Author Archives: tonythomas061

Blainey’s blarney

Geoffrey Blainey, Australia’s beloved history elder, has written 40 books and his terms like ‘tyranny of distance’ have pervaded our culture. But what of his inner life? At 89, he’s given us Before I Forget, on his upbringing and progress to about age 40. He writes with great charm and whimsy and pens delightful portraits of old-timers and events. The angels are in the detail.

Political tragics will regret that there are asides but no further axe-grinding about black armbands and today’s culture wars, or Melbourne University, its academics and its virtuous student wolfpacks shutting him down over alleged anti-Asian remarks in 1984. In the book his tales stop around 1970.

Titles are a story themselves. As a 20 year-old undergrad he got the job to research what became The Peaks of Lyell (1954), although its hills are round not peaked. His Tyranny of Distance superseded a blah first choice ‘Distance and Destiny’. Other titles testify to his big mistake, agreeing to do too many corporate histories. ‘Instead I should have been blazing my own track,’ he laments. Thus he suffered to do two histories of Melbourne University, and had misfires with BHP and ICI ANZ –the former withheld for five years, the latter manuscript still blocked with only 6-8 readers. Contrast those with later freelance titles like The Causes of War (1973), Triumph of the Nomads (1975) , A Short History of the World (2000) and his big one, A Game of Our Own: The Origins of Australian Football (1990).

He was quite an athlete himself, coming third in a 40km Saturday hill race with wheelbarrows from Zeehan to Queenstown. For vacation money he lugged cement at Spencer Street rail yards, and biked 160km to farms to heave hay. But Australia nearly lost our lad at age five weeks, except that a surgeon managed to unblock his digestion. No fee either, in a kindly medical tradition for struggling clergy families.

Few others today are writing first-hand about Depression life in rural Victoria. The Blaineys ate toast with jam or toast with butter but never with both: ‘This frugal rule was observed in countless households.’

A blind parishioner could play chess but lacked opponents. Blainey’s father Cliff taught himself chess to keep the old chap happy – although he worked 70-hour weeks. Each church took pride in hearty hymn-singing. These tightly knit congregations… are no longer viewed very sympathetically in the media and sections of some universities, but the years will return when their merits – along with the defects – will be seen more clearly. With personal disaster and adversity they coped bravely.

Blainey was a swot, even resenting invitations to Saturday movie matinees as time-wasters. He was delighted to get from his grandfather ‘at an absurdly early age’ the 1,000-page statistics of the 1935 Commonwealth Year Book. At Wesley (on scholarship) his English teacher A. A. Phillips used the opening paragraph of an essay by the 15 year-old Blainey in one of his best-selling textbooks.

Poring over 1930s footy scores in state library newspapers helped him recover from a bout of early post-war depression over his fear of nuclear war.

While in a funk over deadlines, he realised how little time he actually spent in learning – colleagues got labelled ‘Failed (Billiards)’. With coloured crayons he mapped how he spent or dissipated his time. His reform was not to work longer but more intensively.

Humour bubbles below his prose. A Queenstown old-timer Jimmy when offered a cuppa at Blainey’s boarding room exclaimed, ‘China! China! You’re well set up here.’ He asked Blainey where he’d been on a trip. ‘Hobart!’ Jimmy replied in astonishment. ‘You certainly get around.’ Blainey himself as ‘Titus Mehaffey’ would slyly impersonate an old prospector, quavering on local radio. His best pranking came later. He’d take his own uni students on goldfields trips and at the next lecture he’d read from the country newspaper a colourful report of their visit. Those were his own inventions pasted behind the page.

At one stage Blainey set out from Queenstown with a diamond driller to find payable uranium. (They didn’t). Here’s a taste: The food we carried was the simplest. We had potatoes and onions, bacon which supplied the fat for cooking in the frying pan, and a large quantity of flour which, mixed with water and spiced with raisins, provided johnnycakes, either fried or baked over glowing coals. As a luxury, we carried a few tins of preserved peaches or apricots, and we had tea, sugar and a tin or two of condensed milk.

I could empathise with his agonising about a libellous para while Peaks of Lyell was being printed.  Luckily Blainey’s rashly-named arsonist was oblivious or dead: ‘But for my first book the flow and anticipation were dimmed by the fear.’ Poor Geoff. Moreover, the company had hired him at less than a labourer’s wage, and  publisher MUP gave him a puerile 3 per cent royalty.

On his later research of old National Bank files, he was ‘enthralled by the stories they told of youthful managers arriving at remote gold rushes with a revolver, an iron safe and a pile of gold sovereigns, and promptly opening a bank.’ This truth beats the US fiction: ‘Send lawyers, guns and money.’

He says the uneducated remember things better than professors. Having resolved from age 19 to write for non-academics, he declined even to accept his BA and MA degrees.

The memoir’s text can appear dated, maybe necessarily as he originally wrote a lot of it 15 years ago. Banks ‘bob up and down’ in public esteem; history and climate wars carry little heat; fellow historian and god-botherer Manning Clark gets a rare good wrap. Blainey laments that in his student era circa 1950 Melbourne University had gaps in its British, European and American courses such as medieval history. He doesn’t mention academia’s wholesale trashing of the Western canon today. He also seems faintly puzzled why green suburbanites condemn mining.

Still, the Blainey blarney is wonderful. Except for this awful last paragraph: Few other nations in the early 1970s were so absorbed in understanding their history, and debating it on so many fronts. A rising wave of clashing ideas, ‘history’ here was to grow like thunder.

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Might Want to Stick with Palmolive

Few things beat the fun of lathering up under a hot shower. But how can any decent person forget  the  climate emergency beyond the shower screen? So here’s what you can do personally to save the planet: lather up with soap made from human poo.

Melbourne this month is enjoying an exhibition by artist Catherine Sarah Young (pictured above inside her gas mask) called the Sewer Soaperie, demonstrating how to turn raw sewage into luxury soaps.

She hopes the project will “raise awareness on the fatbergs [congealed muck] clogging sewer systems around the world, and how this will worsen flooding brought about by the more intense storms of the Anthropocene[1] … As the global climate crisis intensifies, could this be a solution to a more sustainable future?”

The exhibitors do warn you wash with their poo-soap at your own risk. If you’re timid, just stand back and sniff, inhaling aromas claimed as somewhere between cookies and cooked chook.

I was invited to visit the Sewer Soaperie by Melbourne University’s iconic Sustainable Society Institute  (MSSI), which claims in its latest newsletter that the show “mixes art and science to find creative solutions to our throwaway culture.”

I emailed a query to the institute’s director, Professor Brendan Gleeson: “Would you be prepared yourself to lather up in the shower with poo soap?” The professor is yet to reply. However, one of the university’s pre-eminent scientists, astrophysicist Professor Rachel Webster, is an MSSI adviser and billed there also as president of the university’s academic board.  So I emailed her as well, “Would you be prepared yourself to lather up in the shower with poo soap?” She replied promptly,

“I was Pres of Academic Board, but finished my term over 2 years ago.  But I am still on the MSSI Advisory Board. And yes I would use poo soap – could you explain further! Cheers Rachel.”

So I briefed her about my encyclopaedic research on MSSI’s anti-capitalism and authoritarian yearnings, and feel somehow that Rachel and I have bonded. The Sewer Soaperie should courier her a complimentary pack of poo soap.

I like her better anyway than her astronomy colleague Brian Schmidt,  Nobelist and Vice-Chancellor of the very-woke ANU. On global warming, Brian is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. His view is that global warming (about 1degC so far since 1850) is as bad as nuclear war, and that the only threat worse than both is Donald Trump.[2] Actually, in 1976 I interviewed a woman in Hiroshima who as a schoolgirl was clearing rubble in the city when the bomb dropped. She survived, 20,000 other schoolgirls didn’t.[3] I don’t think she’d equate her experience with today’s global warming.

I mentioned to Rachel Webster yet another new book by Sustainable Society lecturer  Dr Sam Alexander. This time he’s with co-author Dr Rupert Read, who spouts philosophy at the University of East Anglia, of Climategate fame. The book  is cheerily titled This Civilisation is Finished.[4]

The pair seem to be My Little Pony fans, and want to return us to horseback:  “You cannot pre-figuratively re-centre local life onto walking, cycling, and horse-riding while elected politicians continue to worship the automobile.” However the book contains  darker green menaces from Rupert, such as

#  “It is just-about conceivable that this civilisation might survive by adopting an extremely disciplined eco-fascism.”

# “… Cuba or Costa Rica, two of the very few countries in the world today that it might possibly be argued are managing to achieve both ecological sustainability and some measure of economic justice.”

#  “Whereas Marx foresaw a time when the proletariat would rise up and replace capitalism by way of revolution, what looks to be the more likely course of events is that capitalism is replaced not by way of revolution but by way of collapse. And even if the Marxist revolution comes first, then collapse lies ahead all the same unless socialists adopt a post-growth position too.”  

Read even has a kind word for Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s theses. He describes Kaczynski, whose 16 bombings  murdered three and mutilated 23, as

…the uncompromising political thinker …who makes the discomforting and difficult-to-refute argument (in his Manifesto)  that socialism is the leading edge of the disastrous doctrines of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’,”  i.e. that socialism is not radical enough. It is only via a footnote by Read that we learn, “Obviously I don’t agree with his methods; I have always been a practitioner of strict non-violence, most recently in Extinction Rebellion.

Some of our universities are adopting the Robert French report’s urgings towards freedom of speech and open inquiry on campus. But in Read/Alexander book, Read actually boasts of inspiring the BBC last year to implement draconian censoring of any warming-sceptic views.[5]

Apologies, I have drifted from my topic of artist Catherine Sarah Young and her poo-soap. Heralded by an art magazine as one the world’s top ten “Future Greats”,  she also runs The Apocalypse Project, exploring the climate crisis and – surprisingly –  Climate Change Couture, or “Haute fashion for a hotter planet”.  The couture “draws on the disciplines of design and fashion to produce artworks in the form of wearable costumes that speak about what humans might have to do to adapt to climate change.”

Apocalypse-wear is certainly a new field for the hordes of otherwise-unemployable climate students in search of higher degrees. I didn’t intend to mess with Catherine or mention her readings in “Poetry Brothels”in Barcelona and New York. That was partly because she’s entitled to some artistic licence but mainly because she’s a second-degree taekwondo black belt.

However, she has a nasty habit of recruiting kids to her climate shenanigans. One project exhorted 13-year-old Austrian kids to write nasty letters to “science denialists”. The brief: “Why does it matter to you if people think climate change is not real, for example? How might you try to convince a climate change denier otherwise? How can you be persuasive without being patronizing?”

The fruits of her project are  Greta Thunberg-style missives from kids to “deniers” about the usual fictitious memes of dying polar bears and melting ice-caps (Arctic: stable for past half-decade, Antarctic: not melting at all). “Dear Denier of the Climate Change” begins one youngster, providing a comic strip of penguins on melting icebergs. “People who like snow and winter will be sad because real winters will become rare. Think of a world without winter snow and penguins” and so on in ignorant babble.

But if you think the artist’s poo soap is gross, imagine a Japanese scientist reformulating  human poo from Tokyo sewers into edible steak. A two minute video of Dr Mitsuyuki Ikeda  doing the exercise at Okayama Laboratory caught  the media’s attention a decade ago, getting headlines in The Guardian, the Daily Mail, LA Weekly and incidentally, in world-leading sceptic blog wattsupwiththat and another blog the other day which I shrink from naming.

Mitsuyuki in white lab coat explains with microscope and blackboard diagrams how he  extracts proteins from the poo, turns it red using food coloring and injects a boost of flavor with soy. The equipment includes an exploder and enhancer. The resulting meat is 63 per cent protein, 25 per cent carbs, 3 per cent lipids and 9 per cent minerals. The whole exercise jibes well with the United Nations’ climate maniacs’ fatwa against steak-eaters.

The media all relied on the YouTube and nobody got around to interviewing or even googling Mitsuyuki. The YouTube clip had oddities like a fridge label reading (in English), “SHIT BURGER” and outdoor signage in Chinese rather than  Japanese.

In other words it was a hoax.

Strangely, a Mitsuyuki Ikeda did exist, worked for UNESCO and looks like the lab-coated gent in the video. The UNESCO guy never responded to queries and there’s a suspicion  he did the prank video in his student days in the 1990s. Even more strangely, his name Mitsuyuki Ikeda can be rendered in English as Meat So Yukky I Kid Ya. So make sense of all that. Another media (and sceptic) fail.

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

[1] There is no evidence for this statement. One IPCC report even said global warming could either increase or reduce weather extremes.

[2]  Schmidt:  “So I will be honest. Donald Trump is a different type of risk, but one that I think even transcends nuclear war and climate change as being a higher, more immediate threat. And because he will lead to many, many problems, nuclear war being one of them. As I said, I see him as the potential to destroy US democracy as we know it.”  In the light of the attempted CIA/FBI coup against Trump, Schmidt’s fulminations are ironic.

[3] The Age, 21/7/76

[4] Simplicity Institute, Melbourne 2019

[5] Wikipedia: “In June 2018, Read triggered a BBC policy shift by publicly refusing to debate a climate change denier.[7] This lead to new policy that meant the BBC would no longer present climate change deniers‘ views as a counterbalance to scientific standpoints.[8]

 

11 comments
  • rod.stuart

    Is there ANYONE…………anyone at all, at teh University of Melbourne who is in a way shape or form SANE????

  • Biggles

    Why has the taxpayer to continue funding these loons? Freedom of speech? No! Sadly it is just sheer apathy.

  • IainC

    The term “hysterically histrionic” may be apt here. Funny how a terrible artist with no scientific training is “real” and “so credible” when supporting the narrative, but experienced and highly trained scientists are dismissed as lower than zero if they dare to disagree. I only have a PhD in chemistry, so I’m way lower on the morality totem pole than a fabriqueur du sapon de merde. So much for 10 years of tertiary training.
    Rod, an institution which gleefully hosts a three day yearly Marxist love-in without demur is not so much insane as rotten to the core.

  • Tony Thomas

    actually she has a science background:
    Catherine received her undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biotechnology (magna cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, fine art education from Barcelona, and an MFA in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts NYC as a Fulbright scholar

  • IainC

    “….undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biotechnology”. Mea culpa, peccavi. But as I gradually realised and commented over the decades (mainly about chemical engineers, no offence intended), “he/she knows just enough chemistry to be dangerous”.

  • Alistair

    Great article again Tony.
    Remember that old joke about smart pills. “This tastes like poo” “Now you’re getting smart”
    I wonder if smart soap will make these people any smarter?

  • en passant

    Was it Oscar Wide who said: “There are some ideas so stupid only an academic could believe them”? If he didn’t, he should have …
    To answer Rod about sanity at Melbourne University: No, at least certainly not in the soft (headed) faculties (and sometimes not even in the real sciences) as years of brainwashing have left an indelible mark.
    I did some consulting there and was taken aback by the behaviour of staff at meetings. It was groupthink, cultish behaviour by under 30 minions marching in unison. It was not that they suppressed dissenting voices, there were none. Even when an idea or decision was obviously wrong (or at least could be improved on) not a single voice argued for an alternative. It was so monocular it was psychotic, yet each day they went home satisfied with their membership of the cult and not a single doubt that there were any alternatives. Religion was never this strong or apparently so well indoctrinated

  • Alice Thermopolis

    T’was ever thus.
    Two quotes from The Devil’s Dictionary of Climate Change (George Lexicon, 2018, Athena Books):

    I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me forward, conjuring me in a whisper “to give no offence, which would be highly resented;” and therefore I durst not so much as stop my nose. The person present was the most ancient student of the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands and clothes daubed over with filth. When I was presented to him, he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused. His employment, from his first coming into the academy was an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol barrel. It served him well, for now he was trying to devise ways of detecting a human footprint in the air. (L Gulliver, ship’s captain and diarist, May, 1707)

    It’s incredible to think each teaspoon of your stool contains more data in its microbial DNA than could be stored on a tonne of DVDs. At the moment every time you’re taking one of those data dumps, as it were, you’re just flushing that information away. Part of our vision is that, in the not too distant future, as soon as you flush there will be some kind of instant read-out that tells you are you going in a good direction or a bad direction. That’s going to be really transformative. (Professor R Knight, University of California, 10 April, 2018)

    . Freud had a lot to say about people obsessed with it too.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    en passant – Was it Oscar Wide who said: “There are some ideas so stupid only an academic could believe them”?

    Perhaps a later variation of Cicero’s comment: “Nihil tam absurdum, quod non dictum sit ab aliquo.” –

    “There’s nothing so absurd as not to have been said by a philosopher” [or climate alarmist].

  • bruce

    IainC, I have heard your aphorism about chemical engineers many times, being one of them. My own personal favourite on dealing with specialists, based on decades in the trenches, is that “you have to know enough of their topic to get them on the back foot”.

  • johnhenry

    “Few things beat the fun of lathering up under a hot shower.”

    …says Tony Thomas, an entertaining and knowledgeable man and former left winger. But he is wrong about showering. Look at him. He is what – 70 years old? The best way for a man his age to save his skin (I’ve no opinion about female skin) is to shower no more than once per month without soap. I’ve never used soap on my body (except on my “Back 40” every day of course) for many years and no shampoo for decades even though I’m younger than he is by several months. I never thought Tony Thomas could be fooled by Palmolive.

Climate Doom Turns on the Waterworks

If your airline gives you a seat next to ANU climate guru Dr Joelle Gergis, I’d advise you to do a shift, even down to that awful row by the toilet. That’s because Dr Gergis is prone on flights to unexpected weepings over global warming.

She’s done a piece this week in leftist bible The Monthly. It’s titled, “The terrible truth of climate change”, in which she  wails,

The very foundation of human civilization is at stake. Increasingly after my speaking events, I catch myself unexpectedly weeping in my hotel room or on flights home. Every now and then, the reality of what the science is saying manages to thaw the emotionally frozen part of myself I need to maintain to do my job. In those moments, what surfaces is pure grief … But these days my grief is rapidly being superseded by rage. Volcanically explosive rage. Because in the very same IPCC report that outlines the details of the impending apocalypse, the climate science community clearly stated that limiting warming to 1.5°C is geophysically possible…

We still have time to try and avert the scale of the disaster, but we must respond as we would in an emergency. The question is, can we muster the best of our humanity in time?

To spell out that necessary response, flip to her Sunburnt Country polemic of 2018. In that book she urges the world to embrace “an emergency response, as it did during World War II. During that conflict, countries dedicated more than a third of their economies to the war effort and innovation flourished.” It’s unclear if she’s including the Berlin-based crowd but, anyway, check out flourishing innovations like Germany’s V2’s and the Hiroshima bomb. (For those interested, Ms Gergis can be heard ringing the climate alarm bell in for 42 hyperbolic minutes at the foot of this article.)

Gergis’s outburst is the latest in a long tradition of emoting by the climate gurus. Their hand-written accounts of their passions have even been collated to ramp up the fearful narrative. Here’s ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Katrin Meissner, in 2014:

It makes me feel sick. Looking at my children and realising that they won’t have the same quality of life we had. It scares me more than anything else. I see a group of people sitting in a boat, happily waving, taking pictures on the way, not knowing that this boat is floating right into a powerful and deadly waterfall.

Gergis, a vegan, cyclist, and one-time girl-band drummer, is among a dozen Australian climateers who are lead authors for the 2021 Sixth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They’re supposed to make coolly objective judgments about recent papers on global warming. There were around 5oo peer reviewed papers last year disputing the narrative of catastrophism. I hope Gergis & Co. will give them a fair IPCC hearing.

Gergis was a keynote speaker at an Australian climate conference  in Darwin in June. Her brief was to “summarise the post-election political and scientific reality we now face.” (Pesky creatures, those voters). “In short,” she told The Monthly, “I am in the confronting position of being one of the few Australians who sees the terrifying reality of the climate crisis. Preparing for this talk I experienced something gut-wrenching. It was the realisation that there is now nowhere to hide from the terrible truth.”

The “terrible truth”, actually, is that the global warming trend from January 2000 to April 2019 was equivalent to a mere  1.56 degC per century, or 1.32 degC per century after excluding the natural el Nino of 2015-16.[1] The rocketing CO2 emissions this century have had minimal effect. Odd, that.

Instead, Gergis backs the kiddie climate strikers:

There is a very rational reason why Australian schoolkids are now taking to the streets – the immensity of what is at stake is truly staggering. Staying silent about this planetary emergency no longer feels like an option for me either.

Gergis discusses the all-important number involving climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels. Ever since about 1980 the “climate community” has been unable to narrow the likely range from a (harmless/beneficial) warming of 1.5degC to a (catastrophic) warming of 4.5degC.  Given the research population and funding allocated to this task for the past 40 years, the climateers inability to narrow the range constitutes an epochal failure.

Gergis now claims a new generation of climate models is putting  the range at 2.8degC to 5.8degC.  “Incredibly, at least eight of the latest models produced by leading research centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France are showing climate sensitivity of 5°C or warmer,” she says. “When these results were first released at a climate modeling workshop in March this year, a flurry of panicked emails from my IPCC colleagues flooded my inbox. What if the models are right? Has the Earth already crossed some kind of tipping point? Are we experiencing abrupt climate change right now?

“The model runs aren’t all available yet, but when many of the most advanced models in the world are independently reproducing the same disturbing results, it’s hard not to worry.”

In reality, of course, outputs of unvalidated models are just computer games. As Gergis herself says, “What if the models are right?” The fifth IPCC report noted dolefully that 111 of 114 models run hotter than the real world.[2] The UAH satellite-based global temperature measurements (lower troposphere) also show how the models’ warming forecasts have overshot reality — and how the gap between forecasts and reality is widening with every year.[3]

Gergis would also benefit from perusing the Judith Curry and Nick Lewis climate-sensitivity paper a year ago and published in the mainstream Journal  of Climate. This paper used empirical work, rather than modeling, and found a median climate sensitivity of 1.5-1.7 degC. That is half the average IPCC figure and only just above the IPCC’s lowest bound. But from reading the models’ entrails, Gergis wants the Paris (voluntary) pledges for global emission cuts to be trebled or increased five-fold, claiming

Even with the 1°C of warming we’ve already experienced, 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead. We are witnessing catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the largest living organism on the planet. As I share this horrifying information with audiences around the country, I often pause to allow people to try and really take that information in.

I went to her Sunburnt Country book to see where she gets this “half the Reef is dead” stuff. The book says (without any footnote),

As of September 2017, surveys of the damage suggested [my emphasis] that 30 per cent of the shallow water corals died following bleaching in 2016, followed by a further 19 per cent die-off in 2017. That is, half of the coral of the Great Barrier Reef is now dead.

If you look up the 2018-19 annual report of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. It says starfish, cyclones and bleaching over the past five years  “have caused declines in hard coral cover to moderate (10-30%) levels across much of the Great Barrier Reef.” It emphasises “the dynamic nature of GBR coral reefs, and the considerable variation among regions in the rates of decline and recovery of hard coral cover in response to disturbances.” I don’t see Gergis’s “half-dead” meme there.

On the principle of never letting a good crisis go to waste, Gergis at the Darwin conference spelt out the costs of Cyclone Tracy of Christmas 1974.[4]  “As I collated this information, it became clear to me that Cyclone Tracy is a warning. Without major action, we will see tropical cyclones drifting into areas on the southern edge of current cyclone zones, into places such as south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where infrastructure is not ready to cope with cyclonic conditions. These areas currently house more than 3.6 million people; we simply aren’t prepared for what is upon us.”

This surprised me, as the last year’s special IPCC report included

# “Numerous studies towards and beyond AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy”

# “… there is only low confidence regarding changes in global tropical cyclone numbers under global warming over the last four decades.”

# “There is consequently low confidence in the larger number of studies reporting increasing trends in the global number of very intense cyclones.”

Gergis inserts into her climate call to arms a sad personal story about  a CT scan of her father’s serious brain haemorrhage: “ The brutality of the evidence was clear – the full weight of it sent my stomach into freefall. The results coming out of the climate science community at the moment are, even for experts, similarly alarming.”

I sympathise with her family but to compare the confidence involved in a CT scan with  predictions about global warming is nonsense.

The IPCC furth report (2007) admitted the level of scientific understanding of the following climate factors was “low” due to the complications posed by stratospheric water vapour, direct aerosols (medium/low), cloud albedo effects, aerosols, surface albedo from land use (medium/low), snow albedo, persistent aviation contrails, solar irradiance, and volcanic aerosols. Scientific understanding of tropospheric water vapor from irrigation was rated very low. So was stratospheric water vapor from non-CH causes (very low), aviation induced cirrus (very low), cosmic rays (very low) and other surface effects (very low).

Gergis’s use of the brain scan an analogy is also in poor taste. Climate propagandist Al Gore, to illustrate, introduced personal tragedies into his rhetoric for political ends –  a near-fatal 1989 traffic accident involving his young son, and also the 1984 death of his sister, a heavy smoker, from  lung cancer. Gore failed to mention his own family’s tobacco crops and that he kept taking campaign money from tobacco interests for six years after his sister died.

I’ll just skim over  Gergis’s setback of 2012 when sceptic bloggers found an error in her vaunted “southern hockey stick” paper that forced its withdrawal. Gergis, to knock her paper back into shape, had to put it through nine rounds of revision, 21 individual reviews, and two editors. As Canadian statistician Stephen McIntyre wrote, the exercise took longer than the American involvement in World War II. According to McIntyre, the 2016 revision involved little that was new plus some statistical approaches he considers highly objectionable.

Still, Gergis is the rising star of antipodean climate catastrophism.  All the best with that, Joelle.

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

[1] HADCRUT4 monthly data series

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

[3]  Spencer, Roy, Global Warming Scepticism for Busy People. 2018. Kindle 319/1855

[4] Queensland’s Cyclone Debbie two years ago has also been grist to her “global warming” mill

9 comments
  • Doubting Thomas

    After the job Steve McIntyre did on her 2012 Gergis eg al paper, it’s surprising that she and Al continue to rabbit on as if nothing had happened. One would normally have expected them to have huddled deep in a cave in tight foetal positions never to face the real world ever again. So much for the ethics of climate “science”.

  • Greg Williams

    As for Greta Thunberg’s latest attempt to rally the school kids to arms, it was an abject failure. The only people who turned up were the organisers. Wondering why?? Well, cunning Greta organised the rally in school holidays, rather than on a school day. I guess most of the school kids who would have gone had it been a school day, were off on some jet plane heading to the Bahamas!

  • ianl

    The episode of the Gergis et al 2012 paper was genuinely disgraceful, but as DT points out, the disgrace was as water off the proverbial duck’s back to the CAGW activists. It made no difference whatsoever, because the people involved knew that the MSM would protect their credibility by refusing to report the episode. Peer criticism was severely muted by the now familiar tactic of threatening livelihoods with menace.

  • en passant

    Tony,
    Let me just ‘bullet point’ some comments;
    1. Gergis reminds me of one of my first consulting jobs. I found a proposed business plan to extract investors money to be pure fantasy – ans said so in a cold analysis. At the meeting of about 20-people the ‘entrepreneur never missed a beat, agreed with me that his figures were wrong and promised a 30% increase in returns. He raised $1M from the naively greedy. I later got a consultancy to save the company from itself – and was cursed by everyone for only recovering 35% of their investment.
    2. think her comments are close to those of the manifesto of a recently active eco-fascist in the USA …
    3. She spoke in Darwin? She cycled there, of course? Goes without saying, dunnit?
    4. What is her proof that even a 5C increase in average global temperature would be detrimental? As I have not worn a shirt for the past 4-days, I find 33C and monsoon rains very pleasant, while the Earth’s average is a paltry 14.9C. Bring on higher temperatures (before I return to Melbourne on an aeroplane).
    5. I presume she is not going to contribute to the future problems by breeding? Having children would be the ultimate hypocrisy.
    Finally, I must strongly disagree with you about sitting next to her on a plane. I would seek her out for a debate. One of us would most likely leave the plane in a straitjacket.

  • 8272

    I answer some of the key questions about climate change (AKA global warming) in my recent video: http://bit.ly/2OkRle6
    For example, I point out, inter alia:
    1) Carbon dioxide is essential to all life on the planet. CO2 is a plant food and without it there would be no life on earth. And, CO2, together with the other greenhouse gases, raises the average temperature of the planet by around 15 degrees Celsius. Without the greenhouse effect, the planet would be uninhabitable as it would be covered in an ice sheet.
    2) Studies by the CSIRO and NASA show that mean sea level rises from 1992 to 2017 average just 3.1 mm per year.
    3) Glaciers have been melting since the last ice age and there is little evidence that the rate of melting is increasing. I give the example of explorer George Vancouver who in 1794 arrived at Glacier Bay in Alaska to find it blocked by a 4,000 feet thick iceberg. In 1879 naturalist John Muir found the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay. By 1916 the glacier was 65 miles from Glacier Bay’s mouth. All of which occurred before any significant amount of man-made CO3 entered the atmosphere.
    4) By application of the scientific method, man-made global warming is shown to be just an untested hypothesis.

  • Bill Martin

    Climate alarmism is a fanatical, unquestioning belief in the creed of CAGW, not unlike woodoo or the cargo cult. True believers of the dogma are suffering from a serious metal disorder and while their endeavours to mitigate the looming catastrophe are to be opposed unequivocally, they ought not be regarded as bad, evil people, especially since they are the duped victims of the greedy, completely immoral perpetrators of the mith who are richly rewarded beneficiaries of it. Most claim to be “climate scientists” others present as champions of human wellbeing. These latter are the most despicable of all.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    You would be in or close to tears if your career/pay depended on selling the accuracy of your climate model.
    A decade ago, a group of them got together and published an interesting paper: “Challenges in Combining Projections from Multiple climate Models.” (Knutti, Reno, et al., 2010, American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/2009JCLI3361.1)

    From the Abstract: “..”there is little agreement on the metrics to separate “good” and “bad” models, and there is concern that model development, evaluation and posterior weighting or ranking are all using the same [flawed] datasets. While the multi-model average appears [not a proof] to still be useful in some situations, these results show that more quantitative methods to evaluate model performance are critical to maximize the value of climate change projections from global models.” Well, we are still waiting…..

    “An implicit assumption exists that multiple models provide additional and more reliable information than a single model and higher confidence is placed on results…”, although in principle all models could suffer from similar deficiencies” (eg: assumed forcings, etc.) (page 2740)

    What other field would get away with claiming that, because we can’t distinguish “good” from “bad” models, let’s just mix them all up, take an “average”, hope like hell the errors cancel each other out, and tell the public it’s a good approximation of the truth about the Earth’s future climate?

  • Davidovich

    I like the bit where Gergis is reported as saying “But these days my grief is rapidly being superseded by rage. Volcanically explosive rage.”. She could inadvertently be correctly identifying just what is the major driver of global warming and various weather events, viz. volcanic eruptions. Geologist James E. Kamis has a very interesting video presentation of the myriad volcanic eruptions, mainly undersea, along various tectonic plate fault lines which help to explain arctic and antarctic ice changes as well as the significant role the Pacific Ocean plays in earth’s climate (www.plateclimatology).

  • Davidovich

    Sorry, the reference should read http://www.plateclimatology.com.

An Extremely Silly Girl’s Cunning Plan

Small children are prone  to say things that are very true but best not voiced in polite company. There’s been a similar embarrassment described in the Washington Post last week. It involves the chief of staff to one of the so-called fresh faces of the Democrat Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known for headline writers’ convenience as “AOC”. The 29-year-old New York bartender last year became the youngest-ever US congresswoman and maybe also the most socialist.

The progressive media has built her up in half a year to household-name status. She was on the cover of Time as “The Phenom” and twinned in a Vanity Fair cover story in June with veteran Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. Vanity Fair saw AOC as a “beacon of hope” and “youthful, charismatic and uncompromising”.

She continues in the spotlight with the “Justice Democrats Squad” of four black/brown congresswomen claiming last week to be victims of Trump’s racist rhetoric. Actually the Squad itself in recent weeks had been hurling racist insults at less-left Democrat colleagues, even including whistle-clean Nancy Pelosi.

AOC espouses a Green New Deal involving a hundred-trillion dollar mobilization of the US nation to go fully green by 2030. Her ten-year emissions makeover outclasses any two of Stalin’s five-year-plans. Adding to the Soviet ambience, AOC says her Deal would be implemented by groups including “worker cooperatives”. You might think, “Why waste time and ink on this?” Why, because left Democrats and the US media are mainstreaming her.  Five Democrat presidential candidates sponsored her Deal (including Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren) and AOC claims a total of nine candidates back it.

AOC’s office is chaotic and run by chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, 33, who seems even more radical than AOC. When he helped organise her election last year, he posed in a T-shirt featuring Indian war-time nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose. That gent raised a legion for Hitler’s SS and recruited troops to assist Japan’s invasion of India. AOC’s radiance in the US media  has lit up Chakrabarti by reflection. Thus he got a 3000-word reverential profile by Washington Post senior reporter David Montgomery last week. After 200 words, in what other journos would scorn as “burying the lead”, the scribe reports an exchange between Chakrabarti and Sam Ricketts, climate director for Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee (Dem), who is running for president almost exclusively on a platform of combating global warming:

Chakrabarti had an unexpected disclosure. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, “is it wasn’t originally” a climate thing at all.” Ricketts greeted this startling notion with an attentive poker face. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti continued. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Chakrabarti  is not some insignificant kook. The media  says he “is emerging as a political celebrity in his own right.” It turned out that Chakrabarti himself had been tweeting racist accusations at Democrats, including a gay native-American congresswoman (that’s a trifecta). Chicago’s Democrat ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chakrabarti a “snot-nosed punk”. Black Democrat congress members demand that AOC fire him. She won’t.

He is far from the first in the global-warming community to acknowledge that the real game is not climate control but expanding government or UN control. Examples are at the foot of this article. But I’ll initially stick with AOC and her Green New Deal. She announced at a Martin Luther King forum in New york  last January that the world would end in 12 years. In her teenager-like syntax she said,

Millennials and people in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change. And your biggest issue, your biggest issue is how are going to pay for it? — and like this is the war, this is our World War II.

The audience rose to applaud. She later tweeted, implausibly, that her “world ending in 12 years” thing  was “dry humor plus sarcasm” and “you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.”

I’d like to think her entire Green New Deal thing was dry humor plus sarcasm but it ain’t. There are two versions. One is an explanatory document with “frequently asked questions”  (FAQs). AOC disowned it, saying, “I definitely had a staffer that had a really bad day at work.” But  Left revolutionary Noam Chomsky calls the Deal “exactly the right idea”.  Version Two, the resolution she put up for vote in the Senate, was the same stuff slightly censored and with get-out clauses like “to the extent technologically possible…”

The office version says that in moving to a just society, the government would ensure the millions of jobs created by the Green New Deal would be “union jobs that pay prevailing wages”. Here are other highlights from the stronger version – hang on to your hats:

# A complete transition to renewable energy by 2030 to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

#  Eliminate fossil-fuelled cars and air travel, in favour of high-speed rail and public transport. (How overseas travel would be managed isn’t explained).

# Upgrade or retrofit all existing US buildings “to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.”

# Get rid of “farting cows” (that’s nearly 100 million cattle)

# Decommission all nuclear plants

# Guarantee “all people” of the USA (including illegals) a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security. The lifestyle guarantee would extend to those “unable or unwilling to work”.

# Guarantee “high-quality health care”.

# Guarantee all people “high-quality education”.

The only mention of cost is a $US4.6 trillion “minimum estimate” for upgrading US infrastructure (undefined). Ex-waitress AOC shrugs that it can all be paid for like World War Two was financed with 45-to-50 per cent of US GDP, or the financing of the 2007 bank bailout (around $US13 trillion). Government capital would flow to business and communities for green projects via “public banks” and grants. Her Green New Deal plus associated progressive claims now involve universal health cover ($US32 trillion), a federal jobs guarantee ($US7 trillion), cancelling student loans ($US1.5 trillion) and free college study ($US800 billion). These rather large amounts compare with current US national debt of $US22 trillion, also large.

Progressive media of course praised the plan as  “bold” and “ambitious”. It is, after all, climate orthodoxy with a few colourful additions like jobs enforced under the union umbrella. But media sanity occasionally broke through: the leftist Washington Post ran columnist Megan McArdle describing the AOC draft New Deal as “lunatic”. In doing so, the Post included itself  among the lunatics. It  appended to the column what Post editors think are “eleven climate change policies to fight for in 2019” that could “start the planet down a path toward a better future”.  The ideas are from “activists, politicians and researchers for climate policy ideas that offer hope.”

These nostrums include ten wish-list items such as smarter air-conditioners, carbon taxes, electric cars and greener farming. The eleventh, amazingly, is “Pass a Green New Deal”, just like the AOC deal their columnist is satirizing. The Post’s Green New Deal, 0.5 or 2.0, would likewise involve “massive government action” on a world-war scale to put millions to work on zero emissions by 2030, and “upgrade every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency”. The climate contortions of the Post make one’s head hurt.

In the event,  Democrat senators recoiled and hid from the resolution that they had previously praised. Republicans taunted them to bring on the Green New Deal for a vote, knowing it was electoral poison. It then failed 57-0 with not a single Democrat backing it.

Finally, apropos chief of staff Chakrabarti and his disclosure about AOC’s socialism priority, here’s other similar disclosures:

# The oft-quoted classic is from Ottmar Edenhofer, now director of the influential  dark-green Potsdam Climate Impacts Institute, twinned since 2015 with Melbourne University. He was also a top-level IPCC Working Group 111 co-chair and is described as one of the world’s top climate policy experts. I’ve gone to the original in German and here’s Google-translate’s output. (Warmists claim he was “taken out of context”). 

First of all, we industrialized countries have virtually expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one has to say clearly: we are effectively redistributing world wealth through climate policy. That the owners of coal and oil are not enthusiastic, is obvious. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy, with problems such as forest dying or ozone hole…

# The latest issue of Foreign Policy (US), a magazine whose website scores 49 million page views annually, has a tract headlined, “Democracy is the planet’s biggest enemy”. The text of that article includes

If electoral democracy is inadequate to the task of addressing climate change, and the task is the most urgent one humanity faces, then other kinds of politics are urgently needed. The most radical alternative of all would be to consider moving beyond democracy altogether. The authoritarian Chinese system has some advantages when it comes to addressing climate change: One-party rule means freedom from electoral cycles and less need for public consultation. Technocratic solutions that put power in the hands of unelected experts could take key decisions out of the hands of voters.

The piece is written by  David Runciman, a politics professor at Cambridge University and the author of How Democracy Ends. It’s nice for such people to show their true colors.

# Australians Professor David J.C. Shearman and ecologist Joseph Wayne Smith[1]  published The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy. Amazon’s blurbsays,

This provocative book presents compelling evidence that the fundamental problem behind environmental destruction―and climate change in particular―is the operation of liberal democracy.

Originally a research tract, the abstract says the authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power. There are in existence highly successful authoritarian structures–for example, in medicine and in corporate empires–that are capable of implementing urgent decisions impossible under liberal democracy.

# Far-left Canadian author Naomi Klein and her well-titled book This Changes Everything is influential enough to have been pushed into hundreds of Australian high schools’ lessons via leftist curriculum-helper Cool Australia. In an unintentionally revealing disclosure, Cool Australia’s Teacher Notes described the supposed climate crisis as “an opportunity for a new economic model that accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way…” (My emphasis).

# UNEP or UN Environment Program’s  Maurice Strong told the 1992 Rio UNFCCC Earth Climate Summit[2], “We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrialized civilization to collapse.”

 # The then US Undersecretary of State for Global Issues in the Clinton administration was Democrat Senator Tim Wirth[3].  He told the Rio conference ,  “We have got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

# Canada’s environment minister Christine Stewart told the Calgary Herald in 1988, “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony . . . climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

# Rio also produced Agenda 21 or the “Sustainable Development Agenda:

Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced; a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level … Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice … The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of the society as a whole.

# Here’s Christiana Figueres, when she was executive secretary of  the  top UN climate body UNFCCC (2010-16):

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

# Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez attended the 2009 Copenhagen climate-fest and spruiked his brand of socialism:

The destructive model of capitalism is eradicating life… Our revolution seeks to help all people . . . Socialism, that’s the way to save the planet; capitalism is the road to hell . . . Let’s fight against capitalism and make it obey us.

Maybe Chavez’s model hasn’t worked out so well. Maybe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal isn’t so practical either. Maybe her chief of staff should have kept his mouth shut. But I’ll say one thing in AOC’s praise: she’s a great dancer.

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

[1] Amazon says, “Philosopher and ecologist Joseph Wayne Smith with emeritus professor of medicine David Shearman”.

[2] It led on to the Kyoto protocol

[3] He confessed to sabotaging air-conditioning during James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to Congress that kick-started the global warming scare. The TV coverage showed participants sweltering in the heat.

6 comments
  • Bill Martin

    Is it any wonder that national populism is sweeping the world? Let’s hope that it will prevail or we will all end up in the gulag.

  • rod.stuart

    The corrupt media is certainly pumping this green nude eel to the maximum. The public aren’t buying it.
    The squad is Potus’ 45’s greatest asset.

  • lloveday

    “..She was on the cover of Time as “The Phenom”
    .
    And she’s already in Time’s 100 The Most Influential People, 5th in the Leaders section behind Pelosi, Trump, the Swedish brat, and Mexico’s President, AMLO!

  • ianl

    > “# Eliminate fossil-fuelled cars and air travel …”

    That’s enough to generate real opposition.

  • deric davidson

    I am puzzled as to why the left is so enthralled with low IQ lunatics like AOC and her mates who also are challenging her in the low IQ stakes. Hopefully this fool will disappear into the dustbin of American political history. In the mean time I say God help us all from the left’s stupidity!

  • Les Kovari

    One hundred percent reduction in carbon dioxide = one hundred percent cessation of life on Earth. How intelligent is that?

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America Observed With an ABC Squint

The BBC is facing a citizens’ crowd-funded lawsuit against its left-biased reporting, while the ABC is still forgetful that half of its funders are centre-right taxpayers. The latest ABC annual report trumpets Leisa Bacon, director ABC audiences, on its second page proclaiming, “The ABC is unique in its ability to
 unite the nation … we are here for every Australian”.

The ABC’s online surveys and Roy Morgan polls show massive trust in the ABC, but why do fewer than 20 per cent of the polled actually tune in? For 2017-18, by the way, ABC 7pmNews audience fell 5-8 per cent.

The most naked bias at the moment is in the ABC’s pro-Democrat US reporting, since few Australians cross-check the material. So let’s sample ABC bureau’s July 4 Independence Day coverage in Washington DC.[1] The reporter is Conor Duffy, mocker-in-chief of President Trump.

For his print piece, falsely labeled “analysis”, the ABC gave us a choice of three headlines. “Trump dreamed of pomp and ceremony. Instead he got soggy tanks”. Maybe that was too deranged, even for the ABC, so a second version went: “ANALYSIS: Wild weather, small crowds and protesters rain on Trump’s parade.” The third top read: “Donald Trump hoped for a parade to rival Bastille Day, instead he got small crowds and soggy tanks”.

For starters, there were no tanks on the Mall, especially not soggy ones. The 25mm chain gun on the two parked Bradley Fighting Vehicles is a pet compared to an Abrams tank’s 5.3m smoothbore of 120mm calibre.

Small crowd? Duffy estimated it as “thousands or tens of thousands” (live TV) or “in the thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands promised by Mr Trump” (Analysis).  Maybe he picked up about “likely attendance woes” from Politico’s blog that week, piled on by the other liberal media with their history of 90 per cent anti-Trump pieces.

Politico had claimed, via the usual anonymous sources, that “heads are spinning at the White House as Trump’s July Fourth crowd shapes up to be another Inauguration-level disaster.” Trump was even, allegedly, handing pals freebie tickets in multiples of ten. It was double-fake news as the turnout for Trump’s inauguration “disaster” was 500,000 or more, according to Wiki’s experts.

On the day, the Twitterati claimed the official July 4 pics had been PhotoShopped by the device of pasting in a giant crowd from a previous event. This meme died suddenly as leftists recognised their own-goal.

Remarkably, Duffy’s story embeds a video showing, for two seconds anyway, a glimpse of the enormous crowd. On each side of the Mall’s ponds is a packed mass stretching to the high horizon. No-one these days attempts a count. But you can eye-ball it based on an MCG finals crowd of 100,000. There’s at least one MCG unit lengthways (3km) on each side and another unit filling in to the Capitol. Maybe Duffy could visit an optician.

The lead-in to Duffy’s July 5 news report at 7pm was that Trump had “politicised” the holiday. But on Saturday, ABC TV news had another of its US team, James Glenday, saying, “There was actually almost no politicisation of the event at all, despite what his opponents had said.” Bravo, Glenday. But watch your back there.

Duffy didn’t “analyse” why a president shouldn’t do a “Salute to America”. Anyone who takes in Trump’s address can get the full sense of partisan-free American pride. Here’s a sample:

From our earliest days, Americans of faith have uplifted our nation. This evening, we are joined by Sister Deirdre Byrne. Sister Byrne is a retired Army surgeon who served for nearly 30 years. On September 11th, 2001, the sister raced to Ground Zero. Through smoke and debris, she administered first aid and comfort to all. Today, Sister Byrne runs a medical clinic serving the poor in our nation’s capital. Sister, thank you for your lifetime of service. Thank you.”

Pity our schoolkids won’t ever be shown this first-class speech, or encouraged to read its full text, as counter to the customary classroom bashing of America and capitalism).[2]

Speaking for myself, Duffy can be cringe-inducing: “But like a handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron, the American leader was once again left crushed.” Duffy’s link shows Macron taking Trump unawares with a wraparound handshake. I doubt that Trump, who is twice Macron’s build, felt “crushed” then or “crushed” by the size of his Mall crowd. Rasmussen polls a few days later put his approval rating at a 50 per cent high.

Duffy’s sensibilities are also affronted by the Salute’s minor military elements. His so-called “tanks” are not just soggy but “a little sad”, “awkward”, “jarring”, “inelegant” and with “autocratic undertones”. In a linked piece, they’re “grotesque”. He likens the show “to the crass displays of North Korea and China“, albeit by quoting “critics”, a standard ABC deceit to inject bias. I’m surprised he didn’t run an interview with Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law Professor, who said that the “tanks” were a chilling presage to a possible Tiananmen-style massacre. Not to be outdone, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted, “Let this sink in: There are tanks in the nation’s capital and concentration camps at its border. The drift toward the unimaginable is unmistakable”.

OK, Prof Tribe and Mr Blow, fret and fulminate all you like. But Democrat President Kennedy paraded nuclear missiles down Pennsylvania Avenue, as pictured below. The tank-horror media spin collapsed anyway because half a dozen real tanks (not to mention a Patriot missile launcher) are featured at Washington’s army expo each October.

I saw more tanks and cannon parked at Victoria’s modest Avalon Airshow last March than there were at Trump’s Mall. When I was at the Mall for an Obama-era Independence parade in 2012, the only weapons were rifles of a few small services contingents and wooden facsimiles carried by costumed schoolkids. Nice, but maybe the Obama era was a little too dovish. Three years later, Obama refused to bomb Turkey-bound ISIS oil tankers to avoid “environmental damage”.

Duffy’s 7pm News report also featured the giant (6m tall) Baby Trump balloon and its 10-20 supporters — maybe those were the “protestors” in his ABC headline. Duffy’s report included a loving 33-second clip of the tethered balloon being turned around, plus a sidebar linking to the ABC’s  850-word balloon backgrounder ( “The Museum of London is even working to acquire it”). Surely our unbiased ABC did angry-nappy-baby-Trump to death during his London visit?[3]

Duffy finished his to-air piece with a smattering of vox pops — quotes from supposedly random individuals. The first two (as I recall) were Trump-negative, and then there came a couple of Trump supporters, presumably in the name of balance. The overall impression, though, at least on me, was that rational souls correctly regard Trump as “the worst president in history” (“a criminal”, “corrupt”, “incompetent”).

Careful, Duffy’s ABC. You do have a charter for impartiality. Maybe one day you’ll look it up.

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

_____________________________

[1] No longer available on iview – 7pm news pieces disappear after 3-4 days.

[2] I concede Trump mangled his script and referred to revolutionary-war “airports”. He claimed the heavy rain had shorted his teleprompter at that point.

[3] Here’s just a sampling of ABC News headlines on its myriads of baby-balloon stories:

Giant ‘Baby’ Donald Trump balloon is inflated in London
The ‘Trump Baby’ blimp is inflated in Parliament Square
‘Trump Baby’ balloon takes flight in London
Opponents of Donald Trump inflate a balloon depicting him as an orange, snarling baby
‘Trump Baby’ balloon set to take flight during July 4th
The ‘Trump Baby’ balloon dominated headlines” [how did that happen? TT]
‘Baby Trump’ balloon flies over London
A giant balloon portraying the U.S. president as a baby was flown
Activists plan giant ‘Trump Baby’ balloon
Protesters fly “Trump baby” blimp in London’s Parliament

We’re in London, as protesters prepare to fly “Trump baby” blimp…

12 comments
  • whitelaughter

    None of this surprises. And worth noting that when people tune into the Absolutely Biased Collective it is to watch shows from overseas, not the drivel they produce themselves.

  • rod.stuart

    IMHO the ABC is not getting better; it is getting worse.
    However, I have to rely on pieces such as this since I completely ignore the ABC and SBS.

  • Stephen Due

    What is the rationale for a government-funded broadcaster in this day and age? Given its small audience, comprising people who presumably want to consume its Left/Green perspective, why should the taxpayer support it? It is not just anti-Trump, but provides a seemingly endless stream of programs featuring feminism, domestic violence by men, LBGT, socialism, the environment, climate change and issues of race. It is anti-Christian, pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, and in favour of Political Correctness. I will give the ABC credit for its ongoing effort to expose human rights abuses in China. But really the ABC should be radically reformed or else privatised. User pays is a good principle in a democracy.

  • ianl

    > “The ABC’s online surveys and Roy Morgan polls show massive trust in the ABC …”

    Rail all one wishes, and there are times I feel like joining the howling, but the above quote is the reason the ABC survives as it is.

    It is not the ABC, it is a majority of the people. That most don’t watch or listen is irrelevant; it is (misplaced) national pride.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Those of us who recall World War II, if only dimly, remember when the ABC really was a class act with impeccable standards. No doubt Geoffrey Luck will know when, why and how the rot set in, but my own gut feeling is that it was the advent of television in 1956 that was the start of the rot.
    Back in the pre-TV era, we in the rural areas depended on the ABC for our news, weather forecasts, market reports, and high class entertainment, and we got it in spades. Complaints about ABC bias were never heard, and we couldn’t have cared less whether the newsreaders were photogenic as long as they pronounced the names of our country towns correctly. (One exception to the usual high quality was Jimmy Gussey’s ABC Dance Band which, in the dawn of the Rock and Roll era, was excruciatingly awful to our ears as it tried to cover the current hits. I still cringe at the memory some 60 years later.)
    But when the rot set in (Ashbolt?), the collapse of the ABC as a credible organisation was as complete as it was rapid.
    Nobody in our extended family watches the ABC anymore, and has not done so for decades.

  • Mr Johnson

    Just as well the SBS is better balanced – oh wait, there hasn’t been a pro, or even balanced, report on SBS since Trump came to power. Might as well merge them with the ABC. We’ll still get biased reporting, but at least it’ll be cheaper for the taxpayer.

  • Greg Williams

    Last year, one hundred and eighty nine employees of the ABC on executive pay-grades were awarded a total of about $2.2 million in bonuses. A further 190 non-executive employees of the same taxpayer-funded organisation were awarded bonuses totalling $385 000. This is on top of their already bloated taxpayer-funded salaries and generous superannuation schemes.

    I could understand bonuses being awarded if the ABC was making a profit, or ratings were soaring, but the reality is that the ABC does the opposite of make a profit and is actually bleeding the taxpayer dry. Its ratings, if it were a commercial organisation, would be heading it towards liquidation.

    So what are these employees of the ABC being awarded bonuses for, one might ask? It appears that it is for merely doing their job.

    The sooner this anachronistic, money-guzzling organisation is privatised, so that the hordes of Australians who supposedly love it can pay for it themselves, all the better!

  • whitelaughter

    ianl – that an inhouse survey by the ABC says what the ABC wants it to say should not surprise, and means nothing.
    If the majority of Aussies trusted the ABC, then the ABC news would get a majority of viewers. It does not; ergo, the majority of us do not trust the ABC more than the other channels (and that’s a very low bar).

  • T B LYNCH

    The Scullin Labor Government of 1929 set up the ABC to be the Voice of the Left. The ABC is performing this left propaganda mission to a tee. It is crazy trying to “reform” the ABC. Get it over with. Sell it to Getup, and let them pay for it.

  • T B LYNCH

    The ABC claim to be essential in the Bush. The Bega Valley in southern NSW was well served with news, agricultural market reports, stock reports, weather reports and forecasts etc right through the depression, WWII and the post war years, by privately owned 2BE.
    The ABC metastasised to the Bega Valey in 1960. This “Essential to the Bush” propaganda deceives even the elect, as shown by a comment above.

  • Lawriewal

    Doubting Thomas:
    You got it with:”But when the rot set in (Ashbolt?)”

    There has to be a Hell for the likes of it.

  • John Reid

    Although I agree with all of the above I would like to remind people that it applies largely to News and Current Affairs. Don’t forget that the ABC is also a major promoter of classical music with several symphony orchestras under its wing. For a classical music buff, ABC Classic FM is the best radio broadcast station of its type I have heard anywhere. No doubt in any clean-up of the ABC these will be the first to go.

Green Lunacy at the Parkville Asylum

 

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

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

They say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Routledge, Oxford, 2014.

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

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

Climate Council crestfallen

22 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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