the australian

Were Historical Pictures of Great Barrier Reef Degradation Really Misused, as The Australian Newspaper Claimed?

The Australian published a convoluted story recently about the Great Barrier Reef and the claims of a scientist over some old pictures.

I've written a few stories about the reef recently - including this piece looking at a recent dodgy editorial in The Australian. But anyway, over the weekend The Australian published a story about Professor Peter Ridd, of James Cook University, who had apparently been disciplined for criticising colleagues and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) for using some old pictures of reef near Stone Island to show how coral cover had declined over time.

The Australian Newspaper Misrepresents Science In Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Editorial, Says Scientist It Quoted

Almost a quarter of corals on the iconic Great Barrier Reef have died because of record ocean temperatures driven by global warming.

Those are the bare facts, according to the Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

The coral bleaching that swept across the reef system this Australia summer, hitting hardest the most pristine northern section, affected 93 per cent of individual reefs along its 2300 kilometre stretch (1430 miles).

Scientists have pointed out how those corals that survived the bleaching will be weakened and, to recover, they will need all the help they can get. That means big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution.

The news has swept across the globe.  Pretty much every major media outlet in the world has told its viewers and readers about the bleaching and shown them the spectacular and confronting images of bleached white coral. Now, the images show dead coral.

Climate Denialists in Paris Claim They Are Being Shut Out of COP21, While Shutting Out Journalists

Professional climate science deniers and delayers have been busy playing the victim card here at the Paris climate change talks.

As we head into the guts of week two, negotiators at the vast Le Bourget venue are heading into the business end of agreeing a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Australian Psychological Society "Disturbed" By Climate Denialist Group's "Misleading" Newspaper Advert

Australia’s peak body representing psychologists has attacked a climate science denial group for a prominent advert taken out in a major national newspaper.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) says the advert from a little-known group “misuses psychology-based arguments” to “mislead the public” on the science of climate change.

In a stinging letter to The Australian newspaper, which ran the half-page advert, the APS said the authors had shown “cognitive biases” in ignoring a “huge body of scientific evidence” on climate change.

The advertisers identified themselves only as “The Climate Study Group” in the page five advert that appeared on 7 August under the title “Psychology and the New Climate Alarm”.

DeSmog has found the group members have links to mining, finance, agriculture and free market “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

The Climate Science Deniers And Free Market Activists Backing Bjorn Lomborg

STOP ACADEMIC CENSORSHIP” screamed the full caps headline on the half-page advert in the Murdoch-owned The Australian newspaper earlier this week.

Referring to the Danish climate change contrarian and US think tank boss Bjorn Lomborg, the advert claimed: “We stand for academic freedom. We stand with Dr Lomborg.”

Coal One of 'Greatest Products In History' Says Australian Coal Industry Figure

THE Australian newspaper has run a free advertisement today for the coal industry in the form of an op-ed column by a leading industry figure that says that coal is one of the best things ever.

And no I'm not exaggerating.

New South Wales Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee, a former advisor to several high-ranking Liberal Party politicians including the now Prime Minister Tony Abbott, writes in The Australian that coal is “one of the greatest overall products in ­history” and is just totally awesome (he didn't use the word awesome, that was me).

Galilee's column in the Murdoch-owned newspaper is the latest repetition of the industry's favourite PR line that coal can end global poverty.

Tony Abbott, the environment minister Greg Hunt and the Treasurer Joe Hockey have all used this coal industry line in recent weeks.

I've written about the industry's attempt to lobby the G20 for The Guardian and looked at Hockey's recent contribution for DeSmogBlog. You should go and read those pieces because they are among the greatest overall products blogs in history.

Australia's Climate Change Conspiracy Theorists Get Angry Over Radio Interview That Never Happened

In the space of six days, Rupert Murdoch's The Australian newspaper has published five news stories and an opinion piece attacking the credibility of the Australian government's weather and climate agency, the Bureau of Meteorology.

I've covered the guts of the early stories over on my Planet Oz blog for The Guardian.

But the core of it is that Dr Jennifer Marohasy, a former Institute of Public Affairs free market think tankerer, is claiming that the BoM has, in her words, “corrupted the official temperature record so it more closely accords with the theory of anthropogenic global warming”.

Marohasy is a researcher at Central Queensland University with her work funded by another climate change “sceptic”.

She has has not published her analysis in any journal, yet The Australian's Graham Lloyd has deemed the claims of a climate science sceptic on blogs worthy enough of five news pieces.

I just want to deal with his latest story here, that comments on the BoM's process of transparency.  The story includes this bit:

The bureau has been under fire for not making publicly available the methodology used for homogenisation. Michael Asten from the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University said confidence in BOM’s data would increase “if and when BOM publishes or supplies its homogenisation algorithms, a step which would be quite consistent with existing ­requirements of the better peer-reviewed journals.’’ BOM said its methods had been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals but did not say where or in what form.

This claim is - oh what's the word - bolloxxs (sorry kids).

Australian Press Watchdog Criticises Climate Report From Rupert Murdoch's Flagship Newspaper

The headline on The Australian newspaper’s story about a leak of a major United Nations climate change report read “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.

But an investigation by Australia’s press watchdog has found that in fact, it was the Murdoch-owned national newspaper that “got it wrong”.

The Australian Press Council has upheld complaints about the coverage, led by a story from the newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd.

The council also found the newspaper’s attempts to correct its story had failed to meet the press standards.

Lloyd’s original story, published on page one in September 2013, was an echo of a story published the previous day by the UK Daily Mail’s David Rose.

The story claimed a leaked version of the fifth UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report into the scientific basis for climate change would state that “over the past 60 years the world has in fact been warming at half the rate claimed” in the previous 2007 report.

Rose and Lloyd seemed to want people to conclude that the IPCC didn’t know what it was doing, had shown to have got things badly wrong and that global warming was only half as bad as people had been making out.

Except as I explained in The Guardian at the time, the Daily Mail, The Australian and several other outlets that parroted the story had badly misread the numbers.

The rate of warming over the past 50 years declared by the two IPCC reports was in fact almost identical (a difference of only 0.01C) when you compared apples with apples, rather than comparing, say, a newspaper with a bowl of cheese.

The Australian Press Council adjudication, handed down this week, said:

Top Physicist Withdraws Support For Climate Sceptic Professor Sacked By Australian University

Dr Murry Salby

A PROMINENT and influential French physicist who had voiced support for a climate change sceptic fired from his Australian university has withdrawn a threat to report the case to a prestigious international science council.

Dr Marie-Lise Chanin had previously told The Australian newspaper that she was “scandalised” by the sacking of former Macquarie University professor Dr Murry Salby, who claimed he was fired from his job because he was a climate change sceptic.

In a page three report on July 24, The Australian newspaper reported that Dr Chanin intended to refer Dr Salby's case to a key committee at the International Council for Science (ICSU) - the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science.

But now it appears Dr Chanin had been canvassed for her support without being given the full facts. After a reading a DeSmogBlog report into a previously damning investigation into Dr Salby's conduct while at the University of Colorado, Dr Chanin has reconsidered her support.

The ICSU includes the world's leading scientific academies amongst its members, including Britain's Royal Society, the Australian Academy of Science and the US National Academy of Sciences. As the French representative on the ICSU, support from Dr Chanin would no doubt have been seen as something of a coup.

I contacted Dr Chanin to ask if she was aware of the long investigation into Dr Salby by the National Science Foundation in the United States, reported by DeSmogBlog, which resulted in the scientist being barred from having anything to do with the foundation's taxpayer-funded grants for three years.

The investigation, finished in February 2009 - a year after Dr Salby joined Macquarie, concluded that Dr Salby had “engaged in a long-running course of deceptive conduct involving both his University and NSF”.  The investigators wrote that Dr Salby's conduct “reflects a consistent willingness to violate rules and regulations, whether federal or local, for his personal benefit”. 

Dr Chanin told me, via email, that she had not been aware of the NSF case when she had communicated with The Australian newspaper and now wanted nothing more to do with the issue.

Just How Many Climate "Sceptics" Are There?

A version of this post first appeared at RenewEconomy.

WHEN Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that former Woodside gas company executive and lobbyist Gary Gray was Australia’s new energy and resources minister, questions turned quickly to his position on climate change.

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