By Emily Arlidge for JAC
In my article on the media’s misrepresentation of climate change, I state it’s unfortunate that people publishing work on the subject consistently fail to reveal their backgrounds. James Taylor is a good example. He wrote this article published by Forbes.com. It’s interesting stuff, full of statistics about what scientists from all fields views are climate change. What Taylor fails to mention in his bio or in any part of the article is that he is affiliated with the Heartland Institute, an American political organisation which strongly advocates climate change denial and therefore he is not an objective source on the subject.
It’s this kind of publication that makes me think that if all writers on climate change were required to state their full occupation, political standings and views on climate change alongside any published work, then we might be one step closer to being able to draw our own conclusions about the information they’re providing.
This would also eliminate some of the problems pointed out by Peta Ashworth in this article about citizen scientists that she is concerned about the audiences’ sense of accountability:
“There’s a huge responsibility on the reader to be able to distinguish between how factual the information is, and how much of it emanates from vested interests. And society probably isn’t well-equipped to do that.”
It seems fitting to lead by example on this point by providing readers with all the necessary background on the main players in my climate change story, including myself:
I have no affiliation with any climate change groups nor with the CSIRO. I am not a member of a political party. I am employed by the Nine Network and study at the University of Queensland. If you wish to read more on my background, click here. As for my beliefs on climate change, I trust the science that says it’s happening and that humans are a causal factor.
As for the main sources in my articles? Keith Orchison is the former CEO of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and also for the Electricity Supply Association of Australia. Orchison has a wealth of experience as a journalist as well as a communications and energy advisor. Read more about him here.
And his climate change beliefs?
“I believe that the science demonstrates we are in a warming period and think it highly likely that the CO2 we humans cause to be emitted could be a contribution to this trend but I am very sceptical about the use of modelling to produce alarming forecasts. The extent of temperature change of these predictions and the timing, used to demand radical social change, don’t impress me at all – and neither do the command and control attempts to force use of energy modes for ideological reasons.”
Listen to his interview with me here:
Peta Ashworth heads the Science into Society Group. She is a renowned lead researcher in understanding public perception to climate change and low emission technologies. Read more about Ashworth and her work at the CSIRO here.
I am waiting for Ashworth’s response for an explanation of her views on climate change.
Hear her interview with Lucy Mercer-Mapstone here:
And last but not least, Dr Nigel Beebe, a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland whose research is done in collaboration with the CSIRO. Beebe is often interviewed about climate change but also runs a laboratory that specialises in research involving mosquitoes and their role in mosquito-borne disease. Read more about Beebe’s work here.
On climate change, Beebe regrets the notion of ‘believers and non-believers’:
“Belief does not enter the question – evidence from the well understood physics of global warming, the greenhouse effect and the long lived greenhouse gasses WE are pumping into the atmosphere radiating more heat into the system. This increased heat, or energy, in the system, will hold more humidity, push the climate into a new state that will be much more dynamic then the previous state because of the extra heat (energy) in the system. The enormity of the compelling evidence for global warming over the last few decades cannot be ignored. Those of don’t ‘believe’ – to use your term, are either not paying attention, have an agenda or are superstitious.
The problem with this type ‘one side vs the other’ communication is there are not two equal sides to the argument and often the journalist is part of the problem in propagating misinformation.”
Listen his phone interview with me here:
*Please note that all three main sources have affiliations with the CSIRO.
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