Wollongong University senior lecturer in journalism Dr David Blackall lamented in a recent journal article about the ignorance and bias of journalists reporting on the global warming scare. The Australian is the country’s most rigorous newspaper by far when it comes to climate reporting, its environment reporter, Graham Lloyd, doing a masterful job in covering even-handedly the controversies.
So how and why does The Australian elsewhere make itself a laughing stock as an advocate of climate ignorance? There’s more than enough climate drivel being daily pumped out by the Fairfax press and ABC. So why does The Australian allow itself to sink to the level of addled and withering former broadsheets and the national broadcaster’s taxpayer-funded alarmist collective?
The media’s handling of climate stories is hardly a trivial issue. Britain’s leading alarmist, Lord Stern, is calling for $US90 trillion spending to cut CO2 emissions. In the Third World, the lives of countless millions of peasants will remain nasty, unhealthy and short as we deny them the life-giving benefits of cheap, coal-fired power. In Australia, as Liberal MHR Craig Kelly correctly points out, some among the elderly poor will die from the cold because they can’t afford to pay their power bills.
Turn now to the most recent Weekend Australian and its arty insert Review section.
Suppose a section editor at the News Corp publication wrote that Hitler invaded Poland in 1959, D-Day took place in June, 1964, and Hitler hanged himself in his bunker in 1965. Surely someone, whether a junior sub or a top-level manager, would notice at proof stage and prevent such gross ignorance being published? No such supervision occurred last Saturday, when an equivalent howler on climate made it into print.
The matter was under the by-line of Stephen Romei, literary editor, who only a fortnight earlier was encouraging his book reviewer Claire Corbett to froth that
“for the average person in the affluent West, soft drinks pose a far deadlier threat than terrorists.”
This time it was Romei himself who bent a shoulder to the wheel of ignorance in his review of Al Gore’s latest scare film, An Inconvenient Sequel, writes in his second paragraph, “Perhaps this film will, like its 1986 predecessor, An Inconvenient Truth, be a slow-burner. Made for $US15 million, that film made $US50m, won an Oscar and delivered Gore the Nobel Peace Prize…”
As anyone even slightly acquainted with the climate debate would know, Gore’s first film was not released in 1986 but 20 years later, in 2006. A typo on the date would be forgivable, but date typos don’t involve three wrong digits out of four. Note also that, within a single sentence, he peddles a second error. No-one “delivered” to Gore “the Nobel Peace Prize”. That 2007 award was shared 50:50 between Gore and the IPCC as an institution.
That mistake is not a hanging offence – shared winners of (genuine) Nobel Prizes typically ignore the “shared” element. But in context, Romei is writing like a Gore fan-boy who can’t be bothered googling the facts.
Romei is actually proud of his ignorance of the climate debate. “I’m not going to pretend to know how right or wrong Gore is about climate change,” he writes. So why is he reviewing the film rather than giving the job, ideally, to a pair of expert reviewers with opposing viewpoints? Immediately, in self-contradiction, Romei then announces that Gore’s new film is “not a polemic, not a rant, not dominated by political dogma or personal anger.”
A conscientious reviewer would at least have revisited Gore’s 2006 Inconvenient Truth, which was indeed a polemic, a rant, and dominated by political dogma, not to mention its progenitor’s commercial interests and profit making imperatives. Look up the judgement of Burton J. in the UK High Court. His Worship noted nine significant errors, including Gore’s utter nonsense that Pacific Island populations had been evacuated to NZ to escape their drowning isles. Because UK school education must eschew political propaganda (our Australian school system offers no such safeguards), the judge ordered the film not be shown to UK children without the teacher first alerting them to the film’s mistakes and its “partisan political views” of a “one-sided” nature.
Gore’s snake-oil ethics were such that he never re-edited to correct the film’s errors or issued his own errata. Australian teachers have continued to screen its error-laden propaganda to their captive audiences of millions of Australian children.
Romei ignores Gore’s hypocrisy in telling the hoi polloi to cut their emissions while the failed presidential contender’s Nashville mansion – one of three — uses as much electricity to heat its pool, as six normal houses in total. This palace in total consumes 21 times the energy of a normal US home. Solar panels account for only 6% of the power used. Gore has also made hundreds of millions with his Big Green energy trading and through the 2013 sale of his “Current TV” channel to the Qataris’ Al Jazeera, who paid for it with their carbon-steeped oil revenues.
As for whether An Inconvenient Sequel is a rant, I haven’t seen it but I have watched the trailer (“This is climate change,” Gore lies about random storms). I also sat through and recorded his 75-minute Melbourne lecture last July 13, publishing a 6000-word transcript to alert the global community to Gore’s fake claims and phony science. To Gore, any and all wild weather is “climate change” happening before our very eyes, notwithstanding that the IPCC itself, and numerous recent studies, have found that extreme weather damage is on a falling trend. Gore is ignorant, a liar or both.
But Romei lacks the energy or smarts to run a check on the readily available studies that refute Gore’s claims. Romei writes:
It’s at ground – and sea and sky – level that a disturbing thriller movie unfolds. We see devastating natural disasters, including Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines in 2013, which killed more than 6000 people, and unusual weather events such as ‘rain bombs’ and flooding in US states such as Florida. Australia wades in, too, with widespread flooding in Victoria…Gore believes such wild weather is due to, or exacerbated by, climate change.
Gore also suckers Romei in to the fairytale about Georgetown, Texas, as poster-city for supposedly 100% renewable energy. Georgetown draws its electricity from the Texas grid powered by 44% natural gas, 29% coal, 12% nuclear and a mere 16% renewables.
By now the public – Romei excepted – is cynical about Gore’s perpetual wolf-crying. Romei is perplexed that the cinema he attended was “near-empty”. Again, if he’d done any homework, he’d know that the film bombed in its US opening, ranking 15th on its first US week, or a mere $US5000 per screen.
Getting back to Romei’s initial howler about Gore’s “1986” first film, one has to wonder what Romei believes went on in climate between 1986 and Gore’s 2007 award of half a Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe, like Einstein and Stephen Hawking, Romei has found mathematical warps in space-time. But let me do him a favour with the actual climate time-line for the modern period. Romei and his fellow climate-media kids can pin the timeline to their office cubicle partitions as a handy reference.
January 1975: Because the scientific consensus of that era feared a global cooling phase, PM Gough Whitlam demanded a report from the Australian Academy of Science on the potential cooling threat to Australian agricultural output. The Academy – which at that time, but not now, avoided political activism – reported in 1976 that climate changed so slowly (over many centuries) that there was really nothing to worry about.
June 23, 1988: the global warming scare was launched in testimony to a US Senate committee by James Hansen of NASA. To make the congressional session more dramatic, Hansen’s Democrat ally, Senator Tim Wirth, scheduled the hearing on a day forecast to be the hottest in Washington that summer. In addition, Wirth sabotaged the air-conditioning the previous night to ensure the TV cameras could show everyone sweating in the heat.
1988: Maurice Strong, executive director of the UN Environmental Program, helped get the IPCC set up as a combination of UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation. Strong also organised the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, which woke up the West’s politicians to a new, feel-virtuous campaign involving vast potential tax inflows. In 2007, while investigating corruption in the Iraq Food for Oil program, the FBI came across a cheque to Strong for $US998,000 by a corrupt South Korean business man via a Jordanian bank. Strong hastened to the first plane for Beijing, China having no extradition formalities with the US, and lived there until his death in 2015 at 86, the cheque still unexplained.
1999: To make its warming story stick, the IPCC needed to show that 20th-century warming was ‘unprecedented’, but the Medieval Warming Period (when Greenland grew grapes) was a fly in the IPCC ointment. A then-youthful scientist, Michael Mann, constructed a 1000-year temperature record using proxies such as tree rings. This graph, the infamously inaccurate ‘hockey stick’, erased both the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age (1550-1850) that followed.
The IPCC featured the Mann chart seven times in its 2001 report, the graph becoming for a while the virtual logo and icon of the organisation. But Mann refused all requests to make his data and algorithms public for verification. In the IPCC’s 2007 report, the hitherto famous ‘hockey stick’ was downgraded to one mention of its controversial nature. In 2017 Mann was still hiding his data, even in defiance of a Canadian court ruling last July that it be provided to defendants in a libel suit Mann himself had initiated. In Washington, where another libel suit against columnist Mark Steyn has been bogged down down for years, he has been no less coy about revealing the secrets of his climate modelling.
2004: In response to requests for his original data, Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, co-creator and custodian of the HADCRUT global surface temperature record replied with the classic line, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?” After also advising colleagues to unlawfully delete official emails subject to Freedom of Information requests, Jones later confessed that his raw data no longer existed because he hadn’t stored and backed up the originals.
2007: The IPCC Fourth Report was published claiming warming would melt the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 and deprive billions on the sub-continent of fresh water. The claim was based on a chat between a supposed glacier expert, Syen Hasnain, and a magazine reporter. The relevant page of the IPCC report now contains no less than nine “erratas”, even conceding dud arithmetic. When a genuine glacier scientist, Vijay Raina, challenged the 2035 claim, notiong that melting would actually take many centuries, IPCC chair and dirty old man Rajendra Pachauri derided him for ‘voodoo science’. Pachauri then appointed Syed Hasnain, the original source of the eroneous 2035 claim, to his think-tank and secured millions of dollars in grants to study the faked melting-glacier crisis.
2009: The release of the Climategate emails showed top members of the climate-alarm industry conspiring to keep dissenting science out of the peer-reviewed literature, even boasting of getting a journal editor sacked for publishing such papers. While they publicly denied significant flaws in their warming narrative, they admitted in private that the flaws were real. They boasted of their shoddy practices, such as “using Mike’s (Mann’s) Nature trick… to hide the decline” (i.e. concealing inconvenient results generated by their tree-ring temperature proxy series).
2010: Unwilling to further endorse the IPCC’s credibility, the InterAcademy Council (the executive composed of 11 national science bodies) ordered an audit of the IPCC. It urged Pachauri to quit but he refused. The audit found “significant shortcomings in each [i.e. every] major step of IPCC’s assessment process”.
November 14, 2010: Ottmar Edenhofer, then a top-level co-chair of IPCC Working Group 111, is quoted by the Zuricher Zeitung:
Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection, says the German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”
February 3, 2015: Christiana Figueres, then executive secretary of the UN body governing the IPCC, announces,
This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.
Presumably, Figueres has some sort of socialist or world-government model in mind.
February 24, 2015: IPCC chair (2002-2015) Pachauri, 74, quits abruptly on being charged by New Delhi police with multiple counts of sexual stalking and harassment involving a 29-year-old female employee. Pachauri denies guilt, initially claiming that hundreds of smutty texts to the fixation of his frustrated affections were written by a hacker who somehow took over his emails, text-messaging and WhatsApp accounts. The case has been winding its way through Indian court procedures ever since. He had claimed in 2010 that his IPCC chair work was honorary and that all his incidental TERI think-tank earnings went to TERI, not to his own pocket. But he told a court hearing this month that the charges had destroyed his personal earning capacity as a climate guru, which had previously run at $US376,000 a year.
1998-early 2017: The establishment fought to deny any “hiatus” or pause in global temperatures was occurring, and retrospectively “adjusted” various past temperature series to create the look and feel, if not the substance, of ongoing warming. They also adduced more than 60 explanations for the failure of their models to replicate actual temperatures. Their rearguard action collapsed a month ago with the publication of a paper by Ben Santer, Michael Mann and other leaders of the orthodoxy, “Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rate”.
2017: Because the narrative of sharply rising global temperatures has failed, alarmists scientists have switched their narrative to “extreme weather” and its alleged hazards. This new story flies in the face of the IPCC’s own SREX special report of 2012 on extreme weather, which conceded that warming could well reduce extremes, rather than increase them. Further, it would be 20-30 years before any climate effects on extreme weather would even be detectable against natural climate variability. The 2013 IPCC report broadly endorsed those findings.
Alarmist scientist Dr Andy Pitman is now claiming that post-2011 research has made the 2013 IPCC findings obsolete. The definitive work on extreme-weather insurance losses is by Dr Roger Pielke Jr., showing a halving of disaster costs as a percent of GDP in the past 27 years. If Pitman wants to claim that Pielke’s work has been rebutted, he should put up or shut up.
If I may conclude with some advice for The Australian:
1/ Ensure your reporters covering climate have some background and expertise in the subject, and a willingness to fact-check purportedly scientific claims
2/ Ensure the climate copy of loose cannons like Stephen Romei is vetted against howlers such as last week’s issue, and
3/ When the likes of Romei write that they have no idea about distinguishing climate facts from fictions, believe them.
Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here
 Our Nobel-winning astronomer Brian Schmidt, for example, shared the 2011 Nobel for Physics with two other scientists.
 After normalization to account for more sizeable assets at risk in coastal zones, for example.
 Romei seems to believe Victoria never had floods before 1940
 “We conclude that there is no evidence that the world is now on the brink of a major climatic change. There is ample evidence that the world’s climate has changed widely during the geological past, and while there is every expectation that it will continue to change in the future, the time scale of these changes is in the range of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years rather than decades or centuries.”
It cannot be too strongly emphasised that year-to-year variability is an inherent feature of global and regional climates and that…large fluctuations leading to severe droughts and floods are bound to occur from time to time.” (My emphasis)
 As Strong said at Rio, “It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class— involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air-conditioning, and suburbanhousing — are not sustainable.”
 Only Jones’ ‘adjusted’ data remained
 The Academy gave the damning audit results no publicity at the time but made a glib mention of them in its annual report seven months later, “The report released on 30 August 2010 concluded that the process employed by the IPCC had been successful overall but recommended a range of reforms particularly in relation to management structures to strengthen procedures.”
 “We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.”
- From the SREX: For the next twenty to thirty years, man-made warming effects on climate extremes will be swamped by natural climate variability;
- the man-made warming may even be beneficial by reducing the number of extreme events; and
- neither IPCC models nor emissions forecasting are good enough to forecast extreme weather events up to the end of the 21st century.