Andrew Bolt is still on the fringes, whether he stands with Lord Monckton or not

Lord Monckton at the launch of Rise Up Australia. Credit: ABC footage

A FEW weeks ago I wrote a story for DeSmogBlog looking at how Lord Christopher Monckton – a poster child of the climate science denialist movement – had agreed to launch a new Australian political party fronted by an anti-Islamist Creationist preacher.

The party in question is called Rise Up Australia and its messianic front man, Pastor Danny Nalliah, believes that only God can control the climate and that Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed more than 170 people, were God’s punishment for Victoria’s laws allowing abortion.

Well, Lord Monckton’s deed has been done and duly covered on the ABC’s flagship news program 7.30 Report.

The rented room at the National Press Club in Canberra was chock-full of Pastor Danny’s enthusiastic, God-fearing supporters and Lord Monckton whipped their evangelism until the froth was soaking the carpet. Reporter Hayden Cooper went through Nalliah’s beliefs, including his claim that he had brought a couple of people back from the dead.

As I exlained on DeSmogBlog and also on Crikey, Pastor Nalliah actually launched the party in May 2011 (and again a couple of months later) and registered the party with the Australian Electoral Commission 12 months ago. But the launch made for good telly.

One of Lord Monckton’s longest-serving supporters is Andrew Bolt, the climate science mangling News Ltd columnist  and blogger who is, as we’re often told, the country’s most influential political commentator. He’s none too chuffed by Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Pastor Danny, and wrote on his blog:

Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.

So rather than denouncing the extremist views of Pastor Danny Nalliah, Andrew Bolt instead is most immediately concerned that Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Rise Up Australia might be bad PR for climate sceptics.

But Andrew Bolt is an awful long way behind the climate science denial 8-Ball here, given that Lord Monckton was endorsing Pastor Danny Nalliah’s position as long ago as July 2011 when Monckton was invited to speak at Nalliah’s extremist Catch the Fire Ministries.

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Give us a break on the climate science denial

Flooding in Bundaberg, January 2013. Credit Instagram/ABC News

“GIVE me a break,” said the premier of the Australian state of New South Wales Barry O’Farrell when asked if recent devastating floods might have something to do with climate change.

“Let’s not turn this near disaster, this episode that has damaged so many properties and other things, farm properties and other things, into some politically correct debate about climate change,” said Mr O’Farrell.

Let’s just all reach for the “pause” button for a second.

Mr O’Farrell now thinks the issue of climate change is one of “political correctness” which sits alongside debates about the appropriate language to describe homosexuals or whether Christmas trees might offend one religious group above another.

Not to degrade those important debates, but political correctness doesn’t flood thousands of people’s homes, threaten water and food supplies or machine-gun the economy leaving a scattering of billion dollar-sized bullet holes.

The flooding concentrated in Queensland has so far killed six people, devastated several towns and cities and thousands of people’s homes, in particular in Bundaberg, and sparked food supply fears after crop damage.

The disaster has come just weeks after the longest and most widespread extreme heatwave in Australia’s recorded history, causing life and livelihood-threatening bush fires. In all likelihood, January 2013 will turn out to be Australia’s hottest ever month on record. Queensland still remembers the 2011 floods which put a dent in the country’s GDP of an estimated $30 billion.

Mr O’Farrell’s fellow Liberal, Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott, was similarly dismissive of climate change when he was asked by a journalist if he thought that climate change had played any role in the recent floods. He broadened his answer to include the role of climate change in droughts and fires.

“Droughts, fires, floods have been a part of this country’s experience since records were kept,” Mr Abbott said. “Now, I think that climate change is real and humanity does make a contribution and we must have a strong and effective policy to deal with it, but I don’t think anyone could credibly say that this kind of thing has only happened since man made carbon dioxide increases started.” Read the rest of this entry »
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The Australian admits it misinterpreted research on sea level rise linked to climate change

A FEW days ago The Australian newspaper ran a story on its front page with the headline “Sea rise ‘not linked to warming’” which was supposedly based on the findings of research published in a peer-reviewed journal late last year.

The problem with the story, written by the newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd was that, as I showed a couple of days ago, the scientific paper published in the Journal of Climate made no such claim and came to no such finding.

The paper discussed at length the role of humans in rising sea levels. In short, Lloyd had the arse of the story where the face should have been.

This morning, The Australian has issued a correction, which is buried away on page two.

It reads

A report in the Australian on Tuesday (Sea rise ‘not linked to warming’, page 1) said a paper by JM Gregory with a contribution from John Church had “found no link to global warming and no increase in the rate of glacier melt over the past 100 years”. In fact, the paper found the effect of anthropogenic global warming on the rate of sea level rise would have been greater in the 20th century but for volcanic activity. It found that in the past two decades the rate of sea level rise had been larger than in the 20th century.

Lloyd’s story ran on January 15, the day after he had decided to criticise the national broadcaster for the way it was covering climate change in a week-long series of stories from the ABC’s environment correspondent Sarah Clarke.

Essentially, Lloyd’s rather churlish argument seemed to be that Clarke hadn’t interviewed the people he would have interviewed and cited facts in the way that he would have cited them.

Discussing an ABC report on sea level rise, Lloyd wrote: “But the ABC did not mention recent scientific findings that there was no firm link to sea-level rises and climate change in the 20th century.”

Oh the irony, it burns. To me, it seems a little rich for a journalist who is able to invert the findings of a science paper to feel confident enough to publicly lecture other journalists.

Lloyd didn’t quote a single author of the paper which he misrepresented, but he did at least quote from the actual paper (rather than just the abstract) in a second follow-up story.

I understand Lloyd did attempt to contact John Church, one of the world’s leading sea level experts and a co-author on the paper, but Church didn’t respond.

He did respond indirectly in an IPCC press conference by saying Lloyd’s story was wrong. Perhaps the reason Church didn’t reply to The Australian was that he had taken a leaf out of the book of Michael Coughlan, formerly Australia’s most senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

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Senate inquiry looks at Australia’s extreme weather and asks if we’re ready

This is a longer version of a story which appeared yesterday in Crikey.

CLIMATE change adaptation has always been seen as the science of preparation – a pre-emptive strike to protect humans and property from the ever more extreme heat waves, rising sea levels, more intense rain events and various other undesirables that scientists have warned are coming our way thanks to our profligacy with the old fossil fuels.

But recent Australian summers of floods, mega-cyclones, bushfires and heat waves have seemingly bought those future warnings of climate change into the here and now.

As Australia’s unprecedented 2013 heat wave continues, the deadline for submissions to a Senate inquiry into Australia’s readiness for both the future and for the here and now of climate change is coming to a close.

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Murdering a scientific paper on sea-level rise – the Graham Lloyd way

UNRAVELLING the causes of rising sea-levels across the globe is a little like one of those Agatha Christie TV murder whodunnits that you might have sat through while your Sunday lunch disappated through your system.

There are all sorts of co-conspirators that come together in the plot that’s causing sea levels to rise.

There’s thermal expansion of the oceans – which basically means as the oceans warm up the body of water gets larger and pushes higher. Then there’s water from melting glaciers and water melting from ice-sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

There are also events that have a mild cooling effect on the climate, such as volcanic eruptions and the amount of energy coming from the sun as it moves through its cycles.

But according to The Australian newspaper, a new piece of research on sea levels “has found no link to global warming and no increase in the rate of glacier melt over the past 100 years”.  Now that seems to be pretty categorical doesn’t it?  Just in case you weren’t sure, the headline states even more clearly “Sea rise ‘not linked to warming’, says report

The Australian’s environment editor Graham Lloyd reports on a paper published in the Journal of Climate and points out that one of the globe’s leading expert on sea level rise, Dr John Church, is a co-author. This lends some degree of credibility to the paper.

Strangely, The Australian doesn’t quote Church, which is perhaps just as well given that he told reporters this morning that Lloyd’s story was misleading. “Sea level clearly is linked to climate change, it clearly is linked to greenhouse gases and that was in the paper quoted by The Australian. The quote is, I am sorry, inaccurate,” The Conversation reports.

Now we could simply leave it there, with Lloyd hoisted on his own petard. But let’s have a look at how The Australian has misinterpreted – or perhaps even misrepresented – what the paper, published in November last year, actually says about the role of humans in rising sea levels and how it in no way concludes what Lloyd says it concludes.

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Expect Scepticism Over Gas Industry-Funded Research

A LEADING United States university has decided to pull the plug on a research institute focussing on energy from gas after questions were raised over its ties to the industry.

Bloomberg reports that the “potential conflicts of interest”  had created  a “cloud of uncertainty” over the work of the Shale Resources and Society Institute at New York’s State University at Buffalo.

Investigations led by the non-profit Public Accountability Initiative  alleged there were flaws in the institute’s research, which had engaged in ”industry-spin” while the authors of the institute’s sole report had failed to disclose previous industry ties.

In closing down the institute, the university’s president Satish Tripathi said in an open letter:  ”Conflicts — both actual and perceived — can arise between sources of research funding and expectations of independence when reporting research results. This, in turn, impacted the appearance of independence and integrity of the institute’s research.”

DeSmogBlog has been rather less forgiving, placing the institute’s research into a new category it has dubbed “frackademia”.

Tripathi said that given the university’s “geographic situation” in the line of sight of the booming shale gas industry, it was important the university played a role in research into energy and the environment.

But it seems that even the perception that the university might be funded by the industry (it has claimed the institute hadn’t received industry cash) was enough for the “cloud of uncertainty” to overshadow work it was doing.

In a similar geographical situation is the University of Queensland in Australia, one of the leading research institutions in a state where a $60 billion boom in the coal seam gas industry is currently underway. UQ also has a centre launched to research the coal seam gas industry.

Yet the difference here is that the university has openly welcomed millions of dollars of coal seam gas funding. The UQ Centre for Coal Seam Gas‘ multi-million dollar budget dwarfs that of the Buffalo institute, which according to the student newspaper had an annual budget of just $177,000.

The Centre for Coal Seam Gas runs on a “membership model” with a minimum funding commitment of $2.5million over five years. Published figures show that of the centre’s $16 million in contributions over five years, $15 million has come from major gas companies. So far, British-owned BG Group (Queensland Gas Company) has pledged $10 million, Arrow Energy (owned by Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina) $2.5 million and Santos $2.5 million.

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Clickbait climate denial from The Australian

COOL spell to chill hearts of climate activists,” says the clickbait headline in today’s The Australian.

The story, a reprint from the Sunday Times’ Jonathan Leake, is just the kind of editorialised-opinion-disguised-as-news which The Australian has become known for whenever it reports about climate change.

Let’s have a quick look through the piece, because obviously we’ve all got nothing better to do.

THE world’s climate has cooled during last year and this year, temperature data from Britain’s Met Office reveals — just before this year’s talks on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.

The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen since the record seen in 2010. The findings could prove politically sensitive, coming ahead of the UN’s climate summit in Doha, Qatar, where the global system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions faces collapse.

The threat comes because the Kyoto Treaty, under which developed nations pledged to cut their carbon emissions, expires at the end of this year. Doha is seen as the last hope of securing an extension.

In such a febrile situation, any data casting doubt on climate scientists’ predictions is potentially explosive.

The findings could prove politically sensitive? Any data casting doubt on climate scientists’ predictions?

I would challenge Jonathan Leake to find any climate scientist who has “predicted” in the peer reviewed literature (or anywhere else for that matter) that global temperatures will rise uniformly year upon year. This only becomes “politically sensitive” if the politicians in question accept this sort of spoon-fed misrepresentation of the science.

Given that 2012 will probably end up as another year in the top ten warmest years ever recorded (something the Met Office predicted back in January) , actually reinforces what the climate scientists have been “predicting” rather than casting doubt on them.

Not only that, but the expert from the UK’s Met Office which Leake quotes, Peter Stott, even spells out for Leake why the strawman argument he went on to insert into his story is wrong.

However, it is such a short period that it is scientifically meaningless. Climate change can only be measured over decades — and the records show that the world has warmed by 0.75C over the past century.

Also in the story, Leake says

The World Meteorological Organisation, which oversees the publication of climate trend data from the four main global centres, including the British Met Office, has been strongly criticised for its policy of releasing such data just before the UN’s key annual summits.

Because of course, it would be much better for policy makers and global leaders not to have the latest information available to them from their major agencies when they enter major international climate summits.

This excellent graphic from Skeptical Science demonstrates just how ridiculous these arguments, from the likes of Jonathan Leake and The Australian , actually are  and why it’s a misrepresentation of what’s actually happening in the world.

 

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Time to overhaul Queensland’s opaque lobby system

SO there’s this minister in Queensland whose son is a lobbyist who may or may not have made approaches to his dad’s office which his dad may or may not have asked him not to do.

So far, the confusing back-and-forth regarding Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg‘s department’s dealings with son Jonathan have failed to reveal any improper conduct on anyone’s behalf, besides an accusation that Mr Flegg had failed to disclose some meetings which he had promised to do.

While this entire circus is probably not the sort thing which keeps many Queenslanders up at night, it should. But not because Mr Flegg may or may not have done something he shouldn’t.

But rather, because it shows just how opaque the state’s lobbying system is to voters. The state has hundreds of lobbyists, working for hundreds of firms paid by hundreds of businesses, some of them among the biggest in the country.

But what they do, how much they are paid and the influence they are having on public policies is as close to a mystery as any of Scooby-Doo’s many encounters.

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Video charts human influences on Superstorm Sandy

PETER Sinclair charts some of the probable human influences on Hurricane-cum-superstorm Sandy which has claimed 185 deaths to date after moving through the Caribbean before slamming in to the east coast of the United States.

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Lord Monckton’s new climate role for the IPCC isn’t what it appears

IT’S DIFFICULT to know really where to start in describing Lord Christopher Monckton, one of the planet’s most outspoken deniers of the risks of human-caused climate change.

You could say he’s the leader of the Scotland branch of a fringe UK political party, for example. Or describe him as the chief policy adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, a climate science-mangling organisation in the US which doesn’t disclose its funders.

But earlier this week, Lord Monckton gave himself another title. In an opinion column about how climate change had nothing to do with the deadly superstorm Sandy, Lord Monckton wrote how he was “an appointed expert reviewer for the forthcoming “Fifth Assessment Report” to be published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Now that’s pretty impressive. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a United Nations body tasked with gathering and describing the world’s research on climate change.

I wondered how one might be “appointed” as an “expert reviewer”, so I asked the secretariat at the IPCC about the process. Here’s what they told me (my bolding).

Anyone can register as an expert reviewer on the open online registration systems set up by the working groups. All registrants that provide the information requested and confirm their scientific expertise via a self-declaration of expertise are accepted for participation in the review. They are invited to list publications, but that is not a requirement and the section can be left blank when registering. There is no appointment.

Hang on. No appointment? But Lord Monckton just.. but he says that he.. right there, he just said he was appointed, all official like. Reading the response from the IPCC, it sounds as though even I could get that gig.

It would make a cracking addition to most people’s CV. Anyone out there who might be thinking about applying for a job that you just know in your heart of hearts you’re not qualified to do, might want to think about asking Lord Christopher Monckton for a bit of guidance.

Because when it comes to puffing out your CV, the non-Member of the House of Lords is highly skilled.

His modus operandi (aside from speaking Latin in interviews) appears to be that the more spectacular the claim, the less likely people are to disbelieve you. Like climate change science being a plot to “shut down the west“, for example.

So here, just a small handful of some of Monckton’s greatest hits.

For lists of this stuff as long as one of Robert Wadlow‘s arms, visit Monckton MythsBarry Bickmore’s Monckton Rap Sheet or look at Peter Hadfield’s Monckton Bunkum video series (watch the first one below).

Perhaps there’ll be more to add to these lists next year. There are plans for another Lord Monckton tour of Australia for 2013.

Can’t wait.

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