Friday, November 8, 2013

Anti-Science Journalism Helped to End Progressive Climate Governance in Australia

The popular media's campaign of climate change subterfuge helped to bring down Julia Gillard's government in Australia. Anti-science propaganda has been rampant in the Australian press. A number of extreme weather events (droughts and floods) succeeded in drowning out the voices of those that oppose action on climate change and helped Gillard to get elected in 2010.  Subsequently a determined anti-science media campaign eroded Gillard's popularity and ultimately led to her downfall.

Popular media has flouted their journalistic responsibilities on climate change. A widespread campaign against Australia's carbon policy was adopted by the company that controls most Australian metropolitan newspapers. According to a 2013 study of climate science in newspapers,  the coverage of the Gillard government’s carbon policy was mostly negative (73 per cent to 27 per cent). Negative coverage (82 per cent) across News Ltd newspapers far outweighed positive (18 per cent) articles. The Daily Telegraph was the most negative (89 per cent). The Daily Telegraph has since continued its campaign against Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and bike riders.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire pushes an editorial slant with an anti-environment agenda. Nowhere was this more evident than in Australia where Murdoch's tabloids regularly derided Gillard and her government's climate policy.

According to a 2011 report, Australia's climate change coverage is rife with anti-science skepticism.  This report indicates that there was considerable hostility to the Gillard government climate-change policy particularly in Murdoch's tabloids.

The impact of these media attacks adversely impacted the public's perception of carbon pricing and helped cause the ruling government's popularlity to plummit to historic lows. Ultimately the Gillard government fell.

The net result of this biased news coverage was that Australia's progressive climate policies were replaced by a climate denying government led by Tony Abbott.  

Anti-science media coverage contributes to climate change misinformation and prevent progressive governments from getting elected. As the fall of the Gillard government illustrates, they can also help unseat standing governments.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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