ABC radio, Australia…. Misleading “Science” ….. No 3.

DRAFT: On 25/Oct/2010 I laid a complaint (2) to Audience and Consumer Affairs (A&CA), however they have failed to give a ruling within the allowable 60-day statutory period.  It concerned a programme segment; “The science of climate change”, broadcast on “The Science Show” on 21, August, 2010, to which the introduction started with:

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

All five scientific claims that were made were misleading.  For instance, the first one is a rerun of a famous wall-graph in the Al Gore movie “An Inconvenient Truth”.  This graph is asserted to show that carbon dioxide concentration within bubbles of air entrapped in ice-cores, rises and falls in exact unison with the air temperature over many thousands of years.  (proxy temperature is assessed from isotope ratios).  However, it was well known amongst scientists, that in fact, there is actually a lag of the order of 800 years in carbon dioxide response behind that of temperature.  This implies the exact opposite of the deceptive message conveyed.   The presenter, Robyn Williams, was very well aware of this fact, as recorded in some earlier exchanges with Andrew Bolt(1), etc.

Any investigative science journalist should know or be able to determine quite easily that the other four claims by the AAS were also misleading.  For instance, by simply looking at the BOM data records and history, as I demonstrated, it shows that the claims about unprecedented Victorian drought are false.  Williams has also asserted to Andrew Bolt (1):

 “…I read about 25 journals a week and I go half blind doing so…”,

So, being so well informed, he really has no excuse.

Incidentally, did you notice that Williams’ claimed in his introduction that the AAS booklet summarises ‘Our’ understanding, rather than “Their”, which would be the correct impartial possessive?  Whilst this point on its own might seem to be trivial, it is nevertheless typical of his pervasive non-impartiality.  (which is contrary to the ABC policies).

Since A&CA have not made a ruling, or justified asking for more time, I suspect that they have been unable to deny the misinformation.  Accordingly, I’ve asked for an apology from the ABC, in line with the following Editorial Policy (3):

 4.3.1 The ABC seeks to avoid errors. However, the ABC will not hesitate to admit and correct a significant error when it is established that one has been made. When a correction is necessary, it will be made in an appropriate manner as soon as reasonably practicable. [See also 7.4.2.b]


(1) For more information on Williams’ rather interesting exchanges with Andrew Bolt, see here, part [2] & Footnote 1 thereof  for the full interview.

(2) For more information on complaint No.3,  See here:

(3) Although it is not clear in the Editorial Policies what the procedure is for requesting an apology, it should be noted that the ABC operates under; Act of Parliament (ABC Act), which in part translates:

3.5.6 The ABC is accountable to Parliament and to the Australian people. The ABC recognises that its independence carries with it a high degree of responsibility…   …3.5.7 In addition the Corporation does the following: …(e)    responds to queries from the public.


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).

8 Responses to “ABC radio, Australia…. Misleading “Science” ….. No 3.”

  1. The 800 year lag is understandable. It is known that the CO2 emission occurs after the initiation of climate change as a result of changes in the earth’s orbit, and axial tilt, the Milankovich cycles. These changes initiate feedbacks which amplify the climate changes including changes in the albedo of the earth, and the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere. It takes time for these feedbacks to occur, and an 800 year lag can be expected to occur.
    This is a fact well known to climate scientists but seems to be ignored by “skeptics” like yourself.

  2. @Eadler .. so you admit other climate change drivers exist and that CO2 rises 800 years or so after they come into play. You’ll probably also notice then that the Vostok core proxy data also shows when these other climate change drivers are cooling the planet that CO2 falls 800 years later too. So what happened to the amplification then? And if amplification was realy happening wouldnt it cause runaway temperture rises. Im sorry Eadler but that idea has lots of holes in it .. its advocacy climate scientists who are saying that but those that follow the true scientific method irrespective of funding or favour are in the other camp.

    • Mike Elliott, I’m not sure (I’m new to this still) what the point was of using the word “amplify”, but Eadler didn’t say that CO2 wouldn’t fall.

      The primary driver by faaaaaaaaar in the earth’s climate is the amount of sunlight it gets. That doesn’t mean our release of unchecked CO2 won’t have warming effects which may have fairly negative consequences.

      Bob, in the about section it says “bad assumptions can get people killed”, but for climate science, a bad assumption would be to significantly underestimate the potential consequences of climate change, wouldn’t you agree. What would you do? Go with the happy picture, or be a little cautious?

      • Jose,
        Alarmism in the CAGW industry, media and politics has been initiated and driven largely by the IPCC. I recommend that you read Donna Laframboise’s book to try and understand just how corrupt the IPCC is. It is available in Kindle digital form for US$ 4.99, and free software is available for your computer or whatever, if you don’t have a Kindle reader, or you can buy a paperback version for I recall $20.
        Andrew Montford’s book which clinically destroys the Mann Hockry-stick is also brilliant if a tad dry. As you may know, the Hockey-stick deleted the MWP and LIA with a dramatic graph showing “unprecedented warming” in recent times with great media/political impact. (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary).
        Oh, and Bob Carters Book with its 354 references, and Mosher’s book on “Climategate”, might fill you in on some stuff that you seem to be unaware of.
        You can find more information on these publications at WUWT
        But in answer directly to your question, I think that the billions of dollars spent in the CAGW industry would be better spent on KNOWN PROBLEMS where many MILLIONS of people die in great misery as a matter of course each year.
        Did you click and read all the links in my article?

      • Looking online, Donna Laframboise has been grilled. You may want to read this (as well as many other comments you can google).

        “But while grad students do author many papers, and are often the corresponding authors on those papers, they are always co-authored by their mentor, an established researcher in the field, one who goes by Doctor. This author is often called the “senior author,” not “lead author.” I think that’s where you got confused. Those “top experts” in a larger field are the senior authors. The lead authors, often graduate students, are in training to be top experts in a large scientific field, as well. However, they are the top experts in their own narrower research field, which is why they are called upon as experts by the IPCC.”

        It seems another attack on form rather than substance. It’s an attack on the number of letters after a persons’ name rather than the merit of the work they produced.

        Einstein was only 26, I think, when he wrote his four extremely impressive 1905 papers. According to wikipedia, he submitted 3 of the 4 revolutionary papers before he submitted his PHD thesis that year. When experts in physics read those papers and said, “whoa”, they didn’t then say, “never mind.. it’s doodle written only by a kid”, upon discovering the author was not a PHD. And, surely, you don’t have to be an Einstein to qualify as having been lead writer of a very good paper useful to the IPCC’s very large and comprehensive report, right? Do you think only a PHD should be an author of any paper used there?

        Did you research Donna Laframboise (who has never been through a PHD science program in her life) before suggesting I read her book?

        I appreciate you looking at the actual details of the works, as you did for Trenberth’s diagrams, but he said she said stuff is not going to convince very many serious people. Unless there is more in her book, referring to Laframboise may not help your argument.

        Have you looked at this: ?

  3. Jose,
    I’m not surprised that you have found critical comment on her book, and this has been discussed with some amusement at WUWT. For instance Dr Peter Gleick caused chortles for apparently doing a harsh critique without actually reading the book. Do a site-search on laframboise, and about eight down, there’s an article which includes the words ‘in absentia’ in the title for the Gleick article.
    The book is all investigative journalism as far as I can recall, and you don’t need a scientific degree to do that. She researched stuff like who in the IPCC has affiliations with the WWF, Greenpeace and the like, together with other vested “green investment” interests and big funding. She also had all the reference literature investigated with the aid of helpers, and found a vast number (~18,000?) to be “grey literature” such as from the WWF, non-peer reviewed and/or not yet published, against the rules of the IPCC. Oh, and quite a bunch of the IPCC “experts” were of tender age and expertise, which resulted in what I think is a poor title for the book. I was also irritated by her repeated use of “Climate Bible” instead of “IPCC Report”
    Well, why don’t you lash out and download her book, it’s only $4.99.

    • In the near future, I probably won’t be reading her book unless it pops up for free reading online (I have almost bought no reading material in many years.. eg, use only open documentation, source code, etc).

      I read the Gleick thread you mentioned, but there was almost none of the book quoted.

      I also came across generalizations that WG2 and WG3 are much more likely to have used the non-peer reviewed material than WG1. This story is not going to be decided in the next few years, although, as you said in the Trenberth “up” thread, the IPCC’s draft of man effect on weather is currently conservative.

      On IPCC policies, one side claims the IPCC has always allowed non-peer reviewed while the other side says they shift the goal post.

      On financial connections, it is not too surprising a fair share of academics take positions in firms related to their research, but it is something to keep in mind.

      On young experts, I have little to add beyond that essay I linked above. We’d need to look at specific cases. There are people that have made brilliant observations and are committed to various disciplines way beyond mortals. We’d need to let the details speak for themselves. I am sure climate science has their share of geniuses and overachievers (including the occasional nerd that studies advanced mathematics while playing chess with several people at the same time).

      I came across skepticalscience not long ago (though it tends to be on the technical side so I don’t visit too frequently) and hopefully I’ll also keep some awareness over the WUWT blog entries. [One recent note fon a WUWT link I checked out because it seemed interesting: a “comments are closed” discussion from earlier this year on green organizations getting lots of cash from BP completely missed a very important point that the gulf disaster put BP in a weak negotiating position and lots of environment groups took advantage of that money tree as well as a fair amount of public outcry and willingness to donate; it’s one thing for BP to donate voluntarily, but it’s another for them to pay some sort of restitution in a “plea bargain deal” with green groups bringing on the heat).

      Concerning what I can make of your efforts, keep up the diligence (and heat) if you can but do try be conscience of bias creep that may cloud your judgement (yes, it’s possible).


  1. ABC radio’s so-called “Science show”; licence to mislead the public, Part 1. | Bobfjones's Blog - 11/18/2011

    […] here, but ignore the first one which is a repeat of the above.  However, it is about 4,500 words, and this summary of the basic points is easier […]

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