In a followup to the post If the BOM was incompetent, the ABC would be the last to find out, Ken Stewart has a reply from the BOM.
The news story run by the ABC said the current Queensland drought was the worst in 80 years. When Ken pointed out that the BOM’s own graphs showed that the drought in 2003 was even worse, and the conditions were not that unusual, the ABC effectively said they were parroting BOM statements which, ahem, is all any public broadcaster could be expected to do, right? It’s not like we pay the 1.1 billion-dollar-ABC to ask our bureaucrats hard questions, is it?
Ken wrote to the BOM, who have now replied, and he’s posted it: “How not to admit a mistake”. The BOM blandly point him at their official drought statement which contradicts what their spokesman said:
The current drought in Queensland is comparable to the 2002–2003 drought, which was perhaps more severe in terms of rainfall deficiencies that occurred at times over a very large area. Historical data shows that the current drought is perhaps a one in ten or twenty year event over a significant part of inland eastern Australia (see for example the 24-month deciles map for 2013–2014), but very severe in some places. For example, some location in central Queensland the present deficiencies are the most severe on record, and in addition have been accompanied by record high temperatures. See: 24-month maximum temperature deciles map for 2013–2014.
So both the ABC and the BOM are palming off responsibility for misinformation being broadcast to the public. Neither are quoting the news story, but cite other documents which were not part of the broadcast, as if the invisible caveats makes this OK.
Ken has some questions for the BOM:
I will email them again asking for a specific reply, preferably Yes or No, to the questions:
Was Mr Jeff Sabburg correct in saying “In terms of rainfall deficiencies the comparison is we haven’t seen this across Queensland at least since the 1927- 1929 depression drought”?
Was Mr Sabburg correct in saying “37.3% of the state was covered by the lowest rainfall on record”?
If the answer to either of these is “No”, will the Bureau immediately issue a correction in a media release?
I would like to know if the BOM is concerned that the ABC has misinformed the public about a climate factor. Is it part of the BOM charter that it provides accurate information to the Australian public? For all the farmers who are making major life and investment decisions based on BOM information and news of fictitious “drought trends”, will the BOM be compensating those who suffer financially?
Will the ABC?