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 rise. Lloyd 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.
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
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.