Monday, August 18, 2008

60 Minutes in denial over climate change

In the 60 Minutes story on climate change denial called Crunch Time, Rudd came off like he needs media-training on the issue.

PM KEVIN RUDD: I'm not going to lie to you and say this is going to be cost free. This is a tough decision, we need to take it for the country's long-term future and its long-term economic future. But economic cost of not acting is massive, it's through the roof. Think about food production, the Murray, think about the impact on tourism in QLD, no more Barrier Reef, Kakadu, no more Kakadu. Think about the impact on jobs, it's huge.

TARA BROWN: How certain are you that mankind is the cause behind global warming?

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There's a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change - 4000 of them. Guys in white coats who run around and don't have a sense of humour. They just measure things. And what they say to us is it's happening and it's caused by human activity.

Kevin Rudd, you have the broad brush-strokes down well, but if you are going to deliver on your election promises to implement an ETS, and politically remain in a position to be able to do so, then you have to pay attention to the many niggling details.

Firstly, you don't want to lose your franchise with the voters who support the ETS and who do understand climate change. Secondly, you can't afford to give professional denialists like L. Ron Bolt any traction. Their product, doubt, is an easier sell than action to tackle an unseen threat. By way of exmple, here's Bolt swooping in: Rudd feels the heat on 60 Minutes.

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There’s a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change - 4000 of them.

No, it’s actually called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And no, there are not 4000 IPCC scientists. Try 2500, instead. Rudd is lucky that this exaggeration wasn’t picked up by Brown. What’s more, a number of those 2500 don’t stand by the IPCC conclusion on man’s effect on the climate. Many others were not even consulted over the report’s bottom-line finding.

One mistake, and L Ron pounces, then thows red meat to his flying monkeys, to rip apart, who affirm these denialist talking point just as they have been programmed to.

Andrew Bolt is incorrect in his correcting Rudd, strictly speaking. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC is essentially the world's largest review of peer-review climate-science research by a panel of UN goverment member representatives and World Meterolical Organisation (WMO) scientists. They draw on the research of 2500 climate scientists.

In short, the IPCC reports on the body of scientific literature produced by 2500 climate scientists to develop policy responses. It is right Mr Rudd (and Ms Wong before him) should state he relies on this, and he needs to say it clearly and simply.

Especially when 60 Minutes is doing a clear Denier's Special. Here they are balancing the scientific views of 2500 of specialist climate scientists, with the unscientific view of one computer program architect.

TARA BROWN: No doubt the ice is melting, but the big question is - are we to blame? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change reports it is 90% certain we are. But other equally eminent scientists believe what were seeing is just part of Nature's great cycle.

DAVID EVANS: Now since 1990, western governments have spent about $50 billion looking for evidence that carbon causes global warming and they haven't found any.

TARA BROWN: Dr David Evans has six university degrees and once worked for the Australian Government's Greenhouse Office. But he no longer thinks global warming is caused by our carbon dioxide and so isn't concerned about his or any one else's carbon footprint. So does that mean don't give up your V8 cars? Does that mean continue flying, don't worry about changing light bulbs, don't worry about trying to capture carbon or shutting down coal-fired power stations? Is that what that means?

As his resume shows, David Evans was just a computer programmer at the AGO. 60 Minutes missed out reporting that detail in favour of blowing hot air up his balloon.

Desmogblog clear the air: Evans is a self-promoting computer geek, not a science geek.

Oh the gravitas you lend this code-cowboy, 60 Minutes. You should be ashamed.

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