Professor: Climate Journalism Awash In
‘Emotional Propaganda’, ‘Mythological Constructs’
Too Much Reliance On Models, ‘Consensus’
A University of Wollongong (Australia) investigative journalism professor with a research interest in ecological science and exposing environmental fraud has just published a scathing indictment of the climate science journalism industry in the academic journal Asia Pacific Media Educator.
Pulling no punches, Dr. David Blackall lambastes the modern climate science journalism practice of relying more on theoretical models, “expert” predictions, and authoritative “consensus” than on empirical observation and real-world physical measurements in reporting stories on global warming.
Instead of evaluating alarming claims of impending climate catastrophe with reasonable skepticism and critical review, today’s journalists not only reflexively accept the planetary meltdown narratives they promulgate, they simultaneously conceal the growing body of scientific evidence that may ameliorate the scariness of the modern climate narrative.
Journalists Refuse To Report Non-Alarmist Scientific Evidence
(1) Multiple papers have been published within the last year (Turner et al., 2016, Oliva et al., 2017) indicating that the rapid warming trend observed during the late 20th century for the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) has now reversed, and the AP has been dramatically cooling (-0.47 °C per decade) and glaciers have stopped receding in the region since 1999. This cooling trend has not been reported by mainstream media outlets.
(2) Earlier this year, a paper (Fettweis et al ., 2017, with a review available here) was published in The Cryosphere indicating that the Greenland Ice Sheet melt had (a) contributed just 1.5 cm (0.6 of an inch) to sea levels between 1900 and 2010; (b) there was no net ice sheet loss during the 60 years between 1940 and 2000 despite explosive growth in anthropogenic CO2 emissions during that period; and (c) net ice sheet losses were similar to today during the 1930s, when CO2 concentrations were about 100 ppm lower. This long-term Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance in an era of “alarming” warmth has not been reported by mainstream media outlets.
(3) In the 2007 IPCC report, it was claimed that glaciers in the Himalayas were melting so rapidly that the “likelihood is very high” that they would “disappear” by the year 2035. And yet many published scientific papers have shown (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) that the Himalayan region has not only not been warming in recent decades, but 88% of the glaciers in the region are either stable or advancing, with a net change of just 0.2% since 2000 (Bahuguna et al., 2014, Bolch et al., 2016, Holzer et al., 2015, Zhang et al., 2016).
(4) About a year ago, a NoTricksZone review of 8 recently published scientific papers revealed (a) land area across the world is expanding more rapidly than sea levels are rising; (b) climate change (warming) is not the primary determinant of sea level changes (coastal erosion and accretion, tectonic uplift and subsidence are more influential); (c) globally, sea levels are only rising by about 1 mm per year according to tide gauges; and (d) an anthropogenic signal could not be detected in regional sea level rise trends. Of course, no mainstream media outlet publicized these scientific findings. They don’t support the alarmist narrative.
(5) There were 133 peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2016 linking solar forcing to climate changes. There have already been 84 Sun-Climate papers published thus far in 2017. More and more solar scientists are predicting a Grand Solar Minimum and concomitant global cooling in the coming decades. Journalists have not been inclined to report on these developments in solar science. The Sun-Climate link does not fit with narrative that humans are the predominant cause of climate changes.
(6) Finally, a collection of over 300 graphs of reconstructed historical (Holocene) temperatures has been made available in recent months. These graphs, taken from hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers, reveal that modern warming trends are neither unusual or unprecedented, and they do not even fall outside the range of natural (pre-anthropogenic influence) variability. And yet what do mainstream journalists report in their headlines on a routine basis? That today’s temperature changes are “shocking”, “stunning” and “unprecedented”.
Would it be so difficult for journalists to actually seek scientific verification of their claims before publishing?
Or is the pursuit of real-world scientific confirmation too much to expect from journalists and media sources bent on advancing an agenda in this “Post Truth World”?
‘Forlorn’ Polar Bears An Example of ‘Emotional Propaganda’, ‘Fake News’ Reporting
“One particularly emotive story line attached to this topic is the so-called pending extinction of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) population. In recent times, there have been a number of claims that polar bears are threatened with extinction because global warming was melting their habitat. Yet the scientific evidence suggests to the contrary: population counts conducted between 2007 and 2017 suggest that bear numbers are on the increase. This has led Crockford (2017a) to label such claims as emotional propaganda. In the last decade, cherrypicked and unverified photographic material, ‘emotional’ videos, even animation, then used in news, of forlorn bears floating on ice was the practice (Crockford, 2016; Rode, 2014). This is a good example of ‘fake news’.”
Climate Models Not Confirmed, Harmonious Pre-Industrial Climate A ‘Mythical Construct’
“Scientific uncertainty arises from ‘simulations’ of climate because computer models are failing to match the actual climate. This means that computer models are unreliable in making predictions. Published in the eminent journal Nature (Ma, et. al., 2017), ‘Theory of chaotic orbital variations confirmed by Cretaceous geological evidence’, provides excellent stimulus material for student news writing. The paper discusses the severe wobbles in planetary orbits, and these affect climate. The wobbles are reflected in geological records and show that the theoretical climate models are not rigorously confirmed by these radioisotopically calibrated and anchored geological data sets. Yet popular discourse presents Earth as harmonious: temperatures, sea levels and orbital patterns all naturally balanced until global warming affects them, a mythical construct. Instead, the reality is natural variability, the interactions of which are yet to be measured or discovered (Berger, 2013).”
A Non-Warming Climate Doesn’t Fit The Narrative – So It’s Unreported, Manipulated
“Contrary to news media reports, some glaciers throughout the world (Norway [Chinn et al., 2005] and New Zealand [Purdie et al., 2008]) are growing, while others shrink (Paul et al., 2007). New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and Victoria University found that ‘regional cooling’ over 25 years had correlated with growing glaciers (Mackintosh et al., 2017).”
“Sea levels too have not been obeying the ‘grand transnational narrative’ of catastrophic global warming. Sea levels around Australia 2011–2012 were measured with the most significant drops in sea levels since measurements began. This phenomenon was due to rainfall over Central Australia, which filled vast inland lakes. It was not predicted in the models, nor was it reported in the news. The 2015–2016 El-Niño, a natural phenomenon, drove sea levels around Indonesia to low levels such that coral reefs were bleaching. The echo chamber of news repeatedly fails to report such phenomena and yet many studies continue to contradict mainstream news discourse.”
Scientific Uncertainty Replaced By ‘Consensus’ (Post-Normal) Science, Model ‘Validation’
“Scientists test, measure, observe and retest, and they must be able to verify and repeat results (Errington et al., 2014). Uncertainty is always present (van Der Sluijs, 2005), but when uncertainty is replaced by ‘consensus’ (post-normal science), a culture of gatekeeping ensues (Lindzen, 2009). Post-normal science is said to be appropriate when ‘traditional methodologies are ineffective. In those circumstances, the quality assurance of scientific inputs to the policy process requires an ‘extended peer community’, consisting of all those with a stake in the dialogue on the issue’ (Funtowicz & Ravetz, 1993). Then, and dangerously, dissenters are silenced so that chosen and ‘necessary’ discourses arrive in journals, conferences and boardrooms. In such a climate, it is difficult for the assertion to be made that there might be other sources, than a nontoxic greenhouse gas called carbon dioxide (CO2), that could be responsible for ‘climate disruption’. A healthy scientific process would allow such a proposition.”
“Journalism conveys a ‘professional authority’—touting its discourse as ‘fact checked’, within ‘editorial consensus’—its validation process. However, ‘validation’ in climate science means something completely different—a model is validated, ‘acceptable for its intended use’, because it meets specified computer performance requirements (Rykiel, 1996).”
Correcting Climate Journalism’s ‘False Narratives’: Offer Public Alternative Perspectives
‘An online survey revealed similarity between climate change deniers and believers in terms of preference for climate change news sources and rating of reliability of authorities. It was also discovered that both groups do not believe in conspiracy theories. Thus the results show that participants on both sides in the discussion on climate change are similar, rational, and are basing their judgments by using similar types of sources.’ (Grabbe, 2015)
“As there is uncertainty with greenhouse gas theory, students should be given alternative perspectives to help find ways to publish stories that question, challenge and enlighten. With technological change in the traditional newsroom, which brings ‘heightened accountability’ (Bivens, 2008), and instantaneous research capability, there are plenty of opportunities to correct false narratives.”
An Alternative Perspective Example: Clouds As Climate Control Mechanism