Friday, January 27, 2012

Missing News: No Need to Panic About Global Warming

ABC News have previously provided reports involving letters signed by scientists that make a political point (eg., Here, Here and Here).
Why is this one missing?

No Need to Panic About Global Warming
There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy.
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
Read the rest in the Wall Street Journal.

Update ABC get around to reporting something and include this outstanding but of hypocrisy from the Prince of Precaution, climate commissioner and Mammologist Tim Flannery:
TIM FLANNERY: They are not all scientists. There are some engineers, there are astronauts. It sort of a bit of mix actually as well as a lot of retired scientists in there so no, this sort of thing doesn't really surprise me.

Simon at ACM has more...

Geriatric wheat caused by climate change

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's Outback?

Looking over ABC's News site I noticed the following headline "Great Barrier Reef put on ice in Outback"

When you think about the Outback do you picture:
A. The arid plains fringing Australia's desert centre
B. The large areas of land in Australia that are not used for growing crops and are far away from any city or town.
C. The vast open plains east of Yalgoo?
D. Anywhere west of Balmain?
E. Dubbo?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missing Voices: Maurice Newman

Former ABC Chairman Maurice Newman has an Op Ed in The Spectator about wind farms:
Against the wind: The pursuit of clean energy has relegated ordinary people to the status of ‘collateral damage’
It includes this paragraph:

"I am not a conspiracy theorist, but we have witnessed the birth of an extraordinary, universal and self-reinforcing movement among the political and executive arms of government, their academic consultants, the mainstream media and vested private sector interests (such as investment banks and the renewables industry), held together by the promise of unlimited government money. It may not be a conspiracy, but long-term, government-underwritten annuities have certainly created one gigantic and powerful oligopoly which must coerce taxpayers and penalise energy consumers to survive."

These opinions oddly not covered thus far by The Drum, or any other ABC news service. I would have thought the ABC would be interested in the views of its former chairman. Perhaps later today?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Missing News: Coral Reefs adaptable to climate change

In 2008 ABC news reported on the award of a State Government research grant to a north Queensland university student to continue researching how rising sea temperatures affect coral (Reef researcher wins Smart State grant). Odd then that that when the researcher in question has something positive to say about the adaptability of the reef to climate change that ABC choose not to report anything.

Just as well The Australian are there to fill in the gap with a good news story...
Coral breakthrough offers climate hope.
CORAL reefs may be much better able to adapt to rising sea temperatures due to climate change than previously thought, according to a breakthrough Australian discovery revealed yesterday.
The research undertaken at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and published in the journal Nature Climate Change has overturned previously held assumptions about coral bleaching and which corals may survive in warmer waters.
According to PhD student Emily Howells, the findings demonstrate the potential for corals to adapt is more widespread than previously thought.
By Graham Lloyd, follow the link above to read the rest.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lies of the climate commission Part 10

To: DCCEE - ClimateCommision Secretariat

Dear Sir,
Climate Commissioner Prof. Tim Flannery appeared on ABC's Radio National today (see link below) discussing a new report issued by the Chinese Government (Title isSecond National Assessment Report on Climate Change, but I can't find a copy on the WWW-update-now have at Amazon China thanks to Reuters, but it's in Chinese).

Can the secretariat confirm that Prof. Flannery based his responses to questions in the radio national interview on media articles about the report, rather than the actual report itself?

If so, does the commission consider that relying on third hand information about the science of climate change, as revealed in media articles, meets the commission's aims  "to provide a reliable and authoritative source of  information on climate change"?

In the interview Prof Flannery stated "over 80% of their glaciers are now retreating" giving the impression that over 80% of glaciers in China are retreating. However a Reuters report (link below) indicates the figure refers to glaciers in Tibet only. Given the media report is accurate will the commission correct Prof. Flannery's misrepresentation of the facts?

Radio National Interview

Reuters Report
"Since the 1950s, over 82 percent of glaciers have been in a state of retreat, and the pace has accelerated since the 1990s," the report says of China's glaciers in Tibet and nearby areas that feed major rivers.


UPDATE: We asked Reuters if they could provide a link to the original report, here's what they said: 
I'm sorry I don't have a link to an Internet version; only a hard copy of the report in Chinese. I heard there is an English-language summary available, although possibly not online yet -- I looked for it and couldn't find it. If you read Chinese, you can buy copies via Amazon's Chinese service.

Seems our climate commissioner must also have expertise in Mandarin, funny that I haven't heard it mentioned before!

Monday, January 16, 2012

History missing from sinking island piece

A number of low lying islands in Torres Strait are prone to inundation during king tides and storms. No surprise, that's what happens when your front door is only a few feet above the high tide mark. In the late 1940s the islands of Saibai and Boigu near the PNG coast were evacuated following tidal erosion caused by summer storms. The islanders were resettled on Cape York.

For some reason ABC chose not to include this critical historical information in a report broadcast by The World Today titled "Fears Islanders may soon be forced out of their homes". In their alarming report the ABC claimed:
"The rise in sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events in the region make the islands at this time of the year particularly vulnerable."
While we agree the islands are vulnerable to inundation, the historical information makes it clear that the vulnerability is not new, and does not arise as a consequence of any change in local or global climate, as ABC would have us believe.

These claims (of rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events) are not substantiated. In regard to rising sea levels, there are few tide gauges in the area that could be used to support the contention that local sea level is rising. Looking at the tide chart below for Turtle Island (near Thursday Island) from the  Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL). It appears that local sea level in this part of Torres Strait has been fluctuating since records began. But there is not much data to go on.

As ABC do not quote any authority for their claim that extreme weather events are increasing in the region we assume they just made that one up. Wouldn't be the first time!

We have requested ABC substantiate the claims made in their report, and to include mention of the historically significant inundation events in the online version.

PS. A related piece from last year titled Torres Strait pleads for climate change action, leads with the following sentence: Torres Strait Islanders have warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard they could become Australia's first climate change refugees if she continues to ignore the effects of rising sea levels in the area. 
Amazing how much can be debunked with a little historical context and a little data!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Extreme weather misinformation at the ABC

ABC NEWS WATCH enjoyed the new year from the comfort of a pool side lounge chair in a distant land positioned just above the equator, so we missed the "Extreme heat in southern Australia" that the ABC AM reported on the 3rd of January. Just as well as AM's Peter Cave reported the story in the following manner:
"South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century."  Glad I was sipping cool beer elsewhere. That must have been some heatwave (though based on the evidence some would have just called it summer)!

So hottest since at least 1912? Let's test the validity of that claim (made by the ABC); mindful that just one observation is all that is needed to disprove the claim.

Start the clock:
1. open Google
2. type "Heatwaves in South Australia"
3. follow the first link to the Bureau of Meteorology page of the same heading.
4. Read the page (reprinted below)
5. Claim debunked. 
Time taken: about 2 minutes.

Heatwaves in South Australia

Temperatures above 40°C are common in the north of South Australia 
in summer, but rarely for such a prolonged period as in the first half 
of January 1979. The heatwave began on 31 December, and up until 
15 January, maximum temperatures of at least 45°C were a daily 
occurrence in the north of the state, at places such as Marree and 
Further north, at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the temperature 
exceeded 40°C on 12 days, but did not go higher than 42°C, in part 
because of the town's elevation (546m). The extreme heat reached 
further south on several days: at Port Augusta the mercury topped 44°C 
on 6 days, and at Broken Hill in NSW on 7 days. Adelaide did not have 
many days of extreme heat, but 42°C on 3 January was the highest 
temperature for 11 years.
Livestock and wild animals suffered. Kangaroos were found dead, and 
100 cattle died on a train at Marree, despite the efforts of railway staff 
to offload them (Around 1979 it was usual for 10 to 20 animals to die during 
transport in hot weather). Hundreds of dead birds, including crows and 
parrots, were found. A goods train was derailed at Immarna on the trans-
continental line, probably because the rails buckled in the heat.
A similar heatwave in January 1960 was not so sustained, because cool 
changes brought relief, but temperatures exceeded 45°C in the north of the 
State from 31 December to 3 January. On 2 January, Oodnadatta reached 
a state record - and arguably an Australian record - of 50.7°C. The 
minimum that day was 34.6°C. The temperature again reached the low 40s on 
6-8 January, and on the 10th.
There were several deaths in the 1960 heat wave: five babies and eight 
dults died, including five found dead beside an outback road. Other victims 
were admitted to hospital with heat exhaustion, including 18 in Broken Hill. 
However hospitals would have provided little relief, because few were 
air-conditioned at that time.

The highest temperature recorded in the 2012 "heatwave" at Adelaide Airport (BOM station ID 23034):
31 December 2011: 34.6
1 January 2012: 39.8
2 January 2012: 39.7
3 January 2012: 31.5

That ABC claim again: "South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century." Seems there will be no halt to the climate mis-information this year.

See Also
Warwick Hughes looks at other weather mis-information being spruiked by our national news service in his  post: Lies and misinformation on ABC news about heat waves

Ian Hill also covers the Adelaide "heatwave" at Jo Nova's site finding: There have only been 78 other heatwaves like that in Adelaide… and 51 were hotter

H/T to Warwick

In 2012

A belated Happy New Year from ABC NEWS WATCH.

Last year, following a change in ABC's complaint handling process, we passed on a number of unsatisfactory responses onto ACMA but are still awaiting a response. Hopefully the slow wheels of the bureaucracy will turn over and we'll get a response.

This year will see us continue our focus on ABC's climate change and environment reporting that for some time has been marked by activism over sound journalism.

Missing this year will be pictures from ABC's environment news portal. ABC finally seem to have fixed the glitch that provided such a rewarding mismatch of images and headlines.

Wishing readers all the best for the coming year.