NZ media coverage of climate change

Dr Rhian Salmon and her colleagues at Victoria University have had a good look at how the New Zealand media, including blogs, cover climate change.

How are most people getting their information on climate change, and how is this changing?

Like with all information and news, there has been a strong shift from print and TV to online and social media, which is necessarily much more aligned with the views already held by the reader.

We also identified other avenues for climate change communication that occur around the country such as the arts, festivals, NGOs and advocacy groups, iwi climate change forums, think-tanks and efforts by central and regional government.

Has the mainstream news media done enough in communicating climate science and related issues? Has coverage improved or worsened?

Studies show that messages in New Zealand media are very closely aligned with the scientific consensus presented in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports.

However, many New Zealanders also read news from other countries, which in some cases is more polarised.

Understandably, the media need a “hook” for a story, and that’s difficult for something as slow-moving and constant as climate change.

As a result, we often see stories framed in an “apocalyptic narrative”; for example, when we experience extreme weather events, which isn’t necessarily a helpful frame for New Zealanders to start thinking about long-term adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts.

I have no problem with the idea of long-term adaptation of climate change.  It’s the fact (the FACT) that apocalyptic scenarios have been misused and are based on flawed and fraudulent data.  We are told the sea will rise by 50cm in 30 years by people who have had ZERO climate predictions come true for the last 30 years.  It’s not a matter of being a climate change sceptic, it’s a matter of rational analysis.

In our perception of climate change, and how we communicate it, how do we differ with other nations? I note the UK, often celebrated for its progressive climate change efforts, has an issue of often counter-productive catastrophic narratives, which we don’t have here.

The narrative in New Zealand media has, to a large degree, remained fairly consistent with the scientific consensus.

The small population, however, does allow for individual voices – with varying degrees of expertise – to have a disproportional influence on the public debate.

Examples include Gareth Morgan, who is a strong advocate of more action being required related to climate change, and on the other side of the spectrum, Cameron Slater of Whale Oil, who is an influential “climate sceptic”.

The reason this blog remains an influential “sceptic” of all the extreme scenarios is rooted in the real-world experiences, the accepted and published fraud and the abuse of the topic by politicians for political purposes.

Should you build a new coastal building on the high tide mark?  Or should you think ahead and put it 2 meters higher?  Of course you do the latter.   But it is absolute nonsense to keep scaring people with outlandish claims – none of which have come true!

That’s not to say some might not come true.  In some unknown timeframe.

That’s also not to say we live as if there is no climate change at all.   But the huge international climate change gravy train is so corrupted by financial interests, including scientists that have their funding dependent on a pre-determined stance, that it requires media like Whaleoil to balance the narrative.

Scientist may use very careful language to describe Whaleoil as extreme and uninformed, and having an unwanted and negative influence on what to them is common sense, but the problem isn’t my opinion.  It’s the constant stream of information from scientists themselves that I put in front of the public to weigh up in their own mind.

 

Jamie Morton (as interviewer) NZ Herald

 


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