The two articles analysed focus on the climate change debate. Maurice Newman’s opinion article argues that climate change is a hoax that is used by the United Nations (UN) to stir up controversy and thus gain more support and influence on the international political sphere. Alternatively Jeff Sparrow believes that climate change is a real concern. His opinion article is a direct criticism of Newman’s and seeks to sarcastically shut down Newman’s logic, whilst simultaneously promoting the urgency for global action on climate change. When analysing any two media texts, it is crucial to consider the various influences on the author’s and their motivation for publication. Ultimately, these two articles provide for an interesting analysis as both articles although having opposing opinions on the matter, together reinforce the implications of climate change policy on the world.
Firstly, it is important to briefly define what climate change entails. Climate change is a negative change in global and regional climates that is caused by increased levels of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This is believed to be the direct result of increased levels of human industrialisation, technological progression and the excessive burning of fossil fuels.
Maurice Newman’s article ‘The UN is using climate change as a tool not an issue’, is an opinion piece that argues that climate change is fake. Not only is climate change fake however, it is also a scheme that the UN are pressing on an international level to seek power. Immediately, it is obvious that Newman rejects all claims that climate change may be a real issue. He begins his article in a particular way that resembles climate change as a barbaric conspiracy.
“It’s a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the link between human CO2 emissions and catastrophic global warming have been found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error. It’s not surprising.”
Instantly the reader is exposed to a statistic, one that denies the validity of much of the study surrounding climate change. This primarily reveals Newman’s anti-global warming perspective. Emphasis on language is particularly articulated in phrases such as “It’s not surprising,” which implies that these facts should be obvious to readers, and that climate change advocates are intentionally fooling society. His claim that climate change is not a real issue is strongly presented from the beginning with the underlying warrant that previous statistics that support climate change, have only been exaggerations by clueless radicals. Evidently however, this claim by Newman has not been supported by any apparent appeal to authority. Rather Newman justifies this claim by distracting his readers by stating that this “extravagance” has been happening for the past “50 years.” This justification heightens the tone of conspiracy, in which climate change “catastrophists” have been manipulating society into supporting something they know nothing about.
According to Newman if climate change is not an issue why should society support the UN?
“Why then, with such little evidence, does the UN insist the world spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on futile climate change policies?”
By leaving a question for the audience just after outlining the secret manipulation from climate change “catastrophists,” Newman influences the audience to subconsciously reconsider their perspective on the issue. At the same time it is evident that Newman assumes his readership supports his perspective. As he is writing for The Australian, much of the readership tends to lean towards his right-wing perspective. Newman uses exaggeration, “hundreds of billions,” to heighten the significance of his claim to gain support, and thus further convince readers that they are already right. By assuming this support from the reader, Newman immediately answers his own question.
“The real agenda is concentrated political authority. Global warming is the hook.”
Here readers are exposed to the primary claim of Newman’s article. The UN according to Newman is using global warming to increase their influence on the international political stage. However, he even extends upon this by inexplicitly representing the UN as initiators of a new world, one in which they are the tyrannical dictator and society acts as the submissive and ignorant subjects.
“Calls to respond to climate change are about a new world order under the control of the UN.”
This is not supported by any evidence but is rather supported by his strong opinion. By representing the UN in this way, Newman justifies his overall warrant that climate change is a hoax, that has been used for years to persuade people to support a cause that is not a real issue. Moreover, it is evident that Newman has brought an already anti-UN perspective into his writing, regardless of the topic of climate change.
“UN support will be assured through promised wealth redistribution from the West, even though its anti-growth policy prescriptions will needlessly prolong poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy for the world’s poorest.”
Here, Newman’s anti-UN sentiment is blatant, and is not supported with any justification or evidence. It seems here, that he has thrown in this sentence in a manner to quickly fuel an emotional response from the reader. He has deliberately painted a particular image for his audience in which the UN are manipulative, tyrannical and ultimately detrimental to global society. Furthermore, again it is evident that Newman assumes readership support, with no fundamental support to this claim that the UN actually serves to “prolong poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy for the world’s poorest.”
Towards the conclusion of the article, Newman emphasises the significant pressure the UN will place on nations to support their cause and draws his readers in on a cultural level, by directly appealing to Australians.
“Australia will be pressed to sign even more futile job-destroying climate change treaties.”
This appeal to consequences that directly impacts Australians, heightens the negative perspective towards climate change. Not only according to Newman is climate change a waste of time and money, it will result in more Australians being unemployed. This is a significant claim to make to a readership that is already assumed to be on his side of the climate change debate and heightens his own support.
“Enough is enough,” emotively ends the article, stressing his attitude that Australians and the world have had enough of hearing about a topic that is not important to them.
The tone of the entire article is that it is ‘obvious’ that climate change promoters are radicals who are embellishing the truth, with no appropriate scientific evidence to support them. Newman perceives that the UN are encouraging global support to an issue that will only serve their own interests, and thus further raise inequality on a global scale. Finally, the article is a recommendatory opinion piece. Although it doesn’t explicitly invite people to agree with his perspective, the warrant that people should ‘wake up’ to the reality that climate change is primarily built on manipulation, is strongly present.
Jeff Sparrow criticises Newman’s article in his opinion piece, ‘Maurice Newman v the UN: logic behind the crazy.’ Published by the primarily left-wing ABC, Sparrow fundamentally denies Newman’s claim that climate change is fake, by sarcastically representing Newman as idiotic and without logic.
Sparrow’s criticism of Newman is immediately represented after he quotes Newman, “Calls to respond to climate change are) about a new world order under the control of the UN,” he is quick to put down his argument.
“The “New World Order” is a key phrase in the lexicon of American paranoiacs, a term ubiquitous on the websites of gun nuts, religious fanatics and survivalists.”
This highlights Sparrow’s claim that climate change is a real global issue and the UN are not fabricating conspiracies for political gain. By referring to Newman’s claim of a “New World Order,” as a term used by “gun nuts, religious fanatics and survivalists,” it puts Newman in the same category as these extremists. Moreover, it justifies his claim by reinforcing that climate change must be a real issue as only the illogical and ‘crazy’ people refuse to believe its happening. Sparrow quickly denounces Newman’s article as irrational. He moves on to argue that Newman specifically criticises the UN as they are an easy target, an “emotionally satisfying enemy.”
“With a name that sounds like the moniker of some cartoon super-villains. It’s big and it’s powerful and a bit mysterious.”
Sparrow attempts to understand Newman’s logic by sarcastically comparing it to the logic of a child. Evidently Sparrow is attempting to describe the UN in a way that suits Newman’s conspiracy generating UN. The underlying sarcasm serves to ridicule Newman and promote the worldview of Sparrow, a worldview that he fundamentally shares with his targeted audience and publisher. This serves to further undermine Newman’s argument.
However, throughout the article, it seems Sparrow becomes more and more explicit in his criticism of Newman.
“Why does Newman flirt with the rhetoric of bonkderom?”
The immediate tone of Sparrow here is highly critical to further negatively portray Newman as a radical. Up to this point in the article, Sparrow has primarily built a strong criticism against Newman, and against all anti-climate change thinkers. According to Sparrow, his readers generally support his view, and so he leaves this question here to further stir up disagreement against Newman’s perspective. The language embedded in “flirt” serves to heighten the significance of Newman’s negative representation. Moreover, the use of the word “bonkderom” greatly exaggerates this depiction of stupidity that according to Sparrow, Newman embodies.
“Climate change isn’t happening; it’s happening but it’s not caused by humans; it’s happening and it’s caused by humans but we should just adapt to it.”
Sparrow imitates what he perceives to be the thought process of someone who is against supporting any action for climate change. This use of imitation accentuates the concept of radicalism, stupidity and the illogic of these people who do not agree with him. Again this is an example of sarcasm that inexplicitly negatively represents people against climate change policy and thus further leads readers to support Sparrow. Furthermore, by exposing the ‘truth’, Sparrow in this context seems logical and intelligent.
Although Sparrow’s opinion article is fronted by specific emotionally charged criticism, he does refer to an important statistic that essentially reveals a certain degree of research to reinforce his opinion.
“Analysis of 2258 peer-reviewed articles published between November 2012 and December 2013 found that only one of the 9136 authors rejected anthropogenic global warming.”
This appeal to authority serves to bring readers onto Sparrow’s side of the climate change debate (in case there were any who were doubting him). Here he fundamentally claims that 99 per cent of articles published on global warming support a call for action, action to better sustain the global climate. By appealing to authority Sparrow strengthens the validity of his claims and argumentation. It is perhaps his strongest justification in his entire article.
Primarily both opinion articles assume that their publisher and intended targeted audience both share the same worldviews. Through the use of emotive language, as well as a combination of subtle and blatant criticism, they collectively outline the implications of climate change policy and its impact on the globe, regardless of whether they believe it is a global concern or not.