Archive for category sceptics

The Australian misreports study on influence of sun on global warming

lloyd ice age

The p5 story in The Australian. Chances of story about climate science being wrong are on the rise if they appear in The Australian.

If you read The Australian newspaper the other day, you might be forgiven for thinking a new study into the amount of energy coming from the sun had found that the chances of the world experiencing another “little ice age” had gone up.

You might think that because that’s what the newspaper’s environment editor wrote.

Here are the first two paragraphs, under the headline “Chances of little ice age on the rise“.

The sun’s power is weakening at its fastest rate in 9300 years, doubling the odds of a return to little ice age conditions by mid-century, according to research by the British Met Office.

The chance of a repeat of conditions that last occurred between 1645 and 1715 when London’s Thames River regularly froze over and became the scene of winter fairs, was now rated at between 15 and 20 per cent, up from 10 per cent in 2010.

The big problem with these two sentences, is that the study did not look at the chances of the world, or even parts of the world, “returning to little ice age conditions”.

Rather, the study referred to the chances of the sun having a prolonged period of low solar activity similar to a period known as the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with the Little Ice Age but might not necessarily have actually caused it.

The study was published in Nature Communications and amazingly (or not surprisingly if you have followed much of Lloyd’s work over the years) it doesn’t even mention the Little Ice Age.  So what does it say?

The study looked at the chances of the sun falling into a lull and then asked what might happen to global temperatures if this happened. Here’s the relevant bit from the abstract:

An 8% chance of a return to Maunder Minimum-like conditions within the next 40 years was estimated in 2010 (ref. 2). The decline in solar activity has continued, to the time of writing, and is faster than any other such decline in the 9,300 years covered by the cosmogenic isotope data. If this recent rate of decline is added to the analysis, the 8% probability estimate is now raised to between 15 and 20%.

So the study says the chances of the sun falling into a long lull have increased significantly. It doesn’t say anything about a return to “Little Ice Age” conditions.  Why?

Because the main part of the study finds that any negative effect that a solar minimum might have on temperatures will be massively outstripped by temperature rises caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Using a series of climate models, the researchers based at the UK’s Met Office find that between 2050 and 2099, the drop in solar activity would have an impact of  -0.12C and -0.13C on global temperatures. The paper states:

This offsets or delays the global warming trend by ~2 years and is small compared with the modelled global warming.

But the paper does suggest that the impact of a solar minimum would be slightly larger in Europe. In a scenario where global temperatures in the region could rise by 6.6C, the drop in solar activity could shave between 0.4C and 0.8C off that warming.

Curiously, later in Lloyds story he actually contradicts his own introduction when he does state the research “found the impact from reduced solar output was a minor cooling effect of about -0.1C”.  Lloyd then quotes the met Office scientist Dr Ineson (the quote is the same as the one Ineson gave to a website called reportingclimatescience.com – perhaps that’s where Lloyd got it).

The UK’s Independent newspaper did actually speak to some the scientists. Ineson told The Independent:

This study shows that the Sun isn’t going to save use from global warming, but it could have impacts at a regional level that should be factored in to decisions about adapting to climate change for the decades to come.

The regional impacts of a grand solar minimum are likely to be larger than the global effect, but it’s still nowhere near big enough to override the expected global warming trend due to man-made change.

This means that even if we were to see a return to levels of solar activity not seen since the Maunder minimum, our winters would likely still be getting milder overall.

So the chances of a “little ice age” are not on the rise, as Lloyd’s story claimed, and the study that Lloyd said had showed this, didn’t show that.

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Is this what a Liberal party examination of #climate science might look like?

A climate science denialist rump within Australia’s Liberal Party is pushing for a parliamentary inquiry of some description on whether climate change might be caused by humans or not.

The party’s Federal Rural and Regional Committee, chaired by West Australian farmer Brian Mayfield, is pushing for the move ahead of Australia signing a new global deal in Paris in December to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Next week, the committee will push for similar inquiries into… oh shit I don’t know, let me think… the evidence linking the rise in drought conditions to the recent noted absence of fairies at the bottom of many farming paddocks.

What might an inquiry led by Liberals into the causes of climate change be like?

Maybe something like the Republican-led US House Science Committee’s hearing last year, when elected Republican representatives collected all the killer arguments from climate science deniers in an attempt to ping the White House Science Advisor Dr John Holdren. Here’s John Stewart’s review.

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Does climate science denialist Nick Cater know the difference between an ice sheet and sea ice?

Nick Cater has written another of those climate science denialist columns that The Australian likes to print whenever anyone sends one in.

In his introduction, Cater writes: “Given our deference to experts in these technocratic times it’s troubling how often they get it wrong”.

With a hubris-soaked introduction like that, you’d better be sure you’re facts are spot on.  You wouldn’t want to look foolish now, would you? Cue next few sentences.

Take Matthew England, an expert on global warming, who on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009 warned that the Antarctic was “losing ice at an alarmingly fast rate.”

Indeed England did say this to Lateline. OK so far.

“There’s a net mass loss of such a scale that Antarctica’s actually contributing as much today to sea-level rise as the Greenland ice sheet,” he told the ABC’s Lateline.

That seems OK too. The loss of ice from ice sheets on Antarctica has been accelerating rapidly, and it has continued to melt at faster rates, as I wrote on The Guardian recently.  West Antarctica is losing about 159 billion tonnes of ice a year. So what’s Cater’s point?

Five-and-a-half years later the continent remains stubbornly frozen. The sea-ice record has been broken for the third year running and fuel is being flown to Mawson base by helicopter because the icebreakers can’t get through.

Erm, what? The sea ice record?  But England wasn’t talking about sea ice.

When sea ice melts or sea water freezes, this has no impact on global sea levels.  But when ice that’s attached to the land melts, then this does raise sea levels. England was referring to ice sheet melting, not sea ice (the two issues are actually linked though – fresher water from the melting ice sheets freezes more easily, one of the probable reasons for the increasing sea ice in Antarctica).

Either Cater has deliberately confused the two to make England look like he was wrong, or the head of a key research centre for the conservative side of politics has made a very basic stuff up of his research.

The theme running through Cater’s polemic is that experts are sometimes wrong, and he uses his wrong-headed analysis of England’s statements as an example. The irony bleeds.

Cater also quotes former UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Robert Watson to insinuate that the IPCC authors might be biased.

No one expects experts to be perfect, but as Robert Watson — a former IPCC chairman — has pointed out, the errors follow a pattern. “The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact,” he said after the failure of the Copenhagen conference. “That is worrying.”

That quote comes from a 2010 article in The Times. When asked about that article, Watson later complained that the reporters had “distorted” his views and that he did not believe IPCC authors were biased, as might be inferred from the story and also from Cater’s quote.

Cater also pulls out well worn insinuations that the planet is not warming without mentioning that the 15 hottest years on record have all occurred from 1998 onwards.  Last year, 2014, was likely the hottest of them all.

Cater quotes a 1988 conference in Toronto where, he says, “experts warned temperatures would rise by between 1.5C and 4.5C by 2050. With 27 years gone and 35 to go the rise is barely a quarter of a degree.”

Now here’s that conference statement:

There has been an observed increase of globally-averaged temperature of 0.5C in the past century which is consistent with theoretical greenhouse gas predictions. The accelerating increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, if continued, will probably result in a rise in the mean surface temperature of the Earth of 1.5 to 4C before the middle of the next century.

From the statement, it’s not clear if the writers were referring to an extra “1.5C to 4C” based on pre-industrial temperatures (the usual analogue for those sorts of statements), an extra “1.5C to 4C” from 1988 or an extra “1.5C to 4C” on top of the 0.5C.

The world has already warmed about about 0.89C since the the beginning of the 20th century.

Cater doesn’t mention that in the same section of the conference paper, the authors write that “natural variability of the atmosphere and climate will continue and be superimposed on the long-term trend” which is pretty much what’s been happening over the last decade or so – an issue which scientists have been keenly studying.

Another of Cater’s handpicked experts is Rupert Darwall – a fellow climate science denialist who is quoted via this 2013 column from the Wall Street Journal.

Darwall once wrote a climate science denial book, but is a former investment banker with no peer reviewed climate science publications to his name.  Darwall has also written a couple of reports in recent years for tobacco company Phillip Morris on the issue of plain packaging.

When it comes to anyone who writes about climate change in the opinion pages of The Australian, to quote Cater, “it’s troubling how often they get it wrong”.

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University of Western Australia Cancels $4 Million Federal Government Contract For Bjorn Lomborg’s Consensus Center

lomborg clean coal

Bjorn Lomborg – cancelled

As you might know, I’ve written plenty about climate science contrarian Bjorn Lomborg.

I’ve investigated the funding of his US think-tank on DeSmog and also analysed – twicehis methods on The Guardian.

A $4 million federal government grant to bring his dubious methodology to the University of Western Australia kicked off a storm with protests among academics, students and the broader academic community.

News just in though that UWA has cancelled Lomborg’s contract.  In a statement from the university,  Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson defended Lomborg, but said:

Whilst I respect the right of staff to express their views on this matter, as all universities should be places for open and honest sharing and discussion of ideas, in this case, it has placed the University in a difficult position.

Therefore, it is with great regret and disappointment that I have formed the view that the events of the past few weeks places the Centre in an untenable position as it lacks the support needed across the University and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers.

I have today spoken to the Federal Government and Bjorn Lomborg advising them of the barriers that currently exist to the creation of the Centre and the University’s decision to cancel the contract and return the money to the government.

Mr Johnson sent the same statement out in an email to staff this afternoon.

 

 

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The Australian Newspaper’s War On The Bureau of Meteorology

In the space of a two weeks, The Australian newspaper has published 10 stories attacking the Bureau of Meteorology with claims the government agency has been fiddling its temperature data to show more warming than actually exists.

BoM scientists have been doing this, according to the chief protagonist of the story climate sceptic Jennifer Marohasy, because it fits more neatly with the narrative that the world is warming.

It’s a conspiracy.

Now ten stories is a lot of reading, so allow me to summarise what’s been going on for you.

The Australian newspaper has published the claims of climate science sceptics that government scientists are fiddling temperature data with the express purpose of making things appear warmer than they are and that BoM is being secretive.

The Australian newspaper doesn’t tell readers that almost every single claim being made has been discussed at length in previous journal papers and technical reports, published or written by BoM, leaving only the thinly veiled suggestion of a conspiracy, which nobody has any evidence for because it’s not there.

As I’ve explained before, Marohasy is a former free market think tank researcher who is now at Central Queensland University with her work paid for by the foundation of a climate science sceptic.

None of the claims made by Marohasy have been published in a peer reviewed journal, despite the fact that since January she has found time to write repeatedly to government ministers, has spoken at the Sydney Institute and flown to a conference for climate sceptics in Las Vegas – all the while making the same accusations.

Lloyd’s reporting, some of it branded “Exclusive”, has been full of curiosities (I’ve documented a few in a previous post and on The Guardian) some of which give the reader the impression that there’s more to a particular aspect of the story than there actually is.

For example, he has used quotes and reported speech to suggest that BoM has not published particular details about methods used in its ACORN-SAT temperature series, when, as I demonstrated here, it clearly has.

In Lloyd’s first story on 23 August headlined Heat is on over weather bureau revising record, Lloyd wrote that: “In correspondence, Marohasy was told by NASA the Amberley data was adjusted to take account of historic temperature records at nearby stations.”

The idea that Marohasy has been communicating with NASA lends an air of credibility.

But it turns out that the extent of that “correspondence” was an exchange that Marohasy had on Twitter with Gavin Schmidt, who is the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies but who’s Twitter feed isn’t an official NASA account.

During the exchange, Schmidt told Marohasy: “Assuming change => ‘corruption’ w/o need to deal w/inhomogenieties is simply posturing”.

This part of the non-existent “NASA correspondence” didn’t make it into Lloyd’s story.

Few are following Lloyd’s story, although there was some support from the cat whisperer Ken Ring with a post on his Yahoo NZ blog.

Much of Lloyd’s content appears to be being prompted by claims from climate sceptic bloggers.  If this is The Australian’s modus operandi, then Graham Lloyd could publish an entire newspaper every day based on unfounded and repeated claims of climate sceptics that are made on denialist blogs.

One of those bloggers, Perth-based JoNova, even says as much in a blog post that appeared an hour after The Australian published its latest story. Nova wrote:

Behind the scenes emails are abuzz among the independent BOM audit team at the moment, and it’s remarkable how quickly they are being converted into the media stories.

Emails from climate science sceptics being converted into stories for the Murdoch-owned News Corp Australia’s flagship newspaper.  Cutting edge stuff eh?

In the latest story – Bureau of Meteorology ‘adding mistakes’ with data modelling – Lloyd bases his article on quotes from David Stockwell, who we are told is a “widely published expert” who “has been recognised by the US government as ‘outstanding’ in his academic field.”

Lloyd doesn’t say that this acknowledgment, according to Stockwell’s LinkedIn profile, was given by the US Immigration Service, perhaps because then readers might wonder why this is relevant?

And “widely published” where, exactly?  In some leading journals?  Science perhaps? Nature maybe? And published about what?

Stockwell’s Google Scholar page lists many publications, but those relevant to temperature and climate change appear to have been mostly published either by Stockwell himself, or the journal Energy and Environment.

Energy and Environment is known as the go-to journal for climate science sceptics and has an editorial board that is stacked with contrarians.

One of those is Dr Benny Peiser, the head of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK-based climate science denialist group which recently restructured to enable it to engage in political lobbying after complaints about its activities were made to the UK’s Charities Commission. Peiser is a former co-editor of the journal.

There’s no mention either of Stockwell’s role, alongside Marohasy, as a contributing author and/or reviewer for a Heartland Institute project – the NIPCC report.  Stockwell’s affiliation as an adjunct researcher at Central Queensland University, where Marohasy also works, is left out too.

Heartland, for those that don’t know, is a free market think tank in the US that once ran an infamous billboard campaign with a picture of terrorist and murder Ted “unabomber” Kaczynski beside the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?”. Heartland told us:

This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.that suggested people who accepted the science of global warming

Perhaps readers might heavily discount Stockwell if they knew this information?

In Lloyd’s article, Stockwell calls for an audit of the BoM’s temperature record. That’s not new either – Stockwell was saying practically the same thing back in 2012.

But what’s particularly interesting about Lloyd’s coverage is just how many of the complaints made by sceptics in his stories have already been addressed by BoM.

BoM has outlined in a technical report on its website how the homogenisation technique it employs has impacted on the observed warming since the beginning of the last century to the tune of about 0.2C.  Overall, Australia has warmed by 0.9C since 1910.

If BoM is trying to hide things, it’s plainly not doing it very well.

Professor Neville Nicholls of Monash University, who worked at BoM for 35 years with responsibility for making the temperature records more robust, has pointed out that temperature stations historically move or the conditions around them change (vegetation grows, for example, or buildings go up or come down) and this can artificially change the temperature readings. He told me on Planet Oz:

Are we supposed to just ignore that? A scientist can’t ignore those effects. It’s not science to just go ahead and plot that raw data.

In a response of sorts, Nicholls has written a story for The Conversation where he points out how easy it is for anyone to take a look at the raw data because it is all still available on the BoM website.

A retired scientist Bill Johnstone entered the comments section of Nicholl’s story.  Johnston was quoted in an earlier Lloyd that claimed one of the temperature sites – Rutherglen – had never moved, even though its data had been through a homogenisation process at BoM.

Marohasy called for “heads to roll” and claimed she had evidence that the temperature station there had “never been moved”. In The Australian, Johnston was quoted to support Marohasy’s claim because Johnston had worked at the place in question.

But on The Conversation, Johnstone wrote that in fact he only worked at Rutherglen on and off for a few years at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. It seems he wasn’t even based there.

I’m aware that the bureau has documentary evidence that the Rutherglen site moved sometime before the 1970s.  So Marohasy is calling for people to be sacked based partly on the word of a retired scientist who worked there four decades after the period in question.

Again in today’s story, BoM makes clear that it has a policy of not commenting on scientific claims made about its work that are published outside the peer reviewed literature.

Graham Lloyd and his happy band of climate denialist cheerleaders and content providers seem to want the science to be carried out on blogs instead.

Here, for the record, is the extent of the coverage so far.

August 23 – Heat is on over weather bureau revising records (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

August 26 – ‘Amateurs’ challenging Bureau of Meteorology climate figures (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

August 27 – Climate records contradict Bureau of Meteorology (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

August 29 – Bureau of Meteorology told to be more transparent (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

August 29 – Groupthink reigns in climate change research (Maurice Newman, The Australian)

August 30 – Weatherman’s records detail heat that ‘didn’t happen’ (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

August 30 – Distorting the data on our changeable climate (Adelaide Advertiser, The Australian’s Chris Kenny)

September 2 – Bureau of Meteorology defended over temperature records by climate scientists (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

September 3 – Heat off Bourke after Bureau of Meteorology revision (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

September 4 – ‘More time’ to find Rutherglen temperature record (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

September 5 – Bureau of Meteorology ‘adding mistakes’ with data modelling (Graham Lloyd, The Australian)

No doubt there’ll be more to come. I’ll try and keep the list updated.

UPDATE: BoM has released a second media statement in response to the attacks from The Australian. It includes the graph below that shows what happens when you overlay the “homegenised” data and “unhomogenised” data. It’s a graph that rips a considerable chunk of guts from the Marohasy’s central argument.

Average temperatures in Australia from 1910 through 2013 using temperature readings that have been both homogenised (red) and unhomogenised (blue).

Average temperatures in Australia from 1910 through 2013 using temperature readings that have been both homogenised (red) and unhomogenised (blue).

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Climate change conspiracy theories and the ABC radio interview with John Cook that never was

a radio

A radio yesterday, which didn’t broadcast an interview with University of Queensland climate change communication fellow John Cook

In the space of six days, The Australian newspaper has published five news stories and an opinion piece attacking the credibility of the Australian government’s weather and climate agency, the Bureau of Meteorology.

I’ve covered the guts of the early stories over on my Planet Oz blog for The Guardian.

But the core of it is that Dr Jennifer Marohasy, a former Institute of Public Affairs free market think tankerer, is claiming that the BoM has, in her words, “corrupted the official temperature record so it more closely accords with the theory of anthropogenic global warming”.

Marohasy is a researcher at Central Queensland University with her work funded by another climate change “sceptic”.

She has has not published her analysis in any journal, yet The Australian’s Graham Lloyd has deemed the claims of a climate science sceptic on blogs worthy enough of five news pieces.

I just want to deal with his latest story, that comments on the BoM’s process of transparency.  The story includes this bit:

The bureau has been under fire for not making publicly available the methodology used for homogenisation.

Michael Asten from the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University said confidence in BOM’s data would increase “if and when BOM publishes or supplies its homogenisation algorithms, a step which would be quite consistent with existing ­requirements of the better peer-reviewed journals.’’

BOM said its methods had been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals but did not say where or in what form.

This claim is – oh what’s the word – bollocks (sorry kids).

algo bom

Click to engorge this algorithm

Here is a page on the BoM’s website which goes to great lengths to provide information on how the agency deals with the data from its hundreds of temperature stations.

What’s more, it appears neither Lloyd or Asten are prepared to actually look at the peer reviewed literature where the “homogenisation algorithms” are hidden away in plain sight – or at least in the sight of anyone interested enough to want to look for it.

Here, in the peer reviewed journal International Journal of Climatology, is a paper from BoM’s Blair Trewin discussing the methodology and the mathematical tools (algorithms) that the bureau has used as part of their method to construct their high quality data set, the ACORN-SAT.

If you really don’t believe me, here is grab passage on the right from the actual paper in question.. you likely won’t understand it, but this matters not. It’s the details of the algorithm in a journal, linked to from the BoM website, that some people apparently can’t see.

I argued in my Guardian post that Marohasy and, by extension, Graham Lloyd were spreading little more than a conspiracy theory.

I say this because what’s necessary for Marohasy’s claim that “corrupted the official temperature record so it more closely accords with the theory of anthropogenic global warming” is important to dwell on.

For her claim to be true, she needs evidence that lots of scientists have got together – perhaps under a tree or in a secret bunker somewhere – and hatched a plan to throw away all of their scientific integrity and just fiddle the numbers.

Marohasy has no evidence for this happening whatsoever and so is left with innuendo.

Marohasy gave an interview with ABC Goulburn Murray where she discussed her claims. But part way through the interview the line goes dead. She called back and continued the interview, continuing her claims of a “cover up”.

Marohasy has written about this on her blog.

I was cut-off, before I got to explain too much.

I waited, assuming the line had dropped out. But after no one phoned me back I rang back myself. I phoned ABC Goulburn Murray and was put on hold. Guess whom Bronwen (O’Shea) was now interviewing?

Answer: the infamous John Cook, a faux sceptic from the University of Queensland.

Mr Cook was telling Bronwen that the temperature record for Rutherglen had to be corrected because it was different from everywhere else.

Now for those that don’t know, John Cook is the founder of the Skeptical Science website and the Climate Communication Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

Another sceptic blogger JoNova also commented on the ABC interview with Cook.

“We’re looking forward to seeing John Cook explain that on his blog,” she wrote.

One commenter said:

The plug would have been pulled by the Producer (the person who sits in the glass box and fiddles with the knobs and sliders), who obviously panicked when the interview, based on the Producer’s questions, did not go according to plan.

Making the second mistake, of asking John Cook to say anything sensible, was the icing on the cake, that hopefully will cost the Producer their job (although I doubt it).

On Marohasy’s blog, another commenter wondered:

John Cook gets media dispensation everywhere. One can’t imagine why; his consensus paper is drivel; and did he really say this:

“Mr Cook was telling Bronwen that the temperature record for Rutherglen had to be corrected because it was different from everywhere else.”

One can only hope it is different from everywhere else; that’s the point; even the AGW scientists [sic] admit to great regional variation; or at least they use to; who knows what they are saying.

One also wonders whether Cook rang in and Jennifer was shunted to give way to this VIP [sic] or whether the ABC rang him?

Well, I was keen to know if John Cook had been looking at the issue of temperature records. I called John to ask him about his ABC interview.

The conversation went something like this.

Me: How was the interview on ABC Goulburn Murray?

John: What interview…?

That’s right. John Cook was not interviewed by ABC Goulburn Murray and he has apparently never met or spoken to the host in question, Bronwen O’Shea.

John even offered an alibi! He was with his mum and before anyone asks, no I’ve not called John Cook’s mum to verify that the person she was with that morning was actually John Cook, her son.

Just to be doubly sure, I asked the ABC for a response.

I was told that they did not interview John Cook, but did have a talkback caller who came on the line after the phone dropped out and this was “David from Sandy Creek” which… well… sort of sounds like John Cook… but not much!

Cook is the bête noire of climate sceptics due to his research showing 97 per cent of climate science papers agree it’s caused by humans. Cook apparently looms so large in the minds of some sceptics that they hear him when he’s not even there.

The sixth story in The Australian comes from Maurice Newman, the Prime Minister’s top business advisor, headlined Groupthink reigns in climate research.

Newman’s piece is the usual bilge but it does include this specific claim about the United States, where Newman hints that the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also fiddles its temperature data.

Now, 1998 is the hottest on record in the US.

Actually no.  The hottest year for continental United States was 2012, smashing the previous hottest year – 1998 – by a whole degree fahrenheit.

You’re shocked by these errors aren’t you? Shocked I say.

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Searching for the millions connected to Bjorn Lomborg’s think tank

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Maurice Newman’s flight of climate denialist fantasy takes off from Cobar Airport

Maurice Newman

Maurice Newman, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pick as chairman of his business advisory panel,  is back with yet more conspiratorial climate science denial in The Australian.

Where else?

It’s full of the usual stuff about climate change zealots, global warming having stopped (it hasn’t) and how sceptics are being victimised.

But I just want to look at one point Maurice Newman makes.

In the op-ed, he says this:

We learn from a voluntary independent auditor, Ken Stewart, that after analysing 84 out of 104 Bureau of Meteorology sites, the effect of adjustments made to create the official Australian temper­ature record is an increase in the warming trend for minima of 66.6 per cent and 13 per cent for maxima… The data included 30 years of temperatures from Cobar airport from 1962, despite it not opening until 1993. Always, the trend is to warming.

The official Australia temperature record that Newman is referring to is called ACORN-SAT  – it stands for the Australian Climate Observations Reference Network and is maintained and managed by the Bureau of Meteorology.

When Newman says “the data included 30 years of temperatures from Cobar airport” it can’t have, because the Cobar Airport monitoring station is not part of ACORN-SAT as anyone armed with an internet search engine can find out.

The BoM even has a document describing each of the sites that make up ACORN-SAT. The document describes the site at Cobar included in the ACORN-SAT.

Easy mistake to make though, no, if you’re not intimate with this particular central New South Wales town ? Not really. BoM says in the document:

There is a separate site (048237) at the airport which is not used in ACORN-SAT.

Oops.

Elsewhere in Newman’s op-ed he also flails at people who “resort to authority” and “personal abuse”.

Newman then resorts to the authority of a scientist who claims there’s more evidence for creationism than there is for evolution and who says people who used the term “denier” to describe people who deny science should themselves be described as “global warming Nazis“.

Maybe instead Newman could have resorted to the authority of the BoM who could at least have pointed him at the intertubes?

 

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George Brandis and the “settled science” of climate change

George Brandis in Australia's Senate

George Brandis in Australia’s Senate

Australia’s Attorney-General Senator George Brandis gave an interview a couple of weeks ago where he got all upset about people who say the science of climate change is “settled”.

Brandis said people who made this claim were “ignorant” and “medieval” and ventured further into the defence of climate science deniers over a few glasses of who-knows-what with Brendan O’Neill, the editor of the online magazine Spiked ( a new incarnation of a magazine that used to be called Living Marxism) .

The interview was widely reported  – The Guardian, ABC and Sydney Morning Herald all had a crack at the story.

On my Planet Oz Guardian blog, I went to visit Brandis to warn him he might have got his alternate and actual universes transposed.

Brandis had tried to paint climate science deniers as poor sidelined victims at a time when they’re all over Australia’s dominant media outlet, News Corp.

Peter Ellerton, a lecturer in critical thinking at the University of Queensland, put it succinctly when he wrote on The Conversation: “Brandis has confused the right to speak an idea with the non-existent right that the idea be given credibility.”

Ellerton added:

Brandis hopes that our natural repulsion at excluding a particular view from the public arena will be aroused in support of climate science denial. This, however, ignores a vital characteristic of public debate: when ideas suffer body blows of sustained scientific refutation any attempt to maintain their status by appeal to an equal right of hearing is also an attempt to exempt them from evidential requirements and argumentative rigour.

Brandis reserved particular disdain for Senator Penny Wong, who he has apparently crowned the “high priestess of political correctness”.

So I went back to some of the exchanges between Brandis and Wong recorded in the Australian Parliamentary Hansard.  It turns out that nobody should have been surprised at what Brandis had said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Video charts the use of doubt as a product in smoking and climate science denial

WHEN tobacco companies began to understand that science linking tobacco smoking to lung cancer could have an impact on their industry profits, they began to produce another product – doubt.

Spreading doubt about the science could water-down public concern, cut the motivation to act and reduce the risk of policies that affect your bottom line.

Video blogger and journalist Peter Sinclair – of Climate Crock of the Week fame – has put together this new video showing the at times startling similarities between the denial of the health impacts from smoking and the denial of the science of human-caused climate change.

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