The Australian's War on Science II

In January Chris Mitchell, editor in chief of The Australian, was named one of the "dirty dozen", the twelve people who have done the most to mislead Australians about climate change:

As an illustration of how news values now take second place to ideology, The Australian in January ran an anonymous anti-greenhouse news story - note, not an opinion piece - by someone identified as a 'special correspondent' employed by the fossil fuel lobby.

Now David Tiley has uncovered The Australian's latest effort.
Here's how they describe their latest hire:

Matthew Warren returns to The Australian as environment writer, having spent the past 12 years working in environmental policy and strategy, both in Australia and overseas. He has advised industry and governments on a range of technical and strategic environmental policy issues, from recycling to climate change, and will provide a fresh insight into this complex public debate.

What is missing from the description? The fact the Warren's previous job was public relations for coal mining companies.

I wonder if Warren was the 'special correspondent' who wrote that anti-greenhouse story back in January?

More like this

Golly, why are you trying to stifle the debate, Tim? It doesn't matter about the source as long as the science is sound. What about the EnviroNaziGreenLobby and MBH hokey stick ScienceNature mag bias warmers ad hom amateurs must audit...[blows gasket] sproinnnngggg! [other mechanical failure noises]



The Australian is running a war on Science and even though The Age in Melbourne generally reports OK on global warming it seems to be running a war on windfarms. It publishes misinformation such as

"wind power has priority over other electricity generation. During normal to low demand, other generators will be closed down or their power sold cheaper. The first to go will be gas and hydro, They are the next-most-expensive to wind, but they are also relatively greenhouse friendly, so wind displaces generator forms that are already causing lower greenhouse harm."

At the very least The Age could have included diversity in their sources by quoting for example from the Australian Wind Energy Association's background paper that contradicts the above statement:

"Firstly we know that hydro electric generators that are run-of-river or on-irrigate systems will also operate as price takers and will not be marginalised. Furthermore, large hydro schemes such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro are unlikely to be affected (or at worst, the timing of their generation will be shifted). The remaining 90% of Australian Electricity generation comes from fossil fuels and of this about 90% is derived from coal fired generators. So, all things being, a coal fired power station has the greatest chance of being the marginal generator and being displaced.

For Pacific Hydro's Portland Wind Energy Project the Envirnonmental Effects Statement actually included the complex calculations required to assess the marginal generators to be displaced and took into account the expected change in generation technologies over the 20+ year life of the project. At the start of operation the marginal generator would be brown coal 80% of the time, black coal 19% and gas 1% of the time. Based on an expectation of increased interconnection between states and changes in fuel usage by 2010 it changes to: brown coal 50% of the time, black coal 40% and gas 10% - still 90% coal fired and still 100% fossil fuels."

So what The Age says is ignorantly wrong. There is zero permanent displacement of hydro.

This is not the first time The Age has published this misinformation without any attempt to find alternative sources of information. This is not consistent with its approach to reporting of global warming. This could possibly be because it may be influenced by the NIMBY factor.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 07 Aug 2006 #permalink

Journalism< itself is a war on science. The Australian is a right wing agenda paper, sure, but even the most liberal paper or station is inherently incapable of discussing science properly. This is because the attention span of their audience is less than one minute, and you cannot, simply cannot, get a sophisticated idea across in less than five. The nature of the media is such that it will dumb down, misrepresent, and skew information.

This should be taught to all students, whether they will become scientists or not.

By John Wilkins (not verified) on 07 Aug 2006 #permalink

Hey D,

I was looking through [Wegman's report](, and figure 4.1 caught my eye (PDF document page 30 or so). The upper plot in fig 4.1 is a "hockey-stick" that M&M fished out of red noise. The lower plot is the well-known MBH98 hockey stick. I couldn't help but notice how similar they looked.... until I took a close look at the Y-axis scales!

The MBH98 "hockey-stick" has a dynamic range of about 0.75 C, while M&M's red-noise "hockey-stick" has a dynamic range of maybe a little less than 0.1 C. Do orders of magnitude no longer matter? Or am I missing something?

--evil bunny

By caerbannog (not verified) on 07 Aug 2006 #permalink

Caerbannog: I believe that your argument can be summed up in this diagram.

If you read down the thread, you can see that Mr. McIntyre was kind enough to stop by and explain the diagram better. Essentially the PC all under go a scaling procedure so that the initial size will not mater to the final reconstruction.

So while the scale of the "random noise" HSs does not matter for the final reconstruction I do think that the HSs produced from noise are smaller in "pre-scaled" terms (i.e. they have small eigenvalues).


By John Cross (not verified) on 07 Aug 2006 #permalink

Dear John,

The problem, of course, is that in the real world the blade end of the stick has to match the amplitude of the instrumental record, which, of course it does not, in the M&M reconstruction, being much too small. Now you can ask the next question.

"The upper plot in fig 4.1 is a "hockey-stick" that M&M fished out of red noise."

"Red noise" as in noise with an autocorrelation coefficient of 0.9 while the autocorrelation coefficient of real proxies is around 0.15.

No evidence of bias there :-)

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 08 Aug 2006 #permalink

Good to see your voice caerbannog.

You'll notice many interesting things throughout the Wegman report. Taking it all in context, you'll see their job was to find stuff to say about a first paper that is eight years old now, in addition to having been superceded by a couple of handfulls of newer papers. All in all, an interesting attempt to hand-wave. I'm sure Mr Wegman did the best he could in the narrow context of his assignment and I tack on no malintent to his character. The temporary distraction is starting to fade.

Anyway, reading the UKWW thread linky that John C kindly provides, we see that Steve Mc can certainly discuss the tiny statistics behind the paper. Impressive! But we can also see the slant of the argumentation there, as we can at RP Sr's site, a slant that continues to focus on atomistic quibbling to delay decisioning.

No one has explained why we would NOT expect warming with an increase in atm CO2. No one. No one has explained why we would NOT expect some sort of climate change with such a large-scale modification of terrestrial ecosystems.

Our infrastructure forecasting (RP Sr apparently disparages forecasting of many sorts for decisioning, yet offers no alternative) is, sadly, dependent on a different climate paradigm based on old information - that is: some sort of decisioning must begin to dampen society to likely coming shocks - a society largely grown on outdated paradigmatic assumptions.

Sheesh, BP has a corroded pipeline and prices go up US$2/bbl. What's going to happen, say in 2030 in a Central European drought where grain yields decrease by 20%, and we have less arable land because there are 1B more people that have to live somewhere but eat? Where's the water going to come from?

See the problem? We're distracted by quibblers and we should be figgering out how to re-jigger society. We have to begin the discussion, but instead we've been fooled by the shill who exhorts us to, hey, "look over there!!"

There's enough challenges coming up on top of climate change. When do we start thinking about them instead of old, outdated first papers?



No one has explained why we would NOT expect warming with an increase in atm CO2. No one. No one has explained why we would NOT expect some sort of climate change with such a large-scale modification of terrestrial ecosystems.

The debate is about how much, and you know that.

By Hans Erren (not verified) on 08 Aug 2006 #permalink

The debate is about how much, and you know that.

There's no 'debate' from denialists and contrascientists, Hans, and you know that.

The contrascientists have maybe two testable hypotheses (hey, I'm magnanimous today), no models, no equations. They create no predictions of future warming for us to debate. I see an avalanche of empirical papers from the scientists who do this for a living, and a thin layer of dust from the rest.

What do I see from the list of couple dozen or so usual suspects? Scant little, and when you actually see something testable, it doesn't withstand peer review.

Debate. Funny. Joke. Empty talking point.



Dano, you get a bit more for Patrick + Michaels, though not a lot and there are doubtless some he'd rather forget (degrees to radians, anyone?)

By John Quiggin (not verified) on 09 Aug 2006 #permalink

The following "hot off the presses" short communication looks like it supports MBH98, but it also seems to suggest that MBH98 may have overestimated temperatures during the LIA (meaning that the warming over the past century-and-a-half may have been greater than previously estimated):

Smith, C.L., Baker, A., Fairchild, I.J., Frisia, S., and Borsato, A. (2006) Reconstructing Hemispheric-Scale Climates from Multiple Stalagmite Records. International Journal of Climatology. 26: 1417-1424.

Interesting reading.

By Stephen Berg (not verified) on 09 Aug 2006 #permalink

Please note that the meeting Hans is referring to in Septmeber is populated by the usual shills, laughingstocks and pseudos. No surprise there.

Hans, some advice. Read Dano's last post twice each night before bed. And stop trying to mislead others here with jokey meetings attended by a bunch of no hopers.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 09 Aug 2006 #permalink

Hans, how well does Heritage Victory Tour feed the shills at their overseas venues? Is it as well as stateside? Let us know.

Must be pretty good fare if Soon and Baliunas are there.



I'd have thought von Storch would be pretty embarrassed to turn up at an event like this.

By John Quiggin (not verified) on 10 Aug 2006 #permalink

I'd have thought von Storch would be pretty embarrassed to turn up at an event like this.

And they stuck him with Bob Carter - that's gotta hurt.

The other downside is that Hans isn't with Jaworowski, thus depriving me of endless merriment. Get piccies of Sallie in a dinner dress, Hans - right wing tool babes are hawt! rrrrRRRRRrrrrowr!



Keep on blabbering guys.

I did a revealing new discovery on Arrhenius, I shall post my presentation in September on my website.

In the mean time you can read here my old discovery.

By Hans Erren (not verified) on 11 Aug 2006 #permalink

Your Galileo-like discovery** should, Hans, bring you enough fame and fortune to afford a digital camera. You can then take a piccie of Sallie at the Heritage Victory Tour dinner for me. Hawt.



**Published on your blockbuster site, no less! Impressive.

What do you call the words of someone who doesn't care about global warming because he will be dead before most of its effects occur?

Depends upon your worldview.

Some think Bohren's wurdz sound real purty.




If you have made an "amazing new discovery on Arrhenius", why present it at a Mickey Mouse conference attended by the usual suspects? Or is it that you are afraid to attend a real scientific conference attended by people with relevant qualifications? Every time you post one of these comedy routines from Saturday Night Live that masquerades as an important get-together, you just heap more mud on yur arguments.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 13 Aug 2006 #permalink

If you have made an "amazing new discovery on Arrhenius", why present it at a Mickey Mouse conference attended by the usual suspects?

Because they feed you well on the Heritage Victory Tour, Jeff. C'mon, get with the program. Hans is looking a little famished on his "I'm trying to, like, do real science without publishing in journals (no, really)" diet.