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Balance without judgement: your ABC

Yesterday the ABC’s Drum site published a piece by Alan Moran attacking mainstream climate science. It was the first of what is promised to be a week of pieces “commissioned from noted writers on the sceptic side of the climate science debate”, apparently prompted by that site’s publication last week of a five-part article by Clive Hamilton on the campaign being waged against mainstream science by climate denialists.

Moran is obviously entitled to his views regardless of whether they are easily shown to be false. The question is more why they were given a run on The Drum without some basic fact-checking or balance. Moran’s article did not “balance” those of Clive Hamilton, who wrote on a specific aspect of the climate change debate in which he is professionally involved. Moran can at least claim – unlike Tom Switzer – that he has expertise on climate scepticism, having been working on the issue for the IPA for some time, including speaking at international conferences.

But yesterday, while he began on the issue of the public credibility of climate science, he quickly drifted onto climate science itself, and he isn’t a climate scientist.

This is a further example of the ABC’s balance without judgement on the issue of climate science. Out of an editorial concern for balance, the ABC gives time not to experts who are in a position to offer credible scepticism about aspects of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, but to bloggers and right-wing commentators. The rollcall of Drum sceptics this week says it all: none of Alan Moran, Tom Switzer, Bob Carter and Jo Nova are climate scientists.

Moran’s piece is comprehensive in its listing of sceptic and denialist claims. A number of them were recycled by Tom Switzer in the second climate denialist piece today.  They’re worth going through in detail to illustrate how thin the climate denialist case is when checked against the evidence.

Moran: “The leaking of emails in October last year from the premier global centre of climatic panic, the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, provided evidence that scientists leading the charge on climate change were keen to avoid scrutiny.”

As is now clear to anyone who has considered the emails themselves in their context, there is no “evidence” of any scientists avoiding scrutiny, only of scientists deeply unhappy with the constant efforts of denialists to waste their time and discredit them.  The now-famous “trick” to “hide the decline” refers a technique of plotting actual data alongside reconstructed data, and the “decline” refers to the decline in the reliability of temperature data from tree rings. Kevin Trenberth’s “travesty” that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment” relates to his paper on global energy accounting and how there’s as yet no explanation for how natural variability accounts for rising heat levels.

Moran: “[Mistakes] started back in 2003, when Canadian researchers McIntyre & McKitrick undertook statistical analysis of Professor Michael Mann’s “hockey stick”. Representing a one thousand year temperature trend, the “hockey stick” with its upward trajectory in the 20th century appeared to refute previous thinking… McIntyre & McKitrick deflated the statistics behind the “hockey stick”…”

Wrong. The US Congress requested the National Research Council to investigate the issue. It found some minor flaws in Mann et al’s work but concluded “it can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries… less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600.”

Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900.” The “hockey stick” has since been confirmed repeatedly by data from a variety of sources such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Moran: “We have seen the evidence of imminent Himalayan glacier retreat refuted in spite of sneering attacks on the questioners by the IPCC head, Rajenda Pachauri.”

The IPCC process indeed failed on this claim – and not just or even primarily because the claim was included in the first place (the original text is actually self-contradictory) but because the IPCC editors did not act on numerous comments by climate scientists (and even the Japanese Government) at the time that the claim was not backed up.  However, there is considerable peer reviewed evidence that glaciers are in retreat in the Himalayas, China and Tibet, and in at least one case the rate of retreat is accelerating.

Moran: “We have seen evidence that the Amazon rain forests disappearance is exaggerated…”

Wrong.  This derives from the claim that an IPCC statement was sourced from a WWF document. In fact the WWF drew on peer-reviewed literature on critically-low levels of soil moisture in the Amazon.  The IPCC statement that 40% of the Amazon is under threat from a small reduction in rainfall is backed by peer-reviewed literature.

Moran: “…that half of the Netherlands is not, after all, facing oceanic inundation…”

The 2007 IPCC report said 55% of the Netherlands was below sea level, based on advice from the Dutch Environment Assessment Agency.  The Dutch subsequently altered their advice to say that 26% of the country is below sea level and another 29% is susceptible to river flooding.

Moran: “…and that hurricanes are not increasing in intensity or frequency.”

Wrong.  Climate change has not been clearly linked by climate scientists to increasing hurricane frequency but there is a suggested link made by climate scientists between climate change and hurricane intensity. There is peer-reviewed evidence of hurricanes gaining in wind speed since the 1970s.

Moran: “Warming itself has appeared to have stopped, perhaps temporarily, a fact that even the defrocked high priest of the rising temperature trend, CRU’s Professor Phil Jones, has been forced to concede.”

Wrong, and Moran’s IPA colleague John Roskam who was busted claiming this last week.  This is what Jones said – asked if there had been no statistically-significant global warming in the last 15 years, Jones said:

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”

Interviewer: How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

Phil Jones: “I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.”

Contrary to Moran’s statement that “there is no new data about climate trends”, the end – or at least faux, media end – of the 00s decade enabled NASA to conclude that 2009 was the second hottest year on record – just shy of either 2005 or 1998, depending on your data set.  And the decade was the hottest ever, beating the 1990s, and the 1980s.

Moran: “And the IPCC estimated climate trend prior to 1980, which predates accurate satellite based records, is also under a new assault because crucial data has disappeared and many claim records are contaminated by local warming.”

Wrong again.  Peer-reviewed evidence shows no noteworthy impact of factors such as urban warming, and NASA adjusts its data to remove any impact anyway – although a large minority of readings show urban records are cooler than rural records because many monitoring units are located in parks.

Moran can’t even get the rhetorical stuff right. “There are no new findings about… the likelihood of people in rich countries contracting heat induced dengue fever.” Which would come as a shock to Singapore, which is dealing with a significant rise in dengue fever as temperatures have risen over the last decade and earlier, and to Taiwan or for that matter Florida, which last year saw the return of dengue fever for the first time in fifty years.

If the ABC wanted to provide genuine balance on the issue, it could invite contributions from Roger Pielke, a climate scientist who has criticised the IPCC, particularly on the important of CO2 in global warming. Or ask Australia’s Garth Partridge about whether anthropogenic impacts are large enough to significantly affect climate. Ask George Kukla about how much human activity accounts for the current warming. Ask John Christy about over-reliance on modeling. Or ask scientists who welcome global warming, believing it will provide net benefits to humanity, including increased plant growth.

It’s not hard to find credentialed climate scientists, with credibility amongst their peers, who dispute elements of the AGW hypothesis.

Instead, the ABC asks the same group of conservatives and professional denialists, none of whom have expertise in climate science and whose work involves serving up the cream of the denialist blogosphere, despite their claims being repeatedly shown to be wrong. Their views, with errors intact, now come with the ABC logo, giving it a credibility it didn’t previously have – just like Chris Monckton’s falsehoods and distortions went uncorrected during his extensive airtime on the ABC recently.

Balance without judgement isn’t balance at all.

164
  • 1
    baal
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    It would be instructive know by whom the IPA (and other think tanks) is funded.

  • 2
    Most Peculiar Mama
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Clive Hamilton is not a climate scientist.

    And you can bang on about the peer-review process all you like…the fact is (the process) is almost irreparably broken and so-called climate scientists are 100% responsible for its demise.

  • 3
    Mike Jones
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    More instructive it is to understand that Alan Moran has qualifications not in climate science. He’s a mathematical modelling type of dude.

    Google some of Alan in Wonderland’s prescient contributions. What ? No refereed ones in serious journals ? How surprising !

    So if the model and the reality don’t co-incide, the reality must be wrong. Right ?

  • 4
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    If the ABC wants to provide balance on climate change they should also include the views of climate scientists who believe the IPCC’s forecasts are too conservative and that climate change will result in more drastic changes.

  • 5
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t overstate the case, Bernard.

    …there is no “evidence” of any scientists avoiding scrutiny…

    How else would you characterise the correspondence that clearly demonstrates attempts to avoid or otherwise circumvent FOI requests for data and computer code? Undoubtedly many of these were indeed from “denialists to waste their time”, but some were from serious practitioners attempting to reproduce results - a fundamental scientific process. That FOI requests were even required is an indictment, if not of the CRU scientists themselves, then certainly data and code management practices prevailing in the entire climate field.

    While Crikey is lecturing the ABC about how to provide balance (ironic to say the least), it could do worse than to examine the olive branch proffered by climate scientist Judith Curry at Steve McIntyre’s blog, and her related essay in Physics Today.

  • 6
    JamesK
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    How very magnanimous of Keane to ‘allow’ Moran his opinions “regardless of whether they are easily shown to be false”.

    Whereupon Keane then demonstrates that he is more merely than incompetent for that task easy or otherwise.

    Every single quote of Moran that Keane pathetically attempts to ‘fisk’ here is not disproved. Every single one are genuine critiques that might be argued but none could be dismissively gainsayed as Keane does here.

    This isn’t commentary; it’s advocacy.

    Considering the amorality and dishonesty of warmenists in general and Keane here in particular, at least it’s a woefully poor catastrophist diatribe.

  • 7
    JBG
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh Bernard, you are such a hypocrite! How can you crticise the sceptical contriubtors to the debate for not being climate scientists when the man they are being brought in to refute, Clive Hamilton, isn’t one either. All five of Clive’s articles pushed the science, yet not one single little sentence from you criticising him for not being a climate scientist.
    More objective journalism and less cheerleading for your bestie, please Bernard.

  • 8
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Greate article.

  • 9
    Richard Carter
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bernard sounds like a believer in denial.

  • 10
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    JBG, the point is that Bernard and Clive’s views are backed up by the scientific literature. They don’t need to be climate scientists because those scientists support their views.

    On the other hand, Moran’s views are fabrications only supported by lies, misquotings and misrepresentations. The fact that he isn’t a climate scientist, nor do any climate scientists support his views, is at the very heart of the matter.

    It’s depressing that the denialists’ rubbish is so easily batted away, yet it keeps on being repeated by people who just don’t care that it’s incorrect because it alligns with their political ideology.

  • 11
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    4 seasons in Europe are weeks out of schedule now.

    Ice roads in Canada are for a much decreased period now.

    The permafrost in Siberia is melting.

    The arable land in Greenland is expanding.

    The carbonic acid has reduced the carapace of marine micro organisms by 1/3 in recent years.

    The snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing.

    The insurance industry is paying out at record levels for intense storm damage.

    NASA satellite records show increasing temperature trend way beyond any urban heat island effects.

    There is no uncertainty only science gumbies riddled with guilt.

  • 12
    SBH
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Rich Uncle Skeleton - I agree it’s depressing and I wish it would stop sooner. Just remember Trofim Lysenko who poopooed Gregor Mendel was believed for a very long time.

    Spectacular hyperbole from mama wilberforce btw

  • 13
    Peter Smith
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps The Drum is introducing “balance” under protest, and so are selecting the looniest contributors on purpose?

    I live in hope.

  • 14
    Michael James
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    The truth is that the earth seems to be warming. The issue that is in question is how much of that warming is man-made and how much is entirely natural and outside man’s control.

    Given the periods in recent (geological) times where temperatures were warmer than they are now, it makes sense to accept that outside forces do have a significant effect on the Earth’s temperature.

    The discredited ‘hockey stick’ graph which flattened warm periods in the name of pushing a partisan point of view underlined the fact that much of the alarm driving the AGW debate is from scientists who seem to have used worst case analysis to gain attention to their propositions and now find themselves having to justify those tactics and conclusions, and coming up short

    I believe that the earth is warming, however I have little confidence that mankind is wholly or even majorly responsible.

    The earth has been significantly warmer during periods of recorded history; it has also been significantly colder.

    I believe that the current warming is another of those cyclical changes and humanity cannot determine the changes, it can simply adjust to them as best as possible.

  • 15
    Mr Denmore
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    There is now little doubt that ABC news and editorial has been captured by the loud but unrepresentative Howard culture warriors, paid propagandists for fossil fuel industries and sundry god botherers, xenophobes, libertarian fruitcakes and sundry right-wing nutters.

    The organisation has basically laid down, spread its legs and sold what little integrity it had left for the sake of being left alone by a clique of nasty, small-minded people (Gerard Henderson) who spent the last 25 years complaining that it was a nest of trendy lefties.

    Happy that there will be no angry “please explains” from the Howard-stacked board, the ABC journos can walk around with their chests puffed out thinking they are “fair and balanced” because they present as considered opinion the slanted and self-interested lies of the grubby agents of the polluting industries and people who want to present climate change science as some sort of war between right and left.

  • 16
    Russell
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    At the end of last week’s Media Watch, the presenter signed off with his usual knowing smirk and instructed us all to go to the program’s website to read an extended biffo between him and Pier Ackerman on climate change (sigh).

    I wonder if any anyone did? I wonder if anyone bothered to read Clive Hamilton’s turgid lectures to us on why we should change our evil ways, and any of these mind bogglingly tedious rebuttals on The Drum?

    Bernard Keane, journalists cease to have any usefulness to their employers, and relevance to their readers, when they become evangelists for either side.

    Get a grip. We have tuned out of this.

  • 17
    SonofMogh
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    The right wing appointments of The Lying Rodent have finally started to pay off by giving this crap an outlet.
    It will do nothing but cheapen the ABC brand.

  • 18
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Interesting watching Grayling (admittedly he’s only a philosopher) last night on Lateline, when asked what he thought about the debate, and he pointed out that 95% of climate scientists agreed that humanity was responsible for a great part of the problem (so one in twenty doesn’t) and that some of the most vocal “sceptics/(denialists)”, driving “the practical procrastination” agenda, weren’t actually scientists, let alone specialists in the field, and had vested interests in prolonging the debate to buy time (“to continue exploitation of those natural resources certain interests are hoeing into now, earning their profits while they can”?).
    He also noted that slowing down this sort of “development at any cost or perish” mentality, might just be in the planet’s interest!
    But, then again, he was only a “philosopher”!

  • 19
    JamesK
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    There is now little doubt that ABC news and editorial has been captured by the loud but unrepresentative Howard culture warriors, paid propagandists for fossil fuel industries and sundry god botherers, xenophobes, libertarian fruitcakes and sundry right-wing nutters.” says the perennially silly Mr Dunmore.

    The Drum is edited by Jonathan Green!!!!!!!!!

    Mr Dunmore is pontificating about the perenially leftist ABC now on leftoid Green steroids on The Drum.

    Apparently now, according to Mr Dunmore the ABC is an extreme right wing organisation.

    There is no such thing as leftist shame only leftist highbrow condescension……..
    however puerile

  • 20
    baal
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    @Russell is right. These foolish threads with the to-ing and fro-ing of puffed up skeptics and wild-eyed axe-grinders help not one jot to clarify or enlighten. The Drum is another pathetic attempt by time servers of various hues to pose as the future of journalism.

  • 21
    Cuppa
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Baal wrote:

    It would be instructive know by whom the IPA (and other think tanks) is funded.”

    I recommend to you and all Readers the site SourceWatch.

    SourceWatch profiles the activities of front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, industry-funded organizations, and think tanks trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations or government.”

    http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=SourceWatch:Purpose

    On the IPA it says:

    It has close links to the Liberal Party of Australia, with its Executive Director John Roskam having run for Liberal Party preselection for a number of elections.”

    According to SourceWatch, the IPA has funding from “a small number of “conservative corporations”.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Public_Affairs

  • 22
    twobob
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Moran is obviously entitled to his views regardless of whether they are easily shown to be false.
    And those who believe false views would be morons.
    And the comment @ 2 ignores all the effort put in to repudiate the claims made by moran.
    It does not address the issue of incorrectness in the piece by moron.
    It then must be assumed that the skeptics are happy to be mislead.
    Is that a definitive action of a moron? I am sure it is in MDMorons case and aslo in JamesKs.

  • 23
    davidk
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Bernard for alerting us to this disgrace. I totally agree with you Ben and Rich Uncle. Presuming balance is served by one person speaking on each side of a topic is not balance at all as it does not reflect the reality of a discourse that has overwhelming support on one side and very limited support on the other. It gives credence to the denialists which is disproportionate to the true value of views that are unsupported by the scientific literature. I wonder why I haven’t seen proponents of the view; apparently widely held by Christians; that the earth is only 4000 years old debated with people of the opposing view that it is in fact 4 billion years old.Would not that also be a balanced debate?No doubt future generations trying to grapple with the consequences of climate change will appreciate all the air time given to the opponents of action.

  • 24
    Cuppa
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just been looking through the list of contributors to ‘The Drum Unleashed’, and found some noteworthy names:

    Tony Abbott

    Eric Abetz

    Richard Allsop (IPA)

    Kevin Andrews

    Timothy Andrews (Vice-President (Policy) of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia (NSW Division))

    David Barnett (He is the author with his wife Pru Goward of a biography of John Howard)

    Coral Bell (recently published by the Lowy Institute. SourceWatch describes The Lowy Institute as “a neoliberal international policy think tank based in Sydney”

    http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Lowy_Institute

    Philip Benwell (National Chairman of the Australian Monarchist League.)

    Chris Berg (Research Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs and Editor of the IPA Review)

    Cory Bernardi (Liberal Senator, South Australia)

    Bill Bowtell (of the neoliberal international policy think tank, the Lowy Institute)

    Jessica Brown ( Policy Analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies. The CIS is described by SourceWatch as “Australia’s first ‘neo-liberal’ think tank.”)

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Centre_for_Independent_Studies

    …. And that’s just the names starting with the letters A and B.

    There’s plenty more Liberals, right wing ideologues and think tankers on the list.

    I found this one interesting:

    Cyrus Brooks (spokesperson for the Church of Scientology.)

  • 25
    Flower
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    It’s unsurprising that the most vociferous screeching and wailing comes from the IPA where it’s all about them, their front groups, their connections to big-time eco-vandals and mining barons, their bank vaults and the wielding of power.

    And how long will it take for Alan Moran, Tom Switzer, Bob Carter, Jo Nova et al to plot and colludem to form a response to the latest climate analysis from GISS?:

    “2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the modern record, a new NASA analysis of global surface temperature shows. The analysis, conducted by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, also shows that in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year since modern records began in 1880.

    “January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record.

    “Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade, due to strong cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to near-record global temperatures. The past year was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest year on record, and tied with a cluster of other years — 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 1998 and 2007 — as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began:”

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20100121/

    So who’s applying the “pear of agony” to our ABC?

  • 26
    michael crook
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Good article Bernard, the saddest thing is that the ABC has never recovered from its emasculation by Howard.

  • 27
    Mack the Knife
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Imagine if Labor did a Nick Minchin on the ABC for right wing bias at the moment and false reporting.

    It wouldn’t even be a close competition. The pity of it is that the ABC has blatantly become a Liberal tool for ‘elect Abbott at any cost’ and they have failed their charter to inform the public in an honest manner.

    Are there any honest journo’s left at Auntie?

  • 28
    Michael
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Dr Bernard Keane B.Sc, M.Sc, PhD, and General Know it All.

    Hasn’t anyone told you that Elvis has left the building?
    And he took with him the last modicum of credibility left in the Global Warming Wealth Distribution Scheme.

    You look so silly standing there all alone with your big shiny trumpet playing to an audience of 2 old women, a dog & 3 crickets.

    Go home Bernard, go on son, just go home.

    So sad.

  • 29
    Mr Denmore
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    James K, like all the other Fiberals and ugly, unpleasant trolls who infest blogs like this you misrepresent my position to make a cheap playground debating point.

    I did not say the ABC was an extreme right-wing organisation. I said the ABC had allowed itself to be used as a platform by noisy and unrepresentative, but well-funded, right-wing groups who shriek that “balance” means offsetting manifest truths with falsehood and spin.

    No journalist worth his salt allows valuable editorial space to be occupied by propagandists who are allowed - unchallenged - to fabricate information to push someone’s barrow.

    This is not a “leftist” argument as your tiresomely complain. It’s an argument in favour of truth and editorial integrity, neither concept you appear to be familiar with. But never mind, you have plenty of excuses already.

  • 30
    Flower
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    “You look so silly standing there all alone with your big shiny trumpet playing to an audience of 2 old women, a dog & 3 crickets.”

    Michael – please be more coherent. The “2 old women” (Christopher Monckton and Ian Plimer) to whom you refer, are the darlings of silly old codgers, just like you I suspect. Are you well enough to debate the topic?:

    “Balance without judgement: your ABC”

  • 31
    earnest scribbler
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    @ Russel said

    Bernard Keane, journalists cease to have any usefulness to their employers, and relevance to their readers, when they become evangelists for either side.

    Get a grip. We have tuned out of this.”

    Too true, Russel. Good comment.

  • 32
    davidk
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Hush now Earnest, the grown ups are talking.

  • 33
    Cuppa
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Keep up the good work Bernard. You (and Crikey) are a refreshing voice in a sea of media sameness (including the ABC).

  • 34
    my say
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    i really feel it should be renamed their abc.

  • 35
    Alexander Berkman
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    what i love about people like the IPA and all the ‘climate change is a lie” peaknuckles is their lack of vision for any sort of sustainable future. What do they present, what do they espouse? Business as usual and nothing that hinders profits for the big players. It seems they deny climate change in order to keep the status quo yet are seemingly unable to give us any idea of what sort of future they envision to leave for future generations. Money is god, who gives a flying fark about the planet! Climate change is a leftist plot, the economy is more important than the ecology. Surely they understand that we live on a planet with FINITE resources and that it can’t be doing the planet any good to be burning fossil fuels like there literally is no tomorrow along with all the other destructive unsustainable things we humans are capable of? What planet are they living on?
    sigh…
    Well, it is with a judgment so harsh that these greedy money lovers will be seen in times to come by their children’s children whose legacy will be a world in environmental turmoil.

  • 36
    James McDonald
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    the ABC gives time not to experts who are in a position to offer credible scepticism about aspects of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, but to bloggers and right-wing commentators.”

    Why didn’t you object to this preference for loudmouths and zealots over real experts last week, when left-wing commissar Clive Hamilton was given yet another soapbox at taxpayer expense, this time to speculate without any evidence whatsoever that abusive blogging is a right-wing conspiracy.

    Clive Hamilton. A nutter who would have thrived in Lavrenty Beria’s thought police. The only “specific aspect of the climate change debate in which he is professionally involved” is his claim to expertise on ethics — a commissar, in other words — based on nothing much except that he can quote from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

    So it’s OK to print left-wing commentators on the strength of their passionate convictions alone, but right-wing commentators have to be scientists? Lead by example, Crikey. Reserve the soapbox for people who can be trusted to inform rather than just heckle.

  • 37
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    ME DENMORE - CUPPA - MY SAY - FLOWER & others! I agree!

    The ABC is a source of great disappoint to me too!

    Didn’t they announce a new policy prior to the 2007 Election, that they’d ensure that both sides of a question would be canvassed within 24-36 hours?
    I recall a person interviewed on my local radio station re those on disability support pensions due to bad backs. As a person who’d been on it for RSI and a fractured spine, I was waiting for someone representing people like me. I sent an email to the station, of which the announcer read out several points which I appreciated, but nobody was interviewed in defence of those people, who are often maligned without recourse. I’m still waiting! This is not an infrequent circumstance! Abbott has his eye on these people if elected! God help them!

    I’m no scientist or pretend to have real knowledge re climate change. What I do realise is, that with all the filth put in the environment every day all day, it would be quite remarkable if it wasn’t doing any damage. I believe the scientists who are very concerned, and I hope govts act before we’ve reached the point of no return! For my grandkids sake, and all kids of course! Also, what is causing the horrific incidence of cancers? Probably/possibly related, but no research of note!

    I find it rather amusing(irritating) that when the ABC does report a story that questions the mainstream media’s slant, the ‘right wing nutters’ scream ‘left wing bias’? Predictable!

  • 38
    Rodger Davies
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    From the Wikipedia website on the IPA; “It is funded by its membership which include businesses. Among these businesses are ExxonMobil,[1] Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris,[2] Gunns Limited, Monsanto Company,[3] Murray Irrigation Limited,[4] and Visy Industries.”

  • 39
    Kerry Lovering
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Almost every geologist and astrophisicist recognises from the evidence that climate changes all the time. About 6 centuries ago Vikings farmed in Greenland and grapes were grown in northern England. Then the earth cooled.
    About 170 years ago people were skating on the Thames in England — since then the earth has warmed — nothing to do with CO2 emissions.

    There was NO Sunspot activity between 1645 and 1710 — called the Maunder Minimum — this was followed by the mini ice age — skating on the Thames etc.
    In the past couple of decades the sunspot activity reached a maximum from which it is now receding — lack of sunspot activity is being noted by real astronomers.

    It is extraordinary arrogance (or religious fervour) for mere mortals to think they can control the climate. We can certainly reduce pollution but the earth will do as the Sun dictates whatever people think.

  • 40
    James McDonald
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Partly funded by businesses? Ooooh, it must be evil then. Along with Rotary and most of the churches and charities in the country.

  • 41
    Bernard Keane
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Couple of things.

    1. To whoever said that Clive Hamilton isn’t a climate scientist - correct. Well spotted. That’s why I specifically noted that his pieces last week related to an issue within his professional experience - the attacks by denialists on scientists and activists. Given Clive has received many a death threat, and researched his piece by talking with activists and scientists who had been threatened or smeared, he was talking from a position of authority on the issue, even if you may not agree with his conclusions.

    2. Those having a go at the IPA about their funding - that’s not the issue. Funding should be revealed, in my view, but what matters is the rigour of their ideas, not the source of their money. Even a researcher entirely dependent on resource company funding can make a good argument that merits a proper response.

  • 42
    Alexander Berkman
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    James McDonald, JamesK, MPM,Ernie Scrabble, - your visions for a sustainable future please?

  • 43
    baal
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    @Rodger Davies - v. useful and interesting. Perhaps the ABC and the Australian Financial Review should print that information every time one of these wallahs vents.

  • 44
    Cuppa
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    On the Institute of Public Affairs, from ‘Inside Story’, 26 May 2009:

    http://inside.org.au/the-real-crisis-of-democracy/

    The IPA is, of course, concerned with private rather than public affairs, its extreme neo-liberalism and deification of the so-called free market displaying a thoroughgoing contempt for anything public: public ownership, public service, public transport and, indeed, the public itself. It is the ideological mouthpiece of very private enterprise that likes to glorify in the name of “free” enterprise.

    … Which does rather beg two questions.

    1) Why is the ABC bending over backwards to accommodate on its blogs and airwaves these avowed opponents of public (broadcasting)?

    2) Why is the IPA apparently beating a path to the ABC’s door to get its views published on ABC blogs and electronic media? To be true to their free-market, neoliberal ideology, wouldn’t they reject on principle the idea of appearing on the national public broadcaster? Would they not be confining their promotional / propaganda activities to buying advertising space on the open market of the commercial media?

  • 45
    baal
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    @James MacDonald. Your remarks about Clive Hamilton are way out of line, as is your risible suggestion that Gunns and Monsanto are somehow the same weight, value, influence as Rotary and the Salvos. Clearly, you will stop to pick up any slime to throw. Careful it doesn’t stick.

  • 46
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    JAMES McDONALD - Try and act like a grown up, there’s a good boy!

  • 47
    Jeremy Williams
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Its a bizarre debate across the media landscapes. The shockjocks and the Australian seem to think its left wing if you believe in the science.

    There was a couple of thousand peer reviewed papers on climate change in the last year not a one questioned the view that man is creating global warming. Yet commentators and your average joes everywhere seem to think they are qualified to discredit the science.

    The majority of doctors say that smoking is a health risk - they must be left wing.

    The abc has just followed the bizarre debate more generally. In an ideal world the debate would be between 2 qualified climate scientists not lobbyists or the unqualified.

  • 48
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, surely you jest. Hamilton’s “expertise” is specifically in the field of “attacks by denialists on scientists and activists”?

    What a remarkable new area of professional “expertise”.

    The point remains Bernard. You give a pass to Hamilton and his like to say anything they want because they are supported by “THE SCIENCE”. But whenever sceptics point out all the inconsistencies in that SCIENCE we are shouted down because we don’t have PhD’s in “climate science”. What a joke.

    Bravo to the ABC and Jonathan Green for allowing a debate rather than the one-sided hysteria we normally get.

  • 49
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    And another point:

    The “trick” to “hide the decline” wasn’t referring to a “decline in the reliability of the temperature rings”. It was a reference to the fact that the proxy data from tree rings started DECLINING from the 1960’s while the instruments were showing warming.

    This calls into question the entire reconstruction that the hockey stick was based on. If the tree ring proxies aren’t reliable now, why would they be reliable back 1,000 years or so? Better to just “hide the decline” and pretend the Hockey stick was accurate.

    Oh, I know, I know. I’m not a climate scientist so I should just shut up and not make points like that, right?

  • 50
    Bernard Keane
    Posted Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Tamas you’ve been led astray. The Jones email is discussing what is called the “divergence problem” about tree ring data which diverge from modern temperature records in recent decades. The issue has been discussed in peer-reviewed literature since the mid-1990s. “Hiding the decline” refers to ways of addressing the divergence problem in the data. Stop removing quotes from context and pursuing confected “gotchas”.

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