We’re running a bit late with this one: recorded last week before the big wind left Gareth powerless for six days (a bit like Glenn’s PC), John Cook ruminates on the result of the Australian election, the boys marvel at the Mail’s myth making about Arctic sea ice, and look forward to the release of the first part of the next IPCC report. And much, much more. Show notes below the fold…
Fairfax New Zealand’s news web site Stuff has responded to criticism [Hot Topic, The Atavism, From the Morgue] of its ‘Solar minimum’ could trigger Ice Age [WebCite#1] story last week by posting a substantially revised version [WebCite#2], now titled Research considers solar cooling period. The latest version gives a much better picture of the paleoclimate research that was ostensibly the subject of the original story, but Stuff‘s editors have neglected to address the lifting of material from the Daily Mail. Remarkably, the only sentences retained from the original are those that were directly “borrowed” from the Mail article.
Here’s what the Mail piece originally said, with the sections used by Stuff in bold:
The link between Solar ‘moods’ and the weather down here on Earth was first noticed in the 1970s, when the American astronomer Jack Eddy noticed a strong correlation between historic weather records and contemporaneous accounts of Solar activity, most notably the long record of sunspots published a century before by the astronomer Edward Maunder. Eddy noticed that a ‘quiet’ Sun correlates with cold weather and a manic phase means warmer conditions.
Here’s what Stuff published in the first version of the story, and left unchanged in the latest revision:
It was first noticed in the 1970s when the American astronomer Jack Eddy noticed a strong correlation between historic weather records and accounts of solar activity. He noticed that a ‘quiet’ sun correlates with cold weather and a ‘manic’ phase means warmer conditions.
Remarkably similar, I’ll think you agree. Neither Stuff story gives any credit to the Daily Mail, so unless Fairfax has a syndication arrangement with the Mail that allows uncredited use, the site has been incredibly sloppy, both in allowing the original nonsense to make it to the front page of their site, and by correcting the piece without addressing the clear plagiarism. An apology to Stuff‘s readers on both counts would seem in order.
There’s a major fail today for the new science section of the Stuff.co.nz news web site — the web portal for Fairfax NZ, home to The Press (Christchurch) and the Dominion Post (Wellington) newspaper web presences. A front page teaser — “Could cooling sun cause ice age?” (see image at left) — leads to a page with a headline that screams ‘Solar minimum’ could trigger Ice Age [Web Cite]. It’s a short piece that originally began thus:
The world could be heading for a new ‘solar minimum’ period, possibly plummeting the planet into an Ice Age, scientists say. Researchers say the present increase in sun activity with solar flares and storms could be followed by this minimum period.
The period would see a cooling of the planet, refuting predictions of global-warming alarmists.
This alarming introduction, helpfully archived by morgue, has since been rewritten to change the final sentence:
The period would see a cooling of the planet, refuting predictions of further global-warming.
Two small problems for Stuff: “scientists” aren’t saying anything at all about a coming ice age, refuting predictions of global warming, or projecting new solar minima. The paper they’ve based the story on is a lot less exciting, suggesting that there may be a plausible link between changes in solar activity and regional climate a few thousand years ago as measured by varves from a German lake. The story — one of the day’s “top stories” on their iPad app — is made up nonsense. And there’s a second problem: it may have been lifted in part from an earlier item in Britain’s Daily Mail…