More Americans believe Fox News than President Obama on climate change

Madeleine Delp Bergsjø

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There is a climate of deception in the American media landscape. Through consistent disinformation of climate change, conservative Fox News distorts the climate debate and participates in polluting the public sphere. 

Last year was the hottest year on record, and the Earth’s average global temperature ranked as the warmest since 1880, when the record-keeping began, according to data released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the country’s most reliable and important bodies for climate research. Climate scientists say the change in Earth’s climate is due to human activity, such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.

Watch “Climate Change Survey: Fox News Trusted More Than Obama”:

Fox News has called climate change a hoax, a scam and a superstition, denying the scientific fact that it’s man-made. The power of the media is apparent in how a recent poll found that 17% of the Americans participating trust Fox News on climate change, while only a concerning 11% trust President Obama. Even scientists can’t break it with the American people: 45% polled in the survey said they trust scientists and educators. 13% trust the federal government.

“You have to have confidence in certain institutions in society in order for society to function. And once people lose confidence in the institutions, society starts to break down. That’s why Florida is going to be under water in 50 years”Jimmy Dore on Young Turks.

Watch “Climate Change Denial Is Real & Man-made, Here’s Undeniable Proof:

Although scientists report that global warming leads to a higher frequenzy of extreme weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, flash floods and snow storms, Fox have accused NASA of “fudging the numbers” on climate change and claiming that the phenomenon is something only corrupt scientists believe in.

Watch Media Matters’ “A Climate of Deception: How Fox News Distorts the Climate Debate”:

The ideological conflicts within the media and in politics impact the partisan divide in the American public. While beliefs vary by political ideology, Republicans and conservatives are proven to be more skeptical about the climate science. The scientific consensus on climate change has not prevented sharp divisions of public opinion, reflecting a partisan, ideological polarization among political leaders and the media.

In February, Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the Senate’s most vocal critic of the scientific consensus on climate change and author of the book “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future“, threw a snowball through the Senate as he took the floor to decry the “hysteria on global warming”.

“In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, ‘You know what this is?’ he said, holding up a snowball. “It’s a snowball, from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out. Very unseasonable” – Jim Inhofe

“The facts of what is happening to our world should not be a partisan issue, but many conservatives and Republicans have made it one. And Fox – as the communications arm of the Republican party – has been more than happy to help. It has never been more clear that Fox is not news” concluded Media Matters’ D.C. Douglas in A Climate of Deception: How Fox News Distorts the Climate Debate“.

It is appropriate for individual journalists and media owners alike to disagree with specific actions or policies addressing climate change, while accepting the clearly established facts of climate science. The most recently announced Republican Presidential candidate, Rand Paul, have accepted reality, supporting action to cut air pollution, stating to believe in man-made climate change, setting him apart from most Republicans. We will have to wait and see if his strategy wins him credibility with young voters and the media or erodes Republican support in the run towards the Presidential election in 2016.

Some conservative media figures and politicians stubbornly believe that the recent cold weather, blizzards and snowfall disproves the firmly established science of global warming. One of them is one of the world’s most influential, powerful media figures: Rupert Murdoch. His vast media empire includes the UK’s The Times and The Sun, the American The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, along with a multitude of local newspapers.

Inaccurate media coverage is the primary reason why the American public is so misinformed about global warming. Murdoch’s news outlets, fronted by Fox News, are among the worst when it comes to getting climate science wrong.

It is gravely concerning that one of America’s most watched television channels distort the scientific truth about climate change to fit a right-wing agenda. The public cannot make informed decisions based on deliberate disinformation, and it is the job of the journalist and media organization to not spread the pollution of scientific denial.

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Madeleine Delp Bergsjø