December 2016

Do Media Outlets Exaggerate The Effects of Climate Change?

The effects of climate change are exaggerated by media outlets.

Recently, Western societies have begun denouncing the usage of carbon-based energy sources. Consumers in societies that can afford the new technological advances to reduce their carbon footprint have, largely, bought these new products. Governments have given their population incentives to buy green energy with tax reliefs and have increased their budgets on clean energy sources.

The activist movement against anything that releases too much carbon dioxide emissions have grown exponentially. The general populus can been convinced that global warming is a massive threat that must be dealt with in a quick and efficient manner. This is because of the media’s determination to indoctrinate people in this idea that climate change is the massive, prevalent issue of today’s society.

I do not want to deny the existence of climate change. Global warming is an event that has overwhelming scientific evidence in support of it. However, its consequences aren’t exactly as dire as what many think. Since 1880, the increase of average global temperature has increased by 0.8 Centigrade [NASA]. Even with increasing demands for energy, today’s society has proven to strongly support renewable energy. In the near future, with even more advanced methods of energy harnessing, combined with refined and efficient ways to harness carbon based energy, overall emissions will be in decline. Our past ignorance will be fixed and we will work to reduce our carbon emissions to more sustainable levels.26778_hd

Even if global warming is as prominent in the future as most conceive it to be, why should we care? Even at 2 Centigrade above the pre-industrial average, 150% what we have already changed, the consequences won’t be significant. Experts suggest that this level will only increase sea level by at most an additional half meter [Roperld]. This has already nearly happened without much effect. Flooding has always been commonplace around the planet, even prior to slight increases in sea level. Certain African regions face some, though minor, risk to their crop yield [Wikipedia]. Specific ecosystems are at risk, and some species even face the risk of extinction, but this is a natural aspect of evolution. We can’t expect to keep every species known to man alive when they fail to survive on their own, especially when cataclysmic conditions has been no stranger to earth in the past. Finally, the last major point this will cause is more unpredictable and adverse weather conditions. Humans have proven to be quite resilient against the elements. A slightly larger variation in temperature or precipitation won’t cause serious problems to our society today.

The large concerns so many have makes very little sense. Climate change, while real, though decreasing, won’t be nearly as devastating and the media portrays it to be. It will, at most, cause some minor, fixable inconveniences. As long as we don’t revert back to industrial era pollution and maintain a contained usage of fossil fuels, there is no real threat facing us today.

Written by MWR writer Bryden Cheong, edited by the MWR team

The effects of climate change are not exaggerated by media outlets.

There is widespread scientific consensus that climate change presents a real threat and could have serious consequences. In fact, 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening (NASA, 2016) and, additionally, 95% of scientists believe that humans are the main cause (Borenstein, 2013). However, even as scientific certainty on this topic continues to increase, 41% of the American public thinks that the media is exaggerating the matter (Gallup Poll, 2009).




The media often tries to present both sides of any argument in an effort to seem unbiased, however, the opinions of climate change “deniers” are in fact marginalized views in the scientific community. By presenting both sides of the argument as if they were equally valid, the media is in fact undermining the efforts made by scientists trying to convince the public that climate change poses a real threat. A study conducted by Stephen Lewandowsky in 2013 found that a clear message of consensus made participants more likely to accept scientific facts about climate change. In this manner, media outlets, because of the “bias as balance” concept (Boykoff & Boykoff, 2004), are actually heavily biased towards skeptics and make the facts surrounding climate change seem more controversial than they are.

On another note, a study by Viscount Christopher Monckton published in the MailOnline claimed that predictions about the danger climate change represents are “very greatly exaggerated”. This paper maintains that the global temperature will only rise one third of the amount predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), around 0.6 °C. However, climate scientists pointed out that their data was flawed, even calling it “cherry-103_shutterstock_88550854-740pxpicked” and “meaningless” (CarbonBrief, 2015). Media promotion of studies such as this one may confuse the general public into thinking that there is ongoing scientific debate on whether climate change is real or its effects are as serious as predicted, when in reality, these views are only echoed by very few in the scientific community.
As such, it is clear that not only is the media not exaggerating the effects of climate change, it is actually making them appear to be less serious than they actually are.

Written by MWR writer Ila Ghoshal, edited by the MWR team

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