The Australian‘s War on Science 41

Despite her training in law, Janet Albrechtsen was not able to figure out that the Copenhagen treaty wasn’t going to impose a COMMUNIST WORLD GOVERNMENT, so you just know that she has no chance in hell of understanding a scientific question. Albrechtsen claims that it is a “fact” that “Sea levels have remained constant for the past 30 years”. Study the graph below from the CSIRO to see that measurements from tide gauges and satellites contradict this claim.


So how did Albrechtsen get it so completely wrong? Well, her authority, Nils Axel-Morner, completely ignored all direct measurements of sea-level from tide gauges and satellites. Simply really. Details in a previous post.

Graeme Readfearn (who, like Albrechtsen, works for News Limited) observes

wasn’t inquisitive enough to find out that Morner is treated like something of a joke among most oceanographers and quaternary scientists.

Albrechtsen tries to invest Morner with some authority because of his association with INQUA, but Readfearn gets a statement from the president of INQUA:

Dr Morner was, quite some time ago, president of one of INQUA’s commissions, indeed, the commission on sea-level changes. That commission no longer exists, as such, but is now part of our Commission on Coastal and Marine Processes. Dr Morner’s views concerning sea-level change are his own and are not endorsed by the current Executive Committee of INQUA, nor have previous INQUA Executive Committees endorsed Dr Morner’s views. On several occasions INQUA has requested of Dr Morner that he not inadvertently represent his views on sea-level change as if they have some connection with INQUA.


  1. #1 Craig Allen
    November 11, 2009

    IM #80,

    In Australia’s bicameral parliment if the lower house passes a bill and the upper house defeats the bill, the lower house can then pass the bill again three months later and pass it on to the upper house once more. If the upper house refuses to pass it a second time, the government can request a ‘double dissolution’ election in which all seats of both lower and upper houses are up for grabs. (Normally only half the upper house seats go to election each term.)

    Currently the government has a majority in the lower house, but not in the upper house. They may choose to force a double dissolution because given the current mood of the electorate, they have a good chance of improving their numbers in both houses.

    Anyhow, having the Labour government increase their numbers won’t help us much since their emissions trading scheme is piss weak, will give billions away to the big polluters, and their proposed subsides to them is about triple the assistance to renewables.

    The only chance we have of getting a better deal is if the Greens manage to gain the balance of power.

  2. #2 Craig Allen
    November 11, 2009

    A bunch of us have been out door-knocking in the electorate of Melbourne with a petition and survey on renewable energy for Getup. (The electorate of Melbourne is held by Lindsay Tanner for Labour – he is the Minister for Finance and Deregulation). We’ve got over 1600 signatures so far. Most people willingly sign, and we have found that 85% of those who signed and identify as labour voters say that renewable energy and climate change will influence the way they vote at the next election. People are really concerned and are deeply disappointed at how useless Labour has turned out to be on this. We are presenting the petition at the MP’s office this Friday at 5:30 at 280 King St Melbourne – come along – bring a sign with 85% written on it. Lindsay is vulnerable to the Greens, lets make him sweat.

  3. #3 Chris O'Neill
    November 11, 2009

    Craig Allen:

    Anyhow, having the Labour government increase their numbers won’t help us much since their emissions trading scheme is piss weak, will give billions away to the big polluters, and their proposed subsides to them is about triple the assistance to renewables.

    I like the way one power company wants $8 billion of “compensation” for its coal-burning generators so it can build a $2 billion gas-fired power station. Absolutely shameless.

    The only chance we have of getting a better deal is if the Greens manage to gain the balance of power.

    Which is what it should have been all along and I guess is what will probably happen after the next Senate election nomatter what form that election is. Dealing with the conservative parties on emissions control is just a joke. Most of them are climate science denialists anyway.

  4. #4 Jeremy C
    November 11, 2009

    I streamed the Four Corners program last night my time (UK) and it made depressing viewing, but not because of the usual suspects in the liberals and nats lining up.

    I was more disturbed by the program showing how active someone like Bob Carter is with travelling around Australia addressing community and grass root groups to say that denialism is true. What is the extent of this because if he and likeminded others keep this up I think it could seriously hamper community level acceptance of changes? Are other people still going out and doing this within Australian communities but from the perspective of explaining the results of climate science in lay man terms?

    George Monbiot was lamenting in the Guardian recently that the noise from climate deniers is reaching ever further into the community at large. I don’t think having the ear of government means that its just a matter of time and everything will change. I think able speakers still need to go out into the community to counteract Carter et al otherwise their fanaticism could make serious and dangerous inroads (I use the word ‘fanaticism’ deliberately) and delay, derail things even more.

  5. #5 el gordo
    November 11, 2009

    Craig Allen, I noticed elsewhere that Tanner is regarded by the sceptics and deniers as the most likely person to replace Rudd when he falls on his sword.

    After Kevin’s outburst at the Lowry institute, Tanner seems reasonable and moderate.

  6. #6 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Lindsay Tanner, is forced to be ‘green’ for [his electorate]( Tanner faces Adam Bandt perhaps the the toughest workhorse lower house green candidate in Australia who appears to be in it for the long haul. From what I can gleen for the AEC Adam Bandt is running for at least the third straight election in the seat of Melbourne and has built a strong local profile.

    Thank God for people like Adam! Tanner will be held to account, so he has got to be as green as any in in party.

  7. #7 Ken Fabos
    November 11, 2009

    Janet, the capacity to know 99% of something is wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence is evidence of something; Hubris perhaps. The inability to change your mind in the face of overwhelming evidence sounds like evidence of poor judgement not superior insight. Interpreting graphs like the one above as 30 years of no sea level rise – or failing to access such graphs and choosing ones of dubious origins because they show no sea level rise in their place – sounds like outright dishonesty. Politics may be a dirty game but from someone who is obviously intelligent and whose opinions are widely read and who actively seeks to influence public opinion on an issue of great importance it’s deeply disappointing.

  8. #8 el gordo
    November 11, 2009

    MB: Tanner looks like he can hold the seat without Green preferences, but a career politician would be mad to ignore them.

  9. #9 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    el gordo,

    Green Preferences arn’t in play when Greens run second (eg Mayo, and now watch Higgens). Melbourne used to be safe ALP until the Greens started beating the Liberal candiates. Tanner needs to stem the flow of Labor (and Liberal) voters to the Greens to keep his seat.

    That’s the risk when a centre-left party turns centre-right.

  10. #10 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    I think Tanner paid attention to [this result](,_2009).

    Hopfully this is the future, rather having two fossil parties. Bring on the climate change double dissolution election.

  11. #11 WotWot
    November 11, 2009

    People everywhere will be arguing. Make no bones about it, this fight will split families.

    Happens every election. The sun still rises the next day.

  12. #12 Gaz
    November 11, 2009

    Hey porker:

    After Kevin’s outburst at the Lowry institute, Tanner seems reasonable and moderate.

    So what was it that Rudd said that struck you as unreasonable or immoderate? Just wondering.

    By the way, it’s Lowy, not Lowry.

    If you haven’t read or heard the speech, a distinct possibility I’d say, you can find it [here]( so you can cut and paste the immoderate and unreasonable bits here so we can see just how immoderate and unreasonable Rudd is.

  13. #13 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Readers may be aware that [Cory Bernardi and Nick Minchin]( the Liberal parties two most prominent denialistsin in the recent [4 Corners]( are both Senators for the same state (South Australia).

    The state with a new moderate independent political force that is [Nick Xenophon]( Those outside of South Australia may not be aware that in 2006 Xenophon received nearly the same upper house votes (20%) as that of the entire Liberal Party. (That election also saw the first Green elected to South Australian Parliament).

    In the 2007 federal election Xenophon was elected to the Australian Senate (at the same election the first Green Senator representing South Australia was elected to the Australian Senate, giving the Greens five Senators and Major party status for the first time).

    As coincidence would have it the state of South Australia (home of Senators, Bernardi, Minchin, Xenophon) has been having some interesting weather.

    I’ll split this post to avoid moderation…

  14. #14 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    In 2008 Adelaide (Capital of South Australia and Home of Ian Plimer, Senators, Bernardi, Minchin, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Empire) broke a record for [longest heatwave on record.]( The previous record was beaten with eight days above 35 degrees C. The new record ended with 15 consecutive days above 35 degrees. A one is 3000 year event if the climate was stable.

    In 2009, when Victoria was burnt with mega-fires and record temperatures, Adelaide had another [little heatwave](, with 6 consecutive days above 40 degrees (104 deg F) and 13 consecutive days above 35 degrees (a 1:1000 event if climate is not trending).
    So what is the chance of having a 1:3,000 year event and 1:1,000 year event in two consecutive years?

    Split number two…

  15. #15 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Well now Adelaide is having heatwaves [before we even reach summer](,27574,26336360-1702,00.html).

    Combine this interesting weather the fact that South Australia is the driest state in this dry continent; with our dependence of dwindling water inflows from eastern states; with water restriction; and the collapse of ecosystems of Coorong and lower lakes. Then we should ask, how conservative are the so called conservatives?

    I think Bernardi and Minchin are taking quite a punt. Though, as power brokers they can hide from public dissent by putting themselves as number 1 and 2 on the senate ticket and be returned with as little as 14% of the vote (in a double dissolution election), they could decimate their state base.

  16. #16 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    To put Adelaide’s current spring heat into perspective if we reach 8 days (as forcast) above 35 degrees, this will match the record [prior to 2008]( for all heatwaves.

    I wonder if Bernardi and Minchin ever doubt that they are correct and the world’s climate science is wrong?

  17. #17 P. Lewis
    November 11, 2009

    So what is the chance of having a 1:3,000 year event and 1:1,000 year event in two consecutive years?

    Well, on the assumption that the climate that these extreme events occur in is stationary (possibly a stretch) and the two events are independent (possibly less of a stretch), then we have

    P(A&B) = P(A)P(B)

    So, if event A is 1:1000 and event B is 1:3000 we have P(A&B) = 1:3000000

    I think … but if anyone knows better please do chip in.

  18. #18 el gordo
    November 11, 2009

    Bernardi and Minchin will be advised that this is just weather.

    On a more serious note. The Bolter is using satire to rally the troops, check out the thread numbers.

    As you all well know comrades, by forming a cadre you can win the hearts and minds of the populace.


  19. #19 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Thanks P.Lewis,

    I’d also be interested if someone knows if there is an appropriate adjustment to account for auto correlation/dependece of consecutive years?

  20. #20 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    >Bernardi and Minchin will be advised that this is just weather.

    Weather that just by chance happens with freakish probability and just happen to coincide with a global [climate trend](

    If BerMinchi take that line to the voters then not even Murchod’s machine will keep the Greens from gaining seats.

  21. #21 el gordo
    November 11, 2009

    By June the people would have forgotten the heatwave in November. Popular perceptions are always important, but in a DD election it will be paramount

    Personally I like cherry-picking, it’s good for morale.

  22. #22 Vince Whirlwind
    November 11, 2009

    I wish you hadn’t linked to Dolt’s blog.

    Apparently some frothing idiot called JoNova reckons the IPCC is a bunch of “UN bureaucrats” with a “manufactured consensus” and that Exxon funds “sceptics”.
    The monumental ignorance seeping from what I’ve just read has made my head hurt.

  23. #23 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Well Rudd can choose a Summer or Winter election depending on which mix of opponents he’d prefer in parliament.

    BerMinchi have shown their hand, giving Rudd some choices.

  24. #24 David Irving (no relation)
    November 11, 2009

    Mark Byrne @ 93- 96, you should also have mentioned that the record breaking heatwave we enjoyed in 2008 was in Autumn, when we usually expect it to start cooling down a bit …

    Bernadi and Minchin are dills.

    BTW, The Greens hope to pick up two more Senate seats in SA next year – Bernardi and Minchin are two people (loosely speaking) – coincidence?

  25. #25 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009


    [Minchin]( and [Bernardi]( get special billing.

    They are virtually not accountable to the South Australia public. They are virtually assured their seats via internal party politics. When they get top billing they will be returned with a party vote as little as 14%.

    If they faced public opinion to the extent of lower house candidates, small party Senate candidates or low ticket candidates for the major parties, then they might be a little more pragmatic and behave less like superannuated ideologues.

    But if Berminchi bust their party this election, they might struggle getting 14% in 5 or 10 years.

  26. #26 el gordo
    November 11, 2009

    Antony Green thinks it ‘unlikely’ that Rudd will have a double D election because it would poorly effect Labor’s Senate numbers.

    So if he goes to the people early on this issue, then seats might be picked up by the Greens, or a reinvigorated Coalition. The electorate will become fiercely polarized.

  27. #27 Mark Byrne
    November 11, 2009

    Rudd has to face the public vote some time.

    He can do it with a DD his terms with the coalition in disarray, or he can wait pass nothing and ask the public to excuse his inaction on climate policy.

    ALP’s position in the Senate could hardly get wosre. They currently need the support of either the Coaltion or every other party/independent to get legislation through.

    Swap Senator Feiliding for a Green and Rudd would have his ETS and Australian’s would have an amended and fairer bill passed with less cost tranfered to the public.

  28. #28 JennieL
    November 12, 2009

    P.Lewis @97:
    You may be interested in Barry Brook’s analysis of the 2008 and 2009 Adelaide heatwaves here.

  29. #29 Lank
    November 12, 2009

    If you care to look at the changes in local sea level estimated from sediment cores collected in salt marshes of fringing the Atlantic Ocean during the 19th century and early 20th century (see the following link) there has been increasing sea levels for over 2000 years. What part of this is due to AGW?

    2,000 years ago sea levels were rising at a rate faster than the last few decades. There is nothing unusual with the sea level rises we are currently observing.

  30. #30 Mark Byrne
    November 12, 2009


    [This chart]( from Barry’s site gets me winching. Record breaking temperatuere anomalies today will be normal by 2040 and will be cool temperature anomalies by 2060.

  31. #31 Dr Seuss
    November 12, 2009

    Bad Lank,link. Bad link,Lank. You choose.

  32. #33 nick
    November 12, 2009

    The early part of it is return from the LGM,Lank. Thereafter long-term has been static until the recent rapid rise under anthropic influence. There is nothing unusual about sea-level variation per se, just this time an unusual amount of human infrastructure and agriculture is in the way.

  33. #34 mark byrne
    November 12, 2009

    Lank, take a squizz at [Kurt Lambeck’s work]( on global ave. sea level for the last 3000 years.

  34. #35 David Irving (no relation)
    November 12, 2009

    I know that Bernardi and Minchin are unassailable, Mark, I was merely being flippant. However, one can hope. Minchin is a thoroughly unpleasant individual, and Bernardi has an impressive blend of stupidity and arrogance.

  35. #36 zoot
    November 12, 2009

    Lank, if you go to this page on the website you link to, you will find this:

    The sea level 2,000 years ago can be deduced by (for example) examining fish tanks built by the ancient Romans. Because the tanks had to be at sea level for the sluice gates to function, we can precisely estimate sea level during the period of their use. Comparison of this level with historical records indicates that there has been little net change in sea level from 2000 years ago until the start of the 19th century.

  36. #37 nick
    November 12, 2009

    One simply needs to examine Bernadi/Minchin’s CV to see what kind of frat boys they are: Minchin went straight from uni (law)into the Liberal Party apparatus,to the Senate in 1993. Bernadi is some kind of ex-athlete party apparatchik and ditto by 2006.In both cases they’ve been Liberalised barely out of adolescence. No exposure to the scientific method.

  37. #38 bit_pattern
    November 12, 2009

    @ Craig Allen.

    5.30 tomorrow on King St? Sounds like a plan. See you there!

  38. #39 JennieL
    November 12, 2009

    Mark Byrne @110:

    This chart from Barry’s site gets me winching. Record breaking temperatuere anomalies today will be normal by 2040 and will be cool temperature anomalies by 2060.

    Yes, it’s rather, umm, alarming, isn’t it?
    I’m an Adelaidean, so I’m currently suffering through the lovely “heatwave.” The notion that this is not going to be a freak event (to be suffered through until it’s over and then forgotten), but instead is going to be the new normal, is deeply worrying.

  39. #40 el gordo
    November 12, 2009

    Remember the Adelaide heatwave in March last year. It was out of season and went for 15 days over 35 degrees.

    Dr Warwick Grace (SARDI Climate Applications Unit) said that particular heatwave was a ‘one in 3000 year event’.

    So we shouldn’t become too alarmed.

  40. #41 Mark Byrne
    November 12, 2009

    el gordo,

    You missed [the conversation]( And you missed the whole point.

    We had a 1 in 3,000 year event, the was repeated with hotter temperatures (a 1 in 1000 year event). Now we are breaking old summer time records in Spring.

    See the point?

    We should be as alarmed as science warns us to be. The warning bells are ringing, don’t bury your head.

    Perhaps go back and read my posts again?

  41. #42 P. Lewis
    November 12, 2009

    El gordo

    It would be right not to be alarmed over a single extreme event in an unchanging (non-trending) climate scenario. But, despite what you and those of your outlook on things AGW may say, the problem is that the climate is a-trending upwards (it is!) and this and similar events look as if they are becoming more common. And there is the worry.

    I’m becoming glad I didn’t follow up on a possibility to emigrate “south” in the early 80s. High summer in Sicily was bad enough. Not too sure I could put up with high summer in spring and summer. Here’s looking forward to another gloriously wet August in 2010 in Blighty and a superb Indian summer through September and October.

  42. #43 Chris O'Neill
    November 12, 2009

    He can do it with a DD his terms with the coalition in disarray, or he can wait pass nothing and ask the public to excuse his inaction on climate policy.

    One drawback for Labor in a double dissolution election is that a DD won’t give it much advantage over a half-Senate election because that half-Senate election will replace the Latham-elected half of the Senate which is where Labor will make its big gains while the other half of the Senate (the Rudd 07 half) won’t. So there is probably little advantage for Labor in a DD election but a significantly higher risk.

  43. #44 TrueSceptic
    November 12, 2009

    102 Vince,

    Joanne’s a Denial Depot pinup! Is it possible that she’s new to you? If so, go [here](

  44. #45 Chris O'Neill
    November 12, 2009

    Jeremy C:

    I was more disturbed by the program showing how active someone like Bob Carter is with travelling around Australia addressing community and grass root groups to say that denialism is true.

    I noticed in his talk shown on 4 corners that he’s cherry-picking January 1958 so that he can assert there’s been no global warming since 1958 (until August 2008). It’s an inescapable fact that someone can get away with intellectual dishonesty if they have a reputation they can exploit. Carter doesn’t need to worry about his reputation because he can retire whenever he likes and will before long anyway.

  45. #46 Vince Whirlwind
    November 12, 2009

    My god! JoNova makes Dolt look fair and resonable. I see she calls herself a “freelance science reporter and writer”.
    I guess I could start a blog and be a “freelance astronaut”, if I wanted.
    Hey, I could be a “freelance doctor” and advise people about healing their energy fields with magnets and curing their asthma by bending their necks!

  46. #47 el gordo
    November 13, 2009

    Jo Nova and Dr David Evans appear to be an item. Had a squiz at their latest offering and thought it had merit, so let’s look at those stats again.

    I have enough faith in statistics to know there must be conscious life on other planets, so what’s the problem with our spaceship’s air con?

  47. #48 Vince Whirlwind
    November 15, 2009

    If I’m reading Evans’ CV correctly, he seems to have been working as an unpaid computer programmer for the last many years.

    Fairly typical lack of relevance to climate science that you find in most Denialist CVs – Plimer, Carter, etc….

  48. #49 Vince Whirlwind
    November 15, 2009

    Yep, The Australian has used him in their War on Science:
    Typically, his “qualifications” are quoted as “former consultant to…..”. Just like Morner and other cranks.

    And he was shot down in flames by a real climate scientist:

    And JoNova continues to push him as a credible source.

  49. #50 Fran Barlow
    November 15, 2009

    Chris O’Neill@125

    Your reasoning is correct. From Rudd’s POV, the half-senate is the more attractive option, as he would pick up more seats. The main relative beneficiaries of the DD would be the Greens.

    Rudd would also have the advantage of having his control of the senate last longer into the future with the half-senate. OTOH with a DD the new senators start earlier, but having to listen harder to the Greens probably isn’t his preferred option.

  50. #51 David Irving (no relation0
    November 15, 2009

    JennieL @ 119, I expect Goyder’s Line will be running along Melbourne St by the end of the century.

  51. #52 Jimmy Nightingale
    November 16, 2009

    There was a good article on the ABC’s Lateline site about the current fruit loopy comments by Minchin and Abbott about the IPCC. It’s well worth a read:

    It won’t sway anyone who believes in this vast left-wing conspiracy as the ABC is supposedly in on it as well (though I’m trying to work out how this works with Windschuttle and his fellow loonies on the Board and that they screened TGGWS).

  52. #53 chrispydog
    November 21, 2009

    Tim, thanks for your website, it’s been the highlight of my week, and a refreshing antidote to the babbling incoherence that masquerades as ‘journalism’.


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