Harry Clarke isn’t happy that Quadrant rejected his article criticising the ‘denialist’ perspectives that have been getting plenty of space in its pages. Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle’s reasoning goes like this:
We find that the pro-IPCC position is very well represented in almost every media outlet in the country, including academic journals and websites, but it is very difficult for sceptics to find any outlet for their voices to be heard. Hence, in the interests of balance, we believe the sceptics deserve a fair go in a little journal like ours.
My month of media monitoring shows that the alarmists do indeed get a lot of coverage. I counted 47 alarmist stories in the media over the last month, so an average of about 1.6 different predictions of disaster per day. This underestimates the saturation coverage this issue receives – I did not count multiple versions of the same story in different media outlets, and decided against including most borderline cases, where pessimistic projections were reported in a neutral way without accompanying calls to action. Maybe the prophets of doom were working extra hard in the lead up to the Poznan conference, but overall it confirms my impression that the alarmists are relentlessly on-message.
The NIMBYists were, however, closely pursuing the alarmists for numbers of stories in the media until late last month, but it seems we ran out of industries that were going to be devastated by an ETS. The NIMBYists finished well behind the alarmists on 31 stories. This might also have been higher than usual, in the lead up to announcing the detail of the ETS.
As expected, and as Windschuttle claims, the denialists came a distant third in media coverage, with 10 stories. Eight of these were in News Ltd papers, and mostly relegated to the opinion section.
My impression that hapless denialists get a very tough time, while the NIMBYists get away with really sabotaging efforts to slow climate change, was not supported in the case of mainstream media. While in the blogosphere people like Tim Lambert vigilantly hunt denialists, in the mainstream media over the last month they have been ignored (though my main source of coverage, Google News, doesn’t seem to cover letters). By contrast, the Greens and the Climate Institute have been actively attacking the exception-seeking NIMBYists.
Unless there are people who read nothing but Quadrant, it’s impossible to escape the orthodox view on climate change. So Windschuttle is probably right that there is little value in a small magazine running material that is readily available elswhere. Quadrant has always published eccentric opinions, so giving space to climate change sceptics is part of a long tradition.