Denial of reality has a lot in common with that of Mr Murdoch's various organs: a belief that reality is a commie/greenie/druggie/atheist plot.

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    4. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to John Nicol

      Howdy John. Long time no hear..

      I am intrigued by why your comment, one of the first to reply to JC's post immediately, didn't address the topic of the post. wht CONVERSATION ABOUT Climate Change has stopped.

      But first, some unfinished business. Some time ago I sent you a detailed e-mail, pointing out the serious flaws in Jack Barrett's views about radiative heat transfer in the atmosphere. You replied that you would read it and get back to me. You never did.

      I referred you to a couple…

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    5. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to John Nicol

      John

      Just to work through some of your points:

      "... seas haven't risen .... than the average rate over the last hundred years" Funny way to express it. Better to ask what average sea level rise was like 100 years ago - about 1.5 mm/yr and compare it to current rates, 3 mm/yr, sounds like an increase to me.

      "the rise in global temperatures has stalled", Well not actually. The rise in ATMOSPHERIC temperatures has stalled somewhat but the atmosphere only makes up 3% of the heat accumulation…

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    6. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      I LOVE it when a person's ideology is "found out," and exposed in a right gentlemanly way. Thanks, Glenn: I'll add Jon's name to my mental file of those who won't offer up rational responses to same.

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  3. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Cook's scaremongering, obsession with ridiculous polling and weird conspiracy theories does little to hide the fact that the public is much smarter than he and fellow travellers at the WA school of psychology allow for. The public clearly recognise the cake as been overcooked, and are looking for more pragmatic, sensible solutions.
    The sad thing is that the activism that has defined the climate change "debate" has also eroded the public's confidence in our scientific institutions. Cook and his cohort of activists including the pseudo scientist Lewandowsky carry much of the blame for this.

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    1. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, the facts are that 97% of climate scientists and, as far as I am aware, 100% of scientific organisations (over 170) from all over the world, on every continent and under every type of political government have publicaly acknowledged that the science says that greenhouse gases are increasing due to man, and that this is causing temperatures to rise that will be detrimental to the future habitability of the planet. Why is Cook wrong to point this out?

      Climate change and global warming is based…

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Michael Fabiankovits

      John Cook has taken his skills as a comic artist to the climate science debate. His caricature of the science of climate and the policy debate around it distorts reality in the same way as his cartoons.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Facts.

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an optical surface temperature of around 255K.

      Earth's surface cools by evaporation of excited…

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    4. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Arthur

      Strawman.
      Fact is that current climate models have exaggerated the warming. That's why the public have all become luke warming pragmatists, and climate alarmists are increasingly on the nose.

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Who said anything about modelling? That's the strawman argument that you're introducing to try and obscure the plain facts I've summarised.

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    6. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Arthur

      So are you now ignoring inconvenient facts?

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    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Thanks Mr Hendrickx.

      It's about time we started being concerned for the morality of those who ignore, or even Deny, physical reality.

      Are such people suitable as parents? After all, all that Little Suzy Cash's dad did was to give his son the name Sue. People who Deny human-caused global warming, hand, are doing their utmost that their children are going to inherit a degraded, polluted world, of famine, disease and tempest.

      These fabricators even tell their children that they love them, which is demonstrably another lie. At least you have enough honesty to not Deny the physics that I've summarised above. What do you tell your own children?

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    8. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Arthur

      And you wonder why you are losing the argument!

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    9. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc

      The models haven't 'exaggerated the warming'. Rather skeptics don't know how to read a graph. Either that or they deliberately cherry-pick pieces of information to create a misleading impression.

      The 'models' predict future temperature trends within a range of values - x DegC/Decade +/- Y Degc. Current temperature trends are within the range predicted by the models.

      Unless of course one is a climate 'skeptic' and chooses to chery-pick the data - highlight the mean projection from the…

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    10. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      That temp range is quite wide, so no cigar ...but thanks for trying.

      By the way is this the same Glenn Tamblyn who is a member of the SS "crusher crew"? I wonder how many other members are visiting today?

      “I posted over at Politico just recently. Hey, we can tag team it a bit if you like, use time zone differences.” – Glenn Tamblyn [Skeptical Science], February 10, 2011

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/30/skeptical-science-shouting-and-joe-romms-integrity-a-test/

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    11. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "... he and fellow travellers ..."

      It is amazing how often so called 'skeptics' can't avoid some sort of implied or overt reference to political leanings when supposedly discussing climate science. They seem totally unable to put their personal biases to one side, their inability to see the world through any lens other than that of political ideology and the contests thereof.

      Totally unable to comprehend that most people don't see the world around them in political terms. That their fixation on the political dimension of things is so unutterable BORING. For most of there fellow human beings, given the choise between thinking in political terms, or watching grass grow, most people would stampede for the grass.

      Take the blinkers of Marc - and all the rest of you. Politics is one of life's great irrelevancies. Grown-ups prefer to focus on more important (or at the very least, more INTERESTING) things.

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    12. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      And you consider yourself a grown up with no blinkers? From WUWT...

      "Here is Glenn Tamblyn (Skeptical Science author/moderator) secretly conversing with his SkS pals on their off limits forum and saying “we need a conspiracy to save humanity”. The Viet Cong comparison is a nice touch too. There’s talk of convening a “war council” too.

      And this isn’t about science or personal careers and reputations any more. This is a fight for survival. Our civilisations survival. .. We need our own anonymous…

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    13. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      another member of "rent a crowd".

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    14. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Do you jump when he tweets? How high?

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    15. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc the wake up calls are occuring. Everything scientists predicted 30+ years ago are occuring, and in most cases faster than predicted. The Arctic ice is collapsing, sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifyig and warming, extreme weather events of the type predicted by global warming of droughts and floods are increasing in frequency and intensity and much more. It amazes me that with the actual physical evidence mounting every day people are still not doing anything and can still deny the science…

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    16. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Michael Fabiankovits

      Quite scary to think you are teaching high school students!

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    17. Jonathan Ely

      Student

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      HA! From the man who pens climate sceptic propoganda for kids. Apparently when arguments aren't convincing enough for the adult population, it's best to start pushing your rubbish on the youngens, more impressionable minds you see, easier to brainwash.

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    18. Jonathan Ely

      Student

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      What happened to your personal crusade for more balanced media reporting? Or does balance only involve more reporting of what you want to hear?

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    19. Jonathan Ely

      Student

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Still available? No way! I would have thought you'd have sold out long ago. What with all the stunning illustrations, riveting story lines, twists and turns you'd never see coming. I thought that evil Al Gore was going to get the better of that Mrs Green (or whatever her name was), but she triumphed in the end. I especially liked the bit where the she chases Gore out with a gun, a very subtle reference to the abuse and threats that scientists have been receiving,.. nice touch. Then again, it only went into print what, 4?... 5? years ago, I guess it couldn't possibly have sold out in such a short time.

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    20. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc

      PLEASE tell me that Youtube video is someone else using your name. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.

      You don't agree with the idea of AGW - AS A GEOLOGIST. So your answer is a cartoon aboout what 'Al Gore said !?!?'

      So what are your views - as a geologist - about the following:

      CO2 levels are rising 10 times faster today than they did during the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum - discuss.

      What contribution did the collision of India with South Asia make to the cooling trend around 35 million…

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    21. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      True Marc. However you don't have to worry about rent-a-crowd. You ain't got one. Perhaps that is why you are sometimes so prolific. All that catching up to do.

      I posted a comment above - lots of geology questions for a geologist. Feel free to answer them at your leisure.

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    22. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "And you consider yourself a grown up with no blinkers? From WUWT"

      And citing WTFIUWT is evidence of grown ups? Really?

      Thanks for making another reference to an illegal hack by the way. Really glad to see examples of your support for the rule of law, the right to privacy, all that good old fashioned rights of the individual stuff.

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    23. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Hey Marc (with a "c"), glad to see you back. Remember we asked repeatedly who was paying you for these contributions? Time to man up yet?

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    24. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Jonathan Ely

      She's actually actually attempting to save Mr Gore from the bear. It seems that those who don't value human life assume its Gore she's after. A subtle test that you failed.

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    25. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Well, at least it was a 'subtle' failed test, Marc. How about the oft clear test you continually fail -- who pays you?

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    26. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn,
      AGW I agree with. I don't agree with the notion of "catastrophic" AGW based on present rates of emissions and other changes we are making to the environment, subtle difference you would be wise to take note of, and one that might save you some banging away on your keyboard.
      There are quite a few competing theories about the influence of CO2 on the climate of the deep past, many of these with considerable uncertainty. I note you have read up an a few. You would be best to keep an open about…

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    27. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, as usual, your handlers would be proud, except you reveal such selective, fluffy knowledge that they may become unhappy.

      The real catastrophe is already in motion for us, and you & your offspring, not simply in the form of climate, or even sea rise & acidification, but in the now swamped carbon cycle you, as a geologist should understand.

      For the folks not serving deniers & fact avoiders, read a few of the latest publications here.
      http://eps.berkeley.edu/development/view_person.php?uid=6449&page=72

      Guess 100+ years of dumping more C into the world's C-Cycle than it can handle in 10,000 years might be a problem, eh? Oh yeah, we knew that over 50 years ago.

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    28. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "AGW I agree with."
      I'm delighted that Mr Hendrickx's position has advanced to at least acknowledging the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

      "I don't agree with the notion of "catastrophic" AGW based on present rates of emissions and other changes we are making to the environment ..."
      I'm disappointed that Mr Hendrickx's advanced knowledge of this area of science hasn't progressed to awareness of polar ice loss and consequent sea level rise, of initiation of greenhouse gas emissions from melting away of natural greenhouse gas stores under ice and permafrost. Despite invitations from Alfred Venison and myself, he has remained silent on this issue.

      I also remain disappointed that Mr Hendrickx's sense of prudence doesn't extend to acknowledging the adverse changes that have already began, and with which Mr Hendrickx's children will have to cope.

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    29. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Arthur

      David,
      I have never stated that I don't agree with AGW, I have never stated that we don't face a variety of challenges in the future, not surprisingly some of them will be related to climate change. We have covered these points before. It's disappointing that you continue to misrepresent my views on the matter. I do not have the time to continue correcting your false impressions based on your personal prejudices.

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    30. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Yep typical denialist response. When continuously faced with actual science, observations and data from actual climate scientists and evidence of overwhelming acceptance of the science from the scientific community your response is a personal attack. So far no substance in any of your posts, does that not tell you something?

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    31. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, to my knowledge you have never addressed the substance of any of my remarks. I can only assume that I am accurately representing your views.

      While you may have no time to comment on my personal prejudices (such as they may be), it is disappointing that you remain unable to respond to the substantial scientific issues presented to you.

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    32. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, I am unaware of any occasion on which you have addressed the substance of any of my remarks, so I can only assume that I accurately represent your views.

      While there may be no time to comment on my personal prejudices (such as they may be), it is disappointing that there are no responses to the presented substantive scientific issues.

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    33. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, I am unaware of any occasion on which you have addressed the substance of any of my remarks, so I can only assume that I accurately represent your views.

      While there may be no time to comment on my personal prejudices (such as they may be), it is disappointing that there are no responses to the presented substantive scientific issues.

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    34. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      At last, a common point: You're right! Climate models *have* exaggerated the warming: they didn't show it as ba\d as the EMPIRICAL data have shown. so, yes, the climate models (some, not all) were wrong...in the cool direction.

      See? We can agree some of the time...;)

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    35. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Jonathan Ely

      Thanks for the link...we can now link Hendrickx and his incessant ideology with a cute comic...;)

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    36. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Wombats in Oz, squirrels in the US....good to be made aware of th.....SQUIRREL!!!!

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    37. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Paul Wigton

      Right Paul. The models that ignored the effect of uncovered Arctic waters say things should be far cooler than they are. A recent article is enlightening...
      AAAS Science 28 Sept., p1591.

      But we're taking the hot air out of the FAs & deniers' balloons this way. I mean, they've counted on the natural variability of statistical models to hide their chaff in.
      ;]

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  4. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    It is severly deppressing, people I have spoken to over the last couple of weeks see the arctic sea ice melting below 50% as confirmation of their climate change skepticism. When hearing the news responding with questions like "So why isnt the sea level rising?"

    This kind of willful ignorace that the world needs to implode before they take the topic seriously is disgusting

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    1. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The melting of arctic sea ice does not constitute any proof of AGW. Arctic ice extent has only been measured by satellite since the late 70's so not too much can be interpreted from a 'record low' result.

      So how do you explain the 'record high' for Antartica ice extent?

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Breathtakingly willful ignorance! It gets the MAginot Line Star!

      Remember what's been in the arctic and antarctic for millions of years? Think about it Geoff, ol' boy.

      But don't worry, adults are in the room.
      ;]

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    3. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey, firstly it is only one of many lines of evidence that follow predictions on what will occur with warming caused by increasing GHG's. Secondlythe Arctic was always predicted to melt faster than Antarctica because the northern hem has most of the land and the land warms first. The oceans take a long time to warm and that is what the SH is consisting off. It is also so cold in Antarctica it will take much greater warming to melt. Apart from that Antarctica is losing ice from below due to the…

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    4. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey. The record Antarctic extent isn't nearly as much of a record as the Arctic decline has been. And if you look at the data for Antarctic Extent over the last 30+ years, there isn't the same clear trend as there is in the Arctic. Arctic loss is much greater than Antarctic gain.

      And why would the Antarctic be showing some increase? A range of studies over the last few years have looked at the impact of the Antarctic Ozone Hole on the weather down there. By allowing more UV to get through…

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    5. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I wish could ascribe such ignorance to willingness: it'd be a lot less depressing to me. However, in daily life, I constantly see a level of ignorance about the MOST basic of science concepts that I cannot see it as willing. I agree: Pogo had it right, and we are likely to see a very, VERY painful chapter in human history about to unfold, both because of willfull ignorance and ideology that utterly blinds one to the climate change nose upon their face.

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  5. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    In John Cook's eyes, 'misleading' is defined as anything he disagrees with. So 'misleading' is a judgement call, not a fact.

    The '97% of climate scientists agree blah blah blah...' statements are themselves misleading because they are not based on any statistically valid research. Please don't quote 'Doran et al' or 'Anderegg et al' because these studies are not statistically valid and contain some major limitations.

    Personally, I find most of the assertions made by John Cook (and his partner in crime , Stephan Lewandowsky) misleading. But maybe that's just a judgement call on my behalf.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an optical surface temperature of around 255K.

      Earth's surface cools by evaporation of excited water molecules…

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    2. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey, the definition of 'misleading' used in the UCS report is:

      "...broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about individual scientists, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and cherry picking of data."

      Me, I tend to characterise 'misleading' as statements that conflict with the full body of empirical evidence as documented in the peer-reviewed literature.

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    3. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoff, as far as I can tell, anyone who diverges even the slightest from the alarmist orthodoxy, not just from its warped interpretation of the science but also on its restrictive, pie in the sky policy solutions is considered a heretic, fit for the stake.
      It seems the public are increasingly seeing through the alarmist propaganda and are increasingly assuming a more informed pragmatic position on climate change and this is one reason for the decrease in interest. Public opinion is moving to the middle - to a Luke warm position. No wonder alarmists are confused and angry, their propaganda is being rejected and they don't like it.

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    4. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      "alarmist orthodoxy" [its] "warped interpretation of the science"

      like what David Arthur said above? -a.v.

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    5. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to alfred venison

      Marc, Alfred and Geoffrey, what about Davids explanation of the greenhouse effect is wrong or warped? This is the current state of the peer reviewed science, if you don't understand it then you should leave the science to the scientists.

      It was very basic and succinct, I don't see in what manner it is warped? Please provide actual peer reviewed science to explain your denial of the basic science.

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    6. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Michael Fabiankovits

      Michael Fabiankovits - "oh lord! please don't let me be misunderstood" (da-da-dum, da-da-dum) - apparently i was insufficiently ironical - injudiciously succinct, perhaps. rest assured that David Arthur speaks my mind here today, beginning, especially, with his no.1 comment above about faux news & continuing with his succinct summary of key points above. alfred venison.

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    7. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Michael Fabiankovits

      Michael, do you also put words in the mouths of your students? Don't assume it makes an ass out of you, not me.

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    8. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to John Cook

      Since when do the UCS (an alarmist body) set the gold standard for the definition of misleading?

      "broad dismissals of human-caused climate change"

      Those that broadly dismiss climate change due to natural processes ( a process that has been going on for millions of years) are also guilty of making misleading assertions.

      "disparaging comments about individual scientists"

      Not sure what this has to do with misleading the public, but alarmists are just as much if not more guilty of this…

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    9. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey

      "Since when do the UCS (an alarmist body) set the gold standard for the definition of misleading?"

      Who says the UCS are alarmist. Isn't that a value judgement on your part? There is a vast difference between being Alarmed - a characterisation I would ascribe to the UCS, many Scientists, and myself - and Alarmist, with an underlying implication of unjustified alarm. Justified alarm is not alarmist.

      "Those that broadly dismiss climate change due to natural processes ( a process that…

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    10. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc

      He didn't put words in anyone's mouth. He just asked others to express their opinions with clarity. So the snide tone etc curries no points for you, just makes you look shallow.

      If you want to influence peoples opinions Marc, perhaps spend a little less time commenting on the opinions of others and a lot more tiime expressing your own opinions about the subject matter. Because absolutely no one is interested in Marc Hendrickx's opinion of others. But we might be interested in Marc Hendrickx's…

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      As a long-time UCS supporter, I've spent the last year or two with them (and others) to get an honest appreciation of their positions on a variety of 'green' things, including nuclear power.

      On concalls and letters, they confirmed they are neutral on nuclear power and only concerned with safety. All fine.

      On some other issues, like biomass burning, they're developing studied policies.

      They may have room to improve their policies, but they aren't 'alarmist' -- it's far too late to be "alarmist", Geoff -- if you cared.
      ;]

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    12. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn, as you are determined to build a conspiracy as part of some strange mission to save the earth, I doubt you would be very responsive to anyone's opinion but your own. When you are finished with your mission from "god" there may e a chance for some constructive dialogue...until then.
      Ciao.

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    13. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      "However if their 'dismissing' of it (your terminology) is based on an assessment of the underlying causative drivers of climate changes, past & present and that current climate change can be shown to be unusual then that 'dismissal' is justified."

      The view of many sceptics that human activities are not significantly impacting on the global climate is also "based on an assessment of the underlying causative drivers of climate changes, past & present ". What is well established is that the Earth…

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    14. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc your lack of knowledge is becoming apparent. You cannot actually provide any science or explanations of your own but continuously attack the person. Do you actually HAVE any constructive dialogue, as most people have made the effort to provide that for you.

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    15. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      As per your comment to me, I teach my students to check information from more than one source, to take into account the qualifications and experience of the provider of that information and to take into account the organisation hosting that information. In other words bloggers, sponsored by think tanks from donations with fossil fuel companies, with no relevent qualifications, experience or published material in the field are NOT a reliable source for unbiased information. Apparently you should have taken that class.

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    16. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "What is well established is that the Earth has been going through periods warming and cooling for millions of years. The major disagreement is whether recent warming can or cannot be explained by natural processes and that is a matter of interpretation."

      Major disagreement? Between who?

      The warming cannot be explained by natural causes - if it could we would not consider that the change is anthropogenic.

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    17. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey

      The key indicator of global warming iis an accumulation of heat. Temperature rise follows as a consequence of the presence of additional. The primary location where heat is accumulating is in the oceans. Observed heat build up in the ocean over the last 1/2 century is around 2.1 * 10^23 Joules - 4.2 * 10^21 Joules per year on average. By comparison, heat buildup in the air is only around 1/30th of that amount (source - 2007 IPCC Report). Heat added to melt ice at the current rate of around…

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    18. Michael Fabiankovits

      Teacher

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      This is brilliant Glenn, thankyou. It brings all the lines of evidence together and the whole mechanism at work. I found it very informative. The response from deniers is predictable, silence. The other response would have been a personal attack.

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    19. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Grendelus Malleolus

      Yes, Grendelus, the differences between today (or the last 100 years) and the prior 200+ million years are clear, and incontrovertible -- human-combusted Carbon has swamped the natural Carbon Cycle by about a factor of 100 each year -- ~10 billion tons of Carbon per year that cannot be recycled via rock weathering from atmospheric CO2 + H2O (carbonic acid) or from calciferous organisms in the seas making carbonate skeletal structures, then dying and forming limestone on sea floors that eventually…

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    20. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn, I've been reading articles, reports, essays, and the like that deal with this issue with great interest for quite a few years now (to the tune of 1200+ papers) and this is one of the best, if not THE best, expositions of the issue at hand. I will make note of it and pass it along (properly attributed, natch) to those who like and can deal with the numbers.

      An exemplary tour de force of explaining a deeply complex issue, Glenn!

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    21. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      And once again, as he has on numerous other websites, Marc's supposed creds as a geologist fall WAY short of exhibitng anything about Marc's supposed creds anything save a mail order degree. He NEVER answers questions directly, he NEVER addresses the issues, he ALWAYS resides to snark, snide, and ad homs.

      Folks, DNFTT.

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    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      @Geoffrey Henley, who asks (elsewhere on this page) how record high Antarctic sea ice extent is consistent with a warming world: "So how do you explain the 'record high' for Antartica ice extent?"

      It's all explained for you, Geoffrey, by the nice people at Reuters' science news website, Science Daily. An 11 November 2012 item "Why Antarctic Sea Ice Cover Has Increased Under the Effects of Climate Change", http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121111153813.htm, is based on some work recently…

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  6. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    As a first-term President, Obama has been hamstrung by a particularly virulent campaign of abuse of reality by various right-wing organs in the US.

    Fox News has never been interested in reality, and is an enthusiastic participant in that anti-real campaign. The anti-reality movement in the US has a lengthy history: in "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush", journalist reported the following encounter with a Bush presidential aide.
    "The aide said that guys like me [Suskind…

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to David Arthur

      "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

      Now, that attitude is scary. Using it as your excuse everything is possible. Killing all babies in Egypt? So what, we're the 'empire'. We decide what's moral or not, right or wrong, you other better adapt. Or else...

      Arrogance. And stupidity, in a eternal embrace :) Reading it makes me wonder if we're worth keeping as a species.And if that is what those believe?

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    2. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Maybe we all should start produce really big Atom bombs then, and stuff it down their throat? Sweden has always had the 'know how' but choose not too. In hindsight maybe the wrong decision. It's harder ignoring someone that really can hurt you, isn't it?

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  7. Jay Wilson

    x credit manager and born again hippie ;)

    ... why isn't climate change getting a fair go in the USA mainstream media?

    A: watch thee two streaming vids to find out. Spoiler alert... big $$$ and lots of lawyers.

    Bill Moyers ~ Elections for Sale
    September 21, 2012

    Bill Moyers and Trevor Potter discuss how American elections are bought and sold, who covers the cost, and how the rest of us pay the price.

    http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-elections-for-sale/

    THe United States of ALEC
    http://billmoyers.com/segment/united-states-of-alec/

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  8. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    In suggesting your thesis is fundamentally flawed, I suggest you have a look at the press down in Melbourne - for decades The Age has supported the ALP and the Greens and attacked the Coalition. At the same time the Herald-Sun has highlighted the ALP's problems and supported the Coalition, at both State and Federal levels. The sales of the Age are primarily to higher socio-economic areas which regularly vote Liberal and the Herald-Sun sells most in working class suburbs which invariably return ALP MPs. These long campaigns of newspapers telling their readers to change their vote have had minmal impact - the voters maintain their voting patterns and the governments change regularly.

    Futhermore, website data show that many readers head straight for the sports pages and "man-bites-dog" stories, and only glimpse briefly at climate change items.

    I think you grossly overestimate the influence of the media.

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    1. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Michael Brown

      media influence overestimated? then by what other means have the public come to be so poorly informed about climate change except by certain media that deliberately mislead? -a.v.

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    2. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Interesting point about the media's effect...

      The problem there is explaining climate change to the average person is extremely difficult. There is nothing they can compare it to and understanding things happening on a global scale is difficult for a person who thinks little further than work, pub, sports, home.

      So what's happened is they have been given a glimpse of the world of science that takes decades to reach any kind of consensus. And in that time different scientists have said different…

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    3. Gary Myers

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael Brown

      I think it is more that people tend to disengage from media that tells them things they don't want to hear.
      Taking that view, FOX news and the WSJ are making valid business decisions in not discussing topics that would impact audience numbers.
      And politicians are making valid decisions in not discussing topics that would negatively impact their votes. This is why politicians lie to electorates on a regular basis; we wouldn't vote for anyone who told the truth.

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    4. Byron Smith
      Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

      PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

      In reply to Gary Myers

      There is a difference between understandable and valid. The latter implies that these decisions are correct in a praiseworthy way, rather than being excellent examples of precisely the moral corruption of critical institutions by myopic and self-serving thinking.

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    5. Tony Simons
      Tony Simons is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Dodgy Director

      In reply to alfred venison

      Alan Jones is very close in outlook to Fox and Murdoch and the mad right of the Republican Party anfd Tea Party who are liars on climate change. And Jones and Abbott are using the same methods with their vituperative attacks on Gillard as Obama faced with the brithers and other neo fascists. The legitmacy of Obama and Gillard has never been accepted and Clinton got the same treatment (including kenneth Starr).

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    6. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Michael Brown

      "In suggesting your thesis is fundamentally flawed, I suggest you have a look at the press down in Melbourne - for decades The Age has supported the ALP and the Greens and attacked the Coalition. At the same time the Herald-Sun has highlighted the ALP's problems and supported the Coalition, at both State and Federal levels. The sales of the Age are primarily to higher socio-economic areas which regularly vote Liberal and the Herald-Sun sells most in working class suburbs which invariably return ALP…

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  9. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Reality will instruct us soon enough. It will be very expensive.

    Perhaps Fox, Ailes, Murdoch, the Kochs and the other deniers will chip in?
    ;]

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  10. Byron Smith
    Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

    PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

    John, I appreciate the article, though felt that this connexion could have been a little clearer: "we mustn’t overlook that Australian media is not immune to this form of reality inversion."

    The study you then quoted was about the coverage of climate policy rather than climate science. While there is plenty of evidence that the Australian's coverage of climate science is very frequently misleading, it is important not to confuse the science with proposed or legislated responses to that science. It is quite possible, for instance, to accept the mainstream understanding of climate science while wanting to criticise the current government policies in response to it.

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  11. Michael Gioiello

    High school music teacher/ freelance Opera singer

    Is anyone seriously surpried that Mitt Romney is a climate skepticist? He is the virtual American equivalent of Tony Abbott. It is not in the best interest of these men to aggree with the science of global warming because it will probably interfere with some of their business ventures. As for Murdoch, well governments really do need to put laws in place, so as the majority of the world's media is not in the hands of one man, particularly one who is as far right-wing as Murdoch.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael Gioiello

      Aw, Mitt is a perfectly nice fllow around the club, and he's very much into sport -- tax & position avoidance is his sport.
      ;]

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  12. Linus Bowden

    management consultant

    The tragedy of this issue is that the science has fallen victim to that old truism: 'if you lie down with dogs, you'll catch fleas.' The loudest yappers are unfortunately not scientists, but neomarxist Media Studies luvvies. This is why the public has turned off, as the issue more and more is presented like Maoist propaganda.

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    1. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      Perhaps partly true Linus - I don't think Scientists "lay down" with anyone. I think that there needs to be a distinction between climate change - the science, and climate change - the environmental cause. One is evidence based and the other frequently polemic. Again it is the science/policy conflict. However characterising those who have adopted climate change as a cause as "neomarxist Media Studies luvvies" is perhaps hyperbole given the relatively small number of people who fit within the intersection of a venn diagram made up of the sets "those who accept the science of climate change" and "those who hold neomarxist views and have undertaken a course in media studies".

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      And like far too many so-called skeptics, you seem incapable of looking at a subject through anything but the incredibly narrow and profoundly, unutterably boring and uninteresting lens of Left vs Right. Fixating on political ideologies and so forth may be a hobby horse of yours but most people actually have zero interest in looking at the world around them in those terms

      So when you make statements about the supposed political leanings of others, all you are really doing is projecting your own…

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    3. Toby James

      retired physicist

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      Your're right Linus. People are not all stupid. How are they supposed to react to 'dangerously melting glaciers' and 'millions of refugees from rising sea levels', that remain figments of fevered imaginations.

      Why even the author of this item has recently not altogether aquited himself as well as we expect from University academics.

      We can only suppose that among John's "several independent surveys have found 97% agreement among actively publishing climate scientists", he includes Dr. Lewendowski's recent attempt at conducting such a survey.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      Looks like Linus & Toby are themselves " neomarxist Media Studies luvvies", whatever "luwies" are.

      Yes, gents, thousands of modestly-paid scientists & engineers around the world are always in immediate mutual contact, even before Twitter, to ruin the game for combustion industries.

      Speaking as a scientist & engineer who's just an observer, it's clear that the less one knows about reality and the more bias one has from unknown internal dark places of paranoia, the more one can accept goofy conspiracy…

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  13. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Reading you makes me feel confused This must be an American disease firstly, hopefully that is. Swedish newspapers, although still not reporting as they should , probably as they too are owned by private interests, I expect to take it seriously, and Swedish television surely do so. But you're right in that politicians are chronically unable and willing to lift it forward, in Sweden as everywhere else in the world, excepting those places where they know how all their land might be washed away in a…

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