Bob Carter responds to Heartland leak

Note: This post has been amended to take into account statements made by Heartland and the Charles G Koch Foundation.

IN the last 48 hours a number of documents from the US think-tank the Heartland Institute have been published on the intertubes.

The Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, is well known for publishing opinions and reports which aim to question the validity of mainstream climate science.

The nine documents outline funding plans, suggest an anonymous donor has provided $8.6 million in recent years for climate work, detail a plan to write a climate curriculum for schools from kindergarten to grade 12 and detail payments to scientists, including an Australian academic.

Heartland claims the documents “appear to have been stolen” and that their president Joseph Bast has not yet had a chance to read them “to see if they have been altered”.

Heartland also claims that one of the documents, a “confidential memo” outlining their climate strategy, “is a total fake”. This document was the only one of the nine which was obviously a scanned copy.

For background here, as a free-market think-tank, Heartland would ultimately like to see little to no legislation limiting greenhouse gases. This is their ideological position.

The Australian academic in question is Professor Bob Carter, an adjunct (unpaid) research fellow at James Cook University and a long-time denier of the risks of human-caused climate change.

Professor Carter has also been a speaker at six of Heartland’s climate change conferences. The documents show Professor Carter will receive $1667 per month from Heartland in 2012 to work on a project called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

I asked Professor Carter if he was aware of the leak. He claimed he wasn’t, but then told me. Continue reading “Bob Carter responds to Heartland leak”

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The curious tale of Lord Monckton, Gina Rinehart, media ownership and Christian fundamentalists

IT was an extraordinary response, but then it was an extraordinary video revealing some extraordinary alliances.

Two weeks ago I posted a story on my blog about a YouTube video featuring one of the world’s least media-shy deniers of human-caused climate change – British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley*.

In the video, the Viscount was in the boardroom of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a free-market think-tank founded by west Australian mining magnate Ron Manners.

The video had been watched only 130 times when I clapped eyes on it following a Twitter post from journalist Leo Hickman, of the UK’s The Guardian.

In the video, posted by Mannkal (but since removed… and then reinstated… but possibly removed again by the time you read this), Lord Monckton suggests a good way to get free-market, climate science-denying views into the mainstream media, is simply to find some “super-rich” backers to buy the mainstream media.

As I watched the video last Tuesday evening, news was just emerging that mining billionaire and Asia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, had bought $192 million worth of shares in Fairfax (the publisher of Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and many regional newspapers and city-based radio stations) to take her share in the company to about 14 per cent.

To me, these two events were intrinsically linked, and not just because Mr Manners is a personal friend of Ms Rinehart’s.

When Lord Monckton went on a speaking tour around Australia in 2010, the organisers admitted that Gina Rinehart had offered to put up some of the cash. Ms. Rinehart also made one of her Hancock Prospecting staff available to organise one of the events in Perth.

When Lord Monckton repeated his junket around Australia in 2011, Ms Rinehart was again a supporter.

When ABC presenter Adam Spencer asked who had invited him to Australia, Lord Monckton answered he had been invited to deliver a lecture at Fremantle’s Notre Dame University. The university’s Dean of Business School Chris Doepel had already told me that this lecture, dedicated to Ms Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock, had been organised after discussions with her iron ore and coal company, Hancock Prospecting. Ms Rinehart attended the lecture.

In another interview, this time with the ABC’s Wendy Carlisle, Lord Monckton claimed he didn’t know who had paid for him to come, although the boss of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies had told me they had helped pay some of his costs.

Lord Monckton’s 2011 tour was mired in controversy before it even started after it emerged that during a conference speech in America he had compared one of the Australian Government’s climate change policy advisors, Professor Ross Garnaut, to a fascist.  He also displayed a huge Nazi swastika next to Professor Garnaut’s name. He “unreservedly” apologised for his “catastrophically stupid” remarks, but a few months ago changed his mind and said they were “very mild”.

In short though, the evidence would strongly suggest that Lord Monckton has close ties to Ms. Rinehart and that they have spent time discussing ideas. Continue reading “The curious tale of Lord Monckton, Gina Rinehart, media ownership and Christian fundamentalists”

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Monckton, Rinehart and a plan to capture the Australian media

BACK in July last year in a boardroom of a western Australian free-market think tank, the extrovert British climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton was holding court.

The topic for discussion? How to better capture the Australian media to help push a right wing, free-market and climate sceptic agenda.

At the time, Lord Monckton was in Australia at the behest of a mining association and Gina Rinehart to deliver a series of talks on climate change and spread his conspiracy theories that human-caused climate change is a left-wing plot to bring down the West.

At one point, Monckton told a boisterous partisan crowd: “So to the bogus scientists who have produced the bogus science that invented this bogus scare I say, we are coming after you. We are going to prosecute you, and we are going to lock you up.”

Lord Monckton had been invited to Australia by the iron and coal mining boss Rinehart, the country’s richest woman with a rising personal fortune in the region of $20 billion.

Hosting the meeting was the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, a group chaired by mining “Hall of Fame” member Ron Manners to promote free-market ideals and low government intervention.

Manners is also a member of Gina Rinehart’s lobby group ANDEV, which has been joined by the Institute for Public Affairs to lobby for a separate low-tax low regulation economic zone for the north of Australia to make mining projects easier to develop.

It would be safe to presume, given Manner’s background in mining and the make-up of his staff, that this aim to lower government intervention would include any regulations and taxes on mining.

As far as its position on climate change goes, Mannkal’s website only appears to promote sceptical and largely debunked views on climate science, with links to many climate change denial websites which form part of a global network.

The Lord Monckton gathering, posted on YouTube [see UPDATE  below], had all the air of a strategy meeting. Continue reading “Monckton, Rinehart and a plan to capture the Australian media”

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Is a misleading climate change op-ed in the Wall Street Journal really news?

WHAT’S news these days when it comes to climate change?

Could it be the news that rising temperatures could severely affect the world’s wheat crops maybe?

Or how about how human emissions of carbon dioxide have “raised ocean acidity far beyond the range of natural variations

Nah. Well, at least not if you’re The Australian newspaper, which just loves to send reality spinning down rabbit holes when it comes to climate change.

What’s news for The Australian, is that 16 “scientists” with outlying views on the risks of human-caused climate change have dusted off their previously debunked talking points for an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

So confident was The Australian about the “facts” contained in the editorial, that they didn’t bother to get a single response from an actual working Australian climate scientist. So let’s do a quick fact check for ourselves. Continue reading “Is a misleading climate change op-ed in the Wall Street Journal really news?”

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Climate science denier Ian Plimer telling porkies on primetime telly

MINING company director and University of Adelaide geologist Professor Ian Plimer managed to get a spot on prime time television a couple of night’s ago to spruik his new climate science denial book, How To Get Expelled From School.

Professor Plimer appeared on Channel Ten’s popular show, The Project (as I mentioned in an update to my blog post of a couple of days ago on Plimer’s book and his associations with the Institute of Public Affairs and other think-tanks which promote climate misinformation).

During the segment (The clip’s blocked for overseas visitors) Professor Plimer makes at least two statements which would make excellent fillings for porky pies – so fulsome were they in their porky-pieness.

Firstly, Professor Plimer claimed there was no way that Melbourne University’s Professor Ian Enting, who appeared on the show as a critic, could have read a copy of his book, which former Australian Prime Minister John Howard endorsed at an event earlier this week.

Professor Plimer said on air: “The book came out and was launched last night [Monday December 12] in Sydney. [Professor Enting] could not possibly have read a copy of this book. He is making things up and just skating on thin ice.”

Yet it was Plimer himself who officially launched the book at an IPA-organised event on November 24 in Melbourne a full 18 days earlier.  The Sydney event was a second launch.

So how did Professor Ian Enting and two other academics get copies of the book to enable them to review it? The answer is that the Australian Science Media Centre bought three copies and sent them out for review.

And how did the AusSMC get them? They got them by the underhand and surreptitious method of walking into a Dymocks bookstore in Adelaide on Monday 5th December and plucking them from the “New Release” display stand.

Also during the Channel Ten segment, host Charlie Pickering asked Professor Plimer: “Isn’t there a bigger question here that you actually didn’t send the book out to the ABC or the Fairfax press, so it’s actually been very difficult for people to scrutinse the work itself?”

When Higson Pickering then asked if copies had been sent to News Ltd papers, a now flustered Professor Plimer said: “I have no idea what the publisher sent copies to. I don’t know whether it’s gone to News or whether it’s gone to this paper or that paper. That’s not the business of an author to worry about.”

Except the reason we know the ABC and Fairfax were not sent review copies of the book was because Plimer himself said so at the Melbourne launch of his book on November 24, when clearly he did know who had been sent copies of the book.

He told the Melbourne audience: “You will be very pleased to hear that Connor Court [the publisher] are not giving review copies to the ABC…. Fairfax press are not getting a review copy.”

If Professor Plimer is willing to deceive a prime time TV audience, then what chance does the young target audience of his new book have of  deciphering his polemic?

Here is Professor Plimer speaking on November 24 at the IPA event, where he holds up what looks suspiciously like a copy of the book that he claimed nobody could have got a copy of before Monday 12 December.

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Durban dithering

THE  world took another step to curbing more really, really, really bad (actually quite scary) human-caused climate change in South Africa over the weekend.

On the core question of getting the world to agree to pull back sharply on its love of flooding the atmosphere with ancient carbon dioxide, the only agreement at the UN meeting was to agree to have another meeting.

Negotiators emerged from an all-nighter without making any pledges to cut emissions beyond what they had already committed to in previous meetings. They had negotiated their way to more negotiations.

Yet politicians around the world, and even some environmental groups, appear to be celebrating this fact that no meaningful decision was made.

Continue reading “Durban dithering”

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Plimer and Howard maintain the rage with climate science denial

ON November 24 in Melbourne, Professor Ian Plimer launched his new book which aims to spread doubt and uncertainty on the science of climate change.

Targeting school children and teachers (at least superficially), Plimer told the audience: “These children are being fed environmental propaganda and these children are too young to be fed ideology”

Yet the book – How to Get Expelled From School – is being supported by the Institute for Public Affairs, a think-tank that exists to do little else than spread its own free-market ideology.

Not only that, but Professor Plimer, a geologist at the University of Adelaide, was actively fundraising for the IPA just last month when the Federal Government’s carbon price legislation was passed. (UPDATE: The executive director of the IPA John Roskam, former corporate affairs manager for mining giant Rio Tinto, is on the editorial board of the book’s publisher, Connor Court.)

During his 20-minute launch speech, Professor Plimer criticised climate scientists for being allegedly part of a “political movement”.

Yet in virtually the next breath, he told the audience “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming.”

Continue reading “Plimer and Howard maintain the rage with climate science denial”

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Michael Mann on the attacks on climate science

A LUCID and brave presentation from famed Hockey Stick climate scientist Michael Mann, of Penn State University, discussing the campaign against climate science and, more specifically, against his science.

Have a look at my recent blog post, also published on Crikey, for more on the latest unlawful publication of emails allegedly hacked from the servers of the University of East Anglia.

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The Australian’s own jaundiced view of climate science

In The Australian newspaper today, writer Chris Kenny clambers on to an arthritic hobby horse (and then climbs down to step into a glass house) to accuse the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of being “jaundiced and counter-productive” on its coverage of climate change.

Someone should give Kenny a job on a stone fruit orchard, such is his ability to pick cherries.

You can read his piece here.

Attempting to justify his argument, Kenny picks through a random selection of stories and issues to suggest the ABC is biased. For example:

When the ABC broadcast Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth* there was plenty of attendant publicity, sympathetic coverage and acclaim. But when it broadcast another side of the debate, The Great Global Warming Swindle, the ABC issued a disclaimer and followed it with an interview and panel discussion, largely debunking the program.

The ABC showed the Great Global Warming Swindle more than four years ago. The reason the program was “largely debunked” was because… well.. it has been largely debunked!

Kenny criticises the ABC for apparently lauding environmental scientist Tim Flannery “as an honest broker”. Yet The Australian regularly turns to “experts” on climate science or policy who have a clear and stated ideological or industry view (step forward, the Institute for Public Affairs, the Australian Coal Association and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association).

What other evidence of this ABC bias? Continue reading “The Australian’s own jaundiced view of climate science”

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Climategate II – more evidence that scientists are actual people

These folks appear to have some very large industry groups behind them running the show, setting up forums for them on capitol hill (the latest sponsored by the infamous ‘Marshall Institute’) and its best for scientists not to exchange any emails with them — they will only quote you out of context and misrepresent your comments.” — Michael Mann, Wednesday, November 12, 2003.

Climate scientist Michael Mann is known for his reconstructions of past global temperatures — namely the hockey stick graph — which has withstood extreme scrutiny since it was first published in 1999.

But as the email above shows, Manne is not without some skill in predicting the future.

Continue reading “Climategate II – more evidence that scientists are actual people”

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