Piers Akerman, the conservative journalist from the Daily telegraph, with his extensive (sic) background in science is now an expert on … climate science! More so, apparently, than the Australian of the year Professor Tim Flannery or Australian Federation Fellow, Professor David Karoly. Just have a look at the latest contribution to his blog — a response to the ABC showing of the BBC production “The Climate Change Swindle“. Not that Ackerman hasn’t been wrong before.
Apparently Akerman knows something that scientists from the best academies in the world don’t know, and that is that climate change is bunk. Do not get me wrong here: true skeptic arguments make important contributions to the debate on global warming and climate change. This is actually the way science works – by continually criticizing its ideas, and by thereby improving its accuracy and veracity. However, it doesn’t work via the spin journalism that Ackerman propagates. If you have a look at what Akerman writes about climate change, you will see that he spends an inordinate amount of time attacking the personalities of scientists (which I’m not really that interested in) and spends little time verifying the ‘facts’ that he spews out.
There are probably two reasons for this. Either he doesn’t understand the facts (I actually think this is the case) or he is in cahoots with those people that don’t want us to recognise the inherent challenges ahead when it comes to climate change. Just look at his handling of the facts yesterday. In his rant, he triumphs at one point “one such unhelpful note was sounded by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, who have found that the threat of Great Barrier Reef corals may have been exaggerated.”
Now, if Piers had actually read the paper from these scientists (or indeed understood it), he would have realised that they actually concluded that “the extra heat-resistance at corals maintained by shuffling (1 – 1.5°C) may be insufficient to help these populations keep up with the predicted increases in average tropical sea temperatures over the next hundred years.” (Mieog et al. 2007, Coral Reefs). In short, after exploring a mechanism that might make corals tough when it comes to climate change, it looks like it wont make them tougher (see my previous post on this issue). Given we are likely to see changes of greater than 2-4°C over the next century (from IPCC not Akerman!), they are quite right to be skeptical.
There is no magic bullet here – and a far cry from the bs provided by Ackerman. In fact, due to the poor reporting by Ackerman and the media in general, the senior author of this paper, Dr. Madeleine Van Oppen, has spent some time yesterday trying to correct the record arising from the misconceptions and spin. This is a waste of a good scientist’s time, and our tax resources!
What is frightfully obvious about Piers’ reporting is that he is more interested in promoting a story about bumbling scientists in an evil conspiracy than reporting and commenting on the truth. Unfortunately, a sad reflection on what newspapers more and more think is an ‘honest debate’. His tendency to attack personalities rather than the issue at hand strongly implies his lack of ability to address the real facts and issues. See how he joins Andrew Bolt and others in deliberately muddying the issues. This is not journalism, it’s just spin.
“What we do know is that the Earth has been hotter and colder that it is today, without any man-made carbon dioxide emissions contributing to the equation… It is also claimed by some scientists that Earth may actually be entering a period of global cooling, not warming, right now. We just don’t know enough about the science to make that determination right now.”
Sadly, Akerman continues to astound with quite what he doesn’t know about the science. Who is “we”, Piers? Fortunately some people who read Akerman’s blog (such as Matthew from Canberra) see the forest for the trees:
This whole blog is a troll, isn’t it? You’re a kite. Sorry. I just don’t believe that someone who can clearly read books believes half of the rubbish you publish. You’re on the take
Don’t just take my word for it (or any other blogger’s for that matter – Marohasy included) – read the science and form your own opinion. I put this post out to Akerman and look forward to his response in debating the science at hand… that is, if he can!