“Get Carter” and his Supporters, Part B

Guest post by Bob Fernley-Jones (aka Bob_FJ)

Caution; this in Anglo-Oz English, and e.g. ABC = Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and red emphasis is mine.

In Part A we discussed how Professor Bob Carter was shamefully treated by two branches of ABC radio and TV.  Now in Part B, we mainly look at how his supporters on commercial radio also got the big knife from the guy pictured:

Jonathan Holmes

In the ABC TV Media Watch programme of 21/March/2011, the presenter Jonathan Holmes (JH) whinged about some five or six commercial radio host supporters of Professor Bob Carter, from all around Oz.  The record is available as a transcript and video here.  My impression from JH’s body language and voice was that he was targeting those guys in a rather unfriendly way, and I can understand that to a degree.  However, out of his eighteen targetted quotes, only one was plainly a problem, and when I elaborated on that and sought clarification from JH, this was his reply:

JH Email, 13/April: I did not suggest that (other than Alan Jones’s nonsense about CO2 [1].) there was anything actually wrong with the claims made by the other radio talkback hosts when they trotted out statistics garnered from ‘sceptical’ websites [2a].  My point is that they like to impress their listeners with ‘science’, while never giving any space to those who actually do the science that they so deride.

Ah, OK, so commercial radio is biased on climate change, even if there is mostly nothing wrong in what a few part-time targetted hosts said. (some of them AKA “shock jocks”)

Then, as a yardstick of truth, JH also briefly discussed matters raised by the Oz government’s very influential climate change advisor:

JH: But one reason that [pro-CAGW] people are so angry is that fewer and fewer believe that human-induced global warming is actually happening [4]. And that’s while the actual scientific evidence,  as the government’s adviser Professor Ross Garnaut [3] said last week, shows that it’s happening more rapidly than the IPCC forecast just four years ago[2b]

Ross Garnaut:and I call that an awful reality because it would be much better if the opposite were true.— ABC Radio, PM, 10th March, 2011

JH: Well, what does Ross Garnaut know? [rather sarcastically]

Alan Jones: What do you make of this galoot Garnaut, the Federal Government’s climate change head-kicker?  …‘The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is telling us climate change is happening’ – well of course it’s happening ha ha course climate change is happening ya dunce, but is it being created by man-made carbon dioxide emissions? They don’t want to face that question. — 2GB Sydney, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 18th March, 2011

Well yes, Mr Jones is typically colourful about it, but he does raise a valid question.   For instance, JH & Garnaut’s claims are clearly wrong because, put simply, the IPCC projected in 2007, an average global warming of +0.2 C, degrees/decade, near term. However, there has actually been a slight cooling (or if you prefer, a plateau), over the last decade or more [5].

JH then had this to say in quantifying the bias by some of the radio hosts, via interpretation of a listing requested from the Fairfax Radio group in short time:

JH: This year, Fairfax Radio stations 2UE, 4BC, 3AW and 6PR have interviewed only four qualified climate scientists who accept the reality [2c] of man-made global warming. One has appeared on Melbourne’s 3AW, the three others on the breakfast and morning programs on Perth’s 6PR.
Not one orthodox climate scientist – not one – has been interviewed by any of the climate sceptics on Fairfax stations.

It is relevant to note that: a)  JH commented in his show that some “climate scientists” are reluctant to appear on commercial radio when invited [7], and b)  that he considers that economist Ross Garnaut, is highly qualified to comment on the science.  (although I doubt if he would be interested in appearing on commercial radio).  In truth, various other economists etc have had their significant viewpoints adequately explored on those stations, (even if “orthodox scientists” may be shy to do so), as elaborated further below.

But beforehand, here we go: JH abbreviating the commercial radio Code of Practice:

JH: it says licensees must ensure that:

reasonable efforts are made …
to present significant viewpoints [6] when dealing with controversial issues of public importance…

If we refer to the Fairfax listings, it seems to me that there are likely to have been some thirty “significant viewpoints” expressed, not just four, as complained by JH.  It’s an estimate because I don’t have time to try and find and analyse the over thirty past broadcasts that seem to apply.  Oh, but anyway, I noticed by chance that the listing for station 6PR is incomplete, because it omits Paul Murray’s interview of David Suzuki on 23/Feb.  (BTW: Prof Suzuki has uttered abuse to the effect; sceptics should all be jailed).

Here is my quick count of significant viewpoints, opposing the sceptics, as revealed in the list, link repeated.   (legend; ? = not available):  2GB = ?;  2UE = 2;  3AW = 3;  4BC = 18;  5AA = ?:  6PR = 8;  MTR = ?

Returning to Prof Carter himself, JH also had this to say on the show:

JH: Bob Carter, a marine geologist, routinely describes climate scientists as…

Prof Bob Carter: …a very small cabal that actually don’t study climate change, they study weather change…   but the expert group of scientists on climate change…   is the people you’ve just referred to, geologists  — 6PR, Perth, Mornings with Paul Murray, 11th March, 2011

However, that is a tad truncated, and here is a fuller version according to Email advice from Media Watch staff:

Prof Bob Carter:  Because what you’re [Paul Murray] calling climate scientists are a very small cabal that actually don’t study climate change, they study weather change…and they have 150 years of instrumental measurements. And I don’t want to be rude about either of those measurements or the people who study them. They are very important in understanding weather processes and in the longer term weather processes are also climate processes… but the expert group of scientists on climate change… is not the meteorologists, it’s not the atmospheric physicists and it’s certainly not the computer modellers.  It is the people you’ve just referred to, geologists whose profession is looking at environmental change over time.

Doesn’t sound like a routine dismissal of all climate scientists to me.  There are a few things in there that could be discussed, but I’ll leave it there for any visitors to consider.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that whilst JH complains of climate change bias by a few commercial radio hosts, his own ABC is arguably worse in their flagship programmes.  See part A, link repeated here.


[1] Here is the single “shock jock” false claim that JH quoted:

Alan Jones: Nature produces nearly all of the carbon dioxide in the air. Human beings produce point 001 percent of the carbon dioxide in the air…   — 2GB Sydney, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 15th March, 2011

The only relevant podcast that I could find which nearly gave that was actually on 10/March.  He fundamentally claimed that total human contribution is 3%, and Oz human contribution is 1% of global.   The human caused portion of CO2 in the AIR is commonly simplistically quoted at 28-30%, but there is not universal agreement what with rational arguments against.  (e.g. Segalstad).  The 3% figure quoted by Alan Jones may relate to the amount surviving in the air as a proportion of the much larger natural total CO2 cycle, as implied in the IPCC 2001 report.   However, this too is controversial because of extreme complexity coupled with uncertainty.  See also the nuff-said complex construction in the 2007 report; chapter The Natural Carbon Cycle.  (phew!)

[2] The ABC Chairman, Maurice Newman complained in an address to staff in March 2010, that ABC journalists exhibited “group-think” on climate change, and that they should change and become impartial and investigative if the reputation of the ABC is to be upheld.  (paraphrasing).   And, there is this: EXTRACT:…Sources said the speech drew an immediate rebuke from the ABC’s Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes, who rose to his feet and said he was angered by Mr Newman’s remarks…  (BTW; The Editor-in-Chief, is the MD, not the Chairman).    So, here we go with some examples, of improved “investigative journalism and impartiality“, more than a year later:

[2a]  JH: …[on bias in some radio talkback hosts] …when they trotted out statistics garnered from ‘sceptical’ websites… (How does he know their sources?)

[2b]  JH: while the actual scientific evidence…  shows that it’s happening more rapidly than the IPCC forecast just four years ago…  (Not true; slight cooling, not forecast warming)

[2c]  JH:scientists who accept the reality of [serious] man-made global warming…  (Reality?)

[3]   Elsewhere Prof Garnaut has referred to recent weather events as demonstrating that AGW is worsening.  Yet, for instance, the disastrous recent floods and cyclone Yasi in Queensland were NOT unprecedented, and logically were NOT related to AGW.  (despite the doomsayer talk).  (See this, for one of several recent global perspectives).   BTW, a tad off-topic, Garnaut also has a controversial environmental past as Chairman of LIHIR Gold, when that company dumped tailings into the sea off that Papua New Guinean island. (environmental controversy as measured by very many articles on the www….   and the practice is not permitted in various countries…. make of it as you may).

[4]  The number of Oz non-believers in human-caused climate change has recently been quoted to be around 50%.

[5]  Slight global cooling (or a plateau) is typically demonstrated over the past decade or so in this Hadley/CRU graph.   In that graph, consider the annual data in red, NOT the controversial suggested black line smoothing for the last decade.  (See link for more info on the Hadley/CRU 21-year smoothing methodology, and their dodgy treatment over the final 10 years).  Or, if you prefer, there is this satellite data.

[6] In the  generic semantics of the ABC, significant viewpoints translates as: “principal relevant perspectives“, and their application of this has allowed non-scientists to dispute the views of scientists.  (which describes ABC impartiality)

[7]  Concerning scientists reluctant to appear on commercial radio:

JH:  We approached four eminent Australian climate scientists who do sometimes appear on radio and TV. Most told us that on the rare occasions they’ve been asked by commercial radio stations to debate climate science, they’ve agreed, (though Professor Will Steffen of the ANU’s Climate Change Institute told us

Prof Steffen: I sense a degree of burnout in the scientific community (in relation to engaging with media like talkback radio), and this is regrettable but completely understandable.)    — Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute, 18th March, 2011

JH:  Professor Andy Pitman of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales explained why he now declines requests from radio sceptics.

Prof Pitman: It would be like asking a cardiologist to respond to the well known theory that humans do not have a heart and cardiologists only claim we have a heart so they can make lots of money claiming to operate on them.   — Professor Andy Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, 17the March, 2011

Well there we go; there’s nothing like a sound professorial scientific analogy, what?


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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