Last night I watched the ABC “science” program Catalyst, featuring “Taking Australia’s Temperature.” I tried to post a comment at the Catalyst page but got a Server Error and my comment disappeared. Amongst so much misinformation in the program, here was the real clanger:
” since February 1985, we have had… 330 months in a row of above-average temperatures. “
There was no mention of where or what temperatures were being referred to, although the context was grape growers moving from Victoria to Tasmania, so let’s check with the Bureau’s High Quality temperature records, for Victoria,Tasmania, South East Australia, and Australia as a whole. I’ve marked 1985 to make it clearer.
And Australia as a whole, means:So there have been several years of below average temperature, and you can’t get a below average year without a number of below average months. Don’t take my word for it, search the Bureau’s web pages for yourself: there is no State or Region with 330 consecutive months of above average temperature since February 1985.
If the data from such a site as Milawa is so obviously not consistent with that of other sites around it, its State,or Region, the following possibilities must be checked:
a) a problem with the siting
b) a problem with the instruments
c) a problem with the recording
d) a problem with the adjustments to the data
e) a problem with the basic honesty of the presenters of this program in not highlighting that this was not representative of the broader record.
It was Dr Mark Howden of the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship who made this fantastic claim. Dr Jonica Newby, scientist/ journalist that she is, accepted and repeated it without question, so is jointly responsible. If I am not looking at the relevant data, I stand to be corrected, and will apologize. Unless they can offer some explanation or correction, they must obviously stand by their untruth.
UPDATE: I have since found out from Chris Gillham that the “330 Months” is from an upcoming CSIRO paper, based on NCDC data- for global temperatures. Which raises the questions: why was there no reference to this in the program? and why are we referring to global temperatures when we are discussing Australia’s temperature? So my criticism stands- this was deceptive behaviour- the average viewer would think the 330 months were in Australia’s data. (And no comments have been allowed at Catalyst since midday.)
Once we could trust and be proud of our great institutions. Now it seems it’s up to ordinary people to hold them to account.