David Icke is a weirdo.
That’s not me saying that, but Canadian Mark Steyn, who has been crowned “world’s greatest conservative commentator and writer” by the Institute of Public Affairs.
Steyn is currently on a speaking tour around Australia, courtesy of the IPA, where the Canadian author and commentator will bless Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Cloncurry (?) with his greatness. He's already been on the ABC and Sky News.
Steyn’s characterization of Icke came during his last IPA-sponsored visit to Australia in 2012. David Icke was a professional footballer, then a sports presenter, and then, after meeting a psychic, an all-seeing son of the “godhead”.
Icke is a conspiracy theorist of some repute, who says the world is – and I’m summarising here - run by reptilian illuminati overlords. Icke also has his eyes on a tour of Australia.
Icke also thinks the moon is a “hollowed-out planetoid” and more likely a spaceship. It used to have buildings on it, but NASA got rid of the evidence (I did interview Icke once, many hollowed-out moons ago).
David Icke is a weirdo.
Bob Carter has died.
To most members of the general public, the name of that Australian geologist and paleontologist will barely register a flicker of neurons in the temporal lobe.
But to the global community of professional and amateur climate science denialists, misinformers and opponents of climate policy, Carter was an influential giant.
Australia’s peak body representing psychologists has attacked a climate science denial group for a prominent advert taken out in a major national newspaper.
In a stinging letter to The Australian newspaper, which ran the half-page advert, the APS said the authors had shown “cognitive biases” in ignoring a “huge body of scientific evidence” on climate change.
The advertisers identified themselves only as “The Climate Study Group” in the page five advert that appeared on 7 August under the title “Psychology and the New Climate Alarm”.
DeSmog has found the group members have links to mining, finance, agriculture and free market “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
The Institute of Pubic Affairs holds the unofficial and dubious title of being Australia’s leading climate science denial organisation.
The so-called “think tank”, based in Melbourne, promotes fringe views on climate science from non-experts while attacking renewable energy.
Now if you were a coal company, you’d be concerned how for many decades scientists have linked the burning of your product to climate change.
You might be worried too that investment in renewable energy is going through the roof while the cost of power from aforementioned renewables is going in the opposite direction.
A short-sighted coal company might decide to start launching critiques of the science of climate change and start having a crack at renewables while at the same time selling its product as some sort of silver bullet that can solve global poverty with a single well-aimed shot.
This brings us back to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and its latest report, titled: “The life saving potential of coal: How Australian coal could help 82 million Indians access electricity”. It could have been written by the coal industry.
WHEN the facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available.
Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.
Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.
In the space of six days, Rupert Murdoch's The Australian newspaper has published five news stories and an opinion piece attacking the credibility of the Australian government's weather and climate agency, the Bureau of Meteorology.
I've covered the guts of the early stories over on my Planet Oz blog for The Guardian.
But the core of it is that Dr Jennifer Marohasy, a former Institute of Public Affairs free market think tankerer, is claiming that the BoM has, in her words, “corrupted the official temperature record so it more closely accords with the theory of anthropogenic global warming”.
Marohasy is a researcher at Central Queensland University with her work funded by another climate change “sceptic”.
She has has not published her analysis in any journal, yet The Australian's Graham Lloyd has deemed the claims of a climate science sceptic on blogs worthy enough of five news pieces.
I just want to deal with his latest story here, that comments on the BoM's process of transparency. The story includes this bit:
The bureau has been under fire for not making publicly available the methodology used for homogenisation. Michael Asten from the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University said confidence in BOM’s data would increase “if and when BOM publishes or supplies its homogenisation algorithms, a step which would be quite consistent with existing requirements of the better peer-reviewed journals.’’ BOM said its methods had been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals but did not say where or in what form.
This claim is - oh what's the word - bolloxxs (sorry kids).
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 Institute conference, 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.
Before its 2012 conference, Heartland took out a billboard advertisement with a picture of terrorist and triple murderer Ted “unabomber” Kaczynski next to the words: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”
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.
THERE’S a popular talking point coming from climate change denialists that all people who accept the science and the need to act on it are somehow blinded by faith.
In Australia, climate science contrarian columnists can barely touch their keyboards without typing out the words “global warming faith” or explaining how human-caused global warming is some sort of “new religion”.
This “climate religion” narrative often goes hand-in-hand with another favourite denialist talking point where climate scientists are only doing what they do because there’s a dollar in it.
Presumably the laws of physics, the melting ice sheets, the increasing risk of bushfires, the hottest decades on record and the acidifying oceans are also waiting for their cash.
Maurice Newman, the man hand-picked by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be the government’s top business advisor, loves both of these debating points.
Newman has described climate scientists as being a “global warming priesthood” and belonging to a new “religion”. In a second opinion column in two weeks in The Australian, Newman repeats his cynicism over the IPCC and climate scientists, describing them as a “cartel” that “will deny all contrary evidence”. Newman even repeats the myth that in the 1970s scientists were certain the world was heading for global cooling, when in fact, as this study shows, a healthy majority of scientific papers were predicting the opposite.
Yet Newman has a deep belief system of his own, having long been associated with a form of “classic liberalism” – a particular world view which advocates small government and low regulation of the activities of businesses.
Not only that, but he is a member of a global society of influential business people, academics and think tank associates known as the Mont Pelerin Society who share the same broad ideology.
The Mont Pelerin Society
The Mont Pelerin Society was established in 1947 by free market economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek.
Maurice Newman, a Mont Pelerin member since 1976, has long been an admirer of the work of Hayek and fellow free market economist Milton Friedman, a past president of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Newman was responsible for bringing Friedman to Australia in the mid-1970s, at a time when Newman was helping to set up the Centre for Independent Studies – a Sydney-based free market think tank.
Mont Pelerin’s website explains that while all members don’t agree on everything, “they see danger in the expansion of government, not least in state welfare, in the power of trade unions and business monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation.”
The Society, which holds a meeting annually in different parts of the world, also explains how its members see their society “as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by those classical economists, political scientists, and philosophers who have inspired many in Europe, America and throughout the Western World.”
To become a member, individuals have to be nominated by a current member and then seek endorsement by the membership committee before being endorsed.
DeSmogBlog has obtained a full list of the society’s members that includes senior representatives of many of the world’s foremost “free market” think tanks actively pushing back on proposed policy solutions to tackle climate change.
The list, from 2010, includes almost 500 people from 52 countries, with the bulk of members coming from the United States and the United Kingdom. The 70-page list includes private contact details. DeSmogBlog has decided to publish only extracts with contact details redacted.
Among the notable members is Charles Koch (list excerpt here), the US oil billionaire who has been a Mont Pelerin Society member since 1970.
A LEADING Australian free-market think tank with close ties to the country's conservative Liberal Party has revealed its plan for climate change - abolish it.
Aside from the current Labor-led government's mud-wrestling over its leadership, all opinion polls point to a landslide victory for the Tony Abbott-led Liberal Party at the next election, which has been set for September.
The Institute of Public Affairs, a leading promoter of climate science denial and misrepresentation, has revealed its recommendations for the next government in a document outlining budget cuts. The plan was written by Alan Moran, director of the think tank's deregulation unit.
The document made the pages of The Australian newspaper but the report did not mention the document's detailed plans to obliterate all climate change functions in the country's public sector. In one section the document outlines the think tank's recommendations for public sector departments. In delaing with the future of the “Climate Change and Energy Efficiency” department, Moran writes simply: “Abolish”.
Pretty much every other federal government function to administer climate change policy, research global warming, ensure sustainable development or support renewable energy gets chopped under Moran's plan. Many publicly-funded research programs and agencies are either chopped entirely or cut to the bone.
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.
As reported on DeSmogBlog, the study “‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party” shows how the industry wanted to hide their profit motive and fear of the government regulating their deadly products behind a “movement to change the way that people think”, as R.J Reynolds Tobacco's head of national field operations Tim Hyde described it.