Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Missing News: Critical flaws found in the critical decade

ABC has taken no interest in providing news of a report by prominent Australian scientists that debunks the alarming claims about climate change made by the Australian Government's climate commission. The scientific audit of the commission's "Magnum Opus" by  Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and William Kininmonth can be found HERE.
Here's an extract from the conclusion that makes it newsworthy...
"The scientific advice contained within The Critical Decade is an inadequate, flawed and misleading basis on which to set national policy. The report is emotive and tendentious throughout, ignores sound scientific criticism of IPCC shibboleths that has been made previously, and is shotgun in its approach and at the same time selective in its use of evidence. The arguments presented depend heavily upon unvalidated computer models the predictions of which have been wrong for the last 23 years, and which are are unremittingly and unjustifiably alarmist in nature. Further, in concentrating upon the hypothetical risk of human-caused warming, the Climate Commission has all but ignored the very real and omnipresent risks of dangerous natural climate-related events and change, which are certain to continue to occur in the future."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cut and pasted - IPCC errors

From the cut and paste section in today's Australian newspaper...

A sturdy declaration on p19 of the climate commission magnum opus, The Critical Decade:
THE [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]'s Fourth Assessment Report has been intensively and exhaustively scrutinised and is virtually error-free.
HERE are links to the IPCC's own list of errors in the AR4 report, it runs to about 3200 words. When we cut and pasted them all into MSword we ended up with 31 pages.
For more errors and lies from the Climate commission...
see Lies of the climate commission PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5

None of these reported by Australia's state owned media corporation.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whose ABC?

Whose ABC? Feature and editorial at The Australian.

"Under Mark Scott's leadership, the ABC no longer aspires to be "Your ABC", the slogan it adopted on Australia Day 1997 to launch its now familiar wave-form logo. A sly coup by a coterie of like-minded, inner-city staff has commandeered the ABC's transmitters and stipend to broadcast almost exclusively to the vocal minority who share their prejudices."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 5-Calcification rates

In its report The Critical Decade, the Australian government's Climate Commissioners state (on page 27):
Increasing acidity in tropical ocean surface waters is already affecting coral growth; calcification rates have dropped by about 15% over the past two decades.
Seems pretty frightening. The maximum rate of loss based on the graph in Figure 19a on page 30 of the commissions report is about -0.014 units per year (between 1994 and 2005 - see Figure 19a below which is based on Death et al., 2009).
  Figure 19a - Variation of (a) calcification (grams per square centimetre per Year).
(That shape sure looks familiar)

About the Death et a 2009 study the commission state: "The observational study was carried out using 328 sites on 69 reefs and showed a precipitous drop in calcification rate, linear extension and coral density, all indicators of coral growth, in the last 15-20 years of a 400-year record (Figure 19)." Hang on this graph only shows the last 100 years, what about the last 400?

Here's a graph from Lough and Barnes 1997 that goes back a little further. (Lough JM and Barnes DJ (1997) Centuries-long records of coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef. pp. 149-157. In: Wachenfeld D, Oliver JK and Davis K (eds) State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Workshop. Proceedings of a technical workshop held in Townsville, Queensland, Australia 27-29 November 1995. GBRMPA Workshop Series. 23. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.)
Figure 4. from Lough and Barnes 1997. The raw data incorporated into Death et al. 2009 (see their figure 2 but without the high degree of smoothing that masks the short term variation-this relevant given the short time frame used by the commission to score a political point.) The drammatic change from 1994-2005 used by the climate commission to present a case of alarm is shown as the red line scaled to match this graph at the top, as are intervals where the rate is about equal to, or exceeded by historical data (red arrows) based on the 5 year filter.

The last 15 years does indeed show a "precipitous drop" however looking at the longer term, similar "drops" appear at least 13 times over the last 4 centuries. When placed in its historical context, the commission's case for alarm vanishes into thin air. 

The Climate Commission, who judge climate in in 30 year slices, didn't bother looking past the last "two decades" to reach their alarming conclusions on calcification rates. Someone appears to be confusing the weather for climate.

The commission further mislead the public with their mis-representation of climate science and make a mockery of the commission's task to: Explain the science of climate change and the impacts on Australia.
The ABC continue to let this pass without in-depth investigation, to the great detriment of its audience. Having its reporters "embedded" in the commission does not appear to be a good starting point, and appears somewhat at odds with the ABC's task of providing News that is impartial and free of personal bias.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 4

The following statement appears on page 20 of the Climate Commission's report "The Critical Decade".

"The IPCC AR4 has been intensively and exhaustively scrutinised, including formal reviews such as that by the InterAcademy Council (2010), and only two peripheral errors, both of them in the WG 2 report on impacts and adaptation, have yet been found (in a publication containing approximately 2.5 million words!)."

on page 19:––The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report has been intensively and exhaustively scrutinised and is virtually error-free.

Here are links (below) to the IPCC's own list of errors in the AR4 report. Combined it runs to about 3200 words. When we cut and pasted them all into MSword we ended up with 31 pages. These errors were noted after the report was published which doesn't say much for the "exhaustive, thorough process" of review described by the climate commissioners. "The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), published in 2007, involved about 1,250 expert authors and 2,500 reviewers, who produced about 90,000 comments on drafts, each one of which was addressed explicitly by the authors (ed. many of these were totally ignored)". Here's how some IPCC authors dealt with peer reviewed papers critical of the IPCC consensus:
 "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep

them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !
Cheers Phil" Source

That's Phil Jones of Climategate fame

New errors have been noted in AR4 as recently as last month.
(Note our own small contribution to the list of errors in WG2 brought about thanks to the ABC's reliance on the IPCC as a "reliable" source of climate information-seems parts of Sri Lanka were not warming at a rate of 2 degrees per year).

Note. The following is a list of errata and corrections to the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Last updated: 4 April 2011

Note. The following is a list of errata and corrections to the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Last updated 24 February 2011

Errors in Working GROUP III
Errata for the Working Group III contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report. (Last updated 28 July 2010)

Will the ABC report on this misleading statement, or will it continue to leave its audience in the dark?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 3

Roger Peilke jnr has a guest post by Ryan Crompton of Macquarie University's Risk Frontiers dealing with the Climate Commissions treatment of Bushfires. It's titled Treatment of Bushfires by the Australian Climate Commission.

On  page 40 of its report (The Critical Decade) the climate commission, states that 'The intensity and seasonality of large bushfires in southeast Australia appears to be changing, with climate change a possible contributing factor (Cai et al. 2009c)."

Crompton is joint author of an important study the ABC did not feel newsworthy. This study, omitted from the report by the Climate Commission (whose commissioners can not be relied upon for accurate information about climate science-see Part 1.), found that "that there is no discernable evidence that normalized building damage is being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases". The study remains unreported by the ABC. Its authors recently comprehensively smacked down critics of the study in the peer reviewed press. 

Crompton's post deals with the use of (Cai et al, 2009) as a supporting reference for the statement made by our climate commission: 
My main issue is the report’s use of a key reference, the study by Cai et al. (2009c) entitled “Positive Indian Ocean dipole events precondition southeast Australia bushfires”, to support the statement that 
“the intensity and seasonality of large bushfires in southeast Australia appears to be changing, with climate change a possible contributing factor”
While I have no issue with the Cai et al. study itself (we cited this in our recent bushfire paper), at best, the use of it in the Commission’s report is clumsy, and at worst, misleading.

Crompton goes on to state:
If instead the statement in the report was referring to impacts, then why was the conclusion from our research not cited here – that there is "no discernable evidence that the normalized Australian bushfire building damage (1925-2009) is being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases"(PDF)? 

In sum, as far as the bushfire sub-section of the Climate Commission’s report is concerned, it seems that both accuracy and clarity have been sacrificed for economy. And that, unfortunately, will always do far more harm than good. 

Read the whole post at Roger' blog. This seems newsworthy, will ABC report it?

Let the sun shine in

Janet Albrechtsen's piece in today's Australian titled Bob, the sun is shining on you looks at recent claims of right wing bias at the ABC, and the need for increased scrutiny of The Greens. Worth a read.
"A RIGHT-WING ABC? No, just Chris Uhlmann doing his job properly, unlike his colleagues.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Missing News - Bushfire Slap Down

Neville Nicholls, a Lead Author for the IPCC's  Fourth Assessment report has attempted to find deficiencies in a recent paper dealing with climate influences on bushfires in Australia between 1925 and 2010. (Crompton, R. P., K. J. McAneney, K. Chen, R. A. Pielke Jr., and K. Haynes, 2010. Influence of Location, Population and Climate on Building Damage and Fatalities due to Australian Bushfire: 1925-2009. Weather, Climate, and Society, Vol. 2, pp. 300-310, doi:10.1175/2010WCAS1063.1.) This paper found that: "There is no discernable evidence that the normalized data are being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases."

Nicholls' attempt at discrediting the study has been slapped down convincingly by the study authors. Nicholls' comment is HERE. And the response HERE. The original authors conclude the exchange thus:

Our result—that there is no discernable evidence that normalized building damage is being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases— is not surprising, when you consider that bushfire damage is not solely a function of bushfire weather; far from it, in fact. Even given a gradual aggravation of bushfire weather due to anthropogenic climate change or other factors, a bushfire still has to be ignited. Once ignited, a bushfire then has to traverse the landscape and impact a populated area, where outcomes in terms of damage will be a function of the spatial disposition of dwellings with respect to the fire front, and especially distance of properties from the bushland boundary (McAneney et al. 2009). These factors all contribute a large degree of stochasticity to eventual event loss outcomes.

The Nicholls (2011) speculations are worthy of discussion but no evidence is presented to support these contentions. Moreover, the evidence that we are aware of and have presented here in relation to a potential bias in our normalization methodology and to the possible sources of reduced vulnerability does not undermine our findings in any way.

What's newsworthy here is not just that the evidence further supports the original conclusions (that there is no discernable evidence that normalized building damage is being influenced by climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases), but that an IPCC lead author can put together such a poor case, backed without any evidence! Is this the sort of people the government is relying on to provide scientific advice-those that rely on idle speculation, rather than back their claims with evidence?

ABC did not report on the original study so we don't expect a follow up. This is very surprising given the lead authors are based in Australia and its a highly relevant work with broad policy implications. ABC instead promote a report by the government's climate commission that includes this misleading statement regarding bushfires: 'The intensity and seasonality of large bushfires in southeast Australia appears to be changing, with climate change a possible contributing factor" Page 40. Once again ABC severely misinform its audience.

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 2

ABC News were very quick to uncritically report on the release of the government's Climate Commission report titled  "The Critical Decade".One of the authors of the report, Climate Kommisar, Will Steffan has been shown to have problems conveying accurate information about climate science to the public (see Part 1 of this series).  As such we would expect ABC to be somewhat sceptical about claims made in the report. As an example take this statement on page 6 of the report dealing with recent temperature rises: "Figure 1 shows the global average temperature record from the late 19th century to the present. Over the last three decades, the rate of warming has been 0.17 °C per decade, a very high rate from a geological perspective."

Here's figure 1:

We added trend lines to the commission's graph to show the rate of temperature increase from 1970 through to the early 2000s is the same as that between 1910 and 1940. That is about 0.17 degrees C per decade. It seems that the rate of recent warming is not unprecedented even in the last 100 years. Speaking about the last 100 years as the climate commission itself notes:  "However, time series of at least three decades – and preferably much longer – are required to differentiate with confidence a long-term climatic trend from shorter term variability." So why with a 100 years of good data does the commission focus on the trend for the last 30 years? Just one climate cycle. Here's Figure 1 again with the trend for the last 100 years superimposed-this is about 3 climate cycles. The rate of warming, based on all the data shown, and not just a cherry picked portion, now is 0.07 degrees per decade. If this rate continues the average global temperature in 2100 will be around 1.4 degrees higher. Well below the 2 degree buffer.
Looking at the longer term the claim is demonstrably false-just take a look at the temperature record revealed by Greenland and Antarctic ice cores. Here's Greenland's temperature for the past 20,000 years courtesy of NOAA:
There appears to be no end to the confirmation bias, misinformation and alarm!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recommended reading

John Izzard in a piece for Quadrant sums up recent issues dealing with claims of right wing bias at the ABC in this piece titled:
Leftland is angry
"ABC1 news and current affairs is generally skewed to the left with slavish attention to the perspective of the Greens and the ALP. Most ABC television programs like ABC1 NewsQ&A,LatelineABC News 24ABC Breakfast News and The Insiders are biased, with the political slant of the presenters and reporters self-evident. When the political bent of the ABC staff isn’t obvious, the choice of the people they interview, is."

Read the rest at Quadrant.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In support of Mr Uhlmann

ABC 7:30 presenter Chris Uhlmann, should be congratulated for his reporting. Despite being married to a sitting ALP politician he has dealt with the conflict of interest well in the past 6 months, and he remains one of the few journalists in the ABC to live up to the corporation's charter that aims for impartial reporting. A challenge in an organisation whose own chairman recognized in it, a pervasive culture of Groupthink. 

Now the left wing "ignorarmy" at GETUP ("Petition hits ABC for shift to Right",The Australian 20/5) are calling for his resignation on the basis of one tough interview with Greens leader the "morally superior" Senator Bob Brown. Having been given a soft run by the media in recent years the Greens appear to be crumbling under the slightest scrutiny, leading its staffers to launch a "hate" campaign against Uhlmann and other members of the press. The Australian report (Brown staffers join the media war, 21/5) that Senator Brown's director of media, Marion Rae, posted a photograph of The Australian's James Massola, with the caption: "There's a hypertroll outside the window." and of the ABC's Chris Uhlmann, she said: "Some are born great, some become great and others have talented wives, eh mate?"

To get the ABC back to its charter, rather than sacking its one balanced journalist, it could start by sacking its cherry picking science reporter: Mr Confirmation Bias, Robyn Williams. Its doom saying radio announcer: the eco-catastrophist, Deborah Cameron. Its resident shamrock reporter: environmental activist Sara Phillips (so named as she only covers the green side of issues). And its one eyed opinion editor: Jonathan Green, who balances 12 left wing articles with just one from the right (Aunty makes no secret of prejudice, 11/5). That would make a start.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dust babbler

In late September 2010, ABC reported that an Australian dust storm could be weeks away. Let's once again re-visit the forecast made in the original article:
"Professor De Deckker says he expects another major storm will develop after the flooded inland of Australia dries during spring.
"You had major floods in Central Australia and I think in the near future, when the material that covers the landscape - especially the lake floors and river banks - when that dries up, the wind will pick it up and lift some of the material to our eastern seashores," he said.

"So it is likely to be this spring, but more likely in early autumn."
(our emphasis)

Turns out there were no dust storms in Spring. None in Summer, in fact the 2010-2011 summer was the second wettest on record. There were no dust storms in early Autumn. None have been reported thus far in late Autumn and winter fast approaches. There has yet to be a large dust storm covered by ABC news since this prediction was made last September. Turns out this prediction was bulldust!

Will ABC now balance its news coverage by reporting on the spectacular failure of this prediction? Why did ANU's Professor Patrick De Deckker get it so wrong on this occasion, and where is the good professor's media release explaining why? Help bring this dust babbler to account.

Update: ABC provide this unsatisfactory response (Received 20/5/2011):

The story you refer to was one of the stories we ran around the time of the first anniversary of the dust storms of 2009.
These stories were all legitimate at  the time, and those quoted publicly in them are entitled to be judged on the wisdom of their comments. However, the ABC does not necessarily follow up and critique each and every statement made by people legitimately quoted in News stories.
Alan Sunderland Head of Policy & Staff DevelopmentABC News

Our response:
Dear Alan,
Thanks for the response. You miss the point Alan, I'm not saying the report wasn't newsworthy.  Equally newsworthy is the fact this expert go it very wrong and it' s not like ABC with over 950 staff in news doesn't have the resources to follow it up.


The willful blindness of the media in not reporting failed predictions is nicely dealt with in Dan Gardner's new book Future Babble. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Can you define exclusive Sir Humphrey?

ABC find a new definition of "exclusive".

Thank you for your email of 29 March (see our post Exclusive opinion).
In response to your first query, I understand the Environment portal is an aggregation site which draws in content from other ABC websites, and also publishes some original material not found elsewhere on the ABC. ABC Innovation has advised that audience feedback suggested there was so much content from across the ABC that the original pieces were lost. I am advised that the 'Exclusives' tab was set up as a navigation aid to assist users to find content which has been published on the portal and which does not appear anywhere else on the ABC; that is, content that is exclusive to the portal in the sense that it did not come from elsewhere on the ABC. This was the case for the opinion piece 'Why I think climate change is real', which appeared in the 'Opinion' and 'Exclusives' sections of the Environment portal and nowhere else on the ABC. (This article first appeared on The Conversation-ed)

In response to your second query, I am advised that ABC Innovation does not commission original news stories for the Environment portal. However, I understand there have been many feature stories and opinion pieces published exclusively on the portal.

Your feedback, including your request for the 'Exclusives' section to include only news stories which are exclusive to the ABC, has been conveyed to relevant staff in ABC Innovation. (Received 13/5/2011)

That's "Innovation" for you!

A slightly different definition of exclusive: "a piece of news, or the reporting of a piece of news, obtained by a newspaper or other news organization, along with the privilege of using it first."

Breaking News...by snail mail?

A US Senator has been shown 15 photographs taken after Bin Laden was killed on May 2 in a US commando raid - 12 photos from the Pakistani compound and three from the ship where they buried him at sea.
Certainly a news worthy item. The Australian, and Sydney Morning Herald thought so:
Reported by The Australian May 12, 2011 12:59pm
Reported by the Sydney Morning Herald May 12, 1.16pm

Update: ABC Snail Mail arrives at 6:40pm in a story from AFP...only 5 hours late.

Let's see how long it takes for our "premium" news service to catch up. Any bets? 
Surprising they are so slow off the mark, especially as they have a few correspondents in the US?
Michael Brissenden
Also North America correspondent Jane Cowan
and North America correspondent Craig McMurtrie
North America correspondent Lisa Millar

Image problem

ABC provide the following explanation for the image problem with ABC Environment 's Online News Section
Received 13/5/2011
ABC Innovation has advised that stories from across the ABC that are filed with no image are randomly assigned an image on the Environment portal from a pool of images. I understand relevant ABC Innovation staff are aware of the discordant match-ups that this system has produced and have been working on a solution. The examples published on your website have been brought to the attention of ABC Innovation management.

This mixed up headline published the same day suggests work is proceeding at the usual rate. Note that we first informed ABC on 4 April, 2011.
Not sure if that's Robyn or Fran (or Julia) under that hat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lack of balance in opinion

Gavin Atkin's proves bias at ABC's opinion site, The Drum, in a piece titled "Aunty makes no secret of prejudice", in today's Australian. Worth a read.

Monday, May 9, 2011

ABC Environment: the insults continue

ABC Environment continue their visual insults to Vietnamese farmers. We look forward to their apology.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buying some one else's perspective

From the editorial in today's Australian:
"Taxpayers are entitled to ask why the provision of more than $1 billion in annual funding does not buy Australian coverage but an Al-Jazeera feed."
Read the rest HERE.

And I thought SBS was there to provide an international perspective on the news!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Job Vacancy

ABC are seeking a Chief Political Correspondent to lead its Radio Current Affairs bureau in Canberra. Specifically ABC want an "an agenda setting political reporter to lead the Radio Current Affairs bureau in Parliament House Canberra."  (What happened to just reporting the news?)
Salary is $79,208 - $100,428 p.a. + Generous Super (I guess the super must be very generous indeed, or the agenda items will all be related to politician's interest in Justin Beber, and the latest iphone app .)

  • Selection criteria include:

    1. Senior journalist with excellent writing skills. Broadcast experience preferred.
    2. Demonstrated flair for political reporting and ability to break stories.
    3. Able to analyse and give context to complex political issues.
    4. An effective communicator.  Able to lead and administer a small, highly productive and creative radio current affairs team.
    5. Able to deliver accurate copy, ahead of deadlines, while working under intense pressure
    6. Authoritative interviewing and live reporting ability.
    7. Extensive and relevant contact list.
    8. Thorough knowledge of, or willing to work within, ABC Editorial guidelines.
    9. An understanding of and commitment to the ABC's aims, objectives and workplace values, together with relevant Equity & Diversity and OH&S.
    For that salary, good luck with that!

    Behind the times

    We opened ABC's Local News portal. The lead item is Black Saturday.
     So what's happening in ABC Business? The Global Financial Crisis.
    ABC News: Providing a window into yesteryear

    Where's Michael?

    Earlier this week we asked Where's Dan when it came to providing some coverage of the results of the recent Canadian Elections. Equally relevent is the question "Where's Michael"? Referring to ABC's North America Correspondent Michael Brissenden. Seems his brief doesn't extend to the northern part of that continent, leaving ABC to rely on Reuters to fill the gap.

    The same questions apply...
    Is Michael taking a WEB (well earned break)?
    Significant tax payers resources are expended keeping ABC's foreign correspondents in overseas postings. If they can't be relied upon to provide major news stories from their ports of call, why are they there at all?

    ABC NEWS 24 paranoid about public scrutiny

    More on ABC's latest news failure in the letters page of today's Australian newspaper under the header ABC doesn't offer news value for our money, including this one from yours truely:

    WITH the death of Osama bin Laden, the ABC once again failed to promptly cover one of the most important news stories of the decade, raising legitimate questions about whether taxpayers are getting value for money.
    In response to The Australian's criticism, the ABC's News Director, Kate Torney, believes News Ltd is out to get the national broadcaster. The government had a similar paranoid response to questions The Australian raised about other publicly funded white elephants, including the failed pink batts scheme and money wasted on the Building the Education Revolution (two other stories the ABC was late to cover).
    The public demands appropriate scrutiny of public finances, so what makes the ABC so special that it should be sheltered from public accountability? The term "value for money" is missing from the ABC's charter; perhaps it's time it was inserted.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Failure at ABC24

    The biggest news story of the year and once again ABC drop the ball. If ABC NEWS 24 was a cricket player they would make Phil Tufnell look like Don Bradman.

    Here's how The Australian describe its latest effort...

    News never seems easy at ABC
    NATIONAL broadcaster is again caught short by a major story.
    Judged by the ABC's charter, which requires "innovative and comprehensive broadcasting", this was another epic failure. 

    Australians grew up expecting the national broadcaster to deliver reliable and timely news and current affairs. Now they must wonder about its priorities, with the managing director and many staff seemingly spending more time on Twitter than they do broadcasting. Clearly Mr Scott should spend more time on content and developing the news-focused, can-do attitude that seems to flourish in the commercial media. The ABC likes to deride commercial media but, yet again, its rivals showed better judgment and greater flexibility.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Where's Dan?

    ABC have a reporter in Toronto (that's polar bear Dan Karpenchuk) yet they rely on Reuters to supply a story about Canada's recent election results. Is Dan taking a WEB (well earned break)?
    Significant tax payers resources are expended keeping ABC's foreign correspondents in overseas postings. If they can't be relied upon to provide major news stories from their ports of call, why are they there at all?

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 1

    Update 5/5/2011 see below.
    Apparently many people have asked the Climate Commission where they can find accurate information about climate change. It seems NOT from the Commission itself...
    Climate commissioner Will Steffen said the following at a meeting of the commission chaired by the ABC's Tony Eastley at Port Macquarie April 28. (Video available HERE)
    At 16:09 WILL STEFFEN: "Great Barrier Reef: about 15 years ago there were no bleaching events. The sea surface temperatures is risen, we've had 7 or 8 severe bleaching events in the last 15 years in the Great Barrier Reef"
    The Facts
    15 years from 2011 that would be 1996. Let's see what the record says:
    According to the IPCC AR4 WGII (p.512) "Eight mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef since 1979"
    According to wikipedia "The Great Barrier Reef along the coast of Australia experienced bleaching events in 1980, 1982, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006.[24

    A question from the audience about 0:27:05:
    At the time of the dinosaurs what would you imagine the temperature would have been?
    WILL STEFFEN: Good question. That would have been about 65 million years ago. Much Much warmer than today, probably on the order of 5 or 6 degrees warmer. CO2 was much much higher than today as well, probably 900 to 1000ppm.

    The Facts
    1. Dinosaurs actually extinct 65 million years ago. They dominated life on earth for 160 million years between the Triassic and Cretaceous, living through a wide range of climates. FAIL
    2. For the Cretaceous temperatures about 4 degrees warmer, CO2 about 1700ppm.  For the Jurassic temperatures about 3 degrees warmer, CO2 about 1950ppm. For the Triassic temperatures about 3 degrees warmer, CO2 about 1750ppm. FAIL

    Clearly Will Steffen is getting his facts mixed up and is misinforming and misleading the audience. Will ABC's embedded reporter cover the lies, or let it slip? (or are they just mistakes-what from an expert, surely not).
    We expect experts paid good money out of our taxes to get things right. It is news when they get things wrong.

    (Note that the the main reason for an absence in bleaching being noted prior to 1980 has more to do with a lack of observers than events-but more on that later)

    Update 5/5/2011: the following questions have been sent to the Climate Commission:

    Will the commission issue a correction?
    Will the commissioners limit their comments to their area of expertise rather than speculate and make mistakes?
    Will the commission include a geologist on its panel to supplement its range of expertise to avoid future occurrences, I suggest Prof Bob Carter of JCU has the suitable knowledge, and expertise.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Tony Eastley - an Embedded Journalist?

    We raised the possibility that ABC had an journalist "embedded" in the Climate Institute to try and explain some irregularities in the timing of a story that appears to have gone to air before the Climate Institute issued the press release (See HERE). However of greater concern is the news that the ABC now appear to have a journalist embedded in the Gillard government’s Climate Change Commission. How can ABC's audience expect impartial reporting if this is the case?
    According to a  report in The Australian:

    ""The role performed by Mr Eastley at the forum was to facilitate the discussion, and enable community participation, feedback and engagement on a significant public policy issue. This is an appropriate activity for an ABC journalist/presenter to engage in, and regularly occurs with a range of presenters in a range of fora."
    The ABC did not respond to questions about whether Eastley was being paid to conduct the forums, or whether he'd have to declare a financial interest when introducing climate change stories on the ABC."
    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.
    It appears Mr Eastley's appointment puts him in breach of this clause.

    We have asked ABC to provide answers to the following questions:

    1. Has Mr Eastley been formally seconded to the CCC?
    2. Who is paying Mr Eastley's salary while he is acting on behalf of the CCC?
    3. Who will be acting in Mr Eastley's role while he is otherwise engaged?
    4. Will Mr Eastley be barred from reporting on climate change issues given he now has a blatant conflict of interest?
    5. If not will Mr Eastley preface his reporting with a statement to indicate he is in the employ of the CCC.
    6. ABC's previous Editorial Policies clearly dealt with conflict of interest for staff. I am unable to find mention of the phrase "Conflict of Interest" in ABC new guidelines. How does ABC currently deal with issues of conflict of interest?

    Given the conflict of interest faced while reporters have been embedded into organisations, how can the public trust anything Mr Eastley says?

    PS. It's not the first time senior ABC journalists have put their hand up tot be involved in one side of the climate debate. See HERE for another.