In Australia, do networks and publications owned by Rupert Murdoch, generally deny or down play the impacts of human actions on climate change?

If so, what are some major cases where they advocated against curbing the impacts of climate change?


Since this question was posted, the 2019-2020 bushfire season in Australia has amplified climate change debate throughout Australia, making this question far easier to answer. Many publications, predominantly the Guardian, but also the New York Times, Time magazine, and others have criticised the Murdoch-owned media within Australia for their failure to accurately report the effect of climate change on the bushfires. Murdoch, for his part, has denied the accusations, telling the News Corp AGM that "there are no climate change deniers around I can assure you".

The New York Times reported in January about the extent of the influence of Murdoch-owned publications, such as The Australian, describing their promotion of the idea that environmentalists would oppose wildfire prevention measures as "simply false". They also accuse the paper of downplaying the 2019-20 bushfire season as "no worse than those of the past", despite the amount of damage caused in New South Wales alone being worse than the last 15 years combined. In particular, they point to this opinion piece by Energy Minister Angus Taylor, which denigrated attempts to mitigate climate change at the climate summit in Madrid in 2019 - posted in the middle of the bushfire crisis, and this article, which seeks to downplay the role of climate change in the bushfires, blaming the majority of the damage on arson - a claim they say is part of a concerted effort by the organisation to "shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change".

The Guardian has been particularly critical of the Australian Murdoch-owned press, pointing out that they failed to show scenes of the bushfires on the front page of The Australian, unlike every other national newspaper. The Herald Sun, a Melbourne-based paper also owned by Murdoch came under similar criticism. The Daily Telegraph in Sydney attributed the cause of the fires to the Bureau of Meteorology, proposing that their "inaccurate weather predictions" "lulled residents into a false sense of security about conditions". The Courier Mail in Queensland ran with a story that the "Onion Oracle" Halwyn Hermann had used an old German tradition to predict rainfall.

While the Guardian accepts that Murdoch has stated publically that he accepts the science behind climate change, it points out that this stance does not seem to be reflected in The Australian newspaper itself, particularly through the prominence of opinion pieces from well-known climate change deniers, such as the column evaluated in this piece from climatefeedback.org, in which Professor Ian Plimer's pronouncement that "It has never been shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming" was denigrated by a panel of nine scientists, who rated the scientific credibility of the article as "very low". The Guardian argues that although The Australian, in general, has become better at reporting scientific facts, the use of opinion columns paraded as fact has become the paper's new method of perpetuating climate change denial.

The reports above list many more examples of cases where Murdoch-owned papers, both national and local, have sought to downplay or deny anthropogenic climate change, despite the insistence of Rupert Murdoch himself that there is no such bias at the corporation. In particular, the 'anthropogenic' part is key - where climate change is accepted by the paper, the effect of humans on the climate is rarely promoted as the key cause; instead, climate change is described as a "cult", and a "socialist plot".

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