Unlike previous reports warning of impending doom as a result of climate change, the recent Union Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warning that global warming is here now and will get worse with nobody spared has actually garnered quite a bit of press attention. But does the increased attention actually make a difference in promoting action or could the simple act of presenting scientific evidence of climate change actually reinforce those already predisposed to climate change denial?
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Australia-based Guardian columnist Alexander White argues that unfortunately the scientific facts presented in the IPCC report will be largely ignored by climate deniers such as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and conservative Republicans in the United States. He calls it the “boomerang effect,” which is when something like the scientific evidence of man-made global warming collides with group identification such as membership in the Republican Party that denies climate change. This causes the intended consequence of the IPCC report for climate action to actually backfire and cause the opposite to happen with climate denial beliefs actually hardening.
For example, the website ClimateProgress writes that while CNN only devoted one minute and eight seconds to coverage of the IPCC report and MSNBC covered the story in-depth with nearly 20 minutes of reporting, Fox News spent five minutes actually attacking the idea of climate change and mocking the UN for paying any attention to global warming at all. Bill O’Reilly doesn’t seem to have actually read the IPCC report, throwing out knee jerk remarks that climate change activists want to destroy the economy based on a “phantom global warming theory” when “no one knows whether it’s true” (except for 97 percent of climate scientists who agree on man-made global warming.)
“The fundamental tragedy about the twenty five years of IPCC warnings, and countless others from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Bureau of Meteorology and many other respected scientific institutions is that they’ve been ignored,” writes White. “Facts simply aren’t enough, but they’re all that scientists can give us.”
Via The Guardian