Climate Study Group

Climate Study Group

Background

The Climate Study Group is an unincorporated group of seven Australian conservative men that was formed in 2009 under the name “Fair Farming Group.” [1]

The Climate Study group is known for taking out a series of advertisements in The Australian newspaper, but has also issued reports and submissions to the Australian government rejecting the science of human-caused climate change. [2]

The group has also been critical of policy proposals linked to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Investigations by DeSmog have found the group’s members have links to mining, finance, agriculture and free market “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). [3]

None of the members of the Climate Study Group appear to have any qualifications in climate science or any record of publishing peer-reviewed research on climate change. [3]

Stance on Climate Change

September 2016

According to an ad The Climate Study Group took out in The Australian under the title “What You Don’t Know About Climate”: [4]

“For greenhouse gases there has been a 'selective scrutiny of evidence' to support Climate Change alarm. There is no evidence CO2 has determined climate in the past or that it could do so in the future”

Funding

The Climate Study Group is not incorporated and does not appear to have any public record of its financials.

Key People

According to an April 2015 submission to government, the Climate Study Group's members are: [5]

  • Tom Quirk — Former IPA director, director of Australian Environment Foundation
  • Bob Officer — Former IPA director
  • Mark Reyner — A former mining company director in the aluminium industry and former chairman of National Australia Bank 
  • Richard Morgan (convenor) — Career in agricultural fertilizers
  • Graham Sellars-Jones — Former stockbroker
  • John Chambers
  • Andrew Miller

Actions

November 14, 2018

The Climate Study Group placed an advertisement in The Australian entitled “Global Climate Reality.” According to the ad, which cites data from John Christy and a statement from Richard Lindzen for support: [15], [16]

“Policies to reduce CO2 emissions have been based on the false premises that this CO2 which did not cause dangerous global warming prior to removal by plants, would do so when returned. In Australia, such policies have caused power costs to double, harming industry, farming, households and indeed the Nation.

“In fact, MIT Professor Emeritus of Meteorology, Richard Lindzen has estimated that CO2 from power stations, together with other trace greenhouse gases from transport and methane from livestock, can alone only bring about an estimated one degree Celsius increase in global temperature over the coming century.”

Blogger Joanne Nova cited the the graph, compiled from Christy's data, as “death to climate models.” [17]

July 2018

The Climate Study Group took out a half-page advertisement that appeared in The Australian newspaper. [6]

The advertisement made several claims about climate models and featured three charts that claimed to disprove the science linking increased levels of atmospheric CO2 to rising temperatures, increasing frequency of major storms and the frequency of larger tropical cyclones. [6]

The advert included a version of a discredited chart developed by Dr John Christy that purports to show how climate models had vastly overestimated global warming. [6]

Environmental scientist and Guardian blogger Dana Nuccitelli has written “as with all charts of such singular, unscientific purposes, it’s simply another example of cherry picked data being presented in a multiply misleading way.” [7]

The advertisement attempted to link climate policy to rising electricity prices in Australia and also advocated the country should follow the United States and leave the Paris climate change agreement. [6]

September 2017

The Climate Study Group took out an advertisement in The Australian claiming that climate models predicting warming had “failed” and that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would be good for the planet. The advert also advocated for Australia to build more coal-fired power plants. [8]

June 2017

The Climate Study Group re-ran a previous advertisement in The Australian that had attempted to use Socratic questioning to disprove concerns over human-caused climate change. As reported on News.com.au, Deakin University philosophy lecturer Dr Patrick Stokes said: [9]

The reason that climate change denialists like Socrates is they are wedding to a brave individual exposing the corrupt elite. [9]

The problem is of course that science doesn’t work the way Socratic questioning works. The idea that you come along and lob a couple of Socratic questions and explode it all just doesn’t hold water.”

Mr Stokes told News.com.au there were “glaring fallacies” in the advertisement’s argument, and said Socrates would have been “quite affronted” by the ad.  [9]

University of Melbourne climate scientist Dr Andrew King said the advert put forward a “nonsensical ill-founded argument.”  He said:  [9]

Essentially their argument is the CO2 was higher in the past and that the carbon is from a natural source. One obvious criticism is that the Carboniferous Period (being 300 million years ago) is a poor analog for the climate of today. It was warmer but lifeforms were also very different with nothing similar to humans. Human life is adapted to the climate we have today. If the climate was much warmer, as in the Carboniferous period, we’d be in a lot of trouble!”  [9]

January 2017

Appearing on page seven of The Australian, an advert from The Climate Study Group featured a hypothetical exchange between the philosopher Socrates and “Mr Smith, a strong believer in Climate Change.” [10]

The group also ran the advertisement in June 2017, after which a climate scientist and a philosophy professor described the content as “nonsensical” and flawed. Under the heading “Time for Climate Logic” the advert said: 

Socrates: Nice to meet you Mr Smith. I hear you are very concerned about dangerous global warming.

Mr Smith: Yes, we are facing an alarming prospect of a global warming catastrophe.

Socrates: What gives you such concern?

Mr Smith: Emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

Socrates: How were these fossil fuels formed?

Mr Smith: Various plant forms grew, died and formed fossil fuels before and during the Carboniferous Period.

Socrates: Was there dangerous global warming prior to the Carboniferous Period?

Mr Smith: No. There’s no evidence of dangerous global warming prior to the Carboniferous period.

Socrates: So where did the carbon in fossil fuels originate?

Mr Smith: Plants absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere prior to the formation of fossil fuels.

Socrates: So the CO2 absorbed by plants is now being released from burning fossil fuels.

Mr Smith: It must be so.

Socrates: You have observed there was no dangerous global warming prior to CO2 being absorbed to form fossil
fuels, so how could the same CO2 now being released cause dangerous global warming?

Mr Smith: I find the implication of your question provocative and disturbing. You should know there is a move to bring charges against you for corrupting youth with your philosophical questions.

Socrates: I am well aware that people are disturbed by my philosophical enquiries which reveal the truth with compelling logic and facts which refute long held beliefs. Our conversation has been no exception.

Mr Smith: I have to go now.

September 2016

The Climate Study Group takes out an advert in The Australian newspaper under the title: “What You Don’t Know About Climate.” [4]

The group repeated previous claims that evidence for human caused climate change, including retreat of polar ice and rising sea levels, was down to “selective scrutiny of evidence.”

August 2015

Australia’s major industry body representing psychologists, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) said it was “disturbed” that the Climate Study Group had misused a number of psychological arguments in an advert that had appeared in The Australia newspaper. [3]

As reported by DeSmog, the APS said the advert’s intent was to “mislead the public” about climate change and the authors themselves appeared guilty of “cognitive biases.” [3]

The advert claimed there was “no evidence CO2 has determined climate in the past or that it could do so in the future” and that “the next ice age remains the real global threat.” [3]

April 23, 2015

In a submission to a Department of Prime Minister and Cabined taskforce on Australia’s emissions reduction targets, the “Climate Study Group” sent a report claiming that evidence backing the need to act on greenhouse gas emissions was a result of psychological and behavioural biases. The names listed as members of the Climate Study Group were the same as the members of the Fair Farming Group. [11]

June 2014

In June 2014 the Fair farming Group group had a paper published in the journal Agricultural Science – the journal of Ag Institute of Australia – entitled “Does the scientific evidence justify the carbon tax.” [12]

The paper attempted to argue there was “no compelling evidence” that greenhouse gas emissions could cause dangerous global warming. [12]

The paper was a reprint of an identical article that appeared in the November 2013 issue of the journal Energy & Environment – a publication known as a “go to” journal for climate science denialists and sceptics.

June 2011

In June 2011, the “Fair Farming Group” sent an “Open Report” to Prime Minister Julia Gillard challenging a major government review on climate change science and policy. The report rejected the evidence that CO2 from burning fossil fuels could cause dangerous climate change. [5]

The report said:

“There is no clear or compelling scientific evidence to support the conclusions in the Garnaut ‘Review of the Science of Climate Change Update 2011’. The Review overlooks recent analysis of the climate measurements which expose the fundamental problems at the heart of the IPCC climate models.

“Mankind is simply returning CO2 to the atmosphere from whence it came. This is at a time when a low level of CO2 is limiting plant growth when more food is required for a growing world population. CO2 is essential for all plant life and thus not a pollutant. From the perspective of food production, a carbon tax or ETS would also be inappropriate.

“Scientific evidence based on past events demonstrates that the release of CO2 previously sequestered in fossil fuels will not cause dangerous global warming. Again it follows that a carbon tax or an ETS which would impose a severe cost penalty for agriculture and for the economy overall is not required.

“Scientific evidence supports the conclusion we need CO2 rather than fear it. To suggest otherwise, ignores our obligation to provide increasing food production for a growing world population and the best interests of the Australian community.”

According to the report, the Fair Farming Group’s members were: [5]

  • John Chambers BCom, MBA, CA, FAICD, FFin;
  • Andrew Miller BBus
  • Richard Morgan AM BSc (Ag), BCom, FAIAST (Convenor)
  • Bob Officer BAgSc, MAgEc (UNE), MBA, PhD (Chicago), FASSA, SFFin
  • Mark Rayner BSc (Hons), ChemEng (UNSW), FTSE, FAusIMM, FIEA, FAICD
  • Graham Sellars-Jones BCom

Dr Tom Quirk was a “consultant to the group,” the report said.

October 2010

The Fair Farming Group published an article in Energy & Environment – a journal known for publishing papers sceptical of human-caused climate change.

The article was an attempt to undermine the findings of a 2010 “State of the Climate” report produced by the Australian government agency’s the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.

The paper – entitled ”Clearing the Air on Climate” – was written by “John Chambers, Andrew Miller, Richard Morgan, Bob Officer, Mark Rayner and Tom Quirk.”

In February 2011, the group sent their paper to an Australian Senate inquiry into policies to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

In a cover letter, group convenor Richard Morgan wrote: [13]

We maintain our view no robust scientific evidence exists that human activity could have a dangerous impact on climate. Of particular concern to us, misinformation about methane trends unfairly damages the public perception of the grazing industry. Our research shows that policy makers have been misled by authorities they could reasonably have expected to be reliable. Accordingly, there is no sound scientific basis for a carbon tax or any other measure which adversely affects the economy to reduce carbon emissions. It is now time for fundamental review of this proposition.

February 28, 2010

An article appeared in the conservative magazine Quadrant, written by the “Fair Farming Group” and claimed that the evidence that humans were causing dangerous global warming was wrong. [14]

The report included a series of questions about climate science, with answers misrepresenting the scientific literature and typical of those developed by right-wing conservative think tanks in the United States. [14]

The report concluded: [14]

Mankind is simply returning to the atmosphere carbon dioxide which has become deficient and thus limiting to plant growth at a time when more food is required for a growing world population. Carbon dioxide is essential for all plant life and thus not a pollutant. This paper provides evidence the release of carbon dioxide will not cause dangerous global warming.

According to the report: “The Fair Farming Group advocates fair and reasonable treatment of Australian farmers based on sound science.  Formed in 2009 its members have extensive agricultural experience and business and academic backgrounds.” [14]

A footnote to the report said the directors of the Fair Farming Group were: [14]

John Chambers; BCom, MBA, CA, FAICD. Andrew Miller; BBus. Richard Morgan AM; BSc (Ag), BCom, FAIAST. Bob Officer; BAgSc, MAgEc (UNE), MBA, PhD (Chicago), FASSA, FSIA. Mark Rayner; BSc (Hons), ChemEng (UNSW), FTSE, FAusIMM, FIEA, FAICD.  Consultant to the Group, Australian physicist Dr. Tom Quirk; MSc, MA, DPhil (Oxon), SMP (Harv).”

2009

The Fair Farming Group is formed.  An archive of its website - www.fairfarminggrp.com.au - says:

The Fair Farming Group advocates fair and reasonable treatment of Australian Farmers based on sound science. Formed in 2009 it’s members have extensive agricultural experience and business and academic backgrounds.

The website lists the members of the group as:

John Chambers; BCom, MBA, CA, FAICD. Andrew Miller; BBus. Richard Morgan AM; BSc (Ag), BCom, FAIAST. Bob Officer; BAgSc, MAgEc (UNE), MBA, PhD (Chicago), FASSA, FSIA. Mark Rayner; BSc (Hons), ChemEng (UNSW), FTSE, FAusIMM, FIEA, FAICD.  Consultant to the Group, Australian physicist, Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Dr. Tom Quirk; MSc, MA, DPhil (Oxon), SMP (Harv).

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

The Climate Study Group has provided email and cell phone contact details in a public submission to government: [11]

For correspondence:
P.O. Box 8127
Armadale, Vic. 3143 

Email: [email protected]
Cell:  0419 365 603

Social Media

The Climate Study Group does not appear to be active on social media.

Resources

  1. Homepage, The Fair Farming Group. Archived December 22, 2014. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/Zk6EX

  2. “Psychology and the New Cilmate Alarm” (PDF), The Climate Study Group. Archived at Desmog.

  3. Graham Readfearn. “Australian Psychological Society 'Disturbed' By Climate Denialist Group's 'Misleading' Newspaper Advert,” DeSmog, August 11, 2015.

  4. What You don't Know About Climate,” November 9 2015. Retrieved from Lavoisier.com.

  5. OPEN REPORT TO THE PRIME MINISTER” (PDF), The Fair Farming Group, June 21, 2011.

  6. “Climate Model Review Policy Implications (PDF), The Climate Study Group, July 2018.

  7. Dana Nuccitelli. “Republicans' favorite climate chart has some serious problems,” The Guardian, February 19, 2016. Archived July 10, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/l7pDu

  8. Advert in The Australian describes what real climate change looks like,” JoNova, September 22, 2017. Archived July 10, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/DnGuc

  9. Liz Burke. “Climate deniers use Socrates to disprove global warming,” News.com.au, June 9, 2017. Archived July 9, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/Fahre

  10. A Socratic approach on climate change,” JoNova, January 13, 2017. Archived July 10, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/7j8JX

  11. “Submissions for Australia’s post -2020 emissions reduction target” (PDF), The Climate Study Group, April 23, 2015. 

  12. Does the scientific evidence justify the carbon tax?Agricultural Science , Volume 26 Issue 1 (Jun 2014).

  13. SENATE INQUIRY INTO CARBON TAX PRICING MECHANISMS” (PDF)The Fair Farming Group, February 17, 2011.

  14. Tom Quirk. “The case for carbon dioxide,” Quadrant Online, February 28, 2010. Archived July 9, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/F0VH6 

  15. “Global Climate Reality” (PDF), The Climate Study Group. Retrieved from JoNova.

  16. Global Climate Reality,” The Austrailian, November 14, 2018. Retreived from Pressreader.com.

  17. Climate Models are a Joke,” JoNova, November 14, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/YuU7y

Other Resources