Inside The Australian's War on Science

Paddy Manning worked at The Australian between 2004 and 2007, so has inside knowledge about their war on science:

Then on May 9, 2007, apparently at the urging of son James, Murdoch announced News Corp would go carbon neutral by 2010. ...

This put The Australian in a quandary. Mitchell's then 2IC, Michael Stutchbury, was still freely describing climate change as "bullshit" and joked after the announcement, "What would the Murdochs know?" (He is now the paper's economics editor.)

What did The Australian do? In late 2006 Matthew Warren, former PR for the NSW Minerals Council, was appointed - get this - environment reporter. His standard line was how difficult, how expensive, measures to combat global warming would be. He practically never quoted the environment movement or its representatives. (He now runs business group the Clean Energy Council, which is meant to promote renewable energy but has been taken over by the carbon lobby.)

The Australian had long published advertising-driven special reports on the "oil and gas" and "coal" industries. Regular writers included former APPEA executive director Keith Orchison.

In 2008 these were rebranded the "Business & Environment Series". Same writers, same pro-industry stance. (Lately it's the "Climate Series".)

More like this

Mitchell and Stutchbury are extremist nut-jobs. Far from being 'conservative' they are sociopathic weirdos and intellectual fringe-dwellers. The media must be a strange industry because such eccentric and deranged thought processes like those displayed by these guys would never be allowed at the top in a real business organisation - except perhaps Rio nd BHP. Combating AGW is all about preserving our way of life - something a true conservative should embrace. However conservative idoeology these days seems to have boiled down to nothing more than wailing on perceived 'greenies'. They seem too fantatical to realise that the inevitable atmospheric response to increased co2 doesn't give two shits about what their right wing wank-tanks think. Phew!! That's better. Back to (real) work.

By Pete Bondurant (not verified) on 09 Jun 2009 #permalink

If you listen to the audio of Murdoch's Boyer Lecture where he talks about newsltd going carbon neutral, he actually called it the "eye degree" initiative! That's how across the real issue, as opposed to the spin, they are.

Hey, I won't complain. With Australia deciding to sit on its hands and wait to see what the rest of the world will do (as per usual), that gives Australia more opportunities to import yet more technology in the future while pulling more coal and ore out of the ground and devastating more arable land with unsustainable farming practices. But that's the status quo and few seem to have any desire to change. But at least it means the USA will definitely lead Australia on all fronts.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 10 Jun 2009 #permalink

And this post belongs on Scienceblogs?

"And this post belongs on Scienceblogs?"

Where else should a story about inaccurate media coverage of science be posted?

I'm afraid that people underestimate the real forces at work at 'The Fundament' (the arse-hole of the nation). It is, in my opinion at least, a suppurating tumour of Rightist evil. I'm afraid that after years of reading Sheridan's fanatically pro-Israel blatherings with their Manichean division of the actors into Israelis, morally perfect, and evil, vicious Arabs, and his frequent invocation of the 'anti-Semite' slur, along with Albrechtsen, Devine etr al, I can come to no other conclusion. Murdoch has gathered together the scum de la scum of the extreme Right and let them loose to spread Islamophobia, hatred and contempt for Aborigines, slavish, grovelling, toadyism to the US and visceral hatred of the Left, which includes environmentalists.
I'm afraid I never believed these disputes were matters of opinion, amenable to argument and persuasion. I'm simply convinced that these ultra Rightwing totalitarians are wicked individuals, ideologically and morally. Nothing will ever make them change their opinions-indeed this type sees clinging to their ideological biases, no matter what, as a sign of distinction. Where I think their wickedness is most marked, although it could conceivably be some species of mental,rather than spiritual, illness, is in that most of them have children. As they cannot, clearly, believe the rubbish claiming the science is entirely fraudulent, then they must be gambling with the lives and welfare of their own children. It's evil enough sentencing any children, and those unborn, to misery and suffering, simply to satisfy an ideological impulse, but to so condemn one's own children is even direr. Perhaps they are just imbecilic, after all. If you want further evidence of 'The Fundament's' central role in disseminating evil opinion, just have a look at the 'article' from the far Right, assimilationist 'Bennelong Society' (an off-shoot of the denialist hub the IPA) in yesterday's 'Higher Education' supplement, outlining the innate violence and viciousness of Aboriginal culture and society.I kept imagining that it must be a simulacrum of something from Die Sturmer, regarding Jews, from the late 1930s.

By Mulga Mumblebrain (not verified) on 10 Jun 2009 #permalink

Next shot fired in the War on Science. All the big guns burping as one in support of Senator Fielding, [article here](,25197,25656849-7583,00.html)

Hereâs the answer I have endeavoured to leave in comments:

The answers to Sen Fielding's questions are quite simple, and it is to someone's discredit that they were either not answered or the answers were not understood.
1) No. Temperature has increased since 1998. You can see this for yourself on [this graph](…)
1998 is a standard talking point for Carter et al, because it represents the last El Nino peak, which warms global surface temperatures, and since then we have had two La Ninas, which cool them. If the question had been "since 1997" or "since 1999" the temperature trend would be obvious. El Nino/La Nina create short term fluctuations in global temperature, but cancel each other out over the long term. Whether El Nino/La Nina is affected by increasing CO2 is not yet known. This is why trend analysis is usually done over a period of 30 years or longer. El Nino affects surface temperature by moving heat into or out of the deeper ocean - I assume this is what the chief scientist tried to explain.

2) Past warming has been caused by Milankovitch cycles: millenia long changes in the shape of the earth's orbit around the sun. There is no Milankovitch cycle tipping point currently occurring, and the current rate of warming increase, as opposed to the amount, is hundreds of times faster than that observed in the geological record. The causal factor is greenhouse gas emissions. If warming reached the same level as it has in the geological past, it would be a problem. The last time the world experienced temperature rises of this magnitude was 55 million years ago, after the so-called Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event. Then, the culprits were clathrates - large pockets of frozen methane - which were released from the deep ocean in explosive belches that filled the atmosphere with around 5 gigatonnes of carbon. The already warm planet warmed further by 5 or 6 °C, tropical forests sprang up in ice-free polar regions, and the oceans turned so acidic from dissolved carbon dioxide that there was a vast die-off of sea life. Sea levels rose to 100 metres higher than today's and desert stretched from southern Africa into Europe. This would not be good. [This is a partial quote from RealClimate IIRC]

3) No, it is not the case that all computer models projected steady warming. Most models endeavour to incorporate fluctuations such as El Nino in order to generate a range of possible futures. The earth's climate is still within the range of projections. It would be outside the projections if the temperature did not warm further for the next 15 years or so.
Phrasing the question as "8 years of warming, 10 years of stasis and cooling" is deceptive, because it makes it sound as if we are cooler now than in 1990, while in fact we are much hotter.

By James Haughton (not verified) on 18 Jun 2009 #permalink

Dear Senator Fielding
Your actions this week to vote down by deferring the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation has placed the Australian solar industry into a dramatic decline. You have left Australians with little support for solar power installations. Affecting both its reputation to its suppliers, bankers and customers. The new legislation you deferred would have taken away from households installing solar PV additional financial support.
Can you please answer the following questions?
1. Why as a politician do you believe the evidence for climate change is a conspiracy? That the evidence provided by the Australian Chief Scientist is not factual? What criteria have you based your decision on regarding climate change?
2. While you were in the USA on your taxpayer funded trip recently. What US Government Agencies and Universities did you visit on climate change and renewable energy? Was the Senator aware that the US Pentagon of any government agency in the world spends the most on renewable energy and energy efficiency?
3. What is the current value is the Australian solar PV industry in employment and sales?
4. In the next three months what is the anticipated number of jobs and have been lost due to your decision of deference to this industry?
5. How many families have you affected by not being able to access this program?

Awaiting your earliest reply

Guys/Tim, its time for the climate movement to get a lot more muscular at the deniers. The simple point is this - climate change deniers are forcing us and our families into a huge science experiment from which we can't opt out.

This makes me very angry. Because these moronic deniers are too willfully stupid to actually understand the science they are condemning the rest of us to an environmental hell.

We need to call these deneirs for what they are - human filth forcing us all into a dangerous experiment.