Posts Tagged deniers

Climate of Doubt As Superstorm Sandy Crosses US Coast

Picture NOAA National Hurricane Center shows Sandy as it approaches the eastern seaboard of the United States

A 30-YEAR-OLD man has just become the first New Yorker to be killed by the destructive force of the super-charged storm Sandy which, as I type, is moving across the eastern side of the United States.

The New York Times reported how the man died when a tree fell on his house in Queens. The former-Hurricane Sandy has already claimed more than 60 lives in Caribbean countries.

There are something like 50 million Americans currently in the storm’s path. It seems inevitable that more people will lose their lives in the coming hours.

Whatever transpires we no doubt all hope that the number of fatalities is low. But neither good fortune nor any god will decide. The death toll will be what it is, and families will grieve.

It seems insensitive to mention the billions of dollars of damage the storm will cause. It might, to some, seem insensitive to mention human-caused climate change at a time like this.

But given that neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama had the courage, the foresight or the necessary leadership qualities to be able to mention the issue in their official debates, I’d say their insensitivity is far greater than any which a freelance journo and blogger across the Pacific may be able to muster.

But the evidence would suggest that it is reckless to ignore the hand which burning coal (some of it Australia’s), oil and gas and tearing down forests has had on this storm and is having on extreme weather events across the world.

Adding billions of tonnes of additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year is loading the climate dice. When you roll the dice, the chances of getting extremes such as droughts, heatwaves and floods increase. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Simon Nasht tells me why he made that ABC climate documentary

“I HOPE it’s a circuit breaker,” Simon Nasht told me, the morning after the night before.

The night in question was the screening of his documentary – I Can Change Your Mind About… Climate” – to about 700,000 viewers on prime time ABC.

The circuit which Nasht was aiming to break, is the one providing voltage to an increasingly toxic debate in the media and in the public about the root causes and consequences of human-caused climate change.

Before the show had even gone to air, the program was causing controversy with commentators – myself and others including Clive Hamilton, Stephan Lewandowsky and Michael Ashley – pointing out its format gave the false impression of there being a legitimate scientific debate about fossil fuel burning causing climate change.

In brief, the show took a climate skeptic, former Liberal senator Nick Minchin, and a climate change campaigner, Anna Rose, and flew them around the world. Each could introduce the other to anybody they liked, in an attempt to change the other’s mind.

“We set out to see who Nick relies on and who Anna relies on. That’s a valid approach,” Nasht said.

As I had already written, the program gave an airing and, in turn, some

credibility, to pseudo-scientists, outlying views and consistently wrong bloggers. My argument wasn’t that they didn’t have the right to an opinion, but that the show would legitimize their debunked views.

Nasht, whose company Smith&Nasht partners him with entrepreneur Dick Smith, contacted me asking if I’d be happy to hear and communicate his side of the story. I wanted to know why he thought the format was a good idea, when I clearly didn’t. So in the interests of fairness, here we are.

“The truth is that we need new ways of framing this because we don’t have any time,” he told me.  “We have to face reality that standing on a high horse of scientific purity is not working.  The 700,000 or so people that watched the show to revisit the climate change issue were forced to consider their own point of view.”

Nasht said the show was as much about examining the social science – the reasons why the debate has become publicly polarized – as it was about examining the climate science.

“It was a thought-through strategy and we took a lot of time to think about what we were doing,” he said.

“Our great friend Stephen Schneider [the late climate scientist] came to stay with us – as he often did when he was here. We had a long chat about the program and we talked through the risks and what benefits it offered. Stephen was convinced that the debate had so spun out of control that we had to find a way to drag it back and to have some form of constructive discussion.  When ABC journalists are jostled for doing their job and nooses get held up in front of visiting scientists then things have gone nuts.  You have to find some space where there’s time for reasonable discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

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I Can Engage In A Flawed Debate About Climate Change

APPARENTLY, science writer and academic Ben Goldacre would rather slam his “cock in a door” than engage in a phony debate with climate change deniers.

At least, that’s what he told former Liberal Senator and climate sceptic Nick Minchin and climate change campaigner Anna Rose during the filming for this Thursday evening’s ABC show “I Can Change Your Mind About… Climate”.

The concept of the show is simple. Get a climate sceptic and a climate advocate together and let them take each other around the world to meet people in an attempt to change each other’s mind.

Nick Minchin laid out his own position during an interview with the ABC’s Four Corners program, back in 2009. Basically, it boiled to “lefties” exploiting people’s innate fears about climate change “to achieve their political ends”.

Be warned, Mr Minchin, as secret lefties like British Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and that famous anti-capitalist Richard Branson are also in on the socialist plot.

I should admit I’ve known about the program for many months, as I was approached to act as an advisor in the planning stages. Nothing materialised. I also spoke many months ago to Anna Rose about the show.

In both instances, I said that in my view the show’s format was flawed in that it would put non-peer-reviewed, pseudo science conducted by largely unqualified non-experts alongside decades of genuine peer reviewed scientific research. It might make for engaging telly, but it creates a false sense of balance.

If I were a climate sceptic activist or a fossil fuel lobbyist designing a format for a TV show, this show is what I’d probably come up with.

In an excerpt broadcast on radio national’s The Science Show, Goldacre explains why he thinks the show’s format is questionable and how, as part of the broader treatment of the climate change issue in mainstream media, it is a “gift” for the likes of Minchin. Read the rest of this entry »

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Climate misinformation coming to a school near you?

CAMPAIGNS to inject ideologically-driven climate science denial into schools are moving up a notch or two.

In Australia, we’ve had mining entrepreneur and geologist Professor Ian Plimer’s book released late last year, supported by free-market think-tank The Institute for Public Affairs and targeting school children and teachers.

In the US, the recent unauthorised release of fundraising documents from the free-market think tank The Heartland Institute revealed a plan to spend at least $100,000 to design a climate science curriculum for schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12 which would focus on the “controversy” of climate science.

On the back of this revelation, the Climate Reality project has released a one-minute video that imagines what school students might say about climate science if plans such as Heartland’s (or Professor Plimer’s for that matter) were to come to fruition.

Yet in reality, it’s a campaign which has already started.

Read the rest of this entry »

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