The Australian‘s coverage of the story of the emails stolen from CRU has been extensive — my Factiva search found that there have published 85 articles so far that mention the matter, with repeated allegations that the emails showed that the scientists were corrupt, had acted dishonestly and that the science could not be trusted. In February they reported on the Independent Climate Change Email Review:

The university had already announced a wide-ranging probe into whether its researchers manipulated information about global warming. That review, headed by senior British civil servant Muir Russell, began work yesterday and called for submissions by March 1

So how did they deal with the fact that the Review resulted in vindication for the CRU scientists? Simple, they didn’t report on it all. If you look at their page indexing their climate stories, it’s not there. They do, however, have a story by The Times‘ Ben Webster with the headline UN’s climate report ‘one-sided’.

And the irony doesn’t end with the headline, because the story is about the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency examination of AR4 on regional climate change. PBL concluded:

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has found no errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change.

That contradicts the dozens and dozens of one-sided stories that The Australian and The Times have been running about alleged errors in the IPCC report, so this is barely mentioned and buried at the end of the story. Instead, Webster focused on the negative in the report:

A summary report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on regional impacts focused on the negative consequences of climate change and failed to make clear that there would also be some benefits of rising temperatures.

The report adopted a “one-sided” approach that risked being interpreted as an “alarmist view”.

When you see one and two word quotes, especially from a journalist with form, it’s good to check for quote-mining, and sure enough, here’s what the report said:

The section on ‘risk-oriented approach’ (3.3) reveals that, at summary level, the most important negative impact projections have been highlighted. This approach is understandable and justifiable, but it has not been made explicit. We believe that such a risk-oriented approach, although essential, is also one-sided.

So rather than PBL saying this approach was wrong, as Webster claims, it said that it was “essential”, but should be made explicit.

And the irony does not end there. Webster purports to give three examples of errors identified by PBL in the chapter on Australia and gets two of them wrong.

For example, the IPCC had stated that 60 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef was projected to suffer regular bleaching by 2020 but had failed to make clear that this was the worst projected outcome and the impact might be far smaller.

In fact, PBL did not find anything inaccurate in this statement. They did identify a citation error – the IPCC cited Jones (2004b) when they should have cited Sheehan et al (2006).

The report, which underpinned the Copenhagen summit last December, wrongly suggested that climate change was the main reason communities faced severe water shortages and neglected to make clear that population growth was a much bigger factor.

Compare with what PBL states:

By 2030, water security problems are projected to intensify in southern and eastern Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and some eastern regions.

This statement is fully supported by the underlying material.

For more comments on The Australian‘s one-sided reporting on the PBL report, see Andrew Macintosh and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.


  1. #1 J Bowers
    July 13, 2010

    Re. 98 cohenite

    Own goal I’m afraid.

    Climatic Chain Reaction Caused Runaway Greenhouse Effect 55 Million Years Ago

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 27, 2007) — There are new findings regarding a phase of rapid global greenhouse warming that took place 55 million years ago. This period of climate change is regarded as the best fossil analogue to current and future greenhouse warming.
    The new research confirms that global warming can stimulate mechanisms that release massive amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere. Current and future warming will likely see similar effects, such as methane hydrate dissociation, adding additional greenhouse gases to those resulting from fossil fuel burning.”

  2. #2 Agnostic
    July 13, 2010

    John @71

    There you go! Judging the book by its cover. But where the existence of God is concerned, well I am definitely Agnostic.

    Truth machine @75

    And what is the truth? Broad scientific understanding at this point in time? Is that as near as we can get to a definition? If so “truth” can change, even where AGW is concerned. While I fully accept the present views of climate scientists on AGW and its likely consequences, I reject the contention that no other view should be heard, though I do expect alternate views to be explained.

  3. #3 JasonW
    July 14, 2010

    Agnostic, correct me if I’m wrong but other views have been heard – during most of the 20th century. Scientific understanding of AGW is long past that stage.

  4. #4 Wow
    July 14, 2010

    “And what is the truth?”

    The truth is what exists when you have your eyes shut.

    Science tries to attain the truth.

    Anti-science tries to hide from it, or hide the truth itself.

  5. #5 Wow
    July 14, 2010

    “I reject the contention that no other view should be heard”

    So you

    don’t like truth in advertising (marketing have the view that their product is THE BEST),

    support suppression of free speech (government has the view that what was said was wrong, baseless and illegal)

    support lies (someone has the view that what they’re saying is the right thing to say)


    “though I do expect alternate views to be explained.”

    Explaining isn’t enough because your explanation has to be TRUE or SUPPORTABLE.

    I can explain that the earth is flat. That’s it explained. The earth. Flat.

    Doesn’t help really when it comes to finding the truth about the earth’s flatness…

    This is why science is the persuit of truth and anti-science hiding from it.

  6. #6 Shirley
    July 15, 2010

    Like Amanda, I was pleasantly surprised to read the letters in Wednesday’s Australian. However, it was back to reality today with a letter by William Kininmonth who is clearly fixated by 1998.

    As Dave wrote in the comments afterwards ‘1998 was obviously a good year for cherries’

  7. #7 baldwin van Maanen
    July 19, 2010

    In ten years time we look back and say the deniers are proven wrong, but we let them get away with it. Most of these people must have progeny, who should know what their peers did, namely, delay proper action at the cost of wide spread misery. And for a few miserable dollars.
    My remedy is: let us list all the deniers who publish and advocate their views, including the dates of their publications. Also let us list the lazy, careless and irresponsible journalists who propagate denier’s views.
    Hopefully such a public list might raise awareness and show these people in years to come what callous fools they were and the damage they caused.

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