Australia's Murdoch Newspapers Lying to Public About Climate Change, Says Study Author

Fri, 2013-11-01 15:00Graham Readfearn
Graham Readfearn's picture

Australia's Murdoch Newspapers Lying to Public About Climate Change, Says Study Author

CONSIDER the following two statistics together.

Research into the peer-reviewed science of climate change found that between 1991 and 2011, 97 per cent of studies agreed that climate change is caused mostly by humans.

Research into the reporting of climate change science in Australia's biggest selling newspaper, the Herald Sun in Melbourne, has found that 81 per cent of all the coverage, including 97 per cent of all the opinion stories, were sceptical of human-caused climate change.

Overall, this major new study into newspaper coverage of climate change in Australia has found about one third of all the stories and columns are sceptical of the scientific consensus on climate change.

But the study, carried out by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at Sydney's University of Technology, reveals how Australia's dominant Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers are heavily slanted away from the scientific reality towards denial of the science.

The Sceptical Climate study was led by Wendy Bacon, Professorial Fellow at the ACIJ. She told DeSmogBlog:

These results are very disturbing because effectively the biggest Australian newspapers are lying to their audiences although journalism is supposed to be about reporting as truthfully and accurately as we can. News Corp is responsible for most of the articles that don't accept the consensus. Because two thirds of print media are in its hands, all we can do is to put all effort into ensuring critical independent voices are heard. Unfortunately lower income less educated audiences are being lied to the most. Some regions get hardly any coverage at all. The information divide on this crucial issue is deep in Australia.

The 220-page report looked in detail at the coverage of climate change science in 10 of Australia's top selling newspapers across the country between February and April 2011 and the same period in 2012.

Seven of the newspapers are from the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation Australia stable, which includes the nation's top two sellers The Herald Sun (Melbourne) and The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), plus the only non-specialist national newspaper The Australian.

The remaining three newspapers analysed were the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne) and the Seven West Media-owned Western Australian. Fairfax newspapers did accept the consensus.

Just under a third of the 602 articles analysed were sceptical of the scientific consensus that humans were the main cause of climate change, but the amount of scepticism had risen to 36 per cent for the period in 2012.

The most sceptical newspaper of all was the Murdoch-owned Herald Sun in Melbourne, where some 81 per cent of all the words published on the issue were part of sceptical coverage of human-caused climate change. In second place was the Murdoch-owned The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, where 73 per cent of the word count was sceptical.

When it came to opinion stories, a stunning 97 per cent of the columns appearing in the Herald-Sun were sceptical of human-caused global warming.  Ironically, this is in direct contrast to the 97 per cent of peer-reviewed studies which conclude the opposite.

The report also singles out the influential role of News Corporation syndicated columnist and climate science denier Andrew Bolt. The report says Bolt wrote a total of 38 comment pieces and more than 13,000 words “nearly half of all words in articles that included material about climate science in the Herald Sun.” The report says of Bolt:

Given his influence, a consideration of how Australian media covers climate science needs to include an analysis of the strategies used by Bolt to persuade his readers they should reject the findings of the vast majority of climate scientists. These strategies include personal abuse, cherry picking specific findings to refute the entire body of findings of climate scientists, portrayal of advocates of climate action as ideologically motivated with totalitarian tendencies and criticism of journalists who report on climate science. He presents himself as someone who is fighting a battle to reveal ‘truth’ and ‘secrets’ which ‘warmists’ want hidden to protect their vested interests. Once the ‘facts’ are established a triumphal, mocking tone is adopted.

Of all the newspapers monitored, The Australian produced the most coverage of climate change science but almost half of it was sceptical of the scientific consensus. The study noted:

While scientists overwhelmingly agree on anthropogenic climate change,The Australian represents climate science as matter of opinion or debate rather than as a field for inquiry and investigation like all scientific fields.

In a statement to Guardian Australia, News Corporation defended its coverage:

News Corp and its newspapers do accept the scientific consensus. There is no company edict on the line to take – editorial control rests with the editors. News Corp Australia’s internationally recognised environmental sustainability program One Degree has resulted in the company reducing its carbon emissions by 19% since 2006.



So you are implying it is wrong to question or oppose a consensus?

Earth at the center of the universe, earth is flat, god created everything….these were all consensus views at one time.

Consensus does not bestow factual truth.


It's fine to challenge consensus.  However, that is not what this article is talking about.   

This article is talking about the intentional misrepresentation of facts to a largely uneducated and ignorant public.

If challenging the consensus were indeed the goal then there would in fact published papers to support that point of view.   There is little of merit to challenge basic and well understood facts.

What I'm saying is that the place to challenge consensus would I fact be in the scientific journals using facts figures and research. Not newspapers operating with a clear agenda to misrepresent the facts to the public.

Look up the video of Monckton explaining to Gina Rinehart that she must buy media outlets or TV stations to get her anti climate change message across. Shortly after that she bought controlling shares in many new papers.

You have not offered any evidence to back up your claims.

Perhaps you could lead this discussion by citing scientific in journals that contradict what you perceive to be incorrect.  Otherwise that just looks like rambling and that just doesn't go anywhere.

For instance I happen to know that also all of the data in question that defines climate science has other direct and know real world engineering applications.  I learned of Levitus from his work with Anti Submarine warfare.  The notion is that the combination of temperature and salinity define how sounds move underwater.

Data from Expendable Bathytherms (XBTs) has been gathered stored and shared between all allies.

Using XBTs we can determine where sound is likely channeled and conversely determine where a sub can hide.

Today all allied military forces share and use this data to track and potentially sink enemy submarines.

This data also demonstrates where 97% of the global warming heat is now being stored and it is also used to measure sea level rise, and of course related data, Salinity, covers off ocean acidification (but that's a different paper).

So you see I find it hard to imagine that scientists and engineers and military navies are simply using “just strong beliefs in theories, unprovable ones at that” to track and sink subs.  This knowledge crosses geographic, ideological, and national boudaries.  Its solid.

There is no single theory.  None.  Certainly no one has said that.  No one.  Please tell me what scientific paper said that.  I'm genuinely curious about what you have read.

The core of climate change is the blocking of freqeuencies of light by gases.  And dude, that's rock solid. You'll be happy to know that I use spectrometers to measure how much CO2 is in a gas stream by how much energy it absorbs.  If I did not do this then oil refineries would explode.  I'm also reasonably sure this works since I work with this technology directly and much of the science was developed well over 60 years ago.  (The earliest measurements of gasses absorbing energy is Tyndall 1861.  Look it up.  Its an interesting read.)

I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have billions of dollars spent by the oil and gas industry on natural gas (methane, a GHG) measuring equipment if none of the equipment worked.  Heck its required pretty much everywhere in the industry from emissions to natural gas custody transfer.

Here's a start up company with great technology for measuring natural gas;

It works by measuring energy absorbance across the spectrum then determining how much each of the components are in the gas.  Its not always easy because of overlapping spectral absorbances.

I'm not like you.  I've known of Levitus from my work with Anti Submarine Warfare.  I had no idea at the time how important his work would be for climate science.  But it is and we used the same data to sink subs. These days I work with a lot of oil and gas both up hole and down.

Hey Chas! Are you showing up to call names again.  Are you here to steadfastly refuse to offer any evidence to back anything you say?

Or are you tired of tracking down kids and calling them manipulated liers? (Noticeably you also do that without any discernible facts.)

It takes real brave man to go after children like you do Chas. Real brave. Your mom must be proud.


Oh that Video was linked to from here. Chas decided to directly for the kid. Nice.

Again you are going all over the place without offering any data or citations. You are arguing something about models and simulations then moving on to economics. No reasonable human could follow that.

So far you have refused to substantiate any unknowns or provide any citations. I can only conclude that you don't know anything about science or indeed technical work.

Please I beg you.  Find the scientific paper you read that is causing you so much confusion.  I'd be glad to read it.

In looking at the models the only thing I've noticed is that they appear completely correct. If you read IPCC FAR from 1991, we are well within known bounds for surface air temperatures. As far I'm concerned we are living in a prediction and all numbers were defined 20+ years ago.


there is a certain entertainment value in poking a bee's nest though.

And there's nothing new about that.

Why are you so ignorant davido, are you frightened to read real science which shows that everything you say about science is wrong and straight from denier web sites?

Frost free days are not that important for cereal crops such as rice. Recent research (you know science that is done by real scientists who know what they are doing) is showing that rice yields in Asia are decreasing because of increasing night time temperatures. One of the scientifically proven facts about AGW is that night time temperatures are rising faster than day time temperatures. The rice research can be found at:

There are many other papers showing that increased CO2 and higher temperatures will be bad for agriculture and the future of out food supply.

As for your nonsense about pH in the oceans that just shows once again your ignorance about basic science. Why do you people never get after the publishers of anti-AGW nonsense about all the lies and misinformation they are spreading?

As previously mentioned you are ignorant, arrogant and dishonest, that is why I refer to you as despicable.




Damage from Climate Change is derived from completely different fields of science. For that you need to talk to an epidemiologist and you need to disprove all known market theory as well as measured damage from small scale ecological events. Famines from the 70's and 80's are really the basis for all this. 

This is what my wife does. But as it is wholy and completely unrelated to physics and the fun stuff I understand. I tend to accept it and ignore it. My wife on the other hand uses the same methods and data to track diseases and predict medical costs associated with them.   Her ground breaking masters thesis is now being taught at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

By the way. Dr Forrester argues for pretty much the same reasons I do. Your stance is essentially anti science.  Personally I find your stance offensive.

In the mean time I continue to hunt for a single piece evidence that is contradictory to known mechanisms of Global Warming.  And you still steadfastly refuse to offer any scientific papers to back your claims.

I think you should read Marcott 2013;

We just undergone 4000 years of climate change in 40. I think this a bad thing.

It's hilarious how almost all replies here except 1 or 2 of Davido's and ALL of Oilman's have been deleted. Great job folks, it looks like Oilyman is having a conversation with himself ;)

As usual your post makes no sense.  If my posts are ALL deleted then how would I be having a conversation with myself.  Hmm?  I can see how rudimentary technical work would be hard with that kind of logic.  But yes it is funny.


Actually I like the idea of disemvoweling violators (such as you Chas) of the site's comment policy.

What is the place of consensus in science? It is in the testing of hyptheses.

Part of science is uncovering new information. Part of it is coming up with new ideas and explanations for the facts of nature. And part of it is testing those ideas.

And that testing is not an individual activity. It is a social process. It is offering up our ideas and speculations for others' criticism and testing. We can't be completely trusted to properly test our own ideas. We have too many blind spots and there are too many gaps in our knowledge. We need to have our ideas tested by people who might spot what we have missed.

In science we do not want a single line of proof for an idea. We want as many different tests as possible. If we are right there will be consilience, multiple types of evidence telling a consistent story. If there is consilience there will be consensus among the scientists that are familiar with the subject matter.

If there is no consensus then the hypothesis might be wrong, at least in part, or it might be incomplete and not explain enough of the observed phenomena or it might not have been tested enough. Is a thoroughly tested explanation that the relevant experts agree is probably right allways correct? No, but that's the way to bet

You also have to ask how strong the experts think the evidence is. Is this an explanation that everyone supports for now because no one has come up with anything better but no one thinks there is anything like conclusive supporting evidence? Or is this something that nearly all those involved in the field think has great explanatory power and is strongly supported by the evidence? If it is the latter how often do they turn out to be wrong? And how wrong?

A lot of provisional explanations that were supported for lack of anything better get abandoned. But strongly supported theories seldom, if ever, get completely abandoned. They usually are still an approximation to the theory that replaced them. For example Newtonian Physics is under most circumstances that we encounter a very good approximation to Einsteinian Physics.

How strongly are the conclusions of climate science supported? It depends on which one.  Is a high sensitivity to greenhouse gases stongly supported by experts because there  are multiple strands of evidence supporting it? Definitely, too many things could not be explained otherwise. Are large sea level rises with temperature changes strongly supported? Yes, again. Too much evidence supports this.

In the Long term it is generally easy to spot good from bad.  Just look at how much it gets cited and for what purpose.

If you look at Mann, Bradley, Hughes 1998, its got nearly 1600 citations.  There are literally dozens of different and unrelated ways Mann's work has been verified and proved.  All use completely different techniques.  So the work stands up even if the Mann's core techniques has been abandoned long ago.

McIntyre and McKitrick 2003 has earned 239 citations, and quite a few will be take downs.  This hardly shows an advancing of our understanding of climate change.  Its also extremely narrow in scope and fails to address the basic fact that Mann's work was verified by multiple other techniques.  (This is a pretty glaring fault in McIntyre and McKitrick's approach. Its basically arguing over an abandoned dead horse.)