How is climate denial still happening in the face of facts?

How do we live in a world where the people running our countries still have ‘opinions’ about climate change, when we have the science?

On Monday evening, I sat down to watch the Australian political program Q&A, it promised to be a fairly colourful episode post the national election with two women who sit on opposing sides of the political fence.

Keep reading: How did climate science become a matter of opinion?

Pauline Hanson, the right-wing independent who has been likened to be the Australian version of Donald Trump, and Larissa Waters, a member of parliament for the more left-wing Australian party The Greens, who works closely with environmental issues.

Pauline Hanson on Climate change on the ABCs Q&A (skip to 1:00:46)

Towards the end of the segment, the topic of climate change was briefly mentioned, and Hanson said 'this whole climate change, that needs to be debated. Let's have the whole true facts about this' to which Waters replied 'Yes, we know you don't accept the facts of climate science, but everyone else does.'

I sat back and thought, wow. There is someone, who has more say about our country than I will possibly ever have and she won't accept science. It got me to thinking, how did facts become a matter of opinion?

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On the same Monday that this episode hit Australian televisions it was reported that Sky News in America has refused to air this advertisement, which was sponsored by Friends of the earth. The ad is a mock version of a Sky News segment where the anchor reports case after case of extreme weather events whilst the newsroom slowly floods and the asks, "What will it take for Fox News to accept that humans are changing the climate?"

The ad is funny and scary, all in one. This year marks 10 years since Al Gore's eye opening An Inconvenient Truth (2006) which served to educate the whole world to the science of climate change. His message was clear: if we didn't change the way we do things, we won't have a planet for much longer.

“The choices that we make now have consequences, and among those consequences there will be blessings and curses,” he said. “The scientific community has for many decades now, with increasing certainty and increasing fervor, presented to us the most accurate calculation of what these consequences would be were we not to make the right moral choices with respect to global warming. And when these scientists spell out what can be expected from a failure to act in this generation, those consequences
- Al Gore

Since then we have had serious discussions about climate change. We've had countless scientists say that this is not a matter of opinion, climate change is real and it's happening now. We've had world leaders and prominent figures get together at the historic Paris Summit and yet we still, in 2016 have people on television, in positions of power treating climate change as if it's up for debate.

Read next: The science of climate change denial

This mini-documentary [G1] Doubt (2012) illustrates how large mining companies and other climate deniers have used the same PR companies that were instrumental in convincing people back in the 1960s that cigarettes might not be bad for them, these companies work on questioning the facts and creating 'what if' ideas around facts, they're professional truth twisters who work for big company dollars.

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The business of climate denial is huge with mining companies making upwards of billions of dollars every year, these companies have a vested interest in making sure the science is questioned by the general public and pushing the idea that they're giving back to the economy and creating jobs, and they are doing both those things but how long will our economy be needed? Will we need to be earning money and creating jobs if sea levels rise to the point of human extinction?

Read next: Meet the woman who took on Canada's mining companies, and won

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