Thursday 13 July 2017

The latest climate change denial bias in RadioNZ reporting

Radio NZ bias in reporting of Larsen C calving


an image obtained from NASA showing the Antarctic Peninsula's rift in the Larsen C ice shelf from NASA's IceBridge mission Digital Mapping System. A trillion-tonne iceberg, one of the biggest on record, has snapped off the West Antarctic ice shelf.

I woke up this morning to a Facebook message alerting me to the latest headline – something we have been waiting to happen for weeks.

Antarctic iceberg quarter the size of Wales splits from ice shelf
This demonstrates why we need to urgently and globally tackle climate change head on'

Shortly afterwards I found at least half-a-dozen or more similar headlines from around the world.

To check I turned on the 7 am (primetime) RNZ news and nothing, despite the fact that the news had bee out for some hours. 

Finally at 7.36 am this appeared on the RNZ website and it featured on the 8 am news, briefly and right at the end of the broadcast.

What I noticed was that they gave prominance to a Prof Helen Fricker, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who emphasised (and this could really have been their headline) that THIS IS NOTHING TO DO WITH CLIMATE CHANGE.

The thinning we saw for Larsen A and B - we're not seeing. And we're not seeing any evidence for large volumes of surface meltwater on the order of what you would need to hydro-fracture the ice shelf.

"Most glaciologists are not particularly alarmed by what's going on at Larsen C, yet. It's business as usual."

I am perfectly aware of the fact that there is a controversy among scientists on this.

The point with this is that there indeed very important contrary voices such as glaciologist, Dr. Eric Rignot.

Under its broadcasting standards Radio NZ is supposed to reflect both sides of the argument. It has totally failed to do this and has only reported one side of the argument providing the false impression that it is business-as-usual when it comes to the Antarctic.

We are told that calving happens all the time, that this is “normal” - an in this regard I could hardly believe my ears when the Arctic was mentioned.

This was not verging on but has crossed the line into climate change denial propaganda.

Even the print media gave a more honest account that reflected the view that this is serious and reflects dangerous changes in the Antarctica

Glaciologist Professor Eric Rignot previously described the potential loss of the ice sheets, which make up the Antarctic continent, as being "like an eggshell that became too thin".

"It's not going to melt away. It's going to fracture," he said.

"It's going to reach a limit beyond which it is not stable."

and - 

Dr Martin O'Leary, a glaciologist who also worked as a part of the MIDAS team, said the shelf is now in a "very vulnerable position".

"This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history," he said.

Because it is so important  here are two videos made of one of the world's most authoritative glaciologists, Dr. Erc Rignot.

When the inteviewer from VICE says "this is a holy shit moment" Rignot counters, "this is worse than a holy shit moment"


Of Radio New Zealand and "liberal"climate change denial

Earlier in the year I exchanged correspondence with Radio New Zealand 's then science producer, Veronika Meduna, and shared with her material on the latest findings about the Arctic methane emergency.

Climate change denial, or rather abrupt climate change denial is a constant in RNZ’s coverage of climate change.

A couple of years back I had an email exchange with science reporter, Veronica Meduna. I sent her references to articles about what is happening in the northeren hemisphere, especially with regard to positiuve feedbacks and the clathrate gun.

She made it quite clear that she had read this material and understood it.

She also shared with me that it was Radio New Zealand's editorial policy not to cover the issue unless it had a local "New Zealand" slant to it.

She also indicated, expressed in Aesopian language, that she understood that it was hard to combine this "local" policy with something that is of a global nature.

She also said that the release of the IPCC report in March would provide an opportunity to 'cover the issue'.

It wasn't really worthwhile waiting for for this was part of what she came up with

Sea level rise is expected to reach about half a metre by the end of the century under low-emission scenarios, but Dr Reisinger says even that will be a challenge for New Zealand, with most of our cities and infrastructure built on flood plains and near river mouths.

"There is scope to adapt but it would require what we call transformative adaptation, which simply means giving up protecting everything but deciding that some areas cannot be protected and we have to think about shifting some communities away from the coast over time. And that would mean major social upheaval."

However, there will be some benefits from climate change for New ZealandWarmer winters will mean lower heating bills and might reduce winter illnesses, forest growth is expected to increase, and some parts of New Zealand can expect stronger spring pasture growth.

At the time I commented:

"This is from someone who has stated in writing that they have read (and presumably understood) scientific material on methane emissions and the consequences for the planet!!

"Quite how you can acknowledge that we have catastrophic climate change and then go on to talk of "a challenge for New Zealand" and then produce in the next paragraph 
"however, there will be some benefits from climate change for New Zealand" - is quite beyond me.

"I can only repeat:

"....knowing something to be true but being complicit in hiding the truth is pretty high in the list of journalistic sins.....

"Either way, Radio New Zealand represents a peculiar form of liberal climate change denial"

Subsequent to that I have had words with RNZ about their distortion of the facts surrounding last year’s el-Nino drought

Chris Brandolino of NIWA interviewed on Radio NZ

Which led me to write the following - 

New Zealand scientists MUZZLED

Drought conditions in NZ softpeddled


Getting back to the Antarctica a few weeks ago Kathryn Ryan of Nine-to-Noon did a shamelful inteview with a Dunedin scientist, Prof. Pat Langhorne saying that Antarctic ice was not melting contradicting a whole season’s stories that told the opposite story

Kathryn Ryan talks to the University of Otago's sea-ice expert Professor Pat Langhorne. Sea-ice physics is a relatively new discipline, and there are many important questions that are still unanswered, such as: why is Antarctic sea ice not decreasing like Arctic sea ice? The answers to these questions are believed to be crucial to understanding the effects climate change is having on different parts of the continent.


Giving rise to this - 

I do not see any reason why Radio NZ should be allowed to get away with its propaganda and so intend to make a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority on the grounds that they have only presented one side of the story.

I would encourage others to do the same if this matters to you.

P.S.  This was followed up with the following interview by Kathryn Ryan

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