PBS's O'Brien Blames Global Warming for Australia Wildfires

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Friday's PBS NewsHour, science correspondent Miles O'Brien blamed manmade global warming for the severity of the recent Australian wildfires, and talked up the possibility that Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as the Rupert Murdoch-dominated media may be changing their climate "denier" views.

After noting a couple of factors contributing to the wildfires, O'Brien then implicated climate change: "But at the base of it all is climate change. As temperatures rise, these forests just dry out -- the dries get drier, the wets get wetter. This is compelling evidence that climate change is at root here, and it factors in, of course, Judy, to a political debate which rages on here as well as in the United States."

Host Judy Woodruff then followed up: "And you were also telling us you've been looking at how public opinion may be shifting -- you've been talking to some folks who've been advocating for more public awareness."

O'Brien recounted that some on the more conservative side are changing their views about the amount of fossil fuel the country exports:

O'BRIEN: Yeah, this is a country which is a huge fossil fuel exporter -- coal and oil. It's the number three exporter of coal and oil in the world behind Russia and Saudi Arabia. So when you talk about climate change, it immediately gets into a conversation about jobs and the economy. And so this is a country where the political leadership -- the prime minister has been a climate denier moving into a kind of climate skepticism, but through all of this, given the tremendous impact that all of this has had, the emotional impact and the devastating losses, Mr. Morrison is now saying his views are evolving, and that is a significant moment for Australian politics.

He then brought up the Murdoch family as he added:

You know, much of the news here is dominated by the News Corporation run by Rupert Murdoch strictly -- almost strictly anti-climate change views -- climate denial views -- but even that is changing. Some of the tabloids are starting to address this issue, and of course very publicly just the other day, the son of Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, openly split with his family and said that the News Corporation should be addressing this issue more more directly.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, January 17, PBS NewsHour:

MILES O'BRIEN, PBS SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: But at the base of it all is climate change. As temperatures rise, these forests just dry out -- the dries get drier, the wets get wetter. This is compelling evidence that climate change is at root here, and it factors in, of course, Judy, to a political debate which rages on here as well as in the United States.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were also telling us you've been looking at how public opinion may be shifting -- you've been talking to some folks who've been advocating for more public awareness.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, this is a country which is a huge fossil fuel exporter -- coal and oil. It's the number three exporter of coal and oil in the world behind Russia and Saudi Arabia. So when you talk about climate change, it immediately gets into a conversation about jobs and the economy. And so this is a country where the political leadership -- the prime minister has been a climate denier moving into a kind of climate skepticism, but through all of this, given the tremendous impact that all of this has had, the emotional impact and the devastating losses, Mr. Morrison is now saying his views are evolving, and that is a significant moment for Australian politics.

You know, much of the news here is dominated by the News Corporation run by Rupert Murdoch strictly -- almost strictly anti-climate change views -- climate denial views -- but even that is changing. Some of the tabloids are starting to address this issue, and of course very publicly just the other day, the son of Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, openly split with his family and said that the News Corporation should be addressing this issue more more directly.

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