Old men and the sea: News Limited gets advice on sea level change from old blokes… again

When it comes to science, it seems the writers and editors of News Limited prefer the unsolicited opinions of their readers over expert opinion.

Ms Miranda Devine over at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has been reflecting on the contents of her email inbox over the past 12 months. Somewhat smugly, Devine notes how she managed to upset all manner of those “of the left”:

I am happy to report that in the past 12 months, judging by the flak in my Hotmail inbox, I successfully got up the nose of greenies, unionists, potheads, vegetarians, bat fanciers, home birthers, gay wedding planners, Thermomix devotees, Prince Charles loyalists, Kyle Sandilands fans and Tony Abbott haters.

Like most conservative journalists in News, Ms Devine wears of all that vitriol “of those on the left”  as a badge of honor.

I am especially amused by such archaic insults such as “pothead”… it must be a good forty years since that phrase was an insult? Its a bit like calling a someone a “dirty hippie”, or a “drongo”.

News Limited, the pace where dead insults go to be recycled by conservative hacks…

Still, unintended humor aside Ms Devine’s column reveals News Ltd’s pathological obsession with the opinion of old men.

Especially their opinion on climate change and sea level rise:

Carbon tax was one issue that kept the temperature of the inbox sky high: “I’m not sure what your qualifications are but since your email is hotmail I’m guessing you have little qualifications to criticise (Climate commissioner Tim) Flannery,” wrote Chris. Would a mac address be better? BigPond perhaps?  

Bob took the long view: “I am a life member of Bronte Surf Club. I am 76yrs of age and I have not seen the sea level change at all.  

“In fact as a child I remember one year with the Xmas tides the water came right up through the park. How come these alarmists can predict that the beaches are going to be swamped in the next 75yrs when nothing has altered in the past 75yrs

Yes, because I’d stake billions of dollars of infrastructure and residences on the faulty memory of some old guy.

But as it has been shown before, News Limited would rather disregard the expert opinion on the issue.

The Australian notoriously published a “refutation” of sea level back November 2009, as recounted in a article from The Conversation:

The scientific expertise that the NSW government relied upon was apparently trumped by Kevin Court, 80, (pictured on the front page in his swimmers at the beach) who had been swimming at Wollongong’s North Beach for 50 years and hadn’t noticed any sea level rise.  

As further evidence, The Australian showed two pictures of the beach taken 50 years apart showing that the sea level was the same in both pictures.  

Of course, as anyone who has ever been to a beach knows, there are these things called tides that change the sea level every day, so the photos don’t tell us anything very useful.  

In February 2010, The Australian did it again with another front page story showing a bloke in a pair of swimmers whose opinion on sea level they judged more reliable than that of scientists…

So if I turned up at the Herald Sun’s offices tomorrow wearing a pair or red speedo’s claiming climate change was a hoax, I’d get front page treatment and the fawning praise of Ms Devine?

Say… there’s an idea.

Oh, and in case it need not be said: the science on sea level rise is very well understood.

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8 thoughts on “Old men and the sea: News Limited gets advice on sea level change from old blokes… again

  1. Mekhong Kurt says:

    While this particularly entry is a bit snarky, WtD, it’s deserved snarky.

    I remember “Snowmagedden” awhile back, on which any number of people jumped and presented as “proof positive” not only that those warning about AGW were lying about the science, but that temperatures have been cooling at least a decade, with some arguing much longer time frames.

    When I asked them their take (those I knew or had some sort of contact with) on the massive, killing heat wave that swept much of the Eurasian land mass, parts of Africa, and some islands — including, notably, Japan, where over 40,000 people sought treatment for signs of heat stroke — they were stonily silent. As they were about last year’s record-setting — since records began — heat in Texas and other parts of the American Southwest. As they were about record heat in Australia.

    Cherry-picking, indeed.

  2. Ross James says:

    Sea level and variable fluctuations.

    This is the highly skilled science that should be understood and heeded as trends in true objective data for sea level rises indicate a growing global warming issue:

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

  3. Geoff Brown says:

    “the science on sea level rise is very well understood.”

    The science – 1mm/year rise. http://theclimatescepticsparty.blogspot.com/2011/12/sea-level-rise-during-20th-century-only.html

    We’ll all be inundated!

  4. klem says:

    “Oh, and in case it need not be said: the science on sea level rise is very well understood.”

    Exactly true. Sea level rise is very well understood, in other words it rises and falls over very long periods of time and for reason which are not yet explained. Believing it is caused by human activity is merely good ol’ anthropocentrism rearing its ugly head once more.

    Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia. “For the past 6,000 years, the world’s sea level gradually approached the current level. During the previous interglacial about 120,000 years ago, sea level was for a short time about 6 metres (20 ft) higher than today, as evidenced by wave-cut notches along cliffs in the Bahamas. There are also Pleistocene coral reefs left stranded about 3 metres above today’s sea level along the southwestern coastline of West Caicos Island in the West Indies. These once-submerged reefs and nearby paleo-beach deposits indicate that sea level spent enough time at that higher level to allow reefs to grow (exactly where this extra sea water came from—Antarctica or Greenland—has not yet been determined).”

    cheers

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Lovely piece of cherry picking Klem… I’d encourage readers to go the article in full.

      Yes, there are some uncertainties as in all science. All are discussed in the article.

      The Skeptical Science article is also very good reading:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise.htm

      • klem says:

        Wow, thanks for that link. I had no idea Skeptical Science was such a great place to obtain directives on how not to be fooled by opposing views. Its more of an alarmist advice and strategy site than a science site. A great place to maintain ones faith.

        Very good reading is an understatement.

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