The rise of climate change denialism* in Australia has been a gnawing concern in my head since Tony Abbott was elected the leader of the Liberal Party last year. It wasn’t until then that I realised the size of the anti-science movement, which has been gaining ground over the summer by rhetoric, lies, ad hominem, threats and bombardment of any public forum on climate change. This month, I plan to expand my thoughts on this subject in more detail, but at the moment I’m reading a series of five articles published over the past week by Clive Hamilton on the issue. He’s done an admirable job covering the topic; if you’ve had your interest piqued by the media chatter about ‘climategate’ and the integrity of the IPCC, check these articles out and consider who is putting their best moral foot forward.
If you’re not up for reading all 5, I’d recommend the first and fourth articles.
Climate change denialism is present worldwide, but if I’m not mistaken, Australia is currently bearing the brunt of one of the most extreme attacks seen to date. It sounds extreme, but the best advice I could give anyone reading media articles which are anti-climate-change at the moment is: don’t trust them**. Yes, the science underlying our understanding of the climate is not yet complete, but it may never be. Climate change denialists are willing to lie, abuse, quote-mine and intimidate people to push their agenda. They can sound superficially reasonable and may even raise some valid points, and some have genuine concerns about the way the issue is being handled by organisations and governments, but many of the most outspoken are, in the plainest terms, liars.
*I’ve mentioned in an earlier post my hesitation in calling people denialists or skeptics, because I don’t find those terms useful in building a dialogue and helping people to understand climate change. However, there is an element – an extremely vocal and increasingly powerful element – of the community which deserves the term, and they aren’t interested in dialogue. They’re the people who hate-rush blogs or news articles, who parrot lies and vitrol and intimidate those who support important, necessary steps to mitigate our impact on the environment.
**This goes, of course, for any opinion piece, or newspaper article, or any article. However, climate change denialism is almost always opinion and is frequently emotive, anti-scientific and untrustworthy.