What The Australian edited out of their report linking fossil fuel burning to climate extremes

Please see update below before you read the post below.

The Associated Press is one of the world’s biggest and oldest news agency’s providing copy to papers and media websites all over the world.

Earlier this week they filed a report about a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Association which carried 22 studies looking at the link between 16 extreme weather events around the world and human-caused climate change.

I’ve written about five of the studies that looked at Australia’s record hot year of 2013 for my Planet Oz blog on The Guardian.

But anyway, back to AP, which ran a news story about the special edition earlier this week.  The AP report had 19 paragraphs. Paragraphs eight, nine and 10 read like this.

The report seeks to find how much and how man-made warming has influenced the weather, said NOAA research meteorologist Martin Hoerling, an editor of the report.

The influence on Australia’s hottest year in more than a century is glaring, the report’s editors said.

“It’s almost impossible” to explain Australia’s hot 2013 without climate change, said Peter Stott of the United Kingdom’s meteorology office, another report editor.

Now you might know (because I’ve written a fair bit on it) that The Australian newspaper has been on a bit of a mission of late to publish the non-peer-reviewed musings of a climate science denialist who claims Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has been fiddling its temperature record to show warming.

It just happens to be the same temperature dataset that BoM used to declare 2013 the hottest year on record and the same record that shows Australia has warmed almost a degree in the last 100 years or so (it’s not the only data set that shows this and it’s not the only analysis that shows this either).

So when The Australian ran the Associated Press story about the studies it decided to leave out a few paragraphs. See if you can guess some of them. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. I double denial dare you to guess.

OK, I’ll tell you.

They left out those three paragraphs above, two of which were the only ones exclusively discussing Australia.

You might think those paragraphs would be the ones most relevant to readers in Australia, seeing as they are the bits talking about Australia, and The Australian is published in Australia (the clue is in the masthead).

But what do I know?

UPDATE: OK – I owe someone an apology.  My criticism was unwarranted (on this occasion) but I’ve kept the post as is rather than delete it, just to show I’m able to eat humble pie when required. Seth Borenstein from Associated Press says that The Australian ran an earlier take of his AP story before the comments from scientists were added.


Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

3 thoughts on “What The Australian edited out of their report linking fossil fuel burning to climate extremes”

  1. Funny thing is, Graham, they would have left that out anyway ;)…
    Another point to note is that they see fit to just reprint APs article on the report. Sure, the media shares work, but on a big ticket report like this they might have put one of their own staff onto it as it’s free access. Maybe Lloydie was off on a junket somewhere…

  2. How very convenient. Judging by what was posted overseas the updated version of the AP report was online within three hours after the embargo had passed.
    The Australian didn’t upload the story until 8:54am Australian Eastern Standard Time, almost seven hours after the embargo fell.
    So you have to ask yourself, does The Australian have such slow online processes that it takes four hours to cut and paste a story an post it online?
    Of course the other alternative is that The Australian was aware of both versions but selected the earlier version as it was closer to the company line on climate change.
    That said, if an AP story includes a mention of Australia in the lead – which the original did – why the hell wouldn’t you go straight to the freely available report online to see what it said about your country.
    What is intriguing is that the Herald Sun found and linked to the New York Times article that specifically highlighted Australia’s important role in the report.
    All in all, The Australian has either decided to remain willfully ignorant or has such poor online journalistic practices that it can’t find updates or make updates on its own website.
    More tellingly still, as far as I can tell it failed to run the AP report in its print version.
    It is fine for you to eat humble pie, as you put it, but clearly The Australian has really missed the boat and continues to show utter disregard for climate science, as Graham Lloyd’s articles show time and time again.

  3. Kudo Graham for admitting you were wrong.

    However people reading this article might not read the whole, and without reading the last paragraph would then be MISINFORMED. And so you would be engaging in similar denialist tactics you are accusing others of.

    So I do suggest you rewrite this article, or remove it. Just a suggestion.

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