Last night Australia’s “premier television current affairs program” Four Corners showed a documentary purportedly about the “campaign to deny the science of global warming”.
A regular reader and commentator at this blog, Luke Walker, emailed me the following comment on the program:
ABC Four Corners last night aired CBC’s news magazine show The Fifth Estate which panned Dr. S. Fred Singer, Dr Tim Ball, Exxon, APCO and others in the ” Denial Machine” a 40-minute documentary that gave context to anti-AGW politics in the USA and Canada.
Of particular interest was the careful use of language by media analysts and opinion pollsters. For example, a once Republican media strategist Frank Luntz dispassionately laid out how to use framing and language to create uncertainty from certainty and create public opinion on issues such as climate change.
Chomsky would have had a field day. We don’t say “global warming”, we say “climate change”. Global warming is too scary for the poll groups.
We were shown how words like “energy intensity” get seamlessly inserted into the rhetoric while having a different meaning and different outcomes to reductions in greenhouse emissions but the same public perceptions.
For Aussie audiences there was plenty of US style journalism and ‘Denial Machine’ had plenty of not-so-nice evidence, told-you-so’s and tut-tut’s for the AGW converted.
Indeed the AGW cheer squad would have loved it.
But in the end the issue of global warming/climate change has become a right versus left issue. Good versus evil, or evil versus good. The end of the world versus the end of the economy. Conservatives versus liberals. Dirty denialists versus scary alarmists.
Bizarrely the show’s last word was from the once Republican media strategist Frank Luntz who has incredibly become a convert to AGW. He now believes that the science is conclusive and that we must do something about it.
“Conservatives need to make much greater effort to talk about what’s happening in the environment, and Liberals should acknowledge the serious economic consequences of Kyoto,” Luntz said. He continued, “If you really care about global warming, take it out of the political sphere, don’t beat each other over the head, be honest, don’t yell, and focus on solutions that make a difference. Not everything in life is about politics”.
Global warming is too important an issue to be run by public relations, language manipulators and partisan politics.
Take note say the converted – and so – a very long road to travel, including for the inhabitants of this blog.