Take this story, for example, which Cubby and colleague Peter Hannam rushed into pixels yesterday afternoon. Apart from demonstrating that there are still a couple of good things to be said of the ALP -- that would be "Martin" + "Ferguson" -- it also demonstrates what happens when reporters allow a blinkered sympathy for the cause to trump an inquisitive nature. It is not that the story is wrong, or not obviously so, it is simply that it neglects to ask any obvious questions. For example, here is a video of the researchers discussing their methods, which involve strapping some sort of a sniffing device to their car and then going for a drive.
It all seems quite reasonable, and perhaps there is nothing that can be said to fault it. But no reader of Cubby's story would know that because there is no mention of what other men and women of science might make of the technique. For example:
On the bitumen and travelling at speed, the car's engine revolutions would be low and its emissions, which might (or might not) contaminate the readings, could conceivably produce the "natural" 2ppm-or-less referenced in the video. By the same token, the bitumen itself might seal emissions, keeping readings artificially low.On broken ground -- beside a pipeline, say -- where the vehicle will be making harder work of it on more porous surfaces, recorded emissions could quite conceivably be higher.
The thing is, while these questions arise in a curious mind, they seem not to have nagged at Cubby, who appears to have made no effort to ascertain the efficacy of high-speed automated sniffing.
Nor has he placed the researchers in the context of their views, which a link to the video (above) might have achieved. Each researcher is quite clearly a warmist, so the diligently curious would want to place their pronouncements in that frame, just as it might also have been worth noting that Dr Santos is doing very nicely with climate-related ARC grants. Very nicely indeed.
And then there is the manner in which, as Ferguson noted, the sniffers began trumpeting their findings before getting the all-clear via that peer review business we hear so much about -- at least we hear about it when it suits the sort of alarmists the shark sooker is given to quoting. As for deniers, well they get a less sympathetic hearing, as this sad video of a young zealot having his ears pinned back attests. Make a note, by the way, of Cubby's emphasis at the 5:50 mark on the vital importance of peer review. Yesterday, however, when writing of the paper that drew Ferguson's ire, Cubby's approach was markedly different. The lack of peer review was merely mentioned and passed over. As for the fact that the paper has been seized upon and trumpeted by anti-CSG groups far and wide, well that context is not mentioned at all.
That a near-bankrupt company still finds the money to pay Cubby's salary and that he returns the favour by being so often unquestioning is really quite sad. Carbonphobia is costing all of us, even Cubby, a good deal of money. Curiosity is a splendid thing, often satisfying in itself. As a steward of the public trust, Cubby really should give it a try. His warmist mates might think less of him, but he could draw on the compensatory satisfaction of knowing he would no longer be accused of serving as an eager shill.
Until then, someone has to do it -- no matter how much an inquiring nature interferes with golf and fishing. Some things are worth the time, and getting as close as possible to the truth is prominent amongst them.
A NOTE: Seriously, Ben, curiosity does not demand all that much time. This post, start to finish, including the googling, writing and linking, took all of