Can’t quote, can’t link

I’ve often observed that the best way to understand Murdoch publications, notably the Oz, is to think of them as dysfunctional rightwing blogs. They’re prone to spectacular meltdowns when subject to the same kind of criticism they happily dish out.

Unattractive as the Oz group are when on the defensive, they are even uglier when celebrating a win. The Murdoch-LNP election victory last week was the signal, among other things for an outburst of climate delusionism on a grand scale. Amid a large pile, it’s hard to go past this piece by Graham Lloyd, with the blaring headline “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.

Those who remember the conventions of 20th century media might read on expectantly, waiting to find a quotation (perhaps a little mangled) from the IPCC or someone associated with it. But there is no quote at all. The opening para says

THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment reportedly admits its computer drastically overestimated rising temperatures, and over the past 60 years the world has in fact been warming at half the rate claimed in the previous IPCC report in 2007. (emphasis added)

. That would be pretty startling if true. After all, historical temperatures are usually estimated with thermometers, not computers. And while some warming delusionists have tried to claim biases associated with urban heat islands (the most recent effort, led by Anthony Watts, was a total fizzle) an IPCC admission that the planet had only warmed half as much as we thought would be a big story indeed.

Of course, no one from the IPCC is quoted, and we are left with the mysterious “reportedly”. The next para suggests that the report comes from that reliable source, the UK Daily Mail. But having failed 20th century journalistic ethics, the Oz can’t manage that most elementary of blogging functions, a hyperlink. So, it’s necessary to do some digging and discover the source is a column by the egregious David Rose. To cut a long story short, Rose is confusing the historically observed rate of warming since 1950 (an annual rate of 0.12 degrees per decade, almost exactly as reported in 2007) with estimates of the likely future rate of warming (generally about 0.2 degrees per decade). Lloyd continues with more errors than I can be bothered with. More gory details, and further links here.

26 thoughts on “Can’t quote, can’t link

  1. News are indeed on the offensive, also pushing pseudo-analysis direct from UK coal-lobby ‘think’ tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation. An attack has been launched on the paper “Quantifying the Consensus on AGW in the Scientific Literature” Cook et al 2013, which is open access with full disclosure of methodology. The attack adopts a dismissive tone while failing to establish any flaws…declaring victory without landing a blow. The article claims that Cook et al is purely propaganda and only succeeds by drawing a veil over its methods…which as I’ve stated are fully disclosed and free to access! The timing of this bit of warmed-over lameness is not coincidental.

  2. Bad stuff, and on a subject that threatens human civilisation itself.

    But as a long-term conspiracy, I remember how Murdoch defenders claimed that Australia had not really had a version of a phone-hacking inquiry as in the UK.

    Also, there had not been an Australian equivalent (that I can immediately recall anyway) of the US situation, where Roger Ailes continued to be employed as head of Fox News even after he was found to have (unsuccessfully) pimped Fox News as “in house” to David Petraeus, were the former General to make a US presidential bid.

    However, the current failure by Murdoch outlets to report that refugee boats continue to come into Australia even after Tony Abbott has been elected, could be the long-term conspiracy that brings News Corp Australia down to the level established by News Corp overseas.

  3. I actually read the David Rose article as well as Mr Lloyd’s. The blog called Skeptical Science does a great slap-down of David Rose’s recent piece and the usual who’s who, all writing a series of, ah…rejectionist, articles in their respective newspapers: see 5 Stages of Climate Denial on Display.

    Not only do these guys never give up, many of them are paid by the (particular) media (baron) to—in effect—do the damage that they do. The basic strategy is to spread around dis-information and mis-information in the major newspapers, then to use those articles as the primary references for writing yet more articles, blog pieces, twitters, etc. Arguing that these articles aren’t intended to harm, but are merely mistakes or hasty edits, the headline staffer getting the headline a bit confused, incompetence but acting in good faith, and a thousand and one other excuses, just doesn’t cut it any more. You cannot be this consistently in error on easily checked claims, without there being a little bit more to it than innocent explanations. We all know that, they know that, and yet the game continues…

    It is a concerted effort. One day, someone is going to look back at all this and build a file, just like happened with the Tobacco companies versus the people.

  4. I hope the folks at Media Watch are up to speed on this. Such claims have well and truly done the rounds and when a Federal Liberal pollie (lobbying to be the new Science Minister mind you) was interviewed on Melbourne’s ABC 774 drive program last week adamantly making the same claims, I just naturally conceded they must be true. Damn me, fooled again 😦

  5. Murdoch is definitely on the attack, if only as a demonstration of his power. Message to Govts – beware of News Ltd!

    The message from the US is that it’s BAU

    ..fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040.

  6. Where to start?

    – When does right wing collectivist group think become conspiracy? Do they believe their own fairy stories? My guess is yes but its still hard to accept.

    – Why is Murdoch so determinedly denialist now? He wasn’t so bad a few years ago, around 2007 I think (corrections welcome).

    – Grieving and horror at his mortality following his mother’s death? He’s got nothing to gain, and must know the difference between nonsense propaganda and science by now. And he will probably be dead soon anyway unless he has found Robert Mugabe’s formula for virulent longevity.

    – The implications and metaphors of the New York hurricane and Arctic ice melt are something blind Freddy can see – yet no understanding.

    – Climate change is clearly bad for business and while he may not give much credence to the Greens or even the IPCC surely his discussions with insurance and banking tycoons has given him pause for objectivity and even seizing a business opportunity (after all he isn’t into fossil fuel extraction – that we know of). Westpac, GE and Ernst and Young were until recently jumping on the climate change bandwagon as simply being sensible business-wise and showing business can make money from any situation – so where is the problem?

    – There are some interesting comments today in RER on how this nonsense gets traction in the quest for ‘balance’: . But you still have to wonder what is going on with ABC and other ‘liberal’ outlets. They seem to be able to find damning reports on all sorts of both left and right wing mischief but for some reason climate change seems somehow quarantined.

    So many puzzles. Maybe it is la deluge.

  7. John, thanks for the mention.

    I’ve sent a message to Media Watch asking them to follow up on the Lloyd article, though it might get lost in the swarm of post election stuff. It would be great if other people could send a tip as well. You can link to here and HotWhopper etc to help them with the research.

    John’s put the link to HotWhopper above. Here’s the link to Media Watch:

  8. The Brisbane Telegraph’s canonistation of Saint Tony Who Can Do No Wrong was particularly odious. It was full of stories about Rudd’s instability. But all those Tony moments we remember from his history were air-brushed away. T.A. was suddenly dependable, solid, real leader material etc. etc. And the general public lapped it up and voted for him. The general public is so easily manipulated. Rupert is laughing at us.

  9. @Newtownian

    Climate change is clearly bad for business and while he may not give much credence to the Greens or even the IPCC surely his discussions with insurance and banking tycoons has given him pause for objectivity and even seizing a business opportunity (after all he isn’t into fossil fuel extraction – that we know of).

    Worth noting newsprint paper manufacturing is classified as highly emissions intensive and trade exposed. I always figured News Corp’s editorial opposition to carbon pricing was as much about selfish business interest as anything else.

  10. The continual lies are hard to take. Someone of normal intelligence who doesn’t take an interest in global warming will conclude that there is a lot of doubt and that nothing is known with any level of certainty.

    What is particularly galling is that at least some of these people know that they are lying.

  11. @Ikonoclast
    “The Brisbane Telegraph”?

    Rupert Murdoch sold the Telegraph years ago, to increase the profits from his one Brisbane newspaper “The Courier Mail” (or “the Curious Snail” to many).

  12. David Karoly resonds (not in the Austalian)

     Today’s Australian newspaper has major errors in its front page article with headline “We got it wrong on warming, says the IPCC”. I look forward to The Australian publishing a correction or a new article with my headline above.

     The first sentence of the article states ‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment reportedly admits its computers drastically overestimated rising temperatures, and over the past 60 years the world has in fact been warming at half the rate claimed in the previous IPCC report in 2007’

     First, the latest assessment report has not been finalised, so no conclusions are final. Second, the observed global average warming of surface air temperature over the last 60 years of 0.12°C per decade is almost identical to the value reported in the IPCC report in 2007 of 0.13°C per decade (likely range 0.10 to 0.16°C per decade) for the period 1956 – 2005.

     The Australian got it wrong again on what the IPCC reported in 2007 and what is happening to global average temperatures.”

  13. @Bill

    My mistake. The change from broadsheet to tabloid (some time ago) has wrong-footed me. It is now Telegraph shaped and worse than the “Tele” ever was so I called it the Telegraph. Showing my age. I’m old enough to remember paperboys in the city calling out, “Paper! Tele! City Final.”

  14. @Ikonoclast
    No worries Ikonoclast, particularly given the ridiculous nature of the Curious Snail’s whitewash of Tony Abbott. All v. true. I’m just hoping that the techno folks are right, and that this is Murdoch’s last hoorah before social media and the Net erase his malice from public life, as the next generation (that much-trusted institution!) abandons print.

  15. The thing we have to grapple with is that the liars are winning hands down. They have the money, they have the power. Telling lies is the way to win in our societal world, especially in the political economy of corporate capitalism. However, there is a limit to winning by lies. The limit is where a system based on lies and anti-science collides with the real material-energetic world. Then lies lose and bring everything down with them.

    In the meantime, we have to ask ourselves how and why we created a society which rewards liars and exploiters and penalises truthful and equitable people. It’s a complex question of course. Probably goes to the heart of our evolved nature where the main function of a large brain in a social animal seems to have evolved for intra-species duping and manipulating.

  16. @Ikonoclast I have long privately assumed that the fossil fuel mafia would win this war. The tragedy of climate change is that those who understand and/or care about its significance are a cultural mismatch with the requirements of the time. Scientists are (rightly) coolly focussed on evidence. The environmental movement is split between naive hippiedom and corporate co-option. The opposition (the corporate world) understands that this is a war, and treat it as such.

  17. No doubt News Ltd journos had the aircon going on Jan 18 when Sydney hit 45.8C. As pointed out some 80% powered by coal. Meanwhile thousands of frail seniors who grew up not needing aircon must have gone perilously close that day.

    I wonder if Clive Palmer’s new found disdain for Murdoch means he will give up plans to mine the Galilee Basin.

  18. JQ: I see that Judith Sloan has decided that an OECD environmental working paper just released proves that Australia’s carbon pricing scheme will be a dis-aster (just as everything done by Labor was a dis-aster, according to Judith.)

    Still, this is the sort of matter which I would hope you might be freer soon to make direct responses to.

    Any comment on the paper would be welcome, as I would expect this will be recycled a lot in the run up to the fight in the Parliament over repealing carbon pricing.

  19. @Crispin Bennett

    Yes, I have tended to think the same. I guess the fossil fuel mafia are existentialists in a way. They care only about the “now” and only about their own “now”. Which is of course a caricature of genuine philosophical existentialism.

    The masses are seduced by the goodies and the entertainment. While these keep flowing, the capitalist oligarchs will maintain rule. Of course, the goodies can’t keep flowing. The laws of physics and biophysics will see to that. There are a few inconvenient facts like resource depletion and climate change.

    What will happen when the s*** hits the fan? Well, Libya, Egypt and Syria are already showing us. Places like Yemen and even Mexico will be next. In every one of these nations, real trouble began (or begins) when domestic use of oil (or all hydrocrabon “liquids” meaning natural gas as well) rises higher than domestic production. Without surplus oil to earn foreign currency for essentials like food, these countries rapidly disintegrate and degenerate into civil war. There is a high correlation between high food prices and food shortages and civil strife. Google this last sentence from the word “high” onwards.

  20. Bloomberg has an interesting view on gun control, they argue that policy reform does take time.

    Previous public-safety campaigns, such as those on the necessity of seat belts or the dangers of tobacco, took decades to win. In both cases, victory depended on the collection of data and the dissemination of information that demonstrated, overwhelmingly, the public-health costs associated with two iconic American activities.

  21. @steve from brisbane
    My take on the paper is that carbon pricing is like the Mexican Wave at the soccer…do it properly or don’t do it at all. Note the prominence given to BCAs or carbon tariffs. Their absence is clearly demonstrated in Australia. We gave 94.5% carbon tax exemption plus cash to our steel and aluminium industries which are fading fast. China is taking up the slack using our ores (alumina, iron ore) and partly our energy sources (thermal and coking coal) while supplying other ingredients such as scale, low wages and lack of serious carbon pricing.

    I’m surprised Lib aligned economists haven’t picked up on carbon tariffs, maybe it’s a bit like some religions eating ham. The paper alludes to other carbon price shortcomings which I’ll paraphrase as undeserved free permits and fraudulent offsets. They use the word ‘stringent’ but I would call it limp wristed administration in the case of our carbon tax and the EU ETS.

  22. . I think we have a tendancy to think things changed faster than they did when looking back on historical changes ,although sometimes societies have changed quickly when they have needed to .I hope there is not too much carbon in the system already. Also if there is a sudden period of system breakdowns I doubt modern Western cities/society will cope nearly as well as less developed places .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s