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Janet Albrechtsen

Jan 20, 2010

Planet Janet has a new moon, called Irony

Janet Albrechtsen today in the Australian IS it too much

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Janet Albrechtsen today in the Australian

IS it too much to ask for a measured climate change debate in 2010? Looking back at 2009, it’s hard to think of a more frustrating debate than the one about anthropogenic global warming.

Janet Albrechtsen October 28 2009

Monckton warned that the aim of the Copenhagen draft treaty was to set up a transnational government on a scale the world has never before seen.

Monckton says the aim of this new government is to have power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.

Was that one world government fear-mongering ‘measured’ Janet?

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64 comments

64 thoughts on “Planet Janet has a new moon, called Irony

  1. confessions

    Dave C:
    [Bolt brings up the idea of a 100m sea level rise, and challenges Williams to agree or disagree. Williams merely responds by saying, “Yes, it is possible”.]

    And yet Bolt continues to attribute that statement to Williams.

    Will Andy apologise for misrepresenting Robyn Williams’ response to 100m sea level rises?

  2. Jay

    ok, it links.

  3. Jay

    Mondo @ 59

    I think this sums it up best:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1174

    Sorry, not sure how to directly link it.

  4. Dave C

    My personal suggestion is that you should tune into the denialist outlets in order to at least see what the other side is saying. Most of it is transparently compromised barracking or intellectual dishonesty, but these people aren’t monsters. Some of what they say bears closer scrutiny – particularly criticisms of commentators who pick the most extreme of the predicted outcomes (Robyn “100 metre sea rises” Williams is a good example) instead of a more measured and sensible analysis.

    Oh I hear the denialist stuff alright – it’s hard not to. It echoes with ear-drum crippling force around the media landscape.

    But take the Robyn Williams example. I had to look it up, but when I did I found the transcript. Bolt brings up the idea of a 100m sea level rise, and challenges Williams to agree or disagree. Williams merely responds by saying, “Yes, it is possible”. This wasn’t deliberate disinformation; it was a deliberate attempt by Bolt to catch someone out. Williams fell for it, most likely out of ignorance (though yes, he should have known better).

    According to Bolt, the originator of the 100m sea level rise claim was Professor Mike Archer, but I’ve been unable to locate Archer’s actual comments. The only thing that comes up in Google, time and time again, are Bolt’s comments. How many people would have been exposed to such a claim if not for Andrew Bolt? If there’s any propaganda here, it lies in Bolt’s attempts not just to highlight extreme claims, but to dredge them up from the deepest, darkest recesses, and even engineer them by exploiting the ignorance of non-experts, and then milk them for all they’re worth.

    While I tend to agree, I also believe that’s dangerous thinking Dave. Assuming good intentions on the part of people who agree with you (while assuming the opposite for those who don’t) is not really a valid argument on any level. Intention is irrelevant (and impossible to discern anyway) – methodology is the only factor that a commentator’s contribution can be measured on. In the case of the IPCC and the himalayan glacier prediction the methodology was utterly inadequate, and leads to legitimate doubts.

    Legitimate doubts about what? The error was in citing non-peer reviewed literature, something easily verifiable. How many laypeople were even aware of this particular prediction before it was shown to be merely speculative? I certainly wasn’t, and I follow the issue more closely than the average person.

    I apply Hanlon’s Razor, and I try to apply it consistently. However, I have trouble comparing this error to those made by the denialists, whose “methodologies” extend to citing each other’s blog posts, disregarding all nuance, flatly ignoring detailed refutations of their arguments and laughing at people. Somewhere along the line, that tips them over the Hanlon threshold and into the realm of propaganda.

  5. confessions

    mondo: I read somewhere undergraduate science students now do ‘Communications’ as part of their degree to help prepare them for dealing with the media. I don’t know whether this is all universities and all science courses though.

  6. mondo rock

    if news outlets reported the qualifiers that go hand in glove with academic writing, I wonder whether you’d have that impression of doomsday scenarios.

    Now I see where you were going, and you’re right. It is not the scientists in most cases who are fixated on the worst-case scenarios, but the media.

    Twobob – I clearly can’t argue the science with you, largely because I don’t have the time to investigate the basis for the above claim. You may well be right – in the next five to ten years we may see the worst case scenarios playing out before our very eyes, thus demolishing my ‘propoganda’ comment above.

    I think confessions has already identified the confusion in my comments above anyway – i.e. I am conflating the hysterical misrepresentations made by media commentators (e.g. snow could be a thing of the past in Britain in the next 5 – 10 years) with the actual scientific comment underpinning them.

  7. twobob

    modo
    Your statement
    Constantly ignoring lower-end predictions in order to trumpet worst-case scenarios is an attempt to manipulate public opinion. It’s propoganda. is utter dribble.
    Given statements like this from 2000 scientists whom attended the Copenhagen Climate Science Congress,

    Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.” http://climateprogress.org/2009/03/17/media-copenhagen-global-warming-impacts-worst-case-ipcc/

    If you spend a bit of time and dig around the science you will find that we are exceeding IPCC worst case scenarios in almost every instance.
    So ignoring low end predictions is not propaganda it is realism.

  8. confessions

    [but the general news pages are full of AGW doomsday stories. It makes perfect sense from a commercial point of view – scary predictions make great copy in the general news sections, and god-complex commentators make great reading in the opinion pages.]

    I think the distinction between the general news and opinion is a fair one mondo. But I’m not sure “full of” is the right description. But assuming your right, how much of this goes back to my 3rd point above? Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but if news outlets reported the qualifiers that go hand in glove with academic writing, I wonder whether you’d have that impression of doomsday scenarios. And YES to the commercial benefit: hysteria sells, even if you have to sex up someone’s measured and reasonable predictions.

    I agree there are some prone to hysteria, but to me these people appear to be in the minority when compared with the loud mouth anti science crowd. And honestly, the reason people feel they don’t get pulled up is probably because the bigger message, that climate change poses real environmental and economic problems for our nation, is still the correct one. Denialists try to subvert this by pretending everything’s fine and we don’t have to do anything. Totally untrue and ostrich-like.

    I think it’s best highlighted in the mainstream media’s tendency to report worst-case scenarios instead of most likely scenarios

    I agree, which is why i’m royally pissed at the government for linking failure of CPRS to pass the Senate with bushfire risk. Normally governments take a ‘don’t scare the horses’ approach, but that went out the window in an effort to play politics with their legislation – a gift to the media, the denialists and the opposition. Stupid.

    I’m sure that if we were all better informed it would be easier to make sense of some of the rubbish that gets in the media, but as you said do the majority really want to?

  9. mondo rock

    Maybe I don’t tune into the right channels or read the right literature, but I don’t tend to hear too many such pronouncements.

    My personal suggestion is that you should tune into the denialist outlets in order to at least see what the other side is saying. Most of it is transparently compromised barracking or intellectual dishonesty, but these people aren’t monsters. Some of what they say bears closer scrutiny – particularly criticisms of commentators who pick the most extreme of the predicted outcomes (Robyn “100 metre sea rises” Williams is a good example) instead of a more measured and sensible analysis.

    Constantly ignoring lower-end predictions in order to trumpet worst-case scenarios is an attempt to manipulate public opinion. It’s propoganda.

    It would be a little unfair to classify that as disinformation, when it’s more likely to be a sloppy but ultimately honest mistake.

    While I tend to agree, I also believe that’s dangerous thinking Dave. Assuming good intentions on the part of people who agree with you (while assuming the opposite for those who don’t) is not really a valid argument on any level. Intention is irrelevant (and impossible to discern anyway) – methodology is the only factor that a commentator’s contribution can be measured on. In the case of the IPCC and the himalayan glacier prediction the methodology was utterly inadequate, and leads to legitimate doubts.

    Most of the MSM, particularly the op-ed sections is hostile towards climate change in general.

    Confessions – I agree with the second part but not the first. Op-eds are skewed towards the denialist camp but the general news pages are full of AGW doomsday stories. It makes perfect sense from a commercial point of view – scary predictions make great copy in the general news sections, and god-complex commentators make great reading in the opinion pages.

    Commerical television doesn’t even really have opinion content – it’s just the attention grabbing new cycle. Political junkies like us aside, I would think that most voting Australians just digest the headlines. Sure – some of them are “Great Big Tax”, but you have to admit that at least as many (if not more) are “Global Warming Hits Sydney” (or equivalent).

    I can’t remember exactly what was in that Costello article, but I do think they’d left qualifyers in and it was just SB’s enthusiasm to find something, anything to attack him with that led his/her comments.

    Hey – I fell for it too, although for me it was more a case of failing to remember that I’m an idiot who knows nothing about climate science. The idea that climate could affect earthquakes seemed far-fetched to me, at least until a cooler head (i.e. you)pointed to science that made a cogent case in favor of it.

    But in the end whose comments do you really think permeated more into the Australian public’s consciousness – Costello’s much publicised linking of natural disasters to climate change or the right-o-sphere’s hysterical condemnation of it? I would argue that Costello’s comments would probably have reached a much wider audience.

    Given all above, I’d like to ask what specifically you are referring to with ‘overblown’?

    I think it’s best highlighted in the mainstream media’s tendency to report worst-case scenarios instead of most likely scenarios, as I mentioned above in my response to Dave. Scaring the public is quite obviously better media than giving qualified and hedged statements, and I think this has been the tendency of most media outlets to date.

    If I get some time I might trawl through the media to look for specific instances, but many off the right-wing blogs have done that for me. Much of what those blogs say is nonsense, but some of it isn’t.

  10. confessions

    Well that’s a relief mondo, thanks for the clarification. 🙂

    [The fact is that there are claims being injected into the public debate that are overblown and not evidence-based, and they are not being substantially ‘disregarded’ as you rightly suggest they should be]

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with this for 3 reasons.

    Most of the MSM, particularly the op-ed sections is hostile towards climate change in general. Opinion writers who favour the so-called sceptic side of the debate appear to me to outnumber those who accept AGW in greater proportions than is representative in the larger community. This means that claims concerning global warming repercussions are dismissed or ridiculed as ‘overblown’ just as much as more dodgy claims, and actual climate scientists are denigrated unfairly. In my view this is simply clouding the issue and making it much harder for the general public to judge what seems plausible against what doesn’t.

    Secondly the political divide around AGW means winning the sound bite war. We have one side trying to gain traction on a do-nothing or tread slowly platform and the other linking it’s legislation to bushfire risk and El Nino summers. Both are without scientific merit, with the former esp lacking economic credibility as well. Yet the media lacks the ability or the will to parse these statements with any intellectual honesty. The reporting side of things can’t editorialise or ‘opinionise’ its reports, and by the time the issue reaches the opinion side of things, the media cycle has either moved on and the issue is no longer relevent, or it gets the denialist preferential treatment. That means we see GREAT BIG TAX scare messages a lot, and articles/statements by people like Monkton and Plimer given preference.

    Lastly, the language of research and science is not conducive to media reporting. Consider the earthquake stuff we discussed a few days ago. I made it clear the evidence was ’emerging’ and IIRC used terms such as ‘likely to’ and ‘may’. This instantly conveys the message that measurements show a correlation, but not necessarily cause and effect, and/or predictive modelling suggests a statistical trend, but nothing conclusive. In the media these qualifying phrases appear to be often ignored or edited out at the final review. I can’t remember exactly what was in that Costello article, but I do think they’d left qualifyers in and it was just SB’s enthusiasm to find something, anything to attack him with that led his/her comments.

    Given all above, I’d like to ask what specifically you are referring to with ‘overblown’? For me the biggest howler has come recently from the government who tried to link the high bushfire risks with action on climate change, ie passing the CPRS. As Barnaby Joyce correctly pointed out, the CPRS won’t change the weather, and nor will it reduce global temps. But I seem to recall the government was given short shrift for that in the media. Or at Crikey anyway.

    And to finish, I was just reading two comments, one about ABC news allegedly reporting the potentially libellous claim that the CRU was altering their data to strengthen the case for AGW, and the other a poor report about what action is needed on climate change. The ABC!!! If true this is a shocking decline in journalistic standards.

  11. Dave C

    Disinformation is disinformation, and it would be to our credit to at least admit that some of it is being injected into the debate by our side.

    I agree that disinformation ought to be countered without fear or favour, but we need to know precisely what we’re admitting before we admit it.

    What actually are the overblown claims of which you speak? Maybe I don’t tune into the right channels or read the right literature, but I don’t tend to hear too many such pronouncements.

    You cite the Himalayan glacier claim as one error, but that was admitted by “our side” (by which I assume you mean “not the denialists”). It would be a little unfair to classify that as disinformation, when it’s more likely to be a sloppy but ultimately honest mistake.

  12. mondo rock

    What you are implying is that the anti-science stance taken by extremist radicals should be considered as reasonable and logical opposition because those people tend to associate with the rightwing.

    I’m really not doing that confessions, I’m just trying to extract some of the ‘anti’ AGW arguments that I believe stand on their own as reasonable (although obviously I am extracting these from amongst a gigantic heap of ones that don’t). I don’t really care what side of politics the criticisms come from, and am just using ‘Right’ as a convenient label since they primarily come from people identifying as Right-wing.

    The fact is that there are claims being injected into the public debate that are overblown and not evidence-based, and they are not being substantially ‘disregarded’ as you rightly suggest they should be (or at least not until they’ve been out there long enough for the retraction to be pointless).

    I don’t think its incorrect criticise the generally pro-AGW media for its tendency to print any kind of AGW scare story without really caring whether it’s true or not. I, as a member of the non-scientific public, sometimes feel as though I am being fed deliberately inflated rhetoric.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that the general reluctance of the AGW movement to put a leash on the alarmists within its ranks (presumably on the basis that any sign of weakness will be immediately misused by the rabid denialists) is doing damage to our ability to sensibly decide on a way to deal with this issue.

    Disinformation is disinformation, and it would be to our credit to at least admit that some of it is being injected into the debate by our side.

  13. confessions

    [I’m going to change things up a bit here and try to sympathise with some of the complaints from the Right.]

    That there is problem number 1. Climate research isn’t and should never be a ‘left’ or ‘right’ issue, yet for some strange reason it is. What you are implying is that the anti-science stance taken by extremist radicals should be considered as reasonable and logical opposition because those people tend to associate with the rightwing. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be. And nor should the anti-rigour stances taken by the opposite spectrum end be either. Dave C is right: if it can’t be traced back to the evidence base, it should be disregarded.

    [The apparently false claim made in the IPCC report about Himalayan glaciers disappearing is a good case in point.]

    That apparently false claim is half false mondo. The relevant IPCC report included a citation that overstated the extent of Himalayan glacial decline, but that decline is still evident. The error had been picked up in the journals some time ago and debate has apparently been ongoing so it’s strange that the reference was cited to start with. Is this the kind of authorship we expect from a scieitnfic body? No, but it doesn’t mean that Himalayan glaciers are not in decline. I read somewhere recently that the glaciers have receded something like 20% in the last 40 years.

  14. Dave C

    Oh yes it is. Very different. Climate scientists often refer to the “chaos” of natural interacting systems. Your argument is a variant of the majesty, purity and certainty of science. No problem with gravity and evolution. Big problems with climate. Raw and undeveloped.

    I’m not quite sure what your point is. You seemed to be citing Trenberth as an authority on the fact that there are uncertainties in climate modelling. Not being a climate scientist myself, I have no choice but to agree. But these uncertainties are not just lurking out there like landmines waiting to explode – they are explicitly taken into account by the IPCC, and are under active investigation by climate scientists… are they not?

    Science as pure again: nothing wrong with the ideal type- but if you read the climate emails you’ll find a constant strain of exclusion and denigration of scientific opponents, one manifestation of which is the struggle to control “peer review”. They tried to play the system and when that failed they tried to rig the system. There were numerous discussions about “reliable” reviewers, “acceptable” journals, backsliders, etc. (Academics behaving normally, but no one usually cares.) Read the emails.

    Again, I fail to see your point. If there are specific examples of academics behaving badly to an extent that would call into question details of the IPCC’s reports, then cite them. I sense bias in your interpretation of the emails, but I’m not going to rummage through a million words looking for such morsels of evidence when you should have them at your fingertips.

    There is nothing even remotely wrong with discussing “reliable” reviewers and “acceptable” journals; some reviewers are not reliable (in the sense of rigorously evaluating a paper), and some journals are not acceptable (in terms of credibility, impact factor, etc.). That’s the reality academics have to work with.

    Furthermore, Trenberth’s own papers are presumably peer-reviewed, including the one you cited. You undermine your own source by suggesting that the peer review process is being distorted.

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