Graham Readfearn's blog

Tue, 2012-06-19 10:20Graham Readfearn
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Mining Magnate Gina Rinehart Bids For Editorial Control Of Australia's Fairfax Newspapers

WHEN you think the news stories just aren't going your way - when parts of the media just refuse to tow your particular ideological line - what are your options?

For most people, the choices are limited. You could perhaps write a letter to the editor or maybe even pen an opinion piece or start your own blog.

But if you're the world's richest woman with a penchant for climate science denial and a coal and iron ore empire to maintain, then your options are considerably broader.

This week, the Australian oligarch Gina Rinehart took the logical step for someone with a personal fortune approaching $30 billion and bought the opposition.

The mining magnate now holds 19 per cent of all the shares in Fairfax - the Australian media organisation which owns the country's most respected newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne) and the Australian Financial Review.

Thu, 2012-06-14 17:08Graham Readfearn
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Who Is Filling Climate Scientists' Inboxes With Abuse, Intimidation And Hate?

IMAGINE coming in to work and opening your inbox to read an email asking you to “kill yourself” before another note reads “I hope someone puts a bullet between your eyes”.

How about another email where the sender describes themselves as a “one man swat team” telling you to “back the F*** off” or they will “smack the living sh** out of you”.

Another emailer says “I'd kill you in a second if given the chance” and another writes that you have been “blacklisted” and that “your children and family will know because we know where you live… expect us at your door to say hello.”

This is not an imaginary scenario, but is instead a sample from the inbox of climate scientist Professor Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia in the UK, as revealed following a Freedom of Information request released this week.

Professor Jones wasn't alone in the halls of his university. The FOI reveals how a presumably US-based emailer warned that if Professor Edward Acton, the university's vice-chancellor, was to ever travel to America that “we will have plans for you as well. If you bring your family, all the merrier.” The Professor was also reminded of the emailer's Second Amendment rights to carry a gun.

All the emails are date between November 2009 and February 2010, the period immediately after thousands of emails were unlawfully taken from the university. Climate science deniers, commentators and bloggers claimed the “climategate” emails proved human-caused climate change was a hoax, but several high-level independent inquiries found the integrity of the science was intact and that the emails had been taken out of context and misrepresented.

Remarkably, the examples used here (the full release is here on a pdf) are not the worst, nor are they the nastiest.  

This latest release of emails from UEA provide an insight - whether we want it or not - of the campaign of intimidation against Professor Jones which at one point, caused him to consider suicide.

Mon, 2012-05-21 10:37Graham Readfearn
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Who Are The Australian Backers Of Heartland's Climate Denial?

ANY conference worth its salt needs a nice long list of sponsors to give the impression of widespread diverse support for whatever the conference  organisers are advocating.

In the case of the Heartland Institute and their advocacy for the denial of the risks of human-caused climate change, their just-started conference for climate science misinformers in Chicago can boast official supporters from as far and wide as India, England, Austria and New Zealand.

But one of the most devoted and long-standing group of supporters for their climate change denial conferences over the years has come from Australia. This year there are four Australia-based groups listed as “co-sponsors” and over the history of the seven conferences no less than nine different Australian groups have been happy to have their organisation's name hitched to Heartland's colors.

A mistaken impression could be that there's widespread support for Heartland's extremist views in Australia. The word “co-sponsor” gives the impression that these organisations are willing to actually give up money to support. 

Yet in at least one case, and probably several others, being a co-sponsor is as easy as contacting Heartland and saying that you agree with them.
 
The reality is that those supporting Heartland from Australia come from a small circle of active and loud free-market idealogues.
Wed, 2012-02-29 15:59Graham Readfearn
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How Heartland-style Climate Sceptic Campaigns Play "Hide the Deniers" Using Secretive Fund

A LOW-PROFILE funding organisation acting as a middleman for wealthy conservative businesspeople has been quietly backing climate denial campaigns across the US.

The Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund and its partner organisation Donors Trust has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups blocking attempts to limit greenhouse gas pollution and undermining climate science.

Yet the structure of the funds allows the identities of donors and the existence of any vested interests to remain hidden from public view.

Step aside the fakery of “hide the decline”. Say hello to “hide the deniers”.

During the 2009 unlawful release of the private emails of climate scientists, the phrase “hide the decline” became a catch cry for the denial industry as it tried to convince the world that global warming was some kind of hoax.

Sceptics, fake climate experts, conservative politicians and right-wing commentators latched onto the phrase contained in an email from British climate scientist Phil Jones.
 
Sceptics claimed it was evidence scientists were trying to manufacture global temperature records. In fact, Professor Jones's email said nothing of the sort. 
 
Jones, as he explained to many, including the BBC, was referring to data taken from tree rings that, up to the 1960s, had correlated well with global temperatures.
 
But “removing the incorrect impression given by tree rings that temperatures… were not rising”, as Jones explained, just didn’t have the same ring to it as “hide the decline”.
 
The most high profile case involving climate sceptics since that non-scandal of “Climategate” is the ongoing unmasking (or for some, confirmation) of the methods the free-market Heartland Institute think-tank deploys to confuse the public about the dangers of fossil fuel emissions.
 
But the case also gives an insight into how Heartland and other ideologically aligned groups gather their funding while preserving the identity of their wealthy backers.
 
Mon, 2012-02-13 18:10Graham Readfearn
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A Curious Tale of Monckton, Rinehart and Blaming God For Bushfire Deaths

IT was an extraordinary response, but then it was an extraordinary video revealing some extraordinary alliances.

Two weeks ago I posted a story on my blog about a YouTube video featuring one of the world’s least media-shy deniers of human-caused climate change - British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley*.

In the video, the Viscount was in the boardroom of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a free-market think-tank founded by west Australian mining magnate Ron Manners.

The video had been watched only 130 times when I clapped eyes on it following a Twitter post from journalist Leo Hickman, of the UK’s The Guardian. In the video, posted by Mannkal (but since removed… and then reinstated… but possibly removed again by the time you read this), Lord Monckton suggests a good way to get free-market, climate science-denying views into the mainstream media, is simply to find some “super-rich” backers to buy the mainstream media.

As I watched the video last Tuesday evening, news was just emerging that mining billionaire and Asia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, had bought $192 million worth of shares in Fairfax (the publisher of Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and many regional newspapers and city-based radio stations) to take her share in the company to about 14 per cent. To me, these two events were intrinsically linked, and not just because Mr Manners is a personal friend of Ms Rinehart’s.

Thu, 2012-02-02 17:50Graham Readfearn
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Australian Meteorology Bureau Corrects Record On Former Research Head William Kininmonth's Actual Climate Change Experience

WHEN it comes to climate change science, as with most things in life, it pays to listen to actual experts with a solid background in their field.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal and, later, The Australian newspaper, ran an editorial from a group of climate science contrarians which claimed global warming had stopped and that CO2 was food for plants, rather than a potential pollutant. 
 
In a scathing response in the WSJ, also published by The Australian, 38 genuine climate change scientists, explained the original WSJ 16 were “the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology.”
 
“While accomplished,” the response explained, “most of its authors have no expertise in climate science. The few who have are known to hold extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert.”
 
The group also debunked the misleading notion that global warming had stopped. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade,'' the group wrote. “In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter.”
 
Several journalists and bloggers, including Media Matters, have also investigated the expertise of the signatories to the original op-ed, which included members of free market think-tanks, climate science denial organisations and even a former researcher for Exxon.
 
One of the WSJ 16 in question, did appear on paper though to have some solid experience on his CV. William Kininmonth, a long-time sceptic of human caused climate change, was described in the WSJ editorial as the “former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology”.

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