I haven’t seen Can I Change Your Mind yet, granted. But without seeing it, I reckon I can stipulate a few things. It will be well produced. Anna Rose will present as a cogent, intelligent and passionate advocate for action on climate change. Nick Minchin will come across as intelligent and sensible, if a little bit the doddering luddite grandfather unwilling to be dragged into the 21st century. The show will be entertaining, and it will be balanced.
It will be balanced. That is the problem.
This programme, and its accompanying Q & A special are, under the guise of providing insightful comment, offering a massive free kick to organisations with a vested interest in preventing action on climate change.
Ms Rose is an attractive, engaging, eloquent advocate. But unfortunately, the audience she needs to speak to will simply disregard her as an insufferable, adorable naif, juxtaposed against the sensible, rational, shirt-sleeves-rolled-up pragmatism of Minchin.
I’m also going to take a punt: at the end of the show, Nick Minchin will remain unconvinced, while offering valueless concessions to give the impression of intellectual agility. And that is why it’s a godsend for the ‘sceptics’.
I know that trolls will happily disagree, but the scientific agreement on climate change is as settled as science gets. It’s as settled as evolution, as plate tectonics, as the periodic table. It is, for all intents and purposes, fact. And yet, by engaging in an attempt at ‘balance’, the ABC has provided equal footing between established fact and a fringe belief that is interested primarily in maintaining the status quo. Which, naturally, is exactly what these groups want. No doubt there were high-fives aplenty around at the Minerals Council offices when this documentary was announced.
It must always be remembered that most Australians have little to no interest in engaging on a meaningful level with questions of scientific fact, policy levers, abatement curves and the like. And nor should they. The problem is when vested interests capitalise on the ABC’s neurotic obsession with ‘balance’, engendered by a decade of board members who actively hated the institution they oversaw (Windschuttle, Albrechtson et al).
It is much easier to advocate for the same rather than something different. By casting ‘doubt’ on the science, these groups validate the internal shift that Australians are making, choosing to disbelieve the science as a means of justifying their unwillingness to pay for harm prevention or reduction.
By offering this documentary, Ms Rose, admirable as she is, is simply fighting her opponents’ fight; on their terms, in their house. Those are fights one simply doesn’t win.
And by accepting the terms of this ‘debate’, the ABC continues its efforts, particularly through Q & A, to engage in massive trolling efforts of the Australian public, encouraging outrage and conflict over education and discussion.
That said, I’ll still watch, and shout at the telly. Witness my rants, if you dare.