Naomi Oreskes, Bob Ward and Alexander Kirby discuss climate skeptics at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum.
Naomi Oreskes at the Global Media Forum in Bonn.
“The statements from scientists are so greatly disconnected from the media in the USA because the journalists unknowingly and inaccurately repeat what was said,” explained American scientist Naomi Oreskes to the question regarding the possible reasons for the influence of climate skeptics. She took part in a panel discussion at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, along with Bob Ward from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the former BBC journalist Alexander Kirby. This year’s conference, entitled “The Heat is On – Climate Change and the Media”, is taking place from June 21-23 in Bonn.
Oreskes said that the media treated the topic like a pure scientific debate, although it was grounded ideologically. “Global warming is no longer a debate – it’s a proven fact,” said Oreskes. She went on to say that the so-called climate skeptics are nothing but “contrarians” and can’t be taken seriously because their critique isn’t scientifically based. According to Oreskes, these are the same people who didn’t want to believe that the consumption of tobacco had negative effects.
Bob Ward claims the media in the UK are ignorant in their interviews. The scientist said it is astounding how many of the journalists don’t know “the difference between fact and fiction”. But he also conceded that there have been grave mistakes made by researchers. “The IPCC is too slow in correcting the faults,” said Ward, and called for scientists to handle their findings and knowledge responsibly.
Alexander Kirby says that he himself is a “climate skeptic”, because he is a journalist and “serious journalism is always skeptical”. Kirby noted that there are serious theorists among the skeptics – and those are the people who need to be involved in the debate. “But the majority has never written a scientific article,” said Kirby.
However, journalists shouldn’t try to satisfy everyone. There are some topics where the media can’t be neutral. “Apartheid is an immoral system and there is nothing to be said in its favor,” said Kirby. “It’s not our job to inject a spurious, mythical balance into an unbalanced reality.”
Approximately 1,500 people from 95 countries are participating in this the third Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. Co-host of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum is the Foundation for International Dialogue of the Sparkasse in Bonn. The convention is also supported by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, the Family, Women and Integration Ministry of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, European Funds for Regional Development, the city of Bonn, DHL, the KSB Group and Faber-Castell.