Sceptics On the Road: Watts in Australia

Read time: 3 mins

This week and next week, prominent climate sceptic blogger Anthony Watts is touring Australia to help promote the country's newest political party, the Climate Sceptics party.  Single issue parties are not unusual in Australia, and the Sceptics have been working to create a “new centrist party” to push for a “truthful, common-sense approach to [climate change] and all issues.”

The Climate Sceptics turned heads in January when they had to beg their members for an extra $20,000 to pay Christopher Monckton's stipend as part of $100,000 in tour fees.  This begs the question: where does the cash come from to pay for the speaking tours of Australia? 

DeSmogBlog asked the Australian Electoral Commission if the party had registered itself yet and reported on any income.  Unfortunately, as a new party, they do not need to file their finances until October.  Furthermore, the sceptics party website clearly lists all the rules about what donations need to be disclosed and which ones do not (donations less than $11,200 can be anonymous under Australian law.)

Watts' tour is being billed as a tool to fight the Australian government's weak and industry-friendly Emissions Trading Scheme, which it recently put on hold for about 3 years.  Leon Ashby, the president of the Sceptics party, says “these presentations will make you think hard about the gap between the facts, public perception and where our political leaders want to take us.”

For more information on the speakers of the tour and the history of climate change denial in Australia, check the report by Greenpeace Australia on prominent climate deniers down under.  Most of Watts' speaking engagements are paired with Australian sceptics, many of whom have deep connections to Australian right-wing think tanks and pro-industry organizations. 

Joining Watts for some of the events is Bob Carter.  Carter edited Quadrant Online’s “ETS Forum” 77, in August 2009, whose list of contributors is a virtual who’s who of the denier movement in Australia today.  Carter has written articles for Tech Central Station, an organization that has received money from ExxonMobil. According to a search of 22,000 academic journals, Carter has published over 50 original research papers in peer-reviewed journals mainly in the area of stratigraphy, the study of rock layers and layering.

Also on the tour is David Archibald, who along with Bob Carter, is on the core scientific advisory panel of the Australian Climate Science Coalition.  The ACSC is a project of the deceptively-named Australian Environment Foundation, which is in turn a front-group of the coal and oil-funded Institute of Public Affairs.  According to the Greenpeace report, these groups have a 20-year history of collobarating with the Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute and other US denier organizations.

Not to be left out, Australian Environment Foundation science coordinator Peter Ridd will contribute his expert opinion to one of the events.  The AEF, named deceptively to be easily confused with the Australian Conservation Foundation, was created in 2005 by the Institute for Public Affairs to create a “different kind of environment group.”  The AEF has claimed that the Great Barrier Reef is “in great shape” and heralded the shift by independent Senator Steve Fielding when he began questioning the climate science.

The tour is visiting mostly smaller venues throughout Australia, and has so far been generating virtually no media attention.  DeSmogBlog would appreciate tips on how the tour is going and what the speakers are talking about, please leave a comment below if you know anything.

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