Mar 122010

Here’s an interesting piece I happened across in today’s Oz

A Howard government appointee to the ABC board, Chairman Maurice Newman, has openly attacked the journalistic and managerial ethics of the broadcaster he heads the board for, over the issue of Climate Change. The text of his address can be read here.

”The proof of the pudding is in the eating and is reflected in our audiences’ approval of our services and the positive knock-on effect this has had for our recent funding success. Let us never lose sight of this reality. Our future is inexorably intertwined with how diligent we are in faithfully discharging our obligations under our Act and Charter.”

A veiled warning about balance in reporting, something public broadcasters worldwide are often accused of not adhering to. It’s fine & dandy, however, for the likes of Murdoch to be as unbalanced as the owner’s ideology dictates. He then goes on to point out in no uncertain terms just how gratified he was by Chis Uhlmann’s online blog article, ‘In Praise of the Sceptics’ 30 October last year, in which Uhlmann wrote:

By now it should be clear that I am building towards an act of heresy. In mainstream political and scientific debate today what held true for Einstein does not hold true for climate science. Climate science we are endlessly told is “settled”. But to make the, perfectly reasonable, point that science is never settled risks being branded a “sceptic” or worse a “denier”. “Denier” is one of those words, like “racist”, which is deliberately designed to gag debate. And what is wrong with being a sceptic? The Greek root of the word means “thoughtful” or “inquiring” and that used to be a virtue.

Uhlmann didn’t actually defend the sceptic or ‘denier’ stance in regard to Climate Change, any more than he defended the apostolic acceptance stance, simply defined the difference between scientific inquiry and uninformed opinion. I agree with his opinion, that science is never settled because science by its very nature is a process of hypothesis, test, theorising, test, hypothesis some more when the tests draw out more conclusions, and so on. No one in their logical mind will claim that the science of Climate Change is ‘settled’, because it’s not. What Newman did not address, and herein lies his act of dropping all of his emporer’s clothes, was the issue of Climate Change ‘deniers’ completely abrogating the scientific process in favour of un-proven, non-peer reviewed opinion. I’ve not yet come across one ‘denier’ personally, who understands the science, can reason its implications or more pointedly, will accept the high probability that human industrialisation is a major contributing cause. Not one. Okay, be a sceptic, challenge the science, but challenge it on an equal basis. Ian Plimer is an excellent example of the unequal challenge, with his postulation that geology has an major impact(??), and the Sun is most likely the principal causal factor. He completely dismisses, in fact, does not even consider the issue of human industrialisation as a causal factor, however minor .
I can understand completely why ABC journalists would be offended by this thinly disguised nihilist accusation from the organisation’s own Chairman, and the anger expressed by many at the implication of partisanship on the part of highly respected research journalists, many of whom are scientists themselves (Catalyst) who present the viewpoints we see on Aunty ABC. I’m offended even writing about it.
It seems as though the ‘deniers’ want their cake and eat it too. Don’t criticise us, but we can denigrate you, even though you have science on your side. Perhaps we should have a principal on which to judge these discussions, debates about Climate Change, something along the lines of

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a Climate Change sceptic invoking Al Gore and/or Global Warming approaches 1”

I’ll call it NDC’s Law of Probabilities.