The Australian‘s War on Science 32

Today’s Australian included a double feature in its war on science. And they were both news stories, not opinion pieces. First up is John Stapleton. Last month Stapleton wrote a story arguing that winter was evidence against global warming. So how does Stapleton write a story about a heat wave here in Australia. Well, it’s evidence against global warming:

It’s a scorcher, but 70-year record stands

Much of inland Australia sweltered as towns from Ivanhoe and Pooncarie in far-western NSW to Onslow in the Pilbara, Kerang in Victoria and Marree in South Australia hit 45C yesterday.

But even those temperatures can’t beat the searing conditions of 70 years ago, when records were broken over a period of four days through NSW, Victoria, the ACT and South Australia. …

The 70th anniversary of these maximum temperatures has provided the opportunity for sceptics to again question the theory of man-made global warming: if large increases in greenhouse gases are making the planet warmer, why have the records of 70 years ago not been overtaken?

David Evans, a former adviser to the Australian Greenhouse Office, the precursor to the Department of Climate Change, said that although events such as those of January 1939 were too localised to draw implications on global warming, the 70 years since these maximums were reached was enough to “make you sceptical”.

Notice the way Stapleton makes it sound like that Evans advised the Greenhouse Office on science when, in fact, Evans helped program a carbon accounting system for them.

“The debate has changed,” he said. He predicted that by 2010, the only people who would believe in global warming would be “those who have a financial interest in it, the politically correct and those who believe in big government. Everyone else will think it’s a load of rubbish.”

Excellent! A prediction. Do you think that Evans will be willing to bet on this one?

Many climate scientists disagree. National Climate Centre head David Jones said the fact the maximum temperatures were set so long ago in no way disproved global warming. He said 1939 was a freak once-in-a-century event.

If by “many” you mean “pretty well all”. Notice how the climate scientists get less space than Evans.

The second story is by Verity Edwards (not available on line), and begins:


Aussie Research debunks key greenhouse theory

Research by an Australian-based scientist claims to have demolished a central plank of climate change theory, finding that plants do not produce the greenhouse gas methane.

Of course it is not a central plank of climate change theory that plants produce methane. This claim seems to have been invented by Edwards. It’s not in the press release from the University of South Australia, the story in Nature News, or the BBC story. What this new research debunks is a 2006 study that suggested that plants could be a major source of methane emissions. And how did the Australian report the 2006 study? Here’s their story (14 Jan 2006, not on line, written by a “Special Correspondent“):

Confidence in this paradigm [that burning fossil fuels cause global warming] was further dented this week following the release of new research by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany that showed ordinary plants produce significant amounts of the greenhouse gas methane. …

This report is consistent with research by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research that reported a doubling of methane in the atmosphere over the past 200 years.

That such a crucial piece of information, if correct, has been hitherto excluded from the science on climate change is startling, reflects the infant nature of the scientific debate and the risks of developing policy responses in such uncertainty.

So, according to news stories in the Australian, cold weather is bad news for the theory of global warming, and so is really hot weather. And the 2006 study on plants and methane was also bad news for the theory of global warming. And it was even worse news for it when the 2006 study was debunked.

Comments

  1. #1 Dano
    January 15, 2009

    The collapse* of my retirement account is good news, see, because it means that capitalism is working.

    Best,

    D

    * Since my last career was in banking, I saw this coming and made sure that my retirement wasn’t locked up with these swindlers and thieves, so all representations are illustrative only and in no way reflect the state of my accounts. Thank G–.

  2. #2 bi -- IJI
    January 15, 2009

    But Clinton Did It Too!?

    So it’s OK.

  3. #3 TomG
    January 15, 2009

    The Whirling Dervish are going be annoyed if these guys at the Australian do much more spinning…

  4. #4 laserboy
    January 15, 2009

    Actually, there was a 2006 study that reported significant methane emissions from plants (http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/zag/env_min/downloads/lit/Keppler_Natue2006_Methane_plants.pdf). A colleague of mine then grew plants in an entirely C13 environment to measure the amount of CH4 emissions from the plants to show that there was a confounding experiment in Keppler’s experiment… hmm, I can’t seem to find the reference. Will add it in a later post when I have access to my papers library.

  5. #5 sod
    January 15, 2009

    So, according to news stories in the Australian, cold weather is bad news for the theory of global warming, and so is really hot weather. And the 2006 study on plants and methane was also bad news for the theory of global warming. And it was even worse news for it when the 2006 study was debunked.

    inconsistency is THE feature of denilalists.

    cosmic rays cause the temperature rise that doesn t exist.

    the non-existing increase in CO2 is causing bigger harvests, because its good for plants.

    we haven t acted on CO2 reduction so far, but it did already cost millions of jobs.

  6. #6 laserboy
    January 15, 2009

    and the reference to the second paper: Dueck et al. No evidence for substantial aerobic methane emission by terrestrial plants: A 13C-labelling approach. New Phytol. (2007) vol. 175 (1) pp. 29-35

  7. #7 Phila
    January 15, 2009

    And it was even worse news for it when the 2006 study was debunked.

    The current stance among the denialists of my acquaintance is that global warming, for which no evidence exists, is part of a harmless natural cycle that will increase agricultural yields and save lives, unless we try to do something about it, which is a) impossible; and b) pointless, because the climate has actually been cooling this whole time, so there. Which proves that the entire thing is the invention of unregenerate Marxists searching for post-USSR relevance.

    I’m sure they’ll receive these new findings with considerable interest.

  8. #8 _Arthur
    January 15, 2009

    Huh, the plants themselves may emit any methane while growing, and still emit a lot of methane when they decay or when they are eaten by insects or herbivores ?

    Am I correct ?

  9. #9 MarkusR
    January 15, 2009

    He predicted that by 2010, the only people who would believe in global warming would be “those who have a financial interest in it, the politically correct and those who believe in big government. Everyone else will think it’s a load of rubbish.”

    This is what the climate skeptics are accusing of climate scientists TODAY (and have from day one).

  10. #10 Paul
    January 15, 2009

    Laserboy said:

    >Actually, there was a 2006 study that reported significant methane emissions from plants (http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/zag/envmin/downloads/lit/KepplerNatue2006Methaneplants.pdf).

    BBC News report about the latest research:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7827106.stm

    UK based team disputes the 2006 findings. I haven’t chased down the research report though.

  11. #11 Glen Raphael
    January 15, 2009

    For what it’s worth, David Evans already has put some of his money on the line, in a series of bets with Brian Schmidt of Backseatdriving. More here and here.

  12. #12 Gaz
    January 15, 2009

    So a few days in 1930 were hotter than a few days in 2009, in a few areas of western new South Wales, and this is supposed to show global warming is not happening, according to our top rocket scientist?

    Meanwhile in the latest five recorded months (HADCRUT3 July through November) the average temperature for the entire world was hotter than in ANY month in 1939 and .. what .. ???

    Unbelievably, people like Evans get upset when they’re accused of being in denial.

    Lavoisier would be rolling in his grave.

  13. #13 grace pettigrew
    January 15, 2009

    Thanks for giving Verity (?!) Edwards’ garbage reporting some attention. I noticed the article in the newspaper yesterday and was astounded by its breathtaking dishonesty.

  14. #14 Michael Kerjman
    January 15, 2009

    I am instantly wondering why carbon tax-obsessed players mix instantly natural processes with what could profit some “scientists” for sustaining activities of their bureaucratic mates, or?

    Annihilating intelligence of eventually creative non-belonging to a caste of inheriting a mutual clan support members only allowed being deployed locally, is, perhaps, shifted in Howard’s era from simply denaying official qualifications and employment into physically punishing for intelligence by keeping instantly out-of-work, on/out doles, in the streets, while ignoring everything to gain own royalties from children-tales of man-made “global warming” http://www.climatechange.gov.au/greenpaper/consultation/pubs/0020-kerjman.pdf ].

    Wake up to reality, playing the wording professionally: global warming is an EXISTING NATURAL PROCESS.

  15. #15 Gareth
    January 15, 2009

    Was comment #14 re-emvowelled, perhaps?

  16. #16 Chris O'Neill
    January 15, 2009

    Recently been “enjoying” the third warmest Melbourne night on record (morning of 14/1/09), which was warmer than any night in 1939. I guess The Australian’s technique is proof by cherry-picking the records.

  17. #17 bi -- IJI
    January 15, 2009

    Michael Keriman:

    Huh?

  18. #18 Bernard J.
    January 15, 2009

    I suspect that English is not Michael Kerjman’s first language.

    But then, I can see quite clearly that neither science nor rationality are his first languages either.

    And now a nit-pick. Verity Edward’s opening phrase:

    Research by an Australian-based scientist claims to have demolished a central plank of climate change theory,…

    shows that she has at best a loose grasp of the mechanics of scientific process, and perhaps of the English language as well. “Research” may be a verb or a noun, but not a proper noun or a pro-noun. “Research” does not own anything, it does not perceive anything, and it does not make its own independent claims.

    Perhaps I am being pedantic in this but, nevertheless, in my opinion it is a (perhaps subconscious) attempt by Edwards to enhance the perceived objectivity of an interpretation by removing the researcher from the equation. Whether or not an interpretation is correct is immaterial; it is important to understand what data can ‘tell’ us (as opposed to what they are ‘claiming’), and what analysts can infer, and what the differences between these two processes are.

    And a completely off-thread personal bugaboo… I note that many AGW denialists speak of their ‘research’, which consists of a process whereby they read the material of others in order to form an understanding of their own of this same material(whether correct or otherwise is again immaterial). This interpretation of ‘research’ is commonly used by lay people who are in fact simply learning for themselves.

    In a more stringent academic sense research is the acquisition of knowledge by controlled experimentation and appropriate analysis, or by synthesis of prior knowledge to create a novel perspective/understanding of a subject that has not been previously documented.

    Both interpretations of what research is are valid, but they are not the same, and it is a mistake to conflate the mere reading of a few texts with genuine scientific research. Unfortunately many ill-informed lay people to not appreciate this and believe that they, or the folk to whom they give credence, are engaging in the same level of activity as the world’s best experts. They are not.

    It calls to mind the similar issue of the different translations of the term ‘theory’, and it also brings to mind once again the pernicious manifestation of Messrs Dunning and Kruger.

  19. #19 Ender
    January 15, 2009

    Concerning post #14 – I suspect that posts from Micheal Keriman might disappear once Bolt’s blog starts up again.

    The style is very like a person with a similar lack of english Peter K. Anderson a.k.a. Hartlod(TM).

    I am sure there could not be two of them.

  20. #20 Phila
    January 15, 2009

    Annihilating intelligence of eventually creative non-belonging to a caste of inheriting a mutual clan support members only allowed being deployed locally, is, perhaps, shifted in Howard’s era from simply denaying official qualifications and employment into physically punishing for intelligence by keeping instantly out-of-work, on/out doles, in the streets, while ignoring everything to gain own royalties from children-tales of man-made “global warming”

    Easy for you to say.

  21. #21 Ezzthetic
    January 15, 2009

    The style is very like a person with a similar lack of english Peter K. Anderson a.k.a. Hartlod(TM).

    I’m not too sure. He didn’t italicise or embolded every second word.

  22. #22 Bud
    January 16, 2009

    “Annihilating intelligence of eventually creative non-belonging to a caste of inheriting a mutual clan support members only allowed being deployed locally, is, perhaps, shifted in Howard’s era from simply denaying official qualifications and employment into physically punishing for intelligence by keeping instantly out-of-work, on/out doles, in the streets, while ignoring everything to gain own royalties from children-tales of man-made “global warming””

    Worst. Sentence. Ever.

  23. #23 Don Smith
    January 16, 2009

    Actually, #14 looks like it’s been run through babelfish a couple of times.

  24. #24 WotWot
    January 16, 2009

    Easy for you to say.

    He he he.

  25. #25 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    January 16, 2009

    “He predicted that by 2010, the only people who would believe in global warming would be “those who have a financial interest in it, the politically correct and those who believe in big government. Everyone else will think it’s a load of rubbish.”

    My prediction is that in 2010 (more likely 2020 or 2030 (I think 2010 is too close)) the denialists will be claiming that they were predicting AGW all along and had the ideas to stop it cheaply but he mainstream scientists wouldn’t listen.

  26. #26 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 16, 2009

    Michael Kerjman writes:

    global warming is an EXISTING NATURAL PROCESS.

    The current global warming is ALMOST ENTIRELY ARTIFICIAL. See, we can post in all caps too.

    1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).

    2. Carbon dioxide in the air is increasing (Keeling et al. 1958).

    3. The new carbon dioxide is coming from fossil fuels (Suess 1955).

    4. The temperature is rising (NASA GISS, Meet Office Hadley Centre CRU, UAH & RSS, etc., etc., etc.).

    Which of these do you dispute?

  27. #27 Dano
    January 16, 2009

    BPL:

    14 is obviously babble. I like the Babelfish idea. You’ve been punk’d.

    Best,

    D

  28. #28 Vagueofgodalming
    January 16, 2009

    Since people who don’t believe in big government are already almost as marginalised as global warming denialists, I see no reason why Evans’s prediction won’t come true.

    I see Bank of America’s next.

  29. #29 Nick
    January 16, 2009

    Perhaps Stapleton and Evans would like to ponder why 8 of the 12 monthly record high temperatures for Kerang (in operation since 1880) have been set since 2004? The remainder since 1968. Mind you, all the lowest maxima have been set since 1967, lowest and highest minima since 1963! Maybe the mice are chewing the insulation….

  30. #30 Dano
    January 16, 2009

    Nick:

    Bonfires next to the sensor.

    Quick! Someone take a picture to debunk this faulty data!

    Best,

    D

  31. #31 Steve
    January 16, 2009

    Apologies to Michael if I’m wrong and its just a case of poor english but..

    Michael Kerjman’s comments look like they could be computer-generated to me.

  32. #32 z
    January 17, 2009

    “computer-generated ”
    indeed, i thought i detected the sickly-sweet smell of a markov process.

  33. #33 Ian Gould
    January 18, 2009

    Re. the temperature records in western New South Wales – there’s a month or two of summer yet to go.

    but I’m sure if the heatwave continues and the records fall that’ll also disprove global warming.

  34. #34 Luna_the_cat
    January 19, 2009

    Oh, now, really. *I’VE* helped program a hydrocarbon accounting system, in 1999-2000. I had no idea that this made me a “climate expert.” Gee whiz, and I could have been claiming extra status all this time…..

  35. #35 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 19, 2009

    Luna-chan, Konnichiwa! Please give my regards to Usagi-chan and all the sailor senshi.

  36. #36 Don Wigan
    January 19, 2009

    While Mitchell has brought his own zeal to The Australian’s War on Science, I remain puzzled on Rupert Murdoch’s position.

    After all, nothing gets much of a run in his publications without his blessing. Where is he at on GW? The Bush-Rove-Cheney hegemony has gone. What has he got to gain by pursuing this rubbish?

    Bolt is a little different with his cheap populism. He draws readers which means ratings and money. As long as that continues he can say pretty well what he likes provided it is not too out of synch with the boss.

    But The Oz? … I don’t understand.

  37. #37 Gareth
    January 19, 2009

    I had been wondering how long it would be before The Great Communicator got in on the act…

    Not long at all. But a cracker, Bob, a cracker…

  38. #38 Luna_the_cat
    January 20, 2009

    BPL — Well, that’s at least better than being told that the last time I was seen I was leaking bodily fluids onto the spare bedroom rug. :-/ (Ask Greg Laden.) …I will certainly pass your regards to Usagi-chan.

  39. #39 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 21, 2009

    Domo arigato gozaimas’!

  40. #40 Dan
    January 14, 2011

    Bernard J., Don Smith, D. and other English-players: whether #14 was run via Babelfish a couple of times or a few only, context is proven already perfectly.

    Regrettably, such a proof happened, either in Copenhagen or practically in Queensland recently, and happens in spite convulsive Anglo-colonial rubbishing on these pages, by well paid in Australia London-installed and England-remaining privileged Brits from around ex-non-white colonies of a British Commonwealth, of whom either “logic” and elementary understanding of factual issues stacked somewhere in the Dark Ages of post-Stonehenge.

    Surely, these laughable Anglo-assent-based royalties make those incapable to even properly copy-past names/surnames of participating in this discussion to clear understand a real worth of non-English Australia potential their forebears annihilated without playing “human rights” and so-called “legislation” just merely and simply on a merit of undisputable English superiority, in Australia or wherever.

  41. #41 Zhu Zhu
    January 18, 2011

    Thanks, Dan.

    It is a great comment-Queenslanders could suffer much less if ones where less xenophobic mostly as one could figure out from your message.