Dominion Post editorial as shaky as Herald’s

By Bryan Walker 06/02/2010


When I was writing the post on the Herald’s acceptance of journalistic say-so in its editorial on the IPCC Gareth drew my attention to the fact that the Dominion Post had also produced an editorial claiming that the ethics and integrity of climate scientists is being called into question.  I was too engaged with the Herald to consider including the Dominion Post in the ambit of my attention at the same time, but now that I’ve had a closer look I rather wish I had.  The editorial is four days old, but still deserves taking apart. 

The evidence the editorial draws attention to is first the publication of the stolen emails, suggesting, it claims, a conspiracy to hide data and play down information which didn’t fit the theories of the scientists concerned.  Then the Himalayan glacier error.  Nothing new here and comment familiar and predictable. 

But the editorial had a  revelation (a different one from those offered by the Herald):

’Now it has been revealed that another IPCC warning —- that global warming could wipe out 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest —- was extrapolated from an unsubstantiated claim by two green campaigners who had no scientific expertise.’

Looks pretty serious.  Where did the revelation come from?  It turns out from the same journalist as one of the Herald’s revelations.  Yes, Jonathan Leake in a different article in  the UK Sunday Times.

I’m relieved of the need to track down the details of Leake’s supposed exposure of yet another bogus IPCC claim by Tim Lambert of Deltoid who has a detailed analysis of the shady process by which Leake got to where he did. It turns out that Leake had been told by the scientist concerned, Dan Nepstad, that the IPCC statement was correct, but there had been an error in the citations listed in the WWF report (yes, WWF — no prizes for guessing who’s been trawling through the IPCC references looking for the letters WWF). I won’t try to cover the details of the account Nepstad has given to Lambert, which you can read on Deltoid, but the essential point is that Leake in his article concealed the fact that he had been told by the scientist concerned that the statement was correct. Presumably it would have made his story unnecessary. Why bother telling the truth when it would interfere with a story which opens like this?

A startling report by the United Nations climate watchdog that global warming might wipe out 40% of the Amazon rainforest was based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had little scientific expertise.

The Dominion Post is as guilty as the Herald of uncritically passing round journalistic stories which drastically and groundlessly distort the work of the IPCC. Its editorial doesn’t draw the conclusion that climate change is not happening, but makes this extraordinarily sweeping and ignorant statement:

’Why trust a panel that confuses opinion and fact, wrongly attributes that opinion, tries to shout down critics and displays a determination to make the facts fit the theory rather than the other way around.’

Evidently in the editorial sections of our leading newspapers where the IPCC is concerned  ignorance and carelessness won’t be permitted to inhibit confident assurance.