The Australian: sea rise not linked to warming! Oops our bad, sea rise is linked to warming…

Oz_SLR_Not_Happening
Sea rise not linked to warming…

Despite the fact Australia has been experiencing record-breaking heat waves and catastrophic fires in nearly every state, Chris Mitchell (Editor) and Graham Lloyd (Environment Editor) of News Limited’s The Australian steadfastly choose to remain  locked in a parallel universe in which climate change isn’t happening.

Perhaps they have incredibly effective ideological filters that allows them to block out the reality of extreme heat and horrific bushfires: that or really good air conditioning.

For those of you who had the pleasure of picking up copy of today’s edition you may have been surprised to learn there is no link between climate change and sea level riseLloyd explains:

THE latest science on sea level rises has found no link to global warming and no increase in the rate of glacier melt over the past 100 years.

A paper published last month in Journal of Climate highlights one of the great uncertainties in climate change research – will ocean levels rise by more than the current 3mm a year?

The peer-reviewed article, “20th-century global-mean sea-level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?” by JM Gregory, sought to explain the factors involved in sea-level rises during the last century. It found that sea-level rises had not accelerated “despite the increasing anthropogenic forcing” or human influence.

Australia’s pre-eminent sea-level scientist, John Church, contributed to the paper, which said it could not link climate change and the rate of sea-level rises in the 20th century.

Australia is at the forefront of global research on sea-level rises, but must double its funding to $10 million a year to match other countries in the search for an answer.

There is no dispute that sea levels are rising and significant concerns about what the recent increased rate of melt of Arctic ice might mean. But the key question is whether the rate of sea-level rise will accelerate and, if so, when and by how much?

The paper in question, Twentieth-century global-mean sea-level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? was published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate (behind a pay wall).

It is worth noting this paper and the climate sceptics excitement about it has already been discussed over at Real Climate. They address the science issues much better than I ever could so go there, however it is worth quoting part of their post:

The Gregory et al. paper was greeted with enthusiasm in “climate skeptics” circles, since it includes the peculiar sentence:

The implication of our closure of the budget is that a relationship between global climate change and the rate of global-mean sea-level rise is weak or absent in the past.

The abstract culminates in a similar phrase, which can easily be misunderstood as meaning that global warming has not contributed to sea-level rise. That is wrong of course, and the claimed closure of the sea-level budget in this paper is only possible because increasing temperatures are taken into account as the prime driver of 20th Century sea-level rise.

When read in full context, the true meaning of the statement becomes clear: it is intended to discredit semi-empirical sea-level modelling…

So just another blatant example of cherry picking? Without doubt.

However it is worth noting The Australian has a history of being – shall we say – liberal with the facts concerning the science of sea level rise.

Back in 2011 The Australian published a similar front page story questioning the link between climate change and sea level rise:

ONE of Australia’s foremost experts on the relationship between climate change and sea levels has written a peer-reviewed paper concluding that rises in sea levels are “decelerating”.

The analysis, by NSW principal coastal specialist Phil Watson, calls into question one of the key criteria for large-scale inundation around the Australian coast by 2100 — the assumption of an accelerating rise in sea levels because of climate change.

Based on century-long tide gauge records at Fremantle, Western Australia (from 1897 to present), Auckland Harbour in New Zealand (1903 to present), Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour (1914 to present) and Pilot Station at Newcastle (1925 to present), the analysis finds there was a “consistent trend of weak deceleration” from 1940 to 2000.

Mr Watson’s findings, published in the Journal of Coastal Research this year and now attracting broader attention, supports a similar analysis of long-term tide gauges in the US earlier this year. Both raise questions about the CSIRO’s sea-level predictions.

There was only one problem with the story: it misrepresented the actual findings of the scientists. Both Tim Lambert over at Deltoid and the ABC’s Media Watch discuss this falsehood.

Indeed, so egregious was their behaviour it prompted Watson’s employer to write a fairly stern letter stating they fundamentally misrepresented the research and that they should correct the article.

Oops, our bad: The Australian corrects itself

Oz_SLR_Happening
Ok, maybe we got it wrong…

To bring us back to the present day…

The story might have ended there and we all would have shaken our heads in dismay at yet another example of The Australian’s dissociated state of denial.

But less than 24 hours after publishing the article it appears editor Chris Mitchell & Co. have been stricken by a sudden and virulent case of journalistic ethics as they have corrected themselves in a follow-up article:

SCIENTISTS have rejected claims that the latest research on climate change finds no link between global warming and rising sea levels.

CSIRO scientist Dr John Church, regarded as Australia’s leading authority on sea level and climate change, said they were clearly connected.

“It is clearly linked to increases in greenhouse gases,” he said.

“Sea level has already increased the rate of rise from the 18th and 19th century. The instrumental record would indicate an acceleration during the 20th century and the projections will indicate a further acceleration during the 21st century.”

Similarly, Professor Thomas Stocker, co-chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group on the physical science of climate change, said sea level rise had been considered for many decades and the observations of its rise were unequivocal.

John Church has also stated The Australian’s story is simply inaccurate. From denial and misrepresentation to having to back track and quote the actual words of scientists? While recanting such falsehoods is positive I fear the damage has been done.

As Mark Twain noted “a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Once more there can be little doubt The Australian has helped fan the flames of climate scepticism.

As proof of this Lloyd’s story has been picked up by the denial echo chamber. Simon over at Australian Climate Madness approvingly quotes Lloyd’s story:

Two great stories from Graham Lloyd in The Australian today. Firstly, we have – shock horror – the ABC spinning its climate reporting by failing to mention stories, inconvenient to its alarmist editorial agenda.

To paraphrase Twain: a sceptic meme will travel across the entire internet before science even has a chance to respond.

However I am somewhat encouraged by the response that is quickly emerging: Graham Readfearn has written an excellent post on this topic while the comments by John Church are helping to blunt the impact of this recent example of denial from The Oz.

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21 thoughts on “The Australian: sea rise not linked to warming! Oops our bad, sea rise is linked to warming…

  1. […] year The Australian was forced to issue an embarrassing retraction after claiming sea level rise was not linked to warming – which it […]

  2. Bernard J. says:

    Did anyone archive the Australian’s page before they pulled it?

    • john byatt says:

      Bernard getting alist of all denier politicians ready before the next election is a great idea , as we get cloer to the election,I will beg funds to put some newspaper adds out there

      Try deltoid for archive,

  3. [...] may recall The Australian published a misleading story on sea level rise (see WtD here) earlier this week. Many people in the science community expressed their frustration: not only with [...]

  4. john byatt says:

    An Australian politician doing a guest post at WTFIUWT

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/14/global-warming-it-was-warmer-in-sydney-in-1790/

    found it at Tamino

    • Do read the accompanying thread. Denier is pissing upon denier. Watts takes a pop at Mosher and BEST. Leif kicks it off with “weather is not climate”. There truly is no honour amongst thieves. :-)

  5. john byatt says:

    replied to that creationist letter in the local paper

    “whose word do you believe, Mr Byatt or God?

    Dear Sir,

    It will no doubt come as a surprise to Graeme Ellingsen (************* Jan 15) that nearly every church in Australia and around the world have statements supporting the science of climate change.
    From the Adventists to the Vatican they all call for urgent action to prevent the future catastrophes’ that will first fall upon the poor of the world.
    Graeme, it is you and your ilk who are the odd men out. Most churches recognize the role of humanity as stewards of the planet, a responsibility bestowed upon them by their God. Graeme relieves himself of that responsibility and demands that God should be the one responsible for averting the unfolding disaster due to human insanity.
    It would appear to me that your God is the God of dispassion. A god who denies the very atmospheric physics that you believe he created, Civilizations have collapsed in the past, and we should try to learn from those events to ensure that we do not follow down the same path of destruction. During times of crises, cults have always arisen claiming that their God would save them, it has not happened in the past and it won’t happen now…

  6. zoot says:

    Time to start printing those “Is it true or did you read it in The Australian” T-shirts.

    • john byatt says:

      That would appear (paywall) to be exactly the bloody same paper they used to claim no link climate change and SLR, It again referrred to the semi empirical models results
      FFS again

    • Alex the Seal says:

      I have written to Prof. J Gregory and he assures me “the press report is not quite accurate and is rather misleading”

      Lloyd says: “CSIRO sea level specialist John Church has rejected the abstract findings of the Journal of Climate report, by JM Gregory,”

      This is clearly wrong.

      • john byatt says:

        discussion at RC on the paper , Stephan states that the gregory paper is out of date as further WAIS data has been now added to models and give good agreement

      • Alex the Seal says:

        Another clarification from Gregory:
        “I understand there are more apparently misleading press comments today about
        the paper. In particular, John Church and I completely agree about what
        the paper says and means! We are sitting next to each other in the same
        meeting today.”

    • crank says:

      And you thought that Matthew Warren was the nadir.

  7. Sammy Jankis says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t just try and do an ‘Andrew Bolt’, and suggest that perhaps they understand the scientific paper better than the its authors.

  8. It’s getting to the point that people would be surprised if the Oz didn’t fudge the facts. The Australian, where hacks go to die

    • crank says:

      I think of that rag as ‘The Fundament'(The Fundamental Orifice of the Nation) because it produces nought but shite. Of course, in addition to its role as the dead heart of denialism (please don’t ever use the despicable ‘sceptic’ lie)it is also the centre of Rightwing hate and fearmongering, one-sided class war, xenophobia and general wickedness. Its ‘environmental’ coverage is purely Orwellian, as with the efforts of 1984’s Ministry of Truth. ‘Big Brother’ Mitchell and Bigger Daddy Rupert would have it no other way.

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