Those Climate Cult Kiddies: Part II

Several of our largest banks backed the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and still found themselves accused of raping the planet. When dealing with fanatics it pays to bear in mind that rationality, unlike dispensers of ill-considered corporate sponsorships, is in short supply

scary kidThe Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) enjoys such a red-carpet ride into schools I am surprised principals haven’t just handed their classroom keys to AYCC operatives and gone home.

AYCC in schools promotes its green message of “moving on” from coal and gas to “100% renewable energy” before 2024. Australian coal and gas exports currently are worth $40 billion and $30 billion respectively, and will be an engine of growth in the coming half decade, the AYCC’s worst efforts notwithstanding.[1]

Schoolkids also lap up AYCC’s moral fables of  ‘saving’ the Reef/Environment/Planet/You Name It from fossil-fuel/Big Bank/IPCC-denying men in black hats.

From the outset AYCC has targeted schools. Its 2011 report  said AYCC submitted details on ‘sustainability’ teaching to the  Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, “and based on our recommendations, they agreed to re-evaluate their approach to sustainability, resulting in some much-needed amendments. This was a great win for AYCC!” Today, “sustainability” is one of the national curriculum’s three mandatory cross-curriculum priorities that are said to “enrich” syllabi for schools.

March of the Climate Cult Kiddies: Part I

Last year, AYCC in its national “Start the Switch” program ran eight two-day school summits for  a total 1000 students who were fed AYCC’s version of global warming catastrophes.[2]“Start the Switch” then went on “to reach up to 20,000 young people through five regional workshops, high school presentations, and participant outreach in 400 schools.”[3] This year, the AYCC’s  Student Climate Action Network got under way, to  “give high school students the extra support they need to successfully contribute to AYCC’s national campaigns.” One example of that support is the video below, part of the AYCC campaign to instruct both teachers and students in How to Talk About Climate Change.

The video  asserts as “true” that the South Polar ice cap has shrunk by 20%; claims Australia can be powered by 100% renewables by 2020; and features a  dorky sceptic kid wearing (literally) a tinfoil hat who rants, “Climate change doesn’t exist!”

Another AYCC schools video features a pretty young blonde in blue AYCC rig-outpromising (50 seconds in), “Ten years from now we will be at the start of our careers. Imagine if we had tens of thousands of new green jobs to choose from!”[4] That green shtick is accompanied by images of anti-Vietnam-war protestors, Martin Luther King, and the famous “tank man” from Tiananmen Square.

Various AYCC schools presenters have been trained by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. Mr Justice Burton of the UK High Court  ruled in 2007 “that Gore’s video, An Inconvenient Truth, can only be shown to UK schools after teachers had read an alert  to their students about the movie’s nine scientific errors.” No such alerts are required in Australia.

Some Australian businesses that backed AYCC have got their just desserts. Former AYCC chair Anna Rose in her book  Madlands referred to  “the silent screams of our struggling planet”[5]  Today, the silent screams are more likely coming from former ally National Australia Bank. NAB as donor got its logo on the first four annual reports of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition from 2008. But last July, AYCC  launched  its “Dump My Bank” campaign, with NAB in the cross-hairs, along with the other three members of the Big Four. The accusation is that those banks ‘refuse  to rule out’   lending to coal companies which are  ‘destroying’ the Great Barrier Reef.

NAB headquarters, branches and managers have been afflicted with AYCC zealots,  plus mock screens on ATMs asking, “Wreck the Barrier Reef for a new coal port?”.

Westpac, now similarly besieged by AYCC, was starry-eyed enough to help fund AYCC’s seminal “Power Shift” conference in 2009, where a Westpac executive skited about her bank’s climate-change credentials.[6]  Bad move. AYCC now distributes posters: “Love the Reef? Dump Westpac.”

AYCC’s Daniel Spencer says AYCC had urged the Big Four for a year without success to rule out financing the Abbot Point expansion, and now AYCC is taking the campaign to the next level by asking customers to move their funds elsewhere.

I noticed this graffiti (below) on my ANZ and Westpac terminals at Moonee Ponds today. It seems to originate from a Friends of the Earth affiliate, but the message is identical with AYCC’s.

atm stickerA big beneficiary of the Dump My  Bank  campaign is Bendigo Bank, rival to NAB and Westpac. Community-based Bendigo Bank  has no Queensland resource  developments to worry about.

Bendigo Bank doesn’t donate to AYCC. That would be crass. Instead the bank is a dominant donor to Cool Australia, which greenwashes the brains of students in half of Australia’s primary and secondary schools. Cool Australia,  in turn, promotes AYCC and AYCC’s Dump My Bank campaign to the kids.

The ultimate power in AYCC is held by a group known as “Full Members” who pay a token ($10) joining fee and elect the directors. Who these Full Members are, I can’t discover.[7] The only hint is in the 2011 report, where a dozen “partner groups” are listed, such as the Youth Affairs Coalition, Law Students’ Association, and Engineers Without Borders. The report says these groups “continue to play an important role in electing the board”. But the 2013 and 2014 reports are silent even on who the “partners” are and what role, if any, they play.

AYCC’s Spencer says AYCC structure changed, that it is now an independent organization, working in partnership with others but with no formal ‘coalition’. In other words, some cross-promotion and ad hoc joint efforts.

The money side of AYCC is  also worth exploring. AYCC likes to pose as a minnow compared with the likes of WWF ($30m revenue) and Greenpeace in Australia. That’s true, but AYCC’s latest annual revenue of $1.1m is not trivial.

Just as Cool Australia has its millionaire backers (the Kimberley “Just Jeans” family)[8], AYCC from inception has been backed  by aged-care and radiology ex-tycoon Robert E. Purves. Purves 56, is  a Governor of AYCC and his  fund matches AYCC donations dollar-for-dollar.[9]  Purves rates AYCC, which he has supported since 2007-08, as his best charity project. In addition, he has funded special AYCC projects and provided non-cash  help for AYCC  to “solve the climate crisis”.[10]

Purves, with sister Sandra, inherited a fortune from their father, Sir Raymond Purves, in the shape of 18% of  loco-maker Clyde Industries. The 1994 BRW Rich List put Robert and Sandra’s net worth  at $55 million, and in 1999, at  a peak of $87m. Robert as DCA Group chair and a pioneer shareholder,   developed it to an  aged-care and radiology giant from a $10m start-up. In 2004 he sold half his DCA shares (for an amount I can’t discover), and with a $10m deposit, started the Purves Private Fund Trust charity. Two years later, DCA was bought by a Citigroup affiliate for $2.7 billion.

Since 2004, Purves’ top-level environment fund has been doing fine.  From earnings and capital growth of more than $3 million per annum for the past  two years it has donated about $1.2m pa to environmental not-for-profits and used the balance to build up its reserves. After a decade of  giving, the fund’s net assets grew handsomely to $16.2 million last year. [11]  Purves has also gifted more than $5 million personally and helps fund   Earth Hour Global  and other  eco-silliness.

Purves also helps fund  Cool Australia’s work pumping green and climate-change education into the school system, with the backing of the education unions and a host of  curriculum apparatchiks and politicians. A grazier in the NSW southern highlands, Purves has funded many worthwhile land-care projects. However, he was bitten by the climate-catastrophe bug and got himself on ABC TV by going to Greenland in 2011 and hyper-ventilating about the alleged melting of the ice-sheet.[12]

Purves has backed Tim Flannery’s views with adulation and money,  for example financing conversion of Flannery’s apocalyptic tome The Weather Makers into lurid memes for schoolchildren.  In 2005 he started, and still funds, the formalized Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, which combines useful land and water care with global warming horror-shows from the likes of Professors David Karoly, Lesley Hughes and drought-forecaster Flannery.

AYCC’s income under the heading ‘Philanthropy’ was $221,000 in fiscal 2014, compared with ‘Donations’ of $529,000. ‘Philanthropy’ appears to include the income from Purves trusts. In the past four years, AYCC ‘Philanthropy’ income has averaged about $240,000. Curiously, in late 2011, AYCC said most of its core funds came from “grants from philanthropic foundations”. In respect of project funding, it listed companies, other non-profits, foundations, major donors, governments and finally “small individual contributions from our members” . 

The AYCC’s statutory report says it received $96,000 in  government grants in fiscal 2014 (9% of revenue), compared with  only $24,000 (3%) in 2013. But in fiscal 2012, taxpayers kicked in $270,000, or 34%, of AYCC income. [13] Nice to know that taxpayers are underwriting the efforts of children and their handlers to attack our key exports.

AYCC statutory accounts show that its leaders are not money-oriented. Good for them.  When first establishing AYCC, Anna Rose worked for nothing, relying on two days paid work with GetUp to cover the rent. For the first two years, no-one at AYCC received a proper wage; thereafter pay was about $20 an hour.

In 2013 the total pay to ‘key management personnel’ was only $130,000, up from $93,000 in 2012. In 2014 the total fell to $104,000, with new information that the $104,000 covered two people (possibly not for the full 12 months each).[14] National co-directors at that time were Kirsty Albion and Lucy Manne (daughter of Latrobe’s Robert Manne). Lucy Manne left early this  year.  Albion is now National Director. National co-directors at that time were Kirsty Albion and Lucy Manne (daughter of Latrobe’s Robert Manne). Lucy Manne left early this  year.  Albion is now National Director. I met her at a ‘non-political’ evening at the Moonee Valley City Council last August.

AYCC’s Spencer says AYCC funds are tight and wages are in line with award requirements.

The non-monetary rewards are considerable. Apart from frequent travel to UN jamborees (where AYCC leaders work even harder than normal)[15], a spell running AYCC is enough to get  a young woman showered with honors and career paths for having saved the planet. Rose alone has collected eight gongs, and four out of five finalists for (Labor’s) Prime Minister’s Young Environmentalist of 2013 were AYCC women.

One of AYCC’s proudest moments was scoring an interview with then-IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri at Cancun in 2010. One hopes that the randy warmist kept his mind on catastrophism, rather than carnality.

Perhaps the AYCC should now take a break from saving the planet, and mobilise its kids to save Pachauri, 74, who quit the IPCC chair abruptly in February after 11 years at the top. New Delhi police have charged him with  sustained sexual harassment of a 29-year-old female employee, and if convicted he could get seven years.

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope) 

[1] LNG export volumes will treble to $47b, for example.

[2] RSS and UAH satellites record no atmospheric warming for the past 18 years

[3] AYCC annual report, 2014. P8.

[4] AYCC’s Spencer says the previous target of 41,000 GwH of renewable power by 2020 involved 24,000 prospective green jobs. Base load power would come from new solar-power concentrators and new types of battery storage.

[5] Madlands P337

[6] Westpac/AFR in 2014 named AYCC co-founder Amanda McKenzie as one of their 100 Australian ‘Women of influence’.

[7]  Flannery’s Climate Council also does not disclose its board-electing “Members”. Perhaps the Charities Commission should include this information in its mandatory reporting requirements.

[8] Craig sold his business for $64m in 2001

[9] Purves Environmental Fund Annual Report, 2014 p11

[10] He’s also president of WWF Australia.

[11] Purves Private Fund, 2014 Report

[12] In 1942 a flight of six US Lightnings, ‘the lost squadron’,  crash-landed on ice near Greenland’s east coast. In 1992 the planes were discovered, below an astonishing 82 metres of ice. So much for the ‘melting Greenland ice-cap’.

[13] Sister organization GetUp declines government funding

[14] In 2012, the full-time Director of Operations and the Campaigns Manager were on only $40,000 each.

[15]  E.g. “collaborate with young people from around the world on major media stunts and actions.”


March of the Climate Cult Kiddies

Perhaps because of the koala costumes and elephant suits, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s zealots seem no more worthy of adult attention than any other noisy assembly of adolescent public nuisances. Dopey as the rank and file may be,  their leaders are a lesson in slick marketing

aycc smallThe Australian Youth Climate Coalition seems a formidable bunch. Its leaders, for example, use  their vast  membership roll as a weapon, such as badgering the Big Four coal-lending banks “on behalf of 110,000 young Australians”. The number dwarfs membership of the Liberal Party, about 80,000, and the Labor Party, 54,000.

Along the way, co-founders Anna Rose and Amanda McKenzie have been showered with honours and accolades from Labor governments, business, media (Fairfax), academia, even non-political Rotary. Rose’s latest citation, ACT Finalist for Australian of the Year 2015,  says  AYCC  “now boasts more than 110,000 young Australians who are standing up for their future.”

But there is something odd about this membership roll, which the 2014 annual report puts at 120,000. First, it’s free to join. The Liberals charge $35 (concession) to $100 pa in Victoria, while Labor in Victoria collects dues of between $34 (concession) and $224. The Institute of Public Affairs, with 3500 members, charges $88.

Second, AYCC is pretty cavalier about the particulars of each member. Determined “to stand up for my future”, I joined online by providing name, email, age (a youthful 74), phone and state. That’s it. They don’t even want my address. The process took me half a minute. Just for interest, I joined successfully a second time  — AYCC software accepts duplicate memberships.

My spaniel Natasha also wanted join  “more than 110,000 members united by 
a common goal – their vision of a safe climate future
”[1], so I enrolled her, successfully, with AYCC. I assume both of us are now members forever, since there would be no point in AYCC reminding us about free annual renewals. What proportion of   AYCC “members” since 2007 are bounce-back phantoms?[2]

While “member numbers” are useful for AYCC propaganda, AYCC focuses internally on its “volunteers” (currently 2100) who proselytise in schools, jump about in fish suits, and help run AYCC events. As ACT coordinator Emma tells, “We often race to Parliament House for rapid response media stunts. There is never a dull moment in Canberra!” WA coordinator Dean writes, “We have group (sic) at the University of Western Australia as well as several local groups.” Group at UWA was doubtless active in lighting the auto-da-fé for climate heretic Bjorn Lomborg on the campus this month.

What’s also noteworthy is that the 110,000-strong AYCC can claim only ‘several’ local groups in WA (pop 2.6m). Victoria manages about 20 local groups. Tasmania has two.

The 2013 annual report gives more detail (p20). It says there were 600 volunteers in 100 local groups (an average six per group), including 80 ‘active’ volunteers in Victoria, and 50 ‘active’ in Queensland.  Other states didn’t specify ‘active’ or other volunteer numbers. AYCC’s national campaigner and media person Daniel Spencer says “volunteers” commit to give time to AYCC weekly.

Is it rude to ask what would happen to AYCC’s 110,000 membership if AYCC were to seek even a token $10 membership fee? Might membership collapse to, say,  5000-10,000, a modest multiple of the 2100 AYCC volunteers as of last  December? By analogy,  the Institute of Public Affairs ‘young member’ category, charging $22 for under 25s, has only 220 members.[3]

AYCC  is spawn of the US Energy Action Coalition (EAC) of 50 youth-led environmental groups. EAC is a prominent member of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. Anna Rose, after attending the UN Montreal climate fest in 2005, templated the AYCC’s first constitution on the EAC’s. In 2008, young UK activists set up their own coalition based on EAC and AYCC.

AYCC operates out of the Trades Hall, Carlton. It proclaims, like similar lobbyist groups, that it is politically non-partisan. This is important for maintaining its ‘charity’  status. Its policies  are way to the left of the Labor Party and dovetail in  their extremism with the Greens’ worldview.[4]

Among the AYCC online resources for teachers is a video to show to students, “How to Talk About Climate Change”. At 50 seconds, a girl and boy stroll past three prominent posters on a fence: two of “This Time, I’m Voting Greens” and “Vote 1 Adam Bandt: The Greens”. (AYCC’s Spencer swears the posters must have got in the shot inadvertently).

Here’s an example of the ambience around AYYC. Chair Anna Rose worked from 2010  concurrently for a consultancy called Make Believe along with her husband-to-be Simon Sheikh, stalwart of GetUp and a failed Greens Senate candidate in 2012. Make Believe, self- described as  “delivering cut-through social & political campaigns…for a ‘who’s who’ of non-profits, progressive political parties and socially responsible businesses.”   In practice, as Rose put it in an unguarded moment (see the 50-minute mark of this video), Make Believe comprised basically ex-AYCC and ex-GetUp people, and the important clients were “the federal Greens Party, the Victorian Greens Party, Adam Bandt who was running for the Greens Party seat of Melbourne, lots of Greens.”

With a hung Federal Parliament after the 2010 election, they got to work on the two rural Independents. Sheikh, wearing his GetUp hat, enlisted “an international [climate] expert who can never be named” [at 52 minutes] to come to Australia as chief persuader and this expert, he says, swung the two rurals to the Julia Gillard camp. In other words, if you accept his version, Sheikh is saying an anonymous foreigner was midwife to the Gillard minority government. Who was that man? The previous year, Sheikh and Rose along with Greenpeace and others, had enticed Al Gore to their Power Shift conference in Sydney. In 2014, ”Nobel Laureate” Gore[5] was again meddling in Australian politics, arriving in person to back Clive Palmer’s PUP group of key senators. It’s hard to imagine any foreign climate guru, other than Gore, with the clout to install Gillard as Prime Minister in 2010, but I can’t find any reference to a Gore visit that year. Nor does Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise mention it.[6]

Unwary and non-plussed people in political and business circles might think of AYCC as nothing more than a bunch of excited, idealistic kids who enjoy dressing up as koalas. Many are, but AYCC is led by smart and dedicated lobbyists determined to see the imposition of economy-busting carbon dioxide controls. As with Tupperware and the Al Gore education circus, savvy AYCC leaders train sub-leaders and sub-leaders train local leaders in a cascade of enthusiasm that flows down to the grassroots.

In media nous, AYCC leaders make the Greenpeace publicity tarts look like amateurs – an AYCC coach can tell you that an ideal TV soundbite involves 27 words and three thoughts, and should be no more than eight to nine seconds. One of the AYCC’s 2009 media stunts was  “a flash mob with 2,000 young people on the steps of the Opera House.” I noticed that other friendly estimates of the dance mob talked about ‘hundreds’ and the semi-official Essential Media video said ‘over 800’.  The video captures the flash-mob on the steps and by freezing it at 4.37mins, I could count  a maximum 650. AYCC’s Spencer says there were more than 1000 at the Sydney conference, of which the flash-mob dance was a part.

For the 2010 federal election, AYCC must have bought up every elephant suit in Australia (and home-made more of them) to confront politicians (below) with the supposed climate-change ‘elephant in the room’.  For  their campaigning against North Queensland coal port development (‘saving’ the Barrier Reef) they have “Nemo” clownfish suits. Lend Lease was Nemo’s first victim, cravenly opting out of Abbott Point coal-loading financing last year.[7]

jumbo gillardJulia Gillard (right) gets a scientific briefing from an AYCC activist

Co-founder Rose and ex-leader Lucy Manne have not merely cherry-picked the Obama campaigning techniques; they  campaigned for “Camp Obama” in 2008 and 2012 respectively. They know the power of the maudlin and air-brushed “personal stories” used by Obama. Rose proffers as her own story (ad nauseum) that climate change is real and upon us because her grandparents had to sell their Gunnedah farm in the 1990s drought, which was ‘the new normal’ (as if Australia never had droughts!). When the drought was terminated by floods, she blamed them on climate change as well.[8]

AYCC , incidentally, is strongly feminised. Apart from a general manager in 2011, all its top tier has been female.  The  AYCC leadership roll-call reads: Co-founders – Rose and  McKenzie; Chairs – Rose and Renee Carr; CEO-equivalents Rose, McKenzie, Lucy Manne, Ellen Sandell, and Kirsty Albion. Of 14 current listed staff, 11 are female. A long list of staff and volunteers breaks down to 64 female, 26 male and six I can’t identify. [9]

The AYCC’s Spencer says it is an equal-opportunity organisation “and it is exactly because of this we strongly support women’s leadership. Our membership and volunteer base  is majority female. Females are strongly represented in non-government organisations across the board.”  Males do hold senior roles, he says, noting that he has been AYCC’ spokesman for three years.

Rose’s road to activism began in primary school, when her teachers “educated” her about climate catastrophism. By age 14, after listening to a Wilderness Society campaigner at the school assembly (more green brainwashing during school hours), she was a full-blown militant who prodded her principal to include “environmental activities…writing passionate, handwritten letters to politicians” as “a new  official school sport”.[10] Next year, she led a walkout from science class because of mice dissection, and she abandoned science subjects thereafter.

“I have expert, objective, scientific consensus on my side and a sound knowledge of basic climate science facts,” she writes in her aptly titled book Madlands.[11] Among  the  factoids she recycles are that climate change will drop Murray Darling farm output by between 92% and 97% in 2100; that climate change is blameworthy for Hurricane Katrina, Russian droughts and US wildfires; that Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick data is “solid”, and that natural climate variability is “quite well understood, scientifically”.

Upon reading a bucketload of climate doom by PR professional Mark Lynas[12] (organiser of the ludicrous Maldives underwater cabinet), she writes, “It had me sobbing halfway through chapter two. Yet I can’t turn away. This is my life, my future being written about.”[13][14]

Rose and McKenzie  are both  Law Honors graduates.[15] McKenzie ran AYCC with Rose for a couple of years, then moved on to run PR for Labor’s Flannery-led Climate Commission. She stepped up in 2013 to become co-founder and  CEO of the crowd- and millionaire-funded[16]Climate Council.

Rose on hitting an internal age-27 ceiling, became  AYCC chair in 2010.[17] She moved off in February, 2013,  to educate ANU students as lecturer on ‘Leadership & Influence’, and this year was in WWF, running Earth Hour.

In Part II: AYCC infiltration of schools, its business connections and tycoon-backed finances.

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)

[1] Purves Environmental Trust Annual Review, p18

[2] For good measure, we joined AYCC’s sister crowd GetUp as well, swelling their “membership” from 918,071 to 918,073.

[3] WWF Australia is similar to AYCC in offering free membership. It has 80,000 “members” who get WWF emails, but unlike AYCC, WWF’s 2014 annual report doesn’t  even mention member numbers.

[4] The Institute of Public Affairs, likewise, has no formal links with the Liberal Party. The extent to which charities can campaign politically, was a grey area but the High Court’s upholding of lobbyist AidWatch as a charity in 2010 gave a green light to “charity” campaigning groups. The Liberal’s Peter Costello when Treasurer   made a push to tighten the ‘charity’ status of political lobby groups but gave up.

[5] As described by then PUP senator Glenn Lazarus. Gore actually won half of a Nobel Peace Prize, as did Yasser Arafat a decade earlier.

[6] A less likely contender could be NASA’s James Hansen, another pal of Rose and Sheikh.

[7] For AYCC, the beauty of the “Save the Reef” plan is that it also stymies development of the Galilee Basin’s vast coal deposits. Plus “Save the Reef” is a great sound-bite. AYCC’s Spencer says, “The Great Barrier Reef is under stress from both climate change and coal port development. We need to act to protect the Great Barrier Reef to ensure it is around for future generations to enjoy, not turned into a highway for coal ships.”

[8] Madlands, A Journey to Change the Mind of a Climate Sceptic, p333

[9] 2014 annual report, p22

[10] ibid p32.

[11] ibid p48

[12] “Six Degrees, Our Future on a Hotter Planet”

[13] Madlands, , p143

[14] Rose’s chapter on climate change in ‘The Future, By Us’  was described as ‘authoritative’ by The Age.

[15] McKenzie’s thesis, which through no fault of hers has not stood the test of time, was  “the integration of an Australian emissions trading scheme into the global carbon market.” Monash, High Distinction. Rose did a first class honours degree in Arts (Asian Studies) and Law (Sydney), and further work at Cornell Law School.

[16] By Robert Purves

[17] A 2012 AYCC document says,  “All staff members and volunteers are under the age of thirty. The board must also include a majority of people under the age of 30.” That rules me out as a volunteer, but I would still be eligible for the board.

UQ’s Denial 101x : Putting the stink in distinction

Guest Post By Tony Thomas*

A keen student, I have just completed Week One of John Cook’s MOOC at Queensland University: “Denial 101x – Making Sense of Climate Science Denial.”

A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course, and Cook’s course has 13,000 students so far.  He is a Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University  and author of the notorious 2013 study purporting to find a 97% climate consensus in the science literature.

One normally gets a buzz from study. But my brain needs a shower and scrub to feel clean again.

I was not intending to write about my studies so early, in case that got me prematurely expelled. But one week of it is enough.

For example, in case I forget elements of Cook’s denialist ideation, he provides an acronym FLICC. This covers Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking and Conspiracy theories.

Worse is in store. Cook says, “Next week’s interviews are equally exciting, as we speak to Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia…” Jones is the author of   “pretty awful emails” (his words) in Climategate. Other stars in the Cook course firmament will be Michael “Hockey-stick” Mann and sort-of historian Naomi “Merchants of Doubt” Oreskes, who in another book fantasizes about how warming may kill your kittens and puppies in 2023.

Cook is clearly stung by FOI and other determined requests for the data on which his work is based. He complains in his course about deniers “accusing the scientific community of falsifying their data”, and of attacking the scientists themselves via emails and blogs, hacking their personal correspondence and excessive FOIs. Incredibly, the lavishly-funded Cook plays the victim card for himself and the team  – at a time when scientists like Willie Soon are being subjected to Joseph McCarthy-style attacks. Cook says:

Perhaps the most damage to the integrity of science comes in the form of pressure being applied to academic journals and universities.

There’s a growing body of literature into the nature of complaints being received by academic institutions…The intent is to interfere with one of the basic principles of scientific work – the freedom to responsibly conduct research and accurately communicate the results.

The immediate consequence is that some academics are now facing what amounts to scientific censorship.”

He also claims – incredibly – that fear of denialist attacks is causing climate scientists “to underestimate the impacts of climate change, in order to avoid a hostile response.”

Cook begins the course by breezily defining “denial” as coming to a conclusion first, and then discounting any evidence that conflicts with your belief. [Like what Cook does, right, says Jo, who used to believe, but changed her mind.]

Ambitiously, Cook wants to ‘reclaim’ the word sceptic from the sceptics. [No chance, says Jo who wants to reclaim the word scientist from the unskeptical believers, who hide data, declines, and pander to a “consensus”. – Jo]

And given Cook’s cognitive psychology  background, he intends to teach his students about ‘drivers of denial’, denial psychology, and ‘tell-tale characteristics of denial’.

Screenshot of Pistachio the koala in the course material

Cook reaches down to kindergarten-standard teaching. He enthuses about securing an interview with ecologist Sir David Attenborough, then says, a la Play School,  “But giving Sir David a run for his money is another star of this course – Pistachio the koala. “ [I think it makes a “grate” segue, says Jo.]

“And we mustn’t forget Christine Hosking, the University of Queensland scientist who researched the impacts of climate change on koalas.

Another highlight of the MOOC that I’m particularly excited about is “The Climate of Middle Earth”, featuring a climate scientist from the University of Bristol, Dan Lunt. We captured so much exciting footage of Dan simulating the climate of Middle Earth that we divided his interview into a trilogy starting in week 4.”

I had to check that Lunt isn’t talking geology but yes, Lunt is talking Gandalf and Frodo Baggins.

Lunt of Bristol U., in role.

Cook’s rhetorical gyrations are puzzling. Having found fame and fans with his “97% consensus” paper,  oft-cited in the course, he also remarks,  “Science isn’t based on a show of hands. It’s based on evidence.  The more lines of evidence we have, the more confident we are that our scientific understanding is correct.”

[Jo says: Righto — they don’t count hands, but they do count lines?]

He drills his students that the “consensus” is that human-caused CO2 promotes warming. This is hardly controversial. I can’t find anywhere in Week 1 where he explicitly states, rather than implies, the orthodox case that humans have been causing most of the past half-century’s warming – an assertion at the heart of the climate controversy.

Instead he says that  satellites are showing   “less heat escaping to space”. And  this somehow proves that greenhouse gases are responsible and what’s more, it’s “a human fingerprint in outgoing heat”.

[This’ll be Harries et al, which shows that CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas and does absorb the frequencies we think it does. It doesn’t show that there is less heat escaping overall, just that there is less heat escaping in a small part of the spectrum. It shows that CO2 levels have increased, which skeptics agree with, and which we already know.  – Jo]

Another   “distinct human fingerprint”, he says, is that there’s a warming lower atmosphere (not for the past 18 years, actually) but a cooling upper atmosphere. The two fingerprints, plus others, “rule out” the sun and internal variability as causes of the (halted) global warming.[i]

[The warming lower atmosphere and cooling stratosphere can also be due to changes in ozone, it’s not unique, and it doesn’t show that the models have their calculations right. The key fingerprint that climate experts predicted is the tropospheric hot spot that is absolutely, completely missing. – Jo]

All the following phenomena do not involve ‘internal variability’ as a climate driver, Cook maintains: Cooling upper atmosphere; less heat to space; rising tropopause; annual cycles; daily cycle; ocean warming; more heat back to earth; and  land warming faster than oceans.

The human-caused warming evidence, says his co-lecturer Scott Mandia (Suffolk College, New York), is just as strong as the settled fact that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer.

“(E)ven if you threw out every climate model in the world, our confidence that humans were causing global warming would be just as strong. That’s because we have many human fingerprints all adding to a great pile of evidence,” Cook says.

Strange, that the Australian Academy of Science cites the models as   primary evidence for human-caused warming.[ii]

Cooks considers that  his feeble exposition 100% validates his global warming case, and hence anyone disputing it must be in thrall to psychological and ideological obsessions. At great length he and Mandia probe  into denialist political beliefs and neuroses, which is their academic specialty.

Now put yourself in a student’s shoes, and take some of this Cook course’s official exam, intended to gauge if you have mastered the Week One material.

Question #1: What characteristics of denial are used in the Global Warming Petition Project, the petition listing over 31,000 scientists who don’t believe that humans are disrupting climate (you may mark more than one):

  1. Cherry Picking
  2. Fake Experts
  3. Conspiracy Theory
  4. False Dichotomy
  5. Magnified Minority

Question #3: What characteristic of science denial is used in the following 1946 advertisement:

  1. Fake Experts
  2.  Logical Fallacies
  3.  Impossible Expectations
  4.  Cherry picking
  5. Conspiracy Theory

Question #6: Tick which of the following examples of media coverage are examples of balance-as-bias that distort an issue (you can choose more than one):

  1. A story on the link between smoking and lung cancer featuring a cancer researcher and a tobacco industry spokesperson
  2. A story on tax reform that features a conservative and a liberal
  3. A story on space travel that features an astronaut and a moon landing conspiracy theorist
  4. A story about the solar system that features an astrophysicist and a geocentrist (thinks the universe revolves around the Earth)
  5. A story on religion that features a religious believer and an atheist

Question #9: Identify the category that each tactic fits in

(i) Sending complaints to universities and scientific journals. [Your choice is]

  1. Cast doubt on scientific evidence
  2. Attack scientists

(ii) Petitions featuring non-climate scientists   [Your choice is]

  1. Cast doubt on scientific evidence
  2.  Attack scientists

(iii) Conspiracy theories about falsified data [Your choice is]

  1. Cast doubt on scientific evidence
  2.  Attack scientists

My main disappointment with the course is that Cook’s grasp of the climate science debate is so flabby.   He’s not a serious opponent for anyone. Cook and Pistachio the Koala say something about standards at Queensland University, somehow  ranked 3rd in Australia, sixth in Asia/Pacific and 85th in the world.\

* Journalist Tony Thomas has 63 climate essays at

[i] Cook’s course says nothing yet about the tropical tropospherical hotspot which was supposed to verify the climate models and become an AGW fingerprint, but is missing in action.

[ii] Climate models allow us 
to understand the causes of past climate changes, and to project climate change into the future. Together with physical principles and knowledge of past variations, models provide compelling evidence that recent changes are due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. 
 -; AAS, Feb 2015,  p4

How Green Academics Fill Their Days


Jetting here, preaching there, sooking somewhere else about the dreadful fate that awaits poor Gaia if mankind doesn’t get capitalism off her carbon-crusted back, they’re a hive of busy, organic bees. Now, thanks to Melbourne University’s union with Germany’s hottest warmists, they’ll be busier than ever


green PA hornThe Australian-German College of Climate and Energy Transitions, twinned with the Melbourne University Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI), is a hotbed of climate activism.  The college and its Potsdam patron were discussed in Part I of this two-part series.

The college’s creation fits perfectly with the third item of the university’s $100m  “Three Grand Challenges” for research to 2025. These are,

  1. Understanding our place and purpose
  2. Fostering health and well-being, and
  3. Supporting sustainability and resilience. 

Item 1 is mush; Item 2 worthily involves half of the university’s research; and Item 3 is the same Trojan horse for the green/left that has trotted through the Australian schools sector.[1]

On April 22, Sustainable Society staffer and Crikey ex-deputy editor Cathy Alexander was tweeting enthusiastically about a Melbourne Uni student demo demanding divestment of fossil-fuel company shares, re-tweeted by the Australian-German College. Trivial, sure, but it conveys the ambience. Such divestment is dear to hearts at MSSI. At a recent conference, MSSI executive committee member Professor Robyn Eckersley concluded her speech:

The climate regime is not the only show in town…The most exciting development since Copenhagen has been the rise of the divestment movement, the leave-it-in-the-ground movement, and the Lock The Gate movement … So you have to get at fossil fuels outside this agreement by other means. And that  movement is going gangbusters at the moment.

Eckersley’s other hobby-horses, apart from what she calls “weather of mass destruction”, include a coal non-proliferation treaty similar to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Yes, she’s serious![2]  in describing it as a “fast, direct means of slowing climate change”  and “the looming problem of climate refugees, researching what rights they should have and proposing an international fund for them… ”

Eckersley, who calls herself “a green political theorist”, is also Chair of Political Science at the university.

She likes “making the case for military intervention” to protect the environment, saying

I think it’s good to have a principled debate about the circumstances when military intervention to defend the environment might be justifiable, so when the time comes, we’ve thought it through.

Here’s my own example: Australia should invade NZ to stop our horrible Kiwi cousins slaughtering possums through trapping, cyanide and 1080.  We love possums, they’re one of our protected species.  Conceivably, the NZ possum slaughter is what Eckersley might define as ‘ecocide’, as in “crimes against nature basically involve the wilful, deliberate extermination of non-human species, which is also an irreversible act.”

Her 2012 co-edited book includes her useful tips for the Australian Defence Forces:

  • build capacity for the “growing incidence of extreme weather events” [see  note 1]
  • ‘climate-proof’ defence installations [they’re a bit busy now proofing bases against jihadists] and
  • ‘reduce  dependence on oil before prices escalate with the onset of peak oil,’ [Current oil price: USD57].[3]

When not exercising her field-marshall’s baton[4], Eckersley’s research interests include the epistemology of “vocal climate change deniers”, for which she had hopes for a large grant in 2013.

She also uses the case study of “Simian Sovereignty” where great apes should be treated like a human tribe, because they have authority structures and the right of self-determination. “This is not a fanciful idea,” she says. My thought is that those simians should also be allowed to keep a few humans in zoos.[5] She is sympathetic, she says, to a scenario where Pacific islanders get on a boat, float to Vancouver and blockade a bridge until Canada agrees to stop tar-sand mining, which pumps out CO2 and drowns the islanders’  homes. And Eckersley is full bottle on the “anthropocene”, that long geological era between 1975 and 1995 when global temperatures and CO2 emissions rose together, probably by coincidence. The Anthropocene, she observes, “prompts us to contemplate the possibility and meaning of the unthinkable: an Earth without us.”

As she wrote for The Conversation, a la the Greens’ Bob Brown, we must now consider ourselves   ‘earthlings’: 

Pundits are warning that if climate negotiations fail to hold warming below two degrees Celsius, democracy will unravel on a hot and lawless planet. Earth will be marked by extreme weather events, ecological collapse, food and resource scarcity, millions of displaced people and increasing conflict and violence…

The space-time-community co-ordinates of liberal democracies are ill-suited to serving the long-term public good of environmental protection…

Being an Earthling does not require renunciation of national citizenship. It does put citizenship and territorially based democracy in a more critical and less exclusivist light.

Eckersley has even managed the feat of attacking then-PM Julia Gillard and her carbon tax, although she did so from the left by accusing Gillard of leaving the electorate “pretty much in the dark about the nature and scale of the problem and Australia’s complicity in generating that problem”. Not that she let then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott off lightly: one of her slides shows depicts him addressing a Canberra rally in front of the sign “Juliar, Bob Brown’s Bitch”. She titles her slide: “Opposition Discourse: Hyperbolic Resistance” as though Abbott was aware of, or responsible for the sign, which was unfurled behind his back as he spoke. Her   final slide is the idiotic 2009 picture of the Maldives’ Islamist ministers in wetsuits holding a cabinet meeting underwater using air tanks and writing on special tablets – a pre-Copenhagen stunt cooked up by the Maldives PR genius Mark Lynas.

Eckersley’s latest overseas trip (that I  know of) was to the Lima climate fiasco last December. As she wrote in 2012, approvingly, “Meetings and negotiations under the UNFCCC [climate talks] are expected to become a permanent and increasingly prominent feature of international politics.”[6]She’s also written, “I normally go to these negotiations.”

Another doom-monger at the MSSI is executive committee member and frequent Eckersley co-author Peter Christoff, who teaches climate change politics. The professor is former vice-president and current board member of the Australian Conservation Foundation lobby group.

He wants Australia to spend $30-40 billion per annum for the next five years — say, $170 billion all up –  to cut emissions  by 40% on 2000 levels, which won’t, of course, reduce global temperatures one jot.  Strangely, last year he was wanting cuts by 2020  — not of 40% but “at least 48%”, partly through “buying international carbon credits” , i.e. giving our tax revenue away to foreigners.

Four days before the 2013 federal election, in the course of blasting Tony Abbott for climate ‘renegadism’, Christoff unveiled his thrilling Australian emissions target for 2030: “near zero”.  Overseas academic conferences would presumably be attended via canoes. Christoff told an interviewer in 2011 about the hypothesized 4-deg warming by 2100, saying

Economies must change radically and probably de-materialize. Whether the debate is about de-materialization and the   end of global capitalism, at the moment we must focus on de-carbonisation and worry about the other bits later…[the warming would] effectively lead to the end of agriculture as we know it…an utter transformation.

After that, the following exchange:

Interviewer: I wanted to make it a bit more graphic for the listeners, Peter…the Amazon rainforest would turn into dry scrubland…

Christoff: It is very important to go from dry statistics and facts as they are told by scientists to imagining and visualizing the consequences…

Interesting that Christoff believes 100-year climate forecasts from climate models, now officially acknowledged to exaggerate warming[7], are those same as ‘dry statistics and facts’.  Such is climate science.

Asked about geoengineering to get planetary temperatures down — cloud- and ocean-seeding, mirrors in outer space — he told the interviewer, “The more we delay the mitigation we need, the more these options must be considered very seriously…”

He edited the book last year, “Four Degrees of Global Warming, Australia in a Hot World”.[8] The book’s four-deg premise is a bit undermined by the current 18-year warming halt. He has his own chapter in the book, co-authored with Eckersley. They foresee, among other things,  between 200 million to one billion climate refugees by 2050.[9] This is an enhancement on UNEP predictions of 50m by 2010, furtively revised to ‘2020’ when 2010 came around and not a single climate refugee was visible. For her part, Eckersley in 2012 opted for 200 million climate refugees by 2050 as “the most widely quoted estimate”[10] but, within a year or two and despite no further global warming, she was talking about another 800 million of these pesky people[11].

The Christoff/Eckersley conclusion runs the line that America has itself to blame for 9/11 and Australia will have itself to blame for roasting up, because of “our sooty amalgam of domestic, economic, foreign, defence and trade policies”. (Soot? I thought CO2 was the topic).

They write

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.[12]

I doubt their 9/11 analogy would go down well with New York’s bereaved, and remember, this is a 2014 book, not one written while 9/11 still involved  some confusion.

MSSI last June ran a particularly loopy conference, even by its own standards, where it rounded up a quartet of Buddhist speakers. The show was called Warming World: Engaged Buddhist Perspectives and Insights, and it  provided “a Buddhist Dharma perspective on the challenges of maintaining emotional, psychological and social resilience in the face of the rapidly accelerating probability and risks of catastrophic climate change.”

One of the four Buddhists was Carol Perry – “senior Insight Meditation teacher, environmental activist and therapist”. She is the co-founder of Dharmananda sustainable community in northern New South Wales where she has lived for 40 years. And what’s her shtick? Apart from the dharmas, sanghas and yatras, she’s a one-woman green crusade. A year ago, for example,  she was part of the seven-week blockade of gas drilling by Metgasco, which led to the Baird government cravenly cancelling Metgasco’s licence and the loss of a Nationals seat to the Greens.  The Supreme Court ruled this week in favour of Metgasco, which is now seeking $15 million compensation.

Carol Perry’s bizarre claim, however, was that  “Business and government have become one and the same thing”.  She told the seminar, “Corporations have a state-like impact on people’s lives but no accountability because they are profit motivated, there is no mechanism to orient them towards social responsibility.”Perry told her admiring audience about one indication that the fossil-fuel-company divestment strategy was working. She claimed the Minerals Council of Australia is spending “$100 million on a campaign to defend their own viability”. As usual with green claims, this one is pure fantasy. The council’s annual revenue is only $21 million. It annual budget for campaigns is under $1m. Its campaign over several years against the mining tax involved less than $20 million total. Its similar multi-year campaign against the carbon tax totalled well under $10m. Talking of lavish funding to defend one’s own viability, Australia’s top 10 green groups such as WWF and Greenpeace, get in donations totalling around $60 mllion a year.

The other three Buddhists seemed  a bit confused, trying to deliver the goods but struggling. One complained about a universal predicament: how he hated being shown friends’ photos from their high-emitting overseas trips. “I don’t want to give them a hard time, I want to keep our friendship,” he sighed. A monk spoke about “the harmonies in non-action”, which   didn’t go down well with all the MSSI activists.

On April 21 the Australian-German College and the MSSI wheeled up Tuvalu’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Ian Fry, as speaker, I assume to bang on about (non-existent) sea level/climate threats to island states. Dr Fry is famous for his pleas at a 2009 Copenhagen plenary about the doom of “my  country” Tuvalu. “I woke up this morning and I was crying, and that is not easy for a grown man  to admit. The fate of my country rests in your hands. Thank you”, Fry  told his whimpering audience, his own voice broken by emotion. Current candidate for IPCC chair Van Ypersele was there and confessed that he was among those emotionally overcome. Fry actually lives at Queanbeyan, near Canberra, 150km from the sea.

I have  barely scratched the surface of the   personalities and credos to be found in Melbourne University’s international interdisciplinary climate camp, but suspect the same syndromes could be found at dozens more Australian universities. University Senates usually include a few sensible   business people aka barons of capitalism. Perhaps one day  they will ask a few pertinent questions.

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)
















[1] The official document includes the “extreme weather” climate meme that even the IPCC has debunked: “Australia is already experiencing a greater prevalence of heat waves, fires, floods, landslides, droughts and storm surges exacerbated by warming climates.” (The university forgot to include volcanoes and earthquakes). An ‘errata’ is overdue as the latest IPCC report includes  “…there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness… a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale… confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low… Callaghan and Power (2011) find a statistically significant decrease in Eastern Australia land-falling tropical cyclones since the late 19th century” etc.


[2] Actually she thanks her colleague Peter Christoff  for creating this nutty idea

[3] Why Human Security Matters, Allen & Unwin, 2012, p203

[4] She also claims Australia’s defence forces should “acknowledge Australia’s complicity in contributing to some of the new security risks that will increasingly dominate security debates in the 21st century.” No, she’s not referring to risks of Islamic terror but C02 emissions. Why Human Security Matters, Allen & Unwin, 2012, p199

[5] A US court only last week granted two chimpanzees recognition as ‘legal persons’, with right of habeus corpus.


[6] ibid p203

[7] “An analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 historical simulations reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations show a GMST trend over 1998–2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 [actual] trend ensemble.” IPCC 5AR

[8] Routledge, Oxford, 2014.

[9] ibid, p194

[10] Why Human Security Matters, Allen & Unwin, 2012, p200

[11] op cit 9

[12]  op cit 8  p201

Die Grünshirts Parachute Into Parkville


In a further demonstration that no alarmist undertaking is too improbable for public funds to underwrite, the climate-change careerists at Melbourne University have teamed up with their equally error-prone counterparts in Potsdam. Bear this in mind when the next vice-chancellor cries poor

green bucksTwo groups that like to out-vie each other on climate catastrophism have linked arms to give the Australian public and taxpayers a double dose of the scares. Melbourne University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have formed a Melbourne-based joint graduate body called the Australian-German College of Climate & Energy Transitions. It has 16 multi-disciplinary PhD students, none pondering the 18-year halt to atmospheric warming. Expect lots of Melbourne/Berlin tripping and jetliner contrails.

This is yet another climate institute or centre in academia, one of hundreds interlocked throughout the Western world  (at least a dozen are in Australia, the ANU alone boasting five varieties). It’s a lucrative industry for normally funding-starved academics.[1]

The  Potsdam guru who’s now director of the Australian-German College is Dr Malte Mainshausen. He’s kindly researching things like “Australia’s fair contribution towards a global [CO2] mitigation effort” and has been snapped up by Melbourne University’s loopy and peer-review-challenged Sustainable Society  Institute (MSSI) for its executive committee. He can get tips there on planet-saving from the MSSI’s Associate, would-be comedian and professed “climate researcher” Rod Quantock B.Arch, Melbourne (failed). And MSSI Professorial Fellow Tim Flannery can input his forecasts, unquestioned by the ABC, of endless local droughts (e.g. in NSW).

This article will firstly take a look at the Potsdam outfit (which is allied with a couple of Berlin universities) and its personalities. Part Two discusses the people and activities at  Melbourne University, ranked 32nd in the world.

Key figures  are:

Potsdam – Meinshausen; PIK director Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber; deputy director  Ottmar Edenhofer (also College supervisor); and member Stefan Rahmstorf (also   College supervisor). The TERI think-tank of over-sexed ex-IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri makes a cameo appearance.

Melbourne University –   Sustainable Society executive committee member and College board member Professor Robyn Eckersley,    and MSSI’s Professor Peter Christoff,   on the College’s original steering committee and a supervisor. Another steering-committee member, Professor Brendan Gleeson, was affectionately profiled in January.

The Potsdam think-tank has been an influential adviser to the German government — so persuasive that the German energy sector is now in desperate straits. A  march of blue-collar workers ending at Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin was scheduled on April 25  to protest  Germany’s hara-kiri attack on its own coal-fired power industry. The workers’ slogan was, “Enough, we oppose!”  Understandable, since the latest German policy folly would render 85-95% of the coal-fired-power industry unprofitable by  2020, risking 100,000 jobs and leaving Germany, well, powerless. Spokesman for Germany’s IG BCE union Thomas Rohde says,

“For too long we have believed politicians that an affordable energy supply and good jobs were worth it. The gods of climate protection have blindly run and sacrificed the guarantors of prosperity and value creation at the altar of CO2 reductions, much to the joy of other EU and industrial countries.”

As an individual, Malte Meinshausen had a track record with Greenpeace. One eco-activist tract in 2009 said Meinshausen and his co-worker, Bill Hare, had “long been key members of the Greenpeace International climate team.” Meinshausen’s name was often on Greenpeace press releases in 2001-03. Meinshausen’s and Hare’s research papers and a graph for Greenpeace wound up being cited in the 2007 IPCC report.[2]  (No, Virginia, not all IPCC authors are “essentially humourless scientists in white coats who go around and measure things” as ex-PM Kevin Rudd claimed).

Meinshausen today is content with nothing less than a global “zero carbon” target for 2055-70 [3], when he himself will be retired or deceased. He mopes:

“Finance ministers in the developed countries   see themselves unable for constitutional/parliamentary reasons, to commit to finance of the [order of] $100 billion, for the next 10-20 years. That’s not going to happen. Still the expectation for a lot of finance support is there, so how can we channel or create market conditions as well for private finance, to fill that gap?”

What of the Potsdam crowd’s other key people? Well, PIK was founded in 1991 by climate doomsday professor, Herr Professor-Doktor Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, who continues to lead it and seek for it world-changing powers. In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2011, Schellnhuber was asked: “Do you feel that the government’s abrupt change of course in relation to its energy policy is adequate?” He replied (emphasis added):

“No. It can only be the beginning of a deep-seated shift. The German Advisory Council on Global Change, which I chair, will soon unveil a  plan for a transformation of society. Precisely because of Fukushima, we believe that a new basis of our coexistence is needed.”

In other words, climate scientists (like himself) should have the authority to save the planet from the global warming which stopped 15-18 years ago. (He predicts 8-degree warming by 2200, an extraordinarily far-sighted forecast, even by the standards of climate-change alarmists). He also has expressed the view  that the carrying capacity of the planet is only one billion people, and that “at nine billion the planet would explode.” [4]

The warming halt is now so obvious that even the PIK is wondering about it. In another interview, Schellnhuber conceded, “We may have another decade of warming slowdown.” Wow! That would make it a quarter-century halt to atmospheric temperatures, equal to the original scare of the quarter-century warming, ca 1975-96. In what other field of science can dire forecasts be so spectacularly wrong, yet remain the basis for trillion-dollar planetary transformations? But Schellnhuber’s dog won’t lie down:

“At the end of this natural cold spell temperatures will rise even more fiercely. Globally, but also in Antarctica which therefore is in danger of tipping.”

PIK luminaries have stamped their brand on all recent IPCC reports, but the objectivity is a bit light-on. Take PIK’s  deputy director,  Dr Ottmar  Edenhofer, who leads the IPCC’s Working Group 3, he is one of half-a-dozen chiefs in the IPCC. In a burst of candour, Edenhofer said in 2009 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.” Edenhofer, not a scientist but an economist, has an excellent grasp of how to spend other people’s money. One of his master plans for renewable energy involved, he said, a cost of “a mere twelve thousand billion dollars by 2030” to put the world onto 75% renewable energy by 2050.

Someone’s calculated that USD12 trillion is about eight times the cost of World War 11. And Edenhofer doesn’t even mention the costs from 2030-50, or the untold billions spent already to deliver 0.3% renewable energy to the globe so far. Could Edenhofer have   triple-digit trillions in mind? And by just how much (if even measurable) would this titanic spending cause planetary temperatures to fall?

Yet Edenhofer is not the most zealous greenshirt in Germany. That title would go to the bureaucrats in the German Environment Department who didn’t like what Edenhofer wrote in the English-version of the 5th IPCC report –  that emissions trading would make subsidies to renewable power unnecessary. Instead, the bureaucrats translated it in a briefing for journalists to say the opposite,  that emissions trading should not be allowed to weaken the subsidies. With a fine lack of indignation, Edenhofer agreed the translation was false, but shrugged,  “Only the original English version is important…What the ministries or other agencies do with it is not in my hands.”

Another guru at the Potsdam PIK is Stefan Rahmstorf,  an elite member of the Michael Mann ‘hockey stick’ travesty team. In 2011 he was found by a German court to have made “untruthful assertions” against a journalist, Irene Meischner, who had dared to criticize blunders in the IPCC (she was not even a sceptic).  He wrote on his blog that she had been  dishonest, sloppy, had never read the IPCC report, and  had even plagiarized writings. Meischner stood up,  sued and won.

Providing one more example of career alarmists’ talent for presenting black as white, the Potsdam think-tank pretended it had been vindicated, saying,  “The PIK asks his [Rahmstorf’s] colleagues to understand that it is the duty of a scientist “to inform the public about errors”. Der Spiegel called this “An amazing interpretation”given that the court had ordered Rahmstorf to stop maligning the journalist.

The PIK propaganda for the Paris climate talks continues unabated.

At the weekend, PIK hosted a Nobel Laureates conference on population and climate change, and the ANU’s Penny Sackett, ex-Australian chief scientist, led the write-up team. Sackett is famous for her prediction in 2004 that the world had only five years left to avoid disastrous global warming. Believe it or not, she now writes of the PIK conferencees: “They have a plain message: the future of humanity is at stake. We are at a watershed moment.”

On April 22, Director Schellnhuber was a signatory to an eight-point Potsdam-based manifesto by the Earth League, advocating zero CO2 emissions by about 2050. (Absurd, technologically and economically). Point 8 (not highlighted in the press release) involves giving “developing countries” USD 135 billion a year – that’s right, per year – to purportedly pay for “clean energy” and “climate-friendly investments”. Those running Africa’s 50 kleptocracies, for example, must be squirming with pleasure. (55% of the UN’s 193 members do not have free elections).

The Earth League’s press release brazenly claims that signatory Jennifer Morgan is not just a scientist, but a “world-leading scientist”. Fact-check: she has a Master of Arts in international affairs, with a track record that includes working as an activist for WWF and the US Climate Action Network. Four other of the  17 “world-leading scientist” signatories turn out to be economists, and another is an ecologist. One of the economists, Dr Leena Srivastava, is Acting Director-General of the TERI think-tank, until February run by IPCC chair (now ex-chair) Rajendra Pachauri. The New Delhi police, who are taking a keen interest in the disgraced warmist, allege that the 74-year-old spent much of his final 15 months at TERI stalking a 29-year-old female staffer.

Pachauri, who ran the IPCC for 13 years, claimed initially that all his communication devices were hacked for 15 months, then he swore that someone had misappropriated his passwords in order to write voluminous erotic letters to the indignant staffer. Police on March 21 alleged that Pachauri was violating bail conditions, hampering investigations, influencing witnesses and effecting TERI’s non-cooperation with police.

I might buy a used  car from such people, although I’d first get the RACV to check it over . As for climate advice….

[1] They’re currently annoyed at non-sceptic Bjorn Lomberg getting a federally-funded think-tank at WA University. Lomberg doesn’t hew 100% to their “consensus” which is considered a disgrace intellectually.


[2] Authors of  Chapter 2 of Working Group 2 of the 2007 IPCC Report included one WWF alumnus, one Greenpeace alumnus (Meinshausen) and one alumnus of the activist Environmental Defence Fund.

[3] “At some point emissions have to go to zero, no matter what. There is no way around zero CO2 emissions. As long as we continue to emit CO2, the climate will continue to warm.”

[4] Strangely, the College’s web banner takes the   9 billion for granted. “In 50 years 9b people will have to cope with climate change beyond 2degC…unless we change today the way in which we meet our energy demands. ..Your Ph.D. could make a difference.” Note the certainty about a distant temperature conjecture and the activist tone.

Rotary of Crawley (ROC): Anatomy of a 21stC Rotary Club

By Tony Thomas, Secretary, RC Central Melbourne-Sunrise*


Executive Summary 1
Origin & History 3
About the Club 5
ROC Youth Leadership 6
Fundraising 8
Meetings 10
Appendix 1
Major awards to young leaders 12
Appendix 2
Profiles 13
Young Members 14

* This report is written in author’s private capacity.


  1. Rotary in the Anglosphere including Australia is shrinking and ageing in membership. Membership growth plans and targets almost invariably are failures. This is documented in the March 2015 report by author and D9800 Membership Coordinator Chris Egger. Available at
  2. However, Rotary of Crawley (ROC) stands out as a club with a winning formula in all dimensions, becoming the largest club in WA within a year or two of its recent foundation. It demonstrates
  3. Membership strength and growth since inception
  4. High female membership
  5. Ethnic membership
  6. Youthful membership
  7. Fund-raising (enormous success)
  8. Fostering future community leaders
  9. Energy
  10. Networking with business elites
  11. Community recognition
  12. This report is an effort to understand the club and its success, in terms of both structure and the individuals driving it.
  13. Various aspects of ROC are not very replicable.

4a. For example, ROC started life on a clean page in 2010, unencumbered by long-standing club culture, Rotary “barnacles” and the “Can’t Be Done!” syndrome.

4b. Additionally, it had the full backing of wealthy business sponsors – which could be partly an effect rather than cause of its success. (Astute business people do not tend to back unimaginative or lost causes).

4c. The club’s ambience of business-member success in turn attracts young recruits who, apart from idealism, enjoy the networking opportunities.

4d. The club also benefits from its close association with WA University, along with use of the prestigious UWA Club premises. Again, this is both a cause and effect of its successful model.

  1. In which respects could ROC be a template for existing clubs, with potential to arrest their membership decline and effect a rejuvenation?

5a. Various Rotary ceremonials, in ROC’s view, are a barrier to recruitment, being relics of early 20th Century sociology and culture. It is not uncommon, for example, for clubs to start meetings by singing (rather, droning) the national anthem. ROC has made a clean sweep-out of off-putting ceremonial. Its meetings are run like a business breakfast and any up-and-coming business/professional person would find nothing odd or jarring about the meeting structure. I was particularly struck by the absence even of a “head table”, with president, speaker and guests sitting with rather than apart from members. See “MEETINGS” p10

5b. ROC’s success is due to the drive and strategic thinking of its founding group of individuals. While all clubs (sadly) are not endowed with comparable talent, they are also handicapped by the short-term thinking which is encouraged by the annual cycle and change of office-bearers. These leaders tend to act as place-holders and longer-term planning is hard to implement. Because
ROC minimizes leadership and board formalities, the annual changes are less significant. (See ORIGIN & HISTORY p3 , ABOUT THE CLUB p 5 and PROFILES p13.

5c. The club has invested heavily in subsidizing membership of youngsters by paying their dues and at least their first-year meeting costs. That’s an investment of about $1500 per youngster. Because these recruits are not random but targeted and screened, the club gains very high-calibre young members well worth their cost. To have five of them recognized at State and National level (civic awards, not Rotary awards), attests to the success of the selections. (Again, there is a chicken-and-egg syndrome: top young talent will not want to join a mediocre club).

I have gone to some lengths to sample the views of the club’s young members, rather than speculate about them. See ROTARY YOUTH LEADERSHIP p6 and Young Members p14

5d. The club’s level of fund-raising is spectacular. It’s a function of both know-how and networking. Re networking, the moral is that whatever the difficulties, clubs that   connect with movers-and-shakers in their community have the best chance of successful fund-raising. See FUNDRAISING p8

5e. Idealism: One Rotary tradition is strong in ROC, namely “Service Above Self”. The young members are highly-motivated to look after the disadvantaged. But note that those targeted for support are those whom young people encounter in their daily lives, especially sick children, the drug and mentally-afflicted and the homeless. I did not get the impression that overseas causes are high-priority, possibly because young people can’t manage long breaks from early-career work.



ROC began in February 2010 as a breakaway from RC Matilda Bay (chartered 1979, currently about 50 members). Half a dozen veteran members – most past-presidents – led by David Goldstone, and Jaap Poll, wanted the club to take a   more youthful and vigorous path. Others involved were Annie Wearne, Geoff Trowbridge, Conrad Chrissafouli, Katherine and her father Richard Hazlewood, and Peter Lawrance.

Goldstone, a consummate networker, has raised $11m for charity over two decades.   In 2009, after 16 years with Matilda Bay RC (and now 46 years in total with Rotary), he was undecided whether to maintain his charity work within or outside Rotary. He favored a new Rotary milieu designed for 20-40 year olds who could be mentored and coached as community leaders. This would involve shedding what he calls Rotary barnacles and formalities.

The group was unsuccessful in creating significant change from within their existing Rotary club and their polling of members about the issue created dissension with the board. The group left, realising it would be easier to launch a new club than effect the changes internally that they wanted.

An immediate issue was that there were already several clubs within a kilometer of the planned Crawley HQ (eg Matilda Bay, Dalkeith, West Perth, Nedlands…). Some of these clubs, concerned about cannibalization of their membership, used formal channels up to Evanston Ill. RI HQ to resist the new club’s formation. Eventually District 9455 then-DG Geoff Simpson ruled that the club could go ahead, given its aim of recruiting younger people new to Rotary, an age group not already represented in the existing clubs.

Other issues created dissension at District, Zone and RI level but were eventually overcome:

# The name “Rotary of Crawley” omits the usual inclusion of “Club”

# The club’s logo and branding by-passes the Rotary Wheel, instead using the image, in a blue circle, of the female statue called “Eliza” placed 100m in the river near the club HQ. (Getting permission from the sculptor and City of Perth was another coup).

The sought-after venue for the new club was the upmarket University Club for UWA alumni on the river foreshore. UWA Club has been reluctant to host external groups, but support from the Vice-Chancellor Alan Robson and the club’s ambitions to recruit and nurture young students tipped the scales. UWA Club is now a club supporter/sponsor, providing subsidized high-quality breakfasts at $30. The ROC has several university staff and alumni members.

Charter membership was kept for financial reasons to 32 (RI charges for each charter member, at a time of limited finances to start a new club) but within half a year had swelled to 100+, making it WA’s largest club. Almost all members were new to Rotary, although a handful were past members returning to the fold. Females were well represented (currently 46% vs 24.2% nationally and 20% globally) and the members’ average age was/is? under 40 (nationally about 66).

A highlight of the club’s charter breakfast launch for 240 guests was a 3-minute video speech by John Kenny, 2009-10  Rotary International President, congratulating the venture. Inaugural club president (for the first 18 months) Jaap Poll had been told that Kenny was far too busy to contribute but he persuaded Kenny’s personal secretary that the club fitted Kenny’s goal of attracting young members. In a second coup, 2010-11 RI President Ray Klinginsmith and PP D.K. Lee (2008-09) when they were in Perth , attended a ROC breakfast in November 2010 to celebrate the 100th recruit. This again was the result of direct invitations. “Everyone told us they’d be too busy,” Jaap says. “We also inducted 13 new members that day.”

President-elect Nick Poll says, “We   continue to put in a tremendous amount of work to make our club different, and challenge the assumptions about how a club can be run and perhaps demonstrate new possibilities for Rotary.  A lot of learning has come out of that.”


2010-11 Jaap Poll

2011-12 Lindsay McLeod

2012-13: Holly Ransom

2013-14: James McLeod

2014-15: Chris Eales

2015-16: Nick Poll.





The club’s motto is “Giving has never been this much fun”.

Unusually, four of the six presidents to 2016 are fathers-and-sons: Lindsay McLeod (2011-12) and James McLeod (2013-14), and Jaap Poll (2010-11) and Nick Poll (for 2015-16).

Membership has fluctuated between 90-120. The upper end is about the maximum for the UWA House dining room.

Current members include at least seven with Asian/African origin, and at least two who have disabilities (physical or developmental).     One member is blind and has lost a leg, but gets to meetings by taxi and walks up the stairs using crutches. She does inductions, using a Braille crib-sheet. Also a world-class blind sailor, she’s currently travelling solo in Europe.

Current president Chris Eales says the club minimizes rules and procedures, relying on mature sensible people to give guidance. Most decisions are by email, and the board meets only each 6-8 weeks. The meetings take an hour with key people giving ten minute updates. The informality can have disadvantages– the finances have sometimes got messy. Firmer structure may be needed as veteran members retire and the club loses their expertise. He concedes the club could be seen as ’a bit cheeky and ra-ra!’.

Eales says, “We’re far from perfect and we need to get the best from the Rotary ethos and structure. Otherwise we’d be little different from a non-Rotary networking club.”

President-elect Nick Poll says that in the past, he frequently heard Rotarians pronounce themselves open to all people, from all walks of life – but often, it was only older white men making that statement: “ROC removes the boys’ club atmosphere and inside jokes. I can’t imagine Paul Harris intended Rotary to be that way.”

The club is attracting national and international media, including a cover story in Rotary Down Under in 2012, and in The Rotarian (international circ 1.2m) in April 2015. Access it at:


In February 2015 the club’s David Goldstone was selected by an RI Chicago research company as one of four Rotarians worldwide to be interviewed focus-group style on membership and youth involvement.

Rotary of Crawley’s youthful tone has been set by meetings starting with the MGM lion’s roar, and the club‘s theme song is “ We will ROC you!”

More than 30% of members are under the age of 30 — compared with 2% in Rotary in Australasia and internationally.

Founding president Jaap Poll 75, says the club’s ethos is to spot, recruit and nurture future community leaders now aged 20-25. “We don’t give much weight to academic performance, although good youngsters usually excel at many areas of life,” he says.

The club attracts idealistic youngsters through paying the annual dues and, for at least one year, the $30-per-meeting-cost. The youngsters also want to network with older highly-successful members. Currently 16 of the 90 members are on scholarships.

The success of the program is demonstrated by three ROC youngsters winning the annual WA Young Australian of the Year Award and one winning the national youth award. (Appendix 1)

Bright youngsters are   targeted as recruits. Tim Lefroy, winner of the WA Youth Award 2014, was noticed because he was coordinating the annual swim to Rottnest, a major Perth event.

The sponsored scholarships are financed from donations to a fund by five small-medium companies and individuals averaging about $5000 each.

Sponsors have included Finbar property developers, Credo project management and facilities, photo-mapping, McRae Investments, Harold Clough and club member Torsten Ketelsen. The sponsorships will be renewed or new sponsors attracted.

The sponsoring companies keep in contact but are not recruiting the awardees.

The club also has a $160,000 endowment from Perth business philanthropist Jack Bendat’s Bendat Family Foundation, with the interest funding an $8000 academic scholarship on socially beneficial issues. The first awardee was  Scott Nodwell, doing Anglicare work with homeless. the current awardee is Taryn Chipchase (now with a resources company) and applications are open for the next award.

Jaap says that   the youngsters typically move out of Perth on their academic and professional careers and wind up in interstate or overseas Rotary.

The under-40 demographic creates a high churn factor but happily the club finds it easy to recruit new members. The current problem is that the veteran members who founded the club five years ago are now moving on, and their networking and organizing skills are less easy to replace.

President Chris Eales says: “All these young people make the club different, they give us a vibrancy and good conversation.

“We aim to give young people the experience of charitable work and fund-raising. They get to organize minor and major projects and see how committee-work operates. network

“We look for people who can lead, communicate and inspire, rather than know   how District and the youth committee work, for example.”

Scholarship holders and younger members have mentors who set them challenges . Eales is mentoring two members. One is Joshua Cunniffe 24, who is studying journalism and doing the club newsletter. He wants to try out in creative writing for ten years. The other is Kath Mogridge who now has a good IT job.

Taryn Chipchase 27,   coordinates the scholarship program at board level. She says the quality of members is the key attractor of young people to the club, and the seniors’ good connections and success in their fields: “Like attracts like.” Her own mentor is David Goldstone, who has done wonders for her personal development, she says. “Members are constantly following up with us, showing a genuine interest in our well-being and careers.”

The club also has teams of “Connectors” to ensure no-one gets ‘lost’ socially, and also to jog members into pre-booking their attendance (a UWA House requirement for catering).

An unusual event in 2014 was sky-diving, with about five people giving it a try and surviving. They were each required to find about $500 sponsorings for The Hunger Project.

Jaap says the   young people are better in the club than in Rotoract. “They’re interested in community work like drug rehab   rather than Rotary per se. We can better inculcate the Rotary ethos, and importantly, we older members can learn a lot from bright youngsters while they   network with us.”

ROC (like universities) have consciously set out to create an alumni of ex-members who talk up Rotary and ROC.   Goldstone says, “We have over 300 alumni like that, including one of our ‘scholars’ Michael Sheldrick, who’s 26. He now leads a staff of six in advocacy worldwide in The Global Poverty Program in New York.

“Michael never stops praising what ROC and Rotary have done for him. For example he’s invited me as a keynote speaker in Melbourne on April 10 at the Burnet Health Institute to talk about Polio Eradication. The main speaker is from the World Health Organisation.”



The club has had outstanding success with fundraising events, raising $1.1m through two annual dinners alone. Its 2013 “Night to Remember” dinner and auction directly and indirectly raised $730,000 for Teen Challenge’s Esperance drug rehab centre, thanks largely to club co-founder David Goldstone.

“How did we do that? Because we think outside the square, and because we involved many of our ‘scholars’ who wanted to be involved,” Goldstone says. “They wanted to learn how to run such an event. Today one of those members, Taryn Chipchase, has a job with American resources giant Conoco Phillips organising major events here in Perth.”

To raise multi-million sums, Goldstone (left) says it requires being dedicated and a good event manager. “You have to have the charisma and entrepreneurship and the network to draw in important people. A few primary people will make or break a fund-raiser. I said to one of them, ‘Hey, you’ve got a penthouse on Hamilton Island you seldom use, how about I package airfares for six and you add the penthouse to the auction?’ ‘OK, but I’ll pay the airfares as well!’”

“Another key is having glossy color auction booklets touting the prizes – never mind the footy jumpers and cricket bats, we made $23,000 just on the auction of two berths   for a Kimberley cruise in the True North small luxury boat. And $30,000 auctioning a string of pearls from Broome. Young Rotary people need to learn these arts of networking.”

The Night to Remember drew 300 people at $250 per ticket – unfortunately pitched so high that only a few club members could afford it. Goldstone says, “We ran it for outsiders, not members. We ran it like a Telethon with raisings displayed progressively on-screen. I saw someone – the same man who owned the penthouse – waving to me and went over, and he asked what the target was. I said, ‘$330,000 net, we’re $30,000 short.’ He said, ‘Go back on stage and announce an anonymous donation of $30,000.’

“Next day he rang me and told me to buy two airline tickets to Esperance for the day, for us to see the   premises there. There were 40 kids   and the success rate averages 80%. They put on a good lunch for us and told us kids still in the queue for rehab were dying. On the same-day return flight my friend said he was scheduled to London that week for a family foundation trust meeting, and he wanted – within 24 hours – drawings and costings for an upmarket annexe at Esperance. I got that done and he rang from London agreeing to the $400,000 needed.”

“The same guy next year helped me crystalise another great idea. Perth Arena was just finished, owned by the city council and to be managed by AEG Ogdens. It had a dozen or two VIP suites. We found a philanthropist to pay $152,000 for a 12-seat suite for ROC for 85 events a year for 2 two years, both sporting events like the Hopman Cup and entertainments like rock concerts.

“We staff it with two ROC young people for each event, who pay their own tickets, and they host a group of kids with severe health or disability issues, plus the carer or family. The suite is equipped with all medical gear on stand-by. We got the city council to agree to it all. Some of the kids have since passed on, others have recovered, but they all had a great day at the event. This has involved working with Ronald McDonald House, Variety, Starlight Foundation…”

Current President Chris Eales says that the five-year-old club is still building up finances. “I’m jealous of older clubs that have well-established annual fund-raisers like art shows that raise $60,000 regularly. We’ve been too ad hoc; you can’t base solid finances on one-offs plus sausage sizzles and chook raffles.

“We’ve been lucky in having members like David Goldstone with vast contacts and ability to raise funds at $100,000 a time. But these people are moving on or now lack the time.”



Members arrive from 7am to network before the 7.30am start.

Meetings are run as if for a business group. There are no toasts, grace, regalia, banners, sergeant, fines, or head table. An alternating Master of Ceremonies runs the meetings, tasked with creating energy and inspiration for the day. President Chris Eales says, “I’ve been to other clubs and noticed the vibrancy and energy are just not there. Meetings need a good ‘buzz’ given there is no compulsion to attend (nor any ‘Make-ups’ system).”


Re absence of head table:

# “Our guests and speaker sit with members, why should the president hog their attention?”

# “The hierarchy idea dates from when men   were proud to be ‘company men’ in a highly-structured workforce. In today’s knowledge-based workforce, structures are flat and good people can even work from home. I’ve had incidents of blokes from other clubs demanding to be sat with visiting VIPs because the blokes had some past position in Rotary International. A mate commented to me, ‘If that’s what Rotary is about, I quit!’”

Absence of sergeant: —   “The club has never had one. Such sessions tend to ridicule   members, raise money from members rather than the public, vary in quality depending on who gets the sergeant job, and burn up meeting time that can be put to better use.”

An early-2015 meeting is described here.

The club uses a digital clock image on-screen counting down the seconds to the start of the meeting, which has to finish at 8.30am sharp. Up to half those present stay for coffee afterwards.

The meeting had about 32 present, down on the usual 45 because of vacation absences. People under 40 dominated and grey heads were the exception.

The absence of head table gave a more informal tone to the meeting compared with other clubs.

The Mistress of Ceremonies, Danielle Beck, described how she took two teenage girls to the city to distribute $5 vouchers and club hampers to homeless people. The vouchers for a croissant shop were pre-Xmas leftovers and about to expire.

One ‘client’ in Murray Street was well-known as ‘Black Elvis’ and gave them all a bear hug – he was so delighted to get a present without needing to beg for it.

Then they met ‘Steve’ selling The Big Issue magazine in Hay Street. While Danielle was chatting to Steve about how they shared the same birthday, a woman walked past and said, “Don’t talk to him! He’s a druggie!” and further unrepeatable insults. Steve maintained eye contact with Danielle until the woman moved on. Danielle congratulated him on his composure and integrity, and he began to cry. He said he suffered from anxiety and it was an ordeal for him not to react.

They talked for half an hour and Steve explained that he had recently won back his Big Issue selling job after getting sacked two years ago. He asked his new friends to take a group picture and send it to his mum is Tasmania, who was suffering cancer, to show her that his life was looking up.

“I don’t know what decisions these people might have made to end up where they are, but next time you meet someone homeless, get involved a bit more, after all we are only a few decisions away from trading places with someone” she told the meeting.

A 3-minute video followed from the “vInspired” British charity for young people. (“We look for inspirational videos,” President Eales says. “It puts members in a thinking mode, it stops them talking about the footie. We don’t run the meeting on a standard running sheet, we vary things.”)

A member then spent a couple of minutes talking about how to prioritise development goals, in benefit per dollar spent. His top scorer was the free trade deal with South Korea ($3400 benefit per dollar) and contraception aid ($120 per dollar).

The main speaker was about average. #


Appendix 1 – awards to ROC young members.

Reece Harley, Perth City Councillor and 2011 City of Perth International Youth Ambassador. He was a charter member of ROC. Reece is the WA Program Director for   The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. He manages a team of 8 staff who run a structured Mentoring and Tutoring Program for more than 350 Indigenous High School Students from across WA.


Holly Ransom,  Young West Australian of the Year 2012. In the same year, became president of ROC and at age 20, the world’s youngest Rotary president. Named as one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review in 2012. In 2014, Holly was appointed by the Australian Prime Minister to represent the voice of the G20’s 1.5 billion young people in leading the G20 Youth Summit. Networked there with Barack Obama.


Akram Azimi, 2013 Young Australian of the Year. Akram, a child refugee from Afghanistan 13 years ago, became head boy of his school and topped its tertiary entrance results. He has become a dedicated mentor to young Indigenous people.

Joshua Cunniffe was State Finalist, Young Australian of the Year, 2012. He is an advocate for help for depression and mental illness sufferers, and has written a book about his own recovery from depression.


Michael Sheldrick – currently global policy and advocacy manager with the Global Poverty Project, which helps coordinate the polio eradication efforts. He was a finalist for the Young Australian of the Year, 2013.

Michael, a recipient of a ROC special scholarship, lobbied then PM Julia Gillard about polio, which led to her arranging a meeting with him and then polio eradication being put on the agenda for the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The outcome was a $50m contribution from Australia and $70m from other leaders.

Tim Lefroy, Young West Australian of the Year, 2014 and past treasurer and scholarship holder, ROC. He is a state champion athlete and advocate for family farm enterprises.




David Goldstone

David Goldstone 80, has been in Rotary 46 years. He has four Paul Harris awards and one Service Above Self Award, and was awarded OAM this year.

He retired 20 years ago after a career in computers, retail tourism and government grants consultancy.

He never finished school, and spent 10 years in sales with   IBM. He was posted to Perth with his wife Hannah, and chose to stay. Looking for another Perth job, he agreed in 1973 to run the lobby tourist shop in the newly built Perth Sheraton Hotel, a 12-hour seven-day operation selling items like opals and stuffed koalas. For the next two decades the hotel had a contract to house top US navy personnel, and he got to know them so well that he even got a global trip in an aircraft carrier. He enjoyed getting export development grants for selling opals to New York, and his final job was consulting to other businesses on Export Market Development Grants. After 14 years he had 380 clients nationally, from ship builders to architects.

In 1995 he had a quadruple heart by-pass and retired. He also still suffers the aftermaths of paralytic polio contracted when he was 20, and has problems losing strength in his legs.

His 1999 ‘Pennies for Polio Campaign’   raised $84,000 towards Rotary’s world-wide Polio Eradication Program. For five years he chaired the Subiaco Craft and Community Fair. Under his guidance it became the largest fair of its kind in the state, raising   $100,000 in four years towards CanTeen and other charities. In 2003, Rotary WA   began a campaign to establish the first public cord blood bank facility in Perth. David’s   organising of a fundraising dinner at Government House   in November 2006 raised nearly $170,000 net   in that one night alone.

His wife Hannah came to Australia at age 5 in 1950, with her Polish parents who had suffered in the Holocaust. She now wants to return with David to her long-term friends in Melbourne and the Goldstones will settle in Toorak/Armadale next month (April).

Jaap and Nick Poll

Founding President Jaap, who speaks Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, is a geologist still active as a small-company oil executive.

His son Nick is President-elect. Nick’s lifestyle is colorful. He once windsurfed with a friend the 430km from Perth to Geraldton in three days. He speaks fluent French and Portuguese. A geologist, he lived in the Amazon jungle for three years in French Guinea exploring for gold, and today at 50 is non-executive director of listed small-stock Erin Resources.


Young Members


Libby Matthews

Libby Matthews, who turned 20 this year, is typical of the young crowd at Perth’s Rotary of Crawley (ROC). Inducted at 19, she’s not the club’s youngest, who’s an 18-year-old.

Libby successfully applied for a club scholarship that pays her dues and breakfast meeting costs. President Chris Eales and President-elect Nick Poll see her as another of the club’s future ‘super stars’.

“I wanted to get involved with giving back to the community and particularly to meet other young people

who are leaders in their area. ROC has that reputation,” she says.

Libby is studying business law and accounting. One of her club jobs is organizing quarterly meetings for new members. “It’s a fun night but in welcoming them, we also tell these young people what is expected of them and how we can help them,” she says.

Recently she hosted autistic children and the parents at the club’s donor-financed corporate box at Perth Arena, to see a top basketball game. The club has fortnightly access to the box to host carers and children with disabilities. “It was my first big experience at the club and it was great,” she says.

Asked about the 90-strong club’s healthy 44% female membership, she says it probably arose because the club started from scratch a few years without a legacy of male overweighting. “But I hardly notice,” she adds.

She loves the relaxed meeting format, which has a fresh style every week. “If a club’s not changing things and moving forward, it must be going backwards,” she says. Because it’s a tight schedule from 7.30-8.30am, she arrives at 7am to meet and chat with members.


Abdullahi Alim

A long way from Somalia

Photo: Abdullahi takes a selfie near the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood Boulevard.

Abdullahi Alim, 22, a member of Perth’s Rotary of Crawley (ROC), arrived from Somalia when he was 5, with zero English. He’s come a long way since – last year he was in Los Angeles helping to run an international youth leadership program.

“My job was to coach seven college-aged kids through a series of workshops on goal-setting, time-management and standard leadership topics. There were great speakers – top celebrities, motivators and the pop stars the kids idealized.

“I was with two other coaches of my age from Rotary of Crawley. UWA sent us there and a club sponsor paid the flights.”

Alim’s been with the club since he was 19, and is inspired by projects includings ROC’s partnership with Lockridge High School. “Many kids there are from backgrounds where important aspects of family life are missing,” he says. “I also like introducing speakers at club meetings.”

Alim, who completed a finance degree last year, says Rotary of Crawley is designed for the 21st century. Most clubs are failing to tap the potential of young people like himself, who don’t fit the traditional power group of older Anglo-Saxon males. The Crawley club is diverse in age, gender and ethnicity. He was spotted by Holly Ransom, who at 22 was the club’s president and the world’s youngest Rotary president. “She did a really good pitch” he jokes.

Everyone knows him as Alim rather than Abdullahi, his given name. “At the Islamic school I went to, if you asked for Abdullahi, 100 kids would put their hand up,” he explains.

Tim O’Donnell

Is Tim O’Donnell, of Perth, Western Australia, the world’s youngest Rotarian?

Tim had his 18th birthday last September.

He went to his first meeting of Rotary of Crawley on the 7th August, 2014, and passed a probationary period designed to test his commitment.  He was inducted as a member on 13th November and has been mentored by club founder David Goldstone and Tim Lefroy, another young member who won the State Government’s Youth Award last year.

He was targeted as a potential member by club elders, partly because of his precocious track record in community service.  At Scotch College he was captain of community service (and Vice-Captain of School) and learned the ropes about charity work and liaison with organizations. “I was involved with the Disabled Surfing Association, assisting disabled children and adults to get a taste of freedom in the shallows and surf. It’s a rewarding experience for all of us involved,” he says.

The club pays him a two-year scholarship, which covers his Rotary dues and breakfast-meeting costs.  Tim will look to pep up the club’s involvement with Indigenous advancement and youth causes, and hopes to help generate events to raise the funding. “The club’s people are inspirational,” he says. “They’ve had after-works drinks with me and introduced me to their business colleagues in areas like oil and gas, law and education. I can see how important networking is to get results, and I’m discovering the structures involved in a fund-raising exercise.”

Tim is now starting second-year Commerce at the University of Western Australia.  During studies he’s working in sales for a jewellery and watch retailer.

Photo.  Tim (above) helping youngsters with disability enjoy the surf



Danielle Beck

Danielle Beck 40, typifies the energy in the club with her lively role as Master of Ceremonies at meetings.

“We only meet here an hour a week and my job’s to quickly set the pace. If the MC doesn’t engage the audience early on you are at risk of having a flat meeting,” she says.

Danielle, a self-employed executive coach, says she came from Melbourne two years ago and was looking for something more in her friendships and heard the club was great for networking.  Since joining 15 months ago she’s found members to be inspiring and keen to give more than take from their lives  – “It’s all about the human connection for me,” she says. Her main roles are coordinating the mentoring among club members and running the social program and is the President Nominee for 2016.

Because of the high proportion of females, the club dynamics are certainly different – “I love the mix of male to female ratio in the club but not having another Rotary Club to compare to I haven’t noticed it”  . #


Rotary’s membership problem: A framework for analysis


Apologies, I can’t get wordpress to upload the graphs and charts. However, if you paste the link below  to your browser (rather than click it), it works!


By Tony Thomas, Secretary, RC Central Melbourne-Sunrise* and Chris Egger, D9800 Membership Director



Rotary’s continuing good work in the community goes without saying. But in the Anglosphere, including the Australasian region, Rotary as an institution is in worse trouble on membership trends than most members realize.

This lack of knowledge is because Rotary shrinks from offering publicly any useful time-series data on membership trends – which are adverse in virtually all parameters in the Anglosphere. Rotary is well endowed with data reports and publishing them in management-style format wouldn’t seem difficult. (1)

By contrast, it takes mere minutes to discover rigorous time-series data on key indicators of any government department/body, major charity or public financial corporation. Lions Clubs publish comprehensive data on their membership and trends.

Rotary’s worldwide membership has been static for 19 years, with declines in the Anglosphere and Japan being offset by growth in India, South Korea and German-speaking countries. Obviously Rotary’s membership situation has deteriorated significantly on the basis of members per 100,000 of population. In Australia, for example, the actual fall in the past 22 years is about 28%, but per capita membership has halved.

Lions clubs worldwide and in Australia are significantly outperforming Rotary in membership trends. The two groups are of similar size. From mid-2009 to October 2014, Lions worldwide put on 3.5% member growth (Rotary: minus 1.8%) and in Australia, Lions performed relatively even better, losing only 0.5% of members while Rotary Australia lost 9.8%. (See Appendix 1).

If Rotary clubs Australia were better aware of their   serious situation, they may be more open to innovation. Many clubs’ framework and culture are virtually unchanged from 20 years ago – except that the clubs have shrunk and aged.




International Membership

International Rotary membership (1,207,000 as at 30 June 2014) has been static since 1995 (1,207,000) – i.e. 19 years, with membership declines in most developed countries (except for German speaking countries) matched by growth in many developing countries in particular India.

Country data includes:

Members lost, 2003-13

USA 58,481 (-15%)

England 7,743 (-16%)

Japan 23,248 (-21%)

Australia 5,260 (-14%)

Canada 4,167 (-14%).


Members gained, 2003 -13

India 34,068 (38%)

  1. Korea 12,671 (26%)

Germany 11,114 (27%)

Taiwan 7,567 (49%)

Brazil 4,045 (8%).   (2)

In 2011 the RI Board endorsed regional membership growth plans of 3% per annum for fiscal 2012-15. This has been unsuccessful.

The graph below is membership for RI Great Britain & Ireland (RIBI):



Australia /NZ/ S.Pacific

The membership of Zone 7B and 8 (Australasia/S.Pacific) in 2003 was 47,273 and by end-June 2014 was down to 39,413, a fall of 17%. The target for June 2015 is 41,944, which appears a bridge too far as members at Feb 28, 2015 (39,214) were down about 200.

The growth plans for the region will be reviewed later this year in Melbourne, by a team comprising Noel Trevaskis (Zone 8), Jessie Harman (Ballarat), Malcolm Lindquist (Mitcham SA), Philip Archer (Melbourne) and John Prendergast (NZ).

This zone’s members are relatively older than Rotarians generally. At 2012, 83% of zone members were aged 50+, compared with 70% for Rotary worldwide. About 33% were retired, compared with 21% worldwide. There appears a risk of a sharp membership fall in 2022 as a ‘bulge’ of older members passes out of the system.


AGE Australasia: % Global: %
Up to 29 2 2
30-39 5 10
40-49 10 18
50-59 24 27
60-69 34 25
70+ 25 18



In Australia Rotary membership in 1992 was 42,559 and seems to have peaked in 1998 when Royce Abbey was world president at over 43,000 members (3). From 1992 to March 2015, membership fell 28% to 30,569 and with club numbers stable, average club size is down from 37.6 members (1992) to 27.

Rotary membership in Australia is about 13 members per 10,000 head of population. This is a far cry from Rotary’s peak in Australia on a per capita basis in the late 1980’s when Australia had around 26 Rotarians per 10,000 head of population.

Zone 8 (Australia/PNG) membership at 2012 was 31,826 and at end-February 2015 had fallen 4% to 30,569.

The shortfall on the 2012-15 member growth plan (3% growth pa) is 11.5%. The planned 34,559 vs actual 30,569 at end-Feb 2015 involve a 3,990 shortfall. (4)

None of the 21 Districts in Australia met growth targets and only one District, at Feb 2015, had improved its membership in 2012-15. That district was D9790 which covers the northern suburbs of greater Melbourne and northeast Victoria, with membership up by 2.0% largely due to the net addition of two clubs.

The budget for the Membership Growth Plan was $US 52,000. This spending doubtless led to a better membership result than would otherwise have occurred.

District 9800 (Part-Melbourne and northwards to Echuca)

For District 9800, member numbers have fallen from 3,133 in 1998 to 2,445 currently, down 22% in 16 years. The best recent year was 2007-08 when a number of large clubs all put on good growth, but this was not sustained. In the past six years the membership fall is 9%. Currently for each club having a good year on membership growth, about two are downsizing. The number of clubs is stable but average club size in the past six years has fallen from 38.3 to 34.4 members.





District 9800

Year        Members        Clubs

2010          2678               70

2011          2591               69

2012          2519               69

2013          2520               71

2014          2441               71

2015^       2445             71

^ At March 12





Sample club D9800 – RC Central Melbourne-Sunrise (RCCMS)

Membership trend for this club (author Thomas’s) is graphed below:

The graph illustrates the stasis in this club’s membership since formation in 1988. The club commenced with 44 members and 26 years later has 44 members. The peak was 68 in 2003 with a slide thereafter. This club is vigorous and well-connected, with significant community work, but lately has had difficulty finding lucrative fund-raising projects.














Rotary in the Anglosphere has been on a long-term decline, despite the best efforts of many Rotarians. This report seeks to provide a framework for analysis. Solutions or adaptation are further issues. One significant question is why Lions are outperforming Rotarians on membership.


* This report is written in Thomas’s personal capacity, and is not an official document of the club.



(1) RI headquarters obtains comprehensive member data not merely for administrative and billing purposes but for “Tracking membership trends, developing membership characteristics, producing demographic analyses, and supporting membership retention.”

(2) P31.

(3) All data for Australian membership pre-1992 was lost during an RI computer upgrade.

(4) The plan itself, as published, lacked any numerical data or target on membership.


Appendix 1

World Major Service Club Membership trends: Rotary versus Lions

Select Countries & World 30-Jun-09 01-Oct-14    
Member Count Member Count Member Change % Change
Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg Rotary 67,611 74,120 6,509 9.6%
Lions 65,797 71,378 5,581 8.5%
US Rotary 368,145 332,636 -35,509 -9.6%
Lions 371,612 329,523 -42,089 -11.3%
India Rotary 105,661 126,933 21,272 20.1%
Lions 177,754 225,330 47,576 26.8%
Japan Rotary 94,932 88,377 -6,555 -6.9%
Lions 109,274 117,886 8,612 7.9%
Sth Korea Rotary 61,273 59,692 -1,581 -2.6%
Lions 83,636 78,023 -5,613 -6.7%
Taiwan Rotary 18,638 31,743 13,105 70.3%
Lions 34,057 43,031 8,974 26.3%
Australia Rotary 33,680 30,392 -3,288 -9.8%
Lions 27,236 27,109 -127 -0.5%
China Rotary 130 160 30 23.1%
Lions 2,933 23,562 20,629 703.3%
World Rotary 1,234,527 1,212,436 -22,091 -1.8%
Lions 1,322,683 1,369,608 46,925 3.5%

China’s restriction on Rotary clubs accounts for close to a third of Rotary’s global underperformance versus Lions.

Lions world membership data now includes Lioness and Leo members. At 28 Feb 2015 the total was 1.389m. Rotary worldwide would be almost identical at 1.385m at Feb 28, 2015 if the 165,000 Rotaractors were included. #