Media Watch on the unbalanced coverage of climate science on talkback radio

Media Watch examines the coverage of climate change on commercial talkback radio. While Ian Plimer and Bob Carter are frequently on talkback radio,

Not one orthodox climate scientist - not one - has been interviewed by any of the climate sceptics on Fairfax stations.

As for 2GB, its management said it didn't have time to respond to our questions. But we've been able to find no evidence that Alan Jones or Chris Smith have interviewed any orthodox climate scientists this year.

Talkback radio personality Andrew Bolt comes back with

Chris Smith: Out of our journey of one kilometre there are just 12 mm left, about a half an inch, just over a centimetre, that is the carbon dioxide that global human activity puts into the atmosphere. ...

If these statements are true, which they are, why does Holmes sneer at them? Why imply they are false?

Well, 12 mm out of one kilometre is 12 parts per million and human activity has increased CO2 from 280 to 390 parts per million, an increase of 110 parts per million, so Smith's statement is not so much true as out by a factor of almost 10. But more importantly, Smith's statement is misleading because it implies that a the human induced change in CO2 in the atmosphere is too small to have any effect when we've actually increased it by almost 40%.

Bolt then goes on to tout John Christy's dubious adjustments to the warming trend shown by satellites. You just know that if a scientist had made adjustements to the trend that had increased it, Bolt would be accusing them of doing something untoward.

Bolt then follows up with another attempted gotcha:

The IPCC said four years ago:

The total temperature increase from 1850-1899 to 2001-2005 is 0.76°C ...

Now an Australian National University survey done for the Garnaut Report says:

GLOBAL temperatures are on the increase, with a new study showing a rise of about half a degree celsius over the past 160 years

So the temperature rise over the past 160 years is .25 degrees lower than the IPCC thought? Jonathan, please explain...

Let's look at what Bolt's link actually says

"There is sufficient evidence in the long run of temperature records to support the existence of a warming trend," Prof Breusch said today. "From the 1850s to today it's somewhere over half a degree (celsius) a century.

The additional three years for which temperature data are now available were among the warmest on record."

Prof Breusch said around the mid 1970s there had been an increase in the warming trend.

"There is no evidence of a weakening or reversing trend in more recent years, as suggested by some commentators," he said.

Half a degree per century over 160 years amounts to an increase of 0.8 degrees, not 0.5 degrees. Bolt needs to learn how to do multiplication.

And note how the study explicity contradicted Bolt's claims that warming had stopped in recent years, but this simply did not register with Bolt because of his severe confirmation bias.

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Australia seems to go to more extremes than the States - your denialists are more denying, your good science people do a better job. I thought the Howard admin went down partly over climate, is that not so?

If so, why isn't now, especially with the flooding, kind of a golden era in Australia for climate realism?

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

>"Gary Hardgrave: I mean CO2 is not a, is not a pollutant though is it? Itâs not pollution. Itâs just a natural process"

No natural process causes pollution??

My local newspaper reported that if you put marshmallows in a bottle and pumped air into it, the mallows would swell up!

Basically these people are as thick as shit. That's why they are on the radio or are journalists. Yet the technology they use is based on quantum physics. Lets face it, we need to tell them that a planet is going to crash into the Earth and they need to get onto a space ship to save themselves.

Out of our journey of one kilometre there are just 12 mm left, about a half an inch, just over a centimetre, that is the carbon dioxide that global human activity puts into the atmosphere.

The zombie argument that manmade emissions are dwarfed by natural emissions seems to be staggering to life just about everywhere at the moment. Johnny Ball, Christopher Booker, denialist cartoonist [Josh](http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/dishonor-among-deniers/). It is one of the most obviously flawed of all their zombie arguments. For the most part it is quite wilful (possibly not for Chris Smith who could be plain ignorant). Do they think the public are so stupid they donât understand the difference between net and gross emissions?

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

Marion,

You have Russ Limbaugh, we have Alan Jones.

You had Jo McCarthy, we wish we had had him.

You have quality newspapers, we have The Australian and the world's only daily lifestyle magazine otherwise called the Sydney Morning Herald.

You have Sarah Palin, we have Tony Abbot. Both want to lead their respective countries but one of them is stopped only by four or so brave cross bench MPs

You have big energy wasting houses, we have bigger houses that waste more energy and are ridiculously expensive as well. Did I mention ugly?

You have Mad Men on television, we have The Footy Show.

You have The News Hour, we have 7.30 and Lateline (y'know the one where Durkin and then later Plimer were separately skewered).

You have WUWT, we have Jonova, Marohasy et al.

We have Ian Plimer's 'Heaven and Earth', wat u got?

You have Monckton before Congress, we have Tim Lambert nailing him in public.

You have the Heartland Institute, we have the IPA.

You landed on the Moon but you needed us to communicate with Armstrong and Aldrin.

You can keep Russell Crowe and he's not Australian anyway but I want Naomi Watts back NOW!

We will be devastated by climate change with nowhere to go, you can buy Canada and load the car up.

Lord Sidcup:
>Do they think the public are so stupid they donât understand the difference between net and gross emissions?

Yes... they do think the public are that gullible.
Yes... the public haven't a clue what you are talking about.

> "Gary Hardgrave: I mean CO2 is not a, is not a pollutant though is it? Itâs not pollution. Itâs just a natural process"

So I'll just piss in his coffee, then.

It's a natural process. Isn't it?

Rain is a natural process and is necessary for plants and yet people drown.

By Jeffrey Davis (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

Jeremy C:

Do you no longer have the Chasers War on Everything? If not, then days are darker than I thought.

Fun Fact: When I was a child in rural Alaska, much of our TV came from Australia. I guess you guys just had the best deal.

Stuff like Air Doctors (or somesuch) and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

Marion,

Ahhh I forgot the Chaser's War on Everything, thanks for reminding me but, but it was preceeded by Laugh In, by some 30 years. The Chaser boys still do stuff but, but nothing, nothing will ever equal their Osama Bin Laden stunt, getting past security at the APEC meeting in Sydney. Sooo many red faces amongst security officials while the arresting police on the ground were asking the boys for their autographs.

You must be the first American I've come across who watched Skippy (Flipper on land) on TV.

Jeremy C

Since both Canada and Australia are members of the British Commonwealth, Aussies don't have to buy their way into Canada.

But if you guys do decide to splash on over do me a favour and leave Plimer behind eh?

Plimer got left behind years ago.

What you see and hear is residual - the equivalent of the toddler wailing for lack of the icecream he wanted.

Jeremy "...We will be devastated by climate change with nowhere to go, you can buy Canada and load the car up."

I'm not sure if you understand how offensive this idea is to many Canadians; unfortunately it is too true that too many of our scummy politicians are eagerly lining up to sell us down the pipeline to the gas guzzlers down south.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

Jeremy,

We'll reluctantly give up Naomi Watts if you'll just take back Mel Gibson.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

@Holly Stick:
I'm not sure if you understand how offensive this idea is to many Canadians; unfortunately it is too true that too many of our scummy politicians are eagerly lining up to sell us down the pipeline to the gas guzzlers down south.

How tragic for Americans old enough to remember your country as a haven of sanity from the madness of the Vietnam War.

Oh, Canada!

Ah well, it looks like we will have an election very soon, so we can hope to get rid of the worst of them.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

LB: Sorry, Mad Mel was always a US citizen...as, now, is The Rupert (well, until Wendy gets him into China). Thank the non-existant-deities for Delaware and Opus Dei. Slainte.

This is Chris Smith from 2GB [running an online quiz](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3144613.htm).

Not only is he a moron he is a sick f--k. For these shock jocks, the gutter is only a stop over on the way to the sewer.

Chris Smith: How many asylum seekers killed in the December tragedy will be buried in Sydney this week? Jason, good afternoon.

Jason: Gâday mate, was it nine?

Chris Smith: It was not. Geoff.

Geoff: 30

Chris Smith: No....David?

David: 16?

Chris Smith: No. Valerie?

Valerie: 12

Chris Smith: TWELVE IS SPOT ON, VALERIE!! Youâve got Rick Steinâs DVD, youâve got movie passes to True Grit and the book from Kim Scott. Well done to you!

Valerie: Fantastic, thank you very much.

â Radio 2GB, The Chris Smith Afternoon Show, 14th February, 2011

Paul UK said "we need to tell them that a planet is going to crash into the Earth and they need to get onto a space ship to save themselves."

Or that it's about to be invaded by a swarm of 12 foot long piranha bees, or that it's about to be eaten by a giant mutant space goat...

Jeremy/Marion (9,10)
I found the chaser's "A convenient cause" great - along the lines of "scientists warn that by 2040 the world will be flooded to a metre depth with celebrity documentaries about global warming". For a while you could look at it for free on-line, but I guess that now they want you to buy the DVD.

By Ian Enting (not verified) on 22 Mar 2011 #permalink

For those of you who read The Age or SMH (lifestyle magazines masquerading as serious newspapers) with your morning coffee, it is worth noting that the Fairfax shock jocks are just as vile and as anti-science as Jones and Bolt. Fairfax are [positioning 2UE](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3144613.htm) to grab Alan Jones' audience of knuckle-draggers when he falls off the perch.

Worth the cost of an iPad so I do not have to pay them money for a subscription.

Apart from the inaccuracy of the 12 mm figure, one might point out how thin you can make a layer of paint and still have it absorb/reflect light. 12 mm of an opaque material is still *a lot*.

"Half a degree per century over 160 years amounts to an increase of 0.8 degrees, not 0.5 degrees. Bolt needs to learn how to do multiplication."

Multiplication? That would be manipulation and massage and cooking of the data!

By Lars Karlsson (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

That's amazing work from The Australian, Acacia. They showed up that Jonathan Holmes using nothing but quote-mining! If only climate science was that easy.

rhwombat

_LB: Sorry, Mad Mel was always a US citizen..._

Not a deal breaker. Naomi isn't native born Ozzie, either.

By luminous beauty (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

>"...or that it's about to be eaten by a giant mutant space goat..."

Ia! Shub Niggurath, the goat of a thousand young!

MFS said: "Ia! Shub Niggurath, the goat of a thousand young ... and Bishop Hill stooge!"

Corrected that for you MFS, although on reflection ...

Put aside the faulty maths for one instance and focus on their need to create the illusion that such a small amount of c02 cannot be the cause of environmental change.
*
I find it difficult to understand the hypocrisy of people like Alan Jones, who in one breath proclaim the absolute necessity of such a small amount of c02 in the atmosphere for plant growth, yet in the next breath summarily dismiss that the same small amount of c02 could possibly affect the climate due to its size.

By savemejeebus (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

Holly,

I love Canada and had a glorious 3 months there last year in fact I regret that I didn't emigrate there years ago as I enjoy cold weather more than hot weather (however your television comedy sucks compared with Australian TV comedy). In short I was joking (but not about getting back Naomi Watts - yes I know she's not Australian but since when has success stopped us Australians from claiming someone as their own).

On to more serious things did anyone read Julie Bishop's piece today in the world's-only-daily-lifestyle-magazine trotting out quotes from deniers scientists. Just shows how hypocritical the liberal leadership claque is over AGW (sorry for non Australian readers but Marion Delgado you did wonder why we seem to out stupid the US).

Meanwhile in breaking news over at Jo Nova they are rejoicing in getting over 2,000 at the anti carbon tax rally in Canberra conveniently ignoring that Get Up got 8,000 to rally in Melbourne for such a tax.

Such a small amount of CO2 is able to sustain all plantlife on Earth, and yet is unable to change the Earth's climate even a little bit? That's one rhetorical question for the climate-puzzled. Or the variation of "And what if we put a 1mm layer of reflective paint (or the opposite, black paint) at the bottom of the atmosphere, wouldn't that change the ground temperature? So why can't 12mm* CO2 make any difference?" [* I won't bother correcting the completely botched arithmetic here.]

The paint idea is stolen from Thomas above.

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

Media Watch was brilliant. It finishes with the most important information of all. By virtue of the fact that the broadcasters receive a licence from the Government - they are required to present a balanced view. This requirement will only be enforced IF WE COMPLAIN to the Broadcasting Authority.

Lets start sending letters of complaint so that the Broadcasting Authority is forced to investigate, and the radio stations will be forced to make reasonable efforts to present a balanced view. There is very little that the average person can do to change the hysteria being whipped out by the pro-Carbon lobby - here is an opportunity!! The more complaints the better.

By the way, if Deltoid (or someone else) has documented the imbalance in the Australian, we can complain to the Press Council which has a similar mandate.

LETS ALL START WRITING THOSE LETTERS!

In the first comment, Marion makes the statement: Australia seems to go to more extremes than the States - your denialists are more denying, your good science people do a better job.

I am not sure that that is quite accurate. Today we (USA) have the National Review trying to push Australian climate denial claims as representing some mysterious reality. We seem to be importing the "Australian stupid" as an argument to make.

oops, something seemed to go wrong with the second HTML tags

Jeremy, you may have been joking, but the Conservatives here are busily working to turn Canada into a petro-state (my province of Alberta already is one); and even if the Liberals won by some miracle, they might not be much better (though slightly less stupid in general).

Some of our TV comedies have been on for too long and are too tired, though there are some gems still. The only Australian comedy I've seen was "The Games" and I though it was brilliant.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Gus, the obvious problem with your suggestion is this:

to complain about 2UE or 2GB, etc..., I would have to listen to them.
I'm afraid that idea is a bit extreme for my liking.

By Vince whirlwind (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Gus, the obvious problem with your suggestion is this:
to complain about 2UE or 2GB, etc..., I would have to listen to them. I'm afraid that idea is a bit extreme for my liking.
........................................................................................................................

Exactly! One expects inaccuracies and a certain degreee of misinformation and exaggeration from such sources.

Unfortunately, in the recent past, we have had similar distortions from the pro-AGW lobby who have clearly exaggerated the certainty of the science and glossed over parts of the historical record which might suggest the current warming is largely natural.

It's basically tit for tat, although the tat from the IPCC is on a more elevated level than the tit from Alan Jones.

Nevertheless, such programs can be an indication of the mood of a large portion of the populace.

I get a clear impression that the credibility of those promoting the AGW hypothesis has been severely damaged in recent times, and the rather hysterical nature of the comments in this thread tend to confirm that. There's a sense of desperation in this thread.

I think most people are beginning to realise that the integrity of the science behind the AGW hypothesis has been contaminated with false arguments of a political nature presented for the purpose of galvanising public opinion to support the concept of more expensive energy.

Essentially, the public is not buying it. They may not be scientists, but they can sense the fraud.

Nitpicking on minor discrepancies in the reportage gets us nowhere. But of course, such minor discrepancies may be very significant for the scientist.

I personally do not care too much if the Roman Warming period was slightly warmer than the current period or not quite as warm. There's evidence both ways. Nor do I care if the MWP was slightly warmer, or not, than the current warming period.

The point that's relevant to me, and I suspect most of the public, is that in the recent past, say the past 2500 years, we've had a number of warming periods and cooling periods that have clearly not been connected with human CO2 emissions.

The Roman Warming period, prior to the birth of Christ was followed by a cooling period which in turn was followed by the MWP during the 11th to 13th centuries. The MWP was followed by a cooling period, forcing the Vikings to abandon Greenland, but followed by a mini warming period from about 1450 to 1550.

From 1550 to 1850 we've had a cooling period known as the Little Ice Age, with the usual ups and downs, and we are now in another warming period with the usual ups and downs.

What's new? Well, human CO2 emissions are new. There's no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but there is doubt about the extent to which our CO2 emission may be influencing the current warming period.

There's also doubt about whether or not it is a good thing for us to help the climate out of a Little Ice Age, if in fact our CO2 emissions are helping that natural warming a little bit.

We know that plants tend to thrive on increased CO2 levels, and we know that levels significantly greater than the current 386ppm are no threat to our own health from the breathing perspective.

If those promoting the AGW hypothesis want to get serious, they need to explain clearly and precisely, with facts that are not reasonably contestable, why the current warming period is a serious threat to our well-being, and why it would never have occurred without our CO2 emissions that began with industrialisation.

Those who wish to tackle climate change by reducing CO2 emissions through a process of handicapping the most efficient producers of energy (through a carbon tax or ETS), with the inevitable consequence of reducing our standard of living (since the cost of energy is directly related to our material standard of living), should consider more intelligent approaches.

I personally, in the interests of risk management, would prefer a cessation of all deforestation in underdeveloped countries, through a process of overseas aid conditional upon such cessation; a program of reforestation in developed countries which can only be of benefit to the environment, whether or not AGW proves to be real; and a change in our agricultural practices in favour of using our soils as carbon sinks to store natural vegetation and crop residue which improves the soil for future generations instead of the current practice of degrading it.

>Unfortunately, in the recent past, we have had similar distortions from the pro-AGW lobby who have clearly exaggerated the certainty of the science and *glossed over parts of the historical record which might suggest the current warming is largely natural*

Who sez?

>There's a sense of desperation in this thread.

The sense of 'desperation' is why, oh why do people continue to deny the science and throw in red herrings to deliberately distract non-scientists when the evidence for AGW is set out.

Red herring exhibit no 1.

>the Little Ice Age,

What is your scientific definition for this and what is the evidence you are using for this and why have you come to this conclusion of "the Little Ice Age"?

Red herring exhibit no 2.

>which our CO2 emission may be influencing the *current warming period*.

Whats your evidence of this current warming period, its extent (i.e. global) its levels. Answers from the scientific literature please.

Red herring exhibit no 3.

>We know that plants tend to thrive on increased CO2 levels

Under what conditions do plants thrive on increased CO2 levels. What levels, to what extent and what if other condtions change along with increased CO2 levels. Answers from you-know-where purlease.

>If those promoting the AGW hypothesis want to get serious, they need to explain clearly and precisely, with facts that are not reasonably contestable, why the current warming period is a serious threat to our well-being, and why it would never have occurred without our CO2 emissions that began with industrialisation.

Well gees mate, in being on your your high moral horse you seem to be demanding that science as a whole work differently from the way it always has. Why should the whole, very successful enterprise of science be changed to satisfy you?

Look why don't you denialists just save everybody some time and trouble and admit your denial is based on ideology. Then you could hold truthful rallys unlike the one outside Parliament House this week. The only cost would be in making up new signs e.g. if deniers did practise honesty I can imagine the words on one particular sign from that rally being replaced with, "I aint no scientist's bitch".

And don't try and say that your not a denialist.

(For non Australian based readers, deniers orchestrated a rally against a carbon tax outside Australia's Federal Parliament last week and one sign held up behind the leader of the opposition as he encouraged the crowd had a particularly charming variation of words based on those five words above).

VincentR is just about smart enough to learn and regurgitate all the zombie "arguments", but not smart enough to know why they're zombie arguments.

> ...but not smart enough to know why they're zombie arguments.

I suspect he's not even smart enough to discover that they are zombie arguments either, given that he's calling for explanations of claims that have already been given, complete with copious references for those inclined to drill down into the evidence...

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 25 Mar 2011 #permalink

zombie arguments?

"I personally do not care too much if the Roman Warming period was slightly warmer ..... Nor do I care if the MWP was slightly warmer, or not, than the current warming period."

As it happens I care a lot about this. Why? Because science tells us that bigger excursions in either direction from longer term trends indicate higher climate sensitivity. The warmer some zombie argument claims these historical periods to be, the more they are arguing for a higher, rather than lower, number for climate sensitivity.

For the benefit of those at the back of the class not paying attention, that's sensitivity to **any** forcing, not just greenhouse gases. (I do like the expression Tyndall gases, but that just means more of those at the back playing games on their phones will miss my meaning.)

VincentR the troll:

and we are now in another warming period with the usual ups and downs.

Bullshit mate. The warming now is anything but usual for at least the past 1,700 years.

You will of course ignore this paper because your sole purpose in life at this point is spreading bullshit.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 25 Mar 2011 #permalink

>*Unfortunately, in the recent past, we have had similar distortions from the pro-AGW lobby who have clearly exaggerated the certainty of the science and glossed over parts of the historical record which might suggest the current warming is largely natural.*

Once again, unsupported clap trap from Vincent. Not a good look for you Vincent.

>*there is doubt about the extent to which our CO2 emission may be influencing the current warming period.*

That doubt has scale, and [the scale of that doubt is small](http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/2010-updates-to-m…).

Really?
So the rebuttals here:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
should be an eye opener for you.
Posted by: Wow | March 25, 2011 9:13 AM
............................................................

My very first comment on that site about a year ago, in response to some point made by another poster who supported the AGW hypothesis, appeared briefly then was deleted. Oddly enough, the post I was commenting on was also deleted. No explanation was offered.

I don't believe in any scientific process that censors opposing views. You may, but I don't.

But I do believe in censoring excessively rude comments and ad hominem attacks.

> I don't believe in any scientific process that censors opposing views. You may, but I don't.

But you haven't given evidence of any scientific process that censors opposing views.

And if you think a website explaining the science is the scientific process, then you're harbouring a delusional belief.

The scientific process takes place in research institutions and the literature.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 26 Mar 2011 #permalink

> ...it really isn't worth pushing that same line on two threads at once.

I assume it was just human error - the first copy was on the wrong thread; the second a few minutes later on the right one.

Easy enough to do once in a while.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 26 Mar 2011 #permalink

Meanwhile Chris Berg, an escapee from La La Land, is granted a slot on Unleashed, Their ABC's answer to a question nobody asked.

He claims that Holmes' piece on Media Watch on the unhinged utterings of shoutback radio on climate change is an outrageous attempt to shut down free speech.

Media Watch conclusively demonstrated that, on the right to free speech, itâs one of the bad guys â asking for the legal system to intervene in a vigorous public debate.

...

I doubt Holmes would argue that gay broadcasters should be compelled to air the views of homophobes, or Christian broadcasters to air the view of anti-theists. Instead he called for the [Commercial Broadcastersâ Code of Practice] to be used solely against those discussing Australiaâs biggest, most controversial, political issue â the carbon price.

So there you have it, any attempt to get schlock-jock media to do what their code of practice says they should do (ensure "reasonable efforts are made... to present significant viewpoints when dealing with controversial issues of public importance") is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to curtail the right of Alan Jones, Blot, Albrechtsen, Akerman et al. to present their views.

If anyone feels like immersing themselves in the sewer that is Unleashed, I gather comments are still open on Berg's drivel, the poor repressed dear.