Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hottest summer on record! But records only date back to 1950.

Updated 18/3/2010-see outcome below
ABC HEADLINE: "WA on track for hottest summer on record" news online 28/2/2010

ABC REPORTED: Uncredited report on ABC news reports that "The Bureau of Meteorology says Western Australia will have had its hottest summer on record by the end of today."

THE COMPLAINT: ABC neglected to include the following statement from the BOM press release available HERE that states: "The state-wide records date back to 1950." This important fact allows readers to put a better perspective on the nature of the "record".

OUTCOME:Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report WA on track for hottest summer.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  We have reviewed the broadcast, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News. 

Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that is accurate for the report to state that Western Australia is on track to record its hottest summer ever.  That means the hottest since records were first kept.

Your belief that the report should have included the fact that state records date from 1950 is duly noted.

The ABC Editorial Policies are available online at the attached link;

Please be assured that your comments have been duly noted.

COMMENT: As physicist Richard Feynman once said, "“In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another”. This was scientists, but it equally applies to journalists, unless of course they intend to become activists.

BBC plans could be applied to ABC

Seems there's a lesson or two here for ABC head honcho Mark Scott; bigger isn't always better. 
But, please no cuts to ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs they are doing a great job!
BBC plans to halve website 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I guess sh@! happens that way-no I in Johnny Cash classic

Updated with ABC response 24/3/2010-see below
ABC HEADLINE: "Johnny cash is 10 billionth iTunes download" News online 26/2/2010
ABC REPORTED: "A Johnny Cash song has become the 10 billionth song sold online by Apple iTunes. The track, I Guess Things Happen That Way, became the lucky song to net a customer a $US10,000 iTunes gift card."
THE COMPLAINT: The song is in fact titled "Guess things happen that way" I!
OUTCOME: received 24/3/2010: Thank you for your email regarding the Reuters article Johnny Cash is 10 billionth iTunes download, published on ABC News onlineABC News online has amended the Reuters typographical error.  It is not a breach of the ABC Editorial Policies. Thank you for taking the time to raise this important matter with the ABC.
COMMENT: Little things matter! ABC Editorial Policy 5.2.2. (c) Be accurate

Friday, February 26, 2010

ABC Open project -What about FOI?

ABC Director Mark Scott replies to criticism of its "ABC Open Project" in today's Australian. At ABC NEWS WATCH we wonder whether the ABC's stance on FOI requests will form part of this "open" project...see - ABC: you can't open the chamber of secretsUnder ABC's current FOI regime the public would likely be denied access to any documents requested concerning development and production of this content.

ABC not waging war
THE ABC welcomes public debate about its future in the new media landscape. But recent criticisms of its ABC Open project ("ABC’s `hidden’ plans under fire”, 24/2) do not stand up to scrutiny. Firstly, the ABC is not asking for, nor has it been given, taxpayers’ funds to wage war on commercial media in regional markets. ABC local radio has happily coexisted with commercial news operators in regional markets for more than 70 years.
The aim of ABC Open is to put producers and editors into regions to equip locals with the skills to create and post content. One would have thought this attempt to bridge the digital divide - so evident in regional Australia - would benefit all media organisations. There is no hidden or stealth agenda. The broadband hubs project was announced in last year’s federal budget and the ABC has been answerable to its details in Estimates committees.

Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director

Tim Bowden: ABC's diminishing docos

Former ABC all rounder Tim Bowden provides some cutting commentary on the state of ABC documentary making. From SMH Letters 26/2

ABC shares blame for decline of docos

May I endorse Tom Zubrycki's eloquent and passionate lament for the decline of the television documentary (''Australian documentaries will founder without courage and funds'', February 24). It is scandalous that the ABC has let its internal documentary-making capacity fall to near zero - a short-sighted policy enthusiastically endorsed by the Director of Television, Kim Dalton.
It is an accident of history that my own documentary series on Antarctica, Breaking the Ice, which went to air in 1996, was the last series produced in-house by a professional team of editors, sound mixers and engineers. Often it was only the ABC that would tackle controversial topics off-limits to freelancers or commercial production houses due to pressures of advertising or other constraints.
With SBS and the ABC now dependent on buy-ins, Australian viewers are getting much less than they deserve from our public broadcasters. It is not too late to reverse this short-sightedness.
Tim Bowden 

Sceptics get nasty emails too!

We wonder whether our complaint ABC: as credible as weekly world news inspired this article by ABC reporter Thea Cowie that suggests scientists sceptical of man made global warming have been on the receiving end of nasty emails as well.

Cyber bullies on both sides of the climate debate 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cyclone report -answers found. A big thankyou Tom Knutson and John McBride

ABC NEWS WATCH Thanks Tom Knutson, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and John McBride, principal research scientist for the Bureau of Meteorology for answering quite a number of questions regarding their recent review paper "Tropical cyclones and climate change" published online in Nature Geoscience.

ABC NEWS WATCH will submit their response to the ABC and request their answers be added to the original ABC report.

Tom and John's answers and the questions can be found HERE.

A climate time lie-ABC post corrections but questions remain

ABC have posted their corrections to "A Journey through Climate History" on the complaints website HERE (reprinted below).

ABC NEW WATCH stories on the timeline can be seen HERE and HERE

Our follow up complaint raised the following issues with the ABC Complaints Review Executive (our points in red italics after ABC response) we still await the outcome of the review.

4. I understand 'A Journey through Climate History' is not intended as an exhaustive timeline of every single climatic event in Earth's history. I am advised that the Ordovician ice age was not included in the timeline due to its relative brevity, and not because of any 'inconvenient truth', as you suggest. Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe the omission of this ice age from the timeline was inconsistent with the ABC's editorial standards.

While “brief” the Ordovician Ice Age is of great significance in the current debate as the Ice Age is thought to have occurred at a time when CO2 levels were as high 4000 ppm. Its "relative brevity" is irrelevant and it should be included in the timeline to provide readers with a more balanced picture of the role of CO2 on climate. 

5b. Once again, as with point 4, it is relevant to note that it is not the intention of the website to provide an exhaustive timeline of all historical climatic events. I understand ABC Innovation considers that it was acceptable to include the most recent warm period, the Medieval Warm Period, and not include the Roman Warm Period. Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe this omission was inconsistent with relevant editorial standards.

Roman Warm Period coincided with the height of the Roman Empire. This is as relevant than other historical events in the timeline.

6. We acknowledge that the placement of the Medieval Warm Period at 700 AD in the timeline was inaccurate and inconsistent with the event description, which refers to the period "between AD 800 1300". It has been moved to 800.

We also acknowledge that the statement in the entry, "the idea that it was a global phenomenon is now discredited and it is suspected that the average global temperature could have been slightly cooler than in the early 20th century" overstated the certainty of the current understanding of the Medieval Warm Period. The entry has been amended to reflect the current level of uncertainty as to whether the phenomenon was global, based on IPCC reports.

The timeline continues to promote references that bias one side of the debate of the extent of the Medieval Warm Period. Where are references that highlight the broad nature of warming during the Medieval Warm Period such as reference to CO2science's  Medieval Warm Period Project?

10. We do not believe it was necessary for the timeline entry on An Inconvenient Truth to mention the errors found in the Dimmock case in the UK. The entry described the film as "controversial", ensuring that users are aware that it was subject to controversy. It is relevant to note that a link was provided to the Wikipedia page about the film, which discusses the Dimmock case at some length. On review, we are satisfied that the entry was consistent with the editorial standard for accuracy.

Note the way The Great Global Warming Swindle is treated for comparison. ABC do not stop at merely mentioning it was controversial but go into great detail about the subsequent Ofcom inquiry. Any reasonable consideration of these two popular documentaries would treat them equally.

11. Once again, the timeline is not intended to be exhaustive and does not contain every climate-related event in human history. Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe the omission of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report to which you refer was inconsistent with relevant editorial standards.

Omissions are just as significant as inclusions. The overall impression is that the producers of the timeline are biased by not including mention of the NIPCC report. In the context of the history of Climate Change it is a significant development. 

Copy of official correction, note that there is no editorial comment attached to the original item to indicate that there have been changes made to it.

ABC Science website, 17 December 2009 (received)

Summary published: Thursday 25, February 2010

Complaint:  An online reader complained that the ABC Science website ‘A Journey through Climate History’ contained a number of inaccuracies.

Audience and Consumer Affairs response:  The ABC acknowledged the following errors on the site:

• The placement of the Huronian Ice Age at 2.7 billion years ago in the timeline, and the statement that it was “from 2.7 to 2.3 Billion Years ago”, were inaccurate.

• The placement of the event ‘First life on Earth’ at 2 billion years ago in the timeline, and the reference in the entry to primitive, one-celled creatures having appeared “about 3 billion years ago” were inaccurate.

• The reference to a Cryogenian Ice Age having occurred from 850 to 630 million years ago was inaccurate.

• The placement of the Medieval Warm Period at 700 AD in the timeline was inaccurate and inconsistent with the event description, which referred to the period “between AD 800 [and] 1300”. Further, the statement in the entry “the idea that it was a global phenomenon is now discredited and it is suspected that the average global temperature could have been slightly cooler than in the early 20th century” overstated the certainty of the current understanding of the Medieval Warm Period.

• A disputed claim that the Northeast and Northwest Passages were open in 2008 for the first time in 125,000 years was inaccurately stated as fact.

• A statement that “since [1998], the record of ‘warmest year’ and ‘worst bleaching’ has likely been broken” was unsubstantiated and did not adhere to the editorial standard for accuracy.

The errors were corrected on the website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UPDATE: ABC achieves balance on story about Polar Bear cannibalism

ABC NEWS Watch initially raised concerns about issues with an ABC story covering Polar Bear cannibalism in Canada. The ABC responded to our initial complaint (see HERE) by amending the headline to indicate that the claim that Polar Bear Cannibalism was due to global warming was made by conservationists. 

ABC NEWS WATCH made a follow up complaint that suggested the report lacked balance:

To ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs Sent 24/12/2009
The posted correction is welcome but only addresses part of the issue identified in the original complaint. As source documents for this story  (link below) demonstrate an alternative explanation for cannibalism among polars was put forward but was not reported by the ABC. Please further amend the story to include reference to the alternate explanation, as indicated below:

"However, an Inuit leader in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut said the incidents are non-events and that it's wrong to connect the bear's behaviour with starvation.
"It makes the south - southern people - look so ignorant," said Kivalliq Inuit Association president Jose Kusugak.
"A male polar bear eating a cub becomes a big story and they try to marry it with climate change and so on, it becomes absurd when it's a normal normal occurrence," Kusugak said.
Kusugak admitted some communities are having polar bear problems because warmer than average temperatures means sea ice hasn't yet formed properly.
But he disagrees that their numbers are dwindling or that polar bears are in other danger because of climate change."

Original story
Regards (and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

We are happy to report that ABC Audience and Consumer affairs have upheld this complaint and have now amended the original story to include alternate views by an Inuit leader who suggested that Polar Bear Cannibalism was not out of the ordinary. We believe our involvement in raising these issues has resulted in a more balanced report.

FROM Audience and Consumer Affairs 24/2/2010
Thank you for your emails of 7 and 24 December, regarding the ABC News online story Climate change drives bears to cannibalism, conservationists say.  I apologise for the significant delay in responding.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  We have reviewed the broadcast, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News. 

I have attached a link to the Corporation’s Editorial Policies for your reference.

Audience and Consumer Affairs acknowledges your concern and agrees that the report failed to achieve balance, as required under section 5.2.2(e) of the ABC Editorial Policies.  The report was updated on 9 February to include the perspective of an Inuit spokesman.  The ABC News correction, originally posted on 23 December, was also been updated on 23 February to alert the audience to the nature of the error, and is available at the following link;

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Yours sincerely
Audience and Consumer Affairs


Polar bears

ABC News Online
On December 5, in an article about the melting of Hudson Bay sea ice in Canada, the ABC used the heading that climate change was “driving polar bears to cannibalism”. The story explained that the sea ice which the bears need to walk across when hunting, was not appearing until weeks later than usual. This means the bears had a shortage of food and there had been cases reported of the bears eating cubs for food. The ABC acknowledges that polar bears are not necessarily driven towards cannibalism because of climate change; this claim should have been attributed to conservationists. The heading has been changed to: “Climate change drives polar bears to cannibalism, conservationists say”. Also, the story did not include sufficient balance and reaction of an Inuit spokesman to the cannibalism claims was added to the story.

The editor's note added the story reads:
Editor's note (December 23): The headline on this story has been changed to make it clear that conservationists are saying climate change is driving polar bears to cannibalism. On February 9, the reaction of an Inuit spokesman to the cannibalism claims was added to the story.

ABC Cyclone report leaves questions blowing in the wind

Update 24/2/2010 John McBride's response to questions from ANW appear below.
UPDATE 25/2/2010 Tom Knutson's response appears below

ABC HEADLINE: "Cyclones to become 'fewer but fiercer'" ABC online, based on a story broadcast on the ABC's PM bulletin,  under the headline "Cyclones to become less common but more intense".

ABC REPORTED: ABC's Timothy Macdonald for PM interviews authors about their review of the  modeled effects of climate change on cyclones titled "Tropical cyclones and climate change" published online in Nature Geoscience. Interviewees included: Tom Knutson, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US, and John McBride, principal research scientist for the Bureau of Meteorology. Tom Knutson and John McBride along with ABC reporter Timothy Macdonald provided commentary on the Nature report. No questions were asked by Macdonald of either Tom Knutson and John McBride.

THE COMPLAINT: ABC NEWS WATCH thought the job of journalists was to ask questions. Indeed the ABC's own editorial policies seem to back us up section 5.2.2 (f) states:  Be questioning. Serve the public interest by investigating issues affecting society and individuals. As reporter Timothy Macdonald failed to ask any questions according to the transcript here are 13 questions ABC could have asked Tom Knutson and John McBride to give ABC audience important information about their author's work: 

Update John McBride's response to questions appear below

1.      You state in your abstract "Whether the characteristics of tropical cyclones have changed or will change in a warming climate — and if so, how — has been the subject of considerable investigation, often with conflicting results."
Can you describe some of the conflicting results? What is the range of projections?

John McBride: All described succinctly in our Nature Geoscience  paper
Tom Knutson:  An example of conflicting results is in Fig. 1, where depending on which statistical model one accepts, one can either conclude that there may already be a detectable anthropogenic signal of increasing Atlantic PDI, and that the projected change for the 21st century is of order +300% (top), or that there is not a detectable long-term increase signal in PDI as yet, and even the sign of the future change is quite uncertain (bottom). Dynamical models to date strongly support the latter interpretation.
Another example is in Figure 2, where depending on what adjustments are done to the data for 'missing storms', one can either conclude that there is a significant long-term rising trend in Atlantic TC counts or not. The range of future projections is well described in Fig 1 for the Atlantic, in our supplemental material for various basins, and summarized in Box 1.

2.      You indicate “For future projections of tropical cyclone activity, the challenge is to develop both a reliable projection of changes in the various factors influencing tropical cyclones, both local and remote, and a means of simulating the effect of these climate changes on tropical cyclone metrics, such as storm frequency, intensity and track distribution. “ How reliable are current models with respect to tropical cyclones?

John McBride: Once again described succinctly in the paper..... The purpose of most of the research reported on was basically addressing this question.
Tom Knutson:  The latest downscaling and time slice techniques with statistical/ dynanamic or higher resolution dynamical models are looking quite promising for the Atlantic in particular.  See Fig. 3.  Also see some examples in the recent Bender et al 2010 Science paper for some Atlantic TC intensity metrics, and other papers referenced in Fig. 3.  This is an area where the field has been making notable progress since the IPCC AR4.

3.      You state in your paper: “For detection and attribution, the emphasis here is on the Atlantic Ocean basin because the data records for this region are longer and relatively more reliable, though our assessment state ments (summarized in Box1) include consideration of all basins as appropriate. “ Given that the emphasis in your paper is on the Atlantic, is it appropriate to extrapolate these findings to other basins, such as the basin affecting Northern Australian tropical systems?

John McBride: No extrapolations were made from Atlantic findings to other basins.  All reported finding on other basins are from work where scientists analysed data or carried out model simulations in those basins.
Tom Knutson:  For detection and attribution, we conclude that it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability from natural causes.  This statement applies to all basins. There is no study we are aware of that provides a convincing case, at this time, of a long-term TC change in any basin that exceeds the variability from natural causes.

4.      You state that  a substantial part of the increase in Atlantic power dissipation since 1950 is likely due to factors other than greenhouse-gas-induced warming. “ Can you name those factors?

John McBride: All described in the paper.
Tom Knutson:  The partial quote used here is inappropriate.  The full sentence is:  "If the relationship between Atlantic power dissipation and this differential warming in Fig. 1b is causal, then a substantial part of the 
 increase in Atlantic power dissipation since 1950 is likely due to factors other that greenhouse-gas-induced warming." So if the first part of the sentence applies, then the Atlantic PDI

increases (or decreases) are causally linked to warming (or cooling) of the tropical Atlantic relative to the rest of the tropics.  Since current climate models forced with substantial increases in greenhouse gases (IPCC A1B scenario) show relatively small increases or decreases in this relative SST metric (Fig. 1b), there is no indication at this time of a strong increase in relative SST warming of the Atlantic due to increasing greenhouse gases.  Hence we arrive at the full statement. Proposed factors include:  data problems, internal multi-decadal climate variability such as the "Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation", and changes over time in aerosol forcing of climate.

5.      You indicate: “Substantial multidecadal SST variability is evident in the North Atlantic basin (Fig. 2, second green series). The cause of this variability remains uncertain, with possible contributions from both internal climate variability and radiative-forcing changes.” If the cause of variability remains uncertain how confident are you that models are able to project tropical cyclone frequency into the future with any confidence?.

John McBride: The answer to this question is discussed and stated very clearly in the concluding sections of the paper, and is much of the point of the paper.

Tom Knutson:  Researchers have been using combinations of observations (with attempted corrections for homogeneity issues), models and theory to shed light on this problem.  Uncertainties remain, which is why our projections statements at the regional scale have such limited confidence.  For example in Box 1 for TC frequency projection we state: "We have very low confidence in projected changes in individual basins." Nonetheless, there are indications in for example the Bender et al 2010 Science paper that despite strong multidecadal variability in past Atlantic cat 4-5 frequency, an anthropogenic signal may emerge from this noise late in the 21st century according to those model projections.  This is still a very active area that researchers are continuing to pursue, and we hope that future work will help to reduce the various uncertainties.

6.      Changes in observing capacity brought about by satellite monitoring capability suggest many apparent changes in observational frequency are an artefact of observation methodology. Can you expand on comments around this issue you raise in your paper?

John McBride: Once again discussed at length in our paper and in the references therein.
Tom Knutson:  See for example, the references: Vecchi and Knutson (2008)
Journal of Climate and the Landsea et al 2010 Journal of Climate paper (latter paper in press and available on line soon).

7.      You cite Mann et al., 2009 study of a 1500 year record of sediment outwash from a number of sites along the US east coast that finds several periods of strong Atlantic hurricane landfalls during several periods over the last 1000 years. How do you reconcile potential natural variation with variation potentially induced by anthropogenic forcing? How would we know if future increases are due to anthropogenic factors? Is there a signature that would allow a confident assignation of anthropogenic factors as the cause of any change?

John McBride: Once again, this is the whole point of the paper, and is one of the many reasons for the “remains uncertain” finding concerning whether past changes can be attributed to anthropogenic warming

Tom Knutson:  The recent Bender et al. Science paper is a step toward using a model to estimate what the anticipated signal of anthropogenic warming on Atlantic hurricane activity would be.  Also discussed in that paper is an example of estimating the "emergence time scale" for such a signal in cat 4-5 hurricane counts from our current estimate of internal climate variability in the basin.  This is a tough problem though, and still be actively worked on.

8.      You state that in regard to future projections of tropical cyclone frequency that “Many of these models reproduce key aspects of observed part cyclone activity…” What proportion of models used in your review do not?

John McBride:Not a precise question.

Tom Knutson:  Recall that this paper is an assessment of previously published work, and not in itself a research project. Not all of the previous cited works address how well their models reproduce various aspects of observed TC variability. The methods and degree of comparison are uneven across different studies.  While that is unfortunate, this is the information that the team had to work with at this stage.
This is where some of the expert judgment of the team must come into play, namely how to weigh various findings in various studies when the methods and degree of comparison between models and observations vary widely across different available studies.

9.      You state: “However, confidence in these projections remains very low for individual basins (Supplementary Table S1), owing to uncer tainties in the large-scale patterns of future tropical climate change, as evident in the lack of agreement between the model projections of patterns of tropical SST changes as well as remaining limitations in the downscaling strategies.” How do you reconcile this “very low” level of confidence with your assessment of likelihood of future tropical cyclone frequency which you state is “likely that global mean tropical-cyclone-frequency will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged owing to greenhouse warming.” How do you reconcile this level of confidence with your statement “For individual basins, there is much more uncertainty in projections of tropical cyclone frequency, with changes of up to ±50% or more projected by various models.” What does this say about confidence in systems affecting Northern Australia?

John McBride: Happy to talk about this further.  It is one of the major findings of the paper, and so appeared in the summary/abstract.--- That confidence is low for individual basins such as Northern Australia.

Tom Knutson:  The remarkably consistent result of a projected reduction in global TC frequency across a range of different modeling studies led the group to its conclusion.  (Recall that "likely" here means 67% or more chance that the statement is correct.)  But the consistency among different models is much less for individual basins.  See table S1 in the supplemental material for more information.

10.  You state that “Analyses of globally consistent satellite-based intensity estimates since 1981 indicate that trends in the best track-data are indeed inflated42, but do support an increase globally in the intensities of the strongest tropical cyclones.” Given increase in green house gases since the industrial revolution what does this say about the link between green house gases and tropical cyclone intensity?

John McBride: It supports a link between the highest intensities and global warming; but the length of the data record is too small for any firm conclusions to be made from this analysis.

Tom Knutson:  Agreed.  There are some concerns about data quality, even of the homogenized satellite intensity record, and there are questions about the amount/nature of internal TC climate variability in the various basins, where our confidence is limited due to relatively short high-quality records we have to work with.  This is a key point moving forward.  By raising awareness at this point, we hope that our report can help spur better climatological record keeping for TCs worldwide so that some decades from now data bases will be better suited to address these important questions.

11.  You state “We judge that a sub stantial increase in the frequency of the most intense storms is more likely than not globally, although this may not occur in all tropical regions. Our confidence in this finding is limited, since the model-projected change results from a competition between the influence of increasing storm intensity and decreasing overall storm frequency. How do you reconcile this lack of confidence with use of the word “likely”?

John McBride: It is what we mean by “likely”

Tom Knutson:  Careful here:  we use the term "more likely than not" which means essentially that the odds are slighty greater than 50% that the statement is correct.  This is not a very confident statement.

12.  Given “The uncertainty in climate-model-projected SSTs and related variables can affect even the sign of the projected tropical cyclone activity change in a given region.” Is your likelihood assessment little more than a “gut feeling”?

John McBride: No.  It is the result of literally hundreds of scientific papers, enormous numbers of scientific experiments with computer simulations, arguments and discussions among the scientific community, extended analyses of the points of agreement and disagreement between scientists.  Also, the scientific journals and scientific process does not include “gut feelings”

Tom Knutson:  We provide numerous references and the summarized findings in table S1-S3 to support our assessment.  However, rather than merely averaging every result in the literature into some sort of ensemble answer, we have used our judgment to try to assess the relative reliability of different available lines of evidence.  I view that as a central charge of our team.  Without including this expert judgment element, the whole process would be merely an exercise in data collecting and averaging some outputs from models. It is my hope that our team has added some value beyond that with our report.

13.  Finally we note that you acknowledge the Sultan of Oman for sponsoring initial meetings for the report. Given the dire implications of climate change promulgated by the IPCC do you consider this is an extravagance and that less carbon dioxide intensive methods of holding meetings might be more appropriate in the future.

John McBride: Pass
Tom Knutson:  Some elaboration of the process might be helpful here. Our team has a budget of zero, and any resources used were drawn from existing resources.  Half of our team was able to attend the Expert Team's only face-to-face meeting (in Oman) and half were unable to do so, and therefore attended remotely by telecon (getting up in the middle of the night to do so!)  The team members who went to Oman were, on the same trip, able to present a series of invited keynote lectures at the First International Indian Ocean Conference on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change, which John McBride help enormously in organizing. We felt this was an important step in building the science up on this topic in the Indian Ocean region, and that it would help attract new researchers from that region to this field through the conference and interactions there.
(Recall that one of the limitations of the field are the limited historical TC records in various basins around the world, including the Indian Ocean basin.) Since our report was put together mostly by email, with a few telecons, it is an interesting experiment in whether such less carbon intensive approaches can work.  My opinion is that our report was hindered some by not having several face to face meetings of the whole team, but that we did save on science budgets and carbon emissions by not doing so

We expect ABC at least make a token effort at meeting its editorial policy.  Please have another go at this one and at least put some of these questions to the authors, or perhaps come up with  a few of your own. As we lack confidence that the ABC will do the job, ABC NEWS WATCH will attempt to put these questions directly to the authors. If we get a response it will be posted on this site.

OUTCOME: Pending
COMMENT: Once more ABC appears to have done little more than re-print the media release. Not a single question mark appears in the interview transcript! Perhaps ABC editorial policy should contain some advice on how to avoid lazy journalism?

Emails between ANW and John McBride and Tom Knutson
From Marc Hendrickx (ANW)

Dear Drs Knutson and McBride,
I draw your attention to a recent story by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about your recent paper in Nature Geoscience titled " Tropical cyclones and climate change". The ABC report was titled "Cyclones to become less common but more intense".

ABC NEWS WATCH raised a complaint to the ABC about the report on the grounds that the ABC reporter (Timothy Macdonald) did not appear to be fulfilling ABC editorial policies. Namely we considered the reporter was not questioning enough. The complaint can be viewed at : under the heading "ABC cyclone report leaves questions blowing in the wind".

The complaint includes 13 question ABC NEWS WATCH suggested Timothy Macdonald could have raised with you about your paper. These are listed below. ABC NEWS WATCH would be grateful if you could answer at least some of these. (You are of course under no obligation to do so and we understand that you are both busy). If you do decide to reply your response will be forwarded onto Timothy Macdonald and also posted at ABC NEWS WATCH.

Best Wishes 
Marc Hendrickx
ABC News Watch

Reply from John McBride
Dear Marc,
Thanks for your inquiry, which surprises me.   As can be deduced from the last two questions, the tone is insulting and is not motivated by legitimate consideration of  whether or not the interview fulfilled ABC editorial policies.
 Also, as per standard practice, your  interviewer Timothy MacDonald questioned me about the paper for at least 15 minutes, of which he will have a recording.
I have inserted brief answers to the questions in your email below

John McBride

ANW replied:
Thanks John,

I take your point on the last two questions. However they are legitimate queries and questions a reasonable journalist might have asked. I don't think journalists should baulk from questions that might be considered insulting. It's their job to explore these matters.

Marc Hendrickx

Reply from John McBride
Thanks for the quick reply.
The questions are all legitimate, and are what journal referees, colleagues, etc ask all the time..... The whole point of the paper is to see what consensus we can reach on precisely these questions.
In a short interview, however, your journalist was aiming at learning the main point, in an understandable way, and at determining implications for Australia.
I think he did a good job.

John McBride

John McBride replied:
Looking at your website, just realised you are not part of the ABC or of any official media-monitoring process.
If you have any further complaints, please take them up with th ABC itself.

John McBride

An attempt was made to forward the contents of this post to Timothy MacDonald at the ABC but our guess at his contact details failed.