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.