Monday, February 27, 2012

Mt Everest melting! But who says it's so? Take 2.

ACM have a post (Media recycles two-year-old Everest scare story) on recycled news from a few years ago about the Himalayas becoming harder to climb due to global warming. ABC have similarly rehashed the story,('Super Sherpa' says climate change may make Everest unclimbable) this time with a little more flesh than the last. When ABC ran the story back in September 2010 they were forced to remove reference to claims about higher rates of warming in the Himalayas after they were unable to verify rates after initially using an IPCC table that we proved was erroneous. Our inquiries lead to corrections to the IPCC's report. (see the Himalaya/IPCC page for a run down.

In their new effort, ABC make the following unsubstantiated claims in the first sentence of their report that we ask them to substantiate:
1.Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas (New sat data shows Himalayan glaciers hardly melting at all)
2. Climate change is devastating farming communities in the Himalayas (A community farm in the Himalayan foothills is drawing people from all over)
3. Climate change is making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb (13-year-old American climbs Everest, calls his mom)

Giant eagles live on in a warmer world!

Oh my, ABC report:  Giant eagle smashes through man's windscreen. Seems that the recent spate of global warming that ABC said was supposed to shrink animals is not quite living up to expectations!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Australian Story-unfathomably mistaken

Updated, 27/2/2012-see below.
These days The Australian's Hedley Thomas always has something interesting to say.
Here are his comments from an article "Judged Guilty in the minds of the mob" in today's Oz about the ABC's Australian Story report into the death of Tina Watson and subsequent investigation and trial of her husband Gabe Watson in a diving accident on the Great Barrier reef in 2003. Thomas' article raises important questions about the media's handling of the matter, in particular the ABC, drawing parallels with the Lindy Chamberlain case.

In late 2010, in one of several stories about how the public was being repeatedly conned over the Watson case, I described how the ABC's highly regarded Australian Story made one of the most damaging contributions. (Ed eg. here Death on the reef: evidence slanted-see notes below)
The program, called "Unfathomable" and screened in two parts in August 2010, was even used in evidence by US prosecutors in their bid to bring a murder charge in Alabama.
This occurred after Watson had already voluntarily returned to Australia to plead guilty and take responsibility for her accidental death, or manslaughter, for which he went to prison in Queensland.
Australian Story helped paint Watson as a homicidal murderer. The program was months in the making, yet it omitted reams of evidence that proved the fallacy of its angle and misleading script.
Despite the urgings of Watson's defence team, which declined to take part in the program, Australian Story did not highlight the findings and comments of three justices of the Queensland Court of Appeal (the State's highest court).
Those judges concluded in 2009 that Watson had been wrongly accused of murder; he was devastated by the death of his wife; the so-called many versions he gave about the circumstances were not, as police claimed, that unusual or inconsistent; and that the death of Tina was the result of him making a shockingly poor decision in a hostile environment when under extreme pressure.
The Court of Appeal's findings were markedly different from those of a 2008 Queensland inquest. Despite evidence that the police had misunderstood the dive computer, a crucial feature of the case, it was found the detectives "produced to my inquiry as detailed and complete a picture as I have seen as a coroner".
Lessons can be learned from the Watson case so that other travesties do not occur

The rest at the link above. In his report of 15/12/2010 (link above) Hedley Thomas states:
The key evidence was misstated as recently as four months ago in a two-part special by the ABC's Australian Story, in which Gabe Watson was depicted as a cold-blooded and sociopathic murderer of his wife of 11 days, Tina, an examination by The Australian shows.
The program, strongly slanted against Watson, omitted facts and findings which would have shown his actions in a different light. It has added momentum to a powerful public push for Watson to be tried for murder in Alabama where he will this morning face a bail hearing.

Odd that the ABC's Australian Story have never thought to update content of their website to reflect recent events. I have asked them to do so.

UPDATE 27/2/2012
The Executive Producer of Australian story provided this email this evening:

Dear Mr Hendricks, thank you for your email about the Gabe Watson case.

The relevant page on our website has  been amended  to incorporate the court’s decision in Alabama last week.

Best regards
Executive Producer
Australian Story

(hey where's the X!)
However as of this evening appears to be no change. Guess it's been held up. Will check again.

28/2/2012 Further Comments from Exec Prod Australian Story:
Hi Marc,  because it was a two part episode the update is posted on the  web page for the concluding episode.   It was placed there last night. 

But I agree it might be a good idea to duplicate  the information  on Part One as well, just to be completely clear, so I will ask our broadband producer to do that.

Best regards
Executive Producer
Australian Story

Here's the update:

"2012 Update: Last week in Alabama Judge Tommy Nail acquitted Gabe Watson of murder stating that prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence to send the case to jurors."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

SA hotter in 1960-ABC wrong again

Map showing weather stations in South Australia with continuous records from at least 1960 through 2012. Red stars indicate stations with average maximum temperature for January 1 and 2 1960 greater than January 1 and 2 2012, grey stars indicate the opposite. Note the extent of the red stars where ave max temp Jan1+2 for 1960 is greater than the same days in 2012. Data from BOM-see text below for methodology.

In our post Extreme weather misinformation at the ABC we took ABC to task for their claim  "South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century." We pointed the ABC to the Bureau of Meteorology website that indicated a number of warmer periods over the course of the last 100 years or so and suggested ABC had it wrong. Indeed BOM's description of heatwaves in South Australa included this passage:
"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 adults 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.

ABC's Alan Sunderland (Head of Policy & Staff Development, ABC News) has now replied to our complaint of a factual error and offers this explanation:
Received Tue, Feb 21, 2012 
Dear Mr Hendrickx

It appears that you have mis-heard or mis-read what the ABC reported.
We did not say "South Australia's biggest heat wave" or the "hottest day in a century".  We said it was the state's hottest start to the year in more than a century. 
Our story went to air at 8am on the 3rd of January.  This means we were asserting that the first two days of 2012 were hotter than any other previous 1st and 2nd January days in the preceding century. 
Since receiving your complaint, we have double checked weather data for the state's most populous centre, Adelaide. 
Using figures from West Terrace from 1900 to 1977, and then from 1977 from Kent St, the hottest recorded temperatures for Adelaide for 1st and 2nd of January were in 1900 itself, with 43.1 and 42.1 degrees. This year Kent St recorded 41.6 and 40.6. There have been hotter days over this period but no other record of 2 days in excess of 40 degrees in a row.
Parafield Airport which has records back to 1929 has also never recorded two 40 degree days over the beginning of January until this year with 42.0 and 41.7.
The ABC does not profess to have investigated all weather data for all South Australian sites going back to 1912. However, we believe our report was accurate and appropriate, given the main focus of the story was on the electrical supply and fire safety consequences of record hot weather in South Australia.  It was most definitely not an attempt to mislead the Australian public.
Yours sincerely

Alan Sunderland Head of Policy & Staff DevelopmentABC News

From ABC NEWS WATCH to Alan Sunderland, sent Wed, Feb 22, 2012
Thanks Alan,
It seems your researchers are not doing their job properly. Again a quick search of the internet finds higher extremes across South Australia in January 1960. Indeed the temperature at Oodnadatta in SA for the second of January 1960 remains an Australian record. It's 50.7 degree celcius.

The top 4 records for South Australia are as follows (note the date):
Official records for South Australia in January
Records valid as of 31 January 2012 Rank Value
1 50.7 02 January 1960 Oodnadatta Airport 17043 117 -27.56 135.45
2 50.3 03 January 1960 Oodnadatta Airport 17043 117 -27.56 135.45
3 49.4 02 January 1960 Marree 17031 50 -29.65 138.06
3 49.4 02 January 1960 Whyalla (Norrie) 18103 13 -33.03 137.53

On the first of January it was 49.2 at Oodnadtta Airport.

By contrast in 2012 for the 1st and 2nd of January Oodnadatta recorded 43.2 degrees C for each day.

BOM provide maps showing Australian daily maximum temperature extreme area. The map for 1st of January and 2nd of January area attached and these do not show much in the way of extremes for the state.

Your cherry picking of weather records for Adelaide says nothing about temperatures across the state. There is no basis to the claims made by ABC news that "it was the state's hottest start to the year in more than a century."
This is pure speculation on the part of ABC. Once again I ask you to clarify the record.
Perhaps ABC News could simply return to reporting to the facts without adding the unnecessary factually inaccurate hyperbole.
Marc Hendrickx

We noted that "ABC does not profess to have investigated all weather data for all South Australian sites going back to 1912. "
Neither did we. We spent about an hour on the BOM website and we only went back as far as January 1960, and we only looked at stations with continuous records over than time. We took the average of the maximum temperature for January 1 and 2 for the years 1960 and 2012 and plotted them on a map, producing the figure at the head of this post. Clearly a larger proportion of the state was hotter in 1960, than 2012. It seems the SE corner of SA was hotter in 2012, compared to 1960. This prompted the following additional email to Alan Sutherland.

Sent Wed, Feb 22, 2012
Alan, Further to my email of earlier today please find attached a map (ed-the map at the start of this post) based on BOM data that compares Max temps for Jan 1+2, 1960 to Jan 1+2 2012. This is for stations that include readings for both dates. Stations that do not include readings for both years were omitted. The distribution of temperatures indicates that a higher proportion of the state experienced higher temperatures in 1960 compared to 2012. This contradicts ABC's assertion made in its January report. BOM data is provided below, please feel free to check it.

Once again I request you correct the record.

Marc Hendrickx

Method. BOMs climate database was searched for stations with max. temp records from Jan 1-2, 1960 and Jan 1-2 2012. Max. temps were averaged over the two days.

TownStation NumberLatitudeLongitudeAve temp 1960Ave temp 2012difference
Adelaide Airport23034-34.94138.533739.8-2.8
Streaky Bay18079-32.8134.2241.136.34.8
Mt Barker23733-35.06138.8534.238.9-4.7
Mt Gambier26021-37.75140.7726.239-12.8

ABC News: write the story, then they check the facts, and still they make mistakes. Is that value for money?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Missing Voices: Judy Curry

ABC are yet to invite climate scientist Judy Curry onto The Science show or elsewhere.
Professor Curry is the Chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology. She writes at Climate Etc. Here is an extract from her post on the deceptive behaviour of activist scientist Peter Gleick:

Gleick’s ‘integrity’

The Artless Climate Wars
If Gleick et al. view this whole endeavour as fighting a war, they would be well advised to read Sun Tsu’s Art of War; see also my previous discussion of theArtless Climate Wars:
Apart from the “why” of the climate wars, the “how” needs to be looked at also.  It seems that those fighting to defend the IPCC consensus never read the Art of War.  Translated to the climate war, Sun Tzu’s principles might look something like this:
  • Outsmart your opponent so that battles aren’t necessary
  • Pick your battles carefully.
  • In the course of your battle, don’t lose the moral high ground.
  • Divide and conquer; don’t give your enemy cause to rally together and combine forces
  • Overconfidence can be fatal to your strategy
  • If the campaign is prolonged, the resources will not be equal to the strain
  • If you know your enemy, you can win battles without a single loss
Gleick’s strategy has failed on all counts.  I don’t think this is from the Art of War, but I read it somewhere and it seems apt:  When fighting a war, don’t waste a bullet on yourself (ouch).
The end result of Gleick’s actions are to cede the high ground to Heartland, especially in light of the fact that Heartland had invited Gleick to a debate shortly before the theft of the documents occurred.

Missing News: clouds misbehave

More scientific evidence that indicates the climate models are wrong that won't make it to the news on the ABC.

Davies, R. and M. Molloy (2012), Global cloud height fluctuations measured by MISR on Terra from 2000 to 2010, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L03701, doi:10.1029/2011GL050506.

Self-consistent stereo measurements by the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on the Terra satellite yield a decrease in global effective cloud height over the decade from March 2000 to February 2010. The linear trend is −44 ± 22 m/decade and the interannual annual difference is −31 ± 11 m between the first and last years of the decade. The annual mean height is measured with a sampling error of 8 m, which is less than the observed interannual fluctuation in global cloud height for most years. A maximum departure from the 10-year mean, of −80 ± 8 m, is observed towards the end of 2007. These height anomalies correlate well with the changes in the Southern Oscillation Index, with the effective height increasing over Indonesia and decreasing over the Central Pacific during the La NiƱa phase of the oscillation. After examining the net influence of Central Pacific/Indonesia heights on the global mean anomaly, we conclude that the integrated effects from outside these regions dominate the global mean height anomalies, confirming the existence of significant teleconnections.

What it means:

The University of Auckland has had its head in the clouds, and its conclusion is they are getting lower.
The university looked at ten years of data from NASA's terra telescope to discover the average cloud height decreased by 1% over the past decade.

The telescope showed fewer clouds were occurring at higher altitudes.

Researchers believe a significant reduction in cloud height would lead to reducing the surface temperature of the planet and slowing global warming.

University of Auckland has had its head in the clouds

History still missing from sinking islands piece

Update on our post (History missing from sinking island piece) about the absence of important historical information from an ABC story about Islands in the Torres Strait. We received the following from ABC's Alan Sunderland Head of Policy & Staff Development at ABC News. Based on his response I can safely say that at ABC News: First they write the story, then do the research and then they still leave out the important bits.

from: Alan Sunderland
date: Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 9:33 PM

subject: factual error & lack of inquiry

Dear Mr Hendrickx,

Thanks for the feedback.
Based on the information provided to me by the program team, I don’t believe the ABC report on the Torres Strait Islanders broadcast on January 16 was accurate and not misleading. 
Here are some points in response:
  1. Two recent papers which provide climate projections for the region which include details about the number of extreme weather events that are likely to occur and have an impact on Torres Strait Islands. They are: “An assessment of climate change impacts and adaptation for the Torres Strait Islands, Australia” (2010) published in Climatic Change Journal, and “Observed and future of the Torres Strait Region” (CSIRO report from 2010). Specifically the reports state that the observed ‘above average’ rate of sea level rise is of 6mm a year, compared to the global average of 3mm a year. This observation is highlighted in the reports as particularly concerning.
  2. The CSIRO report (2010) concludes that climate change impacts will affect daily life on the Islands, by impacting on their economic livelihoods.
  3. Dr. Donna Green, interviewed in this story for The World Today, has completed a study into climate change affects on the Torres Strait Islands. For her report, published late last year (titled: What Legal Recourse Do Non State Islands Have To Obtain Resources to Adapt to Climate Change), Dr. Green conducted an analysis of extreme sea level heights for Mer Island. It suggests that by 2050, there will be an increase in the frequency of extreme sea level events that are usually associated with inundation events on the Island. The report also anticipates that the present ‘one in one hundred year’ sea level height of 1.43m above mean sea level may be exceeded on average at least every 10 years by 2050.
  4. The IPCC has acknowledged in their most recent report that small island states are disproportionately  impacted by climate change due to their susceptibility to rising sea levels
  5. These impacts have also been acknowledged by Federal Parliament. A private members motion, passed in August 2011, reads that the House: “recognises that the Torres Strait Islander people have been experiencing flood devastation for the past 4 years.... and that  “in light of evidence of continued flooding on the outer islands due to king tidal surges, calls on government to commit to restore and rebuild damaged seawalls.”
We didn’t broadcast information about the islands being inundated in the 1940s, but it was clear that inundation has been a problem in the past – the reference to the sea walls makes this clear. 
Our understanding is not that inundation is a completely new phenomena, but rather to do with the increase in the frequency of inundation events, which is linked to climate change (rising sea levels, and increase in extreme weather events.)
We think this was a fair and balanced report based on published scientific research.
Alan Sunderland Head of Policy & Staff DevelopmentABC News

Our response:
Thanks Alan,
I'll reply in more detail in the near future at ABC NEWS WATCH where your email below (above) will be repeated in full. 

The information you have provided does nothing to justify the omission of the historical data from the report that would have given ABC's audience important historical context to the recent alarming reports. Your understanding may be that "inundation is (not) a completely new phenomena", however your audience were not given the chance to make this assessment due to your reporter's omission of the historical facts. Sea walls are built for a variety of reasons, hence your claim that "We didn’t broadcast information about the islands being inundated in the 1940s, but it was clear that inundation has been a problem in the past – the reference to the sea walls makes this clear." does not hold. Why not just simply state that similar inundations had resulted in complete evacuation of islands in the 1940s? I am not a journalist however I would have thought that providing historical context such as this would be essential in a report of this nature and would constitute "sound" journalism. Not having the pressures of commercial news networks I would have thought ABC would have had the capacity to stretch a little further and provide more information on this one. I remember it doing so in the past.

The ABC report also did not provide any information about the large uncertainties involved in IPCC sea level projections that you describe below, or that recent sea level trends around the Australian continent appear to be decelerating and hence call into question IPCC sea level projections used by Dr Green (see for instance HERE). As such it was missing in factual information, biased, lacked balance and like a lot of other recent ABC news articles on climate change it was simply misleading. 

You are of course free to believe otherwise. It's amazing what people believe in this day and age.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Missing News: Fakegate

Naturally if you just rely on the ABC for your daily summary of what's been happening on our little blue marble, it may come as a surprise to learn that a number of documents were recently illegally acquired from the Heartland Institute in the United States of America. The illegally obtained documents provide a recent snapshot on Heartland's mission "to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems." The Heartland Institute are the publishers of the Non-governmental International panel on climate change (NIPCC) report that challenges and disagrees with aspects of the findings of the Intergovernmental panel of climate change (IPCC). One of the illegally obtained documents, one lauded by activists as highly damaging to Heartland has been shown to be a fake, hence "Fakegate". Again while the rest of the world knows this, it is still to be news to the ABC's audience.
ABC's audience will also have to go elsewhere to discover the source of the illegally obtained documents was none other than an activist scientist, whose reputation as a scientist is now in tatters, his reputation as an activist, for a cause, however is made.

Just wondering how long it will take for the ABC to produce a report, or like the second batch of climategate emails is something else more important?

Apologies for the woeful summary.

The blogosphere has long surpassed ABC's news coverage, hence we offer the following links:
Andy Revkin's blog: Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Climate Files
One way or the other, Gleick’s use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others. (Some of the released documents contain information about Heartland employees that has no bearing on the climate fight.) That is his personal tragedy and shame (and I’m sure devastating for his colleagues, friends and family).

Judy Curry's Climate Etc: Breaking News: Gleick Confesses
Gleick on integrity:
A brief lesson in the integrity of science
Climate Change and the Integrity of Science, Again
AGU’s new task force on scientific integrity and ethics begins
Threats to the integrity of science: congressional testimony

I even referenced his testimony in my uncertainty monster paper.
My first interaction with Gleick was he invited me to speak in an AGU session that he was organizing on the integrity of science, my presentation can be found here.
He has made it known to me via email that he has been displeased with my “behavior.” I seem to have gotten his goat to have been mentioned in the fake Heartland strategy doc (hard to believe that he didn’t write this).The irony of it all, this coming from a scientist that has made a particular point about integrity and written many essays and even testified to congress on the subject.Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Files

Watts Up with That: 
For the record Dr. Gleick, I am not “anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated” as you suggest. And you have damaged me and my business. I suspect I’ll be seeing you in court to protect my rights, along with many others, sir.

Missing Voices: Roger Pielke Snr

Roger Pielke Snr's work on climate change science has not been reported by the ABC. We have requested The Science Show interview Roger for some time to no avail. He continues to be among the missing voices Australians would benefit listening to.

Excerpts from his biography:
Professor Roger Pielke Snr:  
Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado in Boulder; Professor Emeritus of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist in CIRES and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder (November 2005 -present). He is also an Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and has a five-year appointment (April 2007 - March 2012) on the Graduate Faculty of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Dr. Pielke has published over 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 50 chapters in books, co-edited 9 books, and made over 700 presentations during his career to date. A listing of papers can be viewed at the project website: He also launched a science weblog in 2005 to discuss weather and climate issues. This weblog was named one of the 50 most popular Science blogs by Nature Magazine on July 5, 2006 and is located at

His most recent post at his blog is as follows:
The Misuse Of The Scientific Method – A Nature Geoscienes Article “Changes In Hail And Flood Risk In High-Resolution Simulations Over Colorado’s Mountains” By Mahoney Et Al 2012
Recently, there were two articles in Nature Geosciences which concluded, based on multi-decadal climate model predictions, that there would not be hail in Colorado by the end of the current century. This study illustrates the misuse of the scientific method where a top-down multi-decadal climate prediction, which has shown no skill at predicting changes in hail statistics in hindcasts, is used to make forecasts decades from now.
Yet Nature Climate Change elected to publish such an untested paper. This research is another example of the epidemic of papers that purport to to be science but are actually just exercises with the models. Nature Climate Change, instead of presenting sound scientific research, apparently publishes anything that promotes their particular agenda in climate science.
The authors (and Nature Climate Change] ignore the fundamental limitations on this top-down, regional downscaled approach that we summarize in our article
Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2011: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? EOS. January 31 2012 pages 52-53
The Mahoney et al Nature – Cliamte Change study is yet another example of the waste of money that I have discussed, for example, in my post
Read the rest at Roger's blog, and if you'd like to hear him on the ABC, send in a suggestion via the ABC website.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Missing News: climategate 2

In their recent reply to our questions about sending Prof Stewart Franks down the memory hole the head of ABC Audience and Consumer affairs states:
"The broader story of the release of a second tranche of climate-related emails had not been covered by ABC News as it was judged less newsworthy than other events. "

Here's how the BBC covered the story:
'New release' of climate emails
A new batch of emails and other documents from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit has been released on the internet.

Here are some of those events that ABC considered more newsworthy, from ABC's news archive from late November 2011 (CHIEF, HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!)

Teen arrested over muck-up day pranks
By Jessica Nairn
Posted Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:09am AEDT
Police are cautioning Canberra students against potentially illegal end of year muck-up activities after the arrest of a teenager.

Clooney, Ronaldo called up in Berlusconi sex trial
Posted Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:01pm AEDT
An Italian court has ruled George Clooney and Cristiano Ronaldo can be called as witnesses in Silvio Berlusconi's trial for having sex with an underage prostitute.

Wheatley fined for third drink driving offence
By Margaret Paul
Posted Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:12am AEDT | Updated Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:15pm AEDT
Music manager Glenn Wheatley has been fined $600 and had his licence cancelled for a year, after pleading guilty to drink-driving in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

Work underway to eliminate traffic blackspot
Posted Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:54am AEDT | Updated Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:07am AEDT
Work on a new bridge and earthworks have begun as part of a major upgrade to eliminate a traffic blackspot on the New South Wales far south coast.

Students want council to buy old backpacker site
By Allyson Horn
Posted Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:46pm AEDT
A group of Alice Springs high school students is petitioning the Town Council to buy the Melanka's site and turn it into a community park.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Missing News: Memory Hole and Climategate two

ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs provide the following response regarding their defamatory description of Professor Stewart Franks (see Sending Franks down the memory hole) and in doing so admit to missing one of the biggest news stories of 2011.

Received from ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs 17/2/2012
I refer to your email of 15 February 2012 regarding an item published on ABC News's Corrections and Clarifications page.  You complained that the item was highly defamatory and inaccurate.  Claims of defamation are outside the remit of Audience and Consumer Affairs; if you wish to pursue this matter you will need to direct your correspondence to ABC Legal.  My response below is confined to your complaint of inaccuracy.
On receipt of your complaint, ABC News agreed that the original correction had been poorly worded and should be changed.  The correction was amended, both in relation to the views of the professor and the basis for removal of the original story.  In view of this prompt and appropriate action, I regard this matter as resolved.
You also asked why the article was not amended rather than removed.  The story was the work of the ABC's Newcastle newsroom, who covered it on the basis that it provided an interesting local angle on an international story, ie the leaked or hacked climate emails. However, as it turns out, having covered the so-called 'climate-gate' emails when the first tranche of emails was disclosed in 2009, ABC News did not return to the international story in late 2011 as other competing stories were judged more deserving of coverage.  This unfortunately left the Newcastle story to stand alone.  By the time ABC News had their attention directed to the story in late January 2012, the news agenda had moved on.  ABC News concluded that removal of the story was the appropriate course of action in these circumstances.
The ABC is satisfied that no further action on this matter is warranted.
Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs


Thanks for your prompt response and correcting the slander. I have forwarded it on to Professor Franks.

The reasons you provide for the story's removal however are unsatisfactory. Which matters were judged more deserving? Can ABC News provide some examples.


Reply from ABC
Dear Mr Hendrickx,
A broad sample of the stories covered by ABC News at that time is available on the ABC website.

Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

We attempted to look over ABC's News archive for late November 2011, but unfortunately it's currently not providing any links - we let them know.

The corrected correction reads as follows:

Climate emails

Posted Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:15pm AEDT | Updated Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:12am AEDT
ABC Newcastle: This story published on December 5 was removed because it was in breach of ABC editorial requirements. The story reported that a Newcastle University professor who questions aspects of climate change science felt vindicated that leaked scientific emails “showed fundamental flaws in the methodology” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  These were not balanced by other views on this subject and the article did not associate the leaked emails with the Climategate emails of 2009.

ABC's explanation above indicates ABC entirely missed one of the major stories of 2011. Given the article apparently represents ABC's only news coverage of climategate2 we have suggested ABC's reluctance to salvage the article is due to bias. 
Sent to ABC:
Looking over your response once more I hardly think ABC's poor reporting should be the cause for removing the article from ABC's archive. Based on your statement below "ABC News did not return to the international story in
late 2011" It seems this story constituted the entirety of ABC's coverage of the second batch of climategate emails. 

As I pointed out in my complaint ABC have previously "salvaged" news articles that were initially not up to standard. See the polar bear report from 2009 (see also HERE). Given the high profile nature of the climategate story, its absence otherwise from ABC's news coverage and the previous precedents of ABC News salvaging articles; the only reason I can think of for ABC's reluctance to undertake this task is one of bias, and this a charge I now make. 

As this is a new complaint I ask ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs to investigate the matter.

Update: Off to ACMA we go:

From ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs, 20/2/2011:

My original response to you explained why the story you referred to was removed rather than updated.  The broader story of the release of a second tranche of climate-related emails had not been covered by ABC News as it was judged less newsworthy than other events.  This is a legitimate decision for a news organisation to make; it does not provide prima facie evidence of bias.  As I have already addressed the substance of your complaint, I decline to investigate this matter further.

I have also seen your additional complaint (C6535-12) referring to the News Archive for 2011.  I have not been able to replicate your experience of broken links and suggest you try the site again.

Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

Oh, score Plus 1