A study that recently saw the light of day in the journal, Public Understanding of Science (PUS), examined the media consumption of a representative sample of more than 1,000 US citizens in 2008 and 2011 with regards to their views of climate change. Findings indicate that consumption of conservative media – namely Fox News and Rush Limbaugh – reduces the beholder’s trust of scientists and consequently their belief in global warming.
People who partake of non-conservative media – specifically ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, NPR and the Washington Post – trust scientists more and are convinced of global warming.
Conservative media create distrust of scientists in five ways: contrarian scientists are purported to be objective experts at the same time that mainstream scientists are depicted as biased; peer-reviewed journals and scientific institutions are denigrated; peer-reviewed research is asserted to be politically liberal opinion; climate scientists are accused of rigging data to secure funding for research; and climate science is characterised as a religion.
The non-profit media monitoring group, Media Matters, provided instances of Fox News indulging in all of these strategems. Prime examples were by the appropriately-named Joe Bastardi, a contrarian meteorologist and regular fixture of Fox News who topped Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said about Global Warming.
Bastardi declared that CO2 is “literally” incapable of causing global warming as it doesn’t “mix well in the atmosphere.”
In truth, CO2 is known to be well-mixed because it’s mixed by turbulence and scientists have measured it at various locations ranging from the Arctic to Antarctica. Bastardi also claimed that global warming would break the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, although global warming does not involve the creation of energy, but rather the trapping of existent energy in the atmosphere.
Kerry Emanuel of MIT describe Bastardi’s views in this case as “utter rubbish.” NASA climatologist, Gavin Schmidt, opined that Bastardi was “attempting to throw out 150 years of physics.” Physicist, Richard Muller, said that Bastardi “seems very confused.” Bastardi has in the past been labelled by scientists as “completely wrong,” “scientifically incorrect,” “simply ignorant” and “very odd.”
The PUS study stated that conservative news programmes establish a rapport with their viewers through a shared ideology. Because most people’s knowledge of the majority of scientific issues is limited, the values they use to ascertain trustworthiness will probably be based on sympathy and not argument. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found that 93 percent of Fox’s coverage of climate change was “misleading.” A UCS climate scientist affirmed that this was “staggering.”
An email obtained by Media Matters showed that Fox journos were ordered to cast doubt on climate change. In an email dated December 8, 2012, Fox’s Washington bureau chief, Bill Sammon, instructed that climate sceptics appear within 15 minutes of a story about a scientific report showing the first decade of the new century to be the hottest ever. The email read, “We should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”
A small proportion of the people surveyed in the course of the PUS study were extremely politically-conservative and actually more likely to reject global warming as the work of humankind in response to expert consensus. Nevertheless, an increasing number of US conservatives is demanding that the GOP, the Grand Old Party, aka the Republicans, ceases to deny the problem of climate change and begins to participate in formulating a solution.
97 percent of scientific papers agree that climate change is human-driven. 73 percent of voters under the age of 35 associate denial of global warming with such words as “crazy,” “ignorant” and “out-of-touch.” 53 percent of young Republicans feel thusly. In 2013, almost 60 percent of all people surveyed said that they worry at least a fair amount about global warming, compared to 51 percent in 2011. President Obama has become more vocal on the subject in recent months.
Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”