Sunday, February 28, 2010

Congrats to

Congratulations to John Cook at for being the recipient of the Woody Guthrie award for a Thinking Blogger. Through his website John is performing a wonderful community service.

The Award was passed to John Cook from Dan Satterfield, who, when not at work as the Chief Meteorologist for WHNT TV (CBS) in Huntsville Al., runs the website Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal.

Previous recent recipients include Greenfyre's, run by Mike Kaulbars, honestpoet who runs the Enough is Enough blog, and Honjii of Honjii's Harangues, among other worthy bloggers.

"Balance" in the press

Despite all the nonsense that has been published in the mainstream media lately, there are also some strong statements from those who are well aware of what we are facing.

The New York Times has just published an op-ed from Al Gore, who writes:
I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.

Mr Gore refers to: "Some news media organizations now present showmen masquerading as political thinkers who package hatred and divisiveness as entertainment. " and concludes with an observation from Winston Churchill:
We have overcome existential threats before. Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.” Now is that time. Public officials must rise to this challenge by doing what is required; and the public must demand that they do so — or must replace them.
If only more journalists took the time to learn about what is happening to the climate and consider the consequences of doing nothing.

The Times does it again

Today there's an article by Ben Webster in the Times (UK) that claims "The University of East Anglia wrote this week to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee giving the impression that it had been exonerated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)."

The 'evidence' Webster provides is that both the University and the Deputy Information Commissioner agree that the Deputy Information Commissioner based recent comments solely on prima facie evidence from stolen emails. In fact, given that both the University and the Deputy Information Commissioner both agree that there has not yet even been any investigation, it's hard to see why the University would claim it has been exonerated. Indeed the University hasn't made any such claim.

The UEA memo to the House of Commons committee actually states:
3.7.6 On 22 January 2010, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) released a statement to a journalist, which was widely misinterpreted in the media as a finding by the ICO that UEA had breached Section 77 of the FOIA by withholding raw data. A subsequent letter to UEA from the ICO (29 January 2010) indicated that no breach of the law has been established; that the evidence the ICO had in mind about whether there was a breach was no more than prima facie; and that the FOI request at issue did not concern raw data but private email exchanges.

Another case of the Times getting carried away over nothing? There is arguably a prima facie case that it is Ben Webster of the Times who does not understand the difference between 'exonerated' and 'no breach of the law has been established'.

UPDATE - midday 28 Feb 10: Australia's very own showman (who finds it entertaining to mislead his readers), Herald-Sun blogger Andrew Bolt, has copied part of the TimesOnLine article and pasted it under his own leading paragraph:

It's amazing how many unfounded claims Bolt packs into the one short sentence he prefaces his copy and paste from the Times article.

First, contrary to what Bolt states, the university reports using the best information available, updating the records as necessary. The University drew the attention of the Parliamentary committee to the fact that the Office of the Information Commissioner has not found that the University nor any person involved in the matter has committed an offence. The OIC has not yet investigated the matter, although it has stated there is a prima faciecase on the basis of the stolen emails. The University has issued a statement that it will cooperate fully if the OIC inquires into the matter.

Andrew rarely bothers with checking sources, but has strong talent as a rumour-monger, especially when the rumours have no basis in fact.