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Tilting At Easy Targets: Climate Change And The ‘Highly Ideological’ Liberal Mindset


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headed for  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#333333″>The standard liberal view is that climate sceptics have a heavy burden of responsibility for boosting climate confusion and derailing any rational attempts to constrain business as usual. If only the media would stop giving them so much attention, a healthy public debate could take place, followed by real action to combat rapid climate change. Thus, in the Observer last Sunday, economist Will Hutton 
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that:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Sceptics will rubbish a new report on climate change, dismissing calls for governmental action. Don't be swayed.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'be met by a barrage of criticism from the new "sceptical" environmental movement – almost entirely on the political right.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Don't be bamboozled', he continued, 'as Britain's centre-right media move to join with the sceptics to rubbish a careful body of scientific work that has been arrived at by exhaustive cross-examination.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>Hutton rightly called for 'collective action' to 'minimise the risk' of the 'terrifying' effects of climate change, and he criticised the 'highly ideological rightwing mind [which] does not think in this way.' For those clinging to that 'faith system', climate change is 'necessarily a gigantic scam, backdoor socialism' and the IPCC itself is 'the product of Marxists and deluded socialists.' Clearly, such a mindset is not based on reality.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>Hutton then turned to the BBC in his list of targets:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'BBC attempts to broadcast [the IPCC's] findings in as impartial way as possible will be portrayed as yet more evidence of BBC bias, even though the BBC will pack its coverage with lots of sceptical voices, notwithstanding their marginalisation by world science, to try to cover its back. By the week's end, the risk is you will be less certain than you are now, tempted to join the apparent new consensus that there is no need for an urgent response. The sceptics will have done their job and national – let alone international – action will be more remote.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>No doubt Hutton's piece came across to many as a powerful, valiant plea for enlightened rationalism. And he made several good points, as indicated. But, in reality, it was yet another example of the hobbled analysis on climate change routinely offered up by the Guardian-Observer flagship of liberal journalism.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Right-of-centre newspapers are now edited ruthlessly to make their readers think what their editors and proprietors want – on immigration, welfare, Europe, tax, political affiliation or whatever. Climate change has joined the list.'

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his employers are in a corporate-financial-establishment network with links to banking, industry, fossil fuels and big business. As ever, even the best 'liberal journalism' routinely ignores what we have called the  line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>The inherently biocidal, indeed psychopathic, logic of corporate capitalism, structurally locked into generating maximised revenues in minimum time at minimum corporate cost.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>The proven track record of big business in promoting catastrophic consumption regardless of the consequences for human and environmental health.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>The lethal role of the corporate media in promoting the planet-devouring aims of private power.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>All of these factors are essentially excluded from the media agenda, thus extinguishing any hopes for a fully rational discussion of climate chaos and how to avoid it.

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#333333″>Don't Mention The Media!

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#333333″>Although this lobby is small, they are very well-funded – typically by 
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'brilliantly exploited by the sceptics and massively mishandled by the scientists, causing an erosion in the IPCC's authority among the public and the press alike.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>Lean continued:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Ever since the scientific community has come off worse in the public debate, often undermined by its tendency to focus on uncertainties, while the sceptics betrayed no doubt.'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>So scientists have let themselves down, in Lean's eyes. What about the green pressure groups?

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'There is less excuse for the environmental groups, whose very purpose is to make a case to the public, press and policymakers, and thus bring about change. But they too largely quit the field when the controversy began. Friends of the Earth, for example, declined to enter the lists on behalf of the scientists at the University of East Anglia whose emails were leaked in November 2009 – and in some cases skilfully misrepresented by the sceptics – because they had not yet held a meeting to discuss it. They finally held their meeting, and issued a statement, months after the event. The inconvenient truth is that all too often the pressure groups, dependent on popular support for funds, are shamefully reluctant to battle a head wind.'

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and  line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>When Lean was environment editor at the Independent on Sunday, a reader challenged him to look at the global economic system of capitalism as a root cause of climate instability. Lean wasn't having any of it:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Why don't you really read what we have been writing over the years rather than relying on media lens?' (email, February 18, 2005)

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>In other words, don't even bother raising the issue! And certainly don't consider the possibility that a corporate media might be promoting inaction in response to a problem caused by corporate interests.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>In his blog piece, Lean pointed to the solid public support in favour of climate science and renewable energy, concluding feebly:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'All, of which perhaps goes to show that the public are less swayed by media and political fashion than those of us working in those fields like to believe. To be honest, I find that reassuring. But I guess I would, wouldn't I?'

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>At least the veteran journalist recognises his own lack of concern, verging on smugness, that the public should not be concerned by the corporate media and 'political fashion'. All this from one of the best environment journalists in the country.

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"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″> 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#333333″>'The Primary Loyalty Is To Corporate Backers'

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along similar lines in a piece for the Independent on Sunday titled, 'Whatever happened to climate change?' The two key reasons for the public remaining supposedly unconvinced of the need for radical action are 'the complexity of the science and the simplistic nature of much media reporting, some of which is wilfully ignorant.' Those factors  line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'So the public is swayed by media agendas. Rupert Murdoch, a man who believes what he reads in his own newspapers, from the Wall St Journal to The Australian, has been tweeting against climate change and in favour of fracking. Small wonder that Australia's new prime minister, Tony Abbott, who once dismissed evidence of climate change as "absolute crap", has on Day Two of his premiership, disbanded a key climate change agency.'

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thanks to enormous public support in Australia, horrified at Abbot's actions. Murdoch and his News International empire do indeed represent a disaster for fair and balanced news, as the liberal press have no trouble  line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>Vallely then continues with some critical comments of the BBC, albeit limited to what should be obvious:

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'Meanwhile here BBC news outlets – normally a voice of sanity on science – are paralysed by their adversarial paradigm of giving "equal space" to both sides. Faced with the prospect of having to give climate change deniers the same airtime as the 97 per cent scientific consensus the BBC has largely descended into silence on the issue. The BBC has a bigger responsibility than balance here.'

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#333333″>Perhaps we need to turn to a funny and smart comedian like Russell Brand to 
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#333333″>'We witness that there is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another. We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information.'

padding:0in”>did appear in the Guardian. But, once again, the Guardian itself was seemingly exempt from open criticism. This might not matter much except that when it happens over and over again, across even the 'best' media, then the narrow confines of 'the climate debate' are further skewed away from what needs to be understood, and what needs to be done. The consequences for human society and planetary ecosystems in an era of impending climate chaos are awesome indeed. 

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