ABC's loathsome propaganda machine

Double whammy

The fact that the national broadcaster has a well-known and self-confessed climate alarmist as the presenter of its “flagship” science programme, The Science Show, is a perfect example of the ABC “groupthink” Maurice Newman exposed so clearly in March 2010. Robyn Williams is well known to the readers of ACM, having achieved a veritable litany of guest appearances (see here for a few examples) and is someone who accepts the politically motivated pronouncements of the IPCC, cobbled together as they are from environmental advocacy groups’ tatty leaflets, without a hint of scientific impartiality or healthy scepticism. So it is little wonder that whenever climate matters are discussed, it is invariably from the alarmist viewpoint, with generous helpings of “denier”, “flat earther”, “Big Oil”, “tobacco” and all the usual tedious ad hominems hurled at sceptics thrown in for good measure.

Oddly, for some strange reason, the audio and transcript from the 1 January 2011 programme, which opens with Williams wishing everyone a Happy New Year, has already been published on the ABC web site (making readers feel like they have tunnelled through some space-time wormhole), and therefore I can advise you to AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE [and avoid the following week’s show even more, for reasons which I will discuss later – Ed]. For Williams’ guest on the show is none other than that other ACM favourite, Tim “Flannel” Flannery, whose name is almost invariably prefaced by “Australian Alarmist of the Year”  to add a bit of street cred. However, since the alarmists love to do this, I will just point out, purely for the record you understand, that Flannery isn’t a climate scientist, he’s a mammalogist and palaeontologist (according to Wikipedia), but despite that he is a “global warming activist” and since he’s plugging the consensus/IPCC/ABC/Labor view, that’s just fine. We only worry about qualifications when it’s a climate realist we’re talking about, right?

To an extent, the details of the interview are irrelevant (the transcript runs for a mind-numbing 20 pages), but as would be expected, Williams gives Flannery a free ride to plug his new book and spout all the usual misrepresentations about the current state of the climate. The two of them seem perfectly happy to inhabit this cosseted world, insulated from reality, where they can stew in their own alarmist juices. There’s lots of Gaia talk, a theme of the new book, which Flannery tries to argue has some scientific merit, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since it has the same level of pseudo-scientific credibility as catastrophic AGW:

Robyn Williams: So there you’ve got an image of the earth, the planet as a god, but also a very sophisticated and credible scientific idea.

Tim Flannery: That’s right. I was tempted in the book to simply give in and call it Earth System Science, because Gaia is earth system science and in many university departments around the world, as you’ll know, Robyn, earth system science is a very respectable science. But as soon as you mention Gaia of course, the scepticism comes out. I didn’t do that though, because I think there’s a certain elegance to Gaia, to that word and the concept, and also because I think that within this century the concept of the strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest. I do think that the Gaia of the Ancient Greeks, where they believed the earth was effectively one whole and perfect living creature, that doesn’t exist yet, but it will exist in future. That’s why I wanted to keep that word.

“Physically manifest”? “It will exist in the future”? But that’s just the start – things get even more astrological, straying dangerously close to “energy crystals”, tarot cards and ouija boards, accompanied by the stench of patchouli wafting from the monitor screen. Williams actually dares ask a tricky question, but then doesn’t follow through:

Robyn Williams: How will it exist in the future? Because an organism is one thing; the earth is complicated, but it is after all a lump of rock with iron in the middle and a veneer of living things outside, and a very thin atmosphere. It’s not an organism, so how is the feedback system such that it stabilises things, temperature anyway, like an organism?

Tim Flannery: That’s the great question. I must admit that as I wrote the book I was unable to come to a clear landing on the extent of Gaian control over the system, because much of the data is equivocal. I think that there is clear evidence for something that I call in the book geo-pheromones, which are elements within the earth system, which when present in very small amounts have very large outcomes, a bit like ant pheromones. But they often do multiple jobs. Some ant pheromones do as well, but many of them are specific. One of those is course carbon dioxide, a trace amount in the atmosphere, four parts per ten thousand is enough to keep the earth habitable. Ozone is another one present in just a few parts per billion. Human-made CFCs are yet another one. Atmospheric dust may well be another one. So these elements in the earth system have a profound impact on the system, and there is some evidence that there’s some sort of homeostasis established, if you want. But you don’t have to look very far into earth history to see that homeostasis change. When I say homeostasis, that’s like my temperature is always at 98.4˚ or whatever it is.

Robyn Williams: As are your body fluids largely maintained.

Tim Flannery: Yes, all balanced and everything.

This kind of pagan Earth-worship stretches credibility as thin as it can go. And as always, Flannery goes on to presents the bog-standard alarmist climate arguments – faster, bigger, badder, worser:

Tim Flannery: … The climate science is getting more dismal at the same time this is happening. We’ve seen the IPCC projections are now ground truthed against real world change, and we see that we’re tracking the worst case scenario, which is 6˚ of warming.

Robyn Williams: Six! [Why does that surprise you, Mr “100 meters of sea level rise by 2100” Williams?]

Tim Flannery: Yes, that’s for the early part of the curve. You know what happened in 2001, the IPCC produced these projections and they indicated that if we double CO2 above pre-industrial levels there’s a 60% chance that the result will be a 2˚ or 3˚ rise in temperature, a 10% chance of a 1˚ rise and 10% rise of a 6˚ rise. Because those projections were done ten years ago, scientists are now going back and looking at the real world data and saying were the projections right or not? It turns out that they were wrong. They were too conservative, at least for the early part of the projection curve. We’re seeing the worst case scenario unfold.

Is this an outright lie? I guess not, because Flannery is relying solely on the UHI-contaminated, corrupted and fudged surface temperature record, which conveniently fits the alarmist cause (wonder why, with Jimmy Hansen in charge?). If he actually stopped to consider satellite records, which cannot be “adjusted”, global temperatures are tracking well below IPCC projections. But that’s not going to grab any headlines, and it certainly doesn’t fit the ABC’s groupthink agenda.

But as I said, all this detail is irrelevant. When you have a flagship science programme hosted by a presenter with a blatant political agenda to push, it is no longer science, but propaganda – precisely what Maurice Newman was keen to avoid at the ABC. Flannery is happy to smear a geologist, Bob Carter, for not looking at the “appropriate timescales” when considering climate – the ultimate irony, given that geologists have a far better understanding of timescale than climatologists or politicians – but why doesn’t Williams actually bite the bullet and invite Carter on his show? I mean, his arguments are paper-thin, so clearly he will simply make a fool of himself, right?

But it’s not that simple. This isn’t about being persuaded by facts or rational argument – this is all about religion and faith. Just as billions of Christians put their faith in the Christmas story and the Bible, so Williams and Flannery are devout followers of the Church of Global Warming, and anything that contradicts the holy scripture (An Inconvenient Truth) is heresy. Maurice Newman should kick Williams out of the ABC – nothing prevents him from making a career as a ecotard activist or Green politician, that’s his right as a citizen in a democracy, but there is no place for him at the national broadcaster.

You can read the transcript here.

And the reason you should avoid the following programme?

“Next week on the Science Show, the dynamic Naomi Oreskes at the University of NSW on merchants of doubt – how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. I’m Robyn Williams.”

Lumping climate realists with Big Tobacco… the ABC propaganda mill grinds ever onwards, at your expense. More on this next week, no doubt.


  1. The Loaded Dog says:

    “….this is all about religion and faith. Just as billions
    of Christians put their faith in the Christmas story and the Bible,
    so Williams and Flannery are devout followers of the Church of
    Global Warming, and anything that contradicts the holy scripture
    (An Inconvenient Truth) is heresy.” The worlds “billions of
    Christians” are up front about their religion and don’t try to
    conceal the fact they are following a religion, nor that one must
    have faith to accept its teachings and I have NOTHING to fear from
    them or their religion. The sickening confabulation I just read
    between Flammery and the slobbering WIlliams above is reminiscent
    of a couple of theologians lovingly discussing points of doctrine
    they both agree on. What they were supposed to be discussing
    however, as we all know, is objective science. Science that quite
    reasonably and rightfully should be subjected to close scrutiny.
    Lets get this very clear right now, what we are being bombarded
    with by the worlds complacent and slumbering media, including the
    utterly disgraceful ABC and similar public broadcasting whores
    worldwide, is a faith based religious system of belief veiled with
    the credibility of science. Oh yes yes, everyone knows science is
    always right. “Praise Science” So none of the sheepies will ever
    dare question this “science” for want of being seen as dull. The
    extreme danger here, as has been mentioned plenty of times
    previously, is that with this new religion there is no separation
    of powers and “non believers” in the new church are rapidly losing
    the protection afforded by the separation of church and state. The
    half arsed so called “interview” between proven failed prophet of
    doom Flummery and his pining companion should have been aired on
    the ABC’s COMPASS, where it belongs…. On the other hand, it would
    drag the rest of the programs content into the gutter with

    • No, Compass would reject this crass publicity for Flannery’s pathetic book. Rather this interview belongs on morning TV and Current Affair, where they were doing promotions for “The Secret” not so long ago.

      And good to see you back Simon.

  2. The ABC is sure spouting a lot about climate and the earth
    god. If it is not a load of crap it will sure do till one gets

  3. Notice the continuing ‘its worse than we thought’ meme from this cheesy pair. The majority talk is now of 6 degrees projected warming instead of the previously agreed upon consensus value of 3 degrees. The old figure was no longer giving good propaganda value and needed to be updated.

  4. I sat through a bit of ABC news 24 the other day, with the rain belting down and the Christmas TV schedule of no use when the cricketers are taking a break. They did a roundup of Cancun, and managed to positively report that things were now ‘back on track’ after Copenhagen, despite most people thinking that nothing was going to be achieved, a massive effort in the last 48 hours saved the day.

    Mind you, they didn’t actually say anything that was agreed or acheived, just that it was all ‘back on track’ to saving the world.

    I seriously wonder if anyone is listening anymore.

    As for Flannery et al, I wouldn’t worry too much, I don’t think anyone but the choir will be tuning in for the preaching.


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