Thursday, December 20, 2012

ABC: our gutter press

The Australian compares ABC's standards to the APC. Guess which organisation's standards remain in the gutter?

ABC sets lower standards bar
From:The Australian
December 20, 2012 12:00AM

DRAWING comparisons to pedophiles to attack your opponents is acceptable under the ABC complaints process - held up as the ideal model by media inquiry head Ray Finkelstein - but has been ruled out of order by the newspapers' existing regulatory body.

Mr Finkelstein recommended in his government-commissioned review of the media industry earlier this year that the self-regulatory Australian Press Council should be overhauled in line with the ABC model.

But two decisions this week reveal the APC is tougher on commentators who compare opponents with pedophiles.

Rest HERE and while there also read the editorial: The ABC lets itself off the hook

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Maurice our hero

Former ABC Chairmen Maurice Newman on irrational comparisons made by climate catastrophist Robyn Williams in today's Australian. Three cheers for Maurice!

ABC clique in control of climate
LAST month in this newspaper, I wrote an irreverent piece, "Losing Their Religion As Evidence Cools Off", illustrating how the global warming establishment was like a religion, replete with the structure, scripture and financial resources required to promote a faith-based movement and how it is losing disciples as the truth wears off.
I don't know about other readers, but at the ABC, for those with the religion it hit a nerve.
On November 24, Robyn Williams intoned to his audience on ABC's The Science Show, "if I told you that pedophilia is good for children, or asbestos is an excellent inhalant for those with asthma, or, that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, you'd rightly find it outrageous. Similar statements are coming out of inexpert mouths again and again, distorting the science". My article was given as an example of an anti-scientific position.
Really? Questioning climate science is like advocating pedophilia, abetting mesothelioma and pushing drugs to teenagers? Well yes, according to the ABC's science man. Stephan Lewandowsky, a guest on the program, asserted that those with a free market background were, according to his research, more likely to be sceptical of science. As well as climate science, "they are also rejecting the link between smoking and lung cancer; they are rejecting the link between HIV and AIDS", the professor said. Happily, it was extremely difficult to detect people on the "Left side of politics who are rejecting scientific evidence".

Read the rest at the Oz.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A flood of discontent

A swag of letters over two days in the Australian (links and extracts below) decrying ABC's biased current affairs coverage. One doubts that anyone at Ultimo is listening and that anything constructive will be done to resolve the issue.

December 8, 2012 ABC's bias is a sore that just keeps on running
Extracts below follow links for the complete letters

AS a spate of letters has shown this week, nobody does bias like the ABC. On many political issues -- from Israel, to warmist hype, to the US alliance, to gay marriage -- the broadcaster is utterly predictable in its leftist responses....

Notwithstanding the ABC's exclusive funding by the taxpayer, its pervasive bias is the sore that just keeps on running.
Brenton Minge
THERE has never been a time of greater need for the ABC -- which has profound influence with its ability to reach into every household -- to be held to account....
Stephen Turner

IN response to the gripes of letter writers complaining about public funding of the ABC, I do not much care for sport but my taxes help pay for sporting institutes, the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. I did not support the invasion of Iraq, yet my taxes helped pay for that invasion.
At its best, the ABC enriches my life, it makes me laugh and it makes me think. Enjoy your sport and your wars and let me enjoy my ABC.

Anthony Yeates

BRIAN Pymont misses the point in his defence of the ABC (Letters, 7/12). Being funded by the Australian taxpayer, it has a duty to report for us all. This is why the likes of Barrie Cassidy deserve our condemnation for his Left bias. I guess it reflects the general Left leaning of the public service, especially when accountability is low on the priority scale.
Stig Falster

EACH Friday, I engage with some close friends in a brain teaser. This week we debated the question, who has more credibility: Barrie Cassidy or Mark Latham? We couldn't come to answer because we were unable to envisage a situation in which either had credibility.
Jonathan Whybird

December 7, ABC doesn't answer to commercial imperatives

...However, the ABC is funded by taxpayers under the condition it gives a balanced view for all. Clearly, I am not getting my money's worth.
Ivan Cope

...Now the ABC's news and current affairs has at last realised the purpose for which it was established - to balance any anti-government stance of the newspapers, and to play a support role in effecting social and cultural change. In my experience, there was always inherent sympathy within the organisation for the Left and great suspicion of conservatism and business.
Geoffrey Luck

...You can turn off Insiders, too, but you'll still have to pay for it.
Paul Yates

A FEW letter writers miss the point when it comes to ABC's left-wing bias. The ABC's mission is not to balance other media outlets but to provide content for all Australians.
The continued absence of any conservative voices among the hosts of its current affairs and local radio programs is a slap in the face to half of the Australian population that helps to pay for its existence.
Marc Hendrickx

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Insiders, more like left siders

A bevy of letters in today's Australian putting forward a strong case for pro ALP bias at ABC's Insiders program. Ruth Bonetti has one of the best lines..."Insiders is an ABC Labor Party love-in." (See here for more- subscription required).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Recommended Reading: Our Biased broadcaster

ACM has some thoughts on our ABC under the banner ABC: institutionalised bias.
Recommended reading!

From ABC's Editorial Policy...

"The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism." page 6

Of course when you hire activists for reporters those standards of objective journalism don't seem to matter that much.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Missing News 1 and 2

Missing News 1: The Australian notes some gaps in ABC's reporting: Story is everywhere, but Aunty keeps mum

Missing News 2: The Australian's Graham Lloyd reports "Climate claims on drought debunked". According to a paper published in Nature it seems that "DROUGHTS have not changed over the past 60 years and predictions that climate change will make them worse are exaggerated"
"Researchers from the US and Australia found models that had been developed to assess regional drought assistance were too simplistic to be used to predict the impact of climate change on drought."

Seems this news is too much for ABC's fragile audience to bear.
(Update...ABC play catch up.... Drought 'overestimated by faulty index'). Includes the classic line "But, as ever in climate change science, he acknowledges there are "huge question marks" over all of this." 
And I thought it was all settled! As ever if you want Yesterday's news tomorrow you can turn to the ABC.

While on Climate models, here's another report missing from ABC. Seems along with droughts, they also don't do so well in simulating cloud cover:

Key Points
  • To evaluate the cloud vertical structure of models using CALIPSO satellite
  • Five GCMs underestimate the total cloud cover at all latitudes except in Arctic
  • Discrepancies are more pronounced in tropics and poles, and over continents
G. Cesana
Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD/IPSL), Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
H. Chepfer
Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD/IPSL), Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite provides robust and global direct measurements of the cloud vertical structure. The GCM-Oriented CALIPSO Cloud Product is used to evaluate the simulated clouds in five climate models using a lidar simulator.The total cloud cover is underestimated in all models (51% to 62% vs. 64% in observations) except in the Arctic. Continental cloud covers (at low, mid, high altitudes) are highly variable depending on the model. In the tropics, the top of deep convective clouds varies between 14 and 18 km in the models versus 16 km in the observations, and all models underestimate the low cloud amount (16% to 25%) compared to observations (29%). In the Arctic, the modeled low cloud amounts (37% to 57%) are slightly biased compared to observations (44%), and the models do not reproduce the observed seasonal variation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mildura Fire Risk - Not Hot off the press, not hotter, not drier

Updated below with a comparison of Mean days above 40 degrees for Mildura. Guess which era is higher?

Must be a slow news day. ABC report today under the somewhat startling headline "Study reveals 'increasing' Mildura fire risk" news of a study that was apparently first published online in April this year (see below). It seems this news is only half a year late, but as it's a "scary" climate change story I guess it's always worthwhile for ABC's activist reporters to get that scary catastrophist climate climate message out; no matter how old! I say apparently because thanks to ABC's extraordinarily "high" reporting standards no where in its brief report does the ABC name the study's title or apparently its authors. It does however have a scary quote from climate alarmist David Karoly. This appears to take the results of the study out of context, for the last line of the abstract of the study reads: "Although these trends are consistent with projected impacts of climate change on FFDI, this study cannot separate the influence of climate change, if any, with that of natural variability. "

In the article Karoly is reported saying: "It gets more extreme in Mildura, and I mean most people in Mildura know that yes it's been getting hotter, it's also been getting drier," he said.
This is used to suggest that there is an increase in risk. And that might be the case if you only look at recent data. If you take a longer view and the data is there for all to see. It seems a different story emerges.
So Hotter and Drier???

Hotter? Here's a compilation of Max temp data from the BOM website based on stations 76077 and 76031 extending from 1910 to 2010, they are combined at the same scale (there does not appear to be a continuously monitored site). 76077 is the post office,  76031 is at the airport about 15 km away). Note that the Max temperature for the period 1910-1940 (red) is higher than 1950-2010. So David, no it's actually not hotter over the long term! It seems that it was hotter overall, earlier last century.

Drier? The figure below is a compilation of rainfall from the same stations. Not that hard to spot the gap between the two, but if you look closely (you might have to click on the figure to enlarge) the mean over the period 1910-1940 (red line -266.6mm) is well below the mean over the period 1950-2010-293.1mm), so no David, not actually drier either, in fact overall, things were drier earlier last century.

The actual figures?: (updated to show figures from 1910)

Drier? From BOM: 
Mean Rainfall station 76077 1889-1949: 266.6mm
Mean Rainfall station 76031 1946-2011: 293.1mm

Hotter? From BOM 
Mean Max temp station 76077 1889-1949: 24.6 degrees C
(Note Mean Max Temp 1910-1949: 24.1 degrees C)
Mean Max temp station 76031 1946-2011: 23.8 degrees C

Mean Min temp station 76077 1889-1949: 10.4 degrees C
(Note Mean Max Temp 1910-1949: 10.5 degrees C)
Mean Min temp station 76031 1946-2011: 10.3 degrees C

Why 1910? according to BOM "Temperature data prior to 1910 should be used with extreme caution as many stations prior to that date used non-standard shelters." That is many sttaions were not yet equiped with the Stevenson Screens that would become standard. Reports from the Adelaide Register in the NLA's newspaper archive suggests a Stevenson Screen was at the Mildura PO in at least 17 January 1907

So given the climate was hotter and drier earlier last century I guess with respect to bushfires it was also riskier! So the elevator report actually is: Risk of bushfires in Mildura may return to levels last seen early last century!
Update: Here's a comparison thanks to BOM of days over 40 degrees between the Post Office site (76077-1889-1949) and the airport (76031-1946-2011). Once again when looking at long term trends the earlier data shows considerably more extreme weather:

When you mistakenly employ activists for reporters I guess it's fair to expect propaganda for news. 

Thanks to ABC's poor reporting we assume (and prepare to wear egg on our face) that this is the paper in question, not that it changes the issues with Karoly's alarmist take on the weather:

  1. Hamish Clarke1,2,*
  2. Christopher Lucas3,
  3. Peter Smith1
Article first published online: 11 APR 2012
DOI: 10.1002/joc.3480

Unfortunately access to more than the abstract requires a subscription, but here's the abstract:


A data set of observed fire weather in Australia from 1973–2010 is analysed for trends using the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). Annual cumulative FFDI, which integrates daily fire weather across the year, increased significantly at 16 of 38 stations. Annual 90th percentile FFDI increased significantly at 24 stations over the same period. None of the stations examined recorded a significant decrease in FFDI. There is an overall bias in the number of significant increases towards the southeast of the continent, while the largest trends occur in the interior of the continent and the smallest occur near the coast. The largest increases in seasonal FFDI occurred during spring and autumn, although with different spatial patterns, while summer recorded the fewest significant trends. These trends suggest increased fire weather conditions at many locations across Australia, due to both increased magnitude of FFDI and a lengthened fire season. Although these trends are consistent with projected impacts of climate change on FFDI, this study cannot separate the influence of climate change, if any, with that of natural variability. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 13

A quick note to add to the growing list of the Climate Commission's misrepresentations of climate science.

The Climate Commission's Will Steffen tells ABC's AM audience "Climate change was a factor in several aspects of Sandy."

Meanwhile The Australian's Graham Lloyd reports: "AUSTRALIA'S Climate Commission has misrepresented data from the leading US meteorological bureau to highlight a link between climate change and the severity of Superstorm Sandy which this week crippled New York."

Definition of MISREPRESENT

: to give a false or misleading representation of usually with an intent to deceive or be unfair <misrepresented the facts>

More from that article...

...Dr Hoerling told US public radio in the aftermath of Sandy that ocean temperatures adjacent to the US eastern seaboard had been running several degrees higher than normal.
But he said the unusually warm waters were in areas where the background temperature was relatively cool. "So adding a few degrees Fahrenheit at that cool water temperature doesn't matter too much for the intensity of a hurricane," Dr Hoerling said.
Dr Hoerling is a research meteorologist, specialising in climate dynamics, in NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory located in Boulder, Colorado.
He is chairman of the US CLIVAR (Climate Variability) research program, has served as editor of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, and has published more than 50 scientific papers dealing with climate variability and change.
Late yesterday, Professor England conceded the sea-surface temperature highlighted in the Climate Commission document was not significant.
Sadly incompetence from the government's climate commissioners is something we are becoming all to familiar with.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FOI request turned down: Help Annabel!

ABC's Annabel Crabb recently lamented the lack of cooperation from the Public Service when it comes to releasing government documents. Perhaps she would be willing to assist me with an FOI request that has run into trouble?
It is with some irony (given that ABC are a member of the Right to Know Coalition) that today I received notification from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, that in my FOI request for ABC documents it has sided with the ABC and rejected it. Readers may recall I had hoped to establish the nature of internal correspondence between ABC's Audience and Consumer Affairs branch and its news division over its reporting of purported death threats sent to climate scientists. It seemed to us on the evidence available that ACA had acted independently of ABC news in replying to us. Recall in May this year we wrote:

Dear  ABC,

ABC Audience and consumer affairs provided the following comment in reply to a complaint I made on 10 May at 9:21pm about missing news of the privacy commissioners findings on ANU death threat emails  "Audience and Consumer Affairs does not consider there is a case to correct the stories."  I received the reply from your Mr Maley at 10.39am on May 11. 

Mr Maley stated in his email that he had consulted ABC News   "In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News." However at  May 11, 2012 09:06:07am, over an hour before his reply to me, ABC News posted the following story:FOI emails reveal threats to climate scientists. on its website (this story subsequently corrected on 21 May).

Can you please confirm whether there was in fact any consultation between ABC News and ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs. On face value it seems there was no consultation at all. How else do you explain the timing?

As ABC were not forthcoming we looked to FOI to provide correspondence between ACA and News that might reveal what occurred. So we requested:
-emails and phone records concerning a complaint I submitted to ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs on 10 May 2012; and

-copies of all emails and phone records between ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs and ABC News between the period 3 May 2012 to 6 June 2012 dealing with complaints or other issues stemming from a number of ABC news reports.

The information commissioner has sided with the ABC and ruled the documents are exempt from the provisions of the FOI act as they somehow relate to programming.

Given that the Federal Court has clearly found that "letters of complaint about the ABC's programs and responses to those complaints on the same subject as well as documents internal to the ABC on this subject" fall within the definition of program material, it would appear that the ABC's decision on your freedom of information request was correct. As such, without further explanation of why your request and the ABC's decision is not consistent with the view expressed by the Federal Court I must conclude that your application is lacking in substance. As such I intend to finalise your application for 1C review unless you provide me with reasons to reconsider this decision.

It seems ABC use this excuse to hide all its dirty linen and the Information Commissioner lacks the will to rule otherwise. Perhaps with the right lobbying and the election of a government interested in accountability, ABC might be forced to open its dark chamber. Until then perhaps ABC should remove itself from the right to know coalition.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Other things to do at present, than worry about ABC's poor news standards. Will post any replies from ABC to on going investigations. Back in a little while.

Update October 2...WEB extended!

Update 1 September...WEB extended! Gerard Henderson's Media Watch Dog continues to do a magnificent job in keeping an eye on our ABC. See also ACM for reports on ABC's one sided coverage on climate change.

Update...a link worth a look....via DJ (cheers Mate)
"we think Bruce Hill and Radio Australia appear to have some explaining to do."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NaNO information in AM's nanoparticle article

An article that places ABC's new service amongst the world's worst for spreading mis-information.

More nano-sunscreen claims revealed
"Yesterday the ABC revealed that at least 10 Australian sunscreen brands that claim to be free of nano-materials have unwittingly been using nanoparticles in their products.

Neither the safety nor the risks of nano-materials in sunscreens is scientifically proven."

What does the Cancer Council say?

Nanoparticles and sunscreen

Nanotechnology has been used in sunscreens for many years. To date, our assessment, drawing on the best available evidence, is that nanoparticulates used in sunscreens do not pose a risk. However, we continue to monitor research and welcome any new research that sheds more light on this topic.
Sunscreen formulas and their components are regulated through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In early 2009, the TGA conducted an updated review of the scientific literature in relation to the use of nanoparticulate zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens.
The TGA review concluded that:
  • The potential for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens to cause adverse effects depends primarily upon the ability of the nanoparticles to reach viable skin cells; and
  • To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells.

Missing News: Current warming not unprecedented

News of this interesting paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters missing from the ABC.
"Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean SST in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years."

Key Points
  • The 20th century warming in SOT is still within variability of late Holocene
  • A strong coupling of KC, EAM and ENSO exists in late Holocene
  • MWP has a mean SST lower than RWP and STWP in Okinawa Trough
Most of the temperature reconstructions for the past two millennia are based on proxy data from various sites on land. Here we present a bidecadal resolution record of sea surface temperature (SST) in Southern Okinawa Trough for the past ca. 2700 years by analyzing tetraether lipids of planktonic archaea in the ODP Hole 1202B, a site under the strong influence of Kuroshio Current and East Asian monsoon. The reconstructed SST anomalies generally coincided with previously reported late Holocene climate events, including the Roman Warm Period, Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, Current Warm Period, Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age. However, the Medieval Warm Period usually thought to be a historical analogue for the Current Warm Period has a mean SST of 0.6–0.8°C lower than that of the Roman Warm Period and Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period. Despite an increase since 1850 AD, the mean SST in the 20th century is still within the range of natural variability during the past 2700 years. A close correlation of SST in Southern Okinawa Trough with air temperature in East China, intensity of East Asian monsoon and the El-Niño Southern Oscillation index has been attributed to the fluctuations in solar output and oceanic-atmospheric circulation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lies of the Climate Commission: Part 12

ABC's AM once again offers uncritical coverage of the Climate Commission's latest report.
Meanwhile a few letter writers in The Australian point out some logical fallacies in a puff piece by climate Kommisar Steffen, including this one:

Climate tsar skirts dysfunctional models to scare us
WILL Steffen continues to promulgate misinformation about the climate ("Clean up energy for the sake of our grandchildren", 23/7). Passing over the rotten entrails of dysfunctional climate models that have not lived up to promise, he has moved on to using extreme weather to scare a populace into extreme action.
So Steffen points to recent weather extremes as portents of a coming doom, claiming it's a future we don't have to have, if only we bow at the Climate Commissioner's altar, shake our tail feathers and pay our dues.
When seen in their historical context, however, the numerous wet and dry periods and extreme weather events that have affected the country are unconnected to carbon dioxide levels. Looking at past weather records it's clearly a future we have already had and one our descendants will continue to experience, regardless of what we do today.
The commission continues to push for inconsequential marginal solutions to our weather and energy problems, ignoring the obvious solutions built around effectively dealing with the extremely routine weather events we know about all too well. If the problem was fixed with levees, dams, and nuclear power what would our witch-doctors do for a living?

Marc Hendrickx

The Australian's Cut and paste also adds some cherries missing from Will's basket:
Climate researcher Will Steffen in The Australian yesterday:
OVER the past decade, the Swedes have reduced their emissions of carbon dioxide by about 13 per cent, the best performance of any of the world's wealthy countries. Over the same period, the Swedish economy has recorded a higher rate of GDP growth than any of the OECD's "big seven" economies. So much for the myth taking vigorous action on climate change will damage or slow the economy.

Something Steffen forgot to mention? From Energy in Sweden, 2010, Swedish Energy Agency:
IN 2009, nuclear power supplied 37 per cent of the country's electricity, hydro power supplied 49 per cent and wind power almost 2 per cent, with the remaining 12 per cent being made up of fossil-fuelled and biofuel-based production.

Something else Steffen forgot? The Economist, June 6:
ANNUAL growth as high as 6.4 per cent in the first quarter. Unemployment falling fast. The budget in surplus this year. Public debt heading to below 40 per cent of GDP. How did the Swedes do it? . . . the main answer is the prudent pro-market policies of Fredrik Reinfeldt'scentre-right coalition, which came to power in October 2006.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Missing News: More evidence of climate model failure

Roger Pielke Snr reports on another paper that  "documents the lack of skill in multi-decadal global climate models to skillfully predict climate conditions in the coming years. This paper involves the question of accuracy lost when radiation parameterizations are used at time intervals that are long compared to other physical processes in the models. "The paper is

Sun, Z., J. Liu, X. Zeng, and H. Liang (2012), Parameterization of instantaneous global horizontal irradiance at the surface. Part II: Cloudy-sky component, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JD017557, in press. the full paper is available at the JGR site by clicking PIP PDF.

Look forward to seeing ABC's coverage!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gergis Update

ABC is yet to formally cover news that a paper it widely reported on and promoted was flawed and withdrawn from publication by its authors. The only mention that the paper was withdrawn is in editorial notes posted discretely at the end of articles such as this oneEDITOR'S NOTE: Since this story was originally broadcast, errors have been identified in aspects of the data processing which may affect the results of this study. As a result, publication has been delayed and the research has been withdrawn from online publication. Professor Karoly says the data will be recalculated, peer reviewed and published in due course.

They provide the following response to a query we made regarding missing editorial notes from a number of ABC reports, including one on its ITunes site.

Thank you for your email of 21 June. I apologise for the delay in responding; it took a little longer to sort out iTunes than it should have. The segment on the Radio National website now has a prominent editor’s note and the podcast is no longer available on iTunes.

At this stage, neither Radio nor News propose to do any further broadcasts or stories on the subject. If or when the scientists re-release their research, the story will be reassessed in the normal way taking account of editorial priorities at the time.

Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated.
Audience & Consumer Affairs
Received 19/7/2012

Score +1

Suckers for alarm: Latest radiation scare

ABC's alarmist reporter Mark Willacy gets sucked in by a study that claims "the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan may eventually cause up to 1,300 deaths." There is not a skerrick of journalistic scepticism in ABC's reportAndrew Bolt provides some missing background in his criticism of a similar piece published by the Fairfax Press.

Here's the gist of it:

Here’s a few facts omitted from the article - facts which suggest the findings are alarmist trash.
- Jacobson (co-author of the study) is a long-time anti-nuclear activist and global warming campaigner.
- Jacobson’s past absurd claims include asserting that by 2030 “wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels” - a purely fantastical infrastructure plan that grossly exaggerates the output and reliability of solar and wind power and grossly underplays the cost.
- Jacobson has claimed “nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy” (a finding contradicted by many experts), basing his calculations on the absurd assumption that the emissions of a nuclear power station should include the emissions of the likely nuclear war that could result...
- Jacobson still assumes the discredited no-safe-dose theory of nuclear radiation, claiming that infinitesimally small levels of radiation spread widely enough will still kill hundreds.
See Andrew's Post for the rest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Missing News from a missing voice

Demetris Koutsoyiannis continues to be a missing voice on the ABC (Search results from the entire ABC site...No matching documents found). He is professor in Hydrology and Analysis of Hydrosystems, and Head of the Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens. He is also Co-Editor of Hydrological Sciences Journal and member of the editorial board of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (and formerly of Journal of Hydrology and Water Resources Research). He has been awarded the Henry Darcy Medal 2009 by the European Geosciences Union for his outstanding contributions to the study of hydrometeorological variability and to water resources management. Seems like someone Robyn Williams should be talking to.

Despite his outstanding record, ABC have not chosen to speak with Prof. Koutsoyiannis, and they have ignored his latest work that highlights issues with statistical methods used to iron out problems with temperature data. Here's the title and abstract:

Investigation of methods for hydroclimatic data homogenization
Steirou, E., and D. Koutsoyiannis, Investigation of methods for hydroclimatic data homogenization, European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2012, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 14, Vienna, 956-1, European Geosciences Union, 2012.
We investigate the methods used for the adjustment of inhomogeneities of temperature time series covering the last 100 years. Based on a systematic study of scientific literature, we classify and evaluate the observed inhomogeneities in historical and modern time series, as well as their adjustment methods. It turns out that these methods are mainly statistical, not well justified by experiments and are rarely supported by metadata. In many of the cases studied the proposed corrections are not even statistically significant.
From the global database GHCN-Monthly Version 2, we examine all stations containing both raw and adjusted data that satisfy certain criteria of continuity and distribution over the globe. In the United States of America, because of the large number of available stations, stations were chosen after a suitable sampling. In total we analyzed 181 stations globally. For these stations we calculated the differences between the adjusted and non-adjusted linear 100-year trends. It was found that in the two thirds of the cases, the homogenization procedure increased the positive or decreased the negative temperature trends.
One of the most common homogenization methods, ‘SNHT for single shifts’, was applied to synthetic time series with selected statistical characteristics, occasionally with offsets. The method was satisfactory when applied to independent data normally distributed, but not in data with long-term persistence.
The above results cast some doubts in the use of homogenization procedures and tend to indicate that the global temperature increase during the last century is between 0.4 C and 0.7 C, where these two values are the estimates   derived from raw and adjusted data, respectively.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Missing News: Natural Variability

A few recent articles not reported on by ABC Science. For some reason covering papers that document natural variability in the climate is anathema to the ABC.

Greenland ice core evidence for spatial and temporal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
Chylek et al, 2012
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L09705, 6 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2012GL051241
Key Points
The past history of the AMO is preserved in ice core data
The dominant quasi-periodicities are those of 20 years and 45-65 years
The origin of 20-year periodicity is Atlantic and of 45-65 year the Arctic

Climatic variations over the last 4000 cal yr BP in the western margin of the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, reconstructed from pollen data
Keliang Zhao et al
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology Volumes 321–322, 1 March 2012, Pages 16–23
► New pollen records for the last 4000 cal yr BP in the western Tarim Basin. ► Four humid and three dryperiods were identified in the study region. ► Increase in the strength of the westerlies resulted in the three humid periods. ► The climate was warm and dry during the early MedievalWarmPeriod (AD 690–1110).

Effects of Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age on the hydrology of Mediterranean region
Markonis, Y.; Kossieris, P.; Lykou, A.; Koutsoyiannis, D.
EGU General Assembly 2012, held 22-27 April, 2012 in Vienna, Austria., p.12181
Medieval Warm Period (950 - 1250) and Little Ice Age (1450 - 1850) are the most recent periods that reflect the magnitude of natural climate variability. As their names suggest, the first one was characterized by higher temperatures and a generally moister climate, while the opposite happened during the second period. Although their existence is well documented for Northern Europe and North America, recent findings suggest strong evidence in lower latitudes as well. Here we analyze qualitatively the influence of these climatic fluctuations on the hydrological cycle all over the Mediterranean basin, highlighting the spatial characteristics of precipitation and runoff. We use both qualitative estimates from literature review in the field of paleoclimatology and statistical analysis of proxy data series. We investigate possible regional patterns and possible tele-connections with large scale atmospheric circulation phenomena such as North Atlantic Oscillation, Siberian High, African Sahel Rainfall and Indian Monsoon.

A multiproxy palaeolimnological study of climate and nutrient impacts on Esthwaite Water, England over the past 1200 years
The Holocene January 2012 vol. 22no. 1 107-118
Xuhui DongHelen BennionRichard W. BattarbeeCarl D. Sayer
The response of diatom assemblages to changes in climate and nutrients over a 1200 year timescale was investigated by means of a multiproxy sediment core study involving radiometric dating, diatoms, grain size, loss on ignition and geochemical analysis. Four stages of environmental change were defined, each being consistent with changes in documented human activity and known climate patterns. From AD 750 to 880 relatively high nutrient status and a cold, unstable climate was inferred based on the high abundance of Aulacoseira subarctica and high Na/K and Na/Al values. In the following 1000 years (AD 880–1880) diatom assemblages were dominated byCyclotella comensis, Cyclotella radiosa and Achnanthidium minutissimum, suggesting a long period of relatively low productivity and, by implication, that climate was the main control on the community during this period. Two climatic phases, namely the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ (MWP) and the ‘Little Ice Age’ (LIA), were apparent. According to shifts in the diatom assemblages and other proxies, it was proposed that the MWP was initiated from ~AD 880 and was terminated by the LIA at ~AD 1350. After AD 1880 the palaeoecological data revealed a period of strong human impact in the catchment and hence higher productivity. This work illustrates the complexity of climate–nutrient interactions and the roles of the two drivers on different timescales and at various stages of the lake’s history: climate impacts were more pronounced when nutrient concentrations were relatively stable prior to ~AD 1880; while nutrients appeared to play a more important role in regulating diatom communities from the mid-eighteenth century.

Missing News: 2000 years of climatic cooling in Europe

Given the ABC's apparent interest in news about past climate reconstructions it was odd to see that they missed the publication of a paper from a team of researchers from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.
The reconstruction provides a high-resolution representation of temperature patterns in the Roman and Medieval warm periods, but also shows the cold phases that occurred during the Migration Period and the later Little Ice Age.

According to the press release the paper, published in Nature Climate Change titled Orbital forcing of tree-ring data:
An international team including scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has published a reconstruction of the climate in northern Europe over the last 2,000 years based on the information provided by tree-rings. Professor Dr. Jan Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling. "We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low," says Esper. "Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods." 

The PR Concludes
In addition to the cold and warm phases, the new climate curve also exhibits a phenomenon that was not expected in this form. For the first time, researchers have now been able to use the data derived from tree-rings to precisely calculate a much longer-term cooling trend that has been playing out over the past 2,000 years. Their findings demonstrate that this trend involves a cooling of -0.3°C per millennium due to gradual changes to the position of the sun and an increase in the distance between the Earth and the sun.

"This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant," says Esper. "However, it is also not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1°C. Our results suggest that the large-scale climate reconstruction shown by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) likely underestimate this long-term cooling trend over the past few millennia."

Here's a link to New Scientist's coverage: Tree rings suggest Roman world was warmer than thought.
We assume the recent kerfuffle about the flawed Gergis Reconstruction has spoiled the water somewhat for reporting on similar work.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Culling the Archive part 2- Dear Mr Scott.

Dear Mr Scott,
REGARDING ABC ONLINE NEWS ARCHIVE-10000s of stories culled...why?

I made an enquiry regarding the manner in which ABC manages its online news archive a little while ago to your senior staff including Alan Sunderland, Bruce Belsham and Angela Clark (see HERE). None of these staff members has been at all helpful in providing any information about the manner in which stories are posted to the archive, or about recent changes that have resulted in the apparent removal of 10,000s reports from the archive since 2003.
I have been using the Online News Archive as a measure of ABC news productivity. Since 2007 there has been a marked decline in the number of stories posted the archive (see HERE and HERE). 

I am trying to establish if this is a result of a policy decision related to managing the archive, or a true reflection of declining news coverage. Perhaps reflecting a fall in the number of regional stories being covered by the ABC at the expense of opinon pieces?

As I mentioned to your staff above, ABC's NEWS archive represents an important, growing source of historical news information, and as such some explanation as to why the number of posts to it have been falling is deserving of some explanation. If this is a matter of policy, then perhaps it can be corrected so that all the news makes it into the archive, and not a "cherry picked" sub-sample. ABC's growing archive will no doubt be important in helping future historians unpick past events, the more complete it is the better it will be.

I note that this year ABC is consistently posting 250 stories for Tuesday-Friday (ed actually its the whole week M-F), including numerous opinion pieces not previously included. Is the inclusion of opinion an attempt to cover for falling coverage of news stories? 

Of greater concern I also note that the remainder of the archive, since 2003, appears to have been retrospectively culled of reports such that the total number of stories posted each week day has also been reduced to 250. This has involved removal of 10000s of reports and seems to represent a deliberate destruction of the value of the archive for historical research purposes.

I have collected records of the number of stories posted to the archive for each day in the month of June from 2003 to present as part of the productivity report. The numbers can be confirmed through the online internet archive (see HERE). I have not had the opportunity to go back through each year. For June 2003 the effect is dramatic with over 590 stories removed. For June 2004 it seems there are 171 less now compared to 2010 when we first used the archive to report on ABC's productivity. For the year of 2008 when we originally counted a record 8894 stories for June, ABC's archive now contains 6618 stories. It seems that for just one month ABC have culled 2276 reports from history! And this just for the month of June, extended over the whole archive it means 10,000s of stories have been evaporated, akin to literally cutting the stories from the pages of an archived newspaper

Specific questions:
1. What is ABC's policy, if any, regarding its Online News Archive?
2. Do the falling number of items since 2007 reflect a fall in news productivity, or are they the consequence of a change in records policy?
3. On what grounds does ABC decide to include news items in its archive?
4. Why did ABC cull its news archive to remove easy accessibility to 10000s of stories? Which stories? Why? How-what criteria were used for the cull?
5. Can we expect to see the full archive restored? When?

The lack of a satisfactory timely response and deliberate refusal to cooperate with seemingly legitimate requests on this matter is of some concern hence I have cc'd this email to Senator Conroy, Malcolm Turnbull, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, along with a representative from the mainstream press to draw attention to the issue. 

Marc Hendrickx

Monday, July 9, 2012

Culling the Archive

Some screen shots below showing the effect of the cull of reports from ABC's News Archive:
 The Wayback Machine, the Internet archive, has preserved some glimpses of ABC's Archive for posterity. We looked at June 16, 2008 when ABC News posted a record 392 reports. The Wayback machine archive captured on 2 February 2011 confirms our earlier count, showing 15 pages with 25 reports each, with the 16th page containing 17 reports. As of this morning the ABC's achive shows just 10 pages, each with 25 reports for a total of 250 reports, meaning access to 142 reports through the archive have been removed, effectively culled (see comparison of screen shots below-click to enlarge). It seems that reports prior to about midday, in this case, have been sent down the memory hole. 
The missing stories such as this one (Skiers take advantage of alpine snow) still appear to be available if you know the URL.
Why the ABC have placed a limit on the number of stories in its archive remains a mystery. It seems at this point that attempts to thwart our productivity survey at least one possible reason, incompetence always another.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012 Productivity Report: ABC hiding the decline-Part 2 the scandal

Perhaps using George Orwell's 1984 as an instruction manual ABC have apparently, sometime in the last 12 months, removed large numbers (10,000's)  of stories from its online news archive. Is this a means to hide the dramatic decline in its news productivity? Which stories were removed and why? What a radical re-writing of history! Or is it just a technical glitch?

ABC NEWS WATCH has been looking at the productivity of ABC news since 2010. As a measure of ABC's news productivity we have been using the number of stories posted to ABC's online news archive in June and its staff numbers from annual reports to help gauge its output. ABC senior staff have been reluctant to assist us with information about how the archive is managed (see correspondence in part 1). The figures show a dramatic decline in productivity since 2007.

Looking over the number of stories posted for this year it became apparent that ABC have set a limit of stories that are posted to its archive in June this year. The limit appears to be set at 250 stories per day Monday to Friday. Weekend figures do not appear to have been adjusted.
To our surprise it appears this limit has been retrospectively applied to ABC's entire online archive since 2003. If true, this means that literally 1000s of stories have been culled (UPDATE make that 10,000s).  
 I have records of the number of stories posted for each day in the month of June from 2003 to present. I have not had the opportunity to go back through each year. For June 2003 the effect is dramatic with over 590 stories removed. For June 2004 it seems there are 171 less now compared to 2010 when we first reported on ABC's productivity. For the year of 2008 when we originally counted a record 8894 stories for June, ABC's archive now contains 6618 stories. It seems ABC have culled 2276 reports from history! And this just for the month of June, extended over the whole year it means 10,000s of stories have been evaporated.

Which stories? Why? How-what criteria were used for the cull? Or is this just a fat finger moment?
More on this as we find out what has happened.

We have archived some of the revised archive pages at webcite for posterity (eg HERE).

2012 Productivity Report: ABC hiding the decline-Part 1

UPDATE: See Part 2 for news of an emerging scandal involving potential manipulation of ABC's online News Archive.

Update 10 July 2012. Still no word from ABC on the reasons for the cull. Bruce Belsham has now moved on to current affairs. I passed the email below on the new Director of Innovation: Angela Clark and did not receive any assistance. See comments for the content.

Here are the results of this years productivity survey. First the facts (2012 in orange, note the flat peaks Monday to Friday-click to zoom):

Year  Total Stories 
2003      7230 
2004      6920 
2005      6899 
2006      6995 
2007      7988 
2008      8894 
2009      7134 
2010      6666
2011      5908
2012      6091

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
2012   992.73*
 *(2012 figures based on our staffing model)

Productivity: Based on the Raw numbers it comes at no surprise that ABC news productivity is once again at a record low with 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
2012      6.1

ABC Hiding the decline
ABC News management seems to have taken some unusual steps in hiding the decline in its productivity by this year introducing a "cap" on the number of stories contained in its online news archive this year (note the flat peaks in the number of stories Monday to Friday in the graph above). It seems stories Monday-Friday have been artificially capped at 250, no more. This has been achieved by including an arbitrary selection of video and audio news files (eg the news weather report) to raise the online reports each day to 250 stories. We have not taken the time to go through the number of video and audio stories added to bolster the stories to 250 each day.


After a less than satisfactory response from ABC's head of News Policy, Alan Sunderland (see lengthy exchange below) we asked ABC's Online Editor Bruce Belsham for an explanation, so far he has not responded to our enquiries. Here's the email we sent Bruce:
UPDATE 8/7/2012 8pm: It seems Bruce has moved on we have forwarded the email below to Angela Clark, head of ABC Innovation.

from: Marc Hendrickx 
to: Bruce Belsham 
cc: Alan Sunderland 
date: Sun, Jun 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM
subject: query regarding ABC news Archive

Dear Bruce,

In previous correspondence with Alan Sunderland regarding ABC's online news archive the following issues were raised. Alan was unable/unwilling to provide any answers  perhaps you can assist.

I have been looking at using the Online News Archive as  a measure of ABC news productivity. Since 2007 there has been a marked decline in the number  of stories posted the archive (see Here)  I am trying to establish if this is a result of a policy decision or a true reflection of declining news coverage. Perrhaps reflecting a fall in the number of regional stories at the expense of opinon pieces?  

As I mentioned to Alan ABC's NEWS archive represents an important, growing source of historical news information, and as such some explanation as to why the number of posts to it have been falling is deserving of some explanation. If this is a matter of policy then perhaps it can be corrected so that all the news makes it into the archive and not a "cherry picked" sub-sample.

ABC's growing archive will no doubt be important in helping future historians unpick past events, the more complete it is the better it will be.

I note that this year ABC is consistently posting 250 stories for Tuesday-Friday, including numerous video  and opinion pieces not previously included. Is the inclusion of opinion and video an attempt to cover for falling coverage of news stories?

Specific questions:
1. What is ABC's policy, if any, regarding its News Archive?
2. Do the falling number of items since 2007 reflect a fall in productivity or are they the consequence of a change in policy?
3. On what grounds does ABC decide to include news items in its archive?

Marc Hendrickx

Correspondence about ABC's News Archive with Alan Sunderland.
from: Alan Sunderland
to: Marc Hendrickx
date: Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM
subject: RE: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

On another matter, I note that you did get a response to the ABC about your request for productivity information, but it was not a particularly useful one as you sent it to A&CA instead of to us. I think that was pointed out to you at the time, but I have no record that you followed it up with News.
Based on your brief description to me of the methodology you rely upon to measure productivity (count up all staff employed by news in all areas and then count up the number of news stories appearing on the News website), I can see all sorts of basic problems with it.
However, I confess I am reluctant to spend too much time on this if you are not genuinely interested in the issue beyond making a point on your website.
I could provide you with substantial material on our divisional output, and the extent to which it has grown in recent years, and I could also seek some more detailed information from News Online on their strategies for what they post and why they post it, but I am concerned that this is not information you really want to hear, and I may be wasting my time.
Are you only interested in what I see as a crude and misleading correlation between the stories posted on one of our divisional websites when cross-referenced with the entire divisional staff employed in News, News 24, 7.30, Behind the News, Radio Australia, etc...etc...etc..., or are you interested in the bigger and more accurate picture?


from: Marc Hendrickx
to: Alan Sunderland
date: Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM
subject: Re: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

Dear Alan,
To make it clear; I would be very grateful if you could seek more detailed information from News Online on their strategies for what they post and why they post it. I would be more than happy to post such an explanation on my website along with this year's productivity survey results.
Unlike ABC I am interested in getting accurate information and hence my request to the ABC for an explanation for the apparent fall in NEWs' productivity. That is has taken this long to get a response, a sign perhaps that ABC believes it is above the requests of mere mortals.
As I mentioned ABC's NEWS archive represents an important, growing source of historical news information, and as such some explanation as to why the number of posts to it have been falling is deserving of some explanation. If this is a matter of policy then perhaps it can be corrected so that all the news makes it into the archive and not a "cherry picked" sub-sample.
ABC's growing archive will no doubt be important in helping future historians unpick past events. For instance it will provide a valuable resource for future historians in helping assess the extent and detrimental impact that ABC's Groupthink reporting had on public policy in the early 2000s.

Best Wishes

from: Alan Sunderland 
to: Marc Hendrickx
date: Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 4:24 PM
subject: RE: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

I am sorry you have chosen to handle my genuine offer to engage in this manner.
I don't see that there is anything further I can usefully provide by way of information, since you have already formed and expressed your conclusions. 


from: Marc Hendrickx 
to: Alan Sunderland
cc: "scott.mark"
date: Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 5:57 PM
subject: Re: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

Which part of my response did you not understand
Here it is again:
Dear Alan, to make it clear; I would be very grateful if you could
seek more detailed information from News Online on their strategies
for what they post and why they post it. I would be more than happy to
post such an explanation on my website along with this year's
productivity survey results.

If you are unable to help can you please direct me to someone who can?
Marc Hendrickx

from: Alan Sunderland 
to: Marc Hendrickx
date: Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM
subject: Re: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required
I think I have helped you all I can on this one.
Alan Sunderland

Sent from my iPad

from: Marc Hendrickx 
to: Alan Sunderland
date: Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM
subject: Re: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

You didn't help me at all!

By the way looking forward to ABC's update to its numerous stories regarding the paper documenting Southern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction (for instance: 1000 years of climate data points to a warming Australia). Seems the paper has been withdrawn from publication following the discovery of errors in the methodology.

see David Karoly's letter to Steve McIntyre:
Print publication of scientific study put on hold
An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Stephen Phipps, Ailie Gallant and David Karoly, accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate.
We are currently reviewing the data and results.

from: Alan Sunderland 
to: Marc Hendrickx
date: Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM
subject: RE: updates to last year's death threat story-more corrections required

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
Clearly, given that we have reported on the study, we would want to be across any material changes to it. I have brought this to the attention of the reporters who filed the original pieces, so that we can track the process and take account of any updated or changed information.


Ed: We covered ABC's accounting of "updated of changed information" in the following post:
ABC's Gergis update - a poor excuse for journalism