An emissions trading scheme is wanted by most but not well understood – is media reporting part of the problem?

From Tim Dunlop at Blogocracy  a short quote from  an ABC-commissioned report into how the ABC itself reported last year’s election:

It found that the Coalition government garnered 45.4% of coverage across ABC radio, television and online, compared with 38% for the ALP. The ABC devoted 92 hours to the election on radio, 21 hours on television and 96,338 words on ABC online.

This, from our national carrier, who should be more balanced, is just part of the negativity that permeates the reporting in the main stream media these days. From well before the election this lack of balance has continued.

The journalists of the mainstream media maintain a petulant and shrill tone in their ongoing negative coverage of the new Rudd Labor government. They have been muddying the waters all year about the true situation on petrol prices and constantly creating a narrative of false expectations in the public that throwing money at the oil crisis will enable Australia to stand aside from the rest of the world.

In spite of the few months that the Rudd government has been at the helm, it seems that it is expected to somehow defy global conditions and please every special interest group that squawks.  To a reasonable observer, the impact of the sub prime crash overlaid with the oil crisis has governments worldwide scrambling to find solutions.

One commentator argued that people were not interested in what could happen fifty years from now but rather cared more about their jobs today.   This is  how every issue is being covered, on the base of self-interest and with little informative analysis.

Be it fuel prices, tax relief, or  the holiday plans of a bureaucrat, the media takes its lead from the shallow agenda of the Liberal opposition and howls. With the continuing problems facing the world economy, increasing crude oil prices, and the challenges of climate change, one would think there were more important issues to tackle.

The issue for this week, the need to set up a carbon emissions trading scheme, is not going to go away by wishful thinking.  The fact that the consumer is adjusting to the rise in petrol prices is a good thing.  Lord Stern, the author of the influential British government report arguing the world needed to spend just 1% of its wealth tackling climate change has warned today that the cost of averting disaster has now doubled. He is reported as saying that the “failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, – at least 5% and perhaps more than 20% of global GDP.”

A poll released today shows that 56 percent of people are prepared to pay more for energy if it helps climate change.

In spite of this what is the opposition and media highlighting? Of course, how to pump the surplus into protecting the public from the reality of the changes that must come. It will be a bitter pill that must be swallowed and it is little use giving false hope that Australia defies the world  climate change problems and that we will be somehow immune to the pain that will inevitably come.

Of course the headlines read:

“Australians in the dark on carbon trade plans by government”, and “Emissions trading – half the nation doesn’t have a clue”.

Well of course, the narrative of the media for months has been about the five cents off fuel proposed by the Liberals and the ‘outrageously unfair’ alcopops tax. The media continually chooses to couch the issues from ‘a glass half empty’ perspective.  The public wants action to address climate change but in fact, there is still climate change denial in the ranks of the Liberal party.  This is highlighted by the Coalition again raising the spectre of opposing an emissions trading scheme.

The headline “Who will pay for climate change ?” leads us to think about what will inaction in the face of climate change  bring. The government needs to make realistic and well thought through plans not just populist knee-jerk reactions. It is imperative to act now on the reality of climate change.

The media needs to stop its carping and disseminate information that the public needs to enable it to adapt to the unfolding new world conditions.

The emerging economies will increase demand for oil, and the oil supply is a finite resource that becoming more expensive to source.  The fact that Australia is resource rich will help our economy but we are not immune to world conditions.  Our superannuation accounts this year will show us just how much we are part of the global economy.

For the sake of what needs to be achieved this constant belittling and counterproductive criticism needs to end.  Last November Australia voted for a change of government.  It is time for those journalists who are in denial about the result of the last election to stop and reflect.  Destructive comment purely for its own sake is counter productive to the Australian situation.

Today the world’s stock market had its worst result since the great depression.  Global financial uncertainty still has some more to run and no single national government can be expected to be impervious to the downturn.  It is time for opposition forces to be honest and for the media to be balanced in its reporting.


The Asgard Range divides the Wright Valley from the Taylor Glacier and Taylor Valley in Victoria Land, Antarctica.

Asgard range

Photograph by: Tracy Szela,  National Science Foundation. Date Taken: November 22, 2005

~ by abstraktbiblos on Tuesday, 1 July, 2008.

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