Climate change deniers have received far more media attention than prominent climate scientists over the years, researchers have warned.
A study in Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed journal, found that hundreds of academics, business people and politicians have been able to spread scepticism about climate change from 2000 to 2016.
The study showed climate change deniers were featured in nearly 50 per cent more media articles than expert scientists.
However, there is a clear scientific consensus that climate change exists and is being primarily caused by human activity.
Anthony LeRoy Westerling, a researcher at the University of California, Merced, tweeted a set of graphs to illustrate the problem.
Bars A and B show the number of official publications and citations for climate change scientists (CCS) and climate change deniers (CCD).
Bars C and D show the number of media articles including CCSs and CCDs, with C showing all of the sources studied and D showing only the top 30 most prominent media sources (e.g. newspapers like the New York Times).
Alexander Petersen, a researcher who led the study with Westerling, said:
Climate change contrarians have successfully organised a strong voice within politics and science communication.
Such disproportionate media visibility of contrarian arguments and actors misrepresents the distribution of expert-based beliefs.
It also undermines the credible authority of career climate change scientists and reinforces the trend of climate change contrarians presiding over public scientific discourse.
For an example of how some media outlets mistreat environmental issues – Fox News had a debate about the Trump administration’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act yesterday.
A former senior Interior Department official was defending the act, while a random editor from the conservative website Townhall was defending Trump.
One of those people is vastly more qualified to talk about the act than the other - Clue: It's the one who worked for the government...