Another media academic wanting sceptics silenced

October 3, 2013

(HERALD SUN BLOGS) – David Holmes is a senior lecturer in Communications and Media Studies at Monash University but teaches that balanced reporting is wicked when it comes to global warming – an issue he luridly imagines is corrupted by Big Oil barons paying people like me to spread lies:

by Andrew Bolt

In some forms of media, the climate deniers – who work for thinktanks, funded by big oil gas and coal companies (or are paid directly by these companies) – have the upper-hand as they jump on any news outlet that attempts to even deal with climate….

In Britain and Australia however, the BBC and ABC have been covering climate change in depth for many years. However, there are signs that they too maybe be surrendering to the media-industrial-political complex of climate denial.

It is not that the BBC and ABC are afraid of mentioning climate change; it is that they are buying into the issue as if it were a debate that required “balanced reporting”…

Reform, if it is to happen, should be demanded of journalistic standards for news reporting in general, and science reporting in particular.

Note, by the way, how the Left’s favorite bogey of last century – the “military industrial complex” – has morphed seamlessly into “the media-industrial-political complex”.

Holmes is against “balanced reporting”, by which he means the media occasionally noting the views of sceptics – people Holmes writes off as corrupt to a man. No evidence is offered for this smear, which relieves this academic of the tiresome burden of having to counter arguments with actual evidence.

But as one of these sceptics Holmes wishes silenced, I ask him to consider this. As a sceptic, I warned for years there was a pause in global warming which climate models had not predicted. I noted we were not getting the extra cyclones which many alarmists predicted. I questioned the ”permanent drought” which leading warmists predicted. I scoffed at the warnings of never-again-filled dams that Tim Flannery predicted.

In those cases I and some fellow sceptics have been proved right and the warmists wrong. Is Holmes seriously arguing that such sceptics should have been silenced on the grounds that the majority was the majority, even though it was wrong?

And this man teaches media studies. The Left is an embarrassment, and a menace to free speech.

Oh, sorry, Holmes in comments claims he really isn’t against free speech. He just wants … er, he does not dare say what, exactly, but it sounds awfully like a contradiction:

I am not suggesting restricting the freedom of the press.

There are two kinds of rights relevant here, the right of the press to be free from political interference, but also the rights of audiences to be informed by news and current affairs that is in their interest…

… often this ‘debate’ is between those who are really defending private interests (antiquated methods of generating energy) and those defending the interests of future generations.

So who gets to decide the “news and current affairs that us in [our] interest”? I thought it was best left to the consumers of that news and current affairs. Holmes seems to have some other people in mind. People much like, well, him.


David Holmes, this lecturer on the media, claims in his comments thread:

But perhaps Mr Bolt has taken no notice of the science at all as there seems to be cracks appearing in the gallery of columnists at News Ltd around climate change. Some like Bjorn Lomborg appear to be accepting the science, whilst Mr Bolt is adamant that it is fundamentally flawed and that global warming has halted…

Lomborg’s who once proclaimed climate change a myth, today is accepting the science.. There is no space here for a considered analysis of Mr Lomborg’s arguments, which will have to await another day, but I only note that there is not much consensus between these star columnists at News Ltd about matters of fact, rather than opinion. Has global warming halted or hasn’t it?

A lecturer on the media should know that Professor Lomborg is not one of the “star columnists at News Ltd” but an academic whose articles sometimes gets run in The Australian.

Moreover, Lomborg has not changed his mind. For as long as I’ve heard of him, and ever since I first met him, he has accepted the world is warming and man’s gases play a significant role. He’s simply argued that the costs of trying to “stop” that warming are far too great, especially when warming may not really bring all the catastrophes some alarmists have claimed. An academic purporting to be expert in the reporting of global warming should know this, or at least look it up.

Further, the divide isn’t between those who accept the science and those who don’t. Science does not speak with one voice on this matter, although the consensus now is that sceptical positions I’ve argued have indeed proved correct – on the warming pause, cyclones, Antarctic ice spread and more. It seems to me it’s actually been the warmists who have not “accepted the science” in these matters.

Finally, the writers for News Corp publications disagree signifies nothing but a tolerance of debate that Holmes lacks. There is no unanimity of view that has now developed “cracks” – although I should point out it was actually our corporate position to “give the planet the benefit of the doubt”. If Holmes now detects “cracks”, it might actually be in that warmist position.

But I’m now puzzled. Where is this difference that Holmes claims to detect in the way Lomborg responded to the latest IPCC report and the way I did?

On Friday, the U.N. climate panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), produced its first overview in six years. It wasn’t about panic and catastrophe, which unfortunately has dominated our climate debate, leading to expensive but ineffective policies.

The IPCC is now extremely certain that more than half of the past six decades’ temperature rise was caused by man. But it does not support the scary scenarios of temperature rises of 9°F or more bandied about by activists — the likely rise over the 21st century is about 1.8°F to 6.7°F. Similarly it makes short shrift of alarmist claims that sea levels will rise 3 ft. to 6 ft. In reality, the IPCC estimates the rise by the end of the century at 1.5 ft. to 2 ft.

Moreover, little or no temperature rise in the past 15 to 20 years reinforces this moderate message. Since 1980, the average of all the current climate models have overestimated the actual temperature rise by 71% to 159%. This does not mean that there is not some global warming, but it makes the worst scenarios ever more implausible.


Fact is, the IPCC showed it’s got a lot less to be confident about. Global warming is turning from imminent catastrophe to merely a problem — or less…

[This] latest IPCC “summary for policymakers” admits there was an unexpected 15-year pause in warming.

As it says: “The rate of warming over the past 15 years (0.05 degrees per decade) … is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (0.12 degrees per decade)”.

Oh, and those sea level rises? The ones the ABC’s chief science presenter, Robyn Williams, said could drown our cities under 100m of sea by 2100?

Relax. The median sea level rises now tipped under the four IPCC emissions scenarios are between just 26cm and 30cm by 2100, with an extreme possible limit of 82cm.

Gone from this summary are earlier IPCC scares, such as Himalayan glaciers vanishing by 2035 (a mistake) and cyclones getting more powerful (not so sure now).

Gone, too, is the IPCC’s apocalyptic warning that temperatures could soar more than 6 degrees this century.

It now predicts as little as 0.3 degrees of warming or 4.8 at most. Anything under 2 degrees would actually be good for us, meaning more rain and better crops — not that the IPCC mentions reassuring news.

So, Lomborg is not a News Ltd columnist. He has not changed his mind. There are no “cracks” in a News Corp position. Neither Lomborg nor I “deny” the science. There is little difference in our opinion on the latest IPCC report. The IPCC report actually confirmed our scepticism.

So why did Holmes suggest the opposite of all the above? Confirmation bias?


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