- BEc (Economics), Australian National University
- LLB (Law), Australian National University
Source: Parliamentary Biography.
After languishing in the darkness for ten years, a national climate policy in Canada could take shape during an anticipated first ministers meeting in Vancouver next month. The meeting fulfills a...
Source: Parliamentary Biography.
ONE block east of Grand Central station, in a skyscraper on 42nd St, is the office of Australia’s Consul-General.
It’s a high profile diplomatic role and one that gives business leaders, thinkers and politicians the chance to see what drives the Australian Government of the day.
In April, Australia will have a new Consul-General taking up that seat on New York's 42nd Street.
Seemingly in lock-step with the prevailing views of the conservative government in Australia, that man will be Nick Minchin — a rusted-on denier of the science of human-caused climate change and power broker in the country’s Liberal (that’s conservative) Party.
Minchin has claimed the “extreme Left” has used environmentalism as a way to try and “de-industrialise” the western world. He thinks human-caused climate change is a scare story.
Minchin’s appointment was announced by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who said the consulate role was “high profile” and that it could be used to “influence perceptions of Australia” in the city.
She said Minchin’s role would be to influence “key individuals and companies across a range of sectors particularly business and politics.”
Things could get a little awkward if talk at those business and political lunches turns to climate change — which it surely will in a city acutely aware of its susceptibility to climate change impacts.
In April 2012, Minchin ridiculed the notion that human-caused climate change was a risk, writing in a column that “despite the hype” the ice at the world’s poles was not melting and that “our cities aren’t being submerged.”
Six months later, New York was submerged by the storm surge from ex-cyclone Sandy.
When the industry group was launched in 2008, the message was that coal — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning globally — could be part of the future.
“I believe we can limit greenhouse gases,” declared one of the wholesome American citizens depicted in the ACCCE television adverts.
One can only presume that the ACCCE has now dropped its hopes of limiting greenhouse gases, given that its latest “landmark report” claims the benefits to society of putting extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere massively outweigh the costs. Surely the message should be, “burn baby, burn”?
The Social Costs Of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon report by ACCCE claims the benefits of adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere are between 50 and 500 times higher than the costs.
But the report attacks climate change science using sources as ideologically tainted as the Heartland Institute – an organisation which once ran a billboard campaign with a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski to claim that the “most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
At its core, the ACCCE report is one long misrepresentation of the impact of coal on the planet, from its effects on growing food crops to raising sea levels to fuelling risk-laden climate change.
A couple weeks back, I found myself enmeshed briefly in a local debate here in Calgary regarding the validity of the argument that a continent-wide spell of frigid weather raised a serious challenge to the scientific foundations of anthropogenic climate change. In the depths of the cold snap, a rookie city councillor, Sean Chu, tweeted:
The exchange and other snarky dismissals of Chu’s line of reasoning got picked up by the Calgary Herald, which ran a news item on its blog and a follow-up piece defending Chu against “anthropogenic global warming religionists” on the op-ed page.
As we were engaged in our local rhetorical joust, climate change deniers continent-wide were re-enacting the same little drama on stages big and small, eventually inspiring one of those killer rapid-fire round-ups of TV news talking-head idiocy on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “Apparently decades of peer reviewed study can be, like a ficus plant, destroyed in one cold weekend,” Stewart concluded.
In itself, any given one of these minor foofaraws (or are they argle-bargles?) is barely worth wasting the pixels contained in this sentence. But as a whole — as a tenaciously consistent, recurring pattern of discourse — they actually illustrate a singular challenge to concerted and sustained climate change action. So if you’ll stick with me, let’s unpack the mess a bit and take a look.
It’s known as the Kochtopus – the extensive network of think tanks, institutes, university departments, political funding arms and “grassroots” activist groups funded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch.
The multi-tentacled network has pumped tens of millions of dollars into groups that deny the risks of human-caused climate change.
But if it is Koch cash that helps fuel these groups, then what is it that fuels the Koch brothers themselves beyond the obvious financial interest?
As DeSmogBlog has revealed, Charles Koch is a long-standing member of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) – a global group of industrialists, academics and economists who share the “neoliberal” ideology of limiting government control.
If the Koch network has many groups dangling from its tentacles, then Charles Koch’s membership with the Mont Pelerin Society provides a window into the ideological heart of the Kochtopus.
DeSmogBlog today publishes the global membership directory of the Mont Pelerin Society as it was in 2010, with all personal contact details redacted.
This is a guest post by James Lawrence Powell.
I have brought my previous study (see here and here) up-to-date by reviewing peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals over the period from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013. I found 2,258 articles, written by a total of 9,136 authors. (Download the chart above here.) Only one article, by a single author in the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. I discuss that article here.
The conservative UK-based Centre for Policy Studies recently published a study on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale gas. The skinny: it's yet another case study of “frackademia,” and the co-authors have a financial stake in the upstart Chinese fracking industry.
Titled “Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking“ and co-authored by Richard Muller and his daughter Elizabeth “Liz” Muller, it concludes that fracking's climate change impacts are benign, dismissing many scientific studies coming to contrary conclusions.
In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Richard Muller — a self-proclaimed “converted skeptic” on climate change — said he and Liz had originally thought of putting together this study “about two years ago.”
“We quickly realized that natural gas could be a very big player,” he said. “The reasons had to do with China and the goal of the paper is to get the environmentalists to recognize that they need to support responsible fracking.”
The ongoing debate over fracking in the UK served as the impetus behind the Centre for Policy Studies — a non-profit co-founded by former right-wing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1974 — hosting this report on its website, according to Richard Muller.
“They asked for it because some environmentalists are currently opposing fracking in the UK, and they wanted us to share our perspective that fracking is not only essential for human health but its support can be justified for humanitarian purposes,” he said.
This isn't the first time Liz Muller has unapologetically sung the praises of fracking and promoted bringing the practice to China. In April, she penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas.”
Jeff Jacoby’s recent Boston Globe op-ed misses the mark on the climate consensus. His argument boils down to the claim that there’s no consensus among scientists on the causes and effects of global warming – plus, the very idea of consensus is “authoritarian and anti-scientific” anyway. Both parts of this assertion completely mischaracterize the way that science works, using previously debunked factoids that don’t belong in a news outlet of this prominence. Climate scientists agree that human activity is warming our planet, and that this is causing harmful impacts that will get worse if we do nothing.
A few examples show the thinness of Jacoby’s justification:
Meteorologists actually support the facts of human-caused climate change. Jacoby cites a recent survey of the American Meteorological Society, even though the study authors themselves have already spoken up to directly refute his interpretation of their work. In fact, 73% of AMS members surveyed agree that human activities have contributed to warming, and that number rises among those with greater scientific expertise. Among meteorologists actively publishing on climate topics, 93% agreed.
Furthermore, meteorologists are just a subset of the scientific community. The 93% consensus among meteorologists does not refute the 97% consensus (established via multiple different survey methods) among the broader climate science community that humans are warming our climate.
AUSTRALIA finally has a vocal cheerleader at the COP19 United Nations climate talks currently taking place in Warsaw - a climate denial activist think tank which rejects the science of human-caused climate change.
The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, a fossil fuel-funded group which denies that emissions from burning fossil fuels cause climate change, declared in a UN-sanctioned press conference inside the talks that the world should be following Australia's lead in repealing laws to price carbon emissions.
Environment groups have been critical of Australia at the talks, giving the country four “Fossil of the Day” awards for slowing down the talks, while one group said Australia is taking an “anti-climate” stance in Warsaw.
Campaigners have been shocked at the rhetoric coming from Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recently described carbon pricing as a “so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one” and characterised moves to financially support developing countries to manage climate change as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”
Marc Morano, the editor of the ClimateDepot denial website, appeared Tuesday alongside CFACT executive director Craig Rucker. Morano unleashed a torrent of previously debunked climate denial talking points to a sparsely populated and occasionally perplexed press conference audience.
“Coal is the moral choice, particularly for the developing world,” said Morano in the CFACT Warsaw press conference - a comment greeted with laughter from many in the room. Conference hosts Poland have been criticised for simultaneously hosting a World Coal Association conference elsewhere in Warsaw.
“The model for the world right now should be Australia,” Morano said. “Australia gets it. Scientifically they get it, politically they get it and particularly when it comes to the United Nations, they get it. They are pulling out of this, they are repealing their carbon tax and Canada seems to be intrigued by what Australia is doing.”
“Australia gets it - they have realised what the United Nations is doing here today. Viva Australia - let's hope the world follows Australia's model,” said Morano, who is a former advisor to Republican Senator James Inhofe, who has said global warming is a scientific “hoax”.
Support from CFACT is not the kind of attention which Australia will welcome.
WHEN speaking to script, Australia's new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott will say that he accepts that human emissions of greenhouse gases are having an impact on the world's climate.
Yet the Liberal Party leader appears to be surrounding himself with ministers and advisers who reject the science of human-caused climate change, with the most outspoken anti-science advocate being Maurice Newman, recently appointed as chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council.
According to Newman, the current government's two key climate science agencies - the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology - “continue to propagate the myth of anthropological climate change”, as he wrote last month in the Australian Financial Review.
Writing in The Australian newspaper in July, Newman described the science of human-caused climate change as a “smokescreen” for “vested interests” and criticised US President Barack Obama for continuing to “champion discredited research”.
Last November Newman, a former stockbroker and chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was again dripping with hatred for climate scientists and “believers”, who he described as being part of a global throng of “fundamentalists” who had “collected hundreds of billions of dollars from naive governments that adopted their faith”.
Since entering Government in September, Tony Abbott has already abolished Australia's publicly-funded Climate Commission, re-iterated his “blood oath” to repeal the country's carbon price legislation and has pushed on with attempts to scrap the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The CEFC has made a reported $500 million in loans since July which have attracted a further $1.6 billion in private investment to projects it has backed.