Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merry Christmas

ABC News Watch wishes all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. More of the usual nonsense next year.

Our holiday reading this summer includes a triptych of Richard Feynman biographies and essays including this one:
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Climate bias at the BBC

Christopher Booker has a piece in the UK's Daily Mail that looks at bias and lack of balance in the BBC's climate coverage:
It concludes:

All this is why I am far from alone in concluding that the BBC’s coverage has, on this key issue of our time, gone hopelessly off the rails. The Corporation has been guilty of three separate betrayals.
By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially. 
Second, it has betrayed the basic principles of science by giving such unquestioning support to a theory which the evidence has increasingly called into doubt.
Above all, however, the BBC has betrayed the trust of its audience, by failing to give a fair and balanced picture. 
This has become a national scandal. It is time we called this pampered, self-important organisation to account for having misinformed us for too long.

Seems this criticism fits another public broadcaster to a tee. 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2071358/BBCs-bias-global-warming-An-inconvenient-truth-climate-change.html#ixzz1fvnGS8h4

Missing News; MWP, LIA found in Tibet

Nothing thus far on ABC news, or Science about this paper published in the Chinese Science Bulletin. Figure 5 has some interesting historical trends and future forecasts that seem at odds with the official story being promoted by Auntie.

Amplitudes, rates, periodicities and causes of temperature variations in the past 2485 years and future trends over the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau.
LIU Yu, CAI QiuFang, SONG HuiMing, AN ZhiSheng & Hans W. LINDERHOLM
Chinese Science Bulletin
October 2011 Vol.56 No.28-29: 29862994
doi: 10.1007/s11434-011-4713-7
Amplitudes, rates, periodicities, causes and future trends of temperature variations based on tree rings for the past 2485 years on the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau were analyzed. The results showed that extreme climatic events on the Plateau, such as the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and 20th Century Warming appeared synchronously with those in other places worldwide. The largest amplitude and rate of temperature change occurred during the Eastern Jin Event (343–425 AD), and not in the late 20th century. There were significant cycles of 1324 a, 800 a, 199 a, 110 a and 2–3 a in the 2485-year temperature series. The 1324 a, 800 a, 199 a and 110 a cycles are associated with solar activity, which greatly affects the Earth surface temperature. The long-term trends (>1000 a) of temperature were controlled by the millennium-scale cycle, and amplitudes were dominated by multi-century cycles. Moreover, cold intervals corresponded to sunspot minimums. The prediction indicated that the temperature will decrease in the future until to 2068 AD and then increase again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Aus network to ABC

Australia Network goes permanently to ABC

THE government has abandoned any tender for the ill-starred $223 million Australia Network contract, instead bowing to Greens demands and awarding responsibility for the soft-diplomacy broadcaster to the ABC permanently.

Read the rest at the link above. More public funds wasted as tenderers seek compensation for an incompetently managed tender process.

Groupthink ending

A persistent theme on ABC News Watch has been ABC's one sided coverage of climate change. This even commented on by ABC Chairman Maurice Newman.

Perhaps the following article signals an end to this era and a move to more balanced reporting? Only time will tell.

Leaked emails confirm climate change questions

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A wake up call at The Conversation

ABC affiliate The Conversation have posted an article by climate commissioner Lesley Hughes titled "Australians can’t ignore the health impacts of climate change".

I added the following comment...

In the climate commission's latest report I note that the section on mosquito borne diseases does not reference the work of epidemiologist Paul Reiter. Wonder why? Perhaps Lesley Hughes or co-author Tony McMichael would care to explain.
Here's Paul's background from wiki...
Paul Reiter is a professor of medical entomology at the Pasteur Institute in the city of Paris[citation needed], France. He is a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Committee on Vector Biology and Control[citation needed]. He was an employee of the Center for Disease Control (Dengue Branch) for 22 years[citation needed]. He is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society[citation needed]. He is a specialist in the natural history, epidemiology and control of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile Virus, and malaria.[1]
Lesley's co-author Tony McMichael had this to say about Paul in one of the recently released climategate emails dating from 2002. To Mike Hulme...
You've probably already had colourful comment from Sari and Jonathan. Paul Reiter is, in my view, smart, confrontative and inflexible. He has been leading the charge of the (mostly US) professionally-affronted field epidemiologists, who think:
1. That if IPCC says that climate change is likely to affect VBD transmissibility, then it is also saying that this is happening already; and
2. That if climate is invoked as a causal influence, then it seems that the silly IPCC epidemiologists don't understand that there are a few other influences that are more important.
Paul's documentation that, historically, malaria was often more serious in Europe during relatively cooler times is very interesting - but is essentially irrelevant for the second reason above. Those historical times also coincided with other major shifts in social, economic, nutritional and political circumstances.
Well, it helps to keep us on our toes.
For the context see the rest of this email http://di2.nu/foia/foia2011/mail/4931.txt, and the civil email from Reiter to Hulme that prompted the response.
Based on the omission of Paul Reiter's work from the commission's report it seems the so called consensus being promulgated by the climate commission has little to do with scientific evidence and more to do with maintaining Groupthinking networks, ego and undeserved reputations. Lesley Hughes suggests the report is a wake up call, I think Richard Feynman would have called it Cargo cult science.

The embedded journalist part 2.

Earlier in the year we reported that AM reporter Tony Eastley had taken up a role as MC for the Climate Commission's public forums. The Australian covered the matter in this story under the headline "ABC defends host's climate gig".

Today Eastley gave Climate Commissioner Lesley Hughes a very soft interview on AM (see Health imperilled by climate change: Report).

It would have been interesting to see how Lesley Hughes would have handled questions relating to the absence of references in the commission's report to the work of Paul Reiter on mosquito borne diseases that contradicts the climate commission's alarmist narrative. Also of interest the exchange between Hughes' co-author Tony McMichael and Mike Hulme in relation to Reiter as featured in recently released climategate emails.

ABC's new Editorial Guidelines no longer mention the phrase "conflict of interest". However section 1.3 of the new guidelines state:

1.3 Ensure that editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests.

On face value it appears Mr Eastley's interview puts him in breach of this clause. We have asked the ABC for an explanation.

Lies of the Climate Commission part 9-the cargo cult continues

The government's climate propaganda unit, its climate commission, has released a new report on the Health Impacts of Climate Change.
The report was written by Lesley Hughes and epidemiologist Tony McMichael and reviewed by the Commission's uncritical reviewers.

Tony McMichael features in a Climate gate email exchange (see below) with Mike Hulme commenting about the work of respected epidemiologist Paul Reiter. According to his Wikipedia entry Paul Reiter is a specialist in the natural history, epidemiology and control of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile Virus, and malaria. He has been critical of the IPCC process. In a 2005 statement to the UK Select Committee on Economic Affairs Reiter outlined problems with the IPCC health assessments and concludedThe natural history of mosquito-borne diseases is complex, and the interplay of climate, ecology, mosquito biology, and many other factors defies simplistic analysis. The recent resurgence of many of these diseases is a major cause for concern, but it is facile to attribute this resurgence to climate change, or to use models based on temperature to "predict" future prevalence. In my opinion, the IPCC has done a disservice to society by relying on "experts" who have little or no knowledge of the subject, and allowing them to make authoritative pronouncements that are not based on sound science. In truth, the principal determinants of transmission of malaria and many other mosquito-borne diseases are politics, economics and human activities. A creative and organized application of resources is urgently required to control these diseases, regardless of future climate change. 
Despite his expertise, surprisingly no work by Reiter was cited in the climate commission's  report on Climate change and health. The commission has presented only one side of a complex argument.
The lies of omission are the greatest lies of all. The commission's report is another example of cargo cult science in action. It is clear that the commission has no intention of fulfilling its charter to Explain the science of climate change and the impacts on Australia. It is purely a political body. I have no doubt the ABC in its coverage of this report will once again fail in their duty to ask the hard questions.

From the Climategate emails (note I have trimmed the email addresses and phone numbers)

date: Sun, 23 Jun 2002 04:23:10 +1000
from: "Tony McMichael" 
subject: RIF: Paul Reiter
to: "Mike Hulme" , "Sari Kovats" 

You've probably already had colourful comment from Sari and Jonathan.  Paul Reiter is, in my view, smart, confrontative and inflexible. He has been leading the charge of the (mostly US) professionally-affronted field epidemiologists, who think:
1. That if IPCC says that climate change is likely to affect VBD transmissibility, then it is also saying that this is happening already; and
2. That if climate is invoked as a causal influence, then it seems that the silly IPCC epidemiologists don't understand that there are a few other influences that are more important.
Paul's documentation that, historically, malaria was often more serious in Europe during relatively cooler times is very interesting - but is essentially irrelevant for the second reason above. Those historical times also coincided with other major shifts in social, economic, nutritional and political circumstances.
Well, it helps to keep us on our toes.
 -----Messaggio originale----- 
 Da: Mike Hulme [mailto:m.hulme@xxx.xx.xx] 
 Inviato: ven 21/06/2002 1.25 
 A: Tony McMichael; patz@xxx.xx.xx; Sari Kovats 
 Oggetto: Paul Reiter
Tony, Jonathan, Sari, I engaged in robust conversation with Paul Reiter last night at an Institute of Ideas debate on climate change - he is clearly very unhappy about the IPCC health chapter and contributed to the public debate a rather dismissive comment about IPCC in general as a process of 'citizens science'. I've not come cross the guy before. Is there something I need to know? Mike
Hulme's inquiry followed this email from Paul Reiter that explains some issues related to human health and climate change (note the difference in tone from Reiter). 

date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 15:33:49 -0400
from: Paul Reiter 
subject: Climate change and mosquitoborne disease
to: m.hulme@xxx.xx.xx
Dear Mike, Enjoyed meeting you last week. Attached are a couple of papers I mentioned. The review in Environmental Health Perspectives is the most comprehensive. As an example of the sort of thing I tried to explain to you, try the paper by Harvell in Science, June 21. I have never heard of any of the authors, yet they write with authority on dengue and malaria. I ran the bit on bird malaria past my Director, Duane Gubler. He worked on bird malaria in Hawaii in the 1960s. Even then it was a major cause of death in wild birds. He agreed: there is no reason to believe that climate change has been relevant in recent years. Then there is the bit in the Conclusions: The most detectable effects of directional climate warming on disease relate to geographic range expansion of pathogens such as Rift Valley fever, dengue ... I assure you, there is absolutely no evidence for either. RVF shows no change in range. Pandemics of dengue (and yellow fever) were once common in the USA and Europe. The first epidemic of dengue ever described was in Pennsylvania in 1780 (it was colder then!) and the disease occurred as far north as Boston. YF has been transmitted in Dublin and Swansea. Dengue has expanded in range since the 1950s-60s, when there was a major effort to eliminate the vector by DDT treatments. As the vector has returned, so has the virus. So, as I tried to explain, in my field there is a lamentable dissemination of unsubstantiated statements that are not supported by any observations. In answer to your questions re the IPCC: I dont make comments on the climatology, but if the statements are in any way of the same ilk as those in my field, then I think the situation is lamentable. Hope we get a chance to discuss some more. Best wishes Paul Attachment Converted: "c:\eudora\attach\Reiter_clim_chge_mos_dis.PDF" Attachment Converted: "c:\eudora\attach\Shakespeare.pdf" _________________________________ Paul Reiter CDC West Nile Project Harvard School of Public Health _________________________________
McMichael reveals his political leanings as he responds to a request to lobby the Australian Government about the IPCC head.

date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 18:37:24 +1000
from: "Tony McMichael" 
subject: RE: Bob Watson
to: "Mike Hulme" , "Andy Haines" 

Andy and Mike,

I plan to speak with Ian Noble about this this evening. Ian has good political connections here (but remember, ours is routinely the first government to endorse whatever Bush says/does on climate change!). 

I will be meeting with the Acting Director of the Australian Greenhouse Office next week, and will explore a bit further.


Prof. A.J. McMichael
Director, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
Australian National University
ACT 0200
Website: http://nceph.anu.edu.au/

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Hulme [mailto:m.hulme@xxx.xx.xx]
Sent: 08 April, 2002 6:33 PM
To: Andy Haines; Tony McMichael
Subject: Re: Bob Watson


I have followed the news, and seen a copy of the February 2001 memo from 
Exxon to Bush that started this thing rolling.

I take a rather relaxed view of this.  Watson does not have an unalienable 
right to chair IPCC and a change may be good anyway.  Pauchari from TERI in 
India, anyway, seems unlikely to me to 'let USA off the hook'.  The 
upsetting thing of course is the lobbying by Exxon and the giving way to it 
by Bush, but we have known this all along is a problem with the Bush 

Susan Solomon who is likely to end up chairing WGI from the USA is a top 
quality scientist and will let the 'science speak loud and clear' I believe.

The outcome of all this should be known after the Geneva Plenary in 10 days 

All the best,


At 19:56 05/04/02 +0100, Andy Haines wrote:
>Dear both,
>You will no doubt have seen the news about the intention of the Bush
>administration not to support Bob in his role as chair of IPCC
>apparently as a result of lobbying by Exxon Mobil. Tony , can you lobby
>the Australian govt and major scientific bodies in Australia to express
>their concern about and opposition to this action? Mike , I will contact
>Ian Gibson and Robert May but you may have other suggestions

Monday, November 28, 2011

ABC: activism not journalism

ABC's refugee, climate crutches getting wobbly
The Australian's Chris Kenny looks at ABC's handling of climate and refugee news and finds activism rather than journalism. We reported similar findings in our series on ABC's climate coverage.
Some extracts below, read the rest via the link (Paywall protected).

To search for climate change references in the ABC archives is to drown in a rising tide of fear and loathing. To say the public broadcaster has campaigned on climate is now uncontroversial; even its outgoing chairman Maurice Newman spoke about the extent of its "groupthink".

With annual public funding of more than a billion dollars, it is incumbent upon our ABC to tackle significant national policy debates with an appropriate sense of objectivity and detachment and to play its part in encouraging sober, evidence-based discussion and analysis.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lies of the climate commission Part 8

Another error from expert Climate Commissioner Will Steffen. On yesterday's Bolt Report he blamed recent flooding rains in southern Australia on "El Nino"...at 4:04 "The recent El Nino driven rain not withstanding..."

I guess he meant to say "La Nina".
"The term La Niña refers to the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. In Australia (particularly eastern Australia), La Niña events are associated with increased probability of wetter conditions."

Once again the climate commission demonstrates it is not a reliable source of accurate information about climate change.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ABC's Man from Snowy River

ABC Environment's impression of the Man from Snowy River
With this in mind Banjo Patterson's Man from Snowy River may have had a slightly different ending...
The man from Snowy River is a household word today, 
And the stockmen tell the story of his rice.

Missing News: lower climate sensitivity

WUWT reports on a paper reportedly "in press*" in the journal Science that finds climate sensitivity to increased CO2 is less than previously thought. Seems those predictions about extreme events our climate commission is so fond of may require some re-thinking. Let's see how long it takes for the ABC to cover this important result.

Schmittner, A., et al., 2011. Climate sensitivity estimated from temperature reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum, Science, in press*,http://www.princeton.edu/~nurban/pubs/lgm-cs-uvic.pdf

Assessing impacts of  future  anthropogenic carbon emissions is currently  impeded by uncertainties in our  knowledge  of  equilibrium  climate sensitivity to  atmospheric  carbon dioxide doubling. Previous studies suggest 3 K as best estimate, 2–4.5 K as the 66% probability range,  and non-zero probabilities  for much higher values, the latter implying  a small but significant chance  of  high-impact climate changes that would be difficult to avoid.  Here, combining extensive sea and land surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum with climate model simulations we estimate a lower median (2.3 K) and reduced uncertainty (1.7–2.6 K 66% probability).  Assuming paleoclimatic constraints apply to  the future as predicted by our model, these results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.

*According to the authors

Alice Springs faces propaganda onslaught

ABC breathlessly report on the climate commission's tax payer funded holiday to the red centre.
According the ABC, Klimate Kommissar Lesley Hughes has stated: "Alice Springs could have almost a month more of weather above 35 degrees."

No mention by the ABC or the Klimate Kommissars that climate models used to provide this prediction are hopeless at forecasting future climate states. No surprise given the ABC and the Government's climate propaganda unit, its climate commission, continues to ignore anything in the scientific literature that does not fit its world view. 

According to the BOM Alice has about 90 days per year above 35. The graph below shows the current average (in green) compared to the period 1941-1970 (red). Not much there; a slight increase in winter temps, but nothing over the summer months that would suggest a dramatic increase in the number days above 35. On face value it appears there has been no significant climate change in Alice since records were established!

Graph of selected monthly climate statistics

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ABC NEWS: June 2011 productivity report-update

ABC published their annual report for 2010-2011 back in October. The final staff figures for the news division allow us to finalise this year's productivity survey.
In July we predicted ABC News staff levels for 2010-2011 to be 961. The actual figures as reported in the annual report (p.231) were 963.14, so there is little change in final figures and none at the first decimal place. A dismal result!

One wonders how this justified performance pay for 282 ABC employees.
Appendix 13—Performance Pay (p.230)
The ABC paid bonuses to 161 executives totalling $749 666, an average of $4 656 per executive.
It paid bonuses to 121 non-executive employees totalling $298 387, an average of $2 466 per employee.

Year  Total Stories 
2003      7230 
2004      6920 
2005      6899 
2006      6995 
2007      7988 
2008      8894 
2009      7134 
2010      6666
2011      5908

Staffing:  Figures are based on ABC annual reports.
Year   Staff 
2003   766.24 
2004   735.04 
2005   756.6 
2006   770.68 
2007   842.37 
2008   865.59 
2009   913.14 
2010   947.36
2011   963.14

Productivity: With stories at a record low and staff at record highs, it comes at no surprise that ABC news productivity is at a record low of just 6.1 stories per staff member for the month. 

Year  Stories per staff per month 
2003      9.4 
2004      9.4 
2005      9.1 
2006      9.1 
2007      9.5 
2008     10.3 
2009      7.8 
2010      7.1
2011      6.1

Monday, November 7, 2011

We're all going on a summer holiday

ABC's annual summer break seems to be starting earlier and earlier:

 John, Tony and Kerry start their summer holidays,
No more working for the next three months.
Fun and laughter on their summer holidays,
provides a break in the Groupthink in so many ways,
but only for the next ninety days. 

They're going where the sun shines brightly
Perhaps attending a climate conference or two.
Watching repeats of Al Gores' Movie,
can't believe they think that crap is all true?!

Everybody wants an ABC summer holiday,
It's three months off thanks to their old Aunty. 
They get three months break for their summer holidays, 
it's same as long service leave for you and me.
But just another well earned break for John, Tony and Kerry.
Out of the taxes paid by you and me, 
I'm sure they'll have a drink or three.
(Sorry Cliff)

4 Corners 7/11/2011This is the final Four Corners for 2011. We will return in on Monday 6 February, 2012

Media Watch 7/11/2011.  Gerard Henderson finds the oh so high productivity perhaps behind the early on set of summer.

"Last Monday, Jonathan Holmes announced that next week’s edition of the ABC1 Media Watch program would be the last for 2011.  Just how much the Media Watch staff deserve a well-earned break is evident from Andrew Murfett’s sympathetic piece titled “Watchdog has his day” which was published in The Age’s “Greenguide” on 27 October 2011.  Holmes told Murfett:
We have six well-paid journalists working on 2000 words a week. We have three full-time researchers, a producer, a story editor and executive producer.
And then there is Jonathan Holmes himself – who is the seventh left-wing presenter (out of seven) to present Media Watch since it first went to air in May 1989.  His predecessors are the lefties Stuart Littlemore, Richard Ackland, Paul Barry, David Marr, Liz Jackson and Monica Attard.
So Media Watch has seven full-time staff producing 2000 words a week to occupy 13 minutes on-air time for the nine months or so in which the program is shown each year. ABC management and staff are invariably whinging about not receiving enough taxpayer funds. Yet, according to Jonathan Holmes, seven well-paid full-time staff are flat out at Media Watch producing 2000 words between them each week – which works out to less than 60 words per working day."
Q and A 7/11/2011: For the final show of 2011, host Tony Jones is joined by Liberal MP, Malcolm Turnbull; Jessica Rudd; Ray Martin; Labor MP, Kate Ellis; and Former Howard Government Minister, Peter Reith.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Missing news: Problems with climate models

Roger Pielke Snr has an interesting post that will no doubt never be covered by the ABC's Science unit. It's on continuing problems with the skill of climate models, and based on a discussion of the work of Demetris Koutoyiannis.

“….we tested whether the model outputs are consistent with reality (which reflects the entire variability, due to combined natural and anthropogenic effects). Our results extend Huard’s statements further. Specifically, we show that, climate models are not only unable to predict the variability of climate, but they are also unable to reproduce even the means of temperature and rainfall in the past. For example, as we stated in our paper, “In some [models], the annual mean temperature of the USA is overestimated by about 4–5◦C and the annual precipitation by about 300–400 mm”.

Roger comments:
This Comment/Reply illustrates, in my view, the continued pressure on Editors not to publish papers that conflict with the IPCC perspective of the climate system and the ability of global climate models to provide skillful predictions decades into the future. Instead of showing in a quantifiable manner any flaws in the work by Demetris Koutsoyiannis and colleages, Huard 2011 resorts to semantics and criticisms of the review process. Whenever authors resort to such arguments, it illustrates that they cannot refute the substance of the research study.

See the whole post HERE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who's Ho?

Credit Ho New (Reuters) 
Screen shot of the offending item taken from ABC Environment's Site 25/10/2011
We have had some fun with ABC environment's woeful attempt to automatically link news headlines to stock images (see this effort for instance), however this time the incompetence relates to attribution of a photo in an opinion piece on its website (shown above).

The correct attribution is shown below in an article from MSNBC. As to who "Ho New" is, we asked Reuters and they indicated the Ho refers to "Handout".
Attribution of MSNBC article reads "Dennis Sarrazin  /  ArcticNet/Centre d'Etudes Nordiques"

You can see more amazing photos by Dennis Sarrazin at his page at the Centre d'Etudes Nordiques. The photo ABC incorrectly credited to a "Handout" from Reuters was taken in on the 20/08/2008 and shows Disraeli fjord, Ellesmere Island, Northern Canada. In Dennis Sarrazin's slideshow it's about the 20th photo in.

In regard to the content of the op ed piece, if you look up "Alarmist" in the dictionary it now simply shows a Lissajous curve. In regard to its author, based on a recent critique by Roger Pielke Jnr, I believe the label "cherry picker" is appropriate.

Update from Reuters received 29/10/2011:
Thanks for the note, and sorry for the delay. The HO is actually an internal code which is added to a picture when its put into our archive. It most likely was a technical glitch.

No, just ABC incompetence.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Missing News: New book exposes UN climate Panel

Donna Laframboise is the author of a new book that lifts the veil from the IPCC. Donna was interviewed on SunTV, we wonder when she will appear on our ABC, perhaps on Lateline, The Science Show or Q and A.

The book, The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert, an IPCC Exposé, is available from $5 via Amazon.

This review from the Tucson Citizen.
In this book, Canadian journalist Donna LaFramboise exposes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a fraud. LaFramboise (see author profile here) spent two years investigating the IPCC. She says it acts like a spoiled teenager, hence the title of the book.

The IPCC has long been touted as the preeminent authority on climate science. But LaFramboise shows that the participants were picked by governments, not for their scientific expertise, but for their political connections and for “diversity.” Many of the scientists are in fact, very young graduate students. Many of the bureaucrats in the IPCC are from radical environmental groups. Real experts are often ignored. She says the IPCC is a purely political organization, not a scientific one, and she backs up her charges with copious references.

Read the rest via the link above.

Missing News: No increase in US flooding

Roger Pielke Jnr reports Are US Floods Increasing? The Answer is Still No.
A new paper out today in the Hydrological Sciences Journal shows that flooding has not increased in the United States over records of 85 to 127 years.  This adds to a pile of research that shows similar results around the world.  This result is of course consistent with our work that shows that increasing damage related to weather extremes can be entirely explained by societal changes, such as more property in harm's way.  In fact, in the US flood damage has decreased dramatically as a fraction of GDP, which is exactly whet you get if GDP goes up and flooding does not.
I do not expect research to change anyone's views on the topic or alter the debate over climate change and extreme events.  The debate has moved well beyond that which can be resolved empirically.

From the abstract
Hydrological Sciences Journal
DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2011.621895
In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2. One region, the southwest, showed a statistically significant negative relationship between GMCO2 and flood magnitudes.

ABC's coverage has generally taken a different view on weather related disasters and climate change:
Australia's future forecast: hot, dry and more floods May 1, 2001

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some links

Links below to some recent articles discussing ABC's climate coverage:

Jo Nova: There is no saving the ABC — We want 60% of our billion back
"We want evidence, reason, and well informed opinions from all sides on important topics. Instead we’re coerced into paying for propaganda, character assassination, and the personal views of journalists."

"So, has the ABC attitude towards CAGW scepticism changed over the past year?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ABC shrinks quality of science reporting

mini ABC

In a story headlined "Climate change downsizing fauna, flora" ABC Science reported on the results of a new study published in Nature Climate Change (Shrinking body size as an ecological response to climate change)
that suggested (according to the ABC) that "Climate change is reducing the size of many animal and plant species". The remainder of the story reads like a press release, with no critical input from ABC's groupthinkers.

The Australian covered the same story with a report from AP under the headline "Warming blamed for shrinking animals" that included this helpful caveat missing from ABC's typically one sided report:
But Yoram Yom-Tov, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University whose studies Dr Sheridan used in her research, said many species were shrinking, and global warming was not the sole reason.
"Changes in body size are a normal phenomenon," he said.
"Besides, most species will adapt to climate change."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported a day earlier with "Global warming blamed for shrinking species" by Seth Borenstein included a similar cautionary statement:
But Yoram Yom-Tov, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University whose studies Sheridan used in her research, said many species are shrinking, and you can't blame global warming exclusively.
"Changes in body size are a normal phenomenon," Yom-Tov wrote in an email. "When conditions are favourable, they increase in size or reproduce at higher rates, and when conditions are deteriorating, they do the opposite. I think that most species will adapt to climate change and survive. No need for alarm."
And Stanford biologist Terry Root, an expert in climate change, said the study's conclusions "seem kind of far-fetched".

ABC's uncritical report states "Fossil records, they found, were unambiguous: past periods of rising temperatures had led both marine and land organisms to become progressively smaller." (ed I guess that would account for the size of the Dinosaurs). 
Oddly just last week ABC were suggesting that cooling, not warming was responsible for shrinking things: from "Climate change 'shrank people and economy'"
"The Little Ice Age shrank people and the economy, leading to a general crisis in the 17th Century, say researchers."

ABC News: shrinking the quality of science reporting (at least they're consistent!).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Update Nothing abnormal about NT fires

ABC provide the reply below to our complaint regarding their claims CO2 releases from NT fires are abnormal. Tainted as it is by a groupthink mentality, lack of balance and failure to live up to normal journalistic standards on environmental reporting, ABC's exceptionally low standards are fast becoming the norm. (To see how totally normal this year's fire season is, skip to the links below ABC's response-title in red).

Here's their response (in italics) received October 11, our comments in bold:
Thank you for your email of October 7 concerning the story "Science counts carbon cost of Red Centre fires".
As your correspondence raised concerns of a lack of accuracy, your email was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas (as separate as Chang and Eng) and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC's editorial standards (by providing a big rubber stamp for ABC's errors and misleading reports). In light of your concerns, we have reviewed the story and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial requirements for accuracy, as outlined in section 2 of the ABC’s Editorial Policies:http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm. In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News.

Your complaint is that the use of the “abnormal” in relation to the fires is a “gross distortion” of the facts. The story carefully and accurately described the fact that these fires are part of the natural cycle in the Northern Territory but are, none the less, far from common.  (In the story Dr Ashley Sparrow indicates it is "an example of the boom-and-bust ecosystem in the Red Centre at work". Only activist reporters at the ABC could construe this as abnormal. It is clearly part of a well known common natural cycle.)
That you had to go back 60 years to find reports of equivalent fires, demonstrates this.
(This is a demonstration of the ignorance and laziness of ABCs respondent. I found the news articles on the National Library Newspaper site in about 2 minutes. The Archive ends in the 1950s. A fuller account of bushfires activity in the NT is provided below, this located in about 2 mintues. It seems that large fires in the NT are quite common.)
Describing such events as “abnormal” is only intended to indicate their infrequency, which is quite clear when read in context. The story is not misleading. 
(Based on the evidence of fire activity in the NT use of the term "abnormal" is indeed misleading, sensationalist and inaccurate).
Accordingly, while noting your concerns, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied the story was in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy (In other words it as woeful and as tainted by Groupthink as the rest of ABC's environmental reporting). Nonetheless, please be assured that your comments have been noted and conveyed to ABC News management (As the same mistakes keep on occurring in ABC's echo chamber one doubts that much notice is paid to any criticism).
Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated (I'm sure it is).
End Response

Few people are aware of the role, the process or the scale of burning (controlled and uncontrolled) that occurs in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. Bushfires are a ubiquitous feature of the Northern Territory dry season, with the territory having the most frequent, largest and more poorly documented vegetation fires of any part of the continent. When considering Northern Territory bushfires it is necessary to discard all preconceptions of size, frequency and even harm, based on southern vegetation fire regimes, as they are simply not translatable to the savannas that dominate Australia’s north
Area burned: The frequency and area burned in any one year varies considerably. Nevertheless, by
southern standards the total and the proportion of land burned in any given year is extraordinarily large. In the higher rainfall savanna woodlands of the northern Kimberley, the Top End and Cape York up to half of the total area may be burned either every year or every second year (Anderson 1996, Dyer et al. 2001, Press 1998, Russell-Smith et al. 1997). Many of these fires are intense and therefore pose the most danger in terms of their capacity to devastate populations of fire-sensitive native plants and animals, to be costly and disruptive to pastoral operations, and to pose a threat to communities and property. The frequency of fires tends to decrease further south for a number of reasons. They include reduced rainfall and therefore vegetation density, reduced grass reserves due to intensive use of these savannas for grazing, and greater efforts to suppress fires to prevent destruction of valuable fodder resources.

Intense fires commonly started by lightning strikes during particularly dry seasons have occurred
throughout the Northern Territory’s modern history. The amounts of land burned in these events are extraordinary. The Council of Australian Governments report (Ellis, Kanowski & Whelan 2004) lists four major bushfire seasons in the territory since the late 1960s that collectively burned 168,000,000 ha. In 2002, approximately 38,000,000 ha burned in planned and unplanned fires. This represents 29 percent of the Northern Territory. In comparison, the January 2003 fires burned ‘only’ 226,000 ha in the Australian Capital Territory and 1,000,000 ha in Victoria.
See Table 1 above.

So nothing "abnormal" about large bush fires in the NT!

See also this animation of fires around Central Australia for the period May 1999 to April 2004:

NASA image from 2007...Below Huge fires scorched grassland and savanna in the Barkly Tableland region of Australia’s Northern Territory in October 2007. 

Based on ABC's story one wonders where Fred Williams got the inspiration for this series of paintings?...
Bushfire in Northern Territory 12) (1976)
How much of Kakadu Burnt each year? Did I hear an average of 46%? And that's abnormal?
Every year large proportions of northern Australia's tropical savanna landscapes are burnt, resulting in high fire frequencies and short intervals between fires.

Austral Ecology

Volume 30Issue 2pages 155–167April 2005
From...Fire and Sustainable Agricultural and Forestry Development in Eastern Indonesia and Northern Australia Proceedings of an international workshop held at  Northern Territory University, Darwin, Australia, 13–15 April 1999. (Link Here) From Russell-Smith et al, on page 95... In northwestern and northern Australia, and possibly also on parts of Cape York in the northeast, intense wild fires typically late in the dry season burn vast tracts annually. 

Vast Tracts! And to the ABC this year's fires are somehow "abnormal"!