Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Distinguished respected totally awesome academic is cool

Deep in the bowels of a large Australian national newspaper lies the editorial bunker. The following conversation took place earlier in the month:

Editor 1: “Quick! We’ve got a whole lot of free space on page 1, page 2, the editorial page and our blog that needs to be filled ASAP!”

Editor 2: “I’ve got just the thing: there’s this bloke who gave some obscure speech a few days ago that denied anthropogenic global warming. We could, you know, use a little artistic licence, flush it out a bit, and we could fill all that up.”

Editor 1: “OK. OK. He’s a climate scientist, right? Plenty of experience in the field? Knows exactly what he’s on about?”

Editor 2: “Well……not quite. He’s a retired historian. Ex-political scientist too. But let me explain. It doesn’t matter that he has no formal expertise. We’ll use phrases like ‘respected academic’ and ‘distinguished researcher’ and ‘fellow of three learned societies’ to describe him. Fools ‘em every time. The last one’s a cracker, ain’t it?”

Editor 1: “So far, so good…but he’s gotta have said something pretty damn flash to justify all the coverage.

Editor 2: “Wellllllllllll….it fits with our right-wing editorial policy. And, as you well know, our news reporting is just an extension of that particular policy. I’m not even sure we actually do news any more, do we?”

Editor 1: “OK…what did he say?”

Editor 2: “Oh…I dunno. We’re too stupid. It’s all too big. A recent study of surface stations in the US showed they’re all situated wrong and we don’t actually know the temperature. That kind of stuff.”

Editor 1: “Hang on….a recent study? You don’t mean that silly surface stations mob who posted a few piccies in a blog with no actual analysis proving a spurious trend? The ones that think somehow all the ‘naughty stations’ are showing warming while the good ones aren’t, but can’t provide any evidence of that. I’m not sure that constitutes a study.”

Editor 2: “Oh come on….it’s not like anyone is actually going to check this stuff.”

Editor 1: “All right. Keep going.”

Editor 2: “Well…there’s a bit about…ummm….there’s no causal link between CO2 and rising temperature.”

Editor 1: “WTF!!! That’s basic physics from early last century. Are you sure this is OK?”

Editor 2: “Yeah, sure. He put a ‘but if’ in there first to make it seem reasonable. I’m thinking’ you might not like the rest though.”

Editor 1: “Do go on.”

Editor 2: “There’s a little about how we don’t know where the increasing CO2 is coming from. Only some of it is due to the stuff we’re doing. How it’s only a small portion of the atmosphere therefore it can’t have a large apparent effect. Oh yeah…there’s a bit about not being able to predict the weather so can’t predict climate. Models don’t work etcetera etcetera. All stuff that’s been said and thoroughly refuted a hundred times before but he’s…like…changed the order and stuff.”

Editor 1: “Aren’t readers just going to assume this guy’s an ignorant fraud?’

Editor 2: “Ah ha!! He’s got a brilliant strategy for that: the pre-emptive attack. He said he was quote ‘urged not express his contrary views to orthodox thinking because he would be demonised’. Put simply – ‘I’m going to be repressed!! I’m going to be repressed!!” He cunningly declares climate scientists are actually ‘climate activists from a quasi-religious movement’, which quite clearly isn’t demonising those who don’t agree with him at all, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Editor 1: “This is a bunch of crap. Even we can’t print this.”

Editor 2: “Yeah…I know. Hahhahahaha!!! April Fools joke! Had ya there, didn’t I?”

Editor 1: “Dammit!!! What do ya reckon pass it on the The Australian for a laugh?”