Climate sceptics’ denying of the science is declining. Opposing the policies is the new tactic
(Energy Post, 4 May 2023) In the media, the good news is that those opposed to acting on climate change – sometimes called climate deniers or climate sceptics – are not challenging the science nearly as much as they used to. The bad news is that they are now using “response scepticism”.
This means obstructing policies with arguments like “it costs too much”, “what about China’s emissions?”, “stopping flying is too extreme, do something else”, “infringement on civil liberties” and “whataboutism”, explains James Painter at the Reuters Institute, University of Oxford, who summarises his co-authored paper. It’s particularly common in ‘right-wing’ channels, but also present in some ‘mainstream’ coverage.
The arguments use country-specific economic, social and political obstacles. The study reviewed 30 news programmes on 20 channels in Australia, Brazil, Sweden, the UK and the U.S. It looked at mainstream channels like the BBC, NBC, and ABC in Australia as well as right wing channels like Fox News, GBTV in the UK, SwebbTV in Sweden, Sky News in Australia and Rede TV! in Brazil. The media, particularly TV, has a very powerful agenda-setting effect and this shift in the tactics of climate sceptics needs to be understood and answered, says Painter.
Any regular viewer of BBC’s Question Time could be forgiven for thinking that old-fashioned climate science denialism is alive and kicking. In a recent edition, panellist Julia Hartley-Brewer called the IPCC’s climate models “complete nonsense”, and dismissed the 2022 record UK heatwave and the floods in Pakistan by saying: “It’s called weather.”
Energy Post, 4 May 2023: Climate sceptics’ denying of the science is declining. Opposing the policies is the new tactic