Freeping OurSay

The Sunday Age plans to investigate the top ten questions on climate science and policy as voted on OurSay. Not suprisingly Andrew Bolt and company have freeped the poll. This made The Australian's Cut and Paste very excited:

Top question so far (961 votes):

The very point of Australia's carbon tax is to reduce global warming. How much will reducing 5 per cent of Australia's about 1.5 per cent contribution of global CO2 emissions reduce global temperature by?

Actually, that's not the question. Cut and Paste truncated it. It continues:

If the amount is negligible (which it is), then given the present economic turbulence, what is the probability of Australia's carbon tax inspiring major emitters like USA, China and India to make ACTUAL cuts to their CO2 emissions (as opposed to mere carbon intensity) and economic growth?

It is not reasonable to expect other countries to reduce their emissions if Australia doesn't reduce its own.

Bolt fans have produced many more "questions" full of falsehoods that don't ask any meaningful question, like this:

Why is the Australian public asked to swallow the "carbon dioxide is dangerous climate changing pollution" crap when science shows no observed relationship between global climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide? There is no real criticism anywhere and there should be. There is no physical evidence showing a relationship between temperature and C02 only computer models which give different answers according to whatever assumption data you put in. But there IS a VERY close relationship between temperature and solar activity, as shown by the sunspot cycle which has been observed and charted since the time of Galileo. [etc etc]

Please vote for some genuine questions -- consider the ones from Andrew Watkins and Paul Bamford.

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It is certainly true that, after Bolt urged his readers to vote for the top question, his minions sprung into action. I watched the tally move rapidly from 400s to 900 within, perhaps, an hour (currently over 3000 votes). At the same time there was little activity on any of the other questions.

Slightly frustrated, I submitted a (badly worded non-)question;

>Given Andrew Bolt is now urging his readers to vote for the question from Jason Fong (âHow much will reducing 5% of Australiaâs around 1.5% contribution of global CO2 emissions reduce global temperature by..?), should this attempt to distort this process mean the question should be disqualified?

>Or is the over representation of vocal âskepticsâ and anti-science advocates something we just need to patiently tolerate?

And spent the rest of the evening feeling a little sheepish about my poor, and not very constructive, contribution...

Mostly I was reacting to the idiotic meme that Bolt (and others) spread that climate change "skeptics" are being silenced or that scientists are afraid of debate.

Apparently, if you decline an invitation to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime, no matter how on the fringe of reality their ideas are, then you are afraid of debate and are trying to silence your critics.

A recent cartoon I saw on Climate Progress neatly and amusingly summarises part of this issue - the weight given to fringe views;

>...so we'll be talking with Dr. Jenkins of the National Institute of Health about the results of his 3 year study.

>And then for a different take we'll talk to Roger here, who I understand has reached the opposite conclusion just by sitting on his couch and speculating.

If Bolt's question was sensibly dealt with by the Age journos i.e. by interviewing some actual climate scientists, having it number 1 could be another Bolt "own goal". I suspect however that the cartoon that Shinsko quoted in @1 is the likely outcome.

Andrew Bolt is Gina Rinehart's lick-spittle gopher. He is paid to send his minions to befoul polls. But larger forces are gathering against them. For instance, today I read that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was contributing $50 million to the Sierra Clubâs Beyond Coal Campaign. This is seen as a "game changer". Obese coal magnates in Oz will be overwhelmed by the world's business elite, who are coming to realise that critical climate issues will impact them negatively in the long run.

If the question goes to actual climate scientists it will indeed be an own-goal for Bolt.

However if The Age goes in for the 2+2â4.5 'balance' game and seeks out equivalent contrarian responses this will just further empower Teh Stoopid. Why bother?

The real issue is that in our era the 'information deficit' model is patently wrong - ignorance is now elective; people believe bullshit because it suits them, not because they haven't been exposed to the correct information.

Well, Bolt fans are not exactly known for their higher level intellect. This type of thing is to be expected from time to time. The Age should've predicted it, or at least have plans in place to deal with it and filter through to the genuine and interesting questions.

Bolt has been getting more and more vocal with predictions of imminent "victory" and overwhelming evidence appearing on his side in the global warming debate. Of course we all know this is the opposite of reality and will eventually fizzle out to nothing. Just like fellow conservative nutter Piers Akerman with his vocal predictions over several months that explosive new evidence about the "Heiner" affair was going to bring down the former Labor PM. "Just you wait" he told me (before banning me from his blog for saying I wouldn't advise anyone to hold their breath). Of course, such evidence never existed, and it all fizzled into nothing.

It's par for the course for these whackaloons.

This is a good opportunity for MediaWatch to pull this apart, and demonstrate how the Murdoch media cannot correctly engage with either the actual processes or the facts of science, or with the simplest aspects of logic.

I hope that Mediawatch takes this up.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

China, India, global economic crises; these are not good reasons to abandon efforts on emissions, they are just easy to sell excuses.

The impact on global efforts of Australia realigning itself in opposition to action on emissions is the barely mentioned part of the intense campaigning to convince Australians all efforts here are pointless. The real point is that those corporate interests don't want the rest of the world to follow suit and come on board. Especially they don't want China, India or any major customers for their products coming on board. I think it's safe to assume that fossil fuel interests all over the world are pushing the same line in the hope that convincing every nation to delay individually will prevent them acting globally. And they want that delay to give time to further entrench longer term reliance and demand for their product.

I was pleased that Malcolm Turnbull had the honesty and integrity to express concern that Coalition using them as their excuse is upsetting to people in China and India; I'm not aware of any other Coalition MP speaking in support though. I have to presume most of them would count it a fabulous victory if their utterances managed to undermine global agreements; taking a longer view I expect they'll come back to bite Australia as real world impacts get stronger and more expensive and, rather than look to their own failures, affected nations look for scapegoats. Our undying support for an expanding fossil fuel export business, will ultimately be a strong liability for our international relations.

I should mention that Malcolm lost my approval a bit further into his speech with his urging for more efforts on 'Clean' coal technologies; 3.57 times the mass of CO2 as black coal burned is simple enough maths even for the thickest of politicians to grasp. It's a gas that can't just be loaded on truck and shipped wherever - I can't see how it can be economically viable or ever be anything more than one more easily sellable excuse. The kinds of big drill rigs CCS would require surely make more sense used developing hot rock geothermal. But good sense has gone out the window along with the best available science on climate.

By Ken Fabos (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

Or vote here:

"Why is there so many misinformation about climate science and the *facts* that we know (I don't talk about computer models, I mean real observations)? How can it be possible, that the same false informations (e.g. there is no connection between CO2 and temperatures) get repeated over and over again in the media? Isn't it obvious, that people, who spread this misinformation, have a certain agenda for their own?"

http://oursay.org/the-sunday-age/why-is-there-so-many-misinformation-ab…

Sounds like he's taking a leaf out of Anthony "shout them down in the comments section" Watts' book. What a sad state for the national debate to be in when the "truth" is determined by number of vitriolic comment thread posters.

Would it help in an exercise like this to have an process for removing questions which are really intended as a statement, or as a way to emphasize a point?

At the very least, I think would be useful for responses to highlight what is stated explicitly as background incorporated into a question, and to identify the implicit (intended or unintended) assumptions in a question.

I'd like that applied across the board. It's no handicap to people interested in keeping it real and based on stock standard conventional science.

By Chris Ho-Stuart (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

I am waiting for......

" are climate scientists still beating their wives?"

.

By john byatt (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

What is the dollar value that climate scientists have to gain from concluding that man made CO2 is the driver of increasing temperatures on Earth? What is the dollar value that industries that emit large quantities of CO2 have to gain from concluding that no action is necessary to curb emissions? Since there is a lot of talk about vested interests, it would be fitting to find out who actually has the most financial interest in promoting either agenda.

http://oursay.org/the-sunday-age/what-is-the-dollar-value-that-climate-…

By Robert Builder (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

The first question i asked when I saw this on The Age was whther it was going to be an avenue for denier-tards to push their vacuous opinions. It is stupid to couch matters of science yunder the guise of opinion. This was so obviously going to be the end result and it really pisses me off.

That question could be asked this way.
"Australia, as part of a world-wide agreement to limit net global warming to two degrees Celsius, has committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 80% of year 2000 levels.
What is the best way to achieve this?"
Discuss.

By Uncle Buck (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

Thanks for the support Tim. If I had any votes left, I'd throw them behind Andrew Watkins' question.

It seems that by asking mine I became an enemy of free speech: that is I somehow infringed on Andy's right to tell his readers what they want to hear.

By Paul Bamford (not verified) on 11 Aug 2011 #permalink

I arrive at the poll, and what do I find directly under the Watkins question?

Bob Carter and Ian Plimer say the world will be fine in 2100. They have no agenda to say otherwise, not like the discredited IPCC.

Can anything good come of this 'you decide' nonsense in the GAS*? Surely when it begins to legitimise polling on the Laws of Physics and Chemistry the only conceivable trajectory for a civilization mirrors that of the Arctic sea-ice? I'd be delighted to be proven wrong, but given the voting on that site I doubt I will be.

Anybody who ever thought internet-based direct-democracy was the wave of the future simply hasn't spent enough time online...

*Golden Age of Stupid.

âHow much will reducing 5% of Australiaâs around 1.5% contribution of global CO2 emissions reduce global temperature by..?"

My answer would be "How much would the murder rate reduce by if I decided NOT to kill you?".

Looks like Tim is trying to rig the poll - or can only Bolt do that?

Anyway the questions aren't "Bolt's questions", they were there already and leading as they are now.

So just admit it you guys are in a small denialist minority, even the average Age reader has woken up to the dogma.

Propaganda's so much easier to understand than science, ain't it Dave...

Well I thought it summed up several reasons why the answer to the question being fluffed up was no reason to keep polluting the atmosphere.

So just admit it you guys are in a small denialist minority

As bill said, it's the Golden Age of Stupid.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 12 Aug 2011 #permalink

The Australian's War on Science continues:

...when Mt Pinatubo erupted in The Philippines in 1991, it threw out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire time on earth....I agree with most of what Plimer says. It makes sense to me.

Scribe, I believe we are dealing with what is colloquially known as a "moron".

>I asked a well-educated man, who knows his onions when it comes to earthly changes, what was going on and he simply shrugged and said, things happen. The Earth gets the wobblies every few hundred years or so and shakes in its boots.

Case closed, IPCC.

Luckily we now know the News Ltd code of conduct and they have broken many of their own tenets, especially those related to fact checking.

bill, Chris O'Neill:

> TALBOT. Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very godsThemselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,Resplendent daughter of the head divine,Wise foundress of the system of the world,Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!To the fool-king belongs the world.

> LIONEL. My lord,But for a few brief moments can you live--Think of your Maker!

> TALBOT. Had we, like brave men,Been vanquished by the brave, we might, indeed,Console ourselves that 'twas the common lot;For fickle fortune aye revolves her wheel.But to be baffled by such juggling arts!Deserved our earnest and laborious lifeNot a more earnest issue?

> -- Frederich Schiller, translated

Scribe, in another sentence Fraser describes Sydney's winter as the coldest she can remember. If she is too stupid to even look up BOM and observe that the 2011 June and July monthly temperatures for Sydney are above average, then her ability to research volcanic emissions will be severely limited.

To add to the previous post, Fraser like many of her colleagues at The Australian is all about perception rather than observation.

Ah, I hadn't noticed Cut and Paste joining in.

Just as we thought, The Sunday Age has absolutely no idea. Let's pull together to help out

So the Murdochracy thinks it's OK to advocate freeping the polls of a rival publication that isn't toeing the Party line?

Sadly the GAS theory shows no sign of being contradicted...

Are we 'winning the internet' yet Tim ? :-)
I see poor ole Al baby is blowing a fuse too. All looks pretty encouraging to me. :-)
Keep up the good fight... "comrades" ! =8-)

By Billy Bob Hall (not verified) on 12 Aug 2011 #permalink

I've just asked there :

Does the name "Anthropogenic Global Warming" do the issue a dis-service given that "Anthropogenic" is a technical word and "warming" has connotations of mildness and pleasantness. Would calling this problem "Human Caused Global Overheating" (HCGO) make any difference to people's perceptions of the issue?

Plus I've voted for the ones from Andrew Watkins (now on 228 votes) and Paul Bamford (14 votes) too.

I think you ought to get PZ Myers - Pharyngula blog on side here and "pharyngulate" this one.

Also I've just asked :

What do the leading climatologists think are the closest, most dangerous potential "tipping points" that would lead to runaway global overheating and what would they recommend we best do to avoid them?

PS. Have just been on PZ Myers blog(s - Scienceblogs and Freethoughtblogs) too and left a request for "pharyngulation" - here's hoping the calvary arrives!