A few days ago, I received a response from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation concerning a complaint I had submitted concerning climate contrarian Ian Plimer’s outrageous “Unleashed” online column. The email, from Kirsten McLeod of ABC’s Audience & Consumer Affairs, claims that the Plimer piece was “in keeping with the ABC’s editorial requirements for opinion content” and even calls Plimer’s opinion “a legitimate voice for the debate” on climate change.
However, it appears that ABC has not followed its own requirement that “reasonable steps” be taken “to ensure factual content is accurate”. Moreover, ABC policy on opinion pieces contains a major loophole: there is no requirement to disclose past and current affiliations to lobby groups or other political organizations, even when those links are clearly relevant to the subject matter at hand. In Plimer’s case, of course, such organizations include the Australian Climate Science Coalition and its progenitors, the Australian Environment Foundation and the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs.
[Update, September 8: As detailed below, ABC is now claiming that the requirement “to ensure factual content is accurate” does not apply to opinion content, even though that specific section of ABC’s Code of Practice does explicitly apply to opinion content (as opposed to news or topical programming).]
The “global cooling since 1998” myth is an ever-present talking point emanating from virtually all contrarians. Australian geologist and “Heaven and Earth” author Ian Plimer is no exception, as I pointed out in my discussion of his ludicrous error-filled piece for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) online “Unleashed” series.
Of course, the claim does not stand up to any serious analysis, as I discussed in great detail in my dissection of a National Post column by Canada’s own Lorne Gunter.
Now it turns out that Plimer and Gunter have something else in common: they both thought that 1934 was the warmest year on record (and for all I know Gunter still does). Even worse, an examination of the ABC interview that discussed these very claims shows that ABC management knew very well that Plimer had no credibility on climate issues, and yet still offered him a platform for his propaganda.
I have submitted an online complaint to the Autralian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), concerning Ian Plimer’s outrageous and misleading opinion piece, entitled “Legislative Time Bomb”.
Here is the full text of the complaint:
Ian Plimer’s opinion piece, entitled “Legislative time bomb” contains several egregious factual errors. Plimer has the right to express his opinions, no matter how cretinous or ill-informed they may be, but his propagation of obvious falsehoods is unacceptable. ABC has a duty to correct any clear errors of fact, even in an opinion piece.
There are at least two passages that require such immediate correction.