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

Millions In Gas Industry Cash Poured Into Public Research In Australia

SO a major United States university has decided to pull the plug on a research institute focussing on energy from gas after questions were raised over its ties to the industry.

Bloomberg reports that the “potential conflicts of interest”  had created  a “cloud of uncertainty” over the work of the Shale Resources and Society Institute at New York's State University at Buffalo.

Investigations led by the non-profit Public Accountability Initiative alleged there were flaws in the institute's research, which had engaged in “industry-spin” while the authors of the institute's sole report had failed to disclose previous industry ties.

In closing down the institute, the university's president Satish Tripathi said in an open letter:  “Conflicts – both actual and perceived – can arise between sources of research funding and expectations of independence when reporting research results. This, in turn, impacted the appearance of independence and integrity of the institute’s research.”

DeSmogBlog has been rather less forgiving, placing the institute's research into a new category it has dubbed “frackademia” in reference to the controversial hydraulic fracturing technology used by the shale gas industry.

Tripathi said that given the university's “geographic situation” in the line of sight of the booming shale gas industry, it was important the university played a role in research into energy and the environment.

But it seems that even the perception that the university might be funded by the industry (it has claimed the institute hadn't received industry cash) was enough for the “cloud of uncertainty” to overshadow work it was doing.

In a similar geographical situation is the University of Queensland in Australia, one of the leading research institutions in a state where a $60 billion boom in the coal seam gas industry is currently underway. 

UQ also has a centre launched to research the coal seam gas industry. Yet the difference here is that the university has openly welcomed millions of dollars of coal seam gas funding.

Gas Industry Attacks Scientists After Research Finds Triple The Normal Levels Of Methane At Australian Gas Fields

LEVELS of the potent greenhouse gas methane have been recorded at more than three times their normal background levels at coal seam gas fields in Australia, raising questions about the true climate change impact of the booming industry.

The findings, which have been submitted both for peer review and to the Federal Department of Climate Change, also raise doubts about how much the export-driven coal seam gas (CSG) industry should pay under the country's carbon price laws.

Southern Cross University (SCU) researchers Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher used a hi-tech measuring device attached to a vehicle to compare levels of methane in the air at different locations in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The gas industry was quick to attack their findings and the scientists themselves.

The Queensland government has already approved several major multi-billion dollar CSG projects worth more than $60 billion, all of which are focussed on converting the gas to export-friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

More than 30,000 gas wells will be drilled in the state in the coming decades and the industry has estimated between 10 per cent and 40 per cent of the wells will undergo hydraulic fracturing.

Climate Science Denialist Lord Monckton's IPCC "Appointment" That Wasn't

IT'S DIFFICULT to really know where to start in describing Lord Christopher Monckton, one of the planet's most outspoken deniers of the risks of human-caused climate change.

You could say he's the leader of the Scotland branch of a fringe UK political party, for example.

Or describe him as the chief policy adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, a climate science-mangling organisation in the US which doesn't disclose its funders.

But earlier this week, Lord Monckton gave himself another title.

In an opinion column about how climate change had nothing to do with the deadly superstorm Sandy, Lord Monckton wrote how he was “an appointed expert reviewer for the forthcoming “Fifth Assessment Report” to be published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Now that's pretty impressive stuff. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gathers and summarises the world's research on climate change.

I wondered how one might be “appointed” as an “expert reviewer”, so I asked the secretariat at the IPCC about the process.

Climate Denialist Aussie Radio Host Must Take Fact-Checking Course, Says Authority

IT'S not been a great few weeks for Alan Jones, arguably Australia's most influential radio personality who believes global warming is a hoax and that climate change science is “witchcraft”.

In a humiliating episode, Jones and his Sydney radio station 2GB have agreed with the country's radio broadcasting watchdog to undergo training in fact-checking after complaints about a statement Jones had made about climate change.

Jones' most recent episode of self-inflicted misery began a few weeks ago, when the veteran broadcaster issued a half-hearted apology to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard after telling a meeting of young Liberals that Ms Gillard's father had “died of shame” over what Jones described as her “lies”.

In the wake of Jones' invective, helped along by a social media campaign, dozens of advertisers pulled support for Jones, who will lose the use of a Mercedes-Benz car loaned to the station by the car maker.

Now the Australian Communications and Media Authority, a government agency which regulates radio broadcasting, has revealed that it has agreed a series of measures with Jones and 2GB over his fact-mangling on climate change.

From Kermit to Coal, Book Reveals How World's Top Brands Greenwash The Public

“I GUESS it is easy being green,” said Kermit the Frog as he bounced around a Ford Escape Hybrid in a 2006 television ad campaign.

During the ad, Kermit displayed his innate talent for not blinking which, it has to be said, is due essentially to his congenital lack of eyelids.

But had Kermit blinked, he would have missed the small print at the bottom of the ad which showed that at the time, this “green” vehicle had a fuel consumption slightly worse than the US average.

But that seems to be the rule when it comes to claims of climate-friendliness made by some of the world's biggest brands.

Check the small print, and the responsible green hue soon fades to something resembling bullsh*t-brown (or whatever color denotes hypocrisy). At least that's the conclusion after reading Australian author and researcher Guy Pearse's latest book. Pearse spent close to four years immersing himself in some 3000 TV commercials and viewing about 4000 print and web adverts, all of which make claims of climate friendliness (I disclose here that I had a small paid role as a fact-checker on the book).

After checking the brand's actual contribution to climate change (or their lack of transparency) in more than 700 company reports, Pearse finds in Greenwash: Big Brands and Carbon Scams that the green revolution is being either grossly overblown or faked.

Southeastern Louisiana University has "Honor" Of Hosting Birther Lord Monckton

DR Russell McKenzie, an associate professor at Southeastern Louisiana University Department of Management and Business Administration, is rather pleased with the guy he has secured to speak to students and the public about the economic cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are honored to have someone of his stature speaking,” he told an online university community newspaper. In another story, Dr McKenzie added: “It’s not every day you have the opportunity to have a world renowned speaker to come to Southeastern”.

So who is this global powerhouse on climate change and economics? Sir Nicholas Stern, perhaps, author of the UK government's “Stern Review”? Could it be James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and famed climate scientist?

No. The “world renowned speaker” appearing at Southeastern Louisiana University on 2 October is none other than Lord Christopher Monckton, the British hereditary peer who believes climate scientists are part of a plot to introduce a socialist world government.

Arctic Melts As New Greenpeace Report Warns Of Coal Expansion In Australia

SOME processes of cause and effect are relatively easy to get your head around.

For example, if I smash the end of my thumb with a hammer then the effect will be extreme sharp pain, followed by a short burst of f****** swearing and then probably one of those under-the-nail bruises that stick around for months.

An equally simple process to understand is that burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas releases extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes temperatures to rise. The extra CO2 sticks around for a century or so, perhaps longer.

Now this is of course a hugely oversimplified version of the greenhouse effect. There's lots of “noise” in the climate system, but the fundamentals are there. This brings us to the Arctic. No honestly, it really does.

Earlier this week, the US Government's National Snow and Ice Data Center declared that more sea ice melted away this year than at any other time since records began in 1979.

James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank

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.

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.