By JR on Thursday, July 28, 2011
THE Australian Communications and Media Authority is investigating a complaint about alleged inaccuracies in statements on climate change by broadcaster Alan Jones.
GetUp! had made a complaint, which it believed was not being pursued by the broadcasting regulator, but the Herald has learned ACMA is investigating the GetUp! complaint, and some others, concerning Mr Jones. If the complaint is upheld, Mr Jones may be asked to acknowledge the statement was wrong and promise not to repeat it.
The complaint says the 2GB broadcaster was wrong when he stated human beings produce only 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the air.
Several climate scientists have insisted the claim is inaccurate, and the proportion of carbon dioxide in the air today for which human beings are responsible is closer to 28 per cent. They base this on the difference between the pre-industrial concentration of CO2 (about 280 parts per million) and the current concentration of about 390 parts per million. [But that does not prove any human effect. It is most likely ocean outgassing in RESPONSE to warming]
Climate commissioner and executive director of the ANU Climate Institute Will Steffen said another calculation was the amount of additional carbon, contained in carbon dioxide, that humans contributed to the atmosphere each year. "Every year the earth - land and ocean combined - takes a net five billion tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere, but humans put around nine billion tonnes in, meaning we are accumulating an additional four billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere each year," he said.
Under the commercial broadcasting code of conduct, broadcasters are required to make reasonable efforts to ensure that factual material is accurate, and are given 30 days to make a correction after they receive an initial complaint.
GetUp! has also alleged Mr Jones contravenes another section of the code of conduct which requires broadcasters to give "reasonable opportunities" to "significant viewpoints" on "controversial issues of public importance".
An ACMA spokeswoman said the organisation did not comment on specific matters it might be investigating. ACMA usually provides a preliminary report to the broadcaster for comment before a final report is written. Investigations often take several months.
A spokesman for 2GB did not return calls yesterday but, speaking to the Mumbrella website this week, Mr Jones distinguished between being a journalist and being a broadcaster. "Much of my stuff is opinion … I am a broadcaster, I don't pretend to be a journalist, I don't know what that means anyway - they've got a certificate or something," he said.
"… if those opinions lack validity, or if those opinions are extreme, or if they are overly provocative, people won't listen, I've stood the test of time."