A Pure Poison reader writes:

Bolt and The Australian – a shocking abuse of science in the services of climate denial, even though the scientists involved explain why their work should not be abused in that way.

Here’s how it works.

The Australian this morning runs a “Cut and Paste” run a climate denial segment (even though we know of that The Oz is not a denialist organ because Mr Mitchell has told us so)

Now, that is as a red rag to a raging bull like Bolt, who charges to re-run the whole thing because he is “Nailing another warmist scare endlessly repeated by journalists”

So, both the Oz and Bolt have run the same thing: Peer-reviewed paper by Eric Neumayer and Fabian Barthe of London School of Economics and funded by re-insurers Munich Re in Global Environmental Change, November 18, 2010:

APPLYING both [conventional and alternative] methods to the most comprehensive existing global dataset of natural disaster loss [provided by Munich Re], in general we find no significant upward trends in normalised disaster damage over the period 1980-2009 globally, regionally, for specific disasters or for specific disasters in specific regions.

First problem is the the co-author’s name is actually Fabian Barthel. If you are going to use and abuse someone’s work, surely you can get their name right. Rather like the lothario using the wrong lover’s name in the pitch of passion, perhaps?

Second problem is that if you go to the abstract of the Neumayer/Bartel paper yes, you will find the quote that Bolt and The Oz love so much. BUT (and this has shades of the infamous misuse of Edmund Burke’s quote by The Oz about being an MP in a representative democray) they have left out the next two sentences which reads:

“Due to our inability to control for defensive mitigation measures, one cannot infer from our analysis that there have definitely not been more frequent and/or more intensive weather-related natural hazards over the study period already. Moreover, it may still be far too early to detect a trend if human-induced climate change has only just started and will gain momentum over time.”

Now, Bolt and The Oz have done exactly what the authors says can not and should not be done with their work, that is, use to for “Nailing another warmist scare endlessly repeated by journalists”. Utterly bloody shameless abuse of what is, if you read the entire paper, a solid and reliable piece of research.

In fact, if you read the whole thing, which accepts the science and reality of AGW, you’ll see that they are pioneers in a new area and repeatedly call for more research. And on page 4-5 this section in which they explain why their research should not be interpreted and mis-used as Bolt and The Oz have done:

“Despite these differences in research design, we come to similar conclusions as existing studies: whilst we find massive increases in non-normalized inflationadjusted natural disaster damage, there is no longer any evidence for an increasing trend once each natural disaster event has been normalized. It is premature to interpret these findings as evidence that climatic factors have not led to an increase in normalized disaster damage. This is because defensive mitigating measures undertaken by rational individuals and governments in response to more frequent and/or more intensive natural hazards may have reduced natural disaster losses such that these measures would mask any increasing trend in normalized disaster damage.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to adequately account for measures such as improved early warning systems, better building qualities, heightened flood defences etc. It is therefore impossible to say whether one would see an increasing trend in normalized natural disaster damages in the absence of such measures.”

In short, they say that raw figures for disaster damage is way up; “normalised” figures show “no significant upward trend” (so presumably an upward trend); but please, don’t use our work to say that climate change has not caused greater normalised damage because this is a new field and we don’t know how to deal with factors such as “defensive mitigating measures undertaken by rational individuals” (such as saved some buildings in Cyclone Yasi which were constructed to post ’74 building standards).

It must be so infuriating when you think you’ve hit a climate change denial home run, only to find that you’ve struck out.

(Thanks to reader Wayne for sharing this.)

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