TVNZ pushes Leyland’s climate lies

In an appalling lapse of editorial judgement, TVNZ has given notorious Climate “Science” Coalition propagandist Bryan Leyland four minutes of airtime this morning [TVNZ page removed: but available here.] to rubbish the work of the IPCC. Yes, that’s right, the nation’s public broadcaster presented a man way out on the crank fringe who has made a late-life career out climate denial, against one of the largest scientific undertakings of all time — the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. The IPCC, lest we forget, warned yesterday that world faces “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage from climate change unless we cut emissions steeply.

Leyland was allowed to lie about about computer models and modellers, present a shonky graph, claim that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was a “huge benefit” to agriculture, and completely misrepresent the scientific consensus on the reality of warming. The presenter, Rawdon Christie, did try a little scripted pushback early in the piece, but was woefully underprepared to deal with a Leyland obviously gleeful at his opportunity to spout nonsense to the nation.

Here a list of Leyland’s lies, roughly transcribed from the video:

“Everything’s based on computer models – they’re programmed to show warming”

No they’re not. One of the oldest climate lies on the block, and Leyland uses it shamelessly. Worse, he’s allowed to get away with it by a woefully underprepared presenter.

Models predicted warming and it hasn’t happened [with graphic1]

Warming continues: ice melts, sea levels rise and oceans warm

No indications of rate increase in sea level rise

Sea level rise has accelerated, and is expected to accelerate further as warming continues and ice sheets disintegrate.

Computer modellers are a small group — everyone else just goes along with them.

Absolute nonsense. This is a childish and overtly conspiracist misrepresentation of reality.

We’re entering a cooling period.

Another piece of wild nonsense from Leyland, betraying his parlous relationship with reality, and allowed to pass unchallenged by the presenter.

Increasing CO2 has been a huge benefit to plant growth — “not doing us any harm”

More completely made-up nonsense, allowed to pass unchallenged by Christie.

None of this is unexpected from Leyland. He has a long track record of persuading the more gullible NZ media to give him a platform to mislead, misrepresent and play fast and loose with the facts. TVNZ must have been aware of his notoriety, which makes their decision to present him on screen as “a renewable energy expert” grossly misleading and very likely a breach of broadcasting standards2.

But the biggest editorial lapse of all was the decision to put him on the show at all. Leyland is a lonely man out on the crank fringes of climate denial. To suggest that he has any sort of valid view on the reality of climate change — to set him up against the work of thousands of scientists around the world and the entire NZ scientific community — was outrageous. Climate change is far too serious an issue for the planet for a responsible broadcaster to play silly false balance games. They must broadcast an immediate correction and apology, and in future treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.

[Update 5pm: It appears TVNZ have pulled the video of Leyland’s interview and the accompanying news story from their site in response to the many formal and informal complaints they have received. However the full interview can be seen (for the time being, at least) on Youtube. And the TVNZ News Facebook post about Leyland’s interview is still there.]

  1. Leyland’s shonky graph:

    TVNZLeyland

    It appears to be a thinly-disguised and uncredited reworking of a graph that first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in February of this year, accompanying an op-ed piece by John Christy — itself a tidying up of a long-debunked graph created by Roy Spencer. []

  2. Should you wish to make a complaint against the programme, you may do so here. []

Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action

New Zealand political reaction to the IPCC’s WG2 report has divided along expected lines: the Green Party and Labour used the findings to call for more action, the National-led government “welcomed” the report but said it is already doing enough, while the fringe right wing ACT party issued a press release making the abolition of the emissions trading scheme a condition of its support for any future National government. If the Scoop web site is to be believed, none of the other political parties with seats in parliament or hopes of election could be bothered to issue a press release in response to a report that makes it plain that climate change is here now, and set to get very much worse in future.

Continue reading “Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action”

Unsafe assumptions guide expansion of drilling in NZ

A Close Up interview on TV One this week looked at the economic desirability of the proposed expansion of drilling exploration in New Zealand weighed against the environmental concerns. I had just finished my post on the feasibility of renewable energy fully powering the world’s economies by 2050 and it interested me that both the Government and the industry spokespeople chose to make much of the assumption that any change to renewable sources of energy is a long way off. A safe distance, one might say. The assumption was used to buttress the case for expanded exploration. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee:

“This is a revenue [stream] for the Government that’s very very large. You’ve got to realise that the world is not going to go away from being a hydro-carbon economy literally for decades.”

David Robinson of the NZ Petroleum Exploration and Production Association:

“I’m as keen on the clean green technology as anyone. I’m very much an environmentalist myself. The reality of the world energy supply at the moment though is that renewables struggle to get to 30  percent…the reality is that the world’s oil and gas is what is fuelling the world today and it will be quite a number of years, many decades in fact, before it is replaced by some  of  the newer technology. Which will be wonderful when it happens but for the time being the world is very heavily reliant on oil and gas.”

Continue reading “Unsafe assumptions guide expansion of drilling in NZ”

Asking the hard questions

I watched TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday with dismay.  Phil Heatley, the Minister of Energy and Resources, was interviewed about the New Zealand government’s intention to increase oil, gas and coal exploration and mining. The emphasis of the interview was on the environmental issues, yet not a word was said about greenhouse gases or climate change. The environmental questions discussed were not unimportant, but they were easy for the Minister to swat away with talk of how Taranaki’s environment has not been seriously impacted by drilling, of how fracking is confined to suitable deep rock formations, of how careful the Government is to balance the interests of the environment against the economic gains to be had from the exploitation of our mineral resources, and so on.

What would the Minister have said if he was asked how the Government can justify pushing for increased fossil fuel exploitation in the light of the global warming to which the burning of these fuels will contribute?  I have a fair idea what he would have said, but he wasn’t asked. The fact that he wasn’t bothers me as much as his likely answer if he had been. Because it seems to indicate that the overwhelming question is either not perceived or deliberately avoided by journalists running a major current affairs programme.

Continue reading “Asking the hard questions”

Hansen in NZ: first reports

James Hansen’s tour of New Zealand is off to a flying start, with an appearance on TVNZ’s Close Up, coverage in the Herald (they got his age wrong) and an interview with the Dominion Post‘s Kiran Chug, followed by a business lunch (or a lunch with business) and an evening talk to a packed room at Auckland University. Jim Salinger reports:

Jim Hansen’s lecture last night was great. The lecture room held 250, and there were 350 stuffed in sitting on the floor and standing room only, with an overflow room full and buzzing.

The talk was recorded, luckily, and can be seen here. Blogger No Right Turn was at today’s Palmerston North session and tweeted: It was a good talk. The thrust: “think of the grandchildren”. No surprises there. Hansen will be interviewed on Kim Hill’s show on Radio NZ National on Saturday morning at 8-15am, and although my sources suggest Kim may want to push a sceptical line, it should be well worth a listen. For a little amusement, Facebook users might want to check out the tour Facebook page, where a couple of NZ’s more incorrigible denialists — Steve Wrathall and Andy Scrace — have taken it upon themselves to post stupid comments. No surprises there, either. Meanwhile, plans are afoot for GR and The Climate Show to interview Hansen next week in Christchurch. Watch (and indeed listen) to this space…

[Update 14/5: Full report on Palmerston North talk at No Right Turn here.]