Category Archives: Climate Unfrocked

Bullsh-t Detector at Work

‘Journalists’ Against Free Speech

A verse by W.B. Yeats has been adapted to many a polemic but should not be used lightly:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Still, the image is appropriate for our local barbarians now calling for state-sanctioned silencing of those they brand “climate deniers”. It’s sad that these people infest the ABC, academia and journalism, three institutions where democratic values and support for free inquiry should be the default positions. I’m particularly appalled by the authoritarian views last month of an ABC darling Rebecca Huntley, and a pro-censorship piece last Friday by retired Fairfax and Melbourne University journo Denis Muller.

Dr Huntley was fawned over by the ABC’s Big Ideas program last Wednesday. Her big idea was this:

And finally — in my opinion, and I say this with no trepidation whatsoever — we need to drive the Dismissive group [climate sceptics aka “denialists”] out of positions of power in our government, stop the flow of their donations into our political parties, and find smarter ways to engage with them in the media, including social media.

To be generous to Huntley, by “driving them out” she just might be urging defeat of sceptics by democratic processes and debate. But her add-on about “stopping the flow of their donations into political parties” suggests that she really wants State power to silence and crush sceptics. Where could such a precedent lead? Maybe to Prime Minister Scott Morrison legislating to ban donations to Tim Flannery’s Climate Council? To a Labor government banning donations to the Institute of Public Affairs or Pauline Hanson’s party? To the end of Australia as a free and open society? Rough beasts indeed are the censorship advocates.

I’ll deal first with Huntley’s material, then Muller’s.

Huntley’s labelled as “one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends”. She has degrees in law, film studies (first class honors) and a Gender Studies Ph.D. She’s a regular on Radio National and a one-time ABC Drive presenter. She’s also a regular for the censorship-loving Guardian. Currently she’s an adjunct senior lecturer at UNSW. Her ABC Q&A bio says, “Her law and film studies lead [sic] her to become interested in film censorship, feminism and pornography and she published in this area and was actively involved in the Sydney Film Festival and the anti-censorship lobby group Watch on Censorship.” Early this century she worked for numerous federal Labor politicians. She was on the national committee of Emily’s List and the ALP federal policy committee. She ceased ALP work in 2006 but is on the board of the Whitlam Institute. In her ABC piece she writes:

This [winning the propaganda war] will then expose those who dismiss both the science and the solutions, the denialists — who are today a minority, albeit a powerful one — as what they are: out of step with the rest of us, determined to put our collective wellbeing and our way of life at risk. We must not let their voices be the loudest in the public arena.

The ABC’s page featuring Huntley’s rant is illustrated, appropriately, with a cute girl about 6 years old brandishing a placard. It features a wicked Prime Minister Morrison hugging a slot machine, and a slogan, “Stop Gambling with our Future.” The pic is captioned, “Girl joins climate protest. We must create a chorus of different communities demanding a viable future.” The caption reeks with ambiguities. Does an early primary schooler “join” a climate protest or is she someone’s puppet? Does the 6yo, like Dr Huntley, want “denialists” de-funded?

Huntley originally delivered her thoughts last November 21 as an “Oration” for Melbourne University’s Sustainable Society Institute. The Institute’s crazed nostrums are constant entertainments for Quadrant Online. The ABC was so impressed with Huntley that it re-ran her Oration on its Big Ideas. She began,

In Australia there is now widespread public acceptance of the reality of climate change; we seem to see its effects almost hourly [as if].

But the electorate still votes for political parties with environment policies that I would call recalcitrant, and with significant groups of climate deniers in their ranks. [Dr Huntley, this system’s known as ‘democracy’].

She grades alarmists and “denialists” into six groups and discusses ways to push sub-groups towards the alarmist camp. But she concedes that the alarmists have problems of their own, which I’d call being victims of their own neuroses.

Huntley: “And we need to provide social and emotional support as many of them — many of us — struggle with feelings of grief, dread and burning anger about what’s happening to the planet and the response of many of our political leaders.” She’s a bit of a mess herself, struggling to “manage the angst that overwhelms me from time to time in the night.” (I’d recommend Temazepan soothers).

Sceptics are sceptics because they perceive that climate data doesn’t back the alarm narrative, and that climate modelling forecasts are acknowledged as junk by the IPCC itself.[i] Instead, Huntley attributes  scepticism to “world views, values, political identification, social and cultural conditioning and gender identity.” Then in a common refrain among academic hangers-on to the climate wars, she sees solutions in semantics.

She’s in two minds about hyping the language about climate, e.g. “planetary heating” rather than “climate change”. She thinks failure to use hyped terms about climate crises would be “an outright lie to the public about the scale of the threat and what’s at stake.” But the hype is a “turn-off” to disengaged and cautious people who resent politicisation, doom and gloom. Hyped terms can even drive them into resistance against her climate solutions, especially if the solutions “penalise already struggling groups in our society,” she admits.

So Huntley suggests maybe turning down the hype a bit when talking to potential converts.

We need to find a way to convince the Cautious that urgent action is necessary. This, very difficultly, often requires language that isn’t fraught with tones of crisis.

Her solution is the same as that pushed by the climate crowd everywhere now: to mask their actual anti-capitalism agenda with motherhood stuff like “the desire for secure work, safe neighbourhoods, a good standard of living, security and happiness — whatever that might look like for different groups of people.”

Huntley describes her own Damascene conversion to zealotry like this:

In December 2018 I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee and turned on the TV. I saw hundreds of teenagers skipping school and protesting in the streets about climate change, with handmade signs that spanned from the serious and angry to the humorous and profane.

‘There are no jobs on a dead planet. ‘You’re burning our future.’ And my favourite: ‘Why should we go to the school if you won’t listen to the educated?’”

In her innocence, Huntley doesn’t know these signs are templates provided to kids by Get-Up and the adult-run Youth Climate Coalition.

As I sat sipping my coffee, I thought to myself, “Good on those kids telling the powers that be, the older generation, that they need to do more about climate change.

And then it hit me. At almost 50 years of age, I am part of that older generation, part of that generation with a platform and a voice some of these young people don’t have yet.

It was as if those teenagers were speaking to me. In that moment something shifted inside me, a sensation hard to describe and yet I can recall it now with clarity. It actually felt physical. [Readers, refrain from speculation]. I felt like they were telling me to do something.

And so I made a decision at that moment to put climate change at the heart of everything I do: in my work, as a parent, as a consumer, as a citizen.

It’s a factor in every decision I make about the research jobs I will accept, about the energy that I will have in my house, about the transport that I will take, about the food that I will eat and about where I will invest my superannuation…

That I can make a contribution to this movement, probably the most important in our history, is such a relief to me and helps me manage the angst that overwhelms me from time to time in the night.”

Good luck with all that, Dr Huntley. But first I suggest you read IPCC reports, rather than the “ICCP” ones you mention.[ii] Second, I hope you’ve backed up your fridge with a diesel generator in the garage – green electricity is prone to blackouts.

Now for media expert Dr Denis Muller, who lusts for censorship of deniers. He’s an Honorary Fellow at Melbourne University’s so-called Centre for Advancing Journalism,[iii] after a career with Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, where he became an associate editor. His 2006 PhD was on media ethics and accountability. In the university and taxpayer-funded Conversation last week, he demanded that the media follow suit with the Guardian and The Conversation and suppress sceptic views about the climate. “Media acquiescence in climate change denial, failure to follow the weight of evidence, or continued adherence to an out-of-date standard of impartiality looks like culpable irresponsibility,” he wrote.

Muller continued that climate change “is not an issue like any other. It is existential on a scale surpassing even nuclear war.”

Stop there, Denis. Nuclear war can be depicted as follows. The nine nuclear powers today have about 14,000 nuclear warheads. Of these, 3750 are deployed ready for action. Many are of 1-5 million tonnes of TNT-equivalent. Allow one warhead for each Australian capital and there’s still 3745 warheads available to pulverise the world’s other cities. The Hiroshima bomb was only 13,000 tonnes of TNT-equivalent. In 1976 I interviewed a survivor in a Hiroshima hospital whose fellow 20,000 schoolgirls died in the blast. Here’s some advice, Denis. Climate change doesn’t compare with nuclear war. Please grow up.

Alas, Muller’s track record doesn’t indicate he’ll grow up any time soon. For a start, he has a bad case of Murdoch Derangement Syndrome. Last May, days before the federal election, he started a piece for The Conversation: “There is mounting evidence that Australia is sick of Rupert Murdoch and the political propaganda machine he runs in the guise of a news organisation.” He quoted favourably a US correspondent, Richard Cooke of The Monthly, “arguing that News Corp represents a grave threat to democracy.” Cooke opined, “It isn’t a normal news organisation any longer… It is the unhinged propaganda outfit that is central to the identity of the company. It is the core that is lunatic, not the fringe.” Muller concluded, “at some level, democratic societies have had enough of Murdoch and his propaganda operation masquerading as a news service.” The only fly in Muller’s Murdoch ointment is the readership data. The Australian’s print readership fell 4 per cent year-on-year to last September, but the leftist Age was down 17 per cent and Sydney Morning Herald was down 22 per cent.

Four days after Muller’s team lost the federal election, he was using The Conversation again to say the result showed “the media need better regulation.” He wrote, and please note his weird conclusion on Labor’s coal-based Queensland disaster:

News Corp’s unconstrained anti-Labor bias cannot account entirely for Labor’s disastrous showing, but common sense says it accounts for some. For example, the company has a daily newspaper monopoly in Brisbane through The Courier-Mail. It was virulently anti-Labor and Labor did astonishingly badly in Queensland. Coincidence? Possibly, but unlikely.

If Australia had a half-decent system of media accountability, there would be a public inquiry into the increasing polarisation of Australian newspapers and into the conduct of Sky [TV] at night.

Now let’s get on to his piece last week advocating climate censorship. The heading was Media ‘impartiality’ on climate change is ethically misguided and downright dangerous.”

Muller began by lauding The Conversation’s “zero-tolerance” from last September to so-called “deniers”, with their comments blocked and accounts locked. The site’s editor Misha Ketchell, ex-Age and Crikey, provided what Muller called a “succinct” rationale: “Climate change deniers and those shamelessly peddling pseudoscience and misinformation are perpetuating ideas that will ultimately destroy the planet.” Muller continued

From the standpoint of conventional media ethics, it was a dramatic, even shocking, decision. It seemed to violate journalism’s principle of impartiality—that all sides of a story should be told so audiences could make up their own minds. But in the era of climate change, this conventional approach is out of date. A more analytical [euphemism alert] approach is called for.

He ran through the policies of the ABC, Nine (ex-Fairfax), Guardian and Murdoch press on climate reporting, saying their common element was against publishing false or misleading material. The Guardian, he says, has an outright ban on “climate change denialism”. This denialism is harmful to the planet and to planet-saving initiatives that (by the way) involve “fundamental societal change”. Muller justifies his disdain for impartiality because editors have a duty to prevent the harm that sceptics cause. This outweighs, or somehow doesn’t violate, “free speech principles”.

Muller does feel a need to demonstrate what “harms” are created by so-called denialism. On the planetary level, he cites last year’s IPCC special report forecasting that another half-degree of warming by 2030 to 2052 is likely if we don’t reduce emissions. But he doesn’t say what harm this would do, given that the past century’s 1degC of warming has brought undreamt-of human health and progress. Instead he quotes a farcical climate-and-health statement last June by the Left-lobbyist Australian College of General Practitioners. Again, this involves just a forecast of deaths and disasters to come. Muller doesn’t cite the GPs on any harms from present warmth and their claim about current declining agricultural yields is false on a global scale.[iv]

Muller quotes them:

Projected changes in Australia’s climate would result in more frequent and widespread heatwaves and extreme heat. This would increase the risks of heat stress, heat stroke, dehydration and mortality, contribute to acute cerebrovascular accidents, and aggravate chronic respiratory, cardiac and kidney conditions and psychiatric illness.

But who knows if the “projected climate changes” will occur?

This dire futurism comprises what, to Muller, is “overwhelming scientific evidence.” Case closed – censoring sceptics is the smart and ethical thing to do, he concludes. Muller is upset that external scrutineers don’t give guidance to the media on climate censorship. These bodies include the Press Council, ACMA[v] and the journos’ union MEAA. He calls on them, in the interests of the profession and public, to develop climate reporting standards and guidance – obviously not leaning towards open debate. Imagine what the Labor-affiliated MEAA could come up with.

We get a laugh about post-war censorship panels which banned Australians from reading sexy or radical authors. Yet how much more laughable – or horrifying – are the would-be censors of minority views against alleged climate perils. They are everywhere now – 350 media groups have signed on to incessant climate hype. Do these would-be censors believe in a democratic society? Or what sort of society do they indeed want?

Footnote:  The would-be censors never specify what it is that “deniers” deny. “They deny the science,” these people claim, unaware or ignoring that “the science” includes annually many hundreds of peer reviewed studies favouring the sceptic case (last year, more than 440).

To help censors refine their abuse, I’d say the informed “deniers” deny that current warming is necessarily human-caused. They deny that IPCC climate models are fit to forecast 4degC warming by 2100, given the models’ well-known and admitted flaws and fudges covering unknowns such as cloud impacts and changes in solar output. “Deniers” also assert, based on many authoritative and peer-reviewed studies, that climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling in the atmosphere is at or below the low end of the IPCC range of 1.5 to 4.5degC.[vi] And they assert that a further degree or somewhat more of warming (if it actually occurs) would probably be net beneficial to humanity – think Canadians and Siberians — just as the past century’s 1degC of warming has massively helped farmers to feed what is now nearly eight billion people while greening the planet and rolling back the deserts. Doubt that? Go check with NASA.

Tony Thomas’s hilarious history, 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

 

[i] IPCC 2001 Report: In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. (Chapter 14, Section 14.2.2.2. )]

[ii] “This transformative moment, the moment I tipped from concerned to genuinely alarmed, didn’t happen because I read an ICCP report…” As distinct from ICCP, CCCP stands for союз советских социалистических республик, or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

[iii] The Centre for “Advancing” Journalism also houses lecturer/journo Jo Chandler, another disrespecter of impartiality: “We are now beginning to think as an industry about how we gear up and re-gear our newsrooms to get past the structural problem we have had in the past covering this [climate]…It is THE story, it must be at the core of every part of the news desk and news agenda and the way we consider stories, the way we structure our stories and roll them out…There’s been substantial rethinking within journalism on how we do a better job, and The Guardian’s enunciation of changing the language to ‘global heating’ and ‘climate emergency’, following the science in that regard, has helped lead the way on that.” Etc.

[iv] Worldwide wheat and maize production is expected to increase in 2019, while that for rice to dip below the previous year’s record. On the consumption side, per capita food use of all three cereals is forecast to keep pace and even exceed population growth, according to FAO.

[v] Australian Communications and Media Authority

[vi] # Basically, the paper concludes that the amount of surface and deep-ocean warming that has occurred since the mid- to late-1800s is consistent with low equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) to an assumed doubling of atmospheric CO2. They get a median estimate of 1.66 deg. C (1.50 deg. C without uncertain infilled Arctic data), which is only about half of the average of the IPCC climate models. It is just within the oft-quoted range of 1.5 to 4.5 deg. C that the IPCC has high confidence ECS should occupy.

“The published Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity-values of the CMIP6 [IPCC] models have a mean above 4 K (see this recent paper) that is higher by a factor of 2.4  This growing discrepancy between observed values of ECS reduces the credibility of the high model estimates.”

What a Piece of Work is Mann

The year 2020 has hardly started and already Michael “HockeyStick” Mann has won an award.[i] It’s from the 13,000-member American Meteorological Society (AMS), headed by president Dr Jenni Evans of Penn State University. Mann has accreted more medals than a North Korean general, so he may be a bit blasé about this latest honor. The token award hardly compares with the $US100,000 he got with his Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement last year.

About 55 other parties also won AMS awards for 2020. For example, one award was for research into aircraft turbulence and another for “development of meteorological standards for the nuclear industry”.

Mann, who works at Penn State University, was honored in the category of story books for school kids.  He co-authored “The TANTRUM that SAVED the WORLD”,  with Australian-born illustrator Megan Herbert, who once helped TV scripting of Neighbours. Their target market starts with four-year-olds and goes all the way up to eight-year-olds. The AMS claims the book “engages readers with empathy and compassion and empowers them to help save animals and people from the threat of climate change.” In other words,  by dimming lights and riding bikes, local kids can cancel out China’s planned addition of one coal-fired power plant per fortnight during the next decade.

Mann has expertise on tantrums. In 2012 he accused his climate foes of defaming a Nobel Laureate (himself), overlooking that he wasn’t a Nobel Peace Prize winner, let alone a Nobel Laureate.[ii]

The Tantrum book, published in late 2017, pre-dates little Greta Thunberg’s rise to guru-hood among climate alarmists. Yet its narrative arc is just like Greta’s. It features a young “Sophia”, whose home is besieged by animal and human climate refugees, led by a polar bear (you guessed it) who has run out of ice floes, a Kiribati family whose house has wound up underwater (as if), and a Syrian farmer who is an alleged victim not of ISIS head-loppers and girl-slavers but of  global warming. Sophia is drawn several times with a scowl only Greta Thunberg can match. And she has Greta’s ability to be venerated by adults for no discernible reason.

The clever animals paint posters in her house amid climate refugees, one wearing a hijab. The refugees wave slogans: “There is no Planet B” and  “Protect What You Love”. For some reason a climate-fleeing Bengal tiger is treated as dangerous but the polar bear isn’t.  Sophia’s revelation, in dismal doggerel, runs:

How would she feel if her land were depleted?
      Her food disappeared? Her home overheated?
            And what was to say that she wouldn’t be next?
                  She’d already noticed weird weather effects

So she leads a convoy to protest at City Hall about CO2 emissions. City bigwigs ignore her until she “kicks off a tantrum to save the whole world”, wielding her banner “Action Now!” Millions take up her message worldwide:

And there was Sophia, a MINIATURE furore,
Telling the multitudes how they could do more.
Cooperative action could turn this high tide.
They had strength in numbers and right on their side.

Co-author Megan Herbert mentions turning her research “into sparkling prose” but the above quatrains have the sparkle of a dead warthog.

The book’s last panel shows Sophia being put through on the phone to a US President (not, I assume, President Trump), much like Greta browbeats UN and EC leaders. The end-notes (described as “meticulously researched and peer-reviewed”) are a litany of porkies, ranging from the grand dying-polar-bear fiction to a claim that the Syrian civil war, allegedly caused by global warming, has led to “millions of climate refugees seeking safety elsewhere.” [iii]

The Tantrum book’s morass of pap and crap has hauled in further prizes and citations. The book’s blurb boasts that last year it won a  Moonbeam Award for “exemplary children’s books”. I checked this with some difficulty. It turns out that the Moonbeam mob crowned no fewer than 159 kids’ books and e-books with prizes. Mann’s  effort featured 116th on the list. It came in third with a Bronze Medal in the Environmental Issues category,  behind a book about a jaguar (Gold) and a seal (Silver). Other winning Moonbeam books included “F is for Feminist” which won gold in the category Mind-Body-Spirit/Self Esteem. Written “for feminists of all ages” , the cover depicts a feminist who is aged about four.

Mann has lately been on sabbatical in Australia, of all places. A fortnight ago Reuters quoted him thus:

“It is conceivable that much of Australia simply becomes too hot and dry for human habitation,” said Mann.

“In that case, yes, unfortunately we could well see Australians join the ranks of the world’s climate refugees.”

Climate refugees, or environmental migrants, are people forced to abandon their homes due to change in climate patterns or extreme weather events.

 “It’s possible to grow the economy, create jobs, and preserve the environment at the same time. These are things that all Australians could embrace,” Mann said.

They just need a government that’s willing to act on their behalf rather than on behalf of a handful of coal barons.

As blogger Eric Worrall points out, Australia’s climate refugees have actually been southerners fleeing to sunny Queensland to escape their grey skies and obscene power bills.

Mann’s further absurdities include the assertion that beyond a mere 0.5degC more warming

things start to look quite bad on planet Earth. We bid goodbye to the world’s coral reefs, see massive inundation of many of our most populated coastal cities displacing millions, and must withstand ever more extreme and damaging superstorms, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires.

To avert this Brueghel-like hell-scene nothing less than a “world-war type mobilization” will suffice to combat fossil fuels, he opined last July. Two months later he was challenged (with five other colleagues) to a New York debate with three sceptic scientists David Legates, Willie Soon and Patrick Michaels. His response:

All of the noise right now from the climate change denial machine, the bots & trolls, the calls for fake “debates,” etc. Ignore it all. Deniers are desperate for oxygen in a mainstream media environment that is thankfully is no longer giving it to them. Report. block. Don’t engage.[iv]

Mann makes about 500 media appearances a year, spouting guff like that. (His opposite numbers on the sceptic side would be lucky to get ten chances a year to inject some sanity). Mann’s media fame then translates into prizes, medals and awards for climate communication.[v] In 2018, Mann won  the Climate Communication Prize from the American Geophysical Union (a token $US1000), which mentioned his Tantrum book among the accolades. The prize started in 2011 to promote “the importance of promoting scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding of science-based values as they relate to the implications of climate change.”

Earlier in 2018, he won the $US5000 Public Engagement with Science Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and in 2017 he collected the $US15,000 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. And there was another award from the Geoscience Teachers’ Association.

Mann likes to be portrayed as a plucky underdog battling detractors financed by “coal barons” and suchlike. He has bravely testified to Congress, “knowing that such appearances will bring him under withering, partisan-fuelled attacks.” (Sceptic scientists like Judith Curry and Roy Spencer give testimony there without preening as martyrs). Mann’s AGU citation called him

an unflinching and courageous defender of the principles of free and open scientific investigation and the urgency of combating misinformation with the scientific facts of climate change. He has done so at great personal cost, persevering through terrifying death threats, organized smear campaigns, and protracted lawsuits.

Wait! Stop it there! The reality is that the well-funded Mann himself launched the “protracted lawsuits” against critics Dr Tim Ball and Mark Steyn and National Review nine years ago. Mann ever since has bounced the cases around the North American legal system at million-dollar legal costs and untold stress to Ball and Steyn. Ball last year finally won in court when Mann missed deadlines for promised production of his climate data. The case against Steyn (who is counter-suing) lingers unresolved.  It’s all looking similar to the Jarndyce & Jarndyce lawsuit in Dickens’ Bleak House.

Mann likes to claim his critics are paid liars or worse. When he tried this on conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in 2014, Bolt threatened to sue and Mann made a grudging backdown. Undeterred, Mann last October tweeted that another of his critics, statistician Steve McIntyre, was “a professional liar/denier-for-hire” and Mann again had to immediately tone down  the libellous imputations through another tweet.

Whatever other praise Mann might merit,  if any, it’s not for defending “free and open” scientific debate on climate. In advocacy against fossil fuel emissions, Mann stands at the pinnacle, worldwide. Warmists should remember, you are judged by the company you keep.

Tony Thomas’s hilarious history, 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

 

[i] Mann’s now-disparaged “Hockey Stick” reconstruction of 1000-year past temperatures gave the warming scare a kick-along in the IPCC 2001 report. Mann’s graph also managed to erase the Medieval Warming and the recent Little Ice Age. Steyn published a  book, “A Disgrace to the Profession” , comprising nothing but rejections of Mann’s research and methods by Mann’s own warmist colleagues.

[ii] Mann in 2012 filed suit against conservative columnist Mark Steyn and others. “It is one thing to engage in discussion about debatable topics,” Mann’s attorneys wrote in his complaint. “It is quite another to attempt to discredit consistently validated scientific research through the professional and personal defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.”

[iii] “With the polar bear’s survival at risk as a result of climate change, it was declared a threatened species by the US  in 2008…We can still save the polar bear  if we reduce our use of fossil fuels sufficiently.” The reality is that polar bear populations have quadrupled since 2011 notwithstanding rising emissions.

[iv] Mann did take part in a climate debate a year earlier, at the University of Charleston.

[v] The mutual back-scratching involved with climate prizes is documented here

How Green Zealots Take Over Councils

It was a solemn moment at the Preston Town Hall (Vic.) on October 26, 2018, as Darebin Council raised the Intersex flag for Intersex Awareness Day.[1] Councils don’t come more woke than Darebin, which includes Melbourne’s green-hued northern suburbs of Northcote, Preston, Thornbury and Fairfield. It was an even more solemn day on December 5, 2016, when Darebin became the world’s first council to declare a “Climate Emergency”. Since then about 85 Australian councils have rung out their own “emergency”  declarations, plus 1300 worldwide, including New York and London. In the UK some 60 per cent of councils have declared an Emergency. The Australian numbers are astounding.  Nearly 7.4 million — roughly 30 per cent of the population — are covered by councils’ declarations.

You’ve probably never heard of Bryony Edwards (left) but she inspired Darebin which then inspired the (Western) world. She and long-time colleague and partner Adrian Whitehead now run a body called CACE – Council Action in the Climate Emergency– to help councils and agitators follow through on their declarations with supposed planet-saving action. (To hear Ms Edwards and other Darebin councilors and lobbyists detail in their own words how easy it is to get elected and what to do when seated, go here. The embedded audio files are most instructive.)

Ms Edwards has campaigned on climate since she was nine, when she “began stuffing rubbish up car tail pipes to reduce pollution.”   Greens are not radical enough , so she seeks a far-reaching social transformation towards zero economic and population growth. Victoria, she urges, should go onto a war footing for zero emissions by 2028.[2] Her bold goal is to restore the globe’s temperature to pre-industrial levels, i.e. back to the Little Ice Age, to avert ecological and social collapse.[3] Her credo: “Business as usual ceases and action is taken as though the house is on fire.”

Australia’s average Joe or Mary think the council declarations are just harmless virtue signalling. Not on your nelly! Climate zealots, rebuffed in their state and federal ambitions, are targeting councils as the easily penetrated underbelly of Australian politics. It’s not hard for determined agitators to convert or elect a couple of councillors, take over the council and then redirect its spare staff, funds and powers to economy- and environment-wrecking green ends.

Consider, for example, the recent bushfires and the fuel loads that made them unstoppable. When criticised for local government restrictions on land-clearing, tree-lopping and hazard-reduction burns, the standard response has been to assert that greenish sorts are always the minority and don’t set or dominate town hall debates and policies. Well they don’t need to, as there are other ways and devious methods of exerting control and imposing Gaia’s perceived will on ratepayers.

Smart folks could dismiss all this as typical climate-sceptic tripe. Except that CACE web-publishes openly its instruction manuals for  council takeovers. We have been warned.

The game plan is first to purge the council of backsliding staff from the CEO down, stack positions with fellow-zealots, divert discretionary funds to climate warfare, and turn the council into a climate campaign tool against state and federal governments. Sophisticated? The methods are state of the art. Right now they are busy reframing the very English language to reflect their climate manias.

In the words of Darebin Council’s Sally Moxham, “By declaring the Emergency we [Darebin] are past individual appeals like recycling bins and individual action. We are now acting more like a not-for-profit or non-government-organisation to say to residents, ‘it not just about riding bikes, we want you to mobilise and mobilise now’.” Moxham is Manager, Climate Emergency and Sustainable Transport, and runs 30 staffThey don’t come cheap to ratepayers – she advertised for a climate coordinator last June on a $120,000 package.

Darebin was a plaything of Labor Party factional warlords till 2016. For example, in 2014 in the middle of a State Ombudsman’s inquiry into misuse of council funds, dodgy planning issues and conflicts of interest,  the councillors upped the pay of their chief executive to $400,000, second only to the CEO of Melbourne City Council ($420,000). Soon after, the CEO resigned (effective immediately) to enjoy more family time  and “pursue other opportunities”.[4]

Once a battlers’ province, Darebin homes at mid-2018 were fetching $358,000 above the state average, as incoming government workers and bourgeoisie forced out the ethnic manual workers and their offspring.[5] The arrivistes in 2016 helped elect the current council of four Independents, three Greens, and two Labor, who run a $185-million budget and 770 staff for Darebin’s 160,000 population.[6] [7] These days Darebin takes governance seriously and practices good transparency.

The most overtly woke councillor is deputy mayor Susanne Newton, a Green who enjoys “driving the courageous decisions that reflect the progressive community” such as the Climate Emergency and the Australia Day “Change the Date” flim-flam.

Darebin in 2017 got an Emergency motion adopted at the high ground of the Victorian Municipal Association’s  state council. This decree says that warming threatens humans, civilisation and all species, requiring “the restructuring of the physical economy at the necessary scale and speed.” And “the MAV has a particular role in assisting local governments in this regard.”

Darebin’s Moxham spoke at a Melbourne University Sustainable Society seminar for climate cultists last month, under the banner of crazed teen Greta Thunberg. (I’ve already written up two of the other speakers hereand here). Moxham told of Darebin planning against climate-imminent food insecurity, homelessness, and a need for safe havens against heatwaves. “Every day we will see that, we are already seeing that,” she said, hyperbolically. She described as “fabulous” the recent school-kid climate strikers and mushrooming action groups. “We see our council as an enabler and supporter and say, ‘this is what we would like you to start doing to lobby the state government’.

“The council also wants to work through an emerging organisation called Climate Emergency Australia for mobilisation and empowerment.”[8]

After declaring its “emergency”, Darebin received advice from a UK-based think tank, PIRC, on effective language to use with ratepayers to “empower” them, rather than alienate them. “We are not in an Emergency at Darebin but we want to get there in a way that will be supported without the risk of political failure. So yeah, watch this space,” she said.

I noticed that she was due to speak with Darebin’s mayor to a Lord Mayors’ Climate Emergency Round Table in Darwin two days later, and assumed the flights would put out a lot of emissions. But on checking I found they had given their speeches from Melbourne by Skype. Good work, girls.[9]

Once a council declares an emergency, CACE provides a template for a Vyshinsky-style purge of staff backsliders, starting with the CEO. Only fealty to CACE’s wildest climate fantasies can save the CEO’s hide. A separate purge expels wayward  contractors, banks and insurers: “Simply put, your council should boycott any company profiteering from global warming.”  The most hated is consultant GHD International, with 10,000 staff, for its work for Adani coal.

CACE is incensed by council CEOs and managers who dilute the green agenda.

Many organisations have filled climate emergency roles with staff or CEOs who immediately pull back from the strong messages and programs they were employed to implement, and instead adopt soft messaging, a more limited scope and weak goals and targets. If this occurs these staff should be removed from their positions… 

 …It would be difficult if not impossible to implement a climate emergency response if the CEO is a climate sceptic, a denier, opposes cultural change or is apathetic about this issue. Perhaps you need a new CEO?

Hence the CEO should be hauled in (I assume under a 500-watt lamp) to be asked

# are you a climate sceptic or denier?

# do you view a climate emergency response as merely a hindrance to council’s normal business?

# do you understand the threat climate change poses to our world, our country, our community, themselves and your family?

# do you understand the role of councils in getting action by higher levels of government?

# are you willing to change normal business practice  to implement an emergency response?

# will you be able to manage, motivate and inspire cultural and operational change within the organisation focused on climate emergency action?

I must say Darebin’s top brass would fail the interrogation. Their latest annual report has just a few lines on the council’s purported emergency, to do with a couple of conferences or webinars and hosting a dinner for 80 climate careerists.

CACE wants to deal a similar harsh fate to a CEO’s wayward subordinates.

If senior management do not respond or support the processes, the councillors will have to deal with the  inaction through their CEO and through the development of specific work plans that detail action and can be linked to KPIs [in executive contracts] and performance assessments, or those particular staff  can be replaced.

To further galvanise laggards, voluntary community activists (think Extinction Rebellion types) can be inserted into the councils’ back offices. In CACE’s words,

However, you may require a significant cultural shift in the way your council works for this to be effective, and as a minimum an openness by staff to work in a collegiate fashion with community members … Council staff may have to under gone [sic] some culture change training to be able to use and work with an expert advisory committee effectively… 

Unfortunately the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars [eh?] by the carbon industries in discrediting climate science and in lobbying our politicians has succeeded in creating public confusion and misinformation about global warming.

For example, 40 per cent of the public don’t believe in human-forced climate change – and some of these people will be your staff.  The majority of staff, managers and councillors will believe in human-forced climate change but their understanding of its current, near and longer term impacts will be clouded by the confusion that has been created.

To re-educate the laggards, CACE urges cultural sessions run by catastrophe speakers such as Beyond Zero Emissions types and David Spratt  (author of an absurd polemic  Climate Code Red). These influencers will explain why we have no time left to delay action to “reverse global warming”. As for councillors, at each meeting the Mayor has to “treat the climate emergency response as the first order of business”.[10] This procedural template applies also to managers and minor team meetings.

Once in power at the town hall, the zealots will demand that

a council focus all spare resources, seek additional resources, mobilise community resources and review existing programs to free up resources to respond to the climate emergency.

You will need to answer questions like, ‘Do you build a $2.5 million bridge to provide an off-road crossing of a local creek, or do you build a well-resourced community education team? Can you halt a major retrofit of a sporting venue for 10 years? Is that playground really so out of date that it needs to be replaced? Are there other programs that can be cut or redirected to a climate emergency? These are the sort of decisions you will need to make with your limited budgets. 

The council will need to find funding for range of needs, including additional [climate] staff, staff training, community outreach and education, engagement with other councils and state and federal government, measures to reduce a council’s own emissions, and practical community programs in the areas of mitigation and resilience. 

A climate emergency response will feel hollow without a range of flagship practical programs implemented by council but the most important element of the response is still the role a council can play leading the climate emergency response by undertaking a full mobilisation and the education of your community around the importance of emergency action and what role each level of government can play…

Fundamentally, everything would change – rates, roads, rubbish, planning, greenspace, verge plantings etc.

Rates will be diverted to $100,000-style job sinecures for Extinction Rebellion-type activists and advisory councils, i.e.

Your current staff and managers may not have the ability, experience or drive to do this [Emergency response].If this is the case, you can consider employing additional staff to support an existing team, or find new leadership within or outside of your organisation who are up to the challenge…

CACE is concerned to keep out of councils any luke-warmists:

Unfortunately the current pool of experienced climate emergency campaigners is very limited and many potential candidates will have background in opposing emergency action or supporting suicidal goals and targets [i.e. weak emission targets]. Hence the selection of any new staff would  need to include an assessment of their understanding of the why and the what of the climate emergency and their willingness to implement a full climate emergency mobilisation by council and a commitment to emergency framing.

The role of commissars from the zealots’ central committee  includes “engaging other council staff” to promote “deep understanding of global warming and the solutions needed to return to a safe climate.” (Presumably, by council bureaucrats dictating emission cuts to China’s Xi Jinping).

CACE lets the politics cat out of the bag by disclosing (after all its hype about local green actions), “Remember the priorities should be to facilitate upwards action to drive emergency action” by higher levels of government. Local mitigation and resilience activities “support this but are not the number one priority.”

CACE outlines in stunning detail the techniques to install a majority of “Climate Emergency” candidates into a council. It has a clear-eyed view of the corrupt nature of council elections, replete with fake and dummy candidates, party hacks posing as independents, and candidates pretending to climate orthodoxy. It advises how its workers should interact with each such group.

Local activists learn the dark arts of persuasiveness-plus-pressure to convert existing councillors or get non-conformists replaced. For example, if a councillor is religious, the warming screed should be couched in terms of “protecting God’s creation”. Depending where they live on the east coast, they can be warned of the climate destruction of the Barrier Reef, northern mangroves or southern kelp forests.

Special tricks include that if a councillor or would-be councillor agrees to the Emergency agenda, the activist will immediately photograph him/her holding up an A4-sized pledge – locking the person in to impossibilities like net zero CO2 emissions by 2025. “If they refuse to sign, perhaps arguing that it’s not a council’s business, you can use that against them at election time”, mobilising pals to hit them with a barrage of complaints and petitions and “naming and shaming” them in the local press.

Come at them sideways. Perhaps you are good friends with a Councillor’s husband or wife or a member of their family or one of their good friends or business partners. Try and convince these people about the Climate Emergency and the role councils can play and ask them to talk to the Councillor.

Schools should also be used for posters and banners, which says something about teachers’ complicity.

A council resolutely refusing to go along with the “Emergency” should have its meetings swarmed with red-clad activists from Extinction Rebellion. CACE also recommends using kids to shame councillors about the kids’ (adult-promoted) climate fears. CACE also recommends using the threat of climate lawfare against climate-recalcitrant councillors.

On alliances, CACE warns they can be damaged by people with “toxic personalities” – possibly themselves, they concede, and/or spies. Activists should link up with other wholesome groups like those trying “to shut down the local aluminium smelter” and agitators against “diary (sic) farmers” over cattle emissions.

CACE’s vision of our future is worth noting.  It’s confident that warming will lead soon to “a simultaneous collapse of multiple food production areas around the world,  a “multi-breadbasket failure” leading to a global food crisis.” Food prices skyrocket, millions starve or become climate refugees, “numerous countries” will declare martial law and even extreme food rationing will not prevent their collapse.[11]

The Intersex Flag flies proudly in Darebin.

Councils should therefore maximise local food growing. They should “encourage residents to have an emergency food supply of at least one month up to a year”. Councils “in the short term” must reshuffle surplus food into relief programs for the hungry poor. But since the global breadbasket failure will eliminate food surpluses, the hungry poor shouldn’t have high expectations of council-provided sustenance.

CACE says, “Councils should identify mechanisms and locations for controlled distribution of food rations during an extreme national or global food crisis, assuming food is made available by higher levels of government.”

Councils will splurge  ratepayer funds on “immediate and massive” expansion of community and kitchen gardens, and disability-friendly backyard crops for the disadvantaged.

Hapless developers will be told that subdivided blocks must be big enough for a food garden per house or unit. Presumably they will price-in the cost.

Councils should also do contingency planning to stockpile garden tools, soil and seeds, and blue-pencil  useful land   for   food production. Golf courses are suitable, being already cleared, fertilised, watered and flattish. They beat hands-down vacant but polluted land like industrial estates laid waste by CACE’s parallel anti-business policies.

Other changes to your lifestyle coming down the council turnpike include

# Junking your gas appliances “at emergency speed”. I didn’t know gas emissions were worse emitters than electricity but CACE tells councils to use anti-gas subsidies and sanctions. “Councils can seek to ban gas from new building developments or major home retrofits. Darebin Council is creating a new brown field development which is gas free.”

# Stop eating sausages and chook and switch to brussels sprouts and tofu, with councils offering vegan-only catering.

Animal agriculture is a massive contributor to global warming and the ecological emergency.  Changing you (sic) diet by eating less meat and high emission foods particularly beef, lamb and dairy is an instant way to lower your personal emissions. Councils have responded by creating a local meat free day, educating people about the nutritional benefits of eating less meat, banning meat within council for functions etc. or encouraging home food growing, community gardens or school gardens.

# Drop off your car at the scrap yard and either buy a Prius or walk and catch buses. “City centres could be closed to vehicles or restricted to low or preferably zero emissions options. For example, Munich has had a low emissions zone in its city centre since 2008, similar model [sic] could require zero emissions.

The Emergency councillors’ ambitions extend to supporting Extinction Rebellion to organise “a Citizens’ Assembly” as “a great tool for mobilising the community and advocating up to higher levels of government.” So much for parliaments. (Boris Johnson’s UK government has agreed to the demand by Extinction Rebellion for such an assembly, notwithstanding that UK anti-terror police had listed ER as an extremist group).

Another local brainwave:

Get a sitting MP/representative to introduce or support the passing of a Climate Emergency and Mobilisation Act, requiring [the MP] to become an independent if necessary. There can be carrots in the conversation but big sticks are key. They’ve seen the crowds and the public sentiments: they will be nervous with a strong campaign in their electorate.

At federal level, Prime Minister Morrison’s team aren’t folding. Responding to a ludicrous suggestion this month to declare a national climate emergency, environment minister Sussan Ley declined, saying councils ought to stick to rubbish recycling and “practical action they can address locally”.

How much of the rabid CACE agenda will be implemented by our “Emergency” councils? Who knows, but as Sally Moxham of Darebin says, “Watch this space.”

Tony Thomas’s hilarious history, 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] The Intersex flag (below) “is not derivative, but is yet firmly grounded in meaning”. The circle is described as “unbroken and unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolises the right to be who and how we want to be.”[1]

[2] One city council, Georgetown in Texas, achieved global eclat via Al Gore with its transition to 100% renewable electricity. But its fixed-price contracts for wind and solar uptake have become a multi-million disasterfor the citizenry and the mayor is trying to sue his way out of the losses.

 

[3]  Her 2019 federal election blurb said she was standing to avert sea level rise, firestorms, and droughts by zero emissions and drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere.

[4] Current pay of CEO Sue Wilkinson is about $350,000.

[5] A curiosity is that Darebin adults lose an average $1000 a year on pokies.

[6] The Greens put three members onto the council in 2016 after a united front where Greens candidates preferenced their team leaders ahead even of themselves. As one candidate explained, “We’re running as a party, not a group of individuals.”

[7] Darebin also has more than 6% LGBTIs and 1200 residents identifying as Aboriginals.

[8] There’s a Climate Emergency Australia here which may be the group Moxham refers to, and which promotes the usual fearful blather.

[9] Darebin last year demanded that governments in Australia achieve zero emissions by 2030. This would require the equivalent of more than eight nuclear power plants of Hazelwood capacity being installed per annum.

[10] I wonder if the Climate Emergency Acknowledgement takes precedence over the Aboriginal-friendly “Acknowledgement of Country.” This would make a good discussion on the ABC’s The Drum.

[11] CACE overlooks the detail that after 1degC of warming in the past century, the globe’s population enjoys its greatest-ever level of health, foods, leisure and longevity, and crop yields continue to climb.

3 comments
  • Doubting Thomas

    Ouch!

  • PT

    I wonder if Ian Mac will read this? He’s the one who keeps telling us the greenies have now power as they get less than 10% of the vote!

  • Doubting Thomas

    I think that these councils must be operating with the consent, if not the active support, of their State governments. Surely the employment practices of Green councillors in stacking their staff with like-minded zealots must infringe employment laws. Of course, this will never attract the attention of left-wing Unions, the zealously Green media, or the ALP.
    We’re doomed.

Addled in Aotearoa: Those Climate-Crazed Kiwis

Here’s a conundrum: is New Zealand even more bonkers about climate change than the South Australia or Melbourne University? I fact-checked the question at cruise-ship ports while on a recent voyage about the Shaky Isles.

New Zealand runs 27 million sheep and six million dairy cows. Perversely, the curators at Wellington’s Te Papa, the country’s national museum, are urging kids to go without meat  and/or dairy products three days a week, and to sit in the dark one night a week. In these ways the kids will halt the rising seas of global scorching in 2100.

I arrived at Te Papa at the end of my cruise: my odyssey started at Dunedin’s Public Art Gallery. The nonsense there and at Wellington’s City Gallery was a warm-up for Te Papa’s revelations.

Dunedin’s gallery has been taken over by creatures from the queer-green-Left-Scot push. I had imagined Scot males to be hardy and hairy-legged. However, I’d just missed a Dunedin lecture imported from a Massey University conference, which in turn drew on works from the National Galleries of Scotland. This conference was titled: “Millennium Masculinities: Queers, Pimp Daddies and Lumbersexuals”.

For me, Lumbersexuals are OK – to quote the famous Monty Python sketch,

I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
Suspenders, and a bra.
I wish I’d been a girlie,
Just like my dear Papa.

But sophisticate that I am, Scottish “pimp daddies” threw me. Even my adult daughters looked blank. Dr Google came to my assistance, but be warned: the search engine’s revelation isn’t safe to be clicked on at work.

Nearby was a painting of a scrawny polar bear family done around 1900 by Arthur Wardle (1864-1942), who at 16 began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. He called his polar bear diorama “Where the Ice King Reigns” (the bears were actually reigning over a concrete pen at the London Zoo).

For know-nothing curators, any mention of polar bears inspires captioned rants about climate change, and the Dunedin Gallery experts were in like Flynn:

The polar bear once was the Ice King and the arctic was where he reigned. Now with dwindling food resources and decreasing land area the icy empire of the polar bear is beginning to crumble.

Fact check: Polar bear numbers appear to have quadrupled to 40,000 since the 1960s. Arctic sea ice minima have been stable for the past decade. “Dwindling food resources” my foot.

Our visit to Wellington’s city gallery was a mistake and we fled after 20 minutes. We first met a sculpture set by Michael Parekowhai. It shows a life-size NASA moon astronaut confronting a tiny Maori security guard about 20cm tall. The caption says the NASA patch is “advertising America’s colonisation of the Moon”. The astronaut wears another patch called a Rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty) “protesting the colonisation of New Zealand”. US villainy must be afoot. Maybe President Trump is inside the astronaut suit. Maybe bacteria on the moon are demanding a self-government treaty?

I’ve been cataloguing the climate follies of Wellington’s Te Papa for a decade without effect. In 2011 I complained about Te Papa’s use of Michael Mann’s flawed 1998 “hockey stick” reconstruction of the past 1000 years temperature. Curator Dr Hamish Campbell replied, “You are perfectly correct: Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ has indeed been substantively discredited.” He hoped to see that exhibit “revisited” within weeks but obviously got shot down by his bosses as the exhibit hung around for years.

If there were snakes in NZ, Te Papa today would be selling their oil. “Innovation nation: The future is green” fibs one display. “Imagine a city like this in 2050,” the caption to a mural of halcyon perfection instructs, “clean, liveable and powered by zero-carbon technology. New Zealand researchers are helping turn sci-fi into sci-fact.”

NZ research, the visitor learns, will fix global warming via

bendy solar film powering everything from smartphones and e-bikes to entire apartment blocks. This film can free us from carbon-based power – and transform life in developing countries. One day it’ll be recyclable too.

NZ-designed “carbon towers” will dispose of aerial CO2, apparently as fast as China and India pump out the CO2 from their coal-and-hell-fired power stations. Te Papa:

See the huge solar-powered towers in the image? They suck carbon dioxide from the air. That CO2 gas – a key cause of climate change – is reused as green energy. What’s inside? The towers are full of sugar-sized crystals. Look solid? They’re actually full of holes, ideal for catching gas…More surface area – more captured CO2.

Wow, how do I invest in this gas-catching breakthrough?

The exhibit shows NZ’s 11 square kilometre territory of Tokelau out in the Pacific, with population of 1350, and says it’s a CO2-free model for the world. Tokelau is

a tiny New Zealand territory confronting climate change head-on…In combating climate change, indigenous views are vital [and very woke these days]. Tokelau is the first nation in the world to run almost entirely on renewable energy … If they can make the change, why can’t we?

Maybe because we’re bigger than Tokelau (pop. 1350) and they don’t need to run trams?

Low-lying Pacific atolls like Tuvalu and Kiribati are growing not drowning, as Russell Skelton’s ABC-RMIT Fact Check bravely but belatedly acknowledged a year ago. That detail has escaped Te Papa’s experts. Instead, they lay it on thick, showing Tokelau people neck-deep in seawater under a label, “Facing climate change head on – Float and hope?”

For some of the Tokelau displays, the word ‘idiotic’ is too mild. “React? Should we battle short-term to cool off and keep the rising waters at bay?” Underneath, curators exhibit a Tokelau fan and a canoe bailer.

The most stirring panel from “Tokelau warriors” reads, “We are not drowning, we are fighting”. This “not drowning but fighting” slogan is a hoary meme cooked up by Greenpeace and trumpeted in 2014 when some islanders did a canoe publicity stunt off Newcastle. The Tokelau show leads to Te Papa’s brave new Kiwi world:

Heat, storms and sea-level rise … Aue! [Mauri for ‘Yikes!’]. Time to kick the doom and gloom and take action. Aotearoa NZ can lead the way to a carbon-zero future.

The mural shows this carbon-free elysium. Kids are told to “raise your hand near the wall to take action”. I raised my hand and a mob of dairy cows shrank to three, under the slogan “Less dairy”. I raised my hand again and a black and white cow did a visible fart, under the heading, “Low gas cows”. I guess it’s hard to depict a cow not doing a fart.

Using e-booths alongside, credulous kids were literally signing e-pledges to “create a carbon-zero NZ” by ticking approved actions. When they ticked enough of them, their pledge flew up to nest on a Tree of Virtue. Here’s some jobs to do, little Kiwi kids:

# Have a light-free night a week (I’m not making that up)

# “Go meat-free three days a week (ditto)

# Go dairy-free three days a week” (ditto)

# Lobby the government for solar panel subsidies (ditto)

# Explore solar water heating for your home (using the advanced cost-benefit algorithms found in every Kiwi kid’s bedroom?)

# Save for solar panels at home

# Use smart plugs to control lights at home

# Use recycled wood for building and renovation (The wharves at Napier and Tauranga are stacked four metres high with export logs, much as our own coal ports are exporting full-on.)

# Buy second-hand goods

# Give away unwanted stuff (to whom?), and

# Plant a tree each year to offset emissions (as if).

When kids have ticked enough of these stupid boxes, they’re conned: “Ka rawe – success! You’ve made a carbon-zero future.”

A different set of panels is headed, “Climate change at your place – most likely effects by region.” These show NZ districts sprinkled with salutary warmist warnings. An icon with a rat’s face indicates where global warming will bring pests (with a hint of bubonic plague). There’s one nasty rat-icon site in the north and two in the south. Maybe the curator threw darts at the map. At a ski resort: “Forget skiing – I’m taking up rock climbing!” Down south, “Better start saving for a water tank. Drought’s the new normal, mate.” Inland spots show “More rain and flooding”. Glaciers melt away. Cyclones whirl. Towns dry up. One thing’s for sure: climate models are crap at regional forecasting even for swathes like SE Australia, let alone micro-towns of NZ.

In its climate show, Te Papa’s sole concession to science, as distinct from brainwashing, is two long-term graphs of CO2 vs temps, sourced to Jean Jouzel, Michael Mann’s 2008 hockey-stick and twice-arrested alarmist James Hansen.[i] The Mann graph purports to disappear the Southern Hemisphere medieval warming – barely 0.2degC above trend vs the 0.8decC rise in the past 100 years. Te Papa’s curators haven’t caught up with the hundreds of studies showing strong and synchronised Medieval warming below the equator on all four continents.[ii]

The above-cited Jean Jouzel is a fine IPCC scientist, I have no doubt. It’s just that five years back, I wrote about him in this way:

A top scientist of the IPCC, Dr Jean Jouzel, is lauding a comic publication which has the heroine gunning down three Santa Clauses in a supermarket with a military assault rifle. The realistically-drawn massacre in Climate Changed by Philippe Squarzoni (Abrams, New York 2014) is meant to symbolise the need to reduce consumerism and CO2 emissions… She opens fire and the Santas scream in death agonies as bullets rip into their bodies, with blood spattering. She continues firing as they start collapsing to the ground, while a stream of ejected shellcases tumble in the foreground and Cokes and Christmas parcels fly in the air. One Santa lifts his right hand as if to shield himself. Their suits are riddled with bullets and gore continues to spout. The bland caption for this bloody mayhem reads: “On the demand side, it’s up to individuals, households, and local communities to evaluate their own needs themselves, with an eye to conservation.”

If Te Papa showcases NZ science, I have concerns. I hope Te Papa merely showcases NZ “climate science” – a mangier mongrel altogether.

Tony Thomas’s hilarious history, 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

 

[i] Even Hansen rejects the current warming hysteria. He wrote last September: “It’s time for Bernie Sanders to retire. He truly doesn’t get it. India and China have no prayer of phasing out coal without the help of nuclear power. We burned much of their share of the global carbon budget, and yet we refused to help them with modern nuclear power. Thousands of people PER DAY are dying in India from the pollution…. Not only is he killing people in India, he is screwing my grandchildren.”

[ii] For alarmists to maintain their narrative, Medieval Warming has to be characterised as a local and unimportant northern event. The Australian Academy of Science, for example, made that dud claim in its 2010 Climate Change primer and has never corrected or updated it: “Records are sparse in the Southern Hemisphere, but those available indicate little or no correlation with warming in the Northern Hemisphere during the Medieval Warm Period.”

Climate journalism: More ‘disinterest’ would be nice

I had the privilege last month of hearing Jo Chandler (above), former environment writer for The Age, describing how she’s pursued her craft of writing about global warming. Whoops, she gave the whole game away! I’ve not previously heard a journalist disclose media people’s behind-the-news-desk strategies to boost the alarmist narrative.

Chandler  has written two catastrophe books, about climate and (co-authored) ex-Police Commissioner Christine Nixon’s biography. After The Age and freelancing, she’s been since 2017 a “professional expert and lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism”. She has won two Walkley awards and ten-or-so other awards. A lot of her science writing is about non-climate topics and she’s a great researcher there. However, I found her 2011 climate book, Feeling the Heat, beyond terrible in peddling the climate-doom narrative, although it’s in stylish prose. In it she wrote, “The journey of this book is ambitious, meandering, indulgent, embracing, and a bit mad.” Well, Jo, you said it.

Her lunchtime talk was at the Elisabeth Murdoch building on Melbourne University campus.[i] It was a panel show run by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and titled, “Critical reflections on crisis and emergency framings” and under the aegis of 17-year-old Greta Thunberg.[ii] I’ve already written up another panellist, and the disquiet he engendered in the audience, but the event is the gift that keeps on giving.

Chandler says that when she started her 15 years of Age climate writing, “we were at the height of climate denialism, and well, it’s just kept keeping on.” She says she countered by covering science as an adventure story in order to tell readers how science actually works: “We thought that might assist in eroding some of the machinery of denial, and we were finding our way around some of that.” She allowed scientists to “speak passionately” and described the “blood sweat and tears” that preceded their publication in a science journal.[iii]

That would really provide a mechanism in which people would begin to understand and trust the science process. Fifteen years on, did it work?

I am having, like many of you, quite a crisis around how effective that was, and whether that is the way to continue. In preparing for that there is a lot of action around climate-change journalism and the way we tell the story in the mainstream media, particularly over the last two years. I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end those changes [yep, I watch the ABC and skim The Age sometimes], but perhaps you’ve not necessarily seen where [the reporting changes] have been coming from. I thought I might quickly romp through some of these things that have really taken shape in the way we tell stories much more profoundly.

She’s a disciple of David Wallace-Wells, who in 2017 wrote a long climate piece for New York magazine called “The Uninhabitable Earth”. This hellfire tract, subsequently expanded into a book, is so insanely catastrophic that the only-moderately-insane faction of the catastrophist community disavowed it. It began, “It is, I promise, much worse than you think”, and grew from there, rather like that film producer who wanted to start with an earthquake and build up to a climax. The article’s wide distribution created a school of thought that it’s more than OK — admirable, in fact — to ignore mainstream forecasts of merely nasty warming and focus on the most extreme, and unlikely, predictions about the death of the planet.

In Chandler’s words, young Wallace-Wells (in his 30s) came fresh to the warming story and was “quite shattered” at the perils in store. That made him “quite damning of my generation of journalists, accusing us of not going hard enough, not telling the story with enough impact, not pushing the limits more. And I think he is right, I accept some of that,” she told the Melbourne University gathering.

Her rationale for not having written, when an Age journo, in Wallace-Wells’ apocalyptic fashion, is

what we were up against in the newsroom in terms of the level of inertia and disinterest, and really a push to make us always look at the minimum (forecast) and look at data in terms of what is the most likely or most certain prediction, which is not necessarily the worst one.

We never really got the chance to explore the realm of actions that probably would have helped the public begin to get a better understanding why we’re in the mess we in now.

Fact check: the human race is thriving as never before, on every conceivable indicator, thanks partly to one degree of warming. She continued,

But certainly we were very much corralled to only tell the story around the most certain and therefore often least damaging predictions.

Only in climate alarmist science can predictions be “certain”. Beyond that, I was surprised The Age subs’ desk was a bastion of reactionaries bordering, one gathers, on climate denialists. Chandler continued

He [Wallace-Wells] just let rip with a really quite devastating snapshot of where we are going. It stirred up controversy around whether he was pushing it too far and too bleakly and whether it would just turn people off. Some leading scientists questioned the approach he took, but a lot of them have come around in a sense [Good grief!]. There is now this increasing tension over whether by subscribing to too catastrophic a narrative you are just feeding inertia and excuses for doing-nothingism. There is really a keen a balance at work there.

Chandler’s “keen balance” is an echoing and updating of a famous and sinister quote from the IPCC’s Stephen Schneider:

On the one hand we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, which means that we must include all the doubts, caveats, ifs and buts.

On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people, we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination.

That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This double ethical bind which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.[iv]

I’ll now put in some asides about Wallace-Wells before returning to Chandler’s speech. His piece opens with a horrific illustration of a fossil skull wearing sunglasses, caught in mid-scream about intolerable heat. The article also features a fossilised skeletal hand reaching in death-throes for a water bottle. The precede reads,

Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

One can almost pity Wallace-Wells for his ignorance of both science and history. He writes of his father, born in 1938, “Among his first memories [was] the news of Pearl Harbor and the mythic Air Force of the propaganda films that followed, films that doubled as advertisements for imperial-American industrial might.”

Typical section headings in the essay are “Permanent Economic Collapse – Dismal capitalism in a half-poorer world.” and  “Climate PlaguesWhat happens when the bubonic ice melts?”. If there’s a Nobel Prize for purple prose, Wallace-Wells earns it:

And however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have already ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. Wallace Smith Broecker… calls the planet an ‘angry beast.’ You could also go with ‘war machine.’ Each day we arm it more.

Of all Wallace-Wells’ fancies, the biggest is his claim that climate scientists are so reticent and conservative that they won’t come out with climate’s ghastly truths. “Climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings,” he writes, a line I’m seeing everywhere these days in the corrupted media. Wallace-Wells ought to bone up on our leading catastrophist, Will Steffen of ANU. For example, this from Steffen’s 2018 “Anthropocene” paper – nothing reticent here that I can see:

The Earth System may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing rapid pathway toward much hotter conditions—Hothouse Earth. This pathway would be propelled by strong, intrinsic, biogeophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human actions, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered, or substantially slowed.

Wallace-Wells even laments that there aren’t enough novelists setting their plots in a climate-ravaged future. (What! The shelves at Readings in Melbourne’s green-voting Carlton sag with this great cliché of today’s third-rate novelists.) Wallace-Wells ends his essay on this note: “The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming.”

I liked President Trump’s witty tweet about Greta Thunberg’s “People are dying” speech, that would apply perfectly to Wallace-Wells, e.g.: “He seems like a very happy young boy looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

Addressing the evolution of green-washed newsrooms, Chandler also cited with approval Washington Postmedia writer Margaret Sullivan. According to Chandler, that columnist in 2018 called on “the best and smartest minds in media” to tell the IPCC alarm story “in a way that will create change”. As to news organisations less inclined to toe the apocalyptic line, her recent retweet of a plea by Malcolm Turnbull’s boy, young Alex, that readers boycott News Corp papers might be seen by some as reflecting a lack of concern for the employment prospects of Advancing Journalism graduates at a time when newsroom jobs are scarce and growing moreso.

I’ll again digress to background Ms Sullivan,  who says, (my emphasis), “Journalists need to find ways to make [global warming] compelling, engaging and interesting, and bring it home to people so they understand and want to act about it.” In other words, it’s propaganda time, hacks! Sullivan isn’t even furtive about it. Her WaPo piece was headed, “The planet is on a fast path to destruction. The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters.” Her arguments read more like comedy, “By 2040 — only 22 years from now — the world will be in deep trouble, according to the unassailable expertise of the UN’s experts.” Einstein’s expertise was assailable and Isaac Newton likewise, but IPCC people are “unassailably” smarter. Click here for a backgrounder on Joelle Gergis, a current IPCC lead author, if you are interested in “the unassailable expertise of the U.N.’s experts.”  Gergis’s effusion only last Friday: “Failing to adequately plan for the known threat of climate change in a country like Australia should now be considered to be an act of treason.” (Hmm. Dear Joelle, The US federally has the death penalty for treason, but Australia has given up capital punishment and treason is now just a matter of life imprisonment. Do you think our Prime Minister should be put on trial? Regards, Tony.)

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, D.Sc. (Hon) UNSW chaired the IPCC from 2002 to his abrupt resignation in 2015. I assume he qualified as ‘unassailable’. He continues to have his trial delayed involving charges of sexually harassing and outraging the modesty of  a young woman working for his private think tank. He denies the charges. The deferrals in India’s labyrinthine court system have lasted more than four years. Eventually there might be an unassailable verdict one way or another on this climate paragon, much feted by Australian academia.[v]

Sullivan finished her piece,

In short, when it comes to climate change, we — the media, the public, the world — need radical transformation, and we need it now. Just as the smartest minds in earth science have issued their warning, the best minds in media should be giving sustained attention to how to tell this most important story in a way that will creates [sic] change. We may be doomed even if that happens. But we’re surely doomed if it doesn’t.

This exciting prose set off a project by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nationmagazine, “Covering Climate Now” which saw 360 media groups sign in 2019 for their journalists to spruik the September UN climate talks.  In Chandler’s words, “to devote all the effort they could and energy and time into putting this story finally front and centre. Of course there was plenty to report on – UN talks, climate strikes around the world and, of course, you had Greta.”

Then came Chandler’s big reveal – though who she refers to as “we” is enigmatic:

In the aftermath of that [New York talks] we are now beginning to think as an industry about how we gear up and re-gear our newsrooms to get past the structural problem we have had in the past covering this [climate].

This is the only story in many ways. It is THE story, it must be at the core of every part of the news desk and news agenda and the way we consider stories, the way we structure our stories and roll them out. This was a beat covered by environment and political reporters, now it will also have to be covered by business, sports and health reporters.

There’s been substantial rethinking within journalism on how we do a better job, and The Guardian’s enunciation of changing the language to ‘global heating’ and ‘climate emergency’, following the science in that regard, has helped lead the way on that.

To fill you in on The Guardian‘s editorial policy, last May it changed its style guide on climate. These style guides are the ‘bibles’ of reporters. A sub-editors’ job includes ridding reporters’ drafts of style violations. The Guardian’s style guide now reads, with its own emphases:

“climate change
is no longer considered to accurately reflect the seriousness of the overall situation; use 
climate emergency or climate crisis instead to describe the broader impact of climate change. However, use climate breakdown or climate change or global heating when describing it specifically in a scientific or geophysical sense eg “Scientists say climate breakdown has led to an increase in the intensity of hurricanes”.

“climate science denier” or “climate denier”
The OED defines a sceptic as “a seeker of the truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions”.

Most “climate sceptics”, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, deny climate change is happening, or is caused by human activity, so denier is more accurate.

In the The Guardian’s own story about its style-book change, environment editor Damian Carrington quoted his editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.” The story was illustrated with a pic of more than 20 fat polar bears feeding on garbage, with a caption, “The destruction of Arctic ecosystems forces animals to search for food on land, such as these polar bears in northern Russia.” Every sceptic cum ‘denier’ knows The Guardian’s meme of imperilled polar bears is itself garbage. Bear numbers have soared, probably quadrupled, in the past decade to about 40,000.

Last week, “climate emergency”, “climate crisis” and “global heating”  notwithstanding, The Guardian UK was spruiking its CO2-spewing holiday packages: “Guardian Holidays have a wide range of products. From making pizza on the Amalfi Coast, surfing in Portugal or orangutan spotting in Borneo, Guardian Holidays’ new range of family adventures are sure to keep every member of your family entertained.”

Chandler has lifted the media curtain so we can glimpse the third-tier journos backstage scurrying about on their activist business while pretending objectivity.[vi]

No wonder 40 per cent of Australians don’t trust traditional media.

Tony Thomas’s hilarious social history, 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

[i] Melbourne University in 2018 was rated top university in Australia and 32nd in the world. (THE Rankings).

[ii] MSSI quoted Greta: “This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. This is not something you can just like on Facebook.”

 

[iii] The climate crowd is certainly a lachrymose lot, see this piece on climate weepniks  here.

[iv] Discover magazine, October 1989

[v] If you argue that Pachauri’s sexual urges were irrelevant to his role as IPCC chair,  this is a message he allegedly sent in mid-October, 2013 to the 29-year-old female staffer at his TERI think-tank: “Here I am sitting and chairing an IPCC meeting and surreptitiously sending you messages. I hope that tells you of my feelings for you.” The IPCC meeting was the 37th Plenary Session, at the Sheraton in the seaside resort of Batumi, Georgia. It was attended by 229 politicians and officials from 92 countries, plus the usual conservation and activist hangers-on and free-loaders.

In 2013, Pachauri dropped in on the Albert Deakin Research Institute (ADRI) at Deakin University — ADRI falsely calling him the “Nobel Peace Prize-winning panellist”. ADRI’s tribute to Pachauri began: “Dr Pachauri’s gentle and unassuming demeanour is testament to his life’s work: it seems only appropriate that one must assume such a persona when acting as something of a figurehead for sustainable futures.”

[vi] The Australian’s environment writer Graham Lloyd is an exception, doing a fine job reporting all sides of the climate debate and adding his own analyses.

Discomfort and Dismay at the Parkville Asylum

Melbourne University’s famously loopy Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) was hung out to dry the other day by one of its lunchtime panellists, Professor Jon Barnett,  at the uni’s Elisabeth Murdoch building. MSSI’s audience of climate zealots couldn’t believe their ears. (listen to the audio here). A political geographer, Barnett (pictured above) agrees with the human-caused CO2 global warming hypothesis, although he’s a bit lukewarm on the ‘catastrophic’ angle.[1] He must have seemed a safe choice to endorse MSSI’s “climate emergency” narrative.[2] But instead he told the audience – many visibly annoyed – that he’s fed up with zealots demoralising Pacific atoll people with forecasts of their climate-borne doom by drowning.

Several attendees crowded around as he was leaving, urging him to reconsider his heresies. Chief among them was Jane Morton, clinical psychologist and convenor of Darebin Climate Action Now, who presented him with her booklet Making the Case for Emergency Climate Action. This is a hellfire tract, as the cover shows North, Central and South America ablaze all the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, demonstrating CO2’s astounding powers. In the melee I myself wheedled a copy off her, but then she successfully hit me for a $5 donation for her compadres’ work in Darebin, which rivals Brunswick and Northcote as Melbourne’s most crazed green municipality.[3] (I also came home with a recruitment flyer: Extinction Rebellion welcomes you. We are the people we have been waiting for. And we have arrived just in time”).

The inside cover of Ms Morton’s tract shows the Potsdam Climate Institute’s founder, Hans Schellnhuber, glooming, “Climate change is now reaching the end-game”. Professor Barnett, not easily intimidated, told Morton that Schellnhuber’s forecasts of a billion (or is it many billions?) dying from 4degC warming were “ridiculous”. Schellnhuber has been chief climate alarmist to Pope Francis, notwithstanding that he’s an atheist and population-control advocate.

Schellnhuber’s Potsdam people have populated Melbourne University since 2015 via the Australian-German College of Climate & Energy Transitions. Barnett and I agreed that Schellnhuber was not altogether rational, although I’d used a more colloquial term.

I liked Barnett’s comment to his post-speech interrogators that he didn’t think sea levels would rise by a metre this century. I also gave Barnett a friendly reminder that his colleague at Auckland University, Professor Paul Kench, has demonstrated via aerial photographs and satellite imagery that three-quarters of Tuvalu’s atolls are growing, with the atoll’s net land area is up by three per cent over the past 40 years. I hope Barnett can work that news into his next speech about the atolls the ABC and other alarmists are always claiming to be on the verge of drowning, even after Russell Skelton’s ABC/RMIT Fact Check affirmed their growth in area.

I also hope his Melbourne University career will thrive, unlike that of Peter Ridd, late of James Cook University, who denied the Barrier Reef’s doom. Or Susan Crockford, late of Canada’s Victoria University, who has paid the price for denying the polar bears’ doom (bear numbers have  quadrupled, to about 40,000, since 2011). I hope Jon will remain the odd man out among Melbourne Monoversity’s 9,000 academics.

MSSI introduced the panel by claiming the planet’s life foundation systems “are being stretched to breaking point”, i.e. we may soon join Uranus as a dead planet, which wouldn’t be good at all! The session took place under the aegis of MSSI icon Greta Thunberg, the unstable 16-year-old Swedish high- school dropout and pawn of adult activists, whom MSSI quotes: “This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. This is not something you can just like on Facebook.”

By now I’m sure you want to know what Barnett said to upset the MSSI fans. Here goes, thanks to my iphone and rusty shorthand.

Barnett: People have told me, ‘You are a sceptic’. I am by no means a sceptic. We need to reduce GHG emissions. It is real and urgent problem. (But) we need to get past this kind of singular politics that if you believe in climate change you must believe the world is coming to an end. If you don’t say that [the world is ending] and say maybe there is a way that [island] people can have a decent future through climate change, then you are not with us and you are sceptic.

He said people carry on about “drowning atolls” to encourage the West to cut emissions, saying “It’s an emergency, we should be afraid, it’s in everyone’s interest to cut emissions”. But they ought to consider how their claims about the atolls are interpreted by atoll residents.

Barnett: They hear that they have no power and no future, and they all will be forcibly displaced and may have only 10 years left on their island. It’s as if I walked into your life and didn’t know you and hadn’t seen you before nor seen your medical records, and said, ‘We have a problem of cancer in society and you will be dead in ten years, I don’t want to hear what you have to say, and don’t care what your options are, I’m just telling you, ‘Dead in ten years! See you later.’

That is how the [climate message] is heard in those places. It’s as if they have no future living on their drowning islands, and they are all to become environmental refugees and so on.

They [climate alarmists] make huge assumptions about people and the state of the science. No doubt rising emissions are going to cause warming and rising seas, but now drill down to the Pacific islands and how climate change will manifest there. What will the corals do, the beach sediment, freshwater lenses, the vegetation?

Scientists are still very uncertain. Believe it or not, the islands are not all the same, they show different histories of response, and more important, we don’t know when [impacts] will happen. Will they run out of freshwater or fish or lose their beaches in 10 years, 40 or 60 years? We don’t know. We don’t know how people there will respond, or what capabilities they possess to deal with environmental changes. Look at Singapore and Hong Kong, how those island [states] have responded and the amount of technology [available] in say, one nuclear aircraft carrier. Think about what scope those atoll islands have to adapt. People say with absolute certainty that [residents] can’t live there in ten or 20 years time, well that is a bit problematic.

If people told you that you are powerless and doomed, and they weren’t interested in your reaction, how would you respond? Would you think that was fair, or get angry about the legitimacy and authority of those outsiders? Would you become depressed, believe them and think about leaving your island?

If the worst thing was to force people off their islands, it would be ironic if the message about climate forced them off in anticipation. It would be even more ironic if people who ran around saying, ‘I have a solution to move the people now’ brought into the present the [dire] impact onto people worried about their future. People not only hear [these alarming forecasts] but react to them.

The ill-effects of alarmism extended even further, Barnett said, to the international aid and development community. If those islands had no future beyond ten years, what would be the point of putting in desal plants? “Island failure” became a self-fulfilling prophecy as investors withdraw. More than that, the locals could over-exploit their resources for quick cash in the belief there would be no future generations to look after.[4]

He quoted anthropologist Peter Rudiak-Gould’s research on Marshall Islands people, some of whom blamed their own failings for global climate change. Some refused to believe the scare, and others saw it as yet another scam being imposed by colonialists. Some dissociated from the message, some turned to prayer, and some felt so anxious their mental health suffered.

Barnett said islands like the Marshalls had already suffered colonial changes to land tenures and their economies, even enduring nuclear tests. There was the further colonialism of imposing the results of the West’s emissions on them to threaten their future. And the third wave of colonialism was how we talk about them, refusing to give them a voice and hope. [Case in point: at December’s UN COP25 gabfest in Madrid, 21-year-old Tabita Kaitamakin Awira Awerika, from Kiribati, reportedly shed angry tears and told delegates about her “anguish” about the future.] Barnett also quoted psychologist Dr Kari Gibson, who did her PhD on Tuvalu citizens’ reactions. She found they showed distress at clinically significant levels because of what they were hearing.

Despite all these Western narratives and ignorance about the islands, the people are doing a lot to adapt to climate, he says.

Barnett: There isn’t an atoll country in the world not planning massively to secure and fortify their capital and key parts. Look at the Maldives planning for dramatic and bold changes.[5] Atolls are absolutely facing up to the challenges, making hard and politically brave decisions about how to live through a changed climate. At local level they’re using social networks, health care, education, diets, sustainable planting and fishing, to show their agency to adapt. These belie our assumption that there is nothing they can do and they have no future. What atoll people are doing is absolutely inspiring. They don’t want to leave and they’re exercising everything available to continue living there.

Our narratives about future climate change impacts in these places need a re-set. We need to respect their right to live there. It’s lazy for us to say they have no future and just stop being concerned about them. We must reduce CO2 emissions [I assume his “we” includes those naughty nations China and India] and support the islands in adapting. We need to talk about them differently in terms of rights, agency, respect and assistance, rather than ‘See you later!’

Well said, Professor Barnett, although it’s high time you checked on the validity of IPCC forecasting models. Maybe you could also persuade anthropologist Peter Rudiak-Gould to study MSSI staff and audiences as his next project.

Tony Thomas’s hilarious social history, 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] Barnett is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and a Lead Author of the chapter on Human Security in the IPCC Fifth Report. He co-edits the journal Global Environmental Change.

[2] “Critical reflections on crisis and emergency climate framings: A panel discussion”

[3] Notoriously, Quadrant Online doesn’t reimburse expenses.

[4] He omitted a further point he had made in a Conversation article, that locals could also blame “climate change” for their own conservation malpractices, and continue doing this bad stuff. He concluded in that piece, “It seems all we can do is talk about loss, migration, and waves of climate refugees. Having let them down twice, this defeatist thinking risks denying them an independent future for a third time. This is environmental neo-colonialism … We should all stop talking down the future of low-lying small islands, because all this does is hasten their demise.”

[5] The Maldives in fact are only drowning under their own sea of chicanery, farce and corruption, abetted by Australian taxpayers.

Electric cars crash

30 November 2019

As a senior investigative reporter, I can handle a notebook, a pen and my spaniel Natasha’s leash in each hand. She towed me, thus equipped, up and down Ascot Vale while I counted sports utility vehicles (SUVs) versus common low-slung cars. SUVs are big and boxy with high rooflines and heaps of ground clearance and seating. Their doors swing and ding cars parked alongside. They guzzle gas and spew emissions. Their owners look down on us, like mounted knights among peasantry.

I live in Bill Shorten’s left-green (61 per cent) Victorian electorate of Maribyrnong. Surely here they drive greenie cars? Nope. Parked along my next-door Warrick Street last Sunday eve: SUVs, 31. Cars, 30. Utes, vans, etc., 4.

Bill has bought a $3m abode in the big end of the Travancore pocket next door. Natasha and I surveyed Travancore’s Baroda, Cashmere, Mangalore and Madura streets. We found less SUV penetration there, 31 SUVs vs 58 cars. Still, that’s 35 per cent SUVs. And all up, we found but one hybrid. SUVs are the wave of the future. Electrics suck.

Safeways and the school carpark are the SUV’s native habitat. Gravel? What gravel? To show off you can now buy a Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV, about $600,000. Or a 650HP Lamborghini Urus SUV – but mind the lambswool carpet.

Bill Shorten in April campaigned for 50 per cent of new car sales to be electric by 2030, a promising candidate’s car too far. Bill is doubtless driving an electric himself. It must be awkward as the only public charging station for miles is in the bowels of an Aldi car park across car-clogged Moonee Ponds Junction. I checked it: 14 Tesla-only chargers, and two for all other makes. The place was bright but sterile, like an unused operating theatre. Are there even 14 Teslas in this neck of the woods?

Tony Abbott’s climate-friendly nemesis Zali Steggall still circles Warringah in her hulking SUV, a 4WD Nissan PathFinder Ti. During the election the barrister vowed to trade it for a clean electric. But as an Independent struggling on $200,000+, she wants a government subsidy first, saying, ‘I, like every other Australian, have budget pressures, mortgage pressures.’

The big picture is that our car market is plunging, down 7 per cent in September year on year. Car sales dropped 18 per cent while SUVs rose 1 per cent. Fancy that. SUVs outsold cars 42,000 to 25,000 and outsold hybrids and electrics by seventeen to one. Even top-end Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs were snapped up at 32 per day, price $88-136,000.

Globally, SUVs are likewise swamping car sales and here’s the point: as fast as governments bribe or wrangle people into low-emission electrics, the popular shift to SUVs more than cancels the emissions cuts. In the forced march of folly towards net zero emissions, electrics are as much a lost cause as windmills.

Electrics and hybrid sales worldwide are collapsing, led by a 34 per cent year on year downturn in September in their biggest market, China. Plug-in hybrid sales there were also smashed by 27 per cent for the quarter. Buyers are spooked by official cuts in subsidies and concerned about the cheap popular models’ short range per charge. A Macquarie market note suggests only 8 per cent global growth of electrics this year after three years of 50 per cent increases. The demand for electrics is ‘no longer bullet-proof’, it said. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, quoted in German reports, put global electrics sales in the September quarter at only 322,000, down 3 per cent year on year, and plug-in hybrids down 24 per cent. The costly electrics quest defies sense. The International Energy Agency projects that SUVs by 2040 will be canceling out the fossil-fuel savings from 150 million electric cars. This is despite all the enforced use of electrics, subsidies and grid disruption.

Petrol/diesel car sales globally have fallen slightly for two years, as if the car craze has peaked. Greenies love that because cars consume a quarter of world oil output. But within this vast auto market, fuel-hungry SUVs are displacing cars – SUV numbers have jumped from 35m to 200m in a decade. Market share doubled from 20 to 40 per cent. Of the decade’s increase in world car sales, SUVs have grabbed 60 per cent of it. Half of US car sales are SUVs, and a third of Europe’s. SUV sales are thriving in China, India and even Africa. The CO2 emissions impact from these SUVs is startling. They’re the second-largest contributor to emissions growth since 2010, behind power generation but ahead of heavy industry (iron and steel, cement, aluminium, etc.), trucks and aviation.

Oh-so-woke California illustrates the greenies’ predicament. It was supposed to cut emissions 40 per cent by 2030 on 1990 levels. Thanks largely to SUV growth, the target won’t be met till 2061, three decades late. To meet the zero-net emission target by 2050, overall annual emission cuts would have to be quadrupled, not easy when their cars are emitting more CO2 than all the state’s power generators, livestock and oil refineries combined. Potential electrics buyers also twig that the grid blackouts during fire weather could leave them and their clean green car smouldering with frustration, or literally.

Norway is touted as the electric car’s success story: 60 per cent of new car sales. Sure, citizens can be persuaded by a government with a truncheon in one hand and a bag of bribes in the other. For example, I’ve bought a little Hyundai i30 (Australia’s most popular car) for $23,000. Price in Norway, after special surcharges, at least $A54,000. Petrol cars there face a multitude of tolls and bans while electrics get the green carpet. Moreover, Norwegian electricity is about the world’s cheapest (unlike South Australia’s, about the world’s dearest). A raft of other governments in Europe is also crippling the use of petrol/diesel cars to force buyers to electrics.

Locally, the NRMA which is funded by petrol-diesel car owners wants these very cars green-banned in NSW as early as 2025. With friends like these… Local auto consultants ABMARC have actually calculated that because so much Australian electricity is coal-generated, electric cars (unlike hybrids) in most states emit more CO2 than your petrol model.

Greenies have a solution to the SUV’s popularity – ban them or make them all-electric. ‘It’s time to do it,’ says US green group Green & Growing. But the greens’ yarns are unravelling. This year has also seen a collapse globally in onshore wind turbine installations and solar. A few federal ministers are starting to call out the madness. Will Mr Morrison listen? Or at least, do some arithmetic?