EVER heard the one about climate scientists being a bunch of rent-seekers just out to chase taxpayers money, or the one where climate change scientists are just part of an elite left-wing conspiracy out to trample on the heretics?
How about your nearest conservative columnist telling you that “green is the new red” or how climate science and environmentalism has become a new religion?
Where do these rhetorical tricks and debating points actually come from? How does the echo chamber work?
In Australia, a new study has found these themes often don’t spring forth from the minds of insightful and thoughtful newspaper columnists and bloggers.
Rather, many have emerged from the free-market think-tankery of Australia’s The Institute of Public Affairs, which has been muddying the waters of climate science for more than 20 years.
Published in the international peer-reviewed journal Journalism Studies, the author, University of Technology Sydney PhD candidate Elaine McKewon, reveals how popular rhetorical “fantasy themes” which aim to create controversy around climate science are conceived at the IPA before being repeated, magnified, endorsed and legitimised in the opinion pages of Australian newspapers.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.