The science of climate change has greatly suffered from this drawback, with the media’s misguided attempts to represent both sides of the story with 50-50 coverage.
Skeptics have received just as much attention as supporters of anthropogenic warming, giving the impression that there is a divide in the scientific community.
However, not only does consensus exist, but it is overwhelmingly in favour of anthropogenic warming.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international authority on climate science, representing thousands of scientists around the world. Their findings indicate that climate change is happening, with a 90 per cent chance that it is caused by humans. This is a figure supported by major science organisations around the world, including 32 National Academies of Science.
Traditional media continually ignores this strong support for man-made warming, instead giving the public ill-informed science.
A report released by the CSIRO in 2008 indicated that while most Australians believe that climate change is happening, fewer believe the causes are anthropogenic.
Contriving two sides of this debate does nothing to challenge the belief system of Australians. Instead, it gives people non-credible evidence to support false preconceived hypotheses about climate change.
This is known as confirmation bias, where people hear information and select elements that support their views, disregarding other, potentially more compelling, lines of evidence.
When mass media outlets feed into the hands of skeptics, they feed into confirmation bias, spreading erroneous science and hampering evidence-based policy.
The polarised views desired by many news services exist only to entertain and foster distrust in science.
Consensus on human-induced climate change is strong but with skewed media attention, there are few opportunities for action.
Is the media skewed on the climate change debate? Please leave us your comment below.