Posts Tagged Andrew Bolt

Andrew Bolt is still on the fringes, whether he stands with Lord Monckton or not

Lord Monckton at the launch of Rise Up Australia. Credit: ABC footage

A FEW weeks ago I wrote a story for DeSmogBlog looking at how Lord Christopher Monckton – a poster child of the climate science denialist movement – had agreed to launch a new Australian political party fronted by an anti-Islamist Creationist preacher.

The party in question is called Rise Up Australia and its messianic front man, Pastor Danny Nalliah, believes that only God can control the climate and that Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed more than 170 people, were God’s punishment for Victoria’s laws allowing abortion.

Well, Lord Monckton’s deed has been done and duly covered on the ABC’s flagship news program 7.30 Report.

The rented room at the National Press Club in Canberra was chock-full of Pastor Danny’s enthusiastic, God-fearing supporters and Lord Monckton whipped their evangelism until the froth was soaking the carpet. Reporter Hayden Cooper went through Nalliah’s beliefs, including his claim that he had brought a couple of people back from the dead.

As I exlained on DeSmogBlog and also on Crikey, Pastor Nalliah actually launched the party in May 2011 (and again a couple of months later) and registered the party with the Australian Electoral Commission 12 months ago. But the launch made for good telly.

One of Lord Monckton’s longest-serving supporters is Andrew Bolt, the climate science mangling News Ltd columnist  and blogger who is, as we’re often told, the country’s most influential political commentator. He’s none too chuffed by Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Pastor Danny, and wrote on his blog:

Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.

So rather than denouncing the extremist views of Pastor Danny Nalliah, Andrew Bolt instead is most immediately concerned that Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Rise Up Australia might be bad PR for climate sceptics.

But Andrew Bolt is an awful long way behind the climate science denial 8-Ball here, given that Lord Monckton was endorsing Pastor Danny Nalliah’s position as long ago as July 2011 when Monckton was invited to speak at Nalliah’s extremist Catch the Fire Ministries.

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Andrew Bolt’s climate fact drought

A NEW climate study out this week in the leading science journal Nature is getting a bit of attention in Australia because it reportedly called into question the way that climate models work out the risk of future droughts.

SOME computer models for global warming may be over-estimating the risk of drought, according to a study,” read the introduction of the story from agency AAP.

This delighted News Ltd columnist and climate science mangler-in-chief Andrew Bolt, who promptly wrote a blog arguing that this was why “local warmists” have been predicting worsening droughts for Australia.

But before we look at why Bolt is wrong to link the study to Australian conditions, let’s first have a quick look at what the paper actually did and what it concluded.

What the researchers did was to look first at a set of data which records moisture in the first few millimetres of soils and then compared this to records of where and when rain has fallen. More precisely, they looked at afternoon rains.

What they found was that on a local scale and under certain conditions, rain did not appear to have a preference for falling over areas where the soil was wet. The researchers point out that six global weather and climate models do assume that rain is more likely over wetter soils, hence their conclusion that the models might need a tweak.

So how does this relate to the kind of long-term drought periods suffered in Australia? I asked Dr Christopher Taylor, the study’s lead author at the UK’s publicly-funded Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Dr Taylor told me:

Prolonged droughts are strongly related to persistent large-scale weather patterns. These can occur simply due to the chaotic nature of the atmosphere, though for many regions of the world, ocean temperature patterns (such as El Nino) are often the underlying cause. Where our work comes in is when the atmosphere is in a marginal state – will it rain or won’t it? Under such conditions, we know that soil moisture can make a difference.

To summarise then, this paper was not looking at the processes which drive long-term drought in Australia, but rather what happens on those days when there’s a bit of cloud around and you wonder whether or not you should bring your washing in. Nevertheless, the study is important as it could improve the accuracy of weather and climate models.

But just to be certain, I asked Dr Taylor how relevant his study was to the sort of conditions that can break long-term droughts in Australia? Dr Taylor added

Our results don’t challenge the conventional notion that large already-dry regions in the sub-tropics will get drier under climate change.

Cue Andrew Bolt, who tapped into his many years of experience misrepresenting climate science to conclude that this study was highly relevant to Australia’s situation. He wrote:

This will explain why our local warmists used to predict our last drought would “never break” – would be “permanent”, our “new climate” – and why we built appallingly expensive desalination plants now lying idle in the rain.

Except as we have already learnt (because we read the paper and checked first with the researcher in question) the paper doesn’t “explain” much at all about the long-term drought conditions in Australia and how climate models predict them. Oops.

But that’s not the only thing that Andrew Bolt misrepresents in his story. To highlight how “local warmists” have been using models to predict drought, Bolt quotes Dr David Jones, head of climate monitoring and prediction services at the Bureau of Meteorology.

“It may be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent . .. ‘Perhaps we should call it our new climate,’ said the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate analysis, David Jones.”

What’s wrong with this quote is that Dr Jones never actually said it. The beginning of the quote was in fact the introduction to the story from the 8 January 2008 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, written by journalist Richard Macey.

What Dr Jones actually said was “There is a debate in the climate community, after … close to 12 years of drought, whether this is something permanent. Certainly, in terms of temperature, that seems to be our reality, and that there is no turning back”. Earlier in the story, Jones does say “Perhaps we could call it our new climate” but he was mainly talking in the story about temperatures, not drought.

So twice Andrew Bolt fails to check a source properly and ends up misleading his readers as a result.

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Donna Laframboise and The Delinquent Think Tank

This post was orginally published at DeSmogBlog.

CANADIAN blogger and climate science sceptic Donna Laframboise has flown off for a tour of Australia to tell anyone willing to listen that the world’s foremost body on climate change, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is something resembling a shambling mess.

Laframboise’s trip has been organised by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a long history of promoting doubt about the science of human-caused climate change and the risks of the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels.

The blogger, who describes herself as an investigative journalist, gets to visit Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to promote her book “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World’s Top Climate Expert – IPCC Expose.

The IPA describe’s Laframboise as a “world renowned author” which is stretching credibility to breaking point. This “world renowned author” has written just two books. Her first was about feminism published in 1996. The Delinquent Teenager is her second, and is currently ranked #17952 in the book seller Amazon’s Kindle store [#41,202 in the U.S. Amazon Kindle Store.]

Essentially the book makes three central claims. The first is that the IPCC has engaged several young scientists which Laframboise says goes against the IPCC’s claims that they use the world’s top scientists. A second is that some of the scientists working on some of the reports have links to environmental groups which are not always made clear. A third is that the IPCC reports use too much non-peer reviewed literature.

All of these arguments are used as a proxy to question the science. Yet the IPCC’s main climate change reports (the latest being the 2007 Assessment Report 4, the next being AR5 currently being worked on by more than 800 authors and expected some time in late 2013 or early 2014) don’t actually do any science.

They are reviews – albeit almighty ones – of research being conducted at institutions around the world and of scientific papers published in journals.  This means that even if the IPCC was found to be run by a small group of mentally-challenged llamas, this wouldn’t affect the science on human-caused climate change. In essence, Laframboise’s book is one giant strawman argument.

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What The World’s Richest Woman Gina Rinehart Thinks About Climate Change

Does Gina Rinehart want to use Fairfax as a microphone?

A version of this blog originally appeared on DeSmogBlog.

SHE is the richest woman on the planet with a personal fortune approaching $30 billion thanks to her coal and iron ore businesses.

But when it comes to arguably the planet’s most pressing problem – human-caused climate change – the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart dismisses out of hand not only the issue, but the expertise of the world’s climate science community.

Now, Rinehart, the head and owner of Hancock Prospecting, has revealed that she wants to use her substantial stakes in two leading Australian media companies to be able to promote the views of climate science deniers.

Earlier this week, the publicly-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s investigative television documentary Four Corners looked at Ms Rinehart’s life story.

Her climate science denial did not appear in the broadcast, but the ABC did ask her about it and has released the answers to a series of questions on the issue of climate change and her promotion of climate scepticism.

The program comes as Rinehart is engaged in a very public fight with the board of Fairfax, the media company which owns the nation’s most respected newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

As reported by Fairfax, Rinehart told the ABC that she would consider selling her 19 per cent shareholding in the struggling company unless she is given three board seats and the right to influence editorial policy. Read the rest of this entry »

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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