While extreme weather events are being reported almost daily on news bulletins, only rarely is it conveyed that these events constitute the manifestation of advanced global warming and a fundamental shift in the state of the atmosphere. Rarely do major ABC TV forums, such as The Drum, The Insiders, Q and A, Four-Corners, the 7.30 Report, Breakfast, Matter of Fact and other programs include climate scientists to discuss the trends and consequences of climate disruption, mitigation and adaptation. In a recent interview with the ex-PM on the ABC Q&A program, the climate has hardly been mentioned. Given his statement (on the 12th August 2010) “Now our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got” question could have been raised.
While dangerous global warming is taking place before our very eyes, with a recent spate of intensifying hurricanes, floods and wildfires, such as currently in California (https://theconversation.com/the-bitter-lesson-of-the-californian-fires-106842 ), costing many lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, the silence in the media is deafening.
Switching between titillating snake oil ads on commercial channels and the increasingly self-advertising national broadcaster, claiming to be “The most trusted news source … in a world awash with bogus news, dubious sources and noisy opinions … facts matter more than opinion … uncovering the truth behind the stories making news” ite is not clear where the defining issues of our time are discussed? True, many programs are of a good to very good standard, while other TV programs tend toward populism and crass humor.
In previous years the ABC tried to present a “balance” between climate science and climate denial, as if scientific evidence can be compromised with opinions which deny the basic laws of physics, or truth and falsehood can be averaged. Nowadays, with exceptions, the issue is either subdued or avoided. Only rarely are petitions and open letters by scientists and environmentalists being published. Serious discussions of the climate issue are to be found on Radio National. However the climate elephant in the room is commonly ignored in most discussion panels.
Climate denial goes much further. When a lump of coal was presented in Parliament, to the cheers of LNP MPs, no doubts could remain regarding their position on global warming. With few exceptions, rarely is the climate evidence and its consequences discussed in parliaments, where the response from governments is mainly in terms of the Paris Agreement, the non-binding “fig leaf” used as a pretext for little or no action.
The state of the global climate, the lungs of the biosphere, has entered a crisis point. The ultimate choice Homo sapiens is facing is either to continue to invest its remaining resources in current and future wars, or in urgent measures of saving its planetary home through a sharp switch to clean alternative energy and down-draw of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Earth and paleoclimate scientist