Chris Mitchell, defending against the charge that The Australian‘s coverage of climate change is biased, said:
What people do not like is that I publish people such as Bjorn Lomborg. I will continue to do so, but would suggest my environment writer, Graham Lloyd, who is a passionate environmentalist, gets a very good run in the paper.”
Does Lloyd’s reporting provide a counterpoint to Lomborg in The Australian? He’s only just become the environment writer, so there aren’t many stories to go on, but on those his record is similar to that of a predecessor, Matthew Warren.
For example Graham Lloyd’s extraordinarily one-sided story on wind power. Lloyd prints the opinions of twelve critics of wind power along with his own criticism, claiming that wind power is too expensive, is unreliable, is unsightly, is harmful to human health, kills wildlife, destroys communities, reduces real estate values, and causes corruption. Lloyd even claims that it makes birds explode (not true, of course). Lloyd includes comment from just one person on the other side for “balance”, and that’s the same Matthew Warren mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
The cherry Lloyd picks to go on top of his story is a sidebar on Danish wind power. According to Lloyd:
a controversial assessment … by Danish think tank the Centre for Political Studies [CEPOS] … gives the lie to claims that Denmark is supplying 20 per cent of its energy needs from wind sources. … Up to half of Denmark’s wind electricity is exported but paid for at high cost by Danish power consumers.
Lloyd tells us that the assessment is “controversial”, but doesn’t tell us why, so I asked Henrik Lund, a professor in the Department of Development and Planning at Aalborg University. He told me that author of the study had admitted that there were mistakes in the study and that has been commissioned and paid for by the American coal and oil lobby. Lund et al have written a scientific report correcting the errors in the CEPOS study.
If you divide wind power production by total power production for Denmark you get 20%, so how did the CEPOS study put the “lie” to this as Lloyd claimed? Well, by the use of some very creative accounting — they assumed that when Denmark exported power, it was always the wind power, and not that produced by any other means. This exactly backwards. Because the marginal cost of wind power is less than that from coal plants, it is the energy from the coal plants that is being exported. Suppose there was no demand for energy to be exported. Then Danish domestic demand would be supplied most cheaply by using all available wind power plus however much coal is needed to satisfy that demand. Now if there is any demand for export, that will be supplied by activating more coal plants.
Andrew Smith, in a paper in the British Institute of Energy Economics on Danish wind exports comments
Algorithm A, as used in [the CEPOS study], which puts wind bottom of the merit order behind all thermal plants, assumes that central plants are never switched on to make [electricity for] export. No evidence was found to support this algorithm, which contradicts what is known about the price of wind as a fuel, relative to coal and biomass.
No valid algorithm can produce the “high export” figure, and that valid methods suggest that the proportion of wind that is exported of the order of 0.1-2.5%, depending on the individual year, with an average of 0.1-1.2% for the decade 2000-2009
And the small amount that is exported is not paid for by Danish consumers as Lloyd claims, but by the consumers in other countries that use it.
Now you know why Lloyd didn’t tell you why the CEPOS study was “controversial”.
Then there’s Lloyd’s story on The Royal Society’ new summary of the state of climate science. It’s based on the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report, so there weren’t any surprises there, but according to Lloyd’s story Top science body cools on global warming:
The society’s cautious approach is in contrast to the UN’s 2007 IPCC report.
The misrepresentation of the study was so blatant that the lead author John Pethica, had to set the record straight:
In your coverage of our newly published Climate change: a summary of the science (“Top science body cools on global warming”, 2/10) your correspondents suggest that the society has changed its position on climate change. This is simply not true.
Finally we have Lloyd’s latest effort, where he denies that The Australian‘s coverage of climate change is biased and has this from Chris Mitchell about how he should have sued everyone who dared to suggest that The Australian is biased.
“I now regret not suing Clive Hamilton over Scorcher and various other writers who have completely misrepresented my position and, much more importantly, that of the paper,” Mitchell says.
So he may well sue me for this blog post. Which sounds ridiculous, but he’s suing over a tweet, so who knows?
Recall that Mitchell is threatening to sue because he claims that is a “lie” to say that he told a reporter what to write. This story by Lloyd would seem to exactly reflect Mitchell’s views. If he didn’t tell Lloyd what to write, then Lloyd is so well trained that he knows what to write without being told.