Peter Ridd

Peter Ridd

Credentials

  • BSc and PhD, Physics, James Cook University. [1]
  • Dip Ed. [2]

Background

Peter Ridd is a former professor at James Cook University in Australia. According to his profile at JCU, Ridd was a geophysicist with interests in “coastal oceanography, the effects of sediments on coral reefs, instrument development, geophysical sensing of the earth, past and future climates, atmospheric modelling.” Ridd was fired from James Cook University in May 2018 for allegedly breaching his employment's code of conduct. [26]

“Peter Ridd raises almost all of his research funds from the profits of consultancy work which is usually associated with monitoring of marine dredging operation,” his profile noted. The Marine Geophysics Laboratory at JCU has been involved in consulting for a range of coal terminal projects in 2012, funds which go to PhD scholarship and the staff of the MGL[3], [4]

Ridd has consistently questioned the science suggesting the risks posed by climate change and other human activities to the Great Barrier Reef.

In January 2018, Ridd launched the website ”Great Barrier Reef Science Commentary” where he has covered a legal case between himself and James Cook University. Ridd has claimed the University is trying to silence him through a censure and then a disciplinary allegation of serious misconduct related to disparaging comments about two institutions linked to JCU - the Australian Institute of marine science and the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Ridd has gained the support of many individuals and groups who question the impact of man-made climate change, including the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which has helped Ridd to gather funds to cover legal costs in the case he filed against JCU. [5]

“Thanks to lots of people including Anthony Watts, Jennifer Marohasy, Jo Nova, Benny Peiser (GWPF), Willie Soon for spreading the word. Also a huge thanks to the IPA for helping with the organisation,” Ridd said in his GoFundMe campaign, which raised $99,322 in just 49 hours. [6]

Ridd was featured in the IPA publication “Climate Change: The Facts 2017” in which he wrote that coral is the “least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change.” [7] Ridd has been a director of the Australian Environment Foundation, which promotes the rejection of human-caused climate change, since 2005.

Stance on Climate Change

March 2009

Ridd was a signatory to a full-page ad funded by the Cato Institute that argued “the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated”: [8]

“We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect,” the ad read.

Key Quotes

July 27, 2017

Ridd was a guest in an interview on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show: [9]

“There needs to be a properly funded group of scientists whose sole job is to find fault in the science with which we are basing expensive public policy decisions,” he said.

July 25, 2017

In a chapter Ridd wrote for the IPA Publication “Climate Change The Facts: 2017”, he described corals as the “least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change”:

“Due to the remarkable mechanisms that corals have developed to adapt to changing temperatures, especially the ability to swap symbionts, corals are perhaps the least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change – natural or man-made.” [7]

October 2011

In an interview on The Bolt Report, Ridd argued that climate change deniers don't get sufficient funding and that the current scientific climate is like a “court case in China”: [10]

“In a court system we have a protection, we have a defense, and by making the two sides argue we can get to the truth hopefully. And the defense side in a court case, actually their sole job is to try to find problems with the opposition argument. Now in science at the moment we only hear one side and one side is funded. The other side is not funded. So we have a situation where, in fact, it's like a court case in China and therefore the public actually can't have a great deal of faith in science at the moment. We need scientific reform in fact, before we go and do things to our economy.”

May 12, 2008

Ridd wrote in On Line Opinion, in an article titled “The Greens: illogical and treacherous”: [11]

“The 2020 summit exposed the hypocritical, illogical and treacherous nature of most people in the modern green movement. It has been hijacked by a quasi religious ideology which makes it ineffective at solving the big problems we face. The environment is suffering as a result.”

[…]

“The greens nowadays are less of an environmental movement and more of an extreme left wing conglomeration devoted primarily to social justice issues.”

July 19, 2007

Ridd wrote an on-line opinion article at The National Forum, where he declared that corals can adapt to rising sea temperatures (emphasis added): [12]

“[T]here is a swindle by scientists, politicians and most green organisations regarding the health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We are told that the reef is a third of the way to ecological extinction, is being smothered by sediments, is polluted by nutrients and pesticides, and is being cooked by global warming. Some scientists and organisations give the reef only a couple of decades before it is finished.

[…]

“In biological circles, it is common to compare coral reefs to canaries, i.e. beautiful and delicate organisms that are easily killed. The analogy is pushed further by claiming that, just as canaries were used to detect gas in coal mines, coral reefs are the canaries of the world and their death is a first indication of our apocalyptic greenhouse future. The bleaching events of 1998 and 2002 were our warning. Heed them now or retribution will be visited upon us.

“In fact a more appropriate creature with which to compare corals would be cockroaches - at least for their ability to survive. If our future brings us total self-annihilation by nuclear war, pollution or global warming, my bet is that both cockroaches and corals will survive.

[…]

“Corals are particularly well adapted to temperature changes and in general, the warmer the better. It seems odd that coral scientists are worrying about global warming because this is one group of organisms that like it hot. Corals are most abundant in the tropics and you certainly do not find fewer corals closer to the equator. Quite the opposite, the further you get away from the heat, the worse the corals. A cooling climate is a far greater threat.”

Key Deeds

May 2, 2018 

DeSmog reported Ridd was fired from James Cook University for breaching his employment's code of conduct. According to a statement from Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Division of Tropical Environments and Societies at JCU[26], [27]

“Professor Ridd has on numerous occasions and in numerous ways seriously and repeatedly breached the Code of Conduct – his employment has been terminated on this basis. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong,” the statement reads. [27]

On his website, where he has repeatedly published confidential legal documents about the proceedings, Ridd claimed “His employment has been terminated because he dared to tell the truth.” He also re-opened a GoFundme campaign to pay for legal bills estimated at $260,000 (his prior campaign raised nearly $100,000). As of late May, the campaign had already reached its $260,000 goal. [28]

While Ridd claimed “JCU appears to be willing to spend their near unlimited legal resources fighting me,” the university has pointed out that it was Ridd who commenced legal action. [26]

Following Ridd's firing, conservative websites and think tanks have come to his defense and urged readers to visit his crowdfunding page. Ridd and supporting groups have consistently reframed the case as being about academic freedom, free speech, and scientific integrity. The University's statement itself counters these claims: [26][27]

“The University has not objected to Professor Ridd's right to comment on quality assurance.

However, the University has objected to the manner in which he has done this. He has sensationalised his comments to attract attention, has criticised and denigrated published work, and has demonstrated a lack of respect for his colleagues and institutions in doing so. Academic rebuttal of his scientific views on the reef has been separately published.”

The UK's Global Warming Policy Forum, an extension of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, reposted an article from The Australian and linked to Ridd’s website. Climate change denial journalis  James Delingpole reinforced Ridd's claim that he was fired for “telling the truth.” In the U.S., the Heartland Institute described Ridd's firing as “an international scandal & part of the fight for global free speech,” and linked to an article by climate change denial blogger Anthony Watts. [29]

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) already donated at least $6,000 towards Ridd's legal fees, helped coordinate his fundraising, and promoted his cause on social media. 

February 8, 2018

Ridd wrote an op-ed for Online Opinion, reprinted by Fox News, about his court case against James Cook University, who he claimed are trying to silence him. [5], [13]

According to Ridd, “mass bleaching events along the reef that supposedly serve as evidence of permanent human-caused devastation are almost certainly completely natural and even cyclical.”

Ridd notes that he as received assistance from the Institute of Public Affairs for what he claims is a “gag order” against him by the university.

“With assistance from the Institute of Public Affairs, I have been pushing back against the charges and the gag order – leading the university to search my official emails for examples of where I had mentioned the case to other scientists, old friends, past students and my wife,” Ridd wrote.

He added he would “rather be fired than accept these conditions”:

“We filed in court in November. At that point the university backed away from firing me. But university officials issued a 'Final Censure' in my employment file and told me to be silent about the allegations, and not to repeat my comments about the unreliability of institutional research. […] I would rather be fired than accept these conditions. We are still pursuing the matter in court,” Ridd wrote.

November 2017

Ridd co-wrote an article published in Marine Pollution Bulletin titled “The need for a formalised system of Quality Control for environmental policy-science” where he suggested that science associated with the threat of climate change to the Australian Great Barrier Reef is an example of “the potential failings of the present approaches to scientific Quality Control,” according to the abstract. [14]

“We suggest the need for a new organisation to undertake quality reviews and audits of important scientific results that underpin government spending decisions on the environment. Logically, such a body could also examine policy science in other key areas where governments rely heavily upon scientific results, such as education, health and criminology.”[14]

Several of the scientists responded in the same journal, saying the criticisms from Ridd and his co-author, Piers Larcombe, were based on “misinterpretation” and “selective use of data”.

August 1, 2017

On August 1, Ridd appeared on an episode of “Jones & Co” on Sky News, where he claimed that “We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.” Listen below (Ridd begins at around 32 minutes and 40 seconds): [15]

Following this interview, Ridd became the subject of a formal misconduct investigation by James Cook University which could result in the termination of his employment. JCU said that Ridd's comments were “not in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth,” were “not respectful and courteous.” Ridd, alleged JCU, had breached aspects of university's code of conduct. Ridd responded with his own court action against the university. [16]

Ridd launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised $99,322 within 49 hours: [6]

“Thanks to lots of people including Anthony Watts, Jennifer Marohasy, Jo Nova, Benny Peiser (GWPF), Willie Soon for spreading the word. Also a huge thanks to the IPA for helping with the organisation,” Ridd said.

July 27, 2017

Peter Ridd was a guest on the Alan Jones show to discuss a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef he wrote in Climate Change: The Facts 2017. The book was released by The Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), edited by IPA senior fellow Jennifer Marohasy, and included contributions from many prominent climate change deniers including Bjorn Lomborg, Matt Ridley, Willie Soon, Ian Plimer, Roy Spencer, Anthony Watts, and numerous others. [17]

“[T]he scientists make hay when it dies in a spectacular way but they are quiet when it recovers,” Ridd asserted, as reported by Joanne Nova at her blog. [17]

”[…] Corals have a little thermometer built in them, when you take a core of them from many years ago we know what the temperature of the water was back when Captain Cook sailed up the coast, it was actually about the same temperature then. It was colder 100 years ago, but it has recovered from that. The temperatures on the reef are not even significantly warmer than average on a hundred year timescale.” [17]

Also on July 27, Ridd spoke at an event hosted by the Institute of Public Affairs promoting the book. Alan Jones was sitting in the audience at the IPA event, and had interviewed Ridd the same morning as well as Jennifer Marohasy the day before. “Each time Alan Jones talked about the book, we sold more than a hundred copies of book during the broadcast, so thank you very much to Alan Jones” the event moderator noted. [18]

July 25, 2017

Ridd contributed a chapter to the the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) book “Climate Change: The Facts 2017.” The book is part of a series that features contributions from a range of prominent climate change deniers, and describes mainstream climate change research as “pseudo-science.” [7][19], [20]

In the chapter, Ridd argued “there is perhaps no ecosystem on Earth better able to cope with rising temperatures than the Great Barrier Reef,” arguing that increasing temperatures would actually be beneficial to coral:

“[I]t might be predicted that a modest increase in temperature, of a few degrees, would allow corals to grow faster on the Great Barrier Reef,” Ridd wrote. [7]

He further claimed that coral deaths due to ocean acidification are “perhaps yet another example of science that has not been properly scrutinised, or subjected to proper quality assurance.” [7]

In a sweeping claim, Ridd also alleged that all science suggesting damage to the Great Barrier Reef is not adequately peer reviewed, and lamented the costs to industry: [7]

“Policy science concerning the Great Barrier Reef is almost never checked. Over the next few years, Australian governments will spend more than a billion dollars on the Great Barrier Reef; the costs to industry could far exceed this. Yet the keystone research papers have not been subject to proper scrutiny. Instead, there is a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process,” Ridd claimed. [7]

In conclusion, Ridd describes corals as the “least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change”: [7]

“Due to the remarkable mechanisms that corals have developed to adapt to changing temperatures, especially the ability to swap symbionts, corals are perhaps the least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change – natural or man-made.” [7]

According to the IPA's media release, “Climate Change: The Facts 2017 contains 22 essays by internationally-renowned experts and commentators, including Dr Bjorn Lomborg, Dr Matt Ridley, Professor Peter Ridd, Dr Willie Soon, Dr Ian Plimer, Dr Roy Spencer, and literary giant Clive James. The volume is edited by Dr Jennifer Marohasy, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. Fourteen of the contributors currently hold or have held positions at a university or a scientific research organisation.” [21]

June 2016

According to The Australian, Ridd claimed to be a whistleblower regarding a photograph illustrating the decline of the Great Barrier Reef. A formal investigation by James Cook University found Ridd failed “to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution.” Ridd said, “I feel as though I am the whistleblower.” [22]

“Is there a chance that many marine scientists are partially driven by ideology? Is there a chance that peer review among this group is self-selecting of the dominant idea? Is there a robust debate without intimidation?” Ridd asked. [22]

February 11, 2016

Ridd co-authored an obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald for prominent climate change denier and James Cook University colleague Dr Bob Carter. [23] 

“Geological research shows that climates always change, naturally and on virtually all timescales, so his view was that humans needed to get used to the idea and, most importantly, that society needed to prepare for change and to adapt,” Ridd wrote with co-author Piers Larcombe. [23] 

October 2011

Ridd appeared on an episode of The Bolt Report alongside climate change deniers Garth Paltridge and Bob Carter on a “special climate panel discussion”: [10]

Andrew Bolt to Ridd: “Peter, what also struck me is the use of the word 'pollution.' Carbon pollution. Can you tell us, are we talking 'carbon pollution', are we talking carbon dioxide? Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?”

Ridd: “Well, I mean, it's a natural gas and it's important, it's in fact essential, to plants. It's actually stretching it a little bit to say it's pollution […] Sometimes you maybe wonder if it's being used as a media thing more than using it as a fact.”

Bolt:  “I've just looked up the latest satellite data on my iPad of warming over the last 30 years, and it's about, as you can see, about one-third of a degree. Is that really a big warming? Can Julia Gillard say that's caused by our gases?”

Ridd: “No, i don't think there's any way we can do that. I mean, essentially all this boils down to looking at these big models that predict the climate, and when you look at the details, the uncertainties involved in those make it, in my view, that in fact they have no predictive value whatsoever in fact.”

Bolt: “Peter, are we going to see all these disasters? Is the science telling us that all these disasters—bush fires, droughts, great barrier reef—true?”

Ridd: “Well, Great Barrier Reef […] corals like it hot, essentially. […] If in addition to global warming we get sea level rise as is the prediction, there will be a massive explosion of corals on these areas that are now actually dead.”

Bolt: “Are you telling me that we're going to get more corals?” 

Ridd: “I don't think there's any doubt we'll have more corals.”

Near the end of the segment, Ridd argues that climate change deniers should receive more funding and that their arguments need to be better heard:

Bolt: “You made an interesting point, Peter, because you sent a letter to the chief scientist Ian Chubb saying why don't you fund, ensure that funding goes to skeptics as it goes to warmists who get billions?”

Ridd: “Yes. I think this is very important because, you know, in a court system we have a prosecution, we have a defense, and by making the two sides argue we can get to the truth hopefully. And the defense side in a court case, actually their sole job is to try to find problems with the opposition argument. Now in science at the moment we only hear one side and one side is funded. The other side is not funded. So we have a situation where, in fact, it's like a court case in China and therefore the public actually can't have a great deal of faith in science at the moment. We need scientific reform in fact, before we go and do things to our economy.”

On estimates regarding how much a carbon tax would reduce global temperatures:

Ridd: “Yes, essentially zero. However, one of the arguments is that by cutting our own that we have some sort of moral high ground to pretend that the Chinese or the Indians are going to cut theirs. I think that that's the argument they're using in fact.”

March 2009

Ridd's name appeared on a full-page ad funded by the Cato Institute that argued “the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated.” The ad was featured in numerous newspapers including the Washington Post, New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune in 2009 and criticized President Obama's declaration that “few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change,” stating: “with all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.” [8]

The Cato Institute has received at least $125,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998, and lists Phillip Morris as one of its “national allies.” They have also received undisclosed amounts of funding from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Koch Family Foundations. [24]

2005

Ridd becomes a director of the Australian Environment Foundation. The AEF is formed after a 2004 “Eureka Forum” meeting organised by the Institute of Public Affairs. The meeting claimed: “Environmental fundamentalism is denying farmers, foresters, fishermen, prospectors, miners, beekeepers, 4WD enthusiasts and others access rights, property rights, water rights.”  

A keynote speaker was Canadian climate science denier Patrick Moore.

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Ridd's profile at James Cook University outlines his research portfolio. It lists the following journal articles:

Sample Articles

Resources

  1. Peter Ridd,” LinkedIn. Accessed March 21, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  2. Professor Peter Ridd,” James Cook University. Archived October 17, 2011. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/9EzqL

  3. Research Portfolio: Prof Peter Ridd,James Cook University. Archived March 20, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/qdW2m

  4. Consulting,” James Cook University. Archived March 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/jHvBU

  5. Science or silence? My battle to question doomsayers about the Great Barrier Reef,” Online Opinion, February 12, 2018. Archived March 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/mY05b

  6. Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund,” GoFundMe. Archived March 12, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/rwAMw

  7. “The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Corals, and Problems with Policy Science” (PDF), Institute of Public Affairs. Retrieved from Blackjay.net.

  8. With all due respect Mr.President, that is not true (PDF),” The Cato Institute. Document created March 27, 2009.

  9. Peter Ridd,2GB 873am radio, July 27, 2017. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog.

  10. The Bolt Report,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Channel Ten,” October 8, 2011. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  11. The Greens: illogical and treacherous,”Online Opinion, Dec 5, 2008. Archived March 21, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/6W4q8

  12. Peter Ridd. “The Great Great Barrier Reef Swindle,” The National Forum, July 19, 2007. Archived March 7, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/OmGJv

  13. Peter Ridd. “Science or silence? My battle to question doomsayers about the Great Barrier Reef,” Fox News, February 8, 2018. Archived March 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/hiJGD

  14. Piers Larcombe and Peter Ridd. “The need for a formalised system of Quality Control for environmental policy-science,” Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 126 (January 2018).

  15. Sky News - Jones & Co,” Retrieved from Whooshkaa. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog.

  16. James Cook Univer­sity slapdown of Great Barrier Reef science critic heads to court,” The Australian, November 22, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/BDprI

  17. Prof Peter Ridd: the Great Barrier Reef recovers, our science institutions are failing us, science needs to be checked,” JoNova, July 27, 2017. Archived March 12, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/cwAjD

  18. CLIMATE CHANGE - THE FACTS 2017 - Institutue of Public Affairs - Sydney, July 27th 2017,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Oppenheimer Ranch Project,” August 30, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  19. Donate to Climate Change: The Facts 2017,” Institute of Public Affairs. Archived October 31, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/KpLZh

  20. Climate Change: The facts 2014,” Catallaxyfiles.com. Archived October 31, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Trs4Y

  21. NEW BOOK - CLIMATE CHANGETHE FACTS 2017” (PDF), Institute of Public Affairs, July 25, 2017.

  22. Graham Lloyd. “Reef whistleblower censured by James Cook University,” The Australian, June 11, 2016. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/schdj

  23. Obituary: Top scientist felt shunned for views on climate change,” The Sydney Morning Herald, February 11, 2016. Archived March 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/iKaKk

  24. Factsheet: The Cato Institute,” ExxonSecrets. Accessed January 2018.

  25. Who We Are,” Galileo Movement. Archived March 20, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/oS3ch

  26. Graham Readfearn. “Climate Science Deniers From Around Globe Rally Around Sacked Scientist Peter Ridd,” DeSmog, May 21, 2018.

  27. Statement by Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Division of Tropical Environments and Societies in response to Professor Ridd's publication of matters relating to his termination and litigation,” James Cook University, May 20, 2018. Archived May 24, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.li/g3tzl 

  28. Peter Ridd Legal Action Fund,” GoFundMe. Archived May 24, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/hJSzu

  29. This is an international scandal & part of the fight for global free speech. […]” Twitter post by user @HeartlandInst, May 19, 2018. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

Other Resources