Green Lunacy at the Parkville Asylum


Melbourne University’s new vice-chancellor, Duncan Maskell, wants to “reach out” and “build partnerships” with the business sector. It may be harder than he thinks. Potential donors might catch up with what the university’s Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) is advocating. MSSI Director, Professor Brendan Gleeson, has just co-authored with staffer Dr Sam Alexander a book Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary.[1]

The book calls for the overthrow of capitalism en route to a mightily shrunken non–consumerist “eco-socialism”. MSSI cites reviews of the book as a “beacon of hope” for a “a tantalizing and realistic suburban future”, as the authors guide us “through the calamities of the Anthropocene”. MSSI last March also published an update by the Gleeson/Alexander duo, “showcasing new and exciting sustainability knowledge”.[2] The authors respectfully quote Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto of 1848. But they argue for a decarbonised Australia which for radicalism makes Marx and Engels seem mild as maiden aunts:

Attempting to take control of the state may not necessarily be the best way to initiate the transition to a just and sustainable degrowth economy, for even a socialist state may find itself locked into unsustainable growth just as capitalism is.


A revolutionary consciousness must precede the revolution. If governments will not lead this process, it arguably follows that social movements might have to change the world without (at first) taking state power… [3]

The authors note that Australian householders to the 1950s did a lot of backyard food-growing, dress-making and furniture-making, and DIY building:

This ‘urban peasantry’ declined however in the Post-War Boom, as the rise of mass consumer capitalism enabled households to purchase goods previously produced within the household. We contend that any degrowth or post-capitalist transition may well see the re-emergence of an ‘urban peasantry’ in this sense, albeit one shaped by different times and concerns.

The more pain for citizens the better, apparently, to “shake people awake”:

In our view, it is better that citizens are not in fact protected from every disruptive situation, given that encounter with crisis can play an essential consciousness-raising role. (175).

They say,

Ultimately, the solution to crisis is crisis: a massive suspension of capitalism as prelude to a new economic and social dispensation…To liberate human prospect, we must cast down not defend the burning barricades of a dying modernity. (15-16)

They extol Cubans for food production in backyards, turning “crisis into opportunity”. The post-2007 Greek debt crisis also furnishes them insights “into ways of dealing positively with challenging and turbulent times”. I’m surprised they haven‘t also cited socialist Venezuela’s shining example of degrowth. They say that living standards, despite degrowth, can be propped up by voluntary sharing and gifting. But they caution the middle classes that “access to expensive handbags through sharing schemes is not progressive if it merely entrenches consumer culture.”

Richard di Natale’s Green’s Party, they say, “has begun to recognize the need for a post-growth economy, even though it treads very carefully knowing that it must not alienate a voting constituency that is still developing a post-growth consciousness” (180). I don’t think di Natale will thank them for that insight.

In one of the sickening clichés of the Gleeson/Alexander academic style – dating back eight years to Alexander’s Ph.D. thesis — the authors time-travel to 2038 and discover what a success their policies have been (145).[4] Large fossil-fuel companies are nationalized in a near “war time mobilization” and their workers handed a job guarantee in renewables (167).

Graffiti daubers in 2038 instead write inspirational slogans: “Graffiti art sprayed all over Melbourne captured the spirit best: ‘I have a little; you have nothing; therefore, we have a little’” (154). Suburbanites share food from their vegie plots, eschew distant holidays (local trips show “hidden delights” within reach of a borrowed electric car), mend their own clothes, eat vegetarian and fertilise their backyard plots with nutrients from their composting toilets. “As old attitudes die, it is now broadly accepted that a civilized society in an era of water scarcity should not defecate into potable water…” they write (158).

“Tiny houses” on wheels proliferate on idle driveways and spare rooms are opened to boarders. Homesteaders enjoy sewing, baking bread and brewing beer. (Home-brewed cider and port feature in Alexander’s previous yurts-and-jam-jar imaginings). People spend their leisure on “low-impact creative activity like music or art, home-based production, or sport. (164)”. But many sport fields get converted to cropping, which is tough on the likes of AFL fans who initially create “instances of social conflict” until won over by Gleeson and Alexander’s insights (159).

The elderly purr along on electric bikes, and neighborhoods share ‘electric cargo bikes” capable of dropping multiple kids at school. The ‘vast majority’ of city people do some food-growing and bee-keeping in their welcome new roles as “urban peasantry”. They convert train-line verges to chicken and goat farms and former car parks to aquaculture. With so much  physical work, people need less public health care, “freeing up more of the public purse for the energy transition” (160).

The ambience at MSSI hasn’t changed much since I last checked them out four years ago. Those earlier pieces — The joy of yurts and jam-jar glassware, Melbourne Uni’s watermelon patch, and A book without peer— can be read by following the links.

MSSI is now running a whole project on eco-socialism’s “Great Resettlement” of the suburbs after we cut loose from our “fatal addiction” to oil, gas and coal. Just for starters, Gleeson/Alexander are now agitating for a top marginal tax rate of “90 per cent or more”,[5] wealth taxes “to systematically transfer 3 per cent of private wealth [do they mean per annum?] from the richest to the poorest” and estate taxes of 90 per cent or more “to ensure the laws of inheritance and bequest do not create a class system of entrenched wealth and entrenched poverty.” In their view, Australia should give a guaranteed living wage to every permanent resident and a “job guarantee” involving the state as employer of last resort (193-4).

The book says the “working class struggle” (91) should involve, of course, a giant increase in State control for a “wholesale eco-socialist transition” (174). There would be “vastly increased democratic planning and perhaps even some rationing of key resources to ensure distributive equity” (195). State and community banks would monopolise most mortgages and use the profits to fund a guaranteed right to public housing (191), with socialization of property per se likely later down the track (190).

To prepare the masses for this Gleesonian world of degrowth, grassroots education campaigns would get special importance and the arts sector would weave “emotionally convincing” narratives about anti-consumerism (195) – — except maybe for climate tragic Cate Blanchett; her portfolio includes a $6m Sussex mansion.

In the book’s sole flash of common sense, the authors say, “Electric cars are still on the rise, but progress is slow as few households can afford them, and their ecological credentials remain dubious in many respects” (164-65).

You may be wondering about this Sustainable Society Institute. It’s not some rogue element of the campus in a reefer-strewn Carlton hideaway but an interdisciplinary Melbourne University standard-bearer. It has a “diverse and vibrant  Advisory Board of experts, leaders and champions of sustainability.” They include Nobelist Peter Doherty and the president, no less, of the university’s professorial board, Rachel Webster.

Housed in the architecture faculty , it has a staff of 21 including four professors, 6-7 PhDs and 10 administrators. There goes about $3m salaries a year in tax and fees, let alone costs of MSSI delegations to annual UN climate gabfests. MSSI purports to produce high impact publications, post-grad research and public debate – although the only debates there are among green-leftists. MSSI has staff exchanges with Germany’s far-left Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, which has helped lure Germany into a crippling energy shortage.

Check out MSSI’s “diverse and vibrant advisory board of experts, leaders and champions of sustainability.” Chair is Melbourne’s deputy mayor Arron Wood, a graduate of the Climate Leadership program run by globe-trotting, CO2-belching Al Gore. Other members include John Bradley, State Environment Department head and previously CEO of power distributor Energy Networks; and various green group leaders like Katerina Gaita, CEO of “Climate for Change”. She’s a fellow Al Gore graduate and daughter of Romulus My Father author Raimond Gaita with whom she shared the jolliest green family chinwags at the Wheeler Centre (below).

The MSSI board, apart from some vested interests, also bulges with corporate high-flyers of the capitalist imperium targeted for destruction by MSSI. These barons and duchesses of a dying order include Rosemary Bissett, sustainability head of National Australia Bank; Gerard Brown, corporate affairs head of ANZ Bank; and Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, strategy manager at Bank Australia. She boasts of leading the campaign to replace Hazelwood power station and stopping another Victorian coal-fired power project going ahead, plus there was her role in the women-in-climate change seminar. Then there’s Adam Fennessy, EY consultancies’ government strategy partner and ex-head of Victoria’s Environment Department. No green lobby would be replete without big emitter Qantas, and MSSI has Megan Flynn, listed as Qantas group environment and carbon strategy manager.[3] Sadly for Qantas, Gleeson’s post-capitalist and climate-friendly world will be a no-fly zone.

Last week Melbourne University’s council and its academics combined to put out an improved free speech policy, not before time as the Institute of Public Affairs audit last year cited some nasty incidents: 

Conservative students launched a membership drive and a posse of Melbourne University academics cried ‘Racists!’ and had the conservative students thrown off campus. Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was shouted down and physically confronted during a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne.

The Gleeson-Alexander “array of revolutionary reforms” includes a scenario “to create (or re-create) a ‘free press’” (p194-5). I hope they don’t have a tax or fee-financed bunyip version of Pravda in mind.

Associate Professor (climate politics) Peter Christoff is a long-time MSSI executive committee member. He’s publicly called for legislation imposing “substantial fines” and “bans” to silence conservative commentators of the Andrew Bolt/Alan Jones ilk. This was a contrast to last week’s university policy to promote “critical and free enquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate within the University and in the wider society”. Christoff was addressing a 2012 university seminar aptly titled Law vs Desire: Will Force or Obedience Save the Planet? His draconian sanctions were, as per my transcribing from 20 minutes in,

based on the fact that unchecked climate denialism over time would cause loss of freedom and rights, the death of thousands of humans, the loss of entire cultures, effectively genocide , extinctions… 

The legislation to be contemplated might be roughly framed around things like Holocaust Denial legislation which already exists in 17 countries, focused on the criminalisation of those who public condone, deny or trivialise crimes of genocide or crimes against humanity… 

“The [fifth] objection [to his proposal] is that this is simply unworkable, inquisitorial, having the perverse effect of increased attraction to banned ideas and their martyrs. It will depend on the application of such law. If it is selective and well focused, with substantial fines and perhaps bans on certain broadcasters and individuals whom I will not name, who stray from the dominant science without any defensible cause, it would have a disciplinary effect on public debate. There still would be plenty of room for peer reviewed scientific revisionism and public debate around it, but the trivial confusion that is being deliberately generated would be done away with, and that is a very important thing at the moment.

His proposal was heard with equanimity by the panel comprising Professor Helen Sullivan, Director of the University’s Centre for Public Policy (introducer); MSSI’s Professor Robyn Eckersley; activist Dave Kerin and Professor of Rhetoric Marianne Constable (University California, Berkeley). The young audience showed no negative reaction. Compere was the university’s Dr Juliet Rogers, now a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. (Her Melbourne Law School PhD was on ‘Fantasies of Female Circumcision: Flesh, Law and Freedom Through Psychoanalysis’).

Professor Sullivan, summing up at 1.54.20, says Christoff’s contribution is useful

“just about how you might start to use the law and possibility of the law, to generate a sense of resistance and generate people out of a passivity. I would not want to think Peter’s contribution was off the point; it is ‘in there’ and may be part of the mix and something we need to be thinking about.”

One of three comments on the youtube seminar page reads: “A highly distinguished, diverse group of intelligent human beings openly discussing hard topics to help humanity navigate our way through these hard times with a sense of justice, democracy and reason.” Another begs to differ: “Just listened here to a group of academic Eco-[authoritarians] who all are embracing the biggest scientific swindle of all time. Fascinating insight into lunatics.” 

Christoff and Eckersley in 2014 co-wrote a chapter in the Christoff-edited book “Four Degrees of Global Warming, Australia in a Hot World”.[6]They reached the following “Conclusion” (p201): 

 The American political scientist Chalmers Johnston called 9/11 and the continuing War on Terror ‘blowback’, caused by United States’ imperial foreign and defence policies from the 1950s to the start of the century. If we do realise a Four Degree World…we will have cause to call the results for Australia ‘climate’ blowback or ‘carbon’ blowback.

It seems disrespectful to 3000 murdered Americans to suggest that the attack was America’s fault, or “blowback”.

Here’s more Gleeson/Alexander book extracts, free speech indeed (Trigger warning for snowflakes):

# “A massive, disruptive adjustment to the human world is inevitable. The next world is already dawning. Humanity will surely survive to see it…capitalism will not…it will collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions. (15)

# Their recipe for suburban reform is for “radicals and progressives – indeed all who experience a sense of care and responsibility for viable human futures – to loudly indict a dying but still lethal capitalism for its crimes against human and natural prospects.” (204)

# Eco-warrior David Holmgren, writing in the book’s Foreword: “The global economy is a Ponzi scheme of fake wealth that will inevitably follow the trajectory of previous bubbles in the history of capitalism – but this time, the tightening grip of resource depletion and other limits will make this boom cycle the final one for global capitalism.’ Holmgren says he found the Mad Max movie the “primary intellectual reference point” about the energy-scarce future. (vi)

The co-authors argue that we should not “callously close borders”, as we need to take in not just (so far mythical) climate refugees but invite the world’s poor in general for reasons of “solidarity and compassion”.

“We must oppose the tide of scapegoat racism that seems to be driving the wave of populist nationalism that today calls for the closing of borders at a time when we must be opening our hearts” (18-19).

Concurrently, somehow, the state should enforce constantly reducing resource availability, such as 3 per cent a year, to ensure degrowth plus justice and sustainability (184).

They quote Slavoj Zizek, their oft-cited Slovenian philosopher, describing the capitalist economy as “a beast that can not be controlled”. It must, however, be brought to heel before it propels humanity, and all we presume to govern, into the abyss, they add (9). Zizek is a particularly odd fish.[7]

Their war-cry: “We should raise an infernal racket about the narcosis that has settled in the dying hours of capitalism. Sleepers awake! We have the right to imagine and create a more enlightened world. To work…in the suburbs, now.” (205-6)

Back in the real world, bike and vegetable-friendly co-author Alexander, who lives gas-free, says he has draped his home with solar panels to  produce six times more electricity than he draws from the grid (1kWh per person per day). His annual bill is zero. “None of this has required wearing hairshirts of living in a cave without lights,” he says (120), overlooking how much his free electricity is subsidized by taxpayers, renters and non-solar householders.

Maybe the authors will win the 2020 economics Nobel with their proposal for suburban currencies.[8] Puckle Street forex traders ought to give my Flemington dollars a good rate against their Moonee Ponds buck.

I’ve visited some nice universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Chicago, Bologna and Padua. But maybe tourists should give Melbourne University’s Sustainability Institute a miss — unless, like visitors to Hogarth’s Bedlam, they enjoy observing lunatics going about their strange business.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here


[1] The book isn’t cheap: $65 for the e-book and $85 hardcover for 285 pages. Tip: free download from State Libraries.

[2] Degrowth ‘from below’? The role of urban social movements in a post-capitalist transition. MSSI Research Paper No. 6, March 2019

[3] Quotes with page references are from the book. Without a page reference, they’re from Paper No 6.

[4] In Alexander’s 2011 Ph.D. thesis, he time-travelled to 2029 (18 years out). In his Entropia book of 2013, he time-travelled to 2035 (22 years out). Now he time-travels to 2038, 19 years out.

[5] The UK income-tax record rate was 136 per cent in 1968. It was 83-98 per cent in the ’70s

[6] Routledge, Oxford, 2014.

[7] Zizek was in Prague during the 1968 Russian invasion and wrote, “I found there, on the central square, a café that miraculously worked through this emergency. I remember they had wonderful strawberry cakes, and I was sitting there eating strawberry cakes and watching Russian tanks against demonstrators. It was perfect.” Teaching at Cincinnati University, he said he hated the stupid, boring students and promised them A-grades if they didn’t give him any of their shitty papers, and lower grades if they did. No papers were submitted that term, shitty or otherwise. For students asking his help on their personal problems, his routine response was “I don’t care, kill yourself, it’s not my problem.”

[8] “Most suburbs have also developed their own local currencies that are helping stabilize and support localized economic transactions beneath the surface of the dying markets of global capitalism.” (163)

Climate Council crestfallen

22 June 2019

Australia’s media will shortly run the following ‘climate crisis’ stories: London’s black cabs are going electric; UK offshore turbines are a howling success; and a coal town in Germany’s Ruhr is loving renewables.

How do I know? Because Tim Flannery’s Climate Council is junketing the love media to Europe to spoon-feed them these tales. CEO Amanda McKenzie says her work’s ‘decoding [misinformation] for journalists, making sure journalists are asking the right questions etc.’.

Last year the Council took two troupes including the SMH, ABC, Guardian, and Women’s Weekly to snorkel artfully-selected patches of the Barrier Reef ‘to see the bleaching first hand’. The reef’s 2,300km long, so the snorkeled sampling wasn’t extensive. The hacks obliged with oodles of ‘high profile’ reports and Council-supplied TV clips, to the fury of reef tour operators. Now on a $3-4m budget, the Council’s generated $100-plus million worth of media, it says, ‘reaching a cumulative audience of 448 million’.

Nine days pre-election, it tried a super-scare with its ersatz ‘peer reviewed’ report that Coalition climate inertia would chop property values by $571 billion by 2030. Voters yawned. McKenzie wrote that the election’s only ‘silver lining [was] seeing one of the biggest deniers, Tony Abbott, swept away’. She spent ‘sleepless nights’ revising strategy, she told a web seminar last month. She concedes people are jaded from decades of claims about 5-10 years to save the planet: ‘These dates are sometimes unhelpful.’

The Council’s Adani-or-the-Reef pretense also backfired. She’s considering an Albo-style ‘listening tour’ of North Queensland to discover why tradies put jobs before climate virtue. She’ll flog them her ‘just transition’ renewables line and ‘nut out how it could hopefully be made bi-partisan’.

She fears her burnt-out activists might vacate the field, as they did after the Climategate-stricken talks ‘fell apart’ in Copenhagen 2009, where she led our youth delegates. Those pesky sceptics might again ramp up to ‘full throttle’ notwithstanding her other claim that five years’ relentless Council work had ‘killed off the influence of climate denialism’.

Why the election loss? Her $4m Council was underdog in the climate wars, she believes. Clive Palmer’s $60m spending was more than the annual revenue of the whole climate movement, she says.

McKenzie’s warmy hypotheses are backed only by federal and every State government, Labor, unions, the Greens, top companies from BHP-Billiton, Woodside and Qantas down (Council director Gerry Hueston also sits on the Business Council), the billions-subsidised renewables, universities and education systems, the ABC, Nine media, arts/entertainment and its funders, doctors’ wives (make that ‘spouses’)… anyone I’ve missed?

The Council masquerades as a body refuting sceptic lies, ‘a voice for evidence-based and science-backed reason’. It introduced the scientific term ‘Angry Summer’ for recent summer heat. Maybe it will appease the angry summer gods by throwing virgins into the nearest volcano.

I thought science was not about inciting brainwashed kids as cannon–fodder in climate wars. The truants are ‘amazing’ and a ‘wake up call to adults,’ says McKenzie, who shot to fame as (adult) co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. The GetUp!-allied AYCC has acknowledged its current school-strike role. McKenzie now discloses the Council’s role too: ‘I know Dinah [Dinah Arndt, Council flak] and some of her team worked with some of the school strikers to help refine their message and make sure they can get out there in the press too.’ I’d queried at the time which agency was penning the kids’ fake-teenager media releases.

McKenzie would even like Greta Thunberg, the mercilessly-exploited unwell Swedish 16-year old, to Skype her apocalyptic ravings to gullibles here: ‘She’s an amazing communicator and absolutely fantastic… incredibly eloquent.’Asked online if the Council would ape the Guardian’s loons and tout a ‘climate emergency’, McKenzie prefers for PR reasons to use the less-inflammatory ‘climate crisis’. This ‘crisis’ is belied by global Hadcrut4 temperatures rising only 0.0156degC a year since January 2000 including natural el Ninos. That’s a mere 1.56degC rate per century.

Talking more ‘science’, she claims to have convinced Australians that big droughts, storms and bushfires are CO2-inspired.

US authority Roger J. Pielke Jr. found no statistical connection between climate change and extreme-weather related damages, after adjusting for population and wealth. Globally there’s still no clear trends in extremes, up or down, he’s found. A Royal Society paper last year concluded that global areas burned are both declining and are less than centuries ago.

Councillor Lesley Hughes (Macquarie pro-vice chancellor) admitted to a Blue Mountains firefighter audience in February that for burnt area, ‘Australian fire datasets [are] generally too short to detect convincing trends’ but she ramped up the climate scare anyway.

Meanwhile, cities and shires have become the Council’s ‘centre stage’ now that voters reject emissions catastrophism. The Council’s project director Alix Pearce tells her ‘local heroes’ in deep-purple prose, ‘In the face of this seemingly impending doom, new leaders are emerging to meet the climate challenge.’ The Council’s got one hundred local bodies to literally sign a climate pledge, with at least two thousand accolades suctioned from the media. The numbers go wild: McKenzie in her ‘The Facts’ webinar claimed the councils represented ‘over 7 million’ people; the Council brief says ‘almost 11 million’.

The shire pledges include not just installing renewables but advocating for large-scale wind and solar farms, and ‘pushing for climate action’ by governments. Specifically, ‘Lobby for state and federal support for a just transition away from coal-driven industry for local workers and the community’. Some 25 councils have pledged to run ‘education and behaviour change programs to positively influence the behavior of council officers, residents and businesses.’

For not signing her pledge I’ve dobbed in my Moonee Valley Council and its large ‘sustainability’ team (my rates since 2014 are up from $2,358 to $2,608). Alix will hassle MVCC ‘in our next round of intake’, her underling emails me. I’ll pack a small suitcase for re-education camp to become an MVCC ‘Sustainability Champion and Environmental Superhero’.

Fact-checker? What about a bias-checker?


8 June 2019

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has got interested in the bias issue. Melbourne ABC 774 Drive host Rafael Epstein fished last week for a ‘no-bias’ endorsement. Ita set him back: ‘Sometimes I think we might be biased, I think sometimes we could do with more diversity of views.’ Check the transcript on Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog.

By coincidence, I’d been checking bias myself by sampling ABC’s flagship Victorian TV  news of Saturday May 25  to Monday May 27.

On Saturday 7pm I sought news of the terror attack in central Lyon, since I’d got back from a Paris holiday on Friday. A bomb packed with shrapnel injured thirteen bystanders. Not a word or picture made the trivia-laden bulletin. On Sunday and Monday’s 7pm, zip. But Monday’s ran a piece about a bomb in Kathmandu that killed four and injured seven. It was blamed on some Mao-ist sect, whereas an Algerian you-know-who is the arrested suspect in Lyon. Take your pick: ABCTV protects its ‘religion of peace’ narrative, or has no idea about news priorities.

Next, how’s this from Sunday’s bulletin on the European elections. Presenter Mary Gearin: ‘Major parties are warning cohesion of the continent is at stake as they battle to defend liberal democracies against a right-wing populist surge.’ So if cheesed-off Europeans vote against borderless immigration, costly renewables and EU stultification, it’s a ‘populist surge’ attacking ‘liberal democracies’? In ABC code, ‘populist’ is ‘bad’ except when the Left becomes popular.

The EU item, by Europe correspondent Linton Besser, focused entirely on Hungary where PM Viktor Orban has spruiked his version of ‘illiberal democracy’. By the way, weren’t Julia Gillard and Stephen Conroy implementing Orban-style ‘illiberal democracy’ in 2012 with their legislation to muzzle the ABC-unfriendly Murdoch press?

On Monday I caught the end of The Drum. The panel, hosted by Kathryn Robinson, was a full-on leftist stack. There was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher. He called Boris Johnson, British PM contender, historian, ex-London mayor 2008-16 and ex-minister of state for foreign affairs 2016-18 ‘a buffoon, a funny buffoon’. Kerryn Phelps was there: ‘Good to see you again’ as the host said, ‘again’ being an understatement. Phelps was the anti-Coalition independent who won then lost Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth seat. Plus Avril Henry, gender diversity consultant who had previously used the ABC to grieve ‘Oh the inhumanity!’ about asylum seekers. And the obligatory Aboriginal activist, in this case Karen Mundine of Reconciliation Australia. Ita is right about lack of ‘diversity of views’.

Host Robinson addressed Dr Phelps, ‘Kerryn, as a former MP, a leader, was that something that ever crossed your mind about keeping your emotions intact…’. Better would be, ‘Kerryn, as a former MP, a loser…’. Heavens, how would Robinson have addressed Phelps if she’d actually retained Wentworth and helped PM Shorten to puff up ABC funding? ‘Empress of the Universe’?

The trophy item was from the Saturday 7pm bulletin. Fijian coastal villagers are resisting government pressure to move to higher ground to escape the rising seas of climate change, according to foreign affairs (Asia Pacific) reporter Stephen Dziedzic.

‘Here in Kokova traditions linger and the sea gives life,’ Dziedzic intoned. His village spokesman, Mr Paki, claimed they fled from another climate-drowning island 30 years ago – Dziedzic never asked which (mythical) drowning island.

Mr Paki’s brother can certainly talk the climate talk. He tells Dziedzic he hopes the West will help save his village from rising seas ‘by tackling climate change. If the scientists warn us that what we are doing is destroying life on the planet, we should refrain from doing it.’ Dziedzic sums up: ‘People in the Pacific are already grappling with how you plan for rising seas… The people of Korowa remain hopeful.’ Mr Paki book-ends the piece: ‘Somehow the ocean is giving us time.’ Asks Dziedzic, or maybe Paki, ‘But how much time remains?’.

Actually, lots of time. There’s no sea rise around Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama was president of the UN’s COP23 climate-fest in Bonn in 2017 and he milked the ‘poor drowning Fiji’ meme for all it’s worth, which is zero. The lowest-lying Pacific nation Tuvalu has actually gained 73 hectares since 1970 – that’s 73 rugby fields worth. Prime Minister Turnbull’s crew, distressed by this drowning-island nonsense, shelled out $21 million in bilateral climate-change aid to Fiji in the three years to 2017-18, plus more via our $300m into Paris’s ludicrous Green Climate Fund that seeks $US100 billion a year from the West. (Turnbull  promised $1 billion). The Fiji funding wasn’t one hundred per cent wasted as some went to cyclone-disaster aid.

Anyway, to help Fiji at Bonn with some data, sea-rise expert Nils-Axel Morner earlier went to Fiji’s Yasawa islands to measure their sea-level history from rock faces undercut and etched by tides. Morner concluded, ‘This documentation implies that there is a total lack of signs indicating a present rise in sea level; on the contrary, our results are indicative of quite stable sea level conditions. Consequently, our records may be taken as reassurance for low-lying coasts and islands that potential for flooding in the near future is unlikely.’ Dziedzic’s sea peril item is a crock.

To relax, job done, I took in Laura Tingle’s 7.30 on Thursday May 30. On her item about Robert Mueller’s Trump comments, Tingle said, ‘I spoke to Republican political strategist, Rick Wilson’. Wilson, who also got an ABC ‘Republican’ graphic, then bagged Trump rotten as Russia’s picked candidate in 2016 and ‘for 2020 they will be behind him 100 per cent once again and the collusion is in plain sight now’.

This is from a ‘Republican strategist’? It’d be like calling today’s Turnbull ‘a Liberal strategist’. I was googling Wilson before Tingle had even finished. His last job for Republicans was in 2000. In 2016 he called Trump’s base ‘Neo-Nazis’ and ‘Frog Meme Idiots’. His book last year was, Everything Trump Touches Dies. Last week he tweeted regarding a different Trump expose, ‘It is without question that @realDonaldTrump is the most petty, thin-skinned, trifling no-account sh-tbird to ever hold the office of President. What a weak-dick move.’

7.30 did a false-flag job with its ‘Republican strategist’. How did Ms Tingle expect to get away with this? We’re not all witless out here.

Over to you, Ita, fellow bias-checker.

Rotary’s Master Spy

I’ve been reading Owen Matthew’s new biography of Rotary Club stalwart Richard Sorge, the German communist spy in Tokyo. It’s called An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent. Sorge tipped off Stalin on Setember 14, 1941, that Japan would not invade from Manchuria. Stalin could then swing forces from Siberia to the west — 15 infantry divisions, three cavalry divisions, 1500 tanks and 1700 aircraft to push the Germans back from Moscow.

Stalin had earlier ignored as ‘provocation’ Sorge’s excellent detail about Hitler’s Barbarossa invasion planning. With a red wax pencil, Stalin scrawled on Sorge’s May 20 report that the author was “a shit who ran small factories and brothels”, mistaking Sorge for a different spy.

Sorge betrayed all parties except his Russian spymasters and a lover or two. He was himself betrayed even by his long-standing radio man in Tokyo, Max Clausen, who through resentment and laziness for two years truncated or never transmitted many of Sorge’s priceless reports on Japan’s war planning. Sorge  on 22 August, 1941, gave Clausen this message to send: “Green Bottle [the Japanese Navy] and the government have decided not to launch a war [against Russia] in the course of this year.” Clausen put it in the bin, unsent.

The Japanese in October 1941 finally figured out what secrets Sorge was accessing as a honorary Nazi member of the German embassy in Tokyo. After two years of interrogation, they hanged him in November 1944. Moscow had never lifted a finger to help him, despite some previous successful exchanges of minor spies.

My motive for writing about Sorge is actually because he was a Rotarian. So am I. I’ve been going to weekly Rotary meetings in Melbourne for about 30 years. It’s been nice hearing good speakers, mixing with diverse colleagues and helping with a bit of charity work.

I’ve never seen Sorge’s name on any list of famous Rotarians. The lists range from flight pioneer Orville Wright (Rotary Club of Dayton Ohio ) to Charles Lindberg and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, (RC Wapakoneta, Ohio). Next time you buy a Hallmark card for your mother-in-law, be aware that Hallmark founder Joyce C. Hall was with RC Kansas City.

Even more illustrious Rotarians are Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Walt Disney, Cecil B. de Mille, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, and not forgetting Jorge Mario Bergoglio, member of Rotary Club of Buenos Aires and now Pope Francis. Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet of RC Santiago is not my fave Rotarian. I hope he had only a harmless committee role there like “Club Administration”. Franz Lehar waltzed into RC Vienna and Jean Sibelius doubtless provided some ominously turgid strains for RC Helsinki- Helsingfors. Luciano Pavarotti I’d say did a better job of singing the national anthem at Rotary Club Modena than occurs weekly at RC Melbourne.

Such brand names as Pirelli, Firestone, Matsushita, Colonel Sanders’ KFC, Louis Vuitton and Cointreau all harken to Rotarian founders. Roald Amundsen (South Pole) and Edmund Hillary (Everest) explored Oslo and Auckland Rotary Clubs respectively.

Worldwide, Rotary from 1988 was the main player in the global eradication of polio, through grassroots delivery of oral vaccinations to 2.5 billion children. Last year new polio cases involved only 33 children in horribly-administered regions such as Afghanistan and Nigeria. The World Health Organization estimates that the polio drive has saved 1.5 million children’s lives and 16 million people from a crippled lifetime.

The Rotary drive was never all sweetness and light. For example, the Taliban has murdered distributors as supposed Western agents. Right from the start Rotary locked horns with irascible oral vaccine pioneer Albert Sabin. A little surprisingly, Rotary’s bureaucracy ran the campaigning better than Sabin’s radical methods did. These days, with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett swamping the charity circuit, Rotary’s $US1 billion-plus polio fund-raising and mobilisation is seldom mentioned by the media.

Thanks for your patience during that commercial, and now back to Richard Sorge. In 450 pages of the biography, Sorge’s Rotary career merits just nine words. His major spy career started in 1930 in Shanghai, a city aptly known as ‘the whore of the Orient’. Sorge used his job as journalist to keep tabs for Moscow on Japanese ambitions and the wars between Chinese nationalists and communist forces. “The letters of introduction from Berlin established his bona fides with the German consul-general, and with his help Sorge joined the Shanghai Rotary Club,” Matthews writes. Remarkably, the club’s roll of 105 members at July 1, 1930 survives. Sorge’s not on it – he must have joined in late 1930.

Members included leaders from the Bank of China, Chinese Maritime Customs, the US consul-general, shipping and chemical bosses, Japanese diplomats and business owners, mining, engineering and railways heads, and medicos, famine relief agents and undertakers. In lieu of first names, the roll has only nicknames, like “Cookie” for the Thomas Cook rep, “Fessie” for Mr Fessenden of the Shanghai Council, “Spring” for a Chinese member Mr Lam, “Dragon” for a Japanese mill owner, “Hooky” for Mr Hu Hou-ki, and dare I say it, “Nigger” for Mr A.F. Kimball, a financier.

Shanghai and its surroundings were a pit of intrigues, war-lordism, and squalor. A few years before Sorge joined Rotary there, the club featured in China’s equivalent of the Great Train Robbery, better known as the Lincheng Outrage. It was fictionalized in a 1932 film Shanghai Express, with Marlene Dietrich and the Chinese sexpot, possibly sapphic, Amy Wong. A recent Chinese film version in 2010 was aptly titled, Let the Bullets Fly.

China had acquired from the US an all-steel “Blue Express” train and it was on an inaugural run on May 6, 1923 from Nanjing to Tianjin. Apart from 200-plus Chinese, it carried 30 foreign dignatories including John D. Rockefeller Jr’s sister-in-law. Journos on board included the editor of China Weekly Review, John B. Powell. He was a Shanghai Rotary member, along with fellow club member L.C. Solomon.

At 3am the train hit sabotaged track and derailed, with bandits robbing and kidnapping survivors among the twisted wreckage. The same day five countries’ embassies demanded the Chinese government pay the ransoms. The bandit leader, Sun Maiyao, wanted the money for his 3000-man “Shandong Autonomous Army” which originally had been set up with Chinese peasants to clear dead from World War 1 battlefields. Sun wrote persuasively,

This is to notify the facts that we have hitherto been law-abiding citizens and that we have no desire to become robbers, but in this troubled era of unreliable government we find ourselves compelled to take risks in order to obtain redress for our grievance.

The hostages were corralled on Pao Tzuku Hill, now a big tourist attraction in Shandong. The editor Powell somehow sent a flow of dispatches from the hill, making the heist a near-real-time global sensation.

Shanghai Rotary’s real-time predicament was whether to take direct action to release its members from hostage or work through Chicago-based Rotary headquarters. After four days, YMCA executive Julian Petit (still on the member list in 1930, and quite likely one of the faces in the club picnic at left) won the debate and cabled Chicago HQ to mobilise Rotary’s 1500 clubs and 90,000 members to lobby their 27 governments for action.

The Shanghai club’s historian records, RI [Rotary International] replied two weeks later, stating that the matter would be discussed at the next meeting of the International Board on June 14 . To the Shanghai club’s outrage, its protest letter didn’t get a reply till September, five months after the incident and four months after the hostages were freed.

In the event, all the foreign captives after 37 days returned safely to Shanghai. Sun got his army promotion but was murdered at dinner months later.

The edict from Chicago HQ was that Rotary International, being non-political, shouldn’t enter local disputes. Internally at Shanghai, the merits of non-politics were demonstrated by the club’s unified charity work in near-war conditions despite its English, German, Chinese and Japanese membership.

Sorge (at right) took club members and other celebrities out to “fill with wine to loosen their tongues” and “gut them like a fat Christmas goose”, as he confided to his radio man, Clausen. Sorge’s role as social lion required him to quaff whisky in swanky bars and seduce elegant women after dances. This beat his earlier jobs boozing and brawling among the proletariat in Frankfurt dives. However the Soviet spy ring in Shanghai was a shambles and Sorge was lucky to escape its rapid rolling up.

On the ship from Marseilles to Shanghai, Moscow’s planned Shanghai boss, Alexander Ulanovsky, had confided drunkenly to four new British pals about his cover identity for Shanghai as a Czech metals dealer “Kirschner”. The cover preparation had been so good that it fooled a German arms factory, which deputized Ulanovsky/Kirshner to sell weapons illegally to the Chinese. Sadly for the spy ring, the four Britishers were Shanghai CIB officers returning from leave.

The Rotary Club folded in late 1941 and many foreign members were interned. The club started again in 1946 until shut by the Communists in 1952 with seizure of all its imperialist assets. It opened again with government permission in 2006. New members like Sorge are assigned to club committees. I like to think that Sorge put his hand up for “Fellowship” or as a pseudo-journalist, possibly “Publicity”, that being my own Rotary fate for many years.

Sorge’s later success in Tokyo operating out of the German embassy was paradoxically due to his deliberate indiscretions (“No spy would behave like that!”) He seduced at least 30 women including the wives of his top German informants and would rant to them about slaying Hitler with his Samurai sword and becoming “a god”. He praised Stalin to a roomful of top Nazis, and punched to the ground a Japanese policeman who wanted to search his house. Taking a top-speed night ride around Tokyo on his 500cc Zundapp motorcycle, he crashed into a stone wall by the US Embassy and sent the handlebars through his jaw. Even so he managed to call radioman Clausen to the hospital to get rid of all the secret documents in his jacket.

After Sorge’s arrest in late 1941 (the Japanese police had politely removed their shoes before entering his house), he withstood six days of verbal interrogation. Then, like his accomplices, he confessed all.

Abruptly the prisoner sprang from his chair, drew himself up to attention, threw his prison coat on the floor, and began pacing up and down the cramped cell, hands in his pockets.

“Indeed I am a Communist and have been doing espionage. I am defeated!’ Sorge shouted. “I have never been defeated since I became an international Communist. But now I have been defeated by the Japanese police.” He sat down again, buried his face in his hands, and wept bitterly. “I will confess everything,” Sorge said finally, “if I can have a rest.”

On November 7, 1944, the Soviet’s  Revolution Anniversary Day, he was brought to the scaffold at Sugamo prison by the governor, who wore full-dress uniform with epaulettes, brass buttons, white gloves and police sword. Five officials were assigned to pull the trapdoor handle so none would feel personally responsible. The hooded Sorge, who had been refused a cigarette, said loudly three phrases in Japanese: “Sakigun! [the Red Army]; Kokusai Kyosanto! [International Communist Party]; Soviet Kyosanto! [Soviet Commmunist Party].”

The door opened beneath his feet and he dropped into oblivion.

Matthews says it’s a myth that Sorge warned Moscow about the impending Pearl Harbour attack, though he did tell Moscow that the Japanese intended to drive south. Matthews does not enter the controversy generated by defector Gordievsky in 1990 over whether Sorge’s tip-offs were redundant because the Soviets had broken the Japanese codes anyway.

It was not until Khrushchev and Zhukov saw a French fictionalized film about Sorge that his Soviet rehabilitation began as a good German anti-fascist. He got a Hero of the Soviet Union medal in 1964, a ten  kopek stamp, a statue, and a Moscow street named after him. These days there’s a veritable Sorge industry, with 100 books about him in Japanese alone. As a Rotarian I have now added my tiny mite. Maybe Rotary could give him a posthumous Paul Harris Fellowaward.

To find your nearest Rotary Club, go here.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s — is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here.

1 comment
  • johnhenry

    Tony Thomas is superb. Just as amusing as Terry-Thomas, and in a more grown-up way. That’s Debatable has been on my Wish List for a couple of years, and I’m looking forward to getting it.

Dirty Rotten Climate Scandals

Shakespeare’s monster, Caliban, dreamed of clouds opening to  show riches ready to drop upon him. Climate scientists don’t have to dream about it – honors, awards and cash prizes rain down in torrents. Other scientists try to help humanity, but while climate scientists may kid themselves and others that they share that goal, their practical intent is to raise energy costs and harm nations’ energy efficiency via renewables. While they posture as planet-savers in white coats, some of them pocket awards of half-million dollars, even a million, and notch up more career-enhancing medals than a North Korean general.

A couple of local prizes are the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science ($A250,000) for ex-President of the Australian Academy of Science Kurt Lambeck last October, and in January UNSW Professor John Church pocketed a $A320,000 half-share of the 400,000 Euro BBVA Prize.

Both have done science work of international repute and their reputations in their specialist fields are deservedly high. However, Lambeck is a long-standing smiter of “deniers” and Church propagates via the ABC such lurid scenarios as  this: “… if the world’s carbon emissions continue unmitigated, a threshold will be crossed which will lead to the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This, with melts from glaciers and ice in Antarctica will lead to a sea level rise in the order of seven metres.”

There are many mickey-mouse awards in Australia for climate science and I’d be amazed if any post-doc climate person hasn’t won a gong. It’s particularly obnoxious that even schoolkids are incited to compete for climate awards by regurgitating climate doomism.

On the global stage, my tally of warmist cash awards to US climate doomsayer Paul R. Ehrlich is about $US2.6 million. For the climate scare’s originator, ex-NASA scaremonger James Hansen, about $US2 million. These rewards are not for getting anything right – their doom deadlines have proven to be utter tripe.

If you’re a climate scientist you can blot your copybook horribly but the prizes keep coming. You might not have heard of California’s Dr Peter H. Gleick, but read on. He’s been creaming it with prizes lately, $US100,000 from Israel’s Boris Mints Institute in April for the “Strategic Global Challenge of Fresh Water” and the Carl Sagan Prize last year for “researchers who have contributed mightily to the public understanding and appreciation of science.”  He’s scored more than 30 honors and awards all-up including a $US500,000 MacArthur “Genius” award for 2003.

Nice work, Gleick, but you’re the same man who in 2012 raided e-documents from the minor sceptic thinktank Heartland Institute.  Its CEO Joe Bast said that Gleick “impersonated a board member of the Heartland Institute, stole his identity by creating a fake email address, and proceeded to use that fake email address to steal documents that were prepared for a board meeting. He read those documents, concluded that there was no smoking gun in them, and then forged a two-page memo.” Gleick denied forging the document. The forgery, among other fabrications, showed Heartland receiving  $US200,000 from the Koch brothers’ Foundation, when the reality was a mere $US25,000, and even that sum was actually for a health-care study.

Gleick confessed he committed the thefts because he believed Heartland was preventing a “rational debate” on global warming, even though he had refused a Heartland invitation to a fee-paid after-dinner debate shortly before he stole the documents.  Gleick said

“in a serious lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received … materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name…I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues…My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists .., and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.”

As for Heartland being “well-funded”, its budget that year was $US4.4 million, of which maybe a third went on climate work, funding one conference, a blog and half a dozen climate reports. That compares with, say, WWF’s current budget in the US of $US230 million (Heartland’s, $US6 million), or the Australian Conservation Foundation’s current $A14 million.

The ironies about the much-honored Gleick didn’t stop there.  In 2011 he was founding chairman of a science ethics committee of the 60,000-member American Geophysical Union (AGU) and he immediately resigned membership when outed by Heartland. AGU president Mike McPhaden issued a toe-curling statement. The global community of earth and space scientists, he said, had

witnessed the shocking fall from grace of an accomplished AGU member who betrayed the principles of scientific integrity. In doing so he compromised AGU’s credibility as a scientific society, weakened the public’s trust in scientists, and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.

 His transgression … is a tragedy that requires us to stop and reflect on what we value as scientists and how we want to be perceived by the public… It is the responsibility of every scientist to safeguard that trust.

This has been one of the most trying times for me as president of AGU… How different it is than celebrating the news of a new discovery … These rare and sad occasions remind us that our actions reverberate through a global scientific community and that we must remain committed as individuals and as a society to the highest standards of scientific integrity in the pursuit of our goals.

Within three weeks of Gleick’s confession, I kid you not, water tech company Xylem awarded him a “Water Hero” award. Thereafter he won a Lifetime Achievement Award from a  Silicon Valley Water Group (2013), was honoured by the Guardian newspaper in 2014 as a world top-ten water guru, and in 2015 he received the Leadership and Achievement Award from the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. The same year he received an Environmental Education Award from the Bay Institute. The major Carl Sagan and BMI Prizes followed in 2018 and 2019. Transgressions by warmist scientists are soon forgotten and readily forgiven.

While the Gleick case is one of horror, other climate-award material goes into the comedy file. The Climategate emails exposed two of the climate world’s top “experts”, Phil Jones and Mike Mann, horse-trading for new honors for themselves, via reciprocal recommendations. Jones, at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, ran the HADCRUT4 global temperature data series underpinning the IPCC warming scare. He managed to literally lose raw data (failure to back-up) and hid incriminating emails subject to FOI demands.[1] Michael Mann authored the infamous  “Hockey Stick” paper used as a logo by the 2001 IPCC report as proving current warming is CO2-caused and unprecedented in the past 1000 years. Mann’s paper also managed to ‘disappear’ the Medieval warming[2] and the 300-year Little Ice Age to 1850. Mann’s sceptic foe, Mark Steyn, published an entire 320-page book, A Disgrace to the Profession comprising rejections of Mann’s findings, not by sceptics but by orthodox climate scientists. [3] 

Here are two climateers at work. (emails from 4/12/2007). Mann to Jones:

By the way, I am still looking into nominating you for an American Geophysical Union award; I’ve been told that the Ewing medal wouldn’t be the right one. Let me know if you have any particular options you’d like me to investigate…

Jones selects his own award:

As for the American Geophysical Union—just getting one of their Fellowships would be fine.

Mann then lets Jones know that he (Mann) himself happens to lack a Fellowship of the AGU and adds in brackets, “(Wink)to inspire Jones to do something about it. (pp105, 118).

The matey honors system at the AGU continues to this day. The selection committee last year for the AGU’s annual $US25,000 Climate Communication Prize (won by Mann last year) included prominent warmists Katharine Hayhoe, Stefan Rahmstorf, Richard Somerville and Kevin Trenberth. Recipients included the same Katharine Hayhoe (2014), Stefan Rahmstorf (2017), Richard Somerville (2015)  and  Kevin Trenberth (2013). A network clearly operates.  Winners Gavin Schmidt (2011), Mann (2018) and Rahmstorf (2017) jointly contribute to their blog. The AGU seems aware of incestuousness and has these unusual guidelinesfor the prize-winner selection:

Nominators and potential nominees…are urged to restrain from contacting members of their respective award selection committee while the AGU nomination and selection process is in progress…Persistent or frequent contact on topics related to the award nomination could potentially be viewed as an attempt to influence…

In the big global league, climate bureaucrat Christiana “Tinkerbell”Figueres, who oversaw the 2015 Paris pseudo-agreement from her UN perch, staggers under the weight of honors. They include the  Shackleton Medal, the Grand Medal of the City of Paris, the Legion of Honor, the German Great Cross of Merit, the Guardian Medal of Honor, the 2015 Hero of El Pais award, the Global Thinker Award, Four Freedoms Award and the Solar Champion Award from the woke folk of California. Quite a haul considering she still can’t distinguish between weather and climate. She achieved perpetual quotability with this ripper from  February 2015, in an official UN press release:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.

A champagne socialist from the top end of town in Costa Rica, she views a halt to growth in the West with equanimity: “Industrialised countries must stop growing — that’s fine. But developing countries must continue to grow their economy in order to bring their people out of poverty…”

Paul R. Ehrlich, now 87, has been showered with lucrative prizes. He has spent the past 50 years making horrific predictions about planetary and human doom. None of these have remotely been fulfilled, such as his 1969 prediction of disastrous global famine by 1975, requiring compulsory birth control via sterilising agents in food and water.

As a close-to-my-home example, he gave an address at Perth’s Murdoch University on October 2, 1985, concluding that unless Western countries went into wealth-sharing with the Third World, there would be lethal consequences for civilisation such that “the handful of human beings that survive the resultant collapse may, if they are lucky, be able to eke out a livelihood hunting and gathering.” He warned that by 2000, we could have a billion people perishing from hunger, with those famines leading in turn to a thermonuclear war that “could extinguish civilisation”. He continues to this day to be sought out by the media for yet more doomsday mayhem.

Ehrlich big-money prizes for ecological brilliance have included

# 1990: MacArthur Fellows “Genius Grant”, currently $US625,000. At the time the award range was $US155,000 to $US600,000. Ehrlich would have been at the high end.

# 1990: Sweden’s Crafoord (OK) Prize, currently $US745,000. He shared the award with biologist E.O.Wilson. As a guesstimate, $US200,000-plus at the time.

# 1993: Heinz Foundation Award, $US250,000

# 1993; The Volvo Environmental Prize. Currently $US170,000.

# 1998: Tyler Prize, $US200,000.

# 1998: Heineken Prize, $US200,000

# 1999: Asahi Glass’s Blue Planet Prize, 50 million yen (about $US420,000 at the time).

# 2009: Ramon Margalef Prize, 80,000 Euros (about $US110,000 at the time).

# 2013: BBVA Frontiers Award, 400,000 Euros (about $US530,000 at the time).

Total, about $US2.6m ($A3.75m).

James Hansen is known as the father of the CO2/global warming  campaign. He produced, concurrently with Syukuro Manabe,  the first crude computer models of C02 warming. The successor models despite decades of ‘refinements’ continue to significantly exaggerate actual warming.[4]  Hansen’s cash awards total about $US1.5m, including $US800,000 from Taiwan’s Tang Foundation last year. The Tang  citation read

Undaunted by the gravity of high government and the powerful doubts of business, this former NASA climate scientist attended a government hearing in 1988 … His brave, farsighted testimony before congress has since been known as the Hansen Hearing.

The reality was that the 1988 hearing was stage-managed by his pal and Democrat senator Tim Wirth. Wirth timed it for the predicted hottest summer day in Washington, and he also sabotaged the building’s air conditioning to ensure everyone would be sweating for the TV cameras.

Hansen while at NASA in 2001 accepted a $US250,000 award from Theresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democrat luminary John Kerry. In 2004 Hansen endorsed John Kerry as presidential candidate, a doubly contentious act as he was still a government NASA director. Hansen at NASA  also admitted in a 2003  issue of Natural Science that the use of “extreme scenarios” to dramatize climate change “may have been appropriate at one time” to drive the public’s attention to the issue. He’s referred to coal trains as “death trains” (annoying Holocaust survivors) and was arrested twice at climate demonstrations.
Among his windfalls:

# 2001: Heinz Award: $US250,000

#2007: Dan David Prize: $US330,000

# 2008: PNC Bank Common Wealth Award: $US50,000

# 2010: Sophie Prize: $US100,000

# 2012: Stephen Schneider Award: $US10,000

# 2016: BBVA Award:  $US450,000

# 2018: Taiwan’s Tang Prize. $US800,000.

Total $US1.99m.

Climate and environment prizes, honors and awards have flowed to those who are not merely catastrophists but million-dollar fraudsters. Canada’s Maurice Strong, for instance, built some of his huge wealth from stockmarket insider deals and oil developments. He was the godfather of the global environment from when he organised the 1972 Stockholm Environment Conference. He was founder and executive director of the UN Environmental Program which joined forces with the World Meteorological Organisation to create the IPCC. He chaired the 1992 Rio summit and openly advocated for world governance under the UN, financed by a 0.5 per cent tax on global finance to raise $US1.5 trillion a year.

In his 1999 autobiography, Strong predicted that in 2031 nation states will implode, with a breakdown of international order, food and energy scarcity, more climate deaths than from WW1 and WW2, and Americans dying like flies from heat because there is no electricity for air conditioners. Global  population falls to the level of 2001, “a consequence, yes, of death and destruction – but in the end a glimmer of hope for the future of our species and its potential for regeneration,” he wrote.[5]

In 2005 the FBI, investigating the Iraq “Oil for Food” program’s prolific corruption, turned up a 1997 cheque to Strong for $US998,000 from a corrupt  South Korean businessman who later proved to be a bagman for Saddam Hussein. Strong in 1997 was working for UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, and had organised the UN’s Kyoto climate treaty that same year. When the cheque came to light, Strong lit out for Beijing (China has no extradition treaty with the US) and lived out his days there, still honoured as an honorary professor at three Chinese universities. He said later, “I didn’t just run away to China, I already had an apartment here.”

In 2003, just two years before the cheque scandal went public, the US National Academy of Sciences gave Strong its highest honor, its Public Welfare Medal, for “extraordinary use of science for the public good”. This was its first-ever Medal award to a non-US citizen. “Very few individuals have contributed so much to the path toward a sane and sensible future for world society,” the Academy said. “He is an idealist who is truly a citizen of the world.”

He was “very special guest of honor” at the 2012 Rio second climate summit. When he died in 2015, the esteem continued with Canada’s governor-general attending his funeral. No attempt was ever made to prosecute Strong over the cheque.

Strong’s 50 or more honors (apart from his 52 honorary doctorates) included Commander of the Golden Ark (Netherlands), Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil), Order of the Polar Star (Sweden) and Companion of the Order of Canada. In his Beijing era he got a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Cataloguing all the climate prize stuff going on would involve an essay the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannia. I need to wash my dog so I’ll stop here. To all past and future climate prize winners, my sincere congratulations.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here


[1] HADCRUT4 is still riddled with errors, as Melbourne’s John McLean demonstrated in his Ph.D. thesis last year: “The HadCRUT4 data, and any reports or claims based on it, do not form a credible basis for government policy on climate or for international agreements about supposed causes of climate change.”

[2] Mann, ClimateGate email (4/6/03): I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2000 years, rather than the usual 1000 years, addresses a good earlier point that Jonathan Overpeck made … that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “Medieval Warm Period”, even if we don’t yet have data available that far back.

[3] Mann two months later (31/7/03) refers to his own data as “dirty laundry” to be closely guarded from examination. He emails a colleague:  “I’m providing these [data] for your own personal use, since you’re a trusted colleague. So please don’t pass this along to others without checking with me first. This is the sort of ‘dirty laundry’ one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things.”

[4] IPCC AR5:  “… an analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 historical simulations [computer models]   reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations show a [temperature] trend over 1998–2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 trend [actual temperatures] ensemble. This difference between simulated and observed trends could be caused by some combination of (a) internal climate variability, (b) missing or incorrect radiative forcing, and (c) model response error.” [chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769]

[5] Strong, M.: Where on Earth Are We Going? Texere, 2001, p21-22.

  • en passant

    I believe! I believe! Omm! Omm!
    In the Post-Popper/Feynman science belief, no matter how stupid trumps facts and your lying eyes every time. Get with Greta and the Klimate Kult Kids (KKK) or the Australian Musicologist from Graz will send you to a Denier Death Camp.
    Woke up!
    What a pathetic world we live in where people exist whose sole function is to daily commit fraud for money and rewards.

  • rod.stuart

    A part of the saga that is relatively unknown is the background in which Maurice Strong was born and raised.
    Following the Russian Revolution and WWI, movements condoning Communism were rampant in many regions in Canada. Strong’s parents were deeply involved, as much of the attraction of the ideology stemmed from the fact that many in Western Canada considered themselves victims.
    The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 was one of the most famous and influential strikes in Canadian history. For six weeks, May 15 to June 26, more than 30,000 strikers brought economic activity to a standstill in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which at the time was Canada’s third largest city. Strong’s parents were involved in the organisation of this event as thick as thieves.
    They no doubt had a considerable influence on Strong’s subsequent development.

  • ianl

    The HARRY READ_ME file from Climategate is phenomenal in its’ description of the frustration of a Harry Harris who incautiously accepted the task of “cleaning up” the HADCRUT4 database. The indecipherable mess he found and describes is awesome in its’ full awfulness.
    The Aus database comes in for special slanging from Harry.
    Harry’s diatribe is the essential reason I know our informing data prior to the 1979 satellite deployment cannot be improved from the weak thing it is. It is hopeless in its’ corruption.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    The “Harry Read Me” file documents a CRU climatologist/programmer’s efforts to update 11,000 files of important climate data between 2006 and 2009. He admits that much of it is utterly worthless. Some of his comments (page number in parentheses):
    – “Am I the first person to attempt to get the CRU databases in working order?!!” (47)
    – “Cobar Airport AWS (data from an Australian weather station) cannot start in 1962, it didn’t open until 1993!” (71)
    – “What the hell is supposed to happen here? Oh yeah — there is no ’supposed,’ I can make it up. So I have : – )” (98)
    – “You can’t imagine what this has cost me — to actually allow the operator to assign false WMO (World Meteorological Organization) codes!! But what else is there in such situations? Especially when dealing with a ‘Master’ database of dubious provenance …”

    Virtual data:data created by computer. See confirmation bias, counterfactual world, evidence, in silico.

  • en passant

    I can feel my blood beginning to boil …
    Must be climate data at work

Eaten by a Tiger? Blame Climate Change

There has to be a peak silliness in the claims of climate cultists, and I suspect it was reached this month in a piece by an Oxford associate professor Dr Nayanika Mathur.  She blamed climate change for a person-eating tigress in Maharashtra who devoured 13 villagers. “Tragic tale of a ‘man-eating’ tigress tells us so much about the climate crisis” is how her fevered thoughts are headlined at The Conversation.

The tigress, like all media-featured animals acquired a name, in this case “Avni”, meaning a Hindu earth-girl. Recall “Cecil”, the lion cruelly shot with arrows by that American dentist-bowman in Zimbabwe in 2015. Australia really must keep up and start naming our newsworthy white-pointers “Malcolm” or “Penny”. But back to the tiger, which the Indian government wanted shot on sight while conservationists ran appeals to India’s Supreme Court. The court ruled that shooting should be the last resort, only if tranquillising and capture failed.

The official team included close to 200 stalkers and trackers, five elephants, 100 camera traps, sniffer dogs, thermal-imaging drones and an observer in a motorized para-glider, none of which could find Avni for three months. The elephant squad was sent home in disgrace after one pachyderm trampled a woman villager.

The expert stalkers used not just another tigress’s pee to interest Avni, but Calvin Klein’s Obsession brand cologne. This perfume emplys a synthetic version of civet musk which is supposed to tantalise tigers. H.S. Prayag, a tiger-specialising vet, claims Obsession spread on camera traps helped catch a desparado tiger in Tamil Nadu. Chanel No 5 also works but costs more, he said. Knock-off fragrances from Delhi street markets don’t work because they lack authentic civet. I hope all this was not just opportunistic product placement.

In the event, the plugging of Avni last November seemed the first resort. The official story was that it was dark in the jungle, the tiger attacked first, the tranquilliser dart didn’t slow it down, and it was shot by expert marksman Nawab Ali Khan in self defence: “Officials went closer to her and later rushed her to a hospital in Nagpur, where she was declared dead.” Locals celebrated with fireworks and handed out lollies.

However, the Indian Express reported that the post-mortem report by four vets showed Avni was facing away from the gun, and the dart found in one thigh probably hadn’t been fired there. In an earlier and notorious over-reaction, a tiger cub entered a village in Sikar, and the people fled en masse to their houses. The terrified cub hid in a shed but was peppered by what was described as “machine-gun fire”. The corpse of the prospective man-eater was paraded to rejoicing villagers.

As a teenager I was riveted by hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett’s grisly memoir Man-eaters of Kumaon with his assignments to deal with rogue tigers in the 1920s and 1930s. One was reputed to have killed 436 villagers. Friends persuaded Corbett to do the book while he was recovering from typhus in 1944. By 1980 it had sold more than 4 million copies. Universal Studios adapted it for a movie in 1946: Corbett claimed the best actor was the tiger.

In his book he recounts a story from villagers:

We were startled on hearing the agonized cries of a human being coming from the valley below. Huddled together on the edge of the road, we cowered in fright as these cries came nearer and nearer, and presently came into view a tiger carrying a naked woman. The woman’s hair was trailing on the ground on one side of the tiger, and her feet on the other – the tiger was holding her by the small of the back – and she was beating her chest and calling alternately on God and man to help her. Fifty yards from us and in clear view of us, the tiger passed with its burden, and when their cries had died away we continued on our way.’

‘And you 20 men did nothing?’

‘No sahib, we did nothing for we were afraid.’

Corbett’s descriptions of tiger attacks on women bear resemblance to the painting by Delacroix (reproduced above) of just such a monstrous beast with jaws clamped on a semi-naked woman’s chest. No wonder my teenage self couldn’t put the book down.

Here’s an account from a villager – with only half a face left — direct from a tiger’s jaws:

“I was stooping down at the very edge of the slope, tying the grass into a big bundle, when the tiger sprang at me and buried its teeth, one under my right eye, one in my chin and the other two here at the back of my neck. The tiger’s mouth struck me with a great blow and I fell over on my back, while the tiger lay on top of me, chest to chest, with its stomach between my legs.

As my fingers grasped the sapling, an idea came to me. My legs were free and if I could draw them up and insert my feet under and against the tiger’s belly, I might be able to push the tiger off and run away… The pain, as the tiger crushed all the bones on the right side of my face, was terrible, but I did not lose consciousness…Very slowly, and so as not to anger the tiger, I drew my legs up on either side of it, and gently inserted my bare feet under its belly. Then placing my left hand against its chest and pushing and kicking upwards with all my might, I lifted the tiger right off the ground and, we being on the very edge of the perpendicular hillside, the tiger went crashing down and belike would have taken me with it, had my hold on the sapling not been a good one…”

His son helped him home after wrapping his loincloth round his father’s head.

“Water was brought, for I was thirsty and my head was on fire, but when it was poured into my mouth, it all flowed out through the holes in my neck…While I waited and longed for death to end my sufferings, my wounds healed of themselves and I became well.”

Corbett comments that the man was a veritable giant, able to lift the tiger and tear its hold away from the side of his head, taking half his face with it, and send the tiger flying down the hill. In surviving, he lamented to be left with “a face no man could look at without repulsion.”

In 2013, on a tour from New Delhi,  I went on a night-photography Jeep safari in Kumaon, where we near-froze and just might have seen the greenish-blue reflection of one leopard’s eyes, tigers being these days too rare to expect.

As for climage change,  Oxford’s Dr Mathur is also engaged in a book project ‘Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene.’ She runs an Oxford course on the “Anthropocene”, and is “committed to decolonizing the Academy through my writing and teaching.” Someone should alert her that the “Anthropocene” has no official existence.

She says in The Conversation that the reasons big cats turn into person-eaters may be idiosyncratic but “can no longer be explained outside the context of climate change”. Snacking on humans by crooked cats, she says, can be due to warming’s biodiversity loss (500,000 species at risks, she says absurdly), habitat loss (except that CO2 is expanding planetary re-vegetation), and  extreme weather events (nah, the IPCC says the opposite). “We should look to the case of Avni … for what her life and death tells us about the climate crisis,” she says. She concludes, “Another way to understand the climate breakdown, through the life of Avni and other big cats with similar fates in India, is as an irretrievable collapse of the commonsensical.” Remember, this woman is a professor!

Let’s fact-check. Tigers kill only about 30-60 Indians  annually, often as a result of mistaken identity. If you’re a tiger, someone squatting in the field doing poo can look like a deer. Tigers’ technique is to swat you down with a forepaw and then crush your head with a bite. Tigresses with cubs kill people who wander close. The actual man-eaters are generally too injured or aged to kill natural prey.

Getting these 30-60 deaths a year into perspective, one commentator on Dr Mathur’s piece claimed that tigers were killing an average 826 Indians a year from 1903-1912.  I couldn’t verify his figures, but did find that 850 people a year were killed by tigers in each of 1875-1876, according to the Raj statisticians. Between 1876 and 1912, tigers killed an average 920 Indians a year. There’s even an estimate that over the last five centuries, tigers have killed a million people, i.e. 2000 a year. Hence 1decC of global warming since 1900 must have become an antidote to tiger attacks, rather than increasing them, as claimed by climate-fixated Oxford brainiacs.

On the other side of the ledger, more than 100 Indian tiger deaths have been recorded in each of the past three years. This matters, given tigers in India total only 2,500, up from the perilously low 1400 in 2005. Tigers were once prolific – in the 50 years to 1925, sahibs and nabobs shot about 80,000. But globally elephants kill ten times more people than tigers. Even hippos kill more, and snakes kill most: around 20,000 a year, and that’s just in India.

Maybe Dr Mathur at Oxford will next do a piece on how cobras are concerned about the climate emergency. Actually, I shouldn’t diss Oxford because in 1963 I tried to enroll there myself, via a Rhodes Scholarship from Perth. My Rhodes application was doomed to fail, if only because my nominated “manly sport”– B-division chess at Fremantle’s geriatric club — didn’t really meet Cecil Rhodes’ specifications. In addition, I messed up at the formal dinner for mingling with the selectors at WA Government House, after meeting the Governor Sir Charles Gairdner. Unfamiliar with drink, I thought it was polite to drain the glass that came with each of the five courses. Among the few things I remember was my witty suggestion that portraits of the Queen should sometimes show her brushing her teeth. Our group of eight or nine Rhodes applicants was invited back a few days later for tea and scones. Midway through, one of us, Mr Bruce Bennett, sports star at Hale and fellow WA Uni literature student, was escorted to another room. Someone announced that he had got the Rhodes and we dregs were quickly filtered out to St George’s Terrace.

It’s a pity I never made the grade. Who knows, I might have become an Oxford climate scientist.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here

1 comment
  • en passant

    The most shocking thing about what you wrote is that you thought an academic could make sense in this post-Enlightenment Dark Age Woke Whatever.

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‘Doctor’ Hare’s Nasty Green Prescription

Murdoch University[1] and its ex-Greenpeace alarm alumnus “Dr” Bill Hare truly deserve each other. At Perth-based Murdoch, Mr Hare earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in 1983 and in 2008 Murdoch gave him an honorary Doctor of Science for being, among other things, “the best climate lobbyist in the world”. Ever since he’s been paraded around by himself, Murdoch and others as “Dr” Bill Hare.

And here’s the bombshell: Murdoch has authorised and encouraged him to flaunt the “Dr” title generally “to promote the university”. Truly, Murdoch is sui generis, or for non-Latinists, “constituting a class alone: unique, peculiar.”


“The title ‘Dr’ is only used by Honorary Degree recipients when engaged in Murdoch University activities.” – Murdoch University policy document, last revised 14 October 2016.

Murdoch’s response to my query about Hare[2] is below, with my emphasis added:

I have a statement for you that can be attributed to a Murdoch University spokeswoman…

“Bill Hare is a distinguished alumni and Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University working closely with our students and staff on a number of research and engagement projects.

“He was awarded an honorary degree in 2008, which entitles him to uses (sic) the title Dr in relation to his activities in the Murdoch University environment.

“At the time, he was advised that it was appropriate to use the title generally to promote the University …

“I acknowledge that I am working on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar [country] and pay respect to all Noongar people and Elders, past and present.” 

Murdoch’s abrogation of its own honorary title policy – “The title ‘Dr’ is only used by Honorary Degree recipients when engaged in Murdoch University activities” —  could hardly be more official. But rather than throw Hare under the bus, the university threw itself under the bus.

What will the senate, led by Chancellor Mr David Flanagan AM CitWA make of this?[3] Mr Flanagan earned his Curtin University BSc in Mining & Minerals Exploration Geology and became a distinguished geologist and mining executive.  Suppose a mineral exploration company  prospectus described its geologist with a Murdoch honorary degree as “Dr Fred X , Ph.D”? Next move, I’d say the board would be shirt-fronted by the corporate regulator.

To protect the public from a jungle of spurious academic titles and claims which could even lead to serious harms, the federal-state Australian Qualifications Framework was set up in 1995. Mainstream universities subscribe to its formulae. AQF rules include,

Use of titles by graduates

Individuals who have been awarded a Doctoral Degree at Level 10 on the AQF are entitled to use the title ‘Doctor’. The title ‘Doctor’ will not be used by those who hold an honorary award. An honorary award is not an AQF qualification … As such any certification documentation issued to an honorary award recipient will specify that the award is honorary. (My emphasis).

Here’s how Sydney University puts it in its Honorary Awards Policy,

15A Use of titles

An honorary doctorate is not a qualification under the Australian Qualifications Framework, and therefore does not entitle the recipient to use the title ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr’ except when participating in an activity or event associated with the University.

ANU’s policy is the same

Use of title

Use of the title ‘Dr’, associated with an honorary degree of the University, is only permitted when participating in an activity or event associated with the University.”[4]

A year ago Hare’s Climate Analytics group launched its report, “Western Australia’s Gas Gamble – Implications of exploiting Canning Basin and other unconventional gas resources for achieving climate targets.” On the third page, reproduced below, is the imprimatur and co-authorship, “Dr Bill Hare, Director.”

On a Climate Council petition signed by 28 alarmists last month, Hare is among its top tier of 15 professors and doctorate-holder signatories. I challenged the Climate Council about Hare’s “Dr”. The council replied that Hare’s Doctor of Science outranks a Ph.D.

Quoting a Monash University document, the council continued,

The degree [D.Sc.] will give the applicant authoritative standing in that field and the right to general recognition of this standing by scholars in the field.” The council concluded, “Dr Hare is a globally respected scientist who has made an extensive contribution to the field. He is an important and welcome addition to the signatories of the list.

The council obtusely missed the point that Hare’s D.Sc. is honorary. Such honorary D.Sc.’s are two a penny on the stripey-gown investitures of our 40 universities. Advised of the Sydney University ‘don’t-use’ policy about honorary doctorates, the Climate Council declined comment and suggested I contact “Bill Hare” direct.

It might seem overkill to pursue this “Dr” Hare issue. But Hare has been a key influencer in international climate policy-making for the past 30 years.

Hare helped run Greenpeace International as its “climate policy director” (1992-2002) and as a climate adviser to 2009. He was also, strangely, helping to run the IPCC process, dating back to the IPCC’s origin in 1988. He’s been a lead author and co-writer of an all-important summary report. For the 2013 report he wore his hat from Potsdam’s Climate Impact Institute (PIK).

PIK houses the world’s most fanatical climateers, some of whom are now ensconsed in dark green corners of Australian academia, including Melbourne University. The money quote from PIK’s then-deputy head,Ottmar Edenhofer[5], is that climate policy “has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection” and “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

Hare pioneered topics, if not actually invented them, that are now commonplace in the global policy lexicon. Thanks to Hare and his pals at Greenpeace and/or PIK,  we can  all parrot mumbo-jumbo like “global emissions budget” (Hare’s Greenpeace shtick from 1997), 2deg/1.5deg  “tipping points” and most perverse of all, leaving accessible fossil fuels permanently in the ground.

Concerning that emissions budget, he wrote in 2009 to ginger up the Copenhagen conference that the ceiling ought to be only another half-trillion tonnes of emitted carbon: “The probability of exceeding 2°C rises to 53–87% if global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are still more than 25% above 2000 levels in 2020.” His worst-case crystal ball was pretty foggy because the cumulative emissions went up 50%(never mind 25%) from 2000—2016 alone, with last year’s emissions setting a new record. If Hare and his Potsdam pals can’t get their ten-year assumptions remotely near reality, what credence can be invested in their 20-, 50- and 100-year climate forecasts?

Hare’s dire predictions about warming harms have been designed to frighten Western governments into destroying their fossil fuel industries.  Australia’s policies are consistent with this, the EU’s more so.

His 1997 Greenpeace paper demanded governments  immediately curtail fossil fuel exploration, thus capping reserves at 1997 levels. The goal would be to “limit the long-term committed increase of temperature to less than 1C above 
pre-industrial global average temperature.” 
(Compare that with the current target by extremists of a maximum 1.5degC increase. The 1degC rise has already occurred.)

Hare’s 1997 prescription involved

# leaving all but “a small fraction” of global coal reserves in the ground

# “There should be no further exploration and/or technical development of unconventional oil and gas reserves” [today that would stymie the US fracked-gas revolution]

# “Further exploration and development of fossil fuel resources by industrial nations should be halted immediately, as it makes the problem worse and more difficult to solve and is a waste of money that should be invested in clean energy.”

# To lock in the above measures,  Western countries should sign a legally binding emission cut program at the Kyoto 2005 climate conference.

# The global cost of fossil fuel phase-out for renewables would be equal to or less than business-as-usual.

”This is the carbon logic,” he concluded.

In the event, cheap electricity since 2000 has lifted hundreds of millions of the world’s poor into happier lives. Meanwhile CO2 emissions have greened the planet to an extent even greater than the landmark study of 2016 (with CSIRO involvement) suggested, and agricultural yields and output have hit new peaks. Global temperatures have barely risen, according to UAH satellite measurements, apart from the 2016 el Nino effect. How wrong could a Greenpeace guy be?

But Hare’s extremism has changed little since 1997, and his nostrums are now mainstream among the West’s so-called progressives. Yet this person who would transform the world still can‘t get his title right!

Academics can get enraged about honorifics. Here’s Dr Hannah Forsyth, now Senior Lecturer in History, Australian Catholic University:

A degree that is awarded honoris causa (because Latin boosts snootiness) has never conferred the right to use the degree.

The public can rest assured that there are not medical doctors, veterinarians, accountants or lawyers plying their trade without actual qualifications.

This need for the public to trust university degrees is important. It means that it is considered a shocking faux pas to call oneself a “doctor” on the basis of an honorary doctorate. Don’t expect to see anyone refer to “Dr John Howard” anytime soon.

This does not make it impossible … When this happens, the scholarly community averts its gaze in embarrassment. That may not sound like such a terrible fate, but for the types that are awarded honorary degrees, it kind of is.[6]

The exceptions merely prove the rule, like “Dr” Billy Graham and Lowitja O’Donoghue who, in an excess of kindness, is referred to, even officially, as “Dr O’Donoghue”.[7]

Sometimes since 2008 Hare describes himself as “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare”, acknowledging the honorific element (honoris causa).  In the 2017 annual report of the Climate Analytics non-profit Hare co-founded and leads, he’s written in as “Dr Bill Hare” four times and “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare” twice. However, in the 2016 and 2015 reports, he’s “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare” three times each and never “Dr” Bill Hare. [8]  Do a search of “Dr Bill Hare” (no honorifics) on his Climate Analytics website and it comes up 28 times.

The ANU, Sydney and Murdoch Universities’ protocols say use of honorary doctor titles is OK if the occasion is an event or activity at that university. I’m guessing the drafters had  special ceremonials in mind, like graduations. In practice, the universities bung on hundreds of events and publications targeted at both their own people and the outside public. It would  be unusual for honorary doctors speaking under such circumstances to be described as “Dr”, but Hare again gets the gong. Murdoch’s 2017 Keith Roby lecture was advertised by Murdoch as being by “Dr” Bill Hare. Sally Neighbour, executive producer of Four Corners, has referred me to a Murdoch publication, its alumni news-sheet Murmur. In its Spring 2018 issue it refers to “Dr Hare” once  as B.Sc Hons, Hon Doc Sc, which is accurate, and three times to “Dr Hare”.

The ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy advertised as its public speaker for March 12, 2008“Dr Bill Hare, IPCC author and Potsdam Institute fellow”. Maybe that was splitting hares or jumping the gun. Murdoch presented his Honorary Doctorate five days later on March 17.

Among the publications of  Sweden’s Air Pollution and Climate Secretariat (a combination of Swedish-based nature groups including WWF), a 2009 environmental fact sheet is described as authored by Potsdam’s Katja Frieler, Ph.D., Malte Meinshausen, Ph.D., and Bill Hare, Ph.D. Frieler and Meinshausen have earned Ph.Ds. It’s doubly wrong on Hare’s honorary degree, which is D.Sc.

The fawning media’s been wrongly citing “Dr Hare” since about 1992. The latest example was the  climate propaganda piece on Four Corners last April Fools Day. When I squawked about “Dr” Bill Hare,  producer Sally Neighbour promised to be more wary next time, and she alerted colleague Laura Tingle who had also bruited “Dr” Hare to the world.

Others getting “Dr” Hare wrong include the non-profit independent Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) “giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise. We aim to increase the quantity and accuracy of science reporting in the media, and hence the public understanding of science.”[9] AusSMC, you’re inaccurate on this: “Other Australian scientists involved in drafting the synthesis report [for 4thIPCC report] are Neville Nicholls, a Professorial Fellow… and Dr William Hare.”[10]  I never found a single correction to all the times the media, NGOs and academia have mis-labelled Hare as “Dr Hare”.

As for Hare’s main base at Potsdam, Australian journalists have been duchessed to respect the PIK crowd, especially its (recently retired) boss Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who has called for the unconditional destruction of the fossil fuel industryand “warned about the end of civilization”. 

For example, in June 2015 the Berlin-based Green thinktank Ecologic organized a three-day Berlin climate-study tour for Peter Hannam, environment editor for SMH/Age, Tony Walker (Financial Review) and Sid Maher (The Australian), as a warm-up for the Paris climate negotiations. Ecologic is funded largely by the EU and German governments, and the tour was funded by the German government and its Canberra embassy. The German  briefers included Bill Hare’s wife, Dr Ursula Fuentes-Hutfilter, who has a senior policy role in the German climate bureaucracy. According to Ecologic, only Hannam delivered with two media features, involving panegyrics to Merkel-adviser Schellnhuber at his “renowned” PIK. Hannam wrote, “Seated in the same Potsdam room that Albert Einstein discussed his theory of relativity in 1916 with fellow pioneers, Professor Schellnhuber said …” and so forth blah, blah, blah. The other piece featured humble-bragging by Schellnhuber about advising Pope Francis on his strange climate encyclical Laudato Si.[11]

As a reality check on the journos’ immersion in 2015 German spin, German energy authority Professor Harald Schwarz was reported this month, “We will not be able to cope with the shutdown of coal and nuclear power in three years’ time and can only hope that there are still sufficient reserves of coal and nuclear power in neighbouring countries to supply Germany when we can no longer do it ourselves”. The Wall Street Journal dubbed Germany’s Energiewende last week as “the stupidest energy policy in the world”.

Bill Hare’s Climate Analytics site, like PIK, is full of modelled projections of our climate doom.[12] For example, he offers a tool for local sea level rise projections, based on the IPCC models. I plugged in Fremantle, my home town and port. By 2100 we’re talking 52cm sea rise, as per Paris Agreement, and a very serious 103cm by 2200. For the 4degC temperature rise scenario, it’s 80cm under the Paris deal by 2100 and 198cm by 2200. The very worst case 2200 outcome is four metres, which would also put most of Perth underwater.

Woe to my two fair cities in 180 years! But I cheered up by checking how much the sea level at Fremantle has actually risen in the past 100 years, as measured by its trusty tide gauge. Answer: 13.6cm, about the length of my palm and middle finger.

The deep explanation for Murdoch University’s suck-up to Hare is that its culture from top to bottom reflects a green mania. Think of “Dr” Bill  as something akin to Murdoch’s patron saint with his decades of jeremiads on global emissions politics. And one gathers that honorary degree of 2008 was too little honor. Hare in 2017 bagged a gig delivering the university’s signature Keith Roby Lecture, preceded in 2015 by ex-leader of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and ex-GetUp campaigner Kirsty Albion, who led the fight against Port Augusta’s now-blown-up coal-fired generator. In addition, Hare collected, along with Greens leader Dr Adam Bandt (earned Ph.D)[13], a 2017 “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Vice-Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen.

Time-travel back 34 years and Murdoch’s green delusions were already flourishing. In 1985, Murdoch was a sucker for disseminating the faux Armageddons of Paul Ehrlich, who in 1969 was predicting disastrous global famine by 1975 that would require compulsory birth control via sterilising agents in food and water. He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation in the Eighties, and that  the US population would decline by 1999 to 22.6 million.[14] Today’s US population is 330 million. Another Ehrlich climate forecast, from 1971: “If I were a gambler, I would take even-money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”[15] Instead of derision, Ehrlich has wallowed in honors ranging from Murdoch’s lecture to the 50 million yen ($US450,000) 1999 “Blue Planet Prize” of Asahi Glass for environmental conservation biology.

Hare describes himself not just as “Dr” but as a “physicist”.  As a Bachelor (Hons) student he majored in physics for sure in 1983,[16] but for the past few decades he’s been a global-warming politician. None of the peer-reviewed papers he cites in his Climate Analytics’ c.v. are in physics journals, they’re all related to anti-emissions politics.[17]

He refers to his roles as “policy responses to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion” (my emphasis). Of course, one can call oneself “physicist” or whatever one likes. I’m an economist (B.Ec., 1974). Hire me.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here.


[1] Named after the late Sir Walter Murdoch, great-uncle of Rupert Murdoch

[2] “Does Murdoch have a protocol guide for holders of Murdoch honorary degrees, as to when/how they may be referred to as “Dr”, e.g. ‘Dr Thomas’?”

[3]  “CitWA” is a newie on me. It must refer to his 2014 WA Citizen of the Year Award.

[4] Melbourne University is currently revising its honorary degree policies

[5] Now PIK director

[6] Some gloss came off the historian’s polemic when she described Benjamin Franklin as a US president.

[7] O’Donoghue has honorary doctorates from five universities including Murdoch.

[8] I sought clarifications from Hare but was emailed by his office in Berlin, “Bill is currently on Easter holidays for the next 10 days and unfortunately there isn’t a way to reach him at the moment.”

[9] AusSMC’s “Gold Sponsors” include the Academy of Science, SBS, a law firm and various universities. ABC science stalwart Robyn Williams is a deputy chair. The Australian Museum in  Sydney is under the delusion that Williams’ honorary doctorate is a real one.

[10] AusSMC doesn’t bother to explain to journalists – who don’t want to know anyway — that the all-important Synthesis Reports are written by the politicians from IPCC member states, whose views trump those of IPCC scientists.

[11] “The Pope is interfering in the writing of my book,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber jokingly told visiting Australian journalists. “The request is a pain in the neck, but you have to accept it, as it comes from above.”

[12] Funding partners of Climate Analytics are a remarkable array, ranging from EU, UN and German and UK government sources to World Bank and Greenpeace. Sceptics’ main funding is from tip jars.

[13] And three others

[14] Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York, Ballantine Books, 1968.

[15] Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For BiologySeptember 1971.

[16] And environmental science

[17] His own c.v. says his peer-reviewed articles are in journals including Nature Climate Change, Nature, Climatic Change, Regional Environmental Change, and Climate Policy.

  • Richard Harrison

    Another along the same lines is “Dr” Karl Kruszelnicki. He has never earned a doctorate in any discipline, but has been referred to as “Dr Karl” by his ABC (and other) enablers since Adam was a boy.

    In 2016 the University of the Sunshine Coast gave him an honorary doctorate, so since then there has been a fig-leaf for his titular pretensions.

  • en passant

    What is the word for cultists so bereft of self-awareness, so certain in beliefs that are designed to hurt their country and its people that they push on year after year despite the overwhelming evidence they are wrong? Is it Greenie? Is it Lysenkoist? Is it hare-brained… I am sure someone knows a suitable word for someone so narcissist that they need a tin title to stroke their ego.
    Fell free to call me ‘Sir’.

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