BACK in July last year in a boardroom of a western Australian free-market think tank, the extrovert British climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton was holding court.
The topic for discussion? How to better capture the Australian media to help push a right wing, free-market and climate sceptic agenda. At the time, Lord Monckton was in Australia at the behest of a mining association and Gina Rinehart to deliver a series of talks on climate change and spread his conspiracy theories that human-caused climate change is a left-wing plot to bring down the West.
At one point during the tour, Monckton told a boisterous partisan crowd: “So to the bogus scientists who have produced the bogus science that invented this bogus scare I say, we are coming after you. We are going to prosecute you, and we are going to lock you up.”
Lord Monckton had been invited to Australia by the iron and coal mining boss Rinehart, the country’s richest woman with a rising personal fortune in the region of $20 billion.
Hosting the meeting was the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a group chaired by mining “Hall of Fame” member Ron Manners to promote free-market ideals and low government intervention.
Manners is also a member of Gina Rinehart’s lobby group ANDEV, which has been joined by the Institute for Public Affairs to lobby for a separate low-tax low regulation economic zone for the north of Australia to make mining projects easier to develop.
It would be safe to presume, given Manner’s background in mining and the make-up of his staff, that this aim to lower government intervention would include any regulations and taxes on mining.
TO followers of the climate change policy debate, the extreme conspiratorial rhetoric is all too familiar:
Climate change is a hoax. Environmentalists are just communists in disguise. The United Nations is using efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a smokescreen for installing a world government. Greenies are actually reds. Eco fascists want your freedom.
Such rhetoric is daily bread for many neo-conservative commentators, some climate change deniers and even the occasional elected representative. The language is divisive, often becomes abusive and – regrettably – has become a feature of the manufactured debate over the risk posed by human-caused climate change.
The manifesto of Norwegian terrorist and Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik, currently facing trial for the massacre of 76 people, shows what can happen when the unhinged take the language of the far-right to its ultimate ends.
In the 1500-word document, published online under his Anglicised name Andrew Berwick before the brutal bombing and shootings in Norway, Breivik reveals a hatred for Islam and socialism.
But the manifesto also echoes the beliefs of many climate change deniers and cites the work of Lord Christopher Monckton, Alex Jones and Steve McIntyre.
In December 2009 at a gathering of climate change deniers in Copenhagen, Dr Tom Harris** was shimmering with enthusiasm for his latest project.
Dr Mr. Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based sceptic group the International Climate Science Coalition, explained how he had managed to gather “hundreds” of signatures from “climate experts” who wanted to challenge “supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change” to provide evidence.
Not only that, but it had taken him just “two weeks” to gather the signatures, which he then explained numbered 150 (so much for hundreds).
“This list is growing quickly,” he said, “and we are going to maintain it as something called the register. We expect it eventually to be thousands.”
With such a surge in supporters, how is the global register going a full 18 months on?
NEVER a stranger to controversy or a fossil-fuel funded think-tank, Scotland-based British peer Lord Christopher Monckton has been caught jumping the proverbial climate denial shark just weeks before a nationwide tour of Australia.
In a conference speech in Los Angeles earlier this month, Lord Monckton compared the Australian Government’s climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut to a Nazi, saying his views were “fascist”.
In order to ram his rhetorical point home into the darkened Californian conference hall, Lord Monckton displayed a very large Nazi swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut, whose reports have been informing the Government’s position as it attempts to introduce a price on carbon.
News of the insult on ABC website The Drum sparked blanket newspaper and television coverage across Australia.