Catching up on old-ish news

Double yolker actionIT’S been a frantic few weeks, so just time to share some recent links of mine.

First up, I had a look at the phenomenon of the “conservative white male” effect which is a bit like the greenhouse gas effect, in that seemingly the more of it you release, the worse things get.

I also took a look at the new climate sceptic group the Galileo Movement, and their various links to conservative white males like Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and pretty much every climate denier that’s ever stalked the corridors of a free market think-tank. Oh, and they share a PR firm with the Church of Scientology and The Exclusive Brethren.

On the Brisbane Times and across the rest of the Fairfax network, I previewed a court case about to close in Queensland which is hearing a challenge against a huge coal mine development by Xstrata. Over the mine’s lifetime, the coal burned will see about 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases added to the planet’s atmosphere. If you’re following Australia’s carbon tax debate, then this cancels out the Government’s five per cent cut about seven times over.

Also on the Brisbane Times, a look at a report from The Climate Institute into the mental health issues related to extreme weather events like floods, droughts, bushfires and cyclones. If you take your climate science from climate scientists, then you’ll know that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere increase the chances of events such as these happening more often (or in the case of cyclones, there could be less of them, but the ones we do get will probably be bigger and meaner).

Oh, and one of my chickens laid that egg. Disappointingly, there was no dinosaur inside.

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Monckton threatens to sue ABC

CLIMATE change denier Lord Christopher Monckton has described the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Maurice Newman as a “shrimp-like wet little individual” in a speech given in Melbourne.

In the outburst on 20 July, Lord Monckton said he had written to Mr Newman to demand he be allowed to respond to an episode of the ABC Radio National documentary Background Briefing, produced by Wendy Carlisle, which heavily criticised Lord Monckton.

In audio of the Melbourne speech obtained by this blog and available at the bottom of this post, Lord Monckton says:

“I have written to the chairman of the ABC who is a shrimp-like wet little individual and I have said to him, right mate, I warned you about this woman (Wendy Carlisle) orally over breakfast – I then wrote to you saying she is going about my friends pestering them and then she produces and broadcasts this garbage because you did nothing about it. Now I want the right of reply to these lies by the ABC or I will sue. So watch out ABC”

Shortly after Lord Monckton’s previous visit to Australia, Mr Newman told senior ABC staff that some were guilty of “uncritical group think” in accepting that serious climate change was being caused by humans, despite the firm evidence that this is the case.

Lord Monckton caused controversy before arriving in Australia, when it was revealed he had displayed a quote from Australia’s former climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut beside a large swastika.

The outburst was widely condemned and prompted Lord Monckton to apologise, only for him to then claim that the term “climate change denier” was a reference to Holocaust denial, which it isn’t.

Earlier this week, the House of Lords took an unprecedented step of posting an open “cease and desist“-style letter saying the Lord should stop referring to himself as a member of UK’s upper house of Parliament.

More to follow, no doubt!

Listen to audio here

UPDATE: I’ve done an expanded version of this story with early response from the ABC for Crikey.

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Monckton not in control of his own biography

ON ABC radio 702 Sydney this morning, host Adam Spencer engaged in what you might describe as a relatively lively chat with climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton.

Spencer challenged Lord Monckton on his qualifications, questioned his links to mining squillionnaire Gina Rinehart, pressed him on his misrepresentations of the science and asked him to clarify whether he is, or is not, a member of the House of Lords.

Lord Monckton wasn’t too pleased and told Spencer to “shut up” which, obligingly for some listeners but not to Monckton, Spencer ignored.

There’s much to chew over in the interview, but one of Lord Monckton’s claims jumped out like an environmentalist at a mining conference. His claim to be a Nobel Laureate.

Spencer: Are you a Nobel Laureate as is claimed on many websites?

Monckton: I don’t know what websites… there is no website that I control that says any such thing.

Really? No website that you control? This, from Lord Monckton’s biography on the Science and Public Policy Institute‘s website, where Lord Monckton is Chief Policy Advisor.

His contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 – the correction of a table inserted by IPCC bureaucrats that had overstated tenfold the observed contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise – earned him the status of Nobel Peace Laureate. His Nobel prize pin, made of gold recovered from a physics experiment, was presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York, USA.

And just in case you think I’m making this up, a screen grab from the same page.

I should just point out that there’s nothing too revelatory about this incident. Journalist Hugh Riminton pointed this out when Lord Monckton was last in Australia, in February 2010.

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Now on DeSmogBlog

THERE are stacks of reasons why the rest of the world would bear more than a passing glance at what’s going on in the climate change debate in Australia.

Obviously we have the current cacophony over attempts to legislate a price on greenhouse gas emissions, set to get even louder come Sunday when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces what the starting price will be.

But then there’s Australia’s other contributions to climate change. For example, our position as the world’s leading exporter of coal and a booming multi-billion dollar liquified natural gas export industry.

How could we forget, too, our global links with the climate science denial industry, a resource Australians are also more than happy to give and receive, as I wrote recently on The Drum.

Over the last few years, one of my favourite places to go for coverage of the climate change denial industry has been the North America-based site DeSmogBlog.

It’s a site that’s been working since 2006 to uncover the corporate backers and marketing tricks that cloud environmental issues.

A few weeks ago they asked me to start contributing. I said yes. I’ll still be here and elsewhere too, but my first couple of pieces have gone up.

Off you go then.

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Australia’s place in a global climate denial web

This post originally appeared on The Drum.

Climate sceptics, deniers, contrarians – call them what you like – are engaged in a fight for column inches, radio waves, TV talk-time and community sentiment.

In Australia, the issue has turned decidedly unsavoury, with climate scientists revealing inboxes chock-full of hate and Government advisors being slurred as Nazis.

But as a memo from US Republican communications guru Frank Luntz revealed in 2003, the most important aspect of climate change denial is not to throw hate, but to sow doubt.

Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.

Doubt is the product of the climate change denial industry – an industry which is tightly knit, well resourced and globally linked. Continue reading “Australia’s place in a global climate denial web”

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The environmental Nazi hunter

This post originally appeared on The Drum.

As a sort of “grand finale” to a presentation at a conference earlier this month in Los Angeles, climate “sceptic” Lord Christopher Monckton displayed on the giant conference screen a large Nazi swastika next to a quote from Adolf Hitler.

A few seconds later came another quote, next to another large swastika – an emblem still offensive to most people seven decades after the end of WWII.

The quote this time was from Australia’s climate change advisor Professor Ross Garnaut, which suggested that “on a balance of probabilities, the mainstream science is right” on human-caused climate change.

Professor Garnaut’s opinion was, according to the presiding hereditary peer, a “fascist point of view”. This paranoia sits beside Lord Monckton’s regularly expressed view that environmentalists are communists in disguise.

The conference was organised by the American Freedom Alliance, a think-tank which is currently involved in a long-running legal battle with a California science education centre. The AFA wanted to screen a documentary which featured scientists attacking Darwin’s theory of evolution in favour of intelligent design, but the education centre cancelled the screening. Continue reading “The environmental Nazi hunter”

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Skeptically threatening

You will be chased down the street with burning stakes and hung from your f****** neck until you are dead, dead, dead.

ANY academic these days who chooses to speak publicly about the impacts or the implications of human-caused climate change can expect to come under attack.

The above note was contained in an email sent to one of these academics, but it is just one example. There are many scientists who over recent years have been receiving notes and communications like this.

Last Saturday, The Canberra Times revealed it had discovered abuse, threats and intimidation of at least 30 scientists working on climate change across NSW, ACT, Queensland, WA, South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

In most instances, the abuse had been in the form of emails. There were other incidents which were not reported.

One researcher, The Canberra Times reported, had received “threats of sexual assault and violence against her children” after she was pictured in a newspaper at a tree-planting event. Continue reading “Skeptically threatening”

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Emails reveal nature of attacks on climate scientists

CLIMATE scientists have long been the target for abuse and so the latest revelations that researchers have been on the receiving end of death threats won’t surprise many people engaged in the issue.

From current and past experience of speaking with climate scientists, I know many have been receiving threatening and abusive communications for years.

In some ways it is seen as a part of their role. A quirk of the job which needs to be tolerated and managed, whether they like it or not.

For some, spam filters remove the need to engage directly with the emails. Some say they just brush off the conflict. Others ignore it. Some have internal systems to guard themselves from the communications.

But none of this makes it right.

The latest unsavoury swag of attacks targeting Australian climate scientists is now being reported in The Guardian and other news outlets around the world.

But just what is the nature of the threats? What kind of language is being used?

Here are some extracts of emails sent since January this year to three Australia-based senior scientists researching climate change and its impacts. Information which either identifies the recipient, or the sender, has been removed.

Please be advised the texts contain strong language.

Continue reading “Emails reveal nature of attacks on climate scientists”

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Been there, bought the skeptic t-shirt?

VESTED interests, including fossil fuel companies and miners, have been shown to have more than an idle hand in promoting the misrepresentation of climate science. There’s obviously some money in it.

But is there any cash to be made in climate denial itself by promoting their contrarianism as a brand in its own right? Apparently, the answer is yes.

Michael Cejnar, one of the organisers for the impending Australia-wide tour of climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton, has seen the opportunity for a few bucks on the side and set-up an online shop to sell “Climate Skeptic” branded merchandise. T-shirts and caps are on offer.I honestly thought this was a spoof, rather like the new branded inhalers being offered by Peabody Coal on the “Coal Cares” website, but it’s all very real.

Mr Cejnar has also got another shop selling “No Carbon Tax” t-shirts. Perhaps they’ll be on offer at a few of the locations for Lord Monckton’s tour?

Surely some of the mining executives at next month’s convention of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, where Lord Monckton has been afforded 90 minutes to speak, will be able to spare a few dollars for a mug?

Just as a side note, as a journal which has done more than any other in Australia to promote the unscientific and debunked views of climate change deniers, it is thoroughly appropriate that the model in the photograph should be clutching a copy of The Australian.

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Climate change groundhog day

This post originally appeared on ABC’s The Drum.

To bastardise a line from the 35th US president John F. Kennedy, it’s time that Australian politicians asked not what their climate policies can do for the opinion polls, but what they can do for the planet.

The Commonwealth Government’s independent Climate Commission released a report yesterday saying climate change is still real, it is still caused mainly by burning fossil fuels and digging up trees and the consequences are still going to be bad. Continue reading “Climate change groundhog day”

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