Left-Brained Science

The Australian Academy of Science has a new chief — a woman with no PhD but, rather, the sort of credentials that so often these days seem prerequisites to head any body demanding taxpayer “investment” in its members’ pet causes and passions: Labor staffer, warmist and beat-up artist

arabia mugThe 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).[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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 2050Germany, 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” [4].

arabia tweetIf you say so, Ms Arabia

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

[1] In a bit of ‘musical chairs’, the Academy’s PR Kylie Walker has moved across to become CEO of STA.

[2] The CE role is a bit mysterious as she/he is  neither on the 17-member governing council nor the executive committee.

[3] 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.”

[4]  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.”


  1. Ian MacDougall

    Oh, I dunno. There’s static (growthless) growth, and then again there’s the dynamic variety.
    The first could happen if everyone took in everyone else’s washing. A huge rate of growth, but only for a limited time.

  2. whitelaughter

    “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.”

    If you *read* your own link, you will see that the breakdown is:
    Is GW happening? If so, what is its cause?

    52 – Yes; mostly human
    10 – Yes; equally human and natural
    5 – Yes; mostly natural
    20 – Yes; insufficient evidence
    1 – Yes; don’t know cause
    7 – Don’t know if GW is happening
    4 – GW is not happening

    referring to that as “48% skeptic” is deliberately deceptive. And makes me uninclined to bother checking other links.

    • Ian MacDougall

      From that link:

      (A) “Climate science experts who publish mostly on climate change and climate scientists who publish mostly on other topics were the two groups most likely to be convinced that humans have contributed to global warming, with 93% of each group indicating their concurrence. The two groups least likely to be convinced of this were the nonpublishing climate scientists and nonpublishing meteorologists/ atmospheric scientists, at 65% and 59%, respectively. In the middle were the two groups of publishing meteorologists/atmospheric scientists at 79% and 78%, respectively.”

      By way of contrast, Tony Thomas says (B) “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.” [ie meaning 2/3 did. -IM]

      It strikes me that there is a severe disconnect between (A) and (B).
      I frankly have not a clue how this could possibly have arisen.

      • Salome

        1/3 is a lot more than just a couple of isolated nutjobs. It means that there is still a serious debate to be had–needing both sides to be articulated.

      • Tony Thomas

        Easily reconciled. Nearly all skeptics agree that humans have “contributed” to warming. The crucial point is that the orthodoxy or ‘consensus’ is that humans have contributed to more than half the past century’s observed warming. This ‘more than half’ is the disagreement. A skeptic may for example agree only that humans have contributed a miniscule fraction. The onus is on the orthodox to produce evidence – other than unvalidated models – for the ‘more than half’.

    • Tony Thomas

      I defined non-warmists in the para immediately above:
      “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.”
      I guess my term ‘skeptic’ for the 48% maybe would be better as “non-warmists”.

  3. en passant

    AAS = All the Academic Shills

  4. Keith Kennelly

    Hey whitey

    Warmist nut jobs believe warming is caused by human manufactured co2 emissions. They believe anyone who questions or has doubts about that are sceptics.

    The above figures show that 48% do not agree with the warmest nutjob fantasy.

    Where is you deception? Probably from the same manuel as the infamous 97 %. Mind you you could always homogenise the figures …

    • Ian MacDougall

      Keith: I think you mean “hide the decline.” As in Climategate
      Mind you, the world’s one ocean disagrees with your position on AGW:
      GMSL Rates
      CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
      AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
      CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
      NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
      NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)


      • ianl

        > “Oh, I dunno”

        The only accurate statement you’ve made. Have you answered any real questions yet ? I thought not.

        When did the miniscule sea level you keep quoting actually start ? That needs a date with hard, empirical evidence ?

        What empirical evidence is there that isostasy/eustasy (geologically longstanding processes with varying rates and signs) is caused only by increasing atmospheric CO2 by 4 molecules in every 10,000 ?

        Ignoring these issues simply underscores your ignorance; quoting irrelevant links that you haven’t read emphasises it.

        Now for the sounds of cowardly silence …

        • Ian MacDougall

          ianl (or whatever your real name is):
          And a merry Christmas to you, too.
          When did the ‘miniscule’ (!) rate of rise start?
          A rate of 3.3 mm/yr is 33 mm per decade, 330 mm per century and 3,300 mm (3.3 metres per millennium world-wide). That can only be due to glacial ice melt and/or thermal expansion of ocean water, not to weird events like comets falling into it or anything like that. How ‘miniscule’ depends on how long you are prepared to wait.
          “What empirical evidence is there that isostasy/eustasy (geologically longstanding processes with varying rates and signs) is caused only by increasing atmospheric CO2 by 4 molecules in every 10,000 ?”
          Well as far as I know, isostatic processes, crustal movements and such are completely independent of the composition of the atmosphere. Of course, the heat content of the atmospheric/oceanic systems is another matter.
          Nor can sea level rise have been going for long, otherwise it would have been noticed world-wide by historians, harbour authorities, and damn near everyone else: even your ‘sceptical’ self. This suggests rather strongly that the mainstream climatologists are right, and that it is anthropogenic: ie since the Industrial Revolution got started, around AD 1750; presumably accelerating from that year on.
          Take that as 1750 AD. Roughly.
          I may be wrong, but there is a faint echo of one Senator Malcolm Roberts in what you write. So, ianl or whatever your real name is, have a read of http://www.desmogblog.com/malcolm-roberts
          And Marry Christmas again.


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