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PBS's Amanpour Lets Guest Trash Australian Climate Skeptics

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Monday's Amanpour & Co., PBS host Christiane Amanpour devoted a segment to allowing an Australian global warming alarmist to blame the more conservative skeptics in his country for the disastrous wildfires currently hitting the country.

Not included on the show was the opposite point of view, which has recently been highlighted by the right-leaning Climate Deport, which argues not only that Australia's current wildfires and high temperatures are not unprecedented, but that environmental activists are to blame for standing in the way of managing the nation's forests to hinder the growth of wildfires.

Early on in the 13-minute segment, Amanpour asked her guest, Tim Flannery of Climate Council Australia, why "it is so bad this time around" in Australia, leading him to claim that his country has had the hottest and driest year "on record." He also complained that the government has ignored the advice of environmental groups like his own:

TIM FLANNERY, CLIMATE COUNCIL AUSTRALIA: Look, we have had the driest year on record, and it follows the previous year which was very dry as well. This year has been the hottest year on record by quite a considerable amount -- about one degree Fahrenheit. And those conditions, they're part of the long-term trajectory of climate change, and have conspired together with a windy season to produce these horrific fire conditions, which have just gone on and on. And I should tell you that, you know, this was predicted by climate scientists -- first in the early '80s. My own Climate Council has produced 12 reports warning the government and warning people of the escalating fire risk and danger in Australia. And, sadly, until it hits, very little is done.

Without giving any actual challenge to his claims, Amanpour followed up: "Are you absolutely sure this is climate change-caused?" leading her guest to insist that he was correct:

FLANNERY: Yes, I'm absolutely certain. The science is telling us this. It's telling us that these extreme heat conditions we've seen this year might occur naturally once every 350 years, but once you add the influence of the human-emitted greenhouse gases, we're likely to see those conditions once every eight years. And of course that number will decline. It will become more frequent as the buildup of gases continues.

After Flannery complained that there is a "revolving door" of global warming skeptics who go back and forth between working as lobbyists and working in government, Amanpour described the country as having an "addiction" to fossil fuels as she followed up: "What hope is there when you have this kind of demonstration of, I guess, rebellion, for want of a better word, addiction, a national addiction, a political addiction to this fossil fuel?"

At the end of the show, the PBS host returned to the subject of climate change, recalling that Australian actor Russell Crowe asked Jennifer Anniston to read a message from him at the Golden Globes:

AMANPOUR: And, finally, these fires are provoking an outpouring of support from around the world all the way even to the Golden Globes in California where last night Australia's own Russell Crowe skipped the Golden Globes to focus on the fires, and he asked actress Jennifer Aniston to accept his award for best actor, playing Fox News chief Roger Ailes in the Showtime series, The Loudest Voice.

After a clip of Anniston blaming the wildfires on climate change, Amanpour concluded by promising to continue to cover the issue on her show:

AMANPOUR: So that message getting out loud and clear, and Australia serving as an important reminder that we must all find a way to put differences aside to come together globally to tackle climate change. We've seen amazing leadership on this issue from young people the world over. And, like the strikers and the activists here on this show, we'll continue to keep the issue front and center.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, January 6, Amanpour & Co. on PBS:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So why is it that it is so bad this time around?

TIM FLANNERY, CLIMATE COUNCIL AUSTRALIA: Look, we have had the driest year on record, and it follows the previous year which was very dry as well. This year has been the hottest year on record by quite a considerable amount -- about one degree Fahrenheit. And those conditions, they're part of the long-term trajectory of climate change, and have conspired together with a windy season to produce these horrific fire conditions, which have just gone on and on. And I should tell you that, you know, this was predicted by climate scientists -- first in the early '80s. My own Climate Council has produced 12 reports warning the government and warning people of the escalating fire risk and danger in Australia. And, sadly, until it hits, very little is done.

AMANPOUR: Are you absolutely sure this is climate change-caused?

FLANNERY: Yes, I'm absolutely certain. The science is telling us this. It's telling us that these extreme heat conditions we've seen this year might occur naturally once every 350 years, but once you add the influence of the human-emitted greenhouse gases, we're likely to see those conditions once every eight years. And of course that number will decline. It will become more frequent as the buildup of gases continues.

AMANPOUR: You, as you mentioned, started the Climate Council for Australia, and just put into perspective for us how your experience demonstrates the lack of seriousness that certainly this government, previous governments have taken climate change because you, if I'm not mistaken, have had to raise funds on your own for this very important scientific monitoring system.

(...)

FLANNERY: Sadly, Christiane, it's not just our prime minister. We have a significant minority of Australian parliamentarians who are welded on climate skeptics. And even if the seas were lapping at their chin and their hair was on fire as a result of climate change, I don't think they'd change their mind. These are people who are deeply committed to a particular cause -- deeply committed to the burning of fossil fuels. You know, we have this thing in Australia called the revolving door. These people go in as lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry -- they come out of the revolving door as a minister in a conservative government. And then they go back in again, and they come out on the board of a fossil fuel company. The links are just so intense -- they're so interwoven that I don't think there's a prospect for change. These people -- if we want change, we have to vote them out and vote in a government that will take action.

(...)

AMANPOUR: What hope is there when you have this kind of demonstration of, I guess, rebellion, for want of a better word, addiction, a national addiction, a political addiction to this fossil fuel

(...)

AMANPOUR: And, finally, these fires are provoking an outpouring of support from around the world all the way even to the Golden Globes in California where last night Australia's own Russell Crowe skipped the Golden Globes to focus on the fires, and he asked actress Jennifer Aniston to accept his award for best actor, playing Fox News chief Roger Ailes in the Showtime series, The Loudest Voice. This is what Jennifer said.

JENNIFER ANISTON: Make no mistake -- the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.

AMANPOUR: So that message getting out loud and clear, and Australia serving as an important reminder that we must all find a way to put differences aside to come together globally to tackle climate change. We've seen amazing leadership on this issue from young people the world over. And, like the strikers and the activists here on this show, we'll continue to keep the issue front and center..

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