LET’S say, hypothetically, you go to see a doctor and the doctor says you have cancer.
Naturally, this is big news and not to be taken lightly, so you decide to get a second opinion.
The second opinion, also from a trained doctor, backs up the first opinion — you have cancer.
Just to be on the safe side, you decide to get more opinions. Let’s make it an even hundred.
Of the 100 doctors you see, 97 tell you that you have cancer. Three say you don’t.
Only a fool would take the opinion of three trained professionals over 97 trained professionals.
Yet this is exactly what climate change deniers do every day.
According to a number of surveys conducted in the past five years, roughly 97 per cent of scientists working in climate-related fields agree that climate change is man-made.
One of these surveys even stated: “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”
In other words, the people who know about this kind of stuff, who understand it and study it, they all agree that man-made climate change is happening.
And yet people continue to deny that man-made climate change exists. These people post on our website occasionally, calling climate change science “a hoax”.
And then we have people such as shock jock Alan Jones calling it “witchcraft” and “propaganda”.
The scary thing is that people believe him. Jones comes out citing figures and statistics (the ACCC pulled him up recently for getting these numbers wrong) and people believe him.
Let’s go back to the cancer analogy — are you going to believe the 97 trained doctors, or the untrained man with the megaphone shouting that your cancer is “a hoax”?
Perhaps a more pertinent question is “Why does the ‘debate’ around climate change persist when the scientific community has already achieved consensus?”.
Unfortunately, part of the answer to that question is that the media gives valuable space to people denying that climate change exists.
Every time a media outlet prints or broadcasts the opinions of the deniers — the Alan Joneses and Lord Moncktons of the world — the dangerous lie that climate change doesn’t exist gets a little bit of a boost.
As someone working in the media, I would love to see my fellow journalists and reporters put a ban on covering the views of climate change deniers.
If we did this, people would no doubt rant and rave that the media was “stifling the debate”. If there was a debate left to stifle, this would be a fair point.
But the debate is over. It has been over among the scientific community for at least a decade.
“What about freedom of speech?”, someone will cry. I respectfully submit that freedom of speech should only cover the truth. After all, we have laws to stop people from spreading lies about other people or other races or religions.
And although the truth can often be subjective, I would suggest things move onto the objective side of the chart when you have 97 per cent of scientists backing the truth.
I’ve opened a few cans of worms here but that’s OK.
The sooner everyone accepts that climate change is our fault and is happening, the sooner we can try to do something about it to ensure there is a planet left to pass on to future generations.