Category Archives: Funny

Bad news for Murdoch, good news for us: Australian newspaper division revenue plunges $350m in one year

News_Out

mUmBrella reports Murdoch’s Australian newspaper business is in free fall, dropping $350 million (15%!) in revenue since this time last year:

The extent of News Corp’s financial woes in Australia have been revealed for the first time in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US. The filing reveals that the company saw its Australian newspaper revenues fall by $350m compared to the previous year, a fall of 15 per cent. It also wrote down the value of its Australian newspaper assets by $1.4bn.

It is clear for the first time that the company’s revenues have fallen far harder than rival publisher Fairfax Media, which had been perceived by many in the market as the media company in the worst trouble. In the same period, Fairfax’s metro and regional newspaper revenues went backwards by about $120m, about a third of the fall experienced by News Corp.

News blames competition from the Internet.

Bwah ha ha ha!

Could it be what they are offering the Australian public is not what they desire?

Could it be that climate change denial and wall-to-wall Andrew Bolt doesn’t sell papers?

It’s not the internet gobbling up readers – that is simply a “dog ate my homework” style excuse.

It is more simple than that.

The quality of content News Corp dishes up across all its mast heads is utter shite.

People are voting with their wallets.

The more reality and Murdoch are at odds, the less papers he sells

The two signature issues of the last decade have been the War in Iraq (and the non-existence of WMDs) and climate change.

On both of these issues Murdoch’s papers have been proven badly wrong.

There were no WMDs in Iraq – and thus no justification for war (which all News Corp papers strongly championed).

Oh, and climate change is very real.

Readers are increasingly aware of the disconnect between what Murdoch’s papers report and the actual facts. They no longer trust News Corp as reputable source of news.

As an avid consumer of information I don’t want my intelligence insulted.

But that is exactly how I feel every time I pick up one of Murdoch’s Australian papers. I need to take the intellectual equivalent of a cold shower in order to rid myself of the stench of disinformation. 

I seek out quality journalism elsewhere. I happily subscribe to a variety of online services and journals. I’m willing to pay for quality content.

But News Corp does not offer the quality product I desire.

I’ll read the Australian Financial Review and The Economist – both centre-right leaning publications – because of the quality of reporting. I don’t just want to read material that affirms by world view and prejudices.

I’m very happy for a journalist or article to challenge my assumptions about the world or issues.

The only thing Murdoch’s papers deliver is his own thinly veiled prejudices dressed up as “facts”.

Lying and insulting my well-considered and sincere belief humanity needs to act on climate change?

No thanks Rupert, you can keep that content to yourself.

The real problem: Uncle Murdoch’s blatant use of his papers to push his agenda

The libertarian views of the ageing Murdoch so blatantly pushed across is media empire are turning readers away.  The problem is Murdoch trying to bully us into sharing his world view via is papers.

The blatant partisan nature of reporting of Murdoch’s papers during the last election turned many away. And why wouldn’t they be turned off? Why wouldn’t they stop buying a sub-standard product?

Murdoch is like that cranky uncle that turns up at Christmas blithering on about how NASA faked the moon landing or how climate change is a leftist plot to take over the world.

Family members politely smile and nod for a few minutes, but then tune out. They quickly make excuses to disengage, seeking more pleasant company and decent conversation.

The public is spoiled for content and decent conversation, thus tuning out cranky old Uncle Rupert.

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Quote of the day: plugging into a medieval mistrust of scientists

 

Fairfax environment editor Ben Cubby is one of the better journalists working in the MSM. Quote of the day goes to Cubby in this piece gleefully ripping apart Abbott’s obtuse comments about “invisible markets”:

Best of all, “invisible substance” plugs into a medieval mistrust of scientists and their incomprehensible powers. The sentence links these modern-day alchemists together with the shadowy financiers who would run the so-called markets, trading invisibility while we pay for it. 

Or something. It suggests that Abbott is prepared to wear some public ridicule in exchange for speaking directly to that part of his supporter base that is unmoved by scientific evidence about global warming. 

Never mind that the Coalition is proposing to spend about $10 billion of the public’s money fighting an “invisible substance”. 

That can be hidden behind its earthy rhetoric of “direct action” and a “green army” getting its hands dirty with a hard day’s practical work. 

What the Coalition is really trying to do is wrest back control of the language of climate change, because if it can control the language, and debate on its own terms, it can win. 

Ouch.

Ben nails it.

Abbott doesn’t care about the science, and will happily wage war on scientists.

Dang it Ben, I wish I’d written that.

/golf clap

 

Climate Sceptic sacked from Macquarie University was Banned By National Science Foundation For “Deceptive Conduct”

Below is a partial reprint from the always excellent Graham Readfearn on the sacking on the recent sacking of one Professor Murray Salby. It comes via Desmogblog.

Before that, let’s look at how the deniers hoped to framed the incident.

Without doubt, they see Salby as victim of a great injustice and have taken to their blogs to decry both his dismissal and the implied censorship of dissenting voices in science.

Anthony Watts harrumphed :

Just last week we heard that Dr. Robert Carter had been blackballed at his own university where he served as department chair, and now we have this from Dr. Murray Salby, sent via email. 

Between John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, plus Mike Marriot and his idiotic ideas, I’m beginning to think Australia is ground zero for AGW crackpottery. 

This email’s accusations (if true I have independent confirmation now, title changed to reflect this – Anthony) is quite something, it illustrates the disturbing lengths a university will go to suppress ideas they don’t agree with. So much for academic freedom at Macquarie University. 

Thanks for that Anthony, I note the personal insults continue (/wink).

He also dismisses Australia as a land of crack pots. Mr Watts dismissal of myself and 20 odd million Australians is typical of his grandiosity (/wink, wink, wink, wink… and wink in case you missed the irony and implied humor of that sentence Mr. Watts).

Perth’s resident climate sceptic and conspiracy theorist Jo Nova has kicked her sense of outrage into overdrive. She also sneeringly dismisses Macquarie as an educational institution:

I suggest that a university of this type (if that is what Macquarie is) would train good bottle-washers, but not researchers who break new ground.

I’m sure those comments help Salby’s cause no end.

However it would seem Salby has a less than spotless past, as Graham notes in DeSmogBlog post:

A CLIMATE sceptic professor fired from his Australian university for alleged policy breaches had previously been banned for three years from accessing US taxpayer-funded science research money. Dr Murry Salby, sacked in May by Macquarie University in…

Dr Murry Salby, sacked in May by Macquarie University in Sydney, was the subject of a long investigation by the US National Science Foundation.

The investigation, which was finished in February 2009, concluded that over a period when Dr Salby was working at the University of Colorado, he had likely fabricated time sheets in relation to research paid for through NSF money.

Oops.

And so Salby was fired his previous role at the University of Colorado for “deceptive conduct”:

We conclude that the Subject (Dr Salby) has engaged in a long-running course of deceptive conduct involving both his University and NSF. His conduct reflects a consistent willingness to violate rules and regulations, whether federal or local, for his personal benefit. This supports a finding that the Subject is not presently responsible, and we recommend that he be debarred for five years.

One wonders how the deniers will responds to this?

Prediction: more claims of conspiracy (/wink).

WUWT attacks WtD: I learn the only thing to fear from the sceptics is your own fear

Holding the line against the sceptic army

An interesting day in this small, and for some obscure front of the climate change war.

As some readers may have noticed, Mr. Watts of the sceptical blog Watts up with that? and I have been engaged in some friendly debate over the nature of sea-ice graphs.

I believe the matter to be resolved on my part, having replied to Mr. Watts requests.

However I do earnestly hope Mr. Watts responds to my suggestion and ensure his blog presents data in a manner not to confuse the public. A reasonable request one would think.

The experience of being in the sceptic cross-hairs

It was fascinating being the recipient of the full weight of the denial machine for an afternoon. 

How was it  you may ask? Stressful? Hardly.

It was is interesting to see the empty bluster, cheap bravado and vile insults pour into the comments section of WtD (still are by the way).

In fairness, I will note most comments were polite and simply stated their views. I have no issue with that, so my thanks to those who acted with respect. We disagree about the science, but at least you have been respectful. Many of those I’m allowing.

But I was left with a strong impression, and not the one Mr. Watts or others may have intended.

The only thing to fear from the sceptics is our own fear. 

“These are the dreaded climate sceptics, who like He-Who-Cannot-Named we’ve ascribed almost mythical powers and influence?” I thought to myself.

These are the people who so terrified and cowed some in the science community?

How disappointing; how underwhelming.

That the worst I did was make a throw away line in jest, and then saw thousands descend upon my blog with vile and enmity…

And what was their intent?

To force me to stop writing? To shed a tear? Did they force such things?

Hardly.

Longtime readers know I’ve always drawn from the lessons of history, and rightly or wrongly draw analogies with past and present events.

As the day passed an image formed in my mind – that of the 93rd Highland Regiment at the Battle of Balaclava (1854). Between their own rearguard and camp they stood in a ragged line, forcing back thousands of Russian cavalry.

From a distance they looked like a thin red line, standing against enormous odds. 

For me, today was about being that thin red line. 

Not that hard really.

What I learned today, and what you should learn from this

Lesson the first – the only thing to fear from the sceptics, is your own fear.

Lesson the second – don’t stop.

That is all, now carry on.

[Note: thanks John B for helping me hold the line as well]

A note on who tipped off Mr. Watts

Finally, some house keeping.

The WUWT post has been useful in showing me Mr. Watts source:

Erric Worrall writes:

An Australian alarmist blog, Watching The Deniers, has just accused Anthony Watts of photoshopping one of the Sea Ice Graphs.

Eric, I was about to email you this week and release you from the temporary ban.

It was never intended to be permanent, and I believe I treated you with respect. I also gave you enormous latitude when you posted here – to the extent other readers expressed frustration with me.

You were given three chances to modify your behavior, which you ignored. The rules of engagement were clear, and plenty of warning was given.

In light of today (and the great latitude I once gave you) your ban will be extended another three months. Such are the consequences of your actions. We all make choices Eric. And we must live with them.

Actually, that is light punishment considering your actions. But fortunately for you I’m made of stern stuff and remain unfazed by today’s events.

I’m also grateful for the small bump in traffic Mr.Watts links afforded me.

That is all, now carry on.

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Anthony Watts: it is necessary to use the correct sea-ice graphs on WUWT to avoid misleading the public

This is how you do denial and flagrantly cherry pick data.

Here is a graph Anthony Watts @ Watts Up With That? (WUWT) elects to use from the National Ice and Snow Data Center:

WUWT_map

Notice anything? Anything missing? Anyone?

Would that be the standard deviations (SDs)? 

WUWT_dishonest

If you remove that pesky piece of information that indicates that sea-ice decline is below average you remove the problem!

Until 2009 the NSIDC used to present the graph without the SDs (hat tip A.Watts!).

If the NSIDC has elected to present information in one format as their preferred means of communication, it is beholden to all of us to follow their model.

That is a reasonable assumption to make. If Mr. Watts is aware they changed this back in 2009, surely his blog needs to mimic their current practice?

Mr. Watts accused me of lacking professionalism. Over to you now Anthony regarding the question of professionalism.

Context matters

If the NSIDC elect to give prominence to the presentation of data in one format it is reasonable to assume we are all beholden to follow their lead.

You could claim they presented their data as such four years ago.

But not now:

NSIDC_Homepage

Notice anything?

The graph includes the SDs. If you go to their Sea Ice page you’ll see graphs that us the SDs.

So why does this matter?

Because the context in which information is presented matters a great deal in this debate.

And when you exclude something, it is because you may not want it to be seen.

Now it could very well be that Mr. Watts simply needs to bring his images inline with the practices of the NSIDC – if that is the case the opportunity now exits.

We can take data and images from anywhere – from NSIDC, from a government website or the Bureau of Meteorology and present it however we wish.

But what matters more: the thin slice of data you wish to highlight, of the full data set and the contextual information?

Excluding standard deviations in sea-ice graphs @ WUWT: why it matters

You can create the graphs yourself here: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

You don’t need to Photoshop the image, thus I’ve withdrawn my throw away comment about Photoshop. Which I note was intended to be satirical, but still I felt compelled to remove it to save people’s confusion or spare them a sense of outrage. 

Now given:

  • the history of denying the link between human activities and climate change at WUWT
  • the long running antipathy towards the work of climate scientists at WUWT

My interpretation remains more than reasonable. 

To the general public this may seem an obscure debate over the minutiae of graphs and data. But Mr. Watts content makes its way into the mainstream press via blogs such as Andrew Bolt.

Hence my focus on the use or potential misuse of images, data and information.

WUWT is a site that exists to cast doubt on climate change.

Much of the information presented there is crafted to undermine the scientific consensus.

Thus as a true sceptic – not one who merely adorns the garb of the curious – I will continue to question the use and misuse of information on sites such as WUWT.

Over to you Anthony: if you’re calling me out then likewise

Sceptics here have asked that make an amendment to the original version of this post, which I have.

Now it is time for them to acknowledge the information presented in the graphs at WUWT lacks context. Now is the time for them to admit WUWT uses a presentation format four years out of date.

The record of my transparency, openness and honesty is here for the entire world to see and judge.

Now it is time for Anthony to live by the same standards he demands of others and fix his mistake.

Over to you Anthony.

Angry badgers: trolls, sceptics and distracting voices in the climate discussion

angry_badger

A lot of energy has been spent by myself and others on comments made by sceptics – both here and across the internet.

There are four things we should remember, established scientific facts beyond dispute: 

  • CO2 is a heat trapping molecule
  • We are emitting CO2 and other Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through our activities
  • This is influencing the planet’s climate system
  • The scientific consensus on this is near universal – 97%

Understanding the science of climate change is about being an informed citizen. The deniers want to deprive you of the right to be informed about an issue of fundamental importance to our civilisation.

Merchants of FUD and their motivations

Skeptics employ a tactic called FUD.

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

Create enough doubt about the science (so it is hoped) and action on climate change will be stalled long enough. Some want to do this for ideological reasons; others because they have a vested interest. Some trolls enjoy being contrary and love the attention.

Here is the thing. You will never know their motivations. But that does not matter.

What matters is your response, to engage or not.

What is happening here mimics the broader climate debate: a tiny minority disturbs the majority

I like to think I’ve gained some experience in the debate having run this blog for three years now.

Form what I see, perhaps 1-5% of the readers of this blog are sceptics. And yet those threads go on for hundreds of posts, consume the energy of many people and confuse, enrage and disrupt the tone of discussion.

This is symptomatic of the broader climate debate, where a tiny minority is distracting the majority.

When you find yourself dealing with troll behavior remember the cardinal rule of the internet “DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.”

Provide counter information, but remember you’ll never convince them. I’ve been a great deal of thought to this issue, especially as it pertains to WtD.

While I don’t believe in silencing dissenting voices (no matter how unpopular) I will be applying the WtD community guidelines with greater rigorAll posters, regardless of their views should take note.

Angry badgers and the Nasty Effect: how online discussions are derailed

Recent research has shown how the comments section of an article can influence the average readers perception:

“In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science. Participants were asked to read a blog post containing a balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology (which is already all around us and supports a $91 billion US industry). The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were “civil”—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you’re an idiot.”

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn’t a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.”

See the study here, The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies:

“Uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments. Using an experiment given to a sample representative of the U.S. population, we examine the effects online incivility on perceptions toward a particular issue—namely, an emerging technology, nanotechnology. We found that exposure to uncivil blog comments can polarize risk perceptions of nanotechnology along the lines of religiosity and issue support.”

Angry Badgers: a denier tactic

While many of you are familiar with the tactics of think tanks, I thought it worth drawing attention to a recently uncovered Heartland Institute propaganda initiative.

Called “Operation Angry Badger” it was designed to derail a debate in the US over collective bargaining in the education sector:

A Chicago-based free-market think tank has prepared a strategy to sway the recall debate in Wisconsin, including detailing “the shortcomings of public schools,” according to leaked documents that appeared this week on the Internet.

“Operation Angry Badger” purportedly describes a Heartland Institute proposal that would cost about $612,000 and focus on promoting Wisconsin Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public-sector workers.

Heartland is one of the foremost think tanks behind the campaign to deny the science. The above is SOP, or standard-operating-procedure.

The Angry Badger tactic is one that seeks to inject distracting facts into a conversation.

Picture it this…

Imagine you are having an amazing discussion with someone.

Suddenly, a stranger walks up and shouts “Oh my god look over there an angry badger!!!!!!”

You’re distracted, and stop talking. The flow of the conversation is broken. You have to start all over again, missing some points.

This is exactly what trolls and sceptics want to do. Distract the flow of conversation with a dramatic, yet irrelevant fact (the Angry Badger).

What matters is your response.

Crank alert! Organisers of the Oregon petition also have a cure for cancer

TinFoilHatArea

The recent paper by Cook et.al demonstrating the 97% consensus among the climate scientists has generated considerable angst among climate sceptic movement.

However, rather than accepting the research they’ve resorted to denial – see here for Anthony Watt’s particularly amusing response.

Perth sceptic and conspiracy theorist Jo Nova has pulled out the old Oregon Petition Project arguing that 31,000 scientists don’t agree with the consensus:

You want authority? Skeptics can name 31,500 scientists who agree, including 9,000 PhDs, 45 NASA experts (including two astronauts who walked on the moon) and two Nobel Prize winners in physics.

I won’t bore you with yet another dissection of this deeply flawed petition, but simply direct you to DeSmogBlog.

However, what I find curious is the credentials of originators of the petition project: the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM).

Firstly, this grandly named organisation operates out of what can only be described charitably as a shed:

 OISM_Faculty

Ok – perhaps it is not fair to judge a book by its cover.

They could be doing some amazing, cutting edge research in their shed in rural Oregon (not to disparage what is most likely a charming part of the world).

So let’s be fair and evaluate the bona fides of the OISM by the quality of the research they conduct. After all they claim to conduct research into the following:

Current projects include work on the deamidation of peptides and proteins as it relates to fundamental biochemistry and to protein aggregation diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease; research on improved techniques for medical diagnosis; improvement in precollege education curricula, especially in the sciences; and improved civilian emergency preparedness.

In other words they sell kits to survive a nuclear war.

More interestingly they claim to have found a cure for cancer. No really they do.

Let me step you through this discovery of mine.

First, let’s start at the OISM homepage:

OISM_Home 

Note the left hand navigation menu and the option “Nutrition and Cancer”? This is what you get after clicking on the link:

Nut_Canc

Note the text:

This website presents a paper on Nutrition and Cancer that may well be the most important information a cancer patient can find to help him fight this dread disease.

Clicking the link takes you to yet another page:

Still_more_clicks 

Let me say for the record, this is really bad web design: three-click-rule be damned.

They’ve buried the “most important information a cancer patient can find” in a thicket of interlinked pages lacking a consistent design or user experience. It’s like they don’t want you to find it!

Eventually you get to the following essay subtitled “Beating cancer with a diet of raw fruits and vegetables.”

Let me quote:

A surgeon telephoned me to ask some questions about this diet. During the conversation, he told me why he had become interested in it (to the great displeasure of his colleagues).

A patient had come to him in whose throat was growing a completely inoperable and soon-to-be-fatal cancer. He told the patient that there was nothing he could do for him and that he would soon die.

The patient, however, went to Ann Wigmore’s establishment and started eating their initial diet of strictly raw fruits and vegetables. He pursued this fanatically, however, and never switched to Wigmore and Hunsberger’s phase-two diet including additional staples.

Many months later, the patient returned to the surgeon. The surgeon told me that there were three things that were unusual about this patient.

1. He was back. He should already have been long dead.

2. There was not a trace of cancer in his throat.

3. He looked like he had just stepped out of a Nazi or Communist concentration camp. The patient was almost dead of malnutrition. He was a walking skeleton.

The surgeon nursed him back to good nutritional health – but the cancer never returned.

Note the anecdotal and highly suspect nature of this claim: neither the surgeon nor patient is named. As far as personal testimonials go, that’s pretty p*ss weak.

Oh and the cancer – like totally gone.

Like it was never there…

Wooooooooooh waaaah woooh!

Amazing right?

Just so you know, the “raw fruit and vegetable” diet is pure alternative-medicine crapola.

What they are suggesting is a version of a macrobiotic diet: as far as science is concerned, it is totally implausible as a cure. Actually, it may be dangerous to cancer patients who elect to follow it.

It is one of the many alternative cures to cancer sold by hucksters who prey on those dealing with a life threatening disease.

This is yet another variation of the “extreme diet” cure, which the Cancer Council of Victoria (CCV) notes:

There are hundreds of alternative cancer therapies. You may hear about them from friends and family, or come across them in books, on the Internet or on radio, TV, etc. There is no science-based evidence to prove they can treat, control or cure any type of cancer.

There is some evidence a balanced diet – that includes raw fruit and vegetables – can help reduce the risk of some cancers.

But what our friends at the OISM claim is what experts in the field call “woo”.

To quote the CCV, promoters of such therapies are acting unethically:

Unfortunately, there are people who falsely promote treatments which don’t work or are even dangerous as ‘cancer cures.’ There are also people who wrongly claim that mainstream or conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies don’t work. These people are acting unethically.

Whose opinion do you trust?

The peer-reviewed work of John and his team, or the “We have a cure for cancer!” woo from the cranks at OISM?

——

[Note: I will not be sanctioning a discussion on the merits alternative treatments: the evidence against them is compelling. Nor will I allow this bog to be hijacked by promoters of therapies known to be dangerous to people undergoing treatment for cancer and/or other serious illnesses.] 

 

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Of ice ages, the view from nowhere and the value of one’s soul: Graham Lloyd, The Australian and the repackaging of fringe science

Not long ago Hollywood rediscovered the disaster genre, delivering to the movie viewers a spate of gloriously visualised, but implausible apocalyptic visions. As examples of the zeitgeist they’re fascinating examples of our existential fears made real.  

In what lovers of the genre call “disaster porn” the CGI wizards of Hollywood treated us to a variety of end time scenarios: from giant meteorites in the execrable Armageddon (1998); global pandemics in Outbreak (1995) and I am Legend (2007); the Godzilla inspired monster of Cloverfield (2008); the New Age eschatology implied by ending of the Mayan Long Count calendar in the film 2012 (made in 2009); to the current most-favoured harbingers of the apocalypse, the zombies of The Walking Dead.

My favourite of this genre has to be The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a film which imagines the globe caught in the grip of a sudden ice age which descends over a series of days rather than the millennia it normally takes. The film chronicles a series of extreme weather events, precursors to the Northern Hemisphere being blanketed in ice.

The film treats us to a touching father-son reconciliation, a trite love story and lots of ice.

Pure bunk of course – however scientists have long resigned themselves to the fact that Hollywood will choose spectacle over fact. Most of us can discern fact from film fantasy. But sadly, not all of us can make such distinctions.

Point in case The Australian’s Environment Editor, Graham Lloyd, who recently published an article containing “facts” about as plausible as the script as The Day After Tomorrow.

According to Graham there is serious scientific debate about a coming ice age. No really, he argues such.

An ice age cometh: we’re about to enter a 30 year cooling period?

In an article titled Emissions debate heats up while experts warn of a coming ice age (May 4 2013), Lloyd rips his facts straight from the big screen and pages of fringe science blogs to suggest there is some debate over an imminent ice age:

In Russia, one of the world’s leading solar physicists, Habibullo Abdussamatov, says the planet is well on the way to another deep freeze. Abdussamatov is the head of space research at the Russian Academy of Sciences Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St Petersburg, and director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

In an interview with Principia Scientific International, Abdussamatov said results of research from the ISS had indicated a decline in total solar irradiance, which was having a dramatic effect on the global climate.

Data indicated the onset of a mini ice age.

If true, then all this fuss over global warming is actually distracting us from the actual (and in Graham’s view equally plausible) threat of an imminent ice age.

The impressively credentialed Habibullo Abdussamatov seems uniquely qualified to put forward such an argument. That is until one starts digging as Abdussamatov seems to hold some very strange views.

Abdussamatov: does not believe in any greenhouse effect

Abdussamatov is a vocal sceptic of global warming within the parallel universe the deniers inhabit, but as far as the science community is concerned he is relatively obscure.

He is not a leading solar physicist: this is merely another example of the old sceptic tactic of inflating the reputation and achievements of “experts” such as Abdussamatov. In fact, a quick search of the internet will find he has been making the same claims for several years.

His most unusual claim is that the greenhouse effect does not exist at all. In a 2007 article published on Canada.com (website of Canadian newspaper publisher Postmedia Network) Abdussamatov is quoted as saying:

Dr. Abdussamatov goes further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect. “Ascribing ‘greenhouse’ effect properties to the Earth’s atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated,” he maintains. “Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.”

Such a claim would be news to the scientific community to say the least.

Actually, it is almost impossible to convey just how absurd his proposition is – it is the scientific equivalent of arguing the sun still goes around the Earth. His view of the behaviour of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere is pure fantasy without a shred of evidence.

Even the most extreme sceptics – Jo Nova, Lord Monckton and Anthony Watts – don’t subscribe to this view.

They acknowledge the greenhouse effect: they argue a doubling of CO2 will have a negligible impact on global temperatures. According to them, the heat trapping potential of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been overstated by the scientific community.

Thus Abdussamatov would be considered fringe even by their standards – which is saying a lot. If that is not bad enough, things go from bad to worse in Lloyd’s article.

Graham Lloyd plagiarizing content: word for word his article mimics a 2007 article from Canada Free Press

The practice of using material word-for-word without attribution or acknowledging the source is generally frowned upon by journalists. 

The more cynical call it plagiarism. Sadly, Lloyd appears to be engaged in this very activity.

Lloyd attributes the following quotes to Abdussamatov (italics mine):

Abdussamatov said there had been five deep cold periods in the past 1000 years – in 1030, 1315, 1500, 1680 and 1805.

 He said another cool period was due and would come about regardless of whether industrialised countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Mars has global warming – but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” Abdussamatov said.

“These parallel global warmings – observed simultaneously on Mars and on the Earth – can only be a consequence of the effect of the same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”

 Abdussamatov said a new “little ice age” would start this or next year and hit a low around 2040, with a deep freeze that would last for the rest of the century.

The quotes Lloyd use mimic word-for-word quotes in the aforementioned 2007 article (italics):

Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,” he told me. “These parallel global warmings — observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth — can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance.”

Lloyd has merely broken the later paragraph up and substituted some words.

Perhaps Lloyd was sloppy, or merely forgot to correctly attribute his sources. We all make mistakes.

The more cynical of us would call it plagiarism.   

False balance: Lloyd’s view from nowhere is really the view from the fringes

Lloyd is a practitioner of the journalistic style of “the view from nowhere”.

He tries to eschew any editorialising in order to present “both sides of the debate” so that the informed reader can make up their own mind.

In reality, Lloyd’s view from nowhere is the view from the fringes of the scientific community: more specifically the view of a crank, Abdussamatov.

Lloyd elevates Abdussamatov to the level of one the world’s “leading solar physicists” and a voice we should be paying attention too. Lloyd frames the article in such a way to imply there is some debate amongst the scientific community that an ice age may very well be immanent.

Let’s be clear: there’s no debate: there are no concerns about a mini-ice age.

What we have is the spectacle of The Australian plucking fringe beliefs from the sceptic blogosphere and given them credibility.

The real story that needs to be told is not that of scientists debating about scenarios reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

The real story that needs to be told is just how partisan The Australian has become on the issue of climate change.

Lloyd’s article smells of desperation: it is the feeble clutching for facts in order to deny reality.

The planet is warming; climate change is real; humanity is the architect of this warming.

We all have a choice: one can accept reality or live in denial. Lloyd seems to have made his choice: he is a nowhere man living in an alternative reality of facts made to suit the opinions of Editor Chris Mitchell and owner Rupert Murdoch.

But what is cost of this?

Not only to Lloyd and the reputation of The Australian as a news source – but to us, the general public who needs to be informed? We may shake our heads at the antics of Lloyd, but ultimately it is a grossly misinformed public who suffers most.

At least Lloyd gets paid for his efforts: I guess I gain some satisfaction in correcting his falsehoods.

But again – at what cost?

All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of one’s soul.

Graham Lloyd and The Australian: rapidly fading credibility

It says a lot about the quality of a newspaper when their Environment Editor is either a) unable to distinguish fringe beliefs from actual science or b) happy to publish such tripe if it undermines the scientific consensus on global warming.

Over the years we’ve witnessed The Australian publish some appalling misinformation on climate change: this without doubt is the nadir of their reporting on climate change.

For a paper which likes to think of itself as the “voice of the nation” this is an appalling lapse in journalistic standards.

We – the reading public – have a right to expect better than this. This is the very impulse that motivated me to start this blog. We are all ill-served by the mainstream media if this is the best they have to offer.

Perhaps there is a circle in Hell for once good journalists who have turned away from the ethics of the profession: if so it must be full of News Limited journalists who felt compelled – or were coerced – to publish pieces such as Lloyd’s.

For good reason many of us are exhausted auditing the self-proclaimed auditors of science. We’ve been engaged in this activity for over thirty years when the “debate” first emerged.

I believe there is a more important question to address: the question of why. Of why elements of the media – who have the power to shape public opinion and debate – have granted themselves permission to distort the truth and mislead the public.

All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of one’s soul.

[Note: see also Graham Readfearn’s piece on the same topic – what can I say? Great minds think alike. Readfearn does some great detective work on finding all the sources Lloyd uses.]

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[Disclaimer: This article contains both original research and some elements of satire. Every effort is made to ensure the validity of the claims made by the blog’s author. ]

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Carbon tax destroys jobs?: Oz economy refuses to surrender to “great big tax on everything” by adding 50,000 jobs

Since the introduction of the carbon tax, children have been forced to line up for servings of thin, watery gruel...

Since the introduction of the carbon tax, children have been forced to line up for servings of thin, watery gruel…

Remember the hysteria prior to the introduction of that “Great Big Tax on Everything”, when the Australian economy was going to spiral into not merely a recession – or even a depression – but back into the Dark Ages?

It was going to usher in a period of madness: men and women impoverished by the tax would be forced to live on the street; cats and dogs living together in sin; fire and brimstone and the wrath of economic gods; parents forced to sell children into bondage; a leg of roast lamb to cost over $100!

According the alarmists such as Tony Abbott, the Liberal National Party and the entirety of News Limited (or so said Andrew Bolt, Terry McCrann and the other lessor lights in its stable of culture-warrior hacks) the very modest price on carbon was going to be the “roon of us!”.

Time and time again the claim was made the tax was going to destroy jobs:

“The coal industry will step up its campaign against a carbon tax, seeking to highlight job losses that will be caused by such a scheme…”

It is an article of faith among all the die-hard climate sceptics. Only a few weeks back the Astroturf and fossil fuel funded Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) claimed such a tax would destroy American jobs:

If you want to know what a carbon tax on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would do to America you need only look at the destruction of industry and business in Australia, along with the soaring costs for energy use it imposes on anyone there. 

“The carbon tax is contributing to a record number of firms going to the wall with thousands of employees being laid off and companies forced to close factories that have stood for generations”, Steve Lewis and Phil Jacob reported in a March 18 issue of The Daily Telegraph, a leading Australian newspaper.

Oh my god its true!

According to CFACT and the Daily Telegraph (Sidebar: Australians’ call it the Daily Terror for its tabloid, over the top style) we poor Aussies are suffering under the carbon tax. In fact, you can see the long lines at the soup kitchens already…

But is that true? 

How does the claim a carbon tax will destroy jobs?

Recent employment figures show the Australian economy has added 50,000 new jobs. Here is the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for those interested. Numbers – not assertions.

Pesky things numbers: they often refuse to conform to our opinions.

Here is the truth – not the “truthiness” of CFACT and coal miners.

The Australian economy is doing OK.

Now there are a number of challenges facing the Australian economy due to the high dollar (vis-a-vis the USD) and the end of the mining boom. Government revenue has taken a hit due to the aforementioned reasons; also the mineral resources tax has woefully underperformed. I guess that’s what happens when you invite the mining companies to effectively write the law.

Surprise! They don’t get taxed!

But how does the economy-wreaking carbon tax fit into this picture?

Not at all.

Remember the hysteria, the public protests and the shrill braying for blood by the likes of Alan Jones who stated PM Julia Gillard should be stuffed into a bag and drowned?

Ruined?

End of life as we know it?

Hardly.

However, both Abbott and the hacks at News Limited have moved onto their next meme: “The Great Big Deficit on Everything”.

Yes, it will be the “roooooon of us!” again.

Australia has accrued a very modest deficit during a period when most of the global economy is sputtering: actually this is quite an achievement. Australia has had 21 years of continuous growth. The size of the public service, compared to other OECD countries is also modest – despite the fact both population and the need for services has grown, public services numbers have remained stable for years.

There is not a surplus of fat-cat public servants down under. But hey, wasn’t that another thing the carbon tax going to do? Create a unwieldy, bloated bureaucracy?

But let’s not get facts in the way of a good waging ideological warfare eh? There’s the free-market to evangelise and climate science to disparage!

I joke of course. The truth is this: all the posturing, sound and fury generated by the likes of Abbott and his cheer squad at News is divorced from reality.

Indeed, if there are any alarmists in the climate – or any other debate – I think we know where to point the finger.

But don’t believe me.

We’ll be roooooooned! Roooooooooned I tells ya!

Watch out TMZ, “Watts up with that?” is the new celebrity gossip site

In March 2012, the Skeptical Science (SkS)was “hacked” by persons unknown. John Cook provided context in a post shortly after the hack:

Sometime over the last few days, the Skeptical Science website has been hacked. The hacker has taken much or all of the Skeptical Science database, zipped various excerpts into a single file, uploaded the file onto a Russian website then linked to the zip file from various blogs. While we are still attempting to verify the authenticity of the file, initial scans seem to indicate the hacker has included the entire database of Skeptical Science users. Access to the full database (which includes private details) is restricted only to myself and I am the only one with access to all of the raw data – this fact alone indicates that this breach of privacy came in the form of an external hack rather than from within Skeptical Science itself.

While the content was made available on the Internet, Anthony Watts was notable in his refusal to exploit this content stating he respected the privacy of the individual:

Rest assured, we are working hard to upgrade Skeptical Science’s security in order to more robustly protect users’ private details. We are also in the process of soliciting legal advice on these matters and contacting the appropriate authorities. We would like to thank those who have come to us with information about this potential hack and those who have decided against spreading the aforementioned files (e.g. Anthony Watts). We all believe that protecting the privacy of individuals is of the utmost importance and we would hope that all illegally obtained documents and files are removed from uploaded servers and disposed of.

However it would now appear the “gloves are off” for Anthony, as he is now frequently reposting snippets of the SkS forum, disregarding the once principled stand he took back in March:

Skeptical Science gets Romm-Bombed 

Posted on September 25, 2012by Anthony Watts 

Reposted from Popular Technology with permission 

Skeptical Science: Too Inaccurate for Joe Romm 

In March of 2012, the climate alarmist website Skeptical Science had their forums “hacked” and the contents posted online. In these it was revealed that Skeptical Science was found to be even too inaccurate for fellow alarmist Joe Romm of Climate Progress…

And so on.

Perhaps it was the Lewandowsky paper which demonstrated a clear link between conspiracy ideation and climate scepticism that literally enraged sceptic bloggers around the world. Perhaps it was his astonishment at the fact that nearly 20,000 people signed a petition in opposition to his appearance on PBS News Hour.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are clearly seeing Anthony Watts switching strategies: having failed to undermine the science of climate change he is switching to celebrity gossip.

Tales of “warmist” bloggers and climate scientists behaving badly will soon dominate the headlines of WUWT: perhaps we’ll get some grainy shots of topless “warmists” at the beach? Or fussy iPhone pictures of scientists stumbling drunkenly out of night clubs?

Watch out TMZ, there’s a new kid on town.

As a pro-tip Anthony, I’d create a signature tagline – something like “A Watts XOXO”

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