Momentum is growing. In Federal Parliament this week George Christensen (Nationals party, Qld) gave an excellent summary of questions Jennifer Marohasy and I have been raising about the Bureau of Meteorology, and announced he would be calling for an inquiry.
It’s long past time. Why does the BOM have so little curiosity about the burning Australian heat before 1910? Why do older thermometers seem to need correction 90 years later for reading “too warm”? Why do so many hot or dry empirical measurements remain invisible in our national conversation about the climate? And with so many questions, why do the Bureau insist they are 95% certain they know what they are talking about?
The Transcript from Quadrant — Wanted: Straight Answers from the BoM.
“I rise to paint a picture of climate change — a picture where Camden, just to the south-west of Sydney, is sweltering in 50-degree heat. Over in the west it is 51 degrees in the shade at Geraldton. Perth is 44, Geelong is 43, Wilcannia 48, Carnarvon 49½ and Southern Cross is 50 degrees. The death rate is 12 in 100,000 from heat-associated deaths—435 dead over the summer!
This is not a Greens scare campaign but the Federation Drought, 118 years ago. It has never been as hot since.
See our post about the extreme heat of 1896 for the original links to the news archives that underlie what Christensen is talking about. Much of this work is fueled by the number crunching and research of Ken Stewart, Chris Gilham, Lance Pidgeon and others on the independent BOM audit team. See also the heat map of Australian 50+ temperatures, and all my posts on Australian Temperatures. It’s great to see this material being spoken in Parliament yet again.
The Media — the gatekeepers
As I watched his speech, I wondered if anyone in Parliament was listening. Speeches like this can disappear. Cory Bernardi, I and others called for an independent audit in 2011, and Dennis Jensen called for an audit of the BOM and the CSIRO in March 2014. But perhaps the time is right. The story was picked up by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the Daily Mail Australia. Don’t miss my message, this time the media is paying attention. (Finally). But the Media IS the problem. Politicians have little power if the media ignore them. We need to fix the media first. The rest will follow. Improve the journalists, and we’ll get better policies, better politicians, and better bureaus too.
The mysteries of the Bureau of Meteorology:
Heat is on the Weather Bureau after MP accuses it of wiping 118-year-old temperature records to justify claims of climate change
- George Christensen claimed the Bureau had wiped earlier records
- He cited records from 1896 that saw temperatures of 50C in NSW
- Mr Christensen claimed this examples had been wiped off the records
- He also accused them of tampering with data so the past appeared cooler
- The Dawson MP will be seeking an inquiry into their conduct this week
The BOM and Environment Dept have offered to bring forward a review. I pointed out how useless it was to get another toothless review, when what we needed was a truly independent one. And anything less than an audit that shows everyone how the BOM got its numbers from the raw data just leaves the BOM able to haughtily reply to any criticism: “we are the experts, so trust us!”. Andrew Bolt picked up my request.
‘Obviously if you drop down temperatures from the past, all the later temperatures will appear warmer even if they are not,’ he said.
‘We cannot use fudged figures skewed to support a global warming hypothesis. We have a scientific process being tainted at the source.’
Mr Christensen said he would use evidence of the Bureau’s misconduct to launch an inquiry this week.
Senator Simon Birmingham, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, told Daily Mail Australia ‘the country’s climate record and the methods used for analysis by the Bureau were independently reviewed by international experts in 2012 to ensure quality assurance, transparency and communication”