Poor journalism plagues The Australian front page yet again.

UPDATE:  See the facts and figures about The Australian’s war on Science over at Deltoid.

No doubt you will remember The Australian’s infamous front page story that was exposed on Media Watch by Jonathan Holmes.  Well, it seems that the poor journalism continues at The Australian.  In a front page article entitled “U.N.’s climate report ‘one-sided‘, Ben Webster tries to claim that the Dutch study has revealed serious errors in the IPCC fourth assessment report.

Well, it seems that Ben and The Australian got it all backwards yet again.

The Dutch study actually concludes the complete opposite – that statements within the “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” section of the IPCC AR4 report were “well founded and none were found to contain any significant errors”. The Dutch study recommended a number of ways to strengthen upcoming reports and eliminate a number of small errors which cropped up.

Was Ben off reading right-wing fossil fuel funded blogs again?  Or was it a case of the ‘ole let’s make up the news when it gets to be all too boring?

What is truly remarkable is that The Australian tries to imply that the report also concluded that the evidence concerning the extreme risk of climate change to Great Barrier Reef was “alarmist”.  A careful reading of the report reveals that the study did not conclude that evidence or the conclusions were alarmist.  Rather, it pointed to a couple of slightly inaccurate references to the peer-reviewed literature.  In fact, it concludes after doing so that “We consider this to be a minor comment”.

Talking to the experts, you find that few have problems with the IPCC statement that “60 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef was projected to suffer regular bleaching by 2020 “. You see, we already are. We have had bleaching since 1979 (and none before) with significant recent events in 1998, 2002 and 2006.  Sounds regular to me!  In several of these events (1998, 2002), more than 50% of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected.

Of course, Australia’s Andrew Bolt has responded with his mirror of this misinformation. Helpful fellow that he is.

Where has Ben Webster and the Australian been? The real shame here is the erosion of trust that we can place in one of our leading papers. With a repeated offences like this like this, why would you read The Australian?  Certainly, not if you wanted to get the facts on any particular issue!

To really understand what the Dutch report says, we recommend readers go to the original report or a rational report such as that in the leading international science magazine, Nature.  Here is what Reuters had to say:

Few fishy facts found in climate report

Dutch investigation supports key warnings from the IPCC’s most recent assessment.

Quirin Schiermeier

05 Jul 2010 14:22:00 GMT

Written by: Laurie Goering

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has defended his science body’s work, saying any errors in its reports were minor. A new Dutch report agrees with that assessment. REUTERS/Bob Strong

In the latest of a series of reports backing the validity of work by leading climate scientists, the Dutch government said Monday that a review of a key report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had found no significant errors.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency took a look at the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, a 2007 study considered the basis for understanding climate change science, following criticism that the report had in several instances exaggerated climate impacts.

IPCC officials admitted one important mistake – an exaggeration of the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers – but noted that the error shouldn’t be used to invalidate the rest of the 3,000-page report.

The Netherlands government agreed with that conclusion in its study of the “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” section of the report, which looks at regional impacts of climate change.

Reviewers found that statements in the section are “well founded and none were found to contain any significant errors,” though some minor errors cropped up. They issued a set of recommendations on how to strengthen upcoming reports, with a view to eradicating such mistakes.

Representatives of the thousands of leading international climate scientists who volunteer their time to produce the reports called the Dutch study a validation of their work, which won a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

“The review is explicit in its finding that the key conclusions of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report are accurate, correct and supported entirely by the leading science in the field,” said Martin Parry, co-chair of the team that produced the “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” section of the 2007 report.

Climate scientists, under broad attack by sceptics of climate change science, have in recent weeks enjoyed a welcome series of victories. Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist embroiled in a high-profile stolen email scandal at the University of East Anglia, was exonerated of charges of research misconduct and ethical lapses last week after a review by his university.

Reuters AlertNet is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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