Archive for ‘Advertiser’

June 24, 2011

“Lord” Monckton calls Garnaut a Nazi, to visit Adelaide

Page 15 of today’s Tiser (which of course does not contain any letters rebutting the “it’s all volcanoes” crap that they spewed on Wednesday).

Monckton called Garnaut a Nazi in a presentation in Los Angeles. Monckton has form (he tastefully flung around the term “Hitler Youth” at Copenhagen) and this was no slip of the tongue – his powerpoint presentation has the swastika on a white circle against a red background. On the red background is “Australian government economist Final Report, 2011”.

Tony Abbott will share a stage with this clown at a Perth conference on mining. Meanwhile, Monckton’s booking at the Adelaide German Club on July 22 is being “looked into” by its president. Um, reputational risk, much?

June 21, 2011

#Tisertosh 22 June: Volcanically stupid

Normal service has resumed. On Monday the Advertiser published about 5 letters all pushing the “carbon dioxide is only 0.038% of the atmosphere” line (presumably they keep them all and theme them?)
Yesterday they published a couple of rebuttals (not mine) among the usual tosh. This was a false and fleeting glimmer of sanity because today they’ve pulled out the latest batch of “volcanoes” letters. (Presumably on Friday or Saturday will come the “sunspots” letters?)
The Advertiser is in breach of any recognisable standard of responsibility or decency. If they had a shred of either they would hire a reputable peer-reviewed climate scientists to write a weekly column based on the beserk nonsense that is sent in (and that they continue to publish).

Just for the record:
Well, 145-255 million tonnes(metric) of CO2 are emitted by volcanoes annually. Compare with ~348 million metric tons of global CO2 emissions in 2006 from the cement industry alone.

I get my facts – from those noted climate alarmists … the US Geological Survey.

PS The top letter in the Tiser today does that classic thing of claiming that there is still a debate among the world’s scientists and pointing to a totally bogus petition. What a species. Not just the letter writer, but the Tiser staff who do this, and the sheeple (myself included) sleep-walking to catastrophe.

June 20, 2011

#Tisertosh June 20 – Abbott love and gish gallops

Today is a perfect example of why the Advertiser is such a contemptible and unfunny joke as a newspaper.

Front page non-story “Abbott pushes for carbon referendum.” Which he’s been doing (let’s have an election yadda yadda yadda) for ages. Since when does reprinting Opposition talking points constitute a front page story?? It’s a beat-up. How do the editors sleep? How do they look themselves in the mirror and say “I’m a journalist.” They presumably don’t. They presumably think of the mortgage that wouldn’t get paid if they upheld anything approaching the alleged journalistic values of truth, decency and so on.
What WILL be interesting is in 20 years time, when their children find out what they did during the crucial decade. “Gee, thanks Dad. Epic Fail.” The same goes for the person/people

Then the letters page. Holy Cow, you really need to brace yourself.
They run four long letters all singing from the same delieriously mis-informed hymn sheet.

First up is “Carbon is a tiny factor”
James Harvey starts with a classic strawman argument – show me ANYONE who knows anything about climate who claims the it has always been stable. . But by “conceding” this non-point he create the illusion of being reasonable. And he then cashes those points.
Then the usual stuff about Earth’s orbit, extent of cloud cover, volcanic activity. Yep, all true.
Then “geological evidence shows that levels of carbon dioxide have not seemed to be influential.”
What evidence? He had space to cite some names of researchers so their articles could be tracked down. He didn’t. Also, we are in an unprecedented situation, doubling atmospheric C02 in 250 years, so history is at best an imperfect guide.
Then “many people don’t know the true levels of C02″ meme. Well, there’s lots that people don’t know that still is important.
Then the “only 0.038 percent of the atmosphere argument.” Sigh. A very thin rapier blade might only be about that amount of your weight, still kill you…
Carbon dioxide as a food source for plants. Gibberish and irrelevant.
“If C02 is not the culprit” – you’ve not proven (because you can’t) it. But the point is to be seen to be supporting a research agenda looking at “water and other gases produced in smaller quantities from burning fossil fuels are to blame.”

What we have here (I’ve not bothered to address all the points) is a Gish gallop– a series of illogical points and fallacious arguments, which would take a long long space to rebut, and the mere fact of doing that confers legitimacy on the nonsense that has been spouted.

Oh, and the final touch – putting the word Doctor in brackets – spurious argument from authority.
The thing is, this idiocy works. Even with my mother, who is nobody’s fool said it’s a “long, interesting letter and he’s a doctor.” He can be a doctor of whatever he likes, that’s entirely irrelevant. The ONLY thing that is relevant is has he recently had articles published in peer-reviewed journals that withstand scrutiny.

Footnote 1: The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised. Usually this results in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles just to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

June 17, 2011

Tiser in “useful information” shocker

Albeit on page 72 and 73…

In a story entitled Boom in gas use to push world over 2C target, Kerrie Sinclair reports

The International Energy Agency has warned that an expected boom in the use of gas for global energy needs would make it impossible for the world to meet current commitments to hold old global warming to 2C…. In a special report on gas demand out to 2035 the IEA said indicatioins were that rising use of natural and unconventional gas – such as shale oil and coal seam gas – would push annual greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would produce a global average temperature rise of more than 3.5C.

I think that means we’re fubarred.

On the following page, Rachel Hewitt writes a story title Carbon tax negligible to big guns. It starts
A carbon price of $50 a tonne would “barely” touch big, diversified minders BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, while it could cut the profits of Australia’s smaller, “pure” coal players by up to 10 per cent.
The research was done by the investment bank Citi.
and on the following page

June 8, 2011

#TiserTosh 8 June: Denialist letter

I’m only doing this because it’s good practice and I want to show other people just how easy (though time-consuming) it is to dismantle denialist tripe. The Advertiser, if it were a proper newspaper, would invite local climate scientists (Barry Brook seems like a good example) to have a right of reply when people who don’t know what the heck they are talking about come up with regurgitated denialist talking points. That wouldn’t be an infringement of anyone’s freedom of speech, just a newspaper acting responsibly on what is the central issue of the 21st century.

Here’s today’s drivel.

When computer modelling was used to predict average global temperature rises, sea level rises and ice extents, the real world decided not to take any notice.
Argument appears to be that the only evidence for climate change is computer modelling. Epic Fail.
So much that the opposite occurred: the world cooled, sea level stopped rising and ice extent stayed about the same.
World cooled? Um, no.
Sea levels stopped rising? Um, no.
Ice extent static? Um, no.

Now we are expected to believe Labor Government modelling that we will all be better off after the imposition of a carbon dioxide tax (The Advertiser, yesterday).
Will we be richer in the future? Unless you believe the economy will shrink, then we will. It’s interesting that the writer is worried about a carbon tax but seems NOT to be worried about the effect of a strong dollar on the non-mining portion of the Australian economy, something that is keeping Premiers and economists and lots of other people awake at night…
This is a tax where half goes to the Government, of which 10 per cent goes to the UN, and will have no measurable affect [sic] whatsoever on C02 levels.
10 percent goes to the UN? Um, citation please?
Effect, not affect. (Sorry, it’s the grammar snob in me).
And if C02 isn’t a problem, why are you worried – you’re just concern trolling.
Why would any Australian ever believe that we will each be thousands of dollars better off?
James Hein, Hackney

Why would any Australian ever believe that doing nothing is an option? Oh, because the newspapers keep publishing stupid fact-free letters, that’s why.

It probably took Mr Hein less than ten minutes to compose his letter. He certainly didn’t have to do any research (and it shows). Composing this reply has taken approximately 40 (including a computer freeze, probably in protest at its processing power being taken up with such a waste of electrons). This is an example of a gish gallop – it’s quick and easy to throw out a series of nonsense arguments, while rebutting them takes longer and is less fun for everyone.

June 8, 2011

#TiserTosh June 8: OMG, Kenny killed me

There is an extraordinary piece today [not online that I could find] by Advertiser hack Mark Kenny – endless pejorative adjectives and nouns (“spat”, “mini-tantrum”) and attempts at humour so clumsy they make Benny Hill look like Dorothy Parker (“Massive sun-obscuring edifice of egos”? Is this what they teach at the Murdoch laughing academy these days?)
Kenny builds his, um, story, around the fact that the Greens and Independents on the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee were miffed that Treasurer Wayne Swan trailed bits of a Treasury report to the media rather than letting them see it first.
If the Liberals were on a committee (and remember, they turned down the MPCCC invite) and felt they were being rolled like this, then on such point of parliamentary procedure, does anyone doubt that Advertiser hacks would be told to fulminate about it and bang on the table? Normally Labour would cop a kicking for the use of spin (“parliament insulted” etc etc -), but on this occasion the desire to give the Greens and Indies a smack has trumped that. The enemy of my enemy and all that…

It’s also a bit alarming that the senior analyst at the Tiser seems unable to understand how parliamentary legislation comes into existence. He writes “A fait accompli on the carbon tax delivered by a committee elected by almost no one.”
Yes, that’s right – the MPCCC is going to produce its findings and then THE VERY NEXT DAY everyone’s 4WD is taken away and their children sold into white slavery to give Cate Blanchett a tax break for her next island hideaway. No legislation will introduced into parliament, debated and haggled and so on like, um, any other law.

Mr Kenny has an opportunity here. He could show us how transparency is done. He could invite MPCCC members to sit in on the editorial meetings of various Murdoch rags (and frankly, the Tiser barely rises to even that description), where decisions are being made by unelected Murdoch goons (two can play that game!). Decisions about what? Well, about which democratically elected politician who doesn’t support gerontocratic plutocrats (see how easy it is?) is going to get it in the neck on in the next day’s waste of dead tree.

UPDATE 8/6/2011. If you want to see how it could (and should) have been done, check out Laura Tingle, political editor of the Australian Financial Review. Taking the same basic events, she manages to explain what is going on, point to specific facts that help you understand the possible ramifications. Her piece, “Swan appeases as tempers flare” on page 16 of the AFR 8.6.2011, is sadly behind a paywall. It concludes “It appears the government is loading in as much wriggle room as it can ahead of difficult negotiations.”

June 7, 2011

They Call Him Bruce*

The best daily paper published in Adelaide, the Advertiser, reports that “former Economic Development Board chairman Bruce Carter has been appointed to two climate-change bodies.”

Those two bodies are
a) The Premier’s Climate Change Council

The Premier’s Climate Change Council (PCCC) is a high-level independent council that advises the Premier of South Australia Open in new window on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.
Members of the council come from South Australia’s public, private and not-for-profit sectors with backgrounds including business, natural resources, science and environmental management. PCCC members are appointed for a term of up to three years.
The PCCC was established under Division 2 of South Australia’s climate change legislation.

b) The board of RenewablesSA.

Its charter is to:
* Develop and oversee the implementation of a framework for attracting renewable energy investment to South Australia
* Provide strategic advice to the Government on renewable energy policy issues
* Develop pathways for investment for the various sectors of the renewable energy industry and for the various stages of the investment process, namely research and development; deployment; downstream manufacturing; services; and related industries such as transmission and distribution
* Recommend to the Premier disbursements from the Renewable Energy Fund.
The Board is expected to meet six times per year. Although it is not a statutory Board, it is required to provide the Premier with an annual report on its activities.

*I know, I know, titles of blog entries are supposed to be straightforward factual – “Bruce Carter appointed to two boards” or some such. But I thought maybe the reference to this film might be amusing…

June 6, 2011

How not to report a rally…

The Murdoch press have a problem (well, many, but let’s stick to the climate one). I’m not talking about the irony that NewsCorp is keen – in other countries – to boast about its “zero carbon” credentials. I’m talking about its hysterical attacks on the Greens and its grotesquely slanted news “stories,” endless fact-free opinion pieces by the Andrew Bolts and David Penberthies of this world, and the publishing of every denialist letter (usually spouting stuff that has already been disproved a thousand times over) that gets sent in, while ignoring letters sent in that correct the published lies.

Reality does have a nasty habit of impinging, and a recent university-based research project shows that only 5.8% of the Australian population can be described as denialists (reported here). This despite the best efforts of Rupert’s minions. People aren’t as stupid as he wants them to be.

Yesterday, as readers will know, tens of thousands of Australians rallied for a carbon tax. What to do?? You can’t just do a straight news report… Fortunately there are some tried and trusted methods to use,and today’s Advertiser puts them on display.

It’s a useful lesson for anyone who wants to climb the greasy pole… On page 3 you run a story based on a poll of 500 people (not many, is it. I thought most polls needed to be a thou?)

[UPDATE: And you spin it as an “Advertiser poll”, when it was actually commissioned by the (Murdoch-owned) Daily Telegraph in Sydney! For more on this, and the dodginess of these polls, see Crikey’s “taxing credulity” post here.]

You ask some classic ‘hip-pocket’ questions and get the results you were hoping for. Do NOT frame the questions along the lines of “Do you believe that man-made climate change is happening?” “If other countries are taking action, should Australia” The results will come out differently, and will not be reportable, on page 3 or anywhere else.
[The other advantage of a poll like this is climate trolls who are too stupid to know the difference between a poll about the carbon tax and a poll about climate change causation can parade it as ‘proof’ that acceptance of man-made climate change is collapsing. (Either too stupid or completely lacking a basic respect for facts and science; I neither know nor care.)]

So, once you’ve got your page 3 anti-carbon tax story done, you can then bury the report of the local rally on, oh, I don’t know… page 19?

And you can write inaccurate gibberish like “Australia trails more than 30 European countries in pollution.” And you can call the rally “peaceful” – planting the idea in readers’ heads that other rallies have involved greenies smashing windows and bringing down Western Civilisation.

Simples. From the simple-minded, who have a responsibility to report on the reality, but are too busy serving the ideological whims of a gerontocrat. What a species.

June 1, 2011

Garnaut sparks riot (on parallel Earth)

Adelaide, 1st June 2011Climate expert left speechless at revolt by the professional classes
by Scott Templeton, staff reporter

Professor Ross Garnaut’s first public appearance after the release of his final Climate Report sparked a near riot at the Adelaide Convention Centre earlier this evening. The economist and climate expert’s presentation was received with muted applause, and he was unexpectedly harangued for the insufficient vigour of his recommendations to the Gillard Government. The lecture theatre then emptied rapidly as the audience marched on the State Parliament for an impromptu democratic forum.

In his customary dry and technical style Professor Garnaut had outlined the contents of his report, before the capacity crowd was invited to ask questions. The first speaker, who introduced himself as John Connor [5/6/2011: I meant this one; it turns out there is also this one], outlined the recommendations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had made for avoiding climate catastrophe, namely emissions reductions in the order of 25 to 40% on a 1990 baseline by 2020. He asked Professor Garnaut “Given that emissions are climbing faster than thought, and climate sensitivity is higher that thought, isn’t your plan – which would reduce emissions by somewhere from 5 to 10% on a 2000 baseline – entirely inadequate? Why are you advocating action that will guarantee a 4 degree rise in global average temperature, with the consequent die-off of entire ecosystems, and mass extinction for many species, including possibly human beings?”

A visibly shocked Professor Garnaut told the questioner that his views were almost certainly in an extreme minority. Before he could continue, a member of the audience stood up and shouted “Oh yeah? Let’s see! Who thinks we have to do more?” At this, more than two thirds of the audience stood and unfurled banners proclaiming “Nurses for healing the planet” “Retail workers for climate sanity” “Insurers for a safe planet” and the like. Prolonged hand-clapping then forced Professor Garnaut to take his seat. A cry rose up, echoed around the auditorium – “To the Parliament Building!” Within two minutes the room was empty, and a peaceful procession wended its way up North Terrace.

The crowd on the steps of Parliament House was exuberant, with people swapping contact details and making plans. At one point a small group of young people seemed intent on proving their radical credibility by smashing windows. They were quickly surrounded by a group of older women, told that true radicalism meant commitment and intelligence, and that they should disperse peacefully. One of the women told this reporter that she recognized one of the young men involved inciting others as a police officer, and raised the spectre of agents provocateur. In its new-found commitment to the right to protest, the Advertiser will ask the State Police to confirm or deny the presence of plainclothes or undercover officers.

Adelaide as a radical leader
Speech after speech was made from the steps. One historian, Clark Manning, pointed out that South Australia could be proud of many radical firsts – women’s suffrage, rights for Aborigines, the decriminalization of homosexuality – and that it was high time that Adelaide led the world again. This was met with immediate cheers of “shut down Playford” and “no new mines.” Speakers succinctly explained the fundamental inadequacy of existing action on climate change. Others led the good-natured crowd in a series of chants, including “Hey Hey Ho Ho Ecological Modernisation has got to go,” “2-4-6-8 We don’t want your sterile debate,” “Keep the coal in the ground. Human greed must be bound!” and -most loudly of all – “What do we want? Rapid transition to ecological sanity with justice for the poor and other species. When do we want it? Now!”

Social Media
The Advertiser reporter’s note-taking of the event was witnessed by several in the crowd, and given the Murdoch press’s commitment to spreading misinformation and fear about climate change, it’s unsurprising that the hashtag #Tisertosh trended locally on Twitter.

A swarm not a rabble
Nobody outside the Parliament building expected or even wanted any precise consensus to emerge, but the following agreements were reached
* More rallies were necessary, but not sufficient. Rallies would have to be organised to create more opportunities for useful networking rather than ego-trips for speakers
* It was vital that everyone who cared about the issue started talking to their apathetic or skeptical friends, neighbours and work colleagues, finding out their perspectives and trying to explain the science in easily digestible ways
* The Advertiser should be encouraged in all non-violent means to appoint a panel of climate scientists to give same-day rebuttals to the climate denialism letters that the letters editor seems intent on publishing. The panel should be made up almost entirely of scientists with a peer-reviewed publication background, with views on the reality of human-induced climate change in proportion to the international consensus. This would entitle Ian Plimer and his ilk to 7 days a year to wave through appalling mis-representations of the established facts.

Before peacefully dispersing at 9pm, people were twice encouraged to “mingle with intent” – firstly on the basis of where they lived, and secondly on the basis of their jobs – students, teachers, retail workers, advertising executives, health care professionals. They were encouraged to swap contact details, and to start planning local action aimed at making their City Councils and employers more responsible.

May 31, 2011

New (for me) denialist meme in the Tiser

What a rubbish newspaper. I mean, really. Seems not to have covered the massive increase in global carbon dioxide emissions that the International Energy Agency announced (see Guardian story).
Doesn’t tell its readers that Ross Garnaut is in town tonight and that they could go hear for themselves.

And. Keeps. Publishing. Demented. Letters. From. Denialists.

Here’s my latest reply. It won’t get published, of course.

Colin Brooks (1/6/11) claims there is no scientific consensus on climate change. Actually, over 97% of scientists working in climatology and related fields agree with the proposition that the carbon dioxide released when we burn oil, coal and gas is warming the planet. (See Naomi Oreskes’ work for details.)
Mr Brooks then cites William Happer, a professor of optics and spectorscopy. Relying on him would be a bit like going to an gynecologist when you have a brain tumour that needs removing. That NASA and the US Navy apparently allow their men and women to breath air with higher levels of carbon dioxide than room air says something about human physiology. It says precisely nothing about what will happen to the habitability of this planet if we do not pull our heads in on human emissions of carbon dioxide. Droughts, heat waves and the collapse of agriculture don’t sound like much fun to me.