Many journalists have been caught in a dilemma of whether or not to give climate change deniers airtime as a means to fulfil their duty of balance. The narratives pushed by climate change deniers and skeptics are extremely dangerous. They confuse people and make them doubt the scientific consensus. They also influence many to continue the behavior that causes the serious effects of climate change, despite the scientific evidence.
Scientists and climate experts have reached a consensus that certain human activities are leading to the deterioration of the earth. They have also proven burning fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, causes emissions that envelope the earth and trap ultraviolet heat, called the greenhouse effect. This effect kills trees, which releases harmful amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment. They have proven that electricity generation to power buildings causes these greenhouse gas emissions. They also have proven these actions are harmful to humans, animals and the environment, as they lead to severe storms, hotter temperatures, drought, famine, poverty and even death.
Still, climate change deniers and skeptics remain.
They claim weather patterns have always experienced changes, like very hot summers, extremely cold winters, storms and flash floods were all phenomenons before climate change even had a name. They do not believe – but do not have comprehensive scientific evidence – that there are consequences to deforestation and green house emissions from factories and transport systems. Some skeptics say experts are exaggerating the climate change crisis.
Brittney Miller, energy and environmental reporter for The Gazette in Iowa said: “Climate change has become a very political issue here in the United States, but as a journalist I see it as a science issue. My job as a journalist is to be as accurate and informative as possible. If I would have to give climate change deniers a chance, then I would be doing readers a disservice, because then I would be disseminating disinformation.”
Other journalists have argued that climate change deniers or skeptics are entitled to their opinions and should not be prevented from sharing them. Except climate change is much more than an opinion, given the overwhelming scientific proof that it exists and is a major threat to the world.
Therefore journalists should report climate change stories accurately with expert backing, based on the scientific evidence surrounding the topic. It is important they avoid bringing theirs or anyone else’s opinion about the topic into their stories. Because climate change is a big topic currently, journalists should avoid falling into sensationalism just so they can make big headlines.
Lastly, stories about climate change do not need to be all doom and gloom. There are many people passionate about climate change, making innovations to tackle it. Journalists should explore positive and inspiring angles to tell solutions-based stories.