James Cook University has fired marine scientist and climate science contrarian Professor Peter Ridd and as predictably as night follows day, Andrew Bolt is all upset.
As a very brief summary, Ridd has long been associated with groups that have misrepresented the state of climate science, he has been speaking openly for more than a decade about his views which, to give you an even shorter summary, is that the Great Barrier Reef is doing just fine and is not threatened by global warming or industrial activity.
But back to Bolt, who devoted his editorial on his Sky News show to Ridd’s case. In his trademark righteous tone, Bolt began: “A scandal in one of our universities,” before weaving the case into the politics of energy prices and free speech.
In some ways, the way the climate science denial community and the conservative echo chamber has rallied around Professor Peter Ridd is impressive.
In other ways, it is entirely predictable given the James Cook University academic is serving up two of their favourite dishes in one serving- a supposed fight for “freedom of speech” against the establishment, and a rejection of the science linking human activity to climate change and, in this case in particular, the Great Barrier Reef.
Since then, Ridd has continued to claim that fellow JCU scientists should not be trusted, leading to allegations of serious misconduct from JCU that Ridd had repeatedly breached their code of conduct . Ridd hit back and filed a case against them. It’s ongoing.
Sometimes, climate science denialists make stuff up. Sometimes, their distinct lack of scepticism has them pushing around fake quotes.
I’ve written about that for DeSmogBlog, where I tracked down the source of some of the most popular “quote mining” that goes on.
Here’s one example. On the website of One Nation, is a page that claims to reveal that environmental sustainability issues from the United Nations under the Agenda 21 banner is not a non-binding set of recommendations, but is instead “just communism resurrected in a new guise.” Agenda 21 is a whole world of conspiracy theorising.
On the One Nation page, is this quote:
At the U.N. Summit at Rio in 1992, the Conference Secretary-General, Maurice Strong, said “Isn’t the only hope for this planet that the industrialized civilization collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”
The suggestion, clearly, is that Strong had a secret plot to destroy industrialised civilisation. Bang to rights?
So a couple of weeks ago I wrote a story for DeSmog reporting on self-described “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin’s views about climate change and how he thought it might not be caused by humans.
There’s been quite a reaction to the story, mainly through Facebook discussions sparked by Salatin himself and by others who are part of what you might broadly describe as the sustainable farming movement (this is an entirely imperfect term though, given the diversity of thought among the great many people looking for alternative ways to grow healthy food in a way that has less impact on the environment).
I’ve been accused by one Australian figure, Tammi Jonas, the interim president of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, of writing an “unproductive and divisive” article that was “pure click bait ‘gotcha’ rubbish.” More on that in a bit.