the australian

Thu, 2014-10-16 20:24Graham Readfearn
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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.

Sat, 2014-08-30 10:32Graham Readfearn
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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).

Thu, 2014-07-24 18:15Graham Readfearn
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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:

Sun, 2013-07-28 11:44Graham Readfearn
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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.

Tue, 2013-04-16 13:08Graham Readfearn
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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.

Thu, 2013-04-04 12:22Graham Readfearn
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Climate Science Denier James Delingpole Calls For "Alarmists" To Face Court With Death Penalty Powers

I IMAGINE only a small percentage of people reading this have had any journalism training, but don't let that stop you from pondering the following ethical question.

If you read a newspaper story that included a direct quote from someone - let's say, for instance, UK climate scientist Dr David Viner - would it be acceptable to put quotation marks on the headline of that story and claim it was a quote from Dr Viner? You can have a minute to think about it.

It might help you to know that the headline was not written by the reporter who interviewed Dr Viner and wrote the story, and certainly not by Dr Viner himself. In short, a third person - a sub-editor - wrote the headline.

You don't need a minute? Of course not: it would be unprofessional, unethical and factually wrong to pass off a sub-editor’s made-up words as Dr Viner’s.

The Australian newspaper has just published a column from UK-based climate science mangler and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole that tries to argue that Australia's recent unprecedented heatwave and hottest month on record wasn't all that hot and that global warming “alarmists” should be answering to a court with the power to issue a death sentence (no, I don't exaggerate, but we'll get to that at the end).

Thu, 2013-03-14 21:55Graham Readfearn
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Research Finds Wind Farm Health Concerns Probably Caused By Anti-Wind Scare Campaigns

ANTI-WIND farm activists around the world have created a silent bogeyman they claim can cause everything from sickness and headaches to herpes, kidney damage and cancers.

This “infrasound” exists at frequencies too low for the human ear to detect but is present almost everywhere from offices and roadsides to waves tumbling on ocean beaches. These low frequencies can crawl menacingly from the back of your kitchen fridge or from your heart beating.

Despite the ubiquitous nature of infrasound, anti-wind farm groups such as Australia's Waubra Foundation like people to think that it's only inaudible infrasound from wind turbines which might send residents to their sick beds.

But two new studies suggest the cause of health complaints by people living near wind farms could in fact be down to the scare campaign of the anti-wind groups and reports about such scares in the media.

Fri, 2012-12-21 21:27Graham Readfearn
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Australian Press Council Finds Against Climate Sceptic Columnists

IT'S the new must-have accessory for any self-respecting climate science denialist commentator in Australian newspapers - their very own “Australian Press Council” adjudication showing exactly how they stuffed up the facts and misled their readers on their stories.

Whether they like it or not, serial climate science misinformers James Delingpole and Andrew Bolt are the latest News Ltd contributors to have their online articles furnished with freshly-added hyperlinks to APC judgements finding against them.

Earlier this week, the APC found that Mr Delingpole's article “Wind Farm Scam A Huge Cover-Up”, published in the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian back in May, had misled readers on several points.

Fri, 2012-12-21 10:37Guest
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So-Called Skeptics Clinging To Slippery Strands Of Climate Science Denial

This a guest post by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Western Australia.

THE guy next to you in the pub turns around and says, “Popcorn doesn’t exist”… and he adds, “but it grows naturally on trees! And it’s good for you!”

Popcorn doesn’t exist but grows naturally on trees and is good for you? Would you entrust that fellow with the lives of your children if their future depended on logical coherence? No. No one would place any confidence in such incoherence.

Sadly, the public in some countries - in particular in Australia and the U.S.- is drenched in such incoherence in the form of climate denial. This incoherence often goes undetected.

To see why, it is helpful to analyze those messages from purported “skeptics” in some detail. For example, earlier this week on the same day that Australia’s only national broadsheet, the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian, received an adjudication by the Press Council against them for likening wind energy to pedophilia - yes, they really did say that - the paper also ran a piece that proclaimed future global warming to be minimal and beneficial to the planet.

Yes they really did say that, by dutifully reprinting a piece that ran in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal the day before. Is there any truth to this comforting news?

No. To see why, it is helpful to survey the three major strands of climate denial.

Thu, 2012-06-14 17:08Graham Readfearn
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Who Is Filling Climate Scientists' Inboxes With Abuse, Intimidation And Hate?

IMAGINE coming in to work and opening your inbox to read an email asking you to “kill yourself” before another note reads “I hope someone puts a bullet between your eyes”.

How about another email where the sender describes themselves as a “one man swat team” telling you to “back the F*** off” or they will “smack the living sh** out of you”.

Another emailer says “I'd kill you in a second if given the chance” and another writes that you have been “blacklisted” and that “your children and family will know because we know where you live… expect us at your door to say hello.”

This is not an imaginary scenario, but is instead a sample from the inbox of climate scientist Professor Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia in the UK, as revealed following a Freedom of Information request released this week.

Professor Jones wasn't alone in the halls of his university. The FOI reveals how a presumably US-based emailer warned that if Professor Edward Acton, the university's vice-chancellor, was to ever travel to America that “we will have plans for you as well. If you bring your family, all the merrier.” The Professor was also reminded of the emailer's Second Amendment rights to carry a gun.

All the emails are date between November 2009 and February 2010, the period immediately after thousands of emails were unlawfully taken from the university. Climate science deniers, commentators and bloggers claimed the “climategate” emails proved human-caused climate change was a hoax, but several high-level independent inquiries found the integrity of the science was intact and that the emails had been taken out of context and misrepresented.

Remarkably, the examples used here (the full release is here on a pdf) are not the worst, nor are they the nastiest.  

This latest release of emails from UEA provide an insight - whether we want it or not - of the campaign of intimidation against Professor Jones which at one point, caused him to consider suicide.

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