The Australian Academy of Science has a new chief executive, veteran Federal Labor Party adviser and activist Anna-Maria Arabia (left). It seems unlikely that she will do anything to arrest the Academy’s decade-long slide into green/Left hokum.
Arabia, whose role starts on October 24, has been director of policy/principal adviser to Bill Shorten for the past three years, earlier spending half a decade as adviser to Kim Beazley and Anthony Albanese. Pre-Shorten, she was CEO of Science & Technology Australia (STA). On June 20, 2011, she led a war party of 200 STA members on an anti-science crusade to parliamentarians, her message being that “political leaders must put a stop to the misinformation campaign” by skeptics of the catastrophic global warming hypothesis, whom she bizarrely labelled “climate deniers”. Maybe she mistook federal parliament for the Reichstag.
In any event, elected members have declined to implement her wished-for legislative program against those who don’t believe human-caused CO2 emissions since 1950 have caused more than half of the subsequent minor and wholly beneficial global warming.
In this lock-em-up category you could put half of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), whose professional members were surveyed in 2013 with the results coming out 52% warmists, 48% sceptic. A further survey of 4092 AMS members published last May found a third did not support the warmist agenda. Maybe Arabia’s first job at the Academy of Science will be to organize its first-ever survey of its Fellows on warmism – or would that be too dangerous to the official 97% narrative?
Arabia succeeds Dr Sue Meek, who stepped down in July, 2016, after eight years as Academy CE. Arabia is described by the Canberra Times as “a qualified neuroscientist”.She has a B.Sc (Hons) but did not complete the Ph.D. candidacy she started at Melbourne University. A publication search shows one paper from 1998 — she was among three authors — on inducing depression in rats with chemical injections.
How much influence the Academy CE has vis a vis the Academy’s office-bearers (drawn from its 491 Fellows) is hard for an outsider to say. The Academy has never disclosed that useful indicator, the CE’s salary.
As for the Academy’s love affair with green foolishness, here are some examples.
- In 2014 the Academy sponsored and part-funded a conference at UNSW for zero-growth lunatics, titled “Addicted to Growth? How to move to a Steady State Economy in Australia.” Some of the eco-loons cited there actually wanted a 90% cut in economic output as part of their anti-capitalism agenda. No speaker was invited to put a contrary view, e.g. that a switch, even to a zero-economic growth regime, would make the 1930s recession look like a picnic. Whether sponsoring this farrago was CE’s Sue Meek’s idea or top-down from the board, I don’t know. The Academy hoped its zero-growth sponsorship would be forgotten when it clamored to politicians last December for more science funding to promote economic growth.
If new CE Arabia organizes another zero-growth conference will someone please remind her of her statement when appointed last August 31: “Particularly in straitened economic times, Australia must benefit from science which is a key driver of the knowledge economy.”
- Arabia also pledges to promote science education for students. The Academy’s official curriculum unit for students on global warming, which was recently and mercifully terminated, shilled for green activism for 16 year olds.The Academy advised teachers, in all seriousness, to “ask [15-16 year old] students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause. Do they know of anyone who has?”… Key vocabulary: advocacy, campaign, champion, environmentalist.”
In the Year 10 “Big Scale” module, the modestly-named In search of the truth section suggests work on “advocacy and campaigning (e.g., produce a blog)”. The material added, threateningly, “This activity could be used for an assessment task – see assessment overview.”
Teens were grilled in ‘Activity 6.4 Climate change champions’:
“Which is more effective, science awareness or advocacy, when it comes to generating community action? What cause would you sign up for?”
Other features of the Academy’s student curriculum included virulent anti-mining and anti-fossil fuel messages, Hollywood celebrity endorsements in lieu of data examination, and advice to ignore all contrary evidence regarding warming catastrophism.
- Attuned to magical green solutions, the Academy’ has a policy for Australia to move to zero net emissions by 2050. Germany, the UK and our own South Australia are belatedly discovering that green energy magic doesn’t work because renewables come at huge cost for an unreliable output..
- The Academy hit peak posturing last year when President Andrew Holmes (a chemist) announced to a conference in Hobart that the Academy had divested fossil-fuel stocks – maybe $5 million worth – from its $40 million investment portfolio. His office would not elaborate to Quadrant on whether Academy Fellows are also abandoning their fossil-fuel-powered electricity security and their fossil-fuel powered runabouts, but as virtue-signalling the president’s announcement went down a treat with his green audience.
At the same event in Hobart, Holmes continued to bang on indignantly about our grant-pampered climate scientists getting rude emails from the public. His office at the time declined to tell Quadrant whether these are new rude emails or whether Holmes was just reviving the Academy’s “death threat” nonsense from 2011.
One “death threat” from a “sniper” was nothing more than a mis-overheard third-party conversation about kangarroo culling in the ACT. Of 11 purported death-threat emails to ANU climate scientists over six months, an official inquiry prompted by skeptic blogger Simon Turnill found ten were not death threats and one was “possibly intimidating and its highest perhaps alluding to a threat” .
On the day in 2011 that Arabia’s anti-science crusade to Parliament started, she upped the ante and told the ABC she had received an emailed death threat that very morning! That was a stretch. A serial internet pest in Seattle boasted the next day of having sent the email. “I Googled for her email and did my usual Nazi Bitch Whore litany, like I do every day. My usual litany includes, ‘When the Grand Jury is done with you, I’ll enjoy watched (sic) them string you up.’”
This missive was indeed abusive and, as Arabia said, totally unacceptable, but it was not a death threat, just a cut-and-paste diatribe. If jelly-livered climate scientists want to know what a real death threat looks like, they could consult Dutch politician Geert Wilders (round-the-clock bodyguards) or The Australian’s cartoonist Bill Leak, who has gone incognito after intercepted Islamist chatter about detaching his head ASAP.
We can live in hope that Arabia will bring in more discipline to Academy procedures. It would be worthwhile, for example, to have tighter pedigree checks on fellowship nominees. Among the Academy’s Fellows is Tim Flannery, elected in 2012, who is the catastropharian 2004 prophet of Perth and Sydney becoming waterless ghost cities. Flannery has some culpability for Australia’s multi-billion investments in idled desalination plants. Some of his views put him closer to the crackpot camp than the Academy one. I’m thinking here of his 2010 prediction that during this century “the planet will have acquired a brain and a nervous system that will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism”.
Arabia could also bring more practical relevance to the Academy’s climate work. For example, she might initiate an Academy fact-finder on whether Pacific islands’ claims to be drowning amid rising seas is a load of bollocks, as peer-reviewed findings by Auckland University’s Professor Paul Kench have demonstrated. An Academy white paper of that nature could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid for bogus purposes…
There has never been a more exciting time to be Academy Chief Executive.
Tony Thomas’s new book of 40 Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here
 In a bit of ‘musical chairs’, the Academy’s PR Kylie Walker has moved across to become CEO of STA.
 The CE role is a bit mysterious as she/he is neither on the 17-member governing council nor the executive committee.
 The Academy: “More than three decades of exponential growth in Australia’s per-capita GDP is tapering, and if nothing changes Australia will fall out of the G20 within 15 years.”
 Typical alleged ‘death threats’ included
• “There will be a day of facing the music for the Pitman type frauds … Pitman you are a f**king fool!” [This refers to Dr Andy Pitman of UNSW]
• “If we see you continue, we will get extremely organised and precise against you. We will not do so if you rightfully argue against our points from a science view. But we will if you choose to stray into attacks on us as people or as a movement. The institution and funders that support you will find the attention concerning.”
• “F**k off mate, stop the personal attacks. Just do your science or you will end up collateral damage in the war, GET IT.”