A CHALLENGE: Wendy Carlisle, the lectern is yours. Respond to the three apparent errors listed below. You have been tweeting up a storm of denial, but a professional journalist would surely wish to invest more than 140-characters in defending her competence, honesty, or both. Email the Billabong or join the comments thread. Silence can only condemn.
By the way, there is another little curiosity about your report, but that can wait until tomorrow.
ABC reporterette Wendy Carlisle informs visitors to her twitter page that she is “working on a new secret story”. Women are said to be particularly good at multi-tasking, according to the settled science one finds in dog-eared magazines available in hospital waiting rooms, but Ms Carlisle must be a genuine journalistic wonder. After broadcasting her Background Briefing assault on Viscount Monckton, she promised to address the many criticisms of that 60-minute, taxpayer-funded slander, and in sundry other posts has insisted she and the ABC “stand by our story”. Yet two weeks have passed and no defence, comprehensive or tweeted, has been forthcoming.
Perhaps she simply does not know where to start, there being so much on her plate and so much that was wrong – not just sloppy, but downright, irredeemably false -- about the Monckton report. Now that she is also tweeting defences of a polar biologist who has been suspended over allegations of scientific misconduct, the poor thing may need a little help organising her thoughts. Indeed, she has not found time to note that the bounced boffin, Dr Charles Monnett, was one of her prime sources for her attack on Monckton.
Chivalry is not dead, at least not at the Billabong, where young, firm women can always expect gentlemanly courtesies. So to help the credulous Carlisle address those matters of gross inaccuracy, here are some of her assertions and the documentary evidence refuting them. All Carlisle’s quotes are taken from her broadcast. Each quoted source is lifted from the “supporting documents” she provides at the show's Background Briefing web page:
Wendy’s Wonderland #1:
Wendy Carlisle: … he [Fred Singer] was one of those scientists to basically cast doubt on the link between smoking and cancer
Fred Singer (from the cited paper): There are certain things about smoking which science can demonstrate. For example, active smoking is detrimental to the health of millions of smokers.
Fred Singer: It is accepted that smoking is linked to several forms of cancer, particularly of the lungs, and also to heart disease.
The full document is here. Readers will note that Singer casts not a shred of doubt on the cancer/smoking link; rather, he endorses it. His beef is with the bent and cobbled together “science” deployed to ban fags in bars and other public places, research that saw secondhand smoke designated as a known carcinogen only after orthodox statistical analysis was jettisoned to achieve that result.
Sounds kinda like climate science, eh?
QUESTION FOR CARLISLE: Did you not read the supporting document you provide?
Wendy’s Wonderland #2:
Wendy Carlisle: The scientific paper Lord Monckton cites does not say that the polar bears drowned because of a big storm.
The polar bear paper: High mortality in 2004 was more likely related to extreme and metabolically demanding conditions, such as high sea states associated with stormy weather.
The polar bear paper: Our count of dead polar bears related to the 2004 windstorm almost certainly represents an underestimate of the actual number of polar bears affected
The polar bear paper: Over the next days, high winds occurred across the study area with light westerly winds switching to strong easterly winds peaking at 54 km/h at Endicott and 46 km/h
… Winds offshore were likely considerably higher
The polar bear paper: Seas became very rough with wave heights estimated in excess of 2m.
The full document is here. And just for a little perspective, let us note that the paper’s author, who is in hot water with US federal investigators, has been, ahem, peer reviewed, as he explains: “Uh, well, it was, it was reviewed here. Um, Lisa Rotterman, my wife, who is a, you know, Ph.D. ecologist, reviewed it and, you know, she took the first cut”
Ah, the benefits of a happy and supportive marriage!
QUESTION FOR WENDY: Did you not read the supporting document you provide?
Wendy’s Wonderland #3:
So far, in our examination of Carlisle’s litany of loose reporting, her sins can be understood, if not forgiven. Let’s assume the slur on Singer and the misrepresentation of the polar bear study (itself highly dubious) were inspired by a dash of cavalier laziness and a larger dollop of personal bias. It is easy to see how it might have happened. Her green contacts fed her the libels, and being a reporter committed to carbon justice and a candle-powered planet, she parroted and published them. Shockingly slack, but not without precedent, as a good many of her ABC colleagues so often cut the same corners.
But the third and final of Carlisle’s transgressions is no mere study in slackness. Indeed, it is such a monumental misrepresentation that Media Watch’s Jonathan Holmes, even if he can ignore #1 and #2, needs to be all over this example of dopey, devious journalism. He won’t touch it, of course, but he most definitely should. Read the transcript below – and read it carefully.
Wendy Carlisle: And the show continued like this for another 50 minutes, with Lord Monckton repeatedly misconstruing the scientific evidence.
Christopher Monckton: Because Al Gore says in his movie that because of the melting of two ice sheets, Greenland and the West Antarctic, sea level is going to rise by 20 feet, imminently. But in fact the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that because of those two ice sheets the amount of contribution to sea level rise will be, over the whole of the next 100 years six centimetres, which is two and a half inches; not 610 centimetres, which is 20 feet. So there is a hundredfold exaggeration by Al Gore. 'I'm gonna do this big, baby!'
Wendy Carlisle: On this occasion the exaggerations cut both ways. Yes, Al Gore did overstate his case, but Lord Monckton's assertion, that the UN's climate change panel says seas will only rise by six centimetres this century, is pure fiction. According to chapter five of its report on sea levels, the sea is expected to rise between 20 and 50 centimetres this century.
Well, yes, the IPCC does say something like that, and you can find its predictions of total seal level rise at page 409 of its 2007 magnum opus.
But the key word is “total” – and Monckton was not talking about the overall global increase. The element of Al Gore’s theology that attracts his attention is the projected sea level rise attributable to just two ice sheets, the Greenland and West Antarctic ones. They are but two of several sources and factors the IPCC believes will drown us, the chief amongst these being the fact that water expands as it warms (see graphic 10.33 on page 821 and section 10.7.4.1).
For those interested, the IPCC explains its logic not in Chapter 5, where Carlisle refers listeners, but in Chapter 10 (see section 10.6.1 on page 812), where the settled scientists note that Antarctica is unlikely to be a major source of sea level increases in the short term because the volume of land-based ice is growing. The Greenland ice sheet, it continues, is likely to be more troublesome, but estimating its contribution, and the speed of that contribution, must remain speculative because of all the many variables. According to the graphic on page 830, the near-total disappearance of Greenland’s ice might be seen 1,760 years hence, an interval that would appear to grant humanity a little breathing room.
All of the above is very interesting, but delving into the IPCC’s minutiae is to miss the staggering mischief in Carlisle’s reaming of Monckton. Just to recap, he refers to a 6cm sea-level increase as a consequence of just two ice sources melting in the short term. Carlisle pretends he is talking about total rises from all global sources and then uses that misrepresentation to give him a right bollocking while simultaneously excusing Gore’s towering falsehood.
Where did Monckton get his 6cm? Well, that remains a mystery, quite possibly because the IPCC report is a thick, dense and difficult document for a lay Bunyip to decipher in its entirety. If that figure is in there and readers can find it, or if more incisive souls can spot the numbers Monckton crunched to get his estimate, please post a note of explanation in the comments thread and this post will be updated ASAP.
But again, fixating on pure numbers is a mugs game. Carlisle’s sin #3 is flat-out misrepresentation, the actual number being beside the point.
QUESTION FOR CARLISLE: Did you not read the supporting document you provide?
Add another exhibit to the body of evidence that says the ABC needs to be cleaned out or, if that proves impossible, shuttered for good. That the ABC published Carlisle’s poison is appalling. That it has allowed it to stand is a disgrace.