Graham Readfearn

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Graham Readfearn is an independent journalist based in Queensland, Australia, with 15 years experience as a reporter and writer on newspapers, magazines, radio and online.

In Australia, Graham's features and commentary on climate change and sustainability issues appear regularly for The Guardian, G Magazine, ABC Environment, The Drum and Crikey.

In his native UK, Graham worked on daily regional newspapers for five years at The Gazette in Blackpool and The Yorkshire Post in Leeds. His campaigns highlighted major malpractices at a chemical reprocessing factory and helped secure better payments for war pensioners.

A long-running campaign to increase the levels of physical education in UK schools was quoted in British Parliament and won him the regional sports writer of the year award from Britain’s Sports Writers’ Association.

He moved to London and the BBC’s national 24-hour news and sport radio network FiveLive to work as a broadcast journalist, script writer and producer.

During two years there, he was part of the team producing the live rolling coverage of the New York September 11 attacks and was studio producer as news broke of an IRA bomb in London’s Ealing suburb. In the wake of British race riots, he conceived and co-produced a live three-hour programme on multicultural issues from Europe's largest Indian curry restaurant.

After a career-break to travel the world he returned to the UK as a freelance feature writer covering social affairs, youth issues, regeneration, social enterprise and sustainability for national magazines and newspapers.

After moving to Australia in 2005, he was a feature writer for Queensland's main daily newspaper, The Courier-Mail, where he launched his first environment blog, GreenBlog, writing more than 650 posts and moderating in excess of 14,000 comments.

He likes chickens (he's got six), his kids (he's got two), his wife (just the one), coffee and other things - although not necessarily in that order.

Graham occasionally blogs at www.readfearn.com

Research Links Climate Science Denial To Conspiracy Theories, But Skeptics Smell A Conspiracy

IF the world's conspiratorial blogosphere was broken up into food items on a wedding buffet table, then an eclectic array of plate-fillers would surely be on offer.

There would be canapés topped with faked moon landings and hors d'oeuvres of Government-backed plots to assassinate civil rights leaders.

Sandwich fillings would come from US military staff at Roswell in New Mexico (cheese and alien, anyone?). The alcoholic punch would be of the same vintage as that which the British Royal family gave Princess Diana's chauffeur, as part of their plot to kill her. All of the catering would be provided by the New World Order.

Then there's the salad of human-caused climate change being a hoax, with the world's climate scientists, national academies and the declining Arctic sea-ice all in on the conspiracy.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Western Australia (UWA), is about to publish research which shows that a strong indicator of the rejection of climate science is a willingness to accept conspiracy theories.

Anti-turbine Activist Given Role as Observer on Australian Wind Power Health Review

THERE are very few health symptoms these days which anti-wind power activists and suggestible and anxious residents have not at some point blamed on those spinning steel turbine blades.

According to a list compiled by Simon Chapman, the University of Sydney's Professor of Public Health and much-awarded enemy of the tobacco industry, wind farms have been blamed for more than 180 different symptoms including weak bladders, cancers, weight gain, weight loss, herpes, kidney damage and, in one case, a woman having not one, but five menstrual periods in a single month.

Apparently, wind farms also cause chickens to be hatched with crossed beaks (and eggs being laid without yolks), cats to produce small litters, horses to get club feet and crickets to disappear.

Chapman noted recently at The Conversation that in Australia health complaints about wind farms have been relatively recent, despite some wind farms having been in operation for almost 20 years. In one area, Chapman said complaints had only been made after “a visit to the area by a vocal opponent, spreading anxiety”.

The Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council has begun its second review of the “evidence” for such claims, examining studies and reports from around the world. The agency's 2010 review looked at a range of issues which anti-wind groups often cite as the causes of symptoms in people living in wind farm areas. These included noise, low frequency sound and infrasound, shadow flicker, blade glint and electromagnetic radiation.

The review concluded that in each case, there was no evidence that wind turbines could have a direct impact on people's health. The review said it was possible that people were getting annoyed by their sound, but also pointed out that a wind farm with 10 turbines at a distance of 350m was about as loud as a quiet bedroom. People were more likely to be annoyed by the sound if they also didn't like the look of turbines on the landscape.

Andrew Bolt Cuts Ties With Climate Science Denying Galileo Movement Over Alleged Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theory

ANDREW Bolt is Australia's loudest and most popular climate science doubt-spreader who just loves to stoke the fires of environmental conspiracy theorists with his daily splurge of blog posts and his weekly radio and TV shows.

The blogger and columnist in the Murdoch-owned News Ltd press describes climate change as a ”religious movement” and says climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy.

Bolt allows his commenters to refer to the United Nations as the “United Nazis” and regularly joins the “one world government” conspiracy theorists while pulling quotes out of context to insinuate “warmists” have ambitions of totalitarian “global management”. He maligns solar power at every opportunity and claims wind farms are an “insult to the intelligence”.

But there is at least one conspiracy theory which Andrew Bolt isn't happy to endorse. Up until last week, Bolt was listed as an adviser to one of Australia's most active climate denialist organisations the Galileo Movement. But then what happened?

In a report late last month in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Galileo Movement's project manager Malcolm Roberts, a former mining industry consultant, was asked if recent research led by US physicist Professor Richard Muller had swayed the group's thinking on human-caused climate change. The SMH report read

Mr Roberts said climate change science had been captured by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''. He said he understood that the group's views might sound strange, but claimed they were becoming increasingly popular.

''It does sound outlandish,'' Mr Roberts said. ''I, like you, was reluctant to believe it [but] there are significant things going on in Australia that people are waking up to. The UN's climate front is just a part of the overall UN 'Agenda 21', which is the sustainability program and the biodiversity program … But the biggest one's the UN agenda for global governance.''

The bit about “banking families” made its way to Bolt, who was apparently spooked and wrote Roberts an email saying his words “sounded very much like one of those Jewish world conspiracy theories that I despise”. After getting a reply, Bolt wrote:

Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

Bolt then asked to be removed from the list of the Galileo Movement's advisers, which is a veritable who's who of climate science denial, listing the likes of Lord Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer and the Cato Institute's Pat Michaels. Popular Sydney radio host Alan Jones is Galileo's patron. Will any of them feel the need to follow Bolt?

Victory Declared For The Climate Science Denialists

A VICTORY has been declared in the field of climate change but the lap of honour is not being run by research scientists or renewable energy bosses, or by coral reefs, drought-stricken farmers or the citizens of low-lying countries.

Rather, if you accept as valid this declaration of victory from one of Australia’s leading thinkers, then those popping the champagne corks are the fossil fuel lobby.

Standing by the track cheering this triumph, are the conservative think tanks and the free market ideologues that believe the world should be run on their terms. To follow the analogy through to the bitter end, the losers are everyone else.

Professor Robert Manne, a political philosopher at La Trobe University, is making this declaration in a 7000-word essay published tomorrow in The Monthly magazine – its cover screaming “Victory of the Denialists: How Climate Science Was Vanquished”.

Manne’s essay charts the decades-long effort to spread doubt and confusion about the science of human-caused climate change, focusing on the think tanks and corporations that created and backed a “relentless” campaign in the United States which has infected other parts of the western world, including Australia.

Manne draws on already published books and research papers about the climate denial industry, and so in that respect close watchers won’t find anything new. But it is his declaration that climate science denialists have won which will stick in the throat of many climate change campaigners and science communicators.

I asked Professor Manne why he had come to that conclusion.

Climate Science Denier Debunks Greenhouse Theory With Two Fish Cooler Boxes And A Roll Of Cling Film

cling film, useful for wrapping food and debunking climate change, apparently

SOMETIMES in the world of climate science “scepticism”, things can become a little surreal. A bit odd, if you will, to the point where you need to inflict a sharp pain upon your person to confirm you've not drifted off into an alternate reality.

Like the time, for example, when Australian mainstream TV station Channel Seven chose a “climate expert” who once wrote a book called “Pawmistry” detailing how to read your cat's paws. 

Or the time when a Christian fundamentalist claimed the Victorian bushfires were his god’s revenge for the state’s “incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb”. 

Then there was the time when US free market think-tank the Heartland Institute said “the people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

To me, the odd thing about these instances is not that they actually happened or that there are people with enough arrogance and ideology to believe their own fantasies. What's odd, is that people in positions of influence still associate themselves with them.

Australians Beware: Soon The Climate Science Deniers Will Be In Charge

ANYONE who places stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn't) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that a Liberal-led coalition will sweep to power at next year's Federal election in Australia - the world's biggest exporter of coal and on track to be the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas.

Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap”. Views shared among Abbott's parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.

The Liberal-National Party's new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell are currently presiding over a massive boom in coal and gas projects. Both have said they're unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the country's main science agancy the CSIRO and the country's Bureau of Meteorology, plus every major science academy on the planet.

Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.

Donna Laframboise Flown To Australia By Climate Science Denying Think Tank

CANADIAN blogger and climate science sceptic Donna Laframboise has flown off for a tour of Australia to tell anyone willing to listen that the world's foremost body on climate change, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is something resembling a shambling mess.

Laframboise's trip has been organised by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a long history of promoting doubt about the science of human-caused climate change and the risks of the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels.

The blogger, who describes herself as an investigative journalist, gets to visit Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to promote her book “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World's Top Climate Expert - IPCC Expose.

The IPA describe's Laframboise as a “world renowned author” which is stretching credibility to breaking point. This “world renowned author” has written just two books. Her first was about feminism published in 1996. The Delinquent Teenager is her second, and is currently ranked #17952 in the book seller Amazon's Kindle store [#41,202 in the U.S. Amazon Kindle Store.]

Essentially the book makes three central claims. The first is that the IPCC has engaged several young scientists which Laframboise says goes against the IPCC's claims that they use the world's top scientists. A second is that some of the scientists working on some of the reports have links to environmental groups which are not always made clear. A third is that the IPCC reports use too much non-peer reviewed literature.

All of these arguments are used as a proxy to question the science. Yet the IPCC's main climate change reports (the latest being the 2007 Assessment Report 4, the next being AR5 currently being worked on by more than 800 authors and expected some time in late 2013 or early 2014) don't actually do any science.

They are reviews - albeit almighty ones - of research being conducted at institutions around the world and of scientific papers published in journals.  This means that even if the IPCC was found to be run by a small group of mentally-challenged llamas, this wouldn't affect the science on human-caused climate change. In essence, Laframboise's book is one giant strawman argument.

What The World's Richest Woman Gina Rinehart Thinks About Climate Change

SHE is the richest woman on the planet with a personal fortune approaching $30 billion thanks to her coal and iron ore businesses.

But when it comes to arguably the planet's most pressing problem - human-caused climate change - the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart dismisses out of hand not only the issue, but the expertise of the world's climate science community.

Now, Rinehart, the head and owner of Hancock Prospecting, has revealed that she wants to use her substantial stakes in two leading Australian media companies to be able to promote the views of climate science deniers.

Earlier this week, the publicly-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative television documentary Four Corners looked at Ms Rinehart's life story.

Her climate science denial did not appear in the broadcast, but the ABC did ask her about it and  has released the answers to questions on the issue of climate change and her promotion of climate scepticism.

The program comes as Rinehart is engaged in a very public fight with the board of Fairfax, the media company which owns the nation's most respected newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

As reported by Fairfax, Rinehart told the ABC that she would consider selling her 19 per cent shareholding in the struggling company unless she is given three board seats and the right to influence editorial policy.

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.

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.

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