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Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t much of a fan of wind power.
You know, like coal mines?
But the Abbott Government’s opposition to wind farms goes much further than dissing them for their looks.
The Galileo Movement
The Galileo Movement is an Australian organisation, registered as a private company, which campaigns against legislation to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.
MEMBERS of London's famous gentlemen's club Brooks's have no doubt cooked-up a few bizarre plots, plans and wagers over the years as Britain's gentry and ennobled upper class sipped on glasses of port in their smoking jackets.
In 1785, for example, there was an agreement between two Lords to hand over 500 guineas if one of them managed to have sexual intercourse with a woman in a balloon “one thousand yards from the Earth” . There's no record to suggest that the arrangement, recorded in the club's Betting Book, was ever paid.
The exclusive men-only enclave lives on and still attracts high-profile figures, although Rupert Murdoch's son James' application ran into trouble over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Club member and climate science denier Lord Christopher Monckton put Brooks's famous address to good use this week for a letter sent to the University of Tasmania.
BEN CUBBY, the environment editor at Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, admits he has an unusual problem - “how does one critically analyse a pile of horse shit?”
The horse excretion in question is a report - CSIROh! - Climate of Deception or First Step to Freedom - sent to Cubby by one of Australia's most tireless - and some might say tiresome - climate science deniers, Malcolm Roberts. But more of Ben Cubby's response later.
Malcolm Roberts is the volunteer project manager for the Galileo Movement - a climate science denial organisation whose patron is popular Sydney radio shock-jock Alan Jones who himself thinks human-caused climate change is a “hoax” and “witchcraft”.
Roberts' “report” appears to have been sparked by an email from ABC Brisbane radio presenter Steve Austin back in February 2010.
“For some time now I have been receiving a barrage of your unsolicited emails about climate change and your analysis of IPCC flaws,” wrote Austin, who attached a copy of a CSIRO report on climate change and suggested Roberts respond. Austin promises he'll send that response to the CSIRO and provide any feedback he gets.
Roberts is a former coal miner and management consultant and in a declaration of interests writes: “For extensive work performed in the mining industry I was paid money by mining companies (including three government-owned coal mining companies)….” He claims to have foregone more than a million dollars in earnings for his unpaid work researching climate change.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.