Climate change: The war for hearts and minds in the UK
Belief in global warming plummeted amongst the British public after the climate change conference in Copenhagen last December, according to a BBC poll early this year. A similar poll commissioned by the London Times also showed increased skepticism regarding climate amongst those surveyed.
Belief in climate change amongst scientists has not changed, but in the war of the press, the climate skeptics – often called climate deniers – did gain significant ground in Copenhagen’s wake.
From a May 24th article in the New York Times:
Two independent reviews later found no evidence that the East Anglia researchers had actively distorted climate data, but heavy press coverage had already left an impression that the scientists had schemed to repress data. Then there was the unusually cold winter in Northern Europe and the United States, which may have reinforced a perception that the Earth was not warming. (Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a United States agency, show that globally, this winter was the fifth warmest in history.)
This was the case between November 2009 and February 2010, anyway. There’s been another three-month span since then and the conservative papers have quieted on the IPCC hacked emails scandal. After all, they want to sell copies, not flog dead horses. I wonder how things stand now. My cynical side thinks a ‘don’t care’ option might win out if included in a new poll.
The climate debate in the UK has often been characterized as one between the Right and the Left, but the leaders of all three main political parties in the UK support action on climate change. Skepticism – or outright denial – regarding a human role in climate change is really the domain of particular economic and political interests groups, which are aided by certain members of press. Besides right wing tabloids like the Daily Mail, the Times and the Telegraph – both Conservative papers – have been labeled as home to the skeptics, with the Guardian and the Independent being typically supportive of the scientific consensus. True, big time skeptic James Delingpole writes a blog for the Telegraph, but another anthropogenic climate change skepticism bigwig, Dominic Lawson, has a column in the Independent.
I regularly check out the Environment section of the Times and the Earth section of the Telegraph and lately haven’t found them inundated with climate skepticism. I think they’ve been pretty good recently, if a bit thin compared to the deluge of articles on the environment one finds in the Guardian. Perhaps the Times and Telegraph keep skeptical articles largely out of the environment sections – or on the other hand, debating climate change might not be selling so well these days.
by Graham Land