17 April 2008

The Listener joins the climate change denial industry

The Listener (that's the New Zealand Listener) has terminated Dave Hansford's Ecologic column after he published a piece critical of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (who, despite their name, are New Zealand's main association of climate change deniers) and exposed their dependence on the US backers and funders of the climate change denial industry - an industry with strong and documented links with both the tobacco industry, which pioneered the tactics the climate change denial industry now uses, and with oil companies, notably Exxon Mobil.

Not too many years ago, the Listener was a bastion of independent journalism, and a welcome counterweight to the heavily right-wing bias of the New Zealand newspaper industry. However, editor Pamela Stirling has back-pedalled furiously since she took over, turning the magazine into little more than New Idea with added TV listings. The only two remaining reasons to read it have been the Arts, Books & Music section, which is still excellent, and Dave Hansford's column. I haven't always agreed with what he's written, but each week, he's come up with intelligent, well-researched, focused environmental journalism.

So what did the Listener editor do when the local climate change deniers got their sugar daddies in the US to write angry letters to the Listener and issue threats? Did she back her columnist?

Like hell she did. First of all, she allowed the deniers, whose scientific credentials have been amply debunked in places such as Real Climate, extensive space for a "rebuttal", and then she terminated the Ecologic column.

Flushed with this success, who knows who the climate change denial industry will go after next? When the streets of Wellington and Auckland are flooded with seawater, they'll still be claiming it's due to sunspots or urban heat islands. I only hope they all own expensive coastal properties.

Meanwhile, the Listener will doubtless continue on its merry way rightward and downward. These days, I prefer the TV Guide. At least it's honest about what it's doing.


Helen said...

Excellent post, thanks!

chiefbiscuit said...

Well said - I have thought it no better than a New Idea for some time now. And like you, I just read the Arts, Books (and poem if there is one.) It takes me all of fifteen minutes - often while I'm standing in the queue at the supermarket.
My husband reads more of it. But then he's not particularly interested in the Arts or Books, more current events.
There is a gap now for s weekly literary mag. do you not think?

Tim Jones said...

And the poem, indeed!

A weekly literary magazine would be great, but it would need someone/some group with deep pockets, a strong commitment to literature, and enormous patience to fund and sustain it.

Would an online version have a better chance of survival, I wonder?

Edwin said...

Nice post, Tim. Can't say I'm a Listener fan, having read several articles of complete nothingness of late. This just nails the coffin to the yard arm and makes me so mad I mix my metaphors.

harvey molloy said...

Thanks for this Tim as I wasn't aware of any of this until I came to your site. I am a Listener reader and I'm perturbed at the sudden dropping of Ecologic: a column I was reading in the magazine and which I took as a sign that The Listener knew that we wanted a column dedicated to environmental issues.