Climate change and spin doctors
Climate politics in action - greenhouse and the media - 2 September 2006
The Weekend Australian published a story on 2 September 2006 "Science tempers fears on climate change". The reporter Matthew Warren writes it has "a draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained exclusively by The Weekend Australian..."
The IPCC report is of course a draft and is readily available if you sign up to the IPCC review site to allow for a wide peer review of the report - someone who signs on also of course needs to agree that, in signing on, they will not distribute, cite or publish the report as it is, after all, a draft. Whoever provided this report to Mr Warren (or if he got it himself) has ignored this...
The Australian's reporter Matthew Warren had a previous gig (up until 5 June 2006) as Director of External Affairs for the New South Wales Mineral Council - an industry association heavily invested in the promotion of coal-fired electricity and clean coal and supportive of the Federal Govt approach to climate change (and combative with the NSW Govt).
Mr Warren is a good fit with the The Australian and news.com.au which has been aggressively touting denial of climate change for several years, very much in line with Federal Government views, and appearing to moderate its stance in over 2006 as the evidence simply becomes inarguable, but still tries to cast doubt on the science... (up until November - see below)
In this way, Warren's report try's to dismiss any upper end forecasts on climate change and sea level rise - the article states:
"For the first time, scientists are confident enough to project a 3C rise on the average global daily temperature by the end of this century if no action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions."
That's not news - that's actually what has been the science all along - he goes on to write:
"The draft Fourth Assessment Report says the temperature increase could be contained to 2C by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are held at current levels."
Much later in the report Warren notes "This would require global emissions to be 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050".
Of course this is something Australia will not commit to - as stated by John Howard on the ABCs 4 Corners program on Monday 28 August 2006 (the transcript is now available at: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1722956.htm ) when he said that sort of scenario would have an "enormously damaging" effect on the economy.
And cuts in emissions are also opposed by the US - well most of the US - consider this:
The draft IPCC report has been around for several months, so the timing of this article is very interesting. One could guess this article is primarily a political response to the Californian decision to cut greenhouse emissions by 25% by 2020 to combat global warming - you would think the decision by the world's 6th largest economy was news worthy and relevant to the Weekend Australian article.
Despite this, you will note very little coverage of this decision in The Australian or on any news.com.au site despite the fact that if you do a Google news search on "California" you will find a link to all 677 news articles on this topic his week (1 Sep 06)!! http://news.google.com.au/news?hl=en&ned=au&q=california&btnG=Search+News
And of course it could also be in part to the ABC 4 Corners program Monday 28 August 2006, and also possibly even a response to ABC 720's (http://www.abc.net.au/perth/ ) efforts this week to promote the "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary on former Vice President Al Gore campaign to raise awareness about global warming.
The sea level numbers on the ABC 720 website - (see http://www.abc.net.au/perth/ http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s1729593.htm)
In my view, Matthew Warren has moved from lobbyist to journalist but with the same message.
There are so few climate change sceptics with scientific credentials that they can be named individually. The number of scientists that agree that humans are convincingly the cause of global warming fill whole scientific academies. The jury is not out, climate change and the substantial threat it poses to the whole planet is real.
The media needs to be get better informed and stop casting doubt about the science. It's particular interesting that a story like this is placed on the front page. It's even more intersting that one that tries to down play the seriousness of global warming finished with this:
"... said the IPCC draft report highlighted the inadequacy of Australia's policy response to the threat of climate change.
"If these projections become a reality, our children face living in an Australia with no Barrier Reef, no Kakadu wetlands and a Murray River reduced to a trickle."
Its time we stopped arguing the science and get on with the more difficult job of developing the policies and working on the responses that are required to deal with it. This is where our energies should be focused - we know we need a raft of solutions, not just one (the seven wedges), and looking for new technologies like clean coal is indeed one that holds promise. But clean coal is only one and will not be enough to address this problem - we will also need other proven technologies including renewables, energy efficiency, and yes, probably even nuclear.
Branson commits to fight global warming
In reporting Sir Richard Branson's commitment to fight global warming (22 Sep 06), The Australian once again demonstrates its commitment to avoid any support for the topic of global warming. A quick search on the web shows virtually every other news service reports the purpose of Branson's signing of the Clinton Global Initiative for what it is - an effort to combat global warming - see below.
In an impressive spin, the Australian chooses to report it simply as a pledge of $US3bn to renewable energy, avoiding mention of the phrase "global warming" only once in a story that story.
Branson and many other businesses recognise that to build long term shareholder value they must act on global warming as it poses in the medium and long term real physical risk to their business all across the supply chain.
Its time for The Australian to abandon the campaign of denying the serious consequences of global warming and recognise large chunks of industry are ready to act on this problem.
$3 billion pledged to fight global warming
UPDATE Rupert Murdoch changes his mind on global warming:
Last Update: Monday, November 6, 2006. 10:35pm (AEDT)
Mr Murdoch has called for a new treaty that is acceptable to all countries and brings in emerging economies.
"I have to admit that, until recently, I was somewhat wary of the warming debate. I believe it is now our responsibility to take the lead on this issue," he said.
"Some of the presumptions about extreme weather, whether it be hurricanes or drought, may seem far-fetched. What is certain is that temperatures have been rising and that we are not entirely sure of the consequences."
"The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt."
He spoke as an international summit got under way in Nairobi to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's most far-reaching environmental treaty, which requires industrialised nations to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
He says UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB, which is run by his son James Murdoch, is moving to be "carbon neutral" - or not contributing any net carbon emissions.
http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/731/ -- Global Warming: Heated Denials
http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf -- The myth of the 1970s global cooling crisis.
See also -
Created: September 2, 2006
Last updated: March 12, 2009