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October 29th 2012 print

William Kininmonth

ACMA’s incredible psychic powers

Never a man known for wan opinions, Alan Jones has been ordered by the national broadcasting regulator to adopt new and officially approved ones. That will prove to be quite the chore, as a veteran climatologist explains


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed that broadcaster Alan Jones needs to be re-educated, with a particular emphasis on correctly presenting what it blithely assumes to be matters of official and incontrovertible “fact” relating to climate change. This ruling set climatologist and Quadrant Online contributor William Kininmonth to wondering, as he explained in a letter to friends. Here it is:


So, we can now all have our own answers merely by defining the question! Andrew Bolt is quoted

What he [Alan Jones] said was this: Australians produced just "1 per cent of .001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the air."

Gotcha! 

Didn’t he know Australians put out more like 0.4% of the carbon dioxide up there?

But who is the authority claiming 0.45% is the correct answer?

Let us analyse Alan Jones statement: “Australians produced just "1% of .001% of carbon dioxide up there." There seems to be no argument that Australians produce about 1 % of the global anthropogenic emissions. The contentious point is the meaning of “0.001% of the carbon dioxide up there”. If Jones was loose with his words and meant the anthropogenic contribution to the increase of carbon dioxide in the air since industrialisation then this is about 100ppm, or a carbon dioxide fraction increase of 0.01%. Still an order of magnitude different to Jones reported statement, but certainly closer than the ACMA-claimed answer.

There may be another meaning in Jones statement. The carbon dioxide in the air is about 800 gigaton of carbon (GtC); the natural exchange is about 200GtC per year (according to the IPCC) and about 10GtC is contributed through human activity. That is, Australians produce about 1% of the (10/200 x 100 =) 5 % (= 0.05 % overall Australian contribution) anthropogenic contribution to the mass of carbon dioxide exchanged with the atmosphere each year. This does not accord with Jones’ statement, nor does it accord with the ACMA “correct” answer.

So, what was the question and what is the answer? I am confused, both as to what Alan Jones really meant and what ACMA understood Jones to have meant. How was it able to determine a “correct” answer to such an ambiguous statement? In its judgement, by assuming a “correct” position, ACMA is apparently reading something into Jones statement which is not immediately obvious and which he may or may not have intended. ACMA is thus on very shaky grounds.

Does ACMA explain how it derived its “correct” position? The worst  offence of which ACMA can accuse Jones is of being ambiguous in his claim such that nobody understands what he meant, a ‘crime’ for which every broadcaster would surely be picked up on almost every day.

By presenting a "correct" answer, ACMA itself can surely be accused of falsely claiming psychic powers!

William Kininmonth

It is not yet known who will be called upon to summon all available reserves of intestinal fortitude, confront Jones and attempt to have him embrace whichever of the IPCC’s always-shifting definitions of climatological “truth” currently prevails with governments, warmists academics and all the other members in the College of Carbon Cardinals.

Whoever that lucky re-educator might happen to be, he or she certainly will have earned their money by the time the class is adjourned.