High-fives aplenty

Having poured scorn on the concept of last night’s documentary Can I Change Your Mind About…Climate? yesterday, I feel it incumbent upon me to review.

It was, as expected, a well-constructed, watchable documentary, with Anna Rose a charming, eloquent advocate for climate action, and Minchin a friendly, earnest, slightly misguided, but Serious Former Politician.

Rose’s scientists, well practiced in distilling their argument for the proles, were convincing and informative. Minchin’s ring-ins were, by and large, nutcases, and came across as such. With the exception of Bjorn Lomborg, who remains an odd outlier in the climate debate, and who was interesting, warm, and delivered a confused message that to me seemed to have been edited to appear more favourable towards climate action than he really is.

But I would say all that, wouldn’t I? And that’s the point.

No one involved in this project seems to understand this inherent, central truth to debating the climate. In today’s Crikey, the doco’s creators defended themselves against the charge that they gave bogus science equal footing, claiming that the story was ‘about why people reach these conclusions’. Never mind that the bulk of the film involved Rose and Minchin interviewing scientists or pseudo-scientists, in between bouts of discussing science, before a perfunctory visit to a psychologist and a journalist.

Then, this morning’s Age featured a piece by Minchin, in which he effectively renounces any suggestion that he’s convinced, except for his tokenistic valueless concessions. Naturally, he closes on his killer line: ‘May the debate continue”.

Minchin has no interest in reaching any conclusion on climate because he knows that any conclusion would involve the implementation of policies that would direct consumers away from the industries to which he has been aligned for decades. Frequently throughout the show, he professed to be convinced by the ‘science’ before reneging on any such thing the minute he was out of any scientists’ earshot.

By attacking those claiming the existence of scientific consensus as totalitarian, he can appear high-minded, while simultaneously contributing to the dumbing-down of the nation.

Then, Ms Rose herself AGAIN took Minchin’s bait, penning a response to his Fairfax piece in the same pages. By the third paragraph, there was this:

There are two pieces of clear, empirical evidence showing that human emissions of carbon pollution are responsible for the 40 per cent increase in CO2 since pre-industrial levels.

So what we have now is a debate. About the science. In what is probably Australia’s most respected broadsheet. And we wonder why the average punter is uncertain about why or how we should act on climate change.
People do not change their minds because they’re being confronted by evidence to the contrary. Instead, ALL evidence points to the fact that people’s opinions tend to harden in the presence of evidence that doesn’t conform to their preconceptions. And yet, we have the woman who is likely to be Australia’s foremost climate advocate for the next two decades being repeatedly suckered into exactly the debate her opponents want the world to stay in. Bravo.
A side-note: for a good dissection of the problem, written post-documentary, try this piece in the Conversation.
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