An eye on ABC NEWS: Keeping the bastards who keep the bastards honest - honest.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Update: Warmer planet to stress humans: a missing retort
We requested the ABC science unit follow up their puff piece on a paper by Sherwood et al with an interview with Roger Peilke Snr who dismissed the Sherwood paper as "just a model sensitivity study, not a verifiable prediction. Moreover, not only is it scientifically flawed, but the dissemination of a press release illutrates that this is really not a science study. The funding of such a study by the National Science Foundation (whose predictions cannot be verified) illustrates another failure by the NSF to properly support climate science." In typical "Yes Minister" fashion ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs reply (received July 2, 2010): While we note your reference to the blog post 'Comments On The Scientifically Flawed Study "Researchers Find Future Temperatures Could Exceed Livable Limits" By Sherwood and Huber 2010' by Roger Pielke Sr., it does not appear that the study has engendered a significant level of debate within the scientific community. Given the remoteness of the scenarios considered in the study, the very specific nature of the subject matter, and the lack of subsequent debate over the study's findings, Audience & Consumer Affairs considers that the principal relevant views necessary for the story to canvas, at the time of publication, were those of the study's authors. Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe it was necessary for the story to include a broader range of perspectives in order to meet the editorial standard for balance. Accordingly, on review of the story, we are satisfied that it was consistent with this standard. The blog post to which you refer has been brought to the attention of relevant staff in ABC Innovation. I am advised that they found the post interesting and I understand they have undertaken to ask some other climate scientists for their thoughts on it. As you would understand, it was not possible for ABC Innovation to consider Dr Pielke's analysis of the study at the time the story was written and published, as the blog post was not published until 13 May. However, it remains open for ABC Innovation to present other viewpoints in future reports, should further developments in this area of science occur.
That would be other viewpoints like Roger Pielke Snr? Don't hold your breath Minister.
We asked this follow up:
Thankyou for your Reply.
Can you please ask ABC Innovation how they assessed that the study by Dr Pielke Snr has not "engendered a significant level of debate within the scientific community". I was under the impression based on previous correspondance with ABC Audience and Consumer Affiars that ABC Innovation lacked the necessary scientific skills to undertake such an assessment. Was this judgement in fact based on the amount of coverage of Dr Pielke's study in the media?
If so does ABC Innovation now judge the value of scientific reports simply by the level of media interest, rather than the quality of the research?
To which ABC replied:
Thank you for your further email. To clarify, my statement "it does not appear that the study has engendered a significant level of debate within the scientific community" was in reference to the study 'An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress', not the blog post by Roger Pielke Sr. ABC Innovation did not assess that Dr Pielke's blog post had not engendered a significant level of debate within the scientific community; rather, as I stated, they advised that they found the post interesting and have undertaken to ask other climate scientists about it.
(ED-So if they found this "significant" why wasn't it reported on?)
One more follow up: Perhaps ABC Innovation can take the time to discuss the article with Dr Pielke Snr. Afterall ABC based their report 'Warmer planet to stress humans: study' solely on discussion with the author of that study and did not seek comments from other climate scientists. It would seem ABC Innovation use different standards of "Balance" to suite their own preconceived notion of what the science should say. Has ABC Innovation taken recent statements on "Groupthink" by Chairman Maurice Newman into account in providing its audience with balanced news coverage?
Last word from ABC: Thank you for your further email. Your additional comments are noted and will be conveyed to ABC Innovation.