The ABC’s approach to reporting on climate change is motivated more by politics than science, says Independent Australia’s environment editor Sandi Keane — who compares its coverage to that of the BBC.
In recent years, the gulf between Coalition and Labor voters on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has widened. Annual surveys by Australia’s peak science body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) show a dramatic shift since politics overtook science in determining conservative attitudes on climate science.
When did the right relinquish its stewardship of the natural world to cast doubt on environmental problems? According to Sharon Beder, the answer lies in environmental regulations. Environmentalism is increasingly seen by neo-liberals as the ‘slippery slope to communism’, threatening free markets with costly regulations and ‘green tape’.
It was the father of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies, who established the CSIRO. But instead of knowledge and facts being the traditional realm of scientists such as the CSIRO, unqualified sceptics have grabbed the limelight.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) are in accord that ‘AGW is real’. New editorial guidelines for both emphasize two imperatives: the need to ‘distinguish fact from opinion’ and to give ‘weight’ to the ‘body of evidence’.