ABC radio bias….. Complaint 3

14/12/10;   Here, resubmitted, in MS Word 2007 format, is my third of four complaints of bad journalism/ bias in recent radio “Science Shows”. Three minor updates at 14/12 are in shown in red. (See covering Email)

{3} The science of climate change. From “The Science Show of 21, August, 2010

The Australian Academy of Science has produced a booklet summarising our [= their?] understanding of climate science. The aim is to provide the public with an authoritative source of information from those who work in the field.

Here, italicised, are extracts of some of the seemingly more cogent points in the transcript. (The programme only covered the first few out of seven Q & A’s contained in the actual booklet) :

a) “…The blue dots here are all measurements, they match up almost perfectly [? see footnote 1] with the ice core record, so we have a record going back here 2,000 years but overall 800,000 years to show us that past history. And this level of CO2 we have now at over 380 parts per million is greater than any concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere for 800,000 years…”

Comment: It is true that ancient ice-cores contain entrapped air bubbles which when chemically analysed give a proxy inference of varying CO2 levels that are lower than those actually measured in recent decades. However, there was no mention of the parallel proxies whereby air temperatures at the time of deposition were also inferred via gaseous isotopes analysis. Putting aside some controversy about the accuracy of these two types of proxy, there are nevertheless abundant scientific papers giving that past temperatures were a response to changing CO2, showing significant lag*. (That is to say: whenever CO2 levels rose, it was some hundreds of years later when the air temperature then followed upwards, and vice versa). This was not mentioned, and it very strongly contradicts the conclusions made in the programme. It gets into the highly controversial estimations of various feedbacks and CO2 sinks, that are claimed by “the consensus”. (and that are assumed in the various ensembles of climate prediction models that are the main basis for IPCC opinion on the potential magnitude of AGW)

*For example, check out ‘Caillon et al 2003‘: http://icebubbles.ucsd.edu/Publications/CaillonTermIII.pdf There are a swag of other studies describing lags of differing magnitudes, and in different ways, but they are all broadly in agreement. Here is a good summary of the various papers: http://www.co2science.org/articles/V6/N26/EDIT.php

b) “…Another way that indicates that there is a cause and effect relationship between rising greenhouse gases and the current observed rise in temperatures is that if we look for alternative explanations we’re very hard pressed to find any…”

Comment: Well, putting aside the vague language; they must also be “very hard pressed” to find an explanation for the longer warming period of similar strength

between about 1910 and 1940. That was before there was any significant increase in CO2, so it must have been caused by something other than CO2 increase. So why should the recent warming period be any different? The temperature curve below is up and down in about a 60-year cycle, and is clearly lacking of any correlation with steadily increasing CO2 which only got going after about 1940:

clip_image002

There was no mention of (non CO2) natural cycles, or the remarkable match between temperature and the PDO cycle of about 60-years. (and also the smoothed ENSO cycle of about 60-years). For an example in this ever increasing discussion, see:

http://www.drroyspencer.com/research-articles/global-warming-as-a-natural-response/ And:

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/06/update-on-the-role-of-the-pacific-decadal-oscillation-in-global-warming/

c) “…Certainly the Sun won’t account for this rise. The Sun’s output [he means of sunlight?] over the last few decades has been trending in the wrong direction to account for that increase…”

Comment: There is no mention that there has been a plateau in warming over the past decade or so. (BTW; professor Phil Jones of UEA has agreed in an interview, that warming has not been statistically significant over the last 15 years).

There was also no mention of OTHER seemingly important solar outputs or of the ongoing massive “CLOUD” experiment at CERN:

“The CLOUD experiment [at start-up] involves an interdisciplinary team of scientists from 18 institutes in 9 countries, comprised of atmospheric physicists, solar physicists, and cosmic-ray and particle physicists“.

http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/research/CLOUD-en.html

http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1180849

More: if you Google: ‘cern cloud‘.

(and don’t forget the “Maunder Minimum’ when sunspot activity was at a sustained low)

 

d) “…but one of the projections of climate models is that we see a band of drying across the southern part of the continent, in south Western Australia and Victoria and extending roughly up to the latitude of the ACT. That is a predicted consequence of climate change…”

Comment: Oh really? Please study these rainfall graphs published by our BOM. See footnote [2] concerning the extent of the Murray-Darling Basin.

clip_image004

Or, how about this first photo: “Dry river bed of the Murray river at Myall near Kerang, Victoria, 1914. During the Federation drought it stopped flowing for about 6 months.” Or, secondly, upstream at Mildura; camels crossing. Nowadays of course, this is the realm of houseboats, and summer deaths in boating and water sports reportedly exceed those on the roads in the region.

clip_image005

And, on a more romantic but highly relevant note, check out that magnificent poem of 1904 by Dorothea MacKellar, describing horrible drought, a decade before those photos. (the first verse compares England)

http://www.lancescoular.com/my-country-by-dorothea-mackellar.html

The following graph is currently showing improved Victorian regional water reserves in the past eight years through to end of October 2010. That was before the big rains and floods in November-December.   Melbourne storages are also at the highest level in 5 years.

clip_image007

e) “…We also see wettening trends in the north and those, as Ian showed a moment ago, have been observed in the records over the last 50 years in particular. So while there is a lot of uncertainty around rainfall projections, there is some evidence that climate changes are being manifested in Australian rainfall patterns already…”

Comment: And there is some evidence that there is nothing unusual in monsoonal rainfall volatility in the last 50 years up north:

clip_image009

 

Footnotes:

[1] See http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/zjmar07.pdf jump to Fig. 2 (a) & (b)

[2] For a map of the Murray-darling Basin, see: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/about/rain_timeseries.shtml

[3] Please note that I am NOT seeking adjudication on any of the science: The complaint is that the programme supported only the OPINIONS of “the consensus”, and some of the science employed to support those opinions, or doubtful interpretations of the data. However, there is much highly credible science that highlights great uncertainty, or is contradictory, but which had no mention. Thus, “The Science Show” was misleading to the public, which amounts to bad journalism.

Consideration should also be given to the recent policy changes made by the BBC, which should result in fairer presentation of both sides of the science over there. (together with increasing awareness of the problem in various institutions and publications etc, since about November 2009)

Bob Fernley-Jones. (professional engineer retired….. Melbourne)

Email: bobfjones@optusnet.com.au

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About Bob Fernley-Jones

I'm a retired mechanical engineer, and I guess that because in my science, any bad assumptions can get people killed, I have an abhorrence of many things that are perpetrated by academics in some areas of science. In the case of so-called climate science, the culture and bias in some media is also repugnant to me. I'm hoping that the ABC will improve its self regulating policies and culture to eliminate bias, and this website is under development towards that end. (if necessary).

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