27 May 2010
"Is it the immediacy of the populace in which the electorate, in the end, simply looks at the now and one's own personal gain, forgetting the impact for the future?" she asks. "The only imperative, then, for the politicians is being elected again."
Most politicians tend to just follow public opinion rather than to try and provide leadership – particularly in an election year.
Here the role of the media can be important in shaping public opinion. A science advisor to the Australian government, Professor Will Steffen, recently castigated the media for its role in relation to the climate change issue. Speaking at a Melbourne summit on the green economy, Professor Steffen criticized the policy of treating climate change science as a political issue in which two sides should be given a voice, a debate he described as 'infantile' and akin to debating whether the earth was flat.
He pointed to the existence of tens of thousands of scientific papers in the peer-reviewed literature pointing to the fact that the world was warming and the primary cause since the middle of the last century had been industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and noted that fewer than ten papers have been put forward to challenge those fundamentals – all of which had subsequently been disproved.