The end of my Planet Oz blog on the Guardian – so what next?

After five and half years and about 160 posts, I’m more than a bit sad to announce that my Guardian blog – Planet Oz – has officially closed.

The decision to shut down the Guardian’s global environment blog network was made back in July in London, with the pin being pulled at the end of August.

However, there was an oversight (a pretty bad one) and some of us – including Dana Nuccitelli and John Abraham of Climate Consensus – the 97% blog – weren’t told until very recently.  That meant that even after the official end date, some of us were still posting, totally oblivious of the decision.

The Guardian has apologised sincerely to me for the communications mess up, and I’ve accepted it.  Shit happens (Dana has written about the evolution of the blogs that gives a bit more background). Continue reading “The end of my Planet Oz blog on the Guardian – so what next?”

JoNova Takes a Classic Climate Denial Myth on SkyNews Outsiders

Climate science denier, so-called “science communicator”, and blogger JoNova went on SkyNews’s Outsiders programme last weekend.

Outsiders, in case you didn’t know, is hosted by Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean who together think human-caused climate change is a myth.

SkyNews is a bit of a haven for climate science denialists, what with Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and the Outsiders crew. Continue reading “JoNova Takes a Classic Climate Denial Myth on SkyNews Outsiders”

How many things did Andrew Bolt get wrong about the sacking of climate contrarian Peter Ridd? Ready, set… go.

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.


But how many of Bolt’s points did he muck up? On your marks, get set… go. Continue reading “How many things did Andrew Bolt get wrong about the sacking of climate contrarian Peter Ridd? Ready, set… go.”

Peter Ridd and the climate science deniers – group think, anyone?

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.

The story starts in mid-2016 when, through the pages of The Australian,  Ridd was making what I considered to dubious claims about alleged misuse of pictures of the Great Barrier Reef. JCU issued a censure against Ridd.

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.

All the usual suspects have had a run at Ridd’s story.  The Daily Caller, FoxNews, Andrew Bolt (lots of times), The Australian’s Graham Lloyd (lots of times) James Delingpole in Breitbart, Alan Jones (loads), Rowan Dean, and so on. Continue reading “Peter Ridd and the climate science deniers – group think, anyone?”

One Nation’s website has fake quote from former UN chief

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?

If you put that quote into your favourite search engine, you’ll find it reproduced on hundreds of pages.  The problem is, though, that Maurice Strong did not say those words at that conference.   Continue reading “One Nation’s website has fake quote from former UN chief”

The Anthropocene – a special Brisbane Writers Festival podcast edition

Panelists at the brisbane Writers festival discuss the anthropocene
Panelists at the Brisbane Writers Festival discuss the anthropocene

Will it be the sudden emergence in rock strata of layers of chicken bones, the well dispersed deposits of plastic or the leftovers from nuclear bomb tests?

It could be all of these things, and more, that scientists will use to mark the beginning of a new geological epoch made entirely by humans.

Personally, I’d offer up the leaf-blower. Continue reading “The Anthropocene – a special Brisbane Writers Festival podcast edition”

How a 1969 snorkelling trip was “cooler” than the moon landing


It’s 1969 and NASA had put two men on the moon. About 500 million people huddled in front of TV sets around the world.

But for a ten-year-old Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the thing that really got him excited that year wasn’t Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man”.

Instead, it was a snorkelling trip with his grandfather to what “probably wasn’t much of a reef” in the Whitsunday Islands.

Butterfly fish

“I just remember seeing this butterfly fish.. this gorgeous creature… orange and white with a long nose, swimming among the coral,” says Ove. Continue reading “How a 1969 snorkelling trip was “cooler” than the moon landing”

A response to “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in Virginia. Credit: cheeseslave, CC BY 2.0

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.

Salatin penned a long response on his Polyface farms Facebook page that was liked almost 3000 times and shared 1000 times more.

So I thought I should go over some of the responses and clear a few things up. First, some background. Continue reading “A response to “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin”

Will Australia have ‘clean coal’ questions in a new citizenship test?

Is the Australian Government about to introduce a bunch of questions about “clean coal” and climate change into its citizenship test?

If you’d read stories and reaction late last week, then you might have thought that it was.

But it isn’t.

High profile TV presenters, politicians and online media outlets were all sparked into indignation by a story in The Australian.

Continue reading “Will Australia have ‘clean coal’ questions in a new citizenship test?”

Andrew Bolt brings readers news from climate denialist echo chamber – three years late

“Wow,” proclaimed Andrew Bolt as he shared a clip on his blog a few days ago, “a brilliant smackdown of a CNN host by a climate sceptic and scientist, John Coleman. Great stuff.”

“Wow,” proclaimed me just now, “that clip’s nearly three years old and John Coleman’s not even a scientist. Fake stuff.”

That’s the short version. But let’s break this down a bit for those who like some detail. Continue reading “Andrew Bolt brings readers news from climate denialist echo chamber – three years late”