And now to the weather: Climate science on the front foot

Apr 18, 2013 by David Holmes
The Climate Commission is leading the way on climate change communication with its latest report providing scientific context for extreme weather events. Credit: Climate Commission

The Climate Commission's latest report, released recently, and some of the media that arose from it are excellent examples of science and journalists working together to talk about climate change and extreme weather. But examples like this are too rare: in Australia, we find that the mainstream news media is reluctant to mention climate change, talking about extreme weather events as freak accidents. And the situation isn't helped by scientists who are reluctant to speak out on their research.

Curiously, when first became an issue in the 1980s, almost all of the press was led by scientific sources. The role of human activity was not contested at all until change became politicised in the 1990s by interest groups, politicians and an adversarial "debate" between and an IPCC-led science of consensus.

With the exception of radical climate scientists like the recently retired James Hansen, climate scientists became regressively cautious about their forecasts. Fear of being debunked by powerful took over. This actually led to an increase in visibility of activist and in the press.

The anxiety shown by the IPCC group editors over the leaking of the first draft of the fifth Assessment Report, not due out until September this year, is evidence of this.

The Climate Commision is again placing the science on the front foot. The earlier pictorial Angry Summer report tapped into the media currents reporting on as weather, and brought climate back in. The current report provides a fuller scientific context for the record-breaking events that just swept the nation.

Early analysis from a study being conducted by researchers in Communications and Media, and Journalism Studies at Monash University, suggests that the electronic platforms of public and independent news outlets are leading the way in this. Newspapers are lagging well behind. Whether it is heatwaves, floods or firestorms; climate is marginal in the discourse of disaster reporting.

For example, a spectacular oversight during the Queensland floods of 2011 was the fact that – unlike the cyclone-generated floods of 1893 and 1974 – there was no cyclone driving the floods at all. Instead, unprecedented evaporation and rain – enough to generate an inland tsunami and kill 36 people – drove the disaster. But of the 2,004 news articles published in the Australian press during the six peak days of the floods, none made this link. Only 25 suggested there might be a link to climate change.

only become newsworthy if they can be pressed into forms of story-telling that appeal to a sense of salvation from an immediate public crisis, rather than what these events say about climate change. Commercial television news in Australia has long excelled in inviting the disaster marathon right into its promotional advertising, with orchestral backing, close-ups of agonised faces, slow-motion helicopters and vox-pops of despair enticing audiences to switch over "in times of crisis".

With the Climate Commission's publication of Extreme Weather, an alternative frame for reporting severe weather events is now available. When the science is linked to new extremes seen in heatwaves, floods and fires, we could be spared from the "miracle escape" and "fury of nature" framing of news stories.

Where the reporting of catastrophe has long obscured the communication of the science, catastrophe might now become the pedagogy for its communication and a focus for mitigation.

It is time too that Australian climate scientists, who are well represented in the IPCC (with almost 5% of the 802 authors of the fifth AR report), directly linked their work to upcoming extreme weather. Peak bodies like the Climate Commission, and the CSIRO are vital news sources, but US research shows that awareness of anthropogenic climate change increases with the amount of coverage not just the content.

Australian climate scientists seem to have much more trouble relating to the broader public than their counterparts overseas going by their under-representation as sources in news outlets.

A February report in Science Communication suggested that a majority of German scientists have had professional contact with news media and their representation exceeds that of other scientific fields.

While the report suggests that more than half of the contact is made by journalists and PR departments of scientific organisations and universities, a surprise finding was that 82.3% of these scientists made scientific decisions such as the choice of research topics with some consideration of likely media interest.

It would appear that climate change communication faces a different task in Australia than in Germany, where much of the debate is about how to combat climate change. The Monash study will investigate the impediments Australian have in getting their research publicised, looking at both scientific institutions and newsroom cultures, to understand this difference.

Improved media adaptation of climate science is as important as climate adaptation of the media. The Climate Commission is leading the way in this regard. It represents a group who are possibly going to be the most important body of public intellectuals of the 21st century.

Explore further: Coastal defences could contribute to flooding with sea-level rise

More information: scx.sagepub.com/content/early/… /25/1075547012475226

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antigoracle
2.2 / 5 (27) Apr 18, 2013
The media chooses to report rather than sensationalize, as the AGW Alarmist Cult would like, so the cult goes after them.
http://www.telegr...ing.html
gregor1
1.7 / 5 (23) Apr 18, 2013
The Australian Climate Commission is a propaganda arm of the Government whose job is to disseminate false information to shore up the introduction of a carbon tax. There are no Climate Scientists in it . Here is what a Professor of Climate, Murry Salby has to say about it.
http://australian...ter-all/
And another
http://rogerpielk...ian.html
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (16) Apr 18, 2013
Ya. It is all a conspiracy.

"The Australian Climate Commission is a propaganda arm of the Government" - GregorTard

Meanwhile, Global Temperatures continue to rise.

http://www.woodfo...93/trend
Howhot
3.3 / 5 (14) Apr 18, 2013
The @gregmister frames the debate as having been created by government processes to " disseminate *false* information to shore up the introduction of a carbon tax.". My question for you is how do you know it's false? In science, false is usually pretty obvious, like people that deny the concept of evolution. So are you that type?

In the beginning you assert; "The Australian Climate Commission is a propaganda arm of the Government whose job is to disseminate false information".

Again, at best this is your opinion. I find the Australians are bit desperate on global warming as they have experienced some major warming, droughts and storms that are beyond historic normals.
ScooterG
2 / 5 (25) Apr 19, 2013
"Fear of being debunked by powerful interest groups took over."

LMAO

Does it really matter who does the debunking? Debunked is debunked, is it not? If you don't wish to be debunked, simply produce quality scientific work and leave the agenda out of it.

The AGW whiners are criticizing "powerful special interest groups" for demanding accuracy and truthfulness from climate scientists.
ScooterG
2 / 5 (25) Apr 19, 2013
Big AGW knows their science is flawed and dis-believed.
Big AGW knows the populous is growing tired of their incessant brow-beating.
Big AGW knows the populous is on to their scam.
Big AGW wants to blame their failures on special interest groups and an un-cooperative press.
Big AGW is on a campaign to regain credibility by touting "science" and using emotion-stirring verbiage such as "extreme weather events".
Big AGW is on the ropes.
gregor1
1.9 / 5 (23) Apr 19, 2013
Read the links Howhot. The data does not support the Commissions Claims. Weather is not climate.
"The evocative nature of these claims is matched only by the imagination behind them. On a continental scale (the scale relevant to climate), Australian temperature this summer was unremarkable – it was within the range of previous variability."
http://australian..._not.jpg
http://joannenova...te-data/
gregor1
1.8 / 5 (24) Apr 19, 2013
Scooter. The AGWites like to frame the debate in Biblical terms. Much of it is a reworking of the garden of Eden myth so the World was pristine until Man came along and sullied it with his Evil CO2. "Powerful interest groups" (for which there is little evidence) represent the Devil incarnate. Just listen to the Australian Climate Commissioner himself and tell me if you think a scientist would talk like this.
http://www.youtub...DSeknn_c
runrig
4 / 5 (12) Apr 19, 2013
"Fear of being debunked by powerful interest groups took over."

LMAO

Does it really matter who does the debunking? Debunked is debunked, is it not? .....
.


Well no actually. I don't accept the debunking you link to that appears on Mr Watts' blog ( for instance ). Because he exists because of his denial of GW or at least AGW ( and no doubt earns a good living from ). In other words the debunking is really in the mind of the reader. If your mind is made up then it wont be changed. Human nature. The certainty your ilk come here and say things like "the hockey-stick is broken" and "Climate gate proves" are not *debunks* from the ( climate ) science community. You seem to expect more from that than exists in other human endeavour. There will be good, bad and indifferent. Science will decide the truth in the end. And has.
runrig
4.2 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2013
............. "Powerful interest groups" (for which there is little evidence) represent the Devil incarnate. ......


You mean like the Koch's and the Heartland Institute.

So you're saying the incumbent's in the Petro-Dollar business aren't about to protect their dominance/power. You know where massive wealth resides. Yeah, right obvious really because the Green movement is so wealthy.

Just listen to the Australian Climate Commissioner himself and tell me if you think a scientist would talk like this...


I don't consider attacking the messenger an equivalence to attacking the message ( where the messenger is an expert in his field ). Where's the science in that? unless you want to invoke psychology.
runrig
4.2 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2013
Big AGW knows their science is flawed and dis-believed....knows the populous is growing tired of their incessant brow-beating....knows the populous is on to their scam.....wants to blame their failures on special interest groups and an un-cooperative press.... is on a campaign to regain credibility by touting "science" and using emotion-stirring verbiage such as "extreme weather events"..... is on the ropes.


Don't you think ( rhetorical ) the above is merely a figment of your own overwrought imagination and extreme denial. Both of which are irrational, though a natural consequence of the polarisation of the *argument*. It is merely the opposite pole of yourself and no more iniquitous as a result. Whilst the ignorant drive the discussion then the counter argument must become more shrill to match. From the science side, that is what must be emphasised, but people don't get science, emotions and money trump it. It has been politicised and that is not what this site is about.
antigoracle
1.6 / 5 (19) Apr 19, 2013
............. "Powerful interest groups" (for which there is little evidence) represent the Devil incarnate. ......


You mean like the Koch's and the Heartland Institute.

Shame, shame runrig. Didn't Koch fund this "research" you've been proudly referencing?
http://berkeleyea...summary/
runrig
4.3 / 5 (11) Apr 19, 2013
............. "Powerful interest groups" (for which there is little evidence) represent the Devil incarnate. ......


You mean like the Koch's and the Heartland Institute.

Shame, shame runrig. Didn't Koch fund this "research" you've been proudly referencing?
http://berkeleyea...summary/


Yes, they did indeed. Caught out by the "inconvenient truth" there weren't they?

From... http://en.wikiped...pticism"

"The Koch Foundation (along with the Folger Fund, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research [created by Bill Gates], the Bowes Foundation, and the Getty Foundation) is a major funder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, an effort to address the criticism of records of the earth's surface temperatures ....."

Cont
runrig
4.6 / 5 (9) Apr 19, 2013
Cont

"At least two of the project's seven scientists are seen as climate change skeptics by many in the climate science world.
The Charles G. Koch Foundation gave climate skeptic Willie Soon two grants totaling $175,000 in 2005/6 and again in 2010. Soon has stated that he has "never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research." The foundation helped finance a 2007 analysis suggesting that climate change was not a threat to the survival of polar bears, which was questioned by other researchers.
According to the environmentalist group Greenpeace, organizations that the Koch brothers help fund such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute and the Manhattan Institute have been active in questioning anthropogenic global warming."

As for Heartland, see ........
http://en.wikiped..._warming

Of course I'm playing your game. Politics doesn't change the science. And shouldn't be part of it.
Howhot
4 / 5 (12) Apr 19, 2013
The skootermaster says;
Big AGW knows their science is flawed and dis-believed.
Big AGW knows the populous is growing tired of their incessant brow-beating.
Big AGW knows the populous is on to their scam.
Big AGW wants to blame their failures on special interest groups and an un-cooperative press.
Big AGW is on a campaign to regain credibility by touting "science" and using emotion-stirring verbiage such as "extreme weather events".
Big AGW is on the ropes.

Kind of weird. I've never heard of "BIG AGW" before. Is this a new attack method of deniers, to be the weak, and poor defenseless saviors?

I does't matter because what ever you call us AGWers, everything you say is BS almost always. As @runiq said; Politics doesn't change the science.
Maggnus
3.5 / 5 (13) Apr 20, 2013
Lol! Like I've been saying, the best arguments we get are those that come from the mouths of those who consider themselves deniers. Course all they deny is the truth, and all they see is conspiracy. Laughably gullible!
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (22) Apr 20, 2013
Lol! Like I've been saying, the best arguments we get are those that come from the mouths of those who consider themselves deniers. Course all they deny is the truth, and all they see is conspiracy. Laughably gullible!

Yep, burn the heretics.
According to you AGW Zealots, Climate Gate did not reveal a conspiracy, because all involved were returned to their jobs, to further propagate their deceit. In any other discipline they would be outcasts.
As for being gullible. I wonder if any of you fanatics have considered the consequences of a Carbon Tax. I know you have turned your blind eyes to your Vicar Gore becoming the first Carbon Credit Billionaire. Who is gullible, when you morons blindly accept his preachings, while he sits in his mansion burning more CO2 producing energy. than most third world villages.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (22) Apr 20, 2013
Of course I'm playing your game. Politics doesn't change the science. And shouldn't be part of it.

Politics doesn't change the science. REALLY!!
What got those involved in Climate Gate reinstated?
In true scientific disciplines there are those who have been made outcast for less, but not "climate science".
Climate Gate revealed their plot to hide behind the protection of the IPCC and refuse to release their fabricated data for independent analysis.
Climate Gate revealed how they destroyed data, acquired through tax dollars. A crime that goes unpunished.
Only an AGW Alarmist Zealot would be blind to the fact that politics is driving the deceit of AGW.
Jo01
1.8 / 5 (16) Apr 20, 2013
What happened to global warming? Who changed it to climate change?
Strange that Australia is so much different. Over here if someone mentions a slight breeze, climate change is directly linked to it.

J.

antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (19) Apr 24, 2013
What happened to global warming? Who changed it to climate change?

It must have been this guy called Global Cooling, who appeared on the scene in 1999. The AGW Alarmists first claimed that he must be at least 15 to be a player, and as that day nears they have now changed their song to 30. GC has put a big dent in their Convenient Lie and Unsettling "Science".
deepsand
3.1 / 5 (21) Apr 24, 2013
What happened to global warming? Who changed it to climate change?

It must have been this guy called Global Cooling, who appeared on the scene in 1999.

Another false claim by the know-nothing denialists, as has been repeatedly demonstrated.
thermodynamics
4 / 5 (8) Apr 24, 2013
What happened to global warming? Who changed it to climate change?

It must have been this guy called Global Cooling, who appeared on the scene in 1999. The AGW Alarmists first claimed that he must be at least 15 to be a player, and as that day nears they have now changed their song to 30. GC has put a big dent in their Convenient Lie and Unsettling "Science".


Anti: Are you saying that if the climate continues to go up in temperature over the next 10 years, the Arctic continues to lose ice, and glaciers throughout the world get smaller you would admit that you are wrong? You seem to be saying the earth is cooling instead of heating. The reality is that the distribution of heat on the earth is more complex than a simple thermometer waved in the air can measure. So, are you saying we should expect a monotonic decrease in global temperature? If we see an increase instead are you ready recognize warming?
Howhot
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 26, 2013
Jo01 asks;
What happened to global warming? Who changed it to climate change?

That happened under George W. Bush believe it or not. GW minions decided that using the term "Global Warming" was too scary for the public. Others thought that the term global warming implied everyone would feel a "warming". In a stroke of genius, someone suggested "climate change" and it's stuck. But according to political advisers, "climate change" is the less panic-cy sounding of the two and so got a lot more use in political dialog.

Anyway I thought I would toss that out there for background noise.

antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (16) Apr 27, 2013
[Anti: Are you saying that if the climate continues to go up in temperature over the next 10 years, the Arctic continues to lose ice, and glaciers throughout the world get smaller you would admit that you are wrong?
-- runrig
Wrong about what?
That the earth goes through these natural cyclic events that are not driven by atmospheric CO2.
That it has been warmer in the past and may be so again, irregardless of how much CO2 we put into the atmosphere.
No, I'm not wrong about that.
deepsand
3.1 / 5 (19) Apr 28, 2013
AO is too stupid to think of any causes for anything other than those observed in the past.
antigoracle
1.1 / 5 (14) Apr 29, 2013
AO is too stupid to think of any causes for anything other than those observed in the past.

Another gem from the AGW peanut gallery. It does, however, explain their blind belief in AGW.
Of course the Cult gave him a 4 rating for that.
Excalibur
3.1 / 5 (15) Apr 30, 2013
AO is too stupid to think of any causes for anything other than those observed in the past.

Another gem from the AGW peanut gallery. It does, however, explain their blind belief in AGW.
Of course the Cult gave him a 4 rating for that.

Thus demonstrating that said "cult" is better informed and more rational than are you.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (12) May 04, 2013
AO is too stupid to think of any causes for anything other than those observed in the past.

Another gem from the AGW peanut gallery. It does, however, explain their blind belief in AGW.
Of course the Cult gave him a 4 rating for that.

Thus demonstrating that said "cult" is better informed and more rational than are you.

How did this dense AGW Turd manage to come to the surface of its cesspool of ignorance? They certainly got the determination to match their stupidity. Never staying long enough to see the light, and so to stay forever in the darkness of ignorance.
Howhot
5 / 5 (4) May 04, 2013
cesspool of ignorance

Lol. Those are mighty big words coming from a denier that lacks a single neuron. It sure does sound like the anti dude has been sucked up into the cult of the deniers, never to think for him/herself again. So what is your favorite fossil fuel to deny causing global warming single celled organism?
deepsand
2.7 / 5 (14) May 04, 2013
AO is too stupid to think of any causes for anything other than those observed in the past.

Another gem from the AGW peanut gallery. It does, however, explain their blind belief in AGW.
Of course the Cult gave him a 4 rating for that.

Thus demonstrating that said "cult" is better informed and more rational than are you.

How did this dense AGW Turd manage to come to the surface of its cesspool of ignorance? They certainly got the determination to match their stupidity. Never staying long enough to see the light, and so to stay forever in the darkness of ignorance.

Another steaming heap of TROLL DUNG.