Press Council Rules on Climate Change Article

The NZ Press Council has upheld a complaint made by Robin Grieve Chairman of Pastural Farming Climate Research Inc. against the NZ Herald. The complaint concerned their reporting of livestock emissions and the extent of agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The complaint was for inaccuracy.

For some time now I have been trying to get the NZ Herald to publish our views about livestock emissions. In particular we have keenly sought to be able to balance the preposterous claims made by vegetarians that vegetarianism is a good way to save the planet from global warming. The claims that meat production is warming the planet are readily and regularly published by the NZ Herald. Counter arguments such as ours are effectively censored out of the public arena by mainstream media such as NZ Herald. I have also sought to put the record straight about the nonsensical carbon dioxide equivalents and how ridiculous it is that an animal can emit huge quantities of these bull shit theoretical emissions when belching, yet add no extra carbon dioxide or methane and cause no increase in any real greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. And as a consequence no global warming.

The NZ Herald has not had a bar of it; they staunchly keep the NZ public misinformed by only offering one side of the argument.

Having given up trying to get the truth about livestock emissions told by the Herald I decided that if they are going to only publish one side of an argument and not allow me or anyone else to challenge the inaccuracies in their reporting about livestock emissions I will have to do it by way of a complaint to the editor on the basis of inaccuracy. I don’t know about you but when I read the rubbish they print I have to do something or go mad. Lies will become the truth if they go unchallenged long enough.

This was the third time I had complained to the deputy editor. On the two prior occasions I did not pursue it past the denials of the deputy editor because I felt I had made my point. I never expected him to suddenly apologise and say thanks for pointing out the error of our ways, but I did feel that they were going to be more careful about what they print.

On the third occasion I complained about an article that said agriculture produced 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. My complaint was that this was inaccurate because agriculture produced just over 1 million tonnes of methane and about 40,000 tonnes of N2O, not 36.4 million tonnes. The deputy editor claimed the 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases was shorthand for ‘livestock emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents’ and was quoted from the NZ Inventory and was accurate. I countered that CO2 equivalents are not a greenhouse gas, they are a figure on a piece of paper. Further I said that in the article it had said the 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases produced by agriculture are far worse than carbon dioxide. If the figure of 36.4 million tonnes had been carbon dioxide equivalents then why on earth would you say they are far worse than carbon dioxide? Surely the reporter knows what ‘equivalent’ means.

The article was either inaccurate by quantifying livestock emissions at 36.4 million tonnes of gas when it should have been just over 1 million, or it was inaccurate because it described the 36.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents as far worse than carbon dioxide. The importance of this was that the Herald was grossly overstating agricultures emissions because it described them as 36.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases which were far worse than carbon dioxide.

Because the deputy editor did not accept my argument and refused to correspond further I decided to take my complaint to the Press Council.

Below is a link to the Press Council ruling in my favour. Please read it, I put an enormous effort into it and so much time you wouldn’t believe. Not many complaints are upheld so it means a lot to me that someone like the Press Council saw my point of view. This business is the most frustrating thing I have ever been involved in, it is frustrating because I know what we are saying is right, livestock emissions are not to blame for any global warming yet it seems the nation is deaf to what we say.

It is such a fight to get heard with a media that is so anti farming and pro global warming. This decision by the Press Council may or may not help in that regard but I am buoyed by this decision. Any victory is a good one, it gives us hope and encouragement and as well as that anything that makes the media sit up and take notice that they can not change the truth at will to suit their own agendas is a good thing. When our media report non facts as facts it is propaganda.  In a free press propaganda needs to be called for what it is. It is my hope that my efforts in this matter did highlight the fact that we are being fed propaganda and now the Herald at least might think twice about doing it again.

I have a complaint in to the Broadcasting Standards Authority against TV One News because they stated that agriculture was NZ’s biggest polluter. I complained that this was inaccurate because farmers can not be polluters unless they pollute and they are not doing that with CO2, CH4, N2O or CO2equivalents because none of them are pollutants.   I will let you know. Seems fairly straight forward to me but the BSA has previously ruled against a similar complaint. TVNZ used the previous BSA ruling when they rejected my complaint. In my complaint to the BSA I argued the previous decision was wrong and explained why. It will be interesting to see how they deal with it.

Here is a link to the decision of The Press Council as reported by the NZ Herald on page B8 of Saturdays NZ Herald. The deputy editor claims in it that the Press Council made a factual error when they said how many times the Herald had used the term ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ but that is all quite irrelevant to the claim because all it does is suggest that the writer did mean carbon dioxide equivalents when he used the term greenhouse gases. If that is the case he was still inaccurate when he claimed they were far worse than carbon dioxide and that is the inaccuracy the Press Council pinged him for.

Click here for Herald report on the  Press Council ruling



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