Under new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, balance remains a rare commodity at Their ABC. For example, take Sunday’s episode of The Drum Weekly, which looked at climate change. In the introduction we were promised a panel of four experts. You’d think there might be room for one sceptic in any quartet of talking heads, wouldn’t you? Or at the very least, one global warming believer who does not subscribe to the view that throwing good money after bad in order to support rent-seeking peddlers of “renewable” technology is the best and only way forward. Someone like Bjorn Lomberg, perhaps?
Alas, no. What we got was Adjunct Professor Nick Rowley, former climate adviser to Tony Blair; Professor Lesley Hughes, ex-climate commissioner; science reporter and ABC in-house catastropharian Robyn Williams and, last but not least, economist Professor Ross Garnaut. If you have a spare moment, check the links attached to the names above. What do they have in common, apart from an eager willingness to proclaim that the end is nigh? Can’t guess? Let me put it this way: in terms of work, public prominence and job opportunities, the climate-change scare has bestowed handsome bounties on each and every one.
Right at the start, presenter Julia Baird made reference to a May 26 Reachtel poll that listed voters’ primary concerns as follows:
The take-home message from our host on all this was that climate change ranked fourth!!! among the concerns of voters, conveniently ignoring the fact that other concerns for the environment — the spread of feral weeds in the bush, for example — does not necessarily mean subscribing to Robyn Williams’ assertion that sea levels might soon rise 100 metres. And even if every single respondent represented in that 11.7% fervently believes mankind’s influence is ruining the planet, the fact remains that it is a small segment of the population — roughly the same percentage that votes for The Greens. What a surprise!
Just in passing, let me report being polled by Reachtel in my electorate of Gilmore on Saturday night. When the survey asked what issue is of most concern to me, I was surprised to find ‘management of the economy’ did not figure. The only option I was given that might relate to the economy was ‘taxation’. As taxation in itself is not my major concern I decided to tick the ‘other’ box. I am at a loss to understand why ‘management of the economy’ would have been dropped in favour of ‘taxation’. Anyway, back to the ABC’s notion of what constitutes a balanced panel.
If memory serves me correctly, host Baird then wondered how, given that a ‘majority’ of voters want action on climate change, the issue had not figured prominently so far in the election? It takes wonderful linguistic legerdemain to present 11.7% as a majority, especially when it had already been acknowledged that it was a fourth-ranker and of prime concern to a relative few. But at the ABC and in the service of what the like-minded deem a good and urgent cause, where there’s a will there’s a way. The only possible source for Baird’s claim that a majority of the population is fretting about climate change would be the ABC itself. As Quadrant Online explained last week, the claim by the national broadcaster’s Vote Compass to that effect is beyond ludicrous. As to how Baird came to be compering a national TV show — who hired her, for what reason and on the strength of what credentials — that also remains a mystery. Perhaps, one day in a better world, we’ll get an explanation as to how the ABC manages to encrust itself with so many interchangeable mouthpieces for the same worldview and issues. Until Managing Director Guthrie explains this remarkable coincidence, speculation must remain the only guide.
An interesting discussion ensued concerning the shifting sands of public opinion on climate change. This was variously and predictably put down to the machinations and propaganda of vested interests, such as the Koch brothers (of course), and to the superficiality of the general public, The Drum‘s solons agreeing that the great unwashed only get concerned about climate change when some extreme weather event occurs. After that, when the weather returns to normal, the public reverts to a state of bovine complacency.
The panel then examined the three major proposed responses, with the Coalition’s direct-action plan naturally getting a universal thumbs-down. Indeed, it was actually described as a modern version of Stalinist economic thought! It seems that throwing taxpayer funds at a problem can only work for a limited time, which sounds reasonable to me but poses a further question: why does the same logic not apply to the massive subsidies which are the renewables industry’s chief sustenance?
Baird’s gabfest ended with the Great Barrier Reef, the panellists pretty much in agreement that it’s curtains for the Reef unless warming is halted at no more than 2C and pretty sharpish too. This diatribe was accompanied by a graphic sequence which showed a map of the world with a multi-coloured overlay representing global temperature. This graphic was proof, apparently, that the panelists and their hostes are on the right side of history.
Largely ignored was that the most serious and immediate threat to the Reef is posed by agricultural run-off — a problem that is being addressed — and not by global warming, about which Australia on its own could do nothing, even if it were a genuine problem. Completely ignored was a report quoting the Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt, that accused activist scientists and lobby groups of distorting surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching. As far as I’m aware this was only reported in The Australian, so maybe we can excuse the panel for not knowing about it. One can hardly expect them to delve into a denialist cesspit such as that invidious Murdoch organ.
No doubt The Drum‘s four-part harmony about the GBR was inspired by reports more to their liking and biases in the Sydney Morning Herald, wherein last Friday, Catastrophist-In-Chief Tim Flannery wrote that he had ‘dived the GBR near Port Douglas’ and found ‘most of the reef’s usually vibrant staghorn and plate corals are covered with an ugly green slime’. Emotive stuff and couched in terms that suggest all of the GBR is affected in this way. But he didn’t say which reef he dived and how ‘near’ it was to Port Douglas. If he did see green slime, that is certainly a problem, but more probably related to land-management issues (which certainly need to be addressed), rather than climate change.
As it happens, I also dived the Reef in the past couple of weeks – Moore Reef out of Cairns and Agincourt Reef 3 out of Port Douglas. Although both showed signs of minor bleaching (to be expected in a major El Nino year), they are in great shape. I suspect they are more representative of the entire Reef than what Flannery saw. Could it be, do you reckon, that Flannery’s hosts took him quite specifically to a spot where he would see the ‘devastation’ they knew he could be counted on to write about?
It’s just a hunch, but after watching The Drum’s foursome nodding in mutual agreement about everything and anything, my conviction that warmists see only what they want to see, and make up stuff when it isn’t there, is more firmly rooted than ever.