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The Australian newspaper loses any last shreds of scientific credibility

May 11, 2013

Just in case anyone had any lingering doubts that The Australian newspaper has completely lost credibility when it comes to science, environment editor Graham Lloyd delivers the decisive blow (paywall). Check out the full story at either of these:

Graham Readfearn: The Australian Brings You The Climate Science Denial News From Five Years Ago

Watching The Deniers: Of Ice Ages, The view from nowhere and the value of one’s soul: Graham Lloyd, The Australian and the repackaging of fringe science

Lloyd is using false balance to the ultimate. It amazes me that a seasoned journalist can willingly accept becoming a laughing-stock just to remain in the Murdoch stable. What must the culture in that organisation be like?

Update: And there’s even more evidence from another part of the Murdoch empire. An article in the Wall Street Journal actually drags out the old “carbon dioxide is a good gas” false dichotomy PRATT so beloved of the deniers. Read some of the stunned reactions here:

The Columbia Journalism Review: The WSJ editorial page hits rock bottom.

Media Matters: Wall Street Journals Idiocracy: CO2 Is What Plants Crave.

Planet 3.0: CO2 on Trial vs WSJ’s Ironic Op-Ed; Various Rebuttals on CSW.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week: Wall Street Journal: CO2 Good for Plants. Seriously.

Update 2013/06/03: Watching The Deniers reports on another case in which Lloyd employs single study syndrome to promote a well-rebutted claim that CFCs are responsible for global warming. (For an excellent rebuttal of the CFC connection, see Lu Blames Global Warming on CFCs (Curve Fitting Correlations) on Skeptical Science.)

And a further update 2013/09/18: Graham Readfearn at the Guardian (here) describes how the Murdoch press continues to deliberately distort its reporting of climate science by promoting well-known deniers and ignoring the climate science community.

They’re coming thick and fast now 2013/09/25: Graham Readfearn documents two more cases of the Murdoch empire’s war on science:

Reports on leaked IPCC study like a bad game of Chinese whispers

Top physicist accuses The Australian newspaper of misrepresenting his climate change views

Related articles

Is the world’s climate changing and is it our fault?

Science Group Calls on News Corp. to Improve Climate Science Content (Union of Concerned Scientists)

Australian media failures promote climate policy inaction (The Conversation)

37 Comments
  1. I was a climate change denier for years, so it’s interesting for me to look back and see how the media representation of the “debate” coloured my thinking. There was no one reason I didn’t recognize climate change, it was more that there was a fog of confusion and ambiguity around the subject that naturally raises one’s suspicions, but now it’s clear that the fog was artificial, having been trumped up.

    In sales, there’s a tactic called FUD (Fear Uncertainty & Doubt). Essentially, the idea is, if you can’t sell your product, inject some FUD into the mind of the customer so they don’t buy from someone else, and they may very well come back to you after all. From what I can see, climate denial is all about FUD.

  2. Vic Pfitzner permalink

    I have observed the climate over the last 74 years. AGW is fictional rubbish Science agrees with Empirical evidence. The majority of people are aware that The left wing media are presenting false figures to try to fool the public

    • In that case, Vic, could you please supply some empirical evidence to support your claim that AGW is “fictional rubbish”. I have found the exact opposite. The latest hot-off-the-presses study actually examines the empirical evidence and finds that 97% of climate papers support the consensus (Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, here).

  3. Vic Pfitzner permalink

    I am surprised that I have to remind you that CO2 Levels have risen dramatically and in the last fifteen years temperatures show no correlation. Consensus counts for nothing. See what Galileo thought of consensus. I formed my opinions long before this empirical evidence, from studying the work of people like Heinz Hug. A little more science and less consensus is my advice.

  4. Graham
    Do you really believe the statistics pedaled by the bogus snake oil salesmen known as warmers?
    I have a bench mark in my country far more accurate than random Thermometer readings. When the birds drop dead out of the trees from the heat over a large part of Australia it is hot. That hasn’t happened since the 1930’s. If the ocean warms you get more evaporation equals more cloud cover. that results in dramatically lower temperature or haven’t you noticed it is cooler when the sun goes behind a cloud? My grandmother died from the heat in South Australia in1892, I suppose it was caused by all the motor cars that they used. The heat wave in 1939 extended from the north coast of NSW right across to Western Australia It was far more widespread than anything since.

    • Vic, you’re falling for an age-old problem here, the illusion of anecdotal evidence. This is the same approach that leads people to believe the moon landing was faked or that the CIA brought down the Twin Towers. If there’s one thing science has taught us, it’s that appearances are often deceiving.

      Why do you believe the Earth rotates each day? You have no direct evidence for it whatsoever. Sit on your porch and watch. The sun will come up, but you won’t move. Over the course of the day, it’s the sun that moves, not you, right? And finally, the sun sets on the far side of the planet, but that observation is entirely misleading and not a reflection of reality at all. The sun has not set, Earth has turned.

      And this raises an interesting point, we don’t trust science because we can see it with our own eyes. I’ve never seen the Earth revolve. I’ve never seen bacteria or viruses. We trust science because of the systematic method it uses to eliminate human biases and misconceptions.

      When it comes to climate change or any other question for that matter, the key issue is what trends and patterns can we detect with a thorough, methodical, measurable, referenced, peer-reviewed study of the issue? Do you question aeronautics before boarding a plane? Do you question medical science before having a CT scan? Do you question the necessity of sterilisation before opening a can of beans? Because we’ve arrived at these through the exact same method as the conclusions about the climate.

      Oh, and the answer to the question, “Do you question…” is yes. We do question aeronautics, medical science, sterilisation and climate change. We question them thoroughly, and that leads to new breakthroughs in scientific understanding. If climate change was bogus there would be a massive amount of data that could be referenced to demonstrate the error, and science has no sacred cows, like Newton’s theories in the wake of Einstein, it would topple. That this hasn’t happened with climate change is reassuring that we’re learning something important about our impact on the planet on which we live.

      Please, don’t get defensive or offended. For years, I was against climate change, so I know where you’re coming from. If you really want to know, take an unemotional look at the evidence.

      http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/evidence-for-global-warming.htm

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

      • Peter is spot on, Vic. You really are confusing localised, short-term surface temperature variations with long-term, global climate changes. They are very different.
        By the way, your initial question (“Do you really believe the statistics pedaled by the bogus snake oil salesmen known as warmers?”) is a perfect example of a tactic known as “poisoning the well“. I haven’t done a red flag on that technique yet, but it’s coming!

        • To graham and Pcawdron. You have drawn the wrong conclusion , probably because I was challenged to present empirical evidence. I am a great believer in Science, and when I quote scientific proof of my position I generally receive no contradicting argument. Sometimes no reply because the people that write pro warming articles often don’t understand science, and in particular have no concept of the working of electromagnetic forces. Many erroneously quote the importance of the changing libido in the arctic. They don’t understand the importance of the angle of the energy radiated from the sun.. Others quote sea temperatures completely ignoring the changing evaporation rates due to temperature. Of course wind speed is important too. It is impossible to to program a computer to predict future weather when all these things are unknown. The one important factor that must be overlooked by all warmers is the fact that the green house gases have done their job and adding more has very little effect Scientists claim that 80% Of the energy radiated from the earth is of frequencies that are transparent to the GHG

          • Vic, if you had bothered to read any of the references provided by Peter in his last post, you would have learned how misguided you have become. I’m afraid you are guilty of the offence known as parroting PRATT. And, by the way, I think you mean ‘albedo’ rather than ‘libido’!

  5. I forgot to comment on climate change. Yes I do believe in climate change there is abundant evidence over thousands of years, that is nothing new But sharp rises in CO2 most likely are.

  6. Thank you for your reply. I suppose that was the best example of a Freudian slip I have seen. I
    did take the trouble to read the biased claptrap you mentioned. I use Wikipedia quite a bit and have found more than one mistake in other articles they print too. A lot of the material is about proving climate change, not about the cause. I have ruled out carbon dioxide as being the cause and you have not shown me where my deductions are wrong. I quoted Heinz Hug’s scientific testing of this theory and the reply I received was that he has not been peer reviewed. This leads to two possibilities. One is that he has no peers the other is that his work was reviewed and obviously there was no fault in it or we would have heard about it. Climate changes all the time I have not seen two years the same. It is not caused by Anthropogenic release of CO2 into the atmosphere
    I enjoy debating with intelligent people who are open to conviction, Especially when I know that I am right. HA HA. Incidentally I would much rather be called a bogus snake oil peddler than a man that denies the Holocaust. That is the inference when that word is used..

    • Freudian slip, you say Vic. I’m afraid I see it more as a sign that you don’t really know anything about climate science at all. Sorry if you think that’s uncharitable, but it’s reinforced by everything you write. How you persist in thinking that your Google/Wikipedia/anecdotal/folk knowledge should be taken seriously (even by yourself) alongside the gruelling, painstaking work of real science is beyond me. Everyone has the right to their own opinions, fair enough, but they don’t have the right to have those opinions respected by anyone unless they supply real-world evidence and rational argument. You don’t meet those criteria.
      I hesitate to repeat myself, but you really display a huge range of science red flags in your comments. You should learn to detect and guard against them. Why not have a look?

      • Your criticism is noted and is an indication that your knowledge of basic physics is not displayed. You made no attempt to refute the important point that I raised and I am beginning to think that you are strong on eloquence and very light on logic. I think it is about time you read the convincing arguments put out by thousands of scientists that really understand how things work. I believe it was you that refferred me to an article in wickepedia , My science comes from text books. Vic.

        • Vic, your science in the case of climate should be coming from peer-reviewed scientific publications, 97% of which agree that the earth is warming, it’s caused by the burning of fossil fuels and it’s resulting in dangerous climate change.

          • Peer reviewed work is often contradicted by other peer reviewed work. A consensus can be overruled by one scientist’s findings, Science is not a democracy. If you can find one scientist with evidence that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere has enough effect to alter the climate measurably, please tell me about it Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas. we have no control over that. the first 20 parts per million of Co2 in the atmosphere does most of the work in a laboratory test, the first 200 Ppm will do all that counts, increasing the Ppm of CO2 after that has little measurable effect and that is without factoring in the presence of water vapour. I have been challenging anyone to demonstrate otherwise for the last ten years and that includes my nephew who is an outer space physicist. He teaches physics at a university.
            I repeat, Co2 increase will make very little difference to the climate. It is good for plant life.
            Old forests do nothing toward reducing Co2 levels Vic

          • There you go with all your red flags again, Vic.
            The Galileo Gambit (“A consensus can be overruled by one scientist’s findings”.): Yes, but in the huge majority of cases, the ‘mavericks’ are completely wrong. Pinning your hopes on believing that some prophet is going to come along and turn climate science upside down is absurd. Skeptical scientists have been at it for decades, climate scientists have examined all alternative explanations intensely and … no challenge to the consensus has emerged.
            Parroting PRATT (“the first 20 parts per million of Co2 in the atmosphere does most of the work in a laboratory test, the first 200 Ppm will do all that counts”; and again, “Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas”): Actual empirical evidence from measurement of radiation leaving the earth (here. here), and radiated back to earth (here, here) clearly show that the increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere over the last decades of the 20th century resulted in an increased greenhouse effect. Here’s a paper explaining why you are mistaken. And yes, water vapour is the main greenhouse gas. Every climate scientists is well aware of this. They also know that the amount of water vapour in the air is controlled by the amount of carbon dioxide. If there were no difficult-to-condense greenhouse gases (CO2, methane etc) in the air, there would be no water vapour. The temperature would be too low.
            False dichotomy (” It is good for plant life”): Yes, plants do need carbon dioxide to grow. That is totally unrelated to the greenhouse effect. In fact, we could not survive without the greenhouse effect, oxygen, water, salt and a whole lot of other things. But an excess of any of these is detrimental. That’s the whole point!

  7. May I quote Dr. Zagoni.
    “Earth type planetary atmospheres, having partial cloud cover and sufficient reservoir of water; maintain an energetically uniquely determined, constant, maximized greenhouse effect that cannot be increased further by emissions. The greenhouse temperature must fluctuate around this theoretical equilibrium constant; [change] is possible only if the incoming available energy changes.” Vic

    • Another red flag, Vic.
      Appeal to authority: Who is Dr. Zagoni? Does he have expertise in climate science? Published papers? (I can’t find any.) Empirical evidence?

      • “If there were no difficult-to-condense greenhouse gases (CO2, methane etc) in the air, there would be no water vapour. The temperature would be too low.”.
        Really and you talk about red flags! Have you forgotten about geothermal heat back when the earth was formed? I have read that there was no oxygen in the atmosphere that may be true. Also some scientists say that the water must have came later as the earth cooled, as Ice from outer space! Really? I wonder were there any flying pigs about to witness it. Here is the Pfitzner hypothesis.The ocean would average about 2.5 kilometers deep if it was spread evenly around the globe. It formed an atmosphere of water vapour with a pressure of over 5000 PSI unless it remained a liquid at those temperatures. I don’t know the temperature but no doubt scientists would know the relation between pressure and temperature of water. Now I am really sticking my neck out.
        Don’t you know that ice evapourates? many observant people have noticed that Ice evapourates in a refrigerator. Here we get back to the misleading problems of averaging. Without atmosphere the sun would be quite hot at midday and quite cold at night. A little bit of lateral thinking would help.

        Vic

        • Anyone can dream up a half-baked idea and decide that it will solve everything. Let me know when you’ve fully developed your hypothesis, tested it in the real world, and published the evidence, Vic. That’s how real science is done.

          • Graham I have neither the means nor the intention to follow that hypothesis. I should not have mentioned it . We don’t need red herrings in a climate debate. I would much rather that you commented on Dr zaconi. Vic
            Just type in his name along with climate in Google

  8. climateclash.com/g8-co2-cannot-cause-any-more-global-warming/‎
    Po that in Google Vic

    • Vic, I’ve just published a new red flag article on confirmation bias. It applies to you very well. You really should read it.

      • iskolczi’s Law and Constant yet to be disproven

        Dr. Miskolczi first published his work in the Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Services in 2004, Volume 108, No 4. He published further statistical proof in the same Journal in 2007, Volume 111, No. 1. In the 5 years since he first published his results, not one peer review has come back disproving his theory, or his Constant. To date, not one scientist has come forward to disprove Miskolczi’s theory that the Earth’s climate is at equilibrium, and that Carbon Dioxide cannot be released in amounts great enough to upset that equilibrium.

        • So it’s Miskolczi now! You might be interested in criticism of his theories by Roy Spencer, himself a climate skeptic (here) or another explanation of why he’s wrong here.

    • Interesting to see that you pass over the first result that appears in Google when you put in Zagoni and climate, Vic. That wouldn’t be confirmation bias in action would it?

      The rest of the results confirm my earlier comment. Zagoni has no published, peer reviewed work on climate. He is not a climate scientist.

  9. Graham. Ired both sides of the debate avidly. Of course only to gather material for debate ahd to know the other point of view beforehand. Vic

    • Exactly what it means to have confirmation bias, Vic. You read the “other point of view” but you’ve made up your mind that it’s wrong before you start..

      • Vic, these are all really good resources, especially the two by Oreskes… Read carefully, judge impartially.

  10. In the face of the fact that 97% of climate scientists accept the anthropogenic climate disruption mode
    Grahame you wrote that. You must be a victim of your own complaint. I would dispute what you say. Your figures are believed by you without proof

    • I checked the critic of Miskolczi. The critic is not infallible He says

      I think this might be one source of confusion on the part of those who claim that increasing the Earth’s greenhouse effect cannot change its temperature. Hopefully, this will make sense to you, because it is a key point.
      This critic is confusing the issue. The inference is that increasing the greenhouse gases does not increase the temperature
      Increasing the greenhouse gases effect obviously would increase the temperature
      Further on
      If the Earth’s atmosphere was isolated, with a constant amount of total energy contained within it, and you added more CO2 at the same temperatures as the surrounding air, then it is indeed true that the average temperature of the atmosphere would not change.
      This is incorrect.
      it would cool. All bodies that contain heat radiate irrespective of their composition (Kirkhoff)
      I will stick to Miskolczi in preference to his critic
      Vic

      • That’s your confirmation bias kicking in again Vic.
        It’s remarkable that you are able to find holes in Roy Spencer’s arguments so easily. He is, after all, a PhD in meteorology, principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He is known for his work with the satellite-based temperature monitoring for which he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. He’s also a climate skeptic, believing that global warming is mainly due to natural variability. It’s pretty shocking that he falls into such simple mistakes.

        Why not email him and tell him about his errors: Roy@DrRoySpencer.com

    • Not so, Vic. I accept these figures because of multiple studies that all come to the same conclusion:

      The scientific consensus on climate change
      (Naomi Oreskes, 2004)

      The scientific consensus on climate change: how do we know we’re not wrong?
      (Naomi Oreskes, 2007)

      Examining the scientific consensus on climate change
      (Peter Doran & Maggie Zimmerman, 2009)

      Expert credibility in climate change
      (William Anderegg, James Prall, Jacob Harold & Stephen Schneider, 2010)

      Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
      (Cook et al, 2013))

      • Thank you for your reply. I spent a day last year inspecting the rocket research centre in Huntsville Alabama. In fact I am only four hours drive from there now. I am amazed at the brilliance of rocket scientists. I have reread my criticism and possibly it is a problem of semantics but I will stick to what I wrote as being correct. Vic

  11. Thurston Howell 4th permalink

    Don’t take it to heart, unfortunately Rupert is now more about the money than ever before, not about the truth. As much as I think you crazy tree-huggers will be all proven wrong at least we can agree on the sad state of journalism under Murdoch. Surely, that’s common ground enough for both of us.

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