"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blair has Bacon for breakfast!

A sarcastic Tim Blair reacts to Wendy Bacon's critique of the Daily Telegraph and their coverage of the carbon tax and climate change in general. It seems to be a problem with left-wing academia that the paper could not find much positive comment on the carbon tax not considering for one moment that there aren't any positives, a view shared be most Australians. Read on for Tim Blair at his best:
AN apology is in order. The newspaper is way out of line. According to journalism professor Wendy Bacon, of the material published by The Daily Telegraph about the government's carbon tax, 11 per cent has been positive while 89 per cent has been negative.These figures are alarming, and I would like to assure Bacon, from Sydney's University of Technology, that steps have been taken.A comprehensive audit is underway to identify exactly who was responsible for those positive articles and to establish the guidelines for a thorough re-education process. In advance of this, our basement-located training facilities have been completely sound-proofed.
I'd like to thank Bacon for calling this state of affairs to our attention. Some of her additional commentary, however, requires a more detailed response.

In her 70-page report, which is not at all stupid and reflective of a predictably academic hostility towards commerce and progress, Bacon claims that "many Australians did not receive fair, accurate and impartial reporting in the public interest in relation to the carbon policy in 2011".
This is true, but we can't help it if many Australians choose to listen to the ABC. Perhaps Bacon's report will serve to enlighten these people by drawing further attention to The Telegraph's excellent coverage.
Bacon also writes: "Nearly 14 per cent of the articles analysed had the issue of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's or the federal Labor government's alleged lack of integrity as their dominant theme. Nearly all of these focused on PM Julia Gillard's pre-election 'promise' not to have a carbon tax."
Note the use of the word "alleged" and the doubt-inducing quotes around "promise". Is there any question that in 2010 Gillard promised "there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead"? Or that Treasurer Wayne Swan rejected "the hysterical allegation that we are moving towards a carbon tax"? For whatever reason, Bacon and her researchers, some 13 or so were involved in compiling the report, decline to dwell on the government's obvious reversal of policy.
Dishonest government is evidently less important to academics than is criticism of that government.
Some of the assumptions in Bacon's report are intriguing. "Climate change has been a hot topic in the Australian media for several years," she writes, "not so much because it threatens the planet but because of the tense political struggle over how the government should respond".
So the planet itself is threatened. Not just low-lying island populations or coast-dwelling Australians or polar bears, but the earth itself.
Note that Bacon implies doubt over Gillard's carbon tax promise, but exaggerates climate change concerns to the point that the planet may cease to be. The joint may have survived for 4.6 billion years, but a couple of degrees of temperature change are going to blast it out of space.
Bacon continues: "Is it in the public interest for a media organisation that dominates the market to 'campaign' as The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun have done, on an issue which a huge majority of the world's scientists have found threatens the lives of millions?"
Sometimes one gets the impression Bacon may not have begun this investigation with a completely unbiased view.
Speaking of bias, Bacon observes Fairfax publications were more inclined to be in favour of the carbon tax. This fact is offered without comment: "Fairfax newspapers did not publish any opinion articles by climate sceptics about climate policy, during this period."
Absent any criticism, this omission is presumably approved. Interesting.
So we've got a range of newspapers offering a range of views on the carbon tax, from yay-for-taxation government huggers at Fairfax (particularly Melbourne's Age) to those questioning the government at The Daily Telegraph and elsewhere. Bacon herself notes the striking "differences between publications". This is a clear and encouraging sign of media diversity.
You'd imagine someone such as Bacon, involved with a group called the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, might be pleased. Instead, she appears to wish for a standardised approach on carbon tax issues across all media. Were it up to her, every publication would follow The Age's line: "The Age, the newspaper with the most in-depth coverage of climate science, had the most positive stance towards action on climate change." In other words, smart folks at an unread paper know what's best. Stop diversity now!
Bacon and her research team promise a follow-up study, which hopefully will include some information about coastal engineer Doug Lord, whose research into Sydney Harbour's tidal data revealed a more or less constant rate of sea level rise of about 1mm per year.

Lord's data has largely been shunned by the state government's environmental bureaucracy. He says he has never been given a "sensible explanation of why", but it may be due to government projections that suggest sea level rises a magnitude greater than Lord demonstrates.
 His research is, to say the least, inconvenient. Other studies support Lord's findings.
 In this week's The Spectator Australia, Nils-Axel Morner, a former palaeogeophysics and geodynamics head at Stockholm University writes that the 68 most reliable tide gauge stations used by the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show "a present rate of sea level rise in the order of 1mm a year".
 Morner reckons the actual number may be even smaller, but for argument's sake let's settle on 1mm. Let's also assume this level of annual rise is entirely due to human-caused carbon emissions.
 Here's a challenge for Wendy Bacon's journalism students at the University of Technology. If Australia's contribution to the total amount of carbon dioxide generated globally is just 1.4 per cent, how much of that sea level rise is because of us?
 I work it out to be 0.0139mm, or 13.9 microns. This is approximately the depth of a fine coat of paint.
 Over to you, kids. Explain to Bacon how sea level rises of this scale can justify a carbon tax that strips billions out of the Australian economy.
 For bonus marks, please point out how a 1mm sea rise adds up to the destruction of the planet. You might begin with the level of threat this presents to a solitary barnacle.

1 comment:

  1. I could never have imagined that in the 21st century, the public's beliefs could be manipulated and deceived in exactly the same way that the Nazis had the German people believing that Hitler was their saviour. Only when that deception and its consequences ran its horrific course, did they soberly wake up and see how it really was.

    Well it's happening all over again, thanks to various media organisations constantly reinforcing the lies. As Dr Richard Lindzen said, "The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well." (http://tinyurl.com/4s78xqn)