AN Australian Federal MP is planning to join some of the world’s noisiest deniers of the science of climate change at a conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks time.
George Christensen, the National Party member for Dawson in the coal-friendly state of Queensland, will be hanging around the Mandelay Bay Resort with a rag-tag bunch of mostly long-retired academics and well paid think-tank associates for the Heartland Instituteconference, starting on 7 July.
The Heartland Institute, funded over the years by fossil fuel corporations and conservative philanthropists, is itself one of America’s loudest climate science denial organisations. This will be the organisation’s ninth gathering of climate sceptics, denialists and fossil fuel apologists.
Just to push the envelope further, the institute issued a press release stating: “Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers and tyrants.”
Glad we got that one cleared up.
Christensen has put his own “sceptical” views on climate change on the record in the past. He is not sure that humans can cause climate change.
In his maiden speech to Australia’s Parliament, Christensen said: “Despite what the political and media elite tell us to think, the truth is the science on climate change is not settled.”
In November 2013, Christensen told Parliament that his doubts about climate change came from “the well-publicised antics” of climate scientists when thousands of private emails were illegally hacked from Britain’s the University of East Anglia and then published.
Numerous investigations into the so-called “climategate” affair found there had been no scientific misconduct, but this news obviously had not reached Christensen.
Christensen also promoted Heartland's climate change reports which he said were from “real climate scientists” and showed “the science is nowhere near to being settled”.
In Parliament in February, he downplayed a spate of “so-called record heat waves” by saying other parts of the globe had experienced “record cold”. In fact, according to the US National Climate Data Center, January 2014 was the globe’s fourth hottest since records began in 1880 and was the “347th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average”.
I wanted to know more about Christensen’s trip to the Heartland conference and his views on climate change, so I emailed his press officer. Here’s what I asked.
It's amazing what qualifies for a tax break in Australia these days.
The climate science misinformation promotion unit at the Institute of Public Affairs, a Melbourne-based “free market” think tank, are currently passing the hat around to raise cash to publish a book on climate change.
The IPA has been pushing and promoting climate science denial since the late 1980s, when it published an article in its magazine asking if there really was a greenhouse effect.
According to an email to supporters earlier this month from the IPA’s executive director John Roskam, the think tank has raised $144,545 towards a $175,000 target to publish a book Climate Change: The Facts 2014.
Roskam reminded supporters that their donation for the book would be “tax deductible” and those prepared to part with $400 or more more would even get their name on the back cover.
The list of chapter authors is a predictable line up of denialists and contrarians picked from the blogosphere, conservative media outlets and the associates of secretly funded conservative think tanks.
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.
Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation hosted The Heartland Institute's CEO Joseph Bast, along with two of Heartland's contracted climate denial scientists (Willie Soon and Bob Carter), to present their new report that denies the seriousness of global warming. Greenpeace was there to ask Heartland about the report's funders, including billionaire Barre Seid, and to challenge Heartland's assertion that their work has any scientific validity (it doesn't). See the video for yourself.
SHELVES in popular book stores can be undiscerning little buggers, as can the book stores themselves.
For example, I recently had cause to wander through the tightly-bound and bulging aisles of my local Dymocks book store in Brisbane, Australia. They have some really quite “special” offerings both online and in-store.
Even though we essentially know that astrology is, for all intents and purposes, basically b******s, I can report that the paperback version of “Practical Astrology” is “in stock”.
Failing that, there's also “Homeopathy for your Cat” within the pages of which you can find out how magic water can cure your ginger's urinary tract issue.
Are you a book-shopping parent who has “wished for a handbook on each child”? Well tough, because Dymocks has sold out of “Homeopathy and Your Child” so you'll have to work out your kid's “physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs” some other way (by the way, I'm not singling out Dymocks here - most of the big high street book sellers also hawk similar enlightenment-crushing garbage).
CLIMATE science denialist radio host Chris Smith - of the shock-jock variety - got a little upset recently at a decision made quietly more than six months ago by James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.
“What a bunch of weak pu**ies - James Cook, your management is an absolute disgrace,” screamed an apoplectic Smith on his top-rating 2GB afternoon Sydney show, after directing his listeners to pick up the phone and call the university to complain.
What had the folks at JCU done to attract such an aggressive response?
As I reported two weeks ago, JCU had decided not to extend the unpaid adjunct professorial status of Dr Robert Carter, who Smith had ready on the line for an interview. Dr Carter (pictured) is a globe-trotting geologist who advises at least ten climate sceptic organisations and “think tanks” from the UK and Germany to the US and Australia.
Dr Carter's “official status” with JCU - where he had held an unpaid adjunct position since 2002 after retiring - had ended on 1 January 2013, the university told me. Before his retirement, he had worked as a Professor at the University from 1989.
This belated news of Dr Carter's “non status” had also infuriated climate sceptic blogger JoNova. Both JoNova and Smith claimed that Dr Carter had been booted out because of his fringe-dwelling views on climate change. The Townsville Bulletin declared Dr Carter had been “dumped” because of his “outspoken views”.
Dr Carter dismisses the role of burning fossil fuels in changing the climate, a position at odds with about 97 per cent of peer-reviewed climate change research and every major science academy in the world. Some of the world's highest profile groups spreading unfounded doubt about the risks and causes of climate change, not to mention a number of high-profile media outlets, turn to Dr Carter for comment, advice and sometimes paid consultancy and provide a forum for his views.
After events over the last year or so, the chaps at the fossil fuel-funded “think tank” might want to add a new section with the title “Stuff We Wish We Hadn’t Wrote”.
The Heartland Institute, for those who don’t know, is a Chicago-based group promoting any view or position that argues we shouldn’t do anything about human-caused climate change. They run campaigns, hold conferences, write op-eds in the media and pay contrarian scientists.
Right there on the think-tank’s homepage, the group proudly displays a quote from The Economist magazine describing Heartland as “The world's most prominent think-tank promoting scepticism about man-made climate change.”
Yet as is the case with most things Heartland says about climate change, things are not always as they seem. Heartland’s boastful quote is taken out of context and comes from this article in The Economist, documenting a spectacular own goal by Heartland.
Heartland, The Economist wrote, had lost an estimated $825,000 in funding after running a billboard campaign that equated acceptance of human-caused global warming to the values of serial killer Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski.
So when The Economist was describing Heartland as a prominent think-tank promoting climate science denial, it wasn’t doing it in a good way. No wonder then that Heartland didn’t hyperlink the quote.
This brings us to Heartland’s most recent example of self-aggrandizing – implying the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) thinks they’re awesome because it translated two of Heartland’s reports, only to be told by aforementioned academy to apologise for misrepresenting what they had actually done. Here are the nuts and bolts of the story. On June 11, Heartland released a statement detailing how CAS had translated two volumes of its NIPCC reports – Climate Change Reconsidered.
PERHAPS somebody should write a pocket guide book with the title: “How to spot you've been suckered by a fake grassroots movement”.
Once it's written, these guide books could be distributed free of charge to crowds at anti-carbon tax rallies, US Tea Party marches and pretty much any gathering of a “movement” telling you that you're freedom is being put at risk by big governments, nanny states, new world orders or communists disguised as climate scientists or public health professionals.
But why the sudden need for the guide?
There's now emerging evidence that if these really are “grassroots” movements, then many of the seeds and the fertilisers are being supplied by major corporations and “libertarian” billionaires. It turns out that the US Tea Party movement and its calls for “freedom” from government intervention wasn't some organic uprising of community concern after all.
A new academic study documents how the Tea Party was envisioned and planned by tobacco company executives in concert with Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group established by oil billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.
JAMES Delingpole is a UK columnist waging a long personal jihad against wind farms, environmentalists and climate science.
A resident blogger and columnist at The Daily Telegraph, Delingpole is probably best known for being among the first mainstream columnists to declare, wrongly as it turned out, that emails illegally hacked from an influential climate research unit showed scientists were trying to con the public.
So he is the perfect person to be appealing for people to donate their cash to the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think tank which has been working for about 20 years on a campaign to mislead the public about climate science and the impact of carbon pricing.
In the appeal, Delingpole lauds the IPA's campaign against climate science and action on climate change. Readers of the appeal might be forgiven for thinking the IPA is struggling for cash. Says Delingpole: “Their budget is always stretched. If you don’t give them money they’ll go broke.”
Yet the IPA's most recent financial returns to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission suggest that rather than scrambling around for spare change, the think-tank is in fact in rude financial health.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.