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The changing climate of climate change reportage

News cycles are a strange thing and not just the 24 hour trivia variety beloved of parliamentary press gallery journalists. There is an ebb and flow over lengthy periods of how the media treats serious subjects and global warming is a case in point.

Right across the globe, it seems, there are times when global warming is considered to be news and times when it is not.

The surveys by the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) at the University of Colorado-Boulder of stories appearing in a selection of the world’s major newspapers (you will find a list of them here which includes The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Courier Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Age) show that internationally coverage is well down from the peak levels of late 2009.

A similar analysis by Drexel University professor Robert Brulle of coverage on the CBS, ABC and NBC networks in the United States shows a similar decline from a high point in 2007-08.

Last year’s climate coverage was so minuscule that Prof Brulle started doubting his data.

“I can’t believe it’s this little. In the U.S., it’s just gone off the map,” he said. “It’s pretty clear we’re back to 2004, 2005 levels.”

Yale University polling expert Dr. Tony Leiserowitz attributes part of a drop in public understanding of climate science since its fall 2008 peak to the collapse in media coverage. In an interview with Climate Science on on public attitudes toward climate science and policy he commented:

“I think underappreciated, is the role of media coverage. We have colleagues who study newspaper coverage as well as television coverage, and they have found that, since 2007, newspaper coverage of this issue has dropped to less than one-third of what it was in 2007 and television coverage, things like the “CBS Evening News,” has dropped to less than one-fifth of what it was back then.

Most Americans know about this issue through what they encounter in the media. They don’t know climate scientists. They don’t read the peer-reviewed literature. They learn about this issue, which is invisible to most of us, through the media. So when the media doesn’t report the issue, it is literally out of sight. So that’s what we think has played an important role.”

What does keep getting reported in Australia are the views of a coal industry concerned at the consequences of the government actually doing something to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps the industry should enlist the help of The Onion website which has come up with this little gem of a comment on the use of wind as an alternative energy source.

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  • 1
    tones9
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Why do most alarmists and crikey blogs misread graphs, exaggerate reality, misrepresenting and provide false analysis?

    The real story here, if you knew how to read a graph, is Australia (Oceania) has had more climate newspaper coverage than any other continent for the past 18 months. The rest of the world has lost interest. Why don’t we read that in our newspapers?

    So what analysis is provided? The drop in media coverage is responsible for the “drop in public understanding of climate science”. Notice how the fall in support for AGW is now equated to ignorance of the science. In fact the reality is the opposite.

    In the rest of the world, the media coverage reflects the public’s attitude to the issue. In Australia, the media’s advocacy role has continued uninterrupted, despite just 30% belief in AGW.

    Farmer suggests the views of the coal industry keep getting reported. Now for the reality. Very little coverage is given to the coal industry or to sceptics. In fact the coal industry’s position is that AGW exists and that CO2 emissions should be reduced.

    But when you have an agenda, why bother with reality.

  • 2
    PatriciaWA
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Just watched that spoof video by The Onion on wind energy. It was so damn good I almost believed: 1) that the coal industry were actually putting up that sort of case against wind energy and 2) I could believe that credulous people might agree with it! That’s the problem with satire sometimes. It doesn’t touch those it most needs to!

  • 3
    Captain Planet
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    @ tones9,

    If you intend to be taken seriously I suggest the following are preconditions to a debate on this issue:-

    Notice how the fall in support for AGW is now equated to ignorance of the science. In fact the reality is the opposite.

    Evidence please?

    In the rest of the world, the media coverage reflects the public’s attitude to the issue.

    And your proof for this assertion is what?

    just 30% belief in AGW.

    Reference please.

    Now for the reality. Very little coverage is given to the coal industry or to sceptics.

    Statistical proof please.

    Now that we’ve dealt with your blatant assertions masquerading as facts, how about this:-

    Australia (Oceania) has had more climate newspaper coverage than any other continent for the past 18 months. The rest of the world has lost interest.

    I believe Australia has had more climate newspaper coverage recently for two reasons: ONE, we have a MSM hell bent on propping up the interests of the fossil fuel lobby and fostering climate denialism to try to prevent the introduction of a carbon tax, at this point in time. As a tool of the coal and oil industries, saturation bombardment with global warming scepticism through outlets like The Australian is causing this spike in coverage. TWO, Australia is presently undergoing a process which much of the developed world has already been through – acknowledging the need for CO2 reductions. This is a traumatic process and Australia is way behind the rest of the developed world in it’s acknowledgement of this necessity. This delayed cognition about this issue is reflected in high levels of “Debate”.

    In fact the coal industry’s position is that AGW exists and that CO2 emissions should be reduced.

    Reference please. While you’re at it, perhaps you could elucidate the coal industry’s detailed and costed proposal to reduce CO2 emissions Australia wide, including projections of the impacts of their plan to reduce emissions. Since they are so saintly as to acknowledge the necessit, surely they have an effective plan to do so.

  • 4
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m seeking help to fund my Climate Change citizen journalism project – Climate Change: Facing the Fourth Degree.

    I’ll be reporting from the FOUR DEGREES OR MORE? Australia in a Hot World conference on 12-14 July at Melbourne University.

    Taking place at the time the Gillard government is planning to make public the details of its carbon tax and emissions trading scheme, it’s vital that we get the climate word out.

    So far there are no takers. $20-100 to counter the ramblings of Monckton et al shouldn’t be too high a hurdle. But then again it’s only the Science.

    Speakers include Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Chair of the German Government’s Advisory Council on Global Change, and Professor Ross Garnaut from The University of Melbourne.

  • 5
    tones9
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    No demands for evidence of the statements made in this article. When you approve of what’s being said, who needs evidence right?

    Leiserowitz’s bizarre claim is that most people know about climate science through media, so that when there is less media coverage, people’s knowledge decreases. What a completely ridiculous, nonsensical and absurd piece of logic. Completely in keeping with an academic climate activist

    As for how the rest of the world works, they run with stories with popular interest. It came as a shock to the ABC’s Margot O’Neil that everyone has lost interest.
    http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2010/11/03/3056199.htm
    “Where did all the climate change stories go? “The [programmers] are against it because it loses ratings,” says a senior BBC journalist. “The wave [of public interest] has gone. There is climate change fatigue. That is why I am not [reporting] it now.”
    Other journalists agree. Even reporters at The Guardian, which especially targets environmental reporting, complain that it’s difficult to get a run. Another UK broadcast journalist said he was warned that putting climate change on prime time would risk losing a million viewers.”

    In her ABC group think cacoon, this was news to her, as was the Climategate scandal which was not even reported by the ABC.

    Progressive pollster Essential shows 32% of Australians believe the science.
    http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/attitude-to-scientific-evidence-for-climate-change/
    This is the only country where media coverage does not reflect the public attitude.

    You are joking about sceptic coverage right? Fairfax has published one sceptic commentary in its entire existance. Every other mention of them is derrogatory. News Ltd runs little news about science scepticism, and there are as many opinion pieces supporting AGW science as are sceptical.

    With regard to climate change, the Australian Coal Association is a signatory to the Minerals Sector Statement of Principles on Climate Change Policy. This policy has been adopted by a number of industry associations in the minerals industry and suggests a measured transition to a low emissions global economy through a number of policy mechanisms.
    The minerals industry acknowledges that sustained global action is required to reduce the scale of human induced climate change.
    http://www.australiancoal.com.au/resources.ashx/Publications/43/Publication/46D88A7A30CCD33756EBB990CCD22EE9/Minerals_Industry_Climate_Change_Principles_2011.pdf

    Where is the evidence for your silly claims?

  • 6
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Why do most alarmists and crikey blogs misread graphs, exaggerate reality, misrepresenting and provide false analysis?

    Just so everyone knows, Tones9 has repeatedly claimed that the BOM say a decade is enough to tell if trend is statistically significant but he actually bases this fraudulent claim on a single paper co-authored by the head of the BOM which actually states that ten years is enough to induce a trend, but that you need to go back further to see if that trend statistically significant.

    Tones9 personally believes that any date you pick that can show cooling – no matter how short – is statistically significant and therefore PROOF OF THE SCAM!!!!!

    So when it comes to “misread[ing] graphs, exaggerat[ing] reality, misrepresenting and provid[ing] false analysis” he really is the expert.

  • 7
    tones9
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The only problem Rich is that I didn’t state what you claim.

    Once again you have no comment on the substance.

  • 8
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    What a surprise. Gore foreplay, a Danish ejaculation, and now post-coital lassitude.

    But the local stud Crikey keeps it up. Admirable stamina. But it’s no longer consensual, Crikey.

    You know what that means.

  • 9
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    No means No

  • 10
    JamesK
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    H/t Frank Campbell

  • 11
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Climate change coverage that was once absent from the urban media and therefore did not exist for low postcode Keanes, Rundles, Colebatches etc…

    One reason the Greens will never be forgiven by many of their supporters- this letter in the Yass Tribune, 27 June:

    I am a PhD in environmental science, supportive of sustainable and alternative energies and who has found herself, my family and my community landed right in the middle of a proposed wind turbine development. It has taken such a twist of fate for me to understand the tragedy that we, as an ideological society, are placing upon our farming communities. My once refined ecological “blinkers” have been stripped with a sudden jolt, as I have become aware of the reality and what these “green energy” companies are doing to our people. The experience has totally changed my perspective on how we instigate the change to renewable energies in this country.
    My property is located in Bango, near Yass, in the NSW southern tablelands. We are a small community, technically termed a “locality”, and so do not posess the buffer zones that a town would for wind turbine developments. Most of our holdings are small hobby farms, ranging from 13 acres to 50 acres, many of us families with young children. Our land, subdivided with permission by local council, is surrounded by larger land holders who have been approached for wind turbine developments on their land.
    My story is a common one that has been heard many times. I was not even notified by the wind turbine developers that there was a proposal, as I only have 13 acres (where I must add I have spent two years and thousands of my own dollars restoring native vegetation). I found out about the wind turbines from my neighbour. The wind companies contacted only those who could have turbines on their lands, those they could “compensate”. They plan to put 150 turbines to the west of me and another 110 to the east, within 1-2km of our family home, where myself, my husband and my 4 year old child are to reside. We, as many of our neighbours, have invested our life savings to build out dream house. I love and care for my land and do not want to risk my family’s health, but where can we go? We feel so trapped.
    I’m extremely frustrated, when as a community we are trying to initiate independent research to be conducted on the health implications of close proximity to wind turbines, that the community is then labelled anti-green. I’m an ecologist, my neighbour is a botanist and down the road is an entomologist, not to mention all the farmers surrounding us that practice good, sustainable farm management and are environmentally aware. As educated scientists we are all for renewable power, nor are we NIMBY’s, this is not about aesthetics. It’s about the process or lack thereof that allows these companies to do what they want in our communities, with no regulations or consideration of the families that live here. If people want to have wind turbines on their land, then it should not be where it impacts on their neighbours. They make a choice, they get paid, but they suffer the consequences, not others. Wind turbines should NOT be allowed in areas where councils have approved small (under 100acres) land holdings.
    It is extraordinarily difficult get access to any raw data that the wind turbine developers base their reported “facts” on, such as efficiency, health and noise impacts. For example, a statement that 79% of people living within 10km of wind turbines approve of them is absolutely useless when you are talking about placing them within 2km of families. I challenge the CEC to display the data in a more insightful way, for example breaking it down by distance category, letting us know the age of the data, and how long the turbines had been in place when the survey was completed. Or would this reveal facts the developers would rather not make public? I ask – what has happened to freedom of information and peer review? To me their reports are little more than useless, and the co-called proposal documents put together by these companies provide nothing but scant information and inaccurate details. For example, the maps submitted in the Bango wind farm proposal are a joke. They are extremely outdated, and fail to include many houses and smaller holdings that have been developed over the last five years.
    As a scientist I would like to approach this issue with less frustrated emotion and more basis in fact. I would like to see properly funded, independent research on a) the known effects of close proximity to wind turbines on human, livestock and ecosystem heath, b) a review of the legislative framework to regulate the instalment of industrial wind turbines (including the establishment of a minimum distance to dwellings that prioritises community health, not the interests of developers) and c) legal processes in place to ensure equality in benefits and gains for communities, and addressing the liability of developers for any future damages caused (health, fire, real estate values etc.) At the moment many people in my community have sort legal advice to act against neighbours who let them be installed on their lands. As you can imagine this is tearing apart our once peaceful little community. The stress and anxiety these companies have caused is destroying our community and our lives, even before the wind turbines are built.
    How on earth do we hope to effectively implement sustainable energy practices if we allow developers to rail road our communities? We are not “road kill” in the path of wind turbine companies, destined to suffer unintended consequences of such developments. We are people who make a valuable contribution to our community. Nobody need sacrifice their lives and lands for the common good, if the government would be prepared to act on their duty of care to the Australian people and put a fair and just system that ensures prospective developers are effectively regulated, restricted by a distance buffer between such developments and communities, and held accountable for their actions.
    We can only hope that something is done soon as incidences such as these are putting a black mark on sustainable energy, and turning what should be a supportive farming community against environmental initiatives.
    Sincerely,
    Renee Brawata
    Ecologist
    Bango, NSW

  • 12
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Life may be a frogful of imponderables, but there’s no excuse for crikerians to miss what’s been happening under their noses (both those down here in the commentslum and those who hand down our daily misguidance)

    Two years ago, this little piece of the progressive media had the same unvarying diet of climate millenarianism as today. Never a trace of critique allowed by Crikey editorial. Buit something else has changed- then there were only a couple of dissenters here in the slum: a Right-wing hardcase labelled Most Peculiar Mama, who loved to bait his enemies in the Knitting Circle (the ones with burqas and bovver boots), and me.

    Now what do we see? Lots of climate headbanging from the Right, quite a bit of querelous doubt from the Centre and Centre-Left. Still bugger-all from the Left, sadly. The penalties for doubt are severe in both tribes. But it looks like the Noes have it.

    The Knitting Circle has shrunk, possibly due to the Grim Reaper, though some still lob their two-line putdowns (“delusional” etc).

    If there are leaks in the Crikey sealed compartment, the rest of the ship is already on the bottom. Maybe that’s why the editorial line is so rigid- “For Christ’s sake, Bernard, don’t open that door!”

    Counsellors are on stand-by…

    I’ll never forget asking my Flemish socialist hosts in the mid-70s about a charter bus full of rather strained, hirsute twenty-somethings…they were Maoists heading to a psychocamp…to have the shards of their broken dream gently removed…

    Touchingly European. Somehow I can’t see the Crikey team heading for Rosebud Caravan Park in a minivan, can you? Esepcially when they realise I’ll be waiting for them…

  • 13
    izza301
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Let us help change our planet and help protect it. Climate change has affected much our mother earth. debt management   

  • 14
    monkeywrench
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Buit something else has changed- then there were only a couple of dissenters here in the slum: a Right-wing hardcase labelled Most Peculiar Mama, who loved to bait his enemies in the Knitting Circle (the ones with burqas and bovver boots), and me.
    Now what do we see? Lots of climate headbanging from the Right, quite a bit of querelous doubt from the Centre and Centre-Left. Still bugger-all from the Left, sadly. The penalties for doubt are severe in both tribes. But it looks like the Noes have it.

    It sometimes takes a while for a person to realise what a steamer they have posted. It’s unlikely Frank will have the nous to clear the issue up himself, so I’ll put him out of his misery.

    Frank, the reason you think “the Noes have it” is because you are a bore.

    A crashing, thundering, pealing, reverberating BORE.

    I used to work for a firm that had one like you. Let’s call him Bob.
    Bob had opinions, and relished the opportunity to let you know them. New employees would be a particular favourite with him, mainly because those used to Bob and his bombastic crap steered as clear of him as professionalism would allow. Bob would bend their ears on every subject from Asians taking the country over to what a rotten job Labor were doing, and everything else in between.
    It was worthless to try and talk him round, talk him down, talk over him or offer evidence. Bob saw it as a challenge to him as a male; he had to win. It was all about winning, no matter what, and even when his arguments became ludicrous, he would hold his point because his insufferable ego would rather he took his own life than be seen to lose.
    It’s the same with you and Tones9, Frank. You are both unreasonable in argument. Many, many times I have read your nonsense and hovered over the keys, before saying to myself “What’s the point?” and moving on. I’m sure many others in here have done the same. People are bored with your stupid, unscientific shit, and the bombastic, crowing and self-aggrandising way you put it across. “The Noes have it” only because the Ayes have left you sitting in the cafeteria, with an ever-widening space around you, while you spout and blather and tell yourself you’re a winner.

  • 15
    JamesK
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Besides menkeywrench sliming his opponent, he identifies his opponents principal gaffe:

    “the Noes have it”

    Why is your opponent wrong in that, monkeywrench?

    Certainly the absolute figures in the polls and the momentum in the polls would tend to support him

    Calling him a “crashing, thundering, pealing, reverberating BORE”, isn’t really an argument.

    Furthermore doesn’t your post rather confirm Frank’s accusation of millenarianism or cult-like devotion to your beliefs with wilfull deafness to the contrary point of view and his identification of your ‘knitting circle’ ‘two-line putdowns’?

  • 16
    monkeywrench
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Jamesk with “Look! You’re doing what Frank does! You’re the same!” Oh, please…you’ve missed the point entirely. Frank’s impression of some sort of debating victory is simply that; an impression. I believe he’s referring to the Crikey microcosm here. Whether “the Noes have it” in the wider political sphere is yet to be tested; and will probably be entirely debatable anyway, if you are using the electoral process as a gauge of climate-change awareness. If Abbott wins an election, Frank and tones will be wetting their little pants in an effort to label this as some sort of judgement on AGW, when in fact, it will likely be a marginal win, with more people not voting for the Coalition than for them. And haven’t we seen elections where an entirely shameful campaign of disinformation and media casuistry has resulted in a “victory” for the Noes; or have you forgotten the Tampa?
    But there’s a wider argument which the Noes can never, ever win: the scientific one. They are arguing against the very laws of physics, and making fools of themselves as they do it. It may be galling for scientists to hear people scream nonsense continually, especially when they seem to be getting a little political traction; but eventually, the shit will hit the fan one way or another, and then everyone will be standing around shrugging their shoulders.
    Frank and tones9 are still bores, by the way. The Ayes have that one.

  • 17
    JamesK
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    “Now what do we see? Lots of climate headbanging from the Right, quite a bit of querelous doubt from the Centre and Centre-Left. Still bugger-all from the Left, sadly” said Frank.

    That’s hardly a basis to assert that Frank has an “impression of some sort of debating victory”.

    You’re bulls1ting monkeywrench….

    I know your a lefty and dishonesty is becoming the norm for you first stage thinkers but that assertion is “as crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.

    Furthermore you resort to the preposterous “very laws of physics” hyperbole ( that’s ‘hyper bowl’ for you lefties), is proof enough.

    It is not.

    Climate sensitivity is the argument for AGW not the known physics in a closed system of a rise in atmospheric CO2 concn., which would predict a 0.9 degree Celsius with a doubling of CO2 from 300ppm to 600ppm.

    And all that is not even to begin to point out that a carbon dioxide tax on a nation of 22 million of the earth’s 7 billion population couldn’t possibly help a problem that may not eventuate.

  • 18
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed your comments, Monkeywrench. Duly copied.

    Such desperation. The cafeteria is emptying, but not because I farted. Voters tip-toed to the exit while the Crikey table was distracted by its own noise. Bob Brown’s still there though, predicting the Greens will replace the ALP. Remarkable hubris. Reminiscent of the hyper bowl around Higgins and Bradfield in the wake of Abbott’s apotheosis. Neither Crikey nor Brown learned anything from that fiasco.

    All is not lost though-

    Soon, Gillard will announce the final bribe:

    “I have good news for hard-werking Australian famlies all across our Grate Nation. Ay process of consensus, ay conversation between all Australians, has resulted in ay grate Australian compromise: Carbun will be exempted from the carbun tax.”

    In five years, this tangle of bad policy and moralistic zealotry will seem like a psychotic episode.

  • 19
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    If you’re concerned about real politics (and real people) Monkeywrench, what do you make of Renee Brawata’s letter (above)?

    This is just one “climate” issue, but the pattern is clear: basic rights are being trashed. It looks like Brawata and her neighbours are Green voters (like me):

    “I’m an ecologist, my neighbour is a botanist and down the road is an entomologist, not to mention all the farmers surrounding us that practice good, sustainable farm management and are environmentally aware. As educated scientists we are all for renewable power, nor are we NIMBY’s, this is not about aesthetics. It’s about the process or lack thereof that allows these companies to do what they want in our communities, with no regulations or consideration of the families that live here”

    And the working class hasn’t been shafted yet…

  • 20
    quantize
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    The resident Crikey denialists swarm like rats…

  • 21
    Bellistner
    Posted July 5, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Every time a argument starts between Frank/tones9/JamesK and anyone else, I just tune out and skip down a few pages.

  • 22
    Altakoi
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Quantize and Bellistner make an important point that the influence of these endless debates is minimal on anyone else, but they are an important quality control issue for Crikey because life is too short to pick through reams of trollage when you know exactly what is being said by who is writing.

    This is not a matter of whether these opinions are correct, just whether they are predictable. If an opinion is entirely predictable by who writes it, then the additional information content of the actual comment is zero. In the name of efficiency, if nothing else, its a waste of space.

    Every article about climate change on Crikey engenders a few comments actually about what is written and rapidly descends into pissy comments and general snarkiness.

    I think Crikey should moderate out any comments about whether climate change science is or is not legitimate – pro or con – and maintain a single thread for this issue. There those who care can duke it out until someone, somewhere, gives a crap.

    And the rest of us can read comments which are not staged position statements.

  • 23
    JamesK
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I see the last three leftist posts all with apparent pride give opinions but provide no arguments.

    Moreover and again predictably with pride, Altakoi and Bellistner declare that they don’t even listen to an argument if the opinion that the argument bolsters isn’t simpatico with their pathetically contracted and woefully intolerant and ill-informed/uninformed worldview.

    They both may as well have loudly declared: “we’re ignorant and proud of it!” whilst quantize does that pretty well in every single one of his posts; the last being no exception……

    And Altakoi neither believes in free and open debate nor in free speech itself apparently.

    In fact he predictably becomes indignant with those like me who describe the New Left as ‘watermelons’.

    Gee, I wonder why that idea has been realised and ever increasingly by so very many….

  • 24
    Altakoi
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks James, as I say you are a quality control issue.

  • 25
    Cindy Parsons
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    This explains why climate suddenly changes unexpectedly. It is an informative post to have.buy tennis apparels

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