Tag Archives: Cool Australia

Earth Hour in 3D: Dim, Dark and Dopey

For the past decade legions of the gullible have been signalling their eco-virtue by candles’ glow, turning off the lights for 60 minutes as an offering to poor, overheated Gaia. It makes little sense, but promoters are delighted the faithful can still write cheques in the gloom

earth hourWorld Wide Fund for Nature (Australia) is gearing up for its tenth idiotic Earth Hour at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 25. Once again it will be urging people to turn off lights  (but not fridges, freezers, TVs, dishwashers, computers, aircons and smart-phones). If WWF is aware that satellite data shows no atmospheric warming for the past 18 years, that information figures nowhere in its literature.

Of course, any large-scale lights-off actually increases CO2emissions because generators have to do inefficient ramping-up of power when the lights go on again. Such quibbles have never worried   WWF.

Earth Hour is run by national manager Anna Rose. She is co-founder and former head of the Youth Climate Coalition, and spouse of Simon Sheik, former national director of GetUp, failed Greens candidate and, most recently, promoter of a fossil-fuel-free superfund.[1] Rose claims, on the basis of sample surveys from consultancy AMR, that a quarter (nearly 6m) of the Australian population took part in Earth Hour 2016.[2] That’s a big call. In 2015, she was claiming one in three Australians (7.7m)  took part in 2014.

The media-savvy WWF has been theming its annual Earth Hours. Last year’s theme was “Protect the Aussie places we love” with sub-texts about global warming destroying the Barrier Reef by 2050 and other alarmist mantras (the Reef made it safely through previous eras of strong warming). The 2017 Earth Hour theme is “the voice of the future generation”, taking into overdrive WWF’s propaganda assault in schools.

WWF’s partner in the schools’ Earth Hour exercise is Cool Australia, a green/left outfit founded and run by Jason Kimberley of the  wealthy Just Jeans clan. Cool Australia claims more than 52,000 educators whose lessons reached more than 1,050,000 students in 2016. (It is a national scandal that schools have become such hotbeds of green/left indoctrination).

The Cool Australia material has much in common with the views of the Left Renewal faction of the Greens Party, and its “fight to bring about the end of capitalism”.  Cool’s anti-capitalism curriculum is based on the rantings of far-left Canadian author Naomi Klein and her agitprop book, This Changes Everything.  Klein  views conventional green policies as way too conservative. Her goal is to marshall a green activist horde to subvert Western civilisation at grassroots level.

Cool Australia offers Years 9 and 10 no fewer than ten lesson units based on the Klein book and video. One lesson, for example, is titled,“This changes everything – climate change vs capitalism”. Cool Australia counsels the kiddies, “…an opportunity for a new economic model that accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way.” The film of the same title has Klein saying, “I’ve spent six years wandering through the wreckage caused by the carbon in the air and the economic system that put it there.” A title comes up, “Capitalism” with a voiceover, “We are going in completely the wrong direction.” It ends with a narrator’s question: “What if global warming is not only a crisis? What if it is the best chance you are ever going to get to build a better world? Change or be changed!”

Cool Australia provides these “thought-starting” keywords for the climate/capitalism lessons:

global warming, floods, drought, carbon dioxide, weather, resource use, coral bleaching, bush fires, carbon tax, humans

In regard to cpitalism, keywords provided are

profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans

Teachers are exhorted thus:

Hot tip: Repeat this activity at the end of the unit to assess students’ understanding.”[3]

There is no reference to capitalism and free trade lifting billions out of poverty in the past half-century.

WWF’s president is another mega-millionaire, Rob Purves of the Purves Environmental Fund. Purves’ fortune derived from Clyde Industries and billion-dollar diagnostics/aged-care group DCA. WWF in turn is a “curriculum partner” of Cool Australia. Purves is also a sponsor of Earth Hour, governor of the Youth Climate Coalition and director of Tim Flannery’s Climate Council. Prominent on the Earth Hour web pages is WWF’s “Donate” menu, donations being tax deductible.

This appeal inspired me to look up WWF’s local 2016 accounts. CEO Dermot O’Gorman, his conservation director Gilly Llewellyn, and their CFO took in $632,000 in combined pay, but WWF doesn’t disclose what each received.WWF employment benefits

WWF fund-raised $22.8 million — but, oh dear, $9.2 million, or 40%, was burned by the costs of fund-raising. (In the past three years, WWF has spent an amazing $29 million on fund-raising costs. That includes about $10 million in the past two years alone for on-going  “supporter acquisition programs”  aimed at an “appropriate return” from its givers over three to five years. Do regular donors understand how much is going to  third-party professional fund-raisers?

Of the $29.5 million in latest income, WWF managed to spend only $16.4 million — 56% on what it calls “conservation”.[4]  [5] Still, WWF Australia with its $30 milion annual revenue is small beer compared with the US-based  World Wildlife Fund Inc. (latest revenue: $US249m). That group’s five-year revenue comfortably tops ten figures, at $US1.1b. The 2016 fund-raising expense ratio is 11%, compared with the 40% for WWF Australia.

Saving the planet is a responsible job andCEO Carter Roberts pulled in $US941,000 last year, up more than 100% compared with his pay in 2009 of $US455,000.  President Obama is paid only $US400,000. Roberts’ chief operating officer, Marcia Marsh, gets $US576,000. Both state their working weeks as 40 hours. Nearly 200 staff are on six-figures, and a dozen on $US300,000 plus.  A couple of PR flacks are on $US260,000 and $US315,000.

WWF in the US is also gearing up for Earth Hour to help save our hapless planet. “Even a tweet can make a difference,” it says, demonstrating near-clinical inability to separate fantasy from the real world.

I had a thought that WWF India might not be promoting Earth Hour, given that 300 million Indian peasants are eking out short and brutish lives in no-electricity squalor. Regardless, WWF India is urging Indians  to “switch off your lights” and invest in solar power.[6]

In Australia, WWF, lacking all sense of the ridiculous, asks students to analyse global warming impacts on their spaghetti bolognaise   (wheat, beef, cheese and tomato) and pavlovas (egg, sugar, rasberries, blueberries).[7]

Last year WWF globally set out six key goals, ranked as: forest conservation; oceans conservation; clean water; protecting important species; doubling net food availability and freezing its footprint; and last-listed, “Creating a climate-resilient and zero-carbon world powered by renewable energy”. WWF Australia seems over-focused on the last item.

I mentioned the annual theming of Earth Hour in Australia. The 2015 theme was of special interest: how global warming imperils Australia’s “fresh healthy home-grown food”, and how we should “make a stand for our food and farmers”. These farmers allegedly had their backs to the wall as they valiantly battled global warming’s adverse impacts.

Anna Rose declaimed, “Aussies are proud of our farmers for feeding the nation but they are on the frontline of global warming and are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more extreme weather.”

Mike Hirst, managing director of long-time Earth Hour sponsor Bendigo Bank, chimed in, “Across this land, thousands of farmers are grappling with the challenge of global warming while producing the food which we and millions of people around the world depend on.”

WWF/Earth Hour figured it could get some traction with this story because many farmers were having a bad season. For 2014-15, by value, wheat was down 11%; cotton down 52%; rice down 16%; veges down 5%; milk static and total crops down 5%. The WWF publicity asserted that “Global warming is challenging our farmers and affecting our supply of good-quality fresh food.” WWF had little trouble getting hard-luck stories from 55 assorted farmers about how climate change was doing them in.

WWF also whistled up its pet catastrophists such as David Karoly at Melbourne University to do a report, Appetite for Change: Global Warming Impacts on Food and Farming Regions in Australia.  Here’s Karoly’s  insights about southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania:

Continued substantial warming is expected over the rest of this century, from 0.6°C to 1.3°C by 2030  and up to 4°C by 2070 with ongoing high greenhouse-gas emissions. A warming climate will be associated with more hot days and nights, including more summer heat waves, and fewer cold days and nights, including fewer winter frosts. The number of days hotter than 35°C is expected to increase by about 20 per cent by 2030 and possibly more than double by 2070… The reduced rainfall and higher temperatures are expected to lead to more frequent and intense droughts and bushfires, and greater stress on water resources.” (My emphasis).[8]

Other specialists then weighed in with predictions about how 50 food items – from wheat and beef to octopi[9] and zucchini — will be trashed by Karoly’s “expected” global warming. We learn from the  authors that carrots are doomed to tastelessness and poor texture; toast and raspberry jam will be in short supply; avocado and Vegemite will taste worse; beetroots will blush less red; fruit trees will be stunted and heat-struck chickens will have nervous breakdowns.

WWF’s poster woman for the Earth Hour book on how warming will degrade farming was South Gippsland dairy farmer Marian Macdonald. However, her writings a year later rather subvert her message:

The big question still remains for this farmer: how common will this type of season be in the future? The climate modelling is just not detailed or accurate enough. All we know is that it will be drier, warmer and more unpredictable than ever. And that’s nowhere near enough information to make good decisions. To be frank, we don’t even have a worthwhile forecast for the next fortnight or the three months ahead. The Bureau of Meteorology’s oft-reported seasonal outlook is so unreliable here, it is literally the equivalent of tossing a coin – by the Bureau’s own admission.” (My emphasisTo paraphrase, the BOM can’t forecast a fortnight ahead but is great at those 100-year forecasts).

The climate gloom in regard to farming was all early 2015.[10] How about now? Well, I never! Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says agriculture is entering a “golden era” of prosperity and growth that will last at least five years: “We haven’t seen anything like this right across all regions and sectors — beef, lamb, grains, wool, sugar, kangaroo meat, live cattle, chickpeas, even the dairy industry is recovering — for almost a century. The good times are finally here.”

As The Australian’s rural correspondent Sue Neales puts it, “Last year [2016] was an extraordinary one: record farmgate prices for sheep and cattle, rising wool prices, a magnificent season yielding a record 52 million tonne grain and pulse crop.… farming is seen as a profession with a bright, unstoppable future.”

National agricultural production will be a record $60 billion in value this year for the first time and is tipped to go to $100 billion in the next decade. (CSIRO chief Larry Marshall has made the obvious point that to meet Asian food demand, we’ll need to double our water usage. This hardly suits the green agenda of no-dams).

The bumper crops are not just in Australia but global. The Food & Agriculture Organisation late last year raised its forecast for global wheat production to a record 742.4 million tonnes, and global rice output to a record 498m tonnes.

So as Earth Hour nears on March 25, and WWF publicity ramps up, don’t take it too seriously. Maybe even celebrate the joy of electricity by leaving your lights on.

Tony Thomas new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


 [1] According to the blurbs, she became a climate change campaigner after her grandparent’s farm in North Western NSW was affected by drought, and Anna “connected the dots” to climate change – quite a feat.

[2] One major participant is the Australian Defence Force

[3] Klein’s “solutions” for an allegedly fairer and more humane society are pushed at students by teachers using the Cool Australia social-justice material. The “solutions” include a basic income for all and higher taxes on the affluent; enforcing industry to reduce or cut completely its CO2 emissions; banning deep-water drilling, fracking and tar sands production; “re-localising” production of food and goods (i.e. diminishing trade); and “community-controlled clean energy systems”. The students are exhorted to discuss the “Call to Action” theme of Canada’s March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate, as a creed for a “just transition” to a fairer world.

[4] WWF income included $783,000 in government grants, of which $376,000 was from DFAT. WWF spent $2.7m on what it calls “community education”.

[5] Earth Hour: “Regular donations are critical to our ability to manage our large team of volunteers across the country with certainty around our budget. We do what we can with very little, but it all adds up.”

[6] “What has Earth Hour achieved since the movement began?” The sponsors’ list includes   “Solar-powered lights were installed in three villages without electricity in India.”

[7] When I noticed and wrote about the spagbol talking point last December, some readers insisted I must have been hoaxed.

[8] Karoly in 2009 thought it a great idea for Earth Hour to become permanent:

“We need to repeat Earth Hour every hour of the day, every day of the year, so that these actions are part of our normal lives”.

[9] “Computer modelling projections for pale octopus indicate warming could lead to eventual decline. Increased carbon-dioxide may make octopus more vulnerable to predators, and combined climate factors may have complex effects.” Octopi, don’t say you weren’t warned.

[10] “According to the CSIRO, production from cropping and livestock is projected to decline by 2030 over much of southern Australia due to increased drought and the “fact” that the availability of nutrients will limit productivity in most Australian landscapes…” Professor Richard Eckard, Melbourne University, March 2015.


Teach ‘em Green, Raise ‘em Stupid

According to the latest international comparison, Australian kids are falling further behind, despite ever-larger sums of taxpayer cash being poured into the Chalk-Industrial Complex. One reason we’re raising another generation of dolts: propaganda passed off as wisdom

green teacherGreen/Left lobby Cool Australia, backed by Labor’s teacher unions and Bendigo Bank, is achieving massive success in brainwashing school students about the inhumanity of the federal government’s asylum-seeker policies, the evils of capitalism, and our imminent climate peril. The Cool Australia’s teaching templates are now being used by 52,540 teachers in 6,676 primary and high schools (71% of total schools). The courses have  impacted just over a million students via 140,000 lessons downloaded for classes this year alone. Students’ uptake of Cool Australia materials has doubled in the past three years.

Teachers are mostly flummoxed about how to prioritise “sustainability” throughout their primary and secondary school lessons, as required by the national curriculum.[1]  Cool Australia has marshaled a team of 19 professional curriculum writers who offer teachers and pupils easy templates for lessons that  include the sustainability mantra along with green and anti-government propaganda.

Teachers have grasped at the organisation’s labor-saving advantages. As one teacher enthused, “I love the fact they take some of the leg work out of my lessons and allow me to spend more time working on the outdoor gardens etc.” A coordinator (hopefully not of English courses) wrote that the lessons gave her “piece of mind”.

Much of the  Cool material, such as lessons advocating recycling and energy-saving, is largely harmless, even beneficial. But material on hot-button political topics is designed to turn students into green activists and anti-conservative bigots.

Kevin Donnelly: Why Johnny Can’t Count, Spell or Think

On asylum seekers, the basic “text” is the film “Chasing Asylum” by activist Eva Orner, whose intention is to shame Australia and mobilise international pressure against the Pacific solution. At least eleven different lessons for Years 9-10 feature her cinematic agitprop,  billed as a “documentary”. The film hardly conforms to the professed “apolitical” nature of Cool Australia courses.  The film’s descriptor reads:

Chasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and explores how ‘The Lucky Country’ became a country where leaders choose detention over compassion and governments deprive the desperate of their basic human rights. The film features never before seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention camps, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Chasing Asylum explores the mental, physical and fiscal consequences of Australia’s decision to lock away families in unsanitary conditions hidden from media scrutiny, destroying their lives under the pretext of saving them.

Emphasising that the coalition government is the main target, the film’s trailer plays the Abbott government’s ad featuring Lt-General Angus Campbell and Operation Sovereign Borders.

The title’s introduction says it’s “the film the Australian government doesn’t want you to see” and promises inside inspection to “the places the Australian Government doesn’t want you to go”. The commentary says, “There is sickness, disease, infection. It feels militarized … staff would have to be trained how to use a Hoffman’s knife. The knife would be used to cut people down when they are found hanging.”

A depressed boat person says, “I heard Australia is a safe country, a humane country,  it respects people and refugees”. Another says, “I have to forget my dreams here”  and “Please don’t forget about us, please don’t leave us here”.  A group of boat people chant, “We want our freedom!”. For added music-themed emotional impact, we see children’s drawings of themselves crying behind bars, with commentary: “They are growing up on white phosphate rock in mouldy, damp tents. They have no privacy and no space.”  Director Orner claimed last June that “we are the only people in the world that keeps children in indefinite detention.”

Cool Australia, which boasts that its material is kept up to datedoesn’t enlighten teachers that the number of children detained on Nauru has fallen from 167 in October 2014 to only 45 last October. That sort of data might spoil the narrative. Nor does the lesson explain that the only choice is having the children on Nauru with their parents, or off Nauru without their parents.

Ever politically correct, Cool Australia says teachers should ensure their classes have a safe space before seeing Orner’s confronting propaganda. Teachers should first pre-discuss it with “students, staff, family members and the local community”, and negotiate “classroom agreements” to ensure ownership and agreement that create a safe space for engagement with the learning stimulus and activities.

A whole course for Years 9-10, involving ten lessons,  is devoted to the book “This Changes Everything”, an anti-capitalism, anti-fossil-fuel polemic by Canadian activist Naomi Klein.[2] She advocates populist uprisings – “Blockadia” — against fossil-energy developments, and for gigantic dollar transfers to (mostly corrupt) Third World governments to repay the West’s (mythical) “climate debt”. She attacks even the major green groups such as WWF and Nature Conservancy as sell-outs to the fossil-fuel industry.[3]

One Cool Australia lesson about Klein’s book is titled, Climate Changes vs Capitalism.[4] It decries the impact on the environment of “our economic system’s push for continual growth”  and the “quality of life for all people”.[5] [6] In an unintentionally revealing disclosure, Cool Australia’s Teacher Notes describe the supposed climate crisis as “an opportunity for a new economic modelthat accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way…  After all, it will be young people who will inherit the world we have created… and who will reinvent a different future.” (My emphasis). This echoes similar sentiments by Christiana Figueres, when a top UN climate official: “This is  probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”[7]

It is a shock to realize that 50,000 teachers are taking in their stride this sort of officially-endorsed green loopiness:

“Students will then analyse a proposed plan for wealthy countries to pay Ecuador not to sell its oil, and write arguments to explain their position on the strategy of having wealthy countries compensate poorer countries for not exploiting their oil reserves.”

Worth noting is that Ecuador vainly sought from the West a total $US3.5b to refrain from oil production in the Yasuni basin. Having reneged on various Western loans, Ecuador is now dependent on Chinese aid, to be repaid by stepped-up oil production. Ecuador now risks becoming one of China’s client states. One can only wonder if or how teachers convey such real-world complexities to their 16-year-olds.

To demonstrate the inhumanity of Western capitalism, the course falls back on the Exxon Valdez oil spill of nearly 30 years ago and Shell’s oil exploitation and pollution in the Niger delta.[8] Shell’s worst spill was in fact nearly 50 years ago. The Niger Delta this century has degenerated into civil wars, while most of the oil-spill pollution involves breaking of pipelines to steal oil. The course, however, hectors students with questions like, “How would Australians react if, every year, an Exxon Valdez-worth of oil spilled into waterways in one of their communities? Why do you think so much oil has been allowed to spill in the Niger Delta for more than fifty years?”

Klein, awardee last month of the “tremendous honor” of the lunar-Left’s Sydney Peace Prize, gives Venezuela a big tick for poverty reduction and independence from Western oil barons. Back in the real world, oil-rich but socialist Venezuela is now barely staving off bankruptcy.

Students are served up extracts from the book and tested on how well they have grasped Klein’s message. One case study is Indian villagers’ protests against a new coal-fired power station. Teacher notes include:

Explore alternatives to economic growth that serve human needs and minimise the impact on the environment. Begin by having students read the This Changes Everything book excerpt…List the strategies described in the text.

The notes do not mention that energy poverty – chiefly, the lack of cheap and reliable electricity — is the main force consigning the Third World’s poor to destitution. Instead, teachers provide students with Cool’s inane questions. A typical asininity: “How do you think climate change would be affected if the global economy collapsed?” And here’s another leading question:

“What impacts is (sic) coal having on our environment? (Suggested answer: Coal mining activities are having a devastating effect on the Great Barrier Reef, and is affecting food production, water security and communities across the nation.)”

No material contrary to the dark-Green’s shtick is provided, other than several quotes including a supposedly tainted one from a Western Fuels US spokesman.[9]

Similarly, Cool Australia takes pains, despite its profession to “highest-quality” science, to screen out any peer-reviewed science sceptical of the IPCC conclusion that man-made CO2 has caused more than half the past 60 years’ warming, relative to natural forces. One unit indeed is titled, “Who is a climate sceptic?” This lumps sceptic science output with pro-smoking studies, anti-vaccination, vested fossil-fuel interests, creationism, and alien visitors. By posing the issue as accepters versus  non-accepters of “the climate science” Cool Australia disappears the hundreds of peer-reviewed science studies per annum (more than 250 in 2015 alone) rejecting the IPCC’s line.

To ensure students aren’t influenced by several quoted sceptic statements, the lesson gives students two “resources” to consult, the Skeptical Science blog, and The Consensus Project. Both, despite the first’s misleading title, are entities of John  Cook of Queensland University, who runs “myth-busting” courses on how to  combat what he calls Climate Denialism. Cook knows quite a bit more about promoting myths, as he is the man responsible for siring and propagating the furphy that 97% of scientists believe in man-made global warming.

There is no reference in Cool’s lesson on sceptics about what is now the 20-year absence of significant global warming, contrary to almost all orthodox climate models[10]; the steady downgrading in peer-reviewed work of climate sensitivity to CO2; and importance to climate of natural ocean, cloud and solar effects.

The final Klein-based lesson involves students designing and implementing a “community action” project, such as a public screening of This Changes Everything. Parents may not be aware that the national curriculum now wants “young people to design action that will lead to a more equitable, respectful and sustainable future.”

Cool Australia enjoys tax-deductible donations as a charity. [11] Its schools campaigns launched  in 2008 as the brainchild of Jason Kimberley, one of the Just Jeans’ Kimberley family, which grossed $64m from the group’s sale in 2001.

The sustainability requirement is acting as a Trojan Horse for sly green groups like Cool Australia to brainwash pupils. Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along with the conversion of schoolkids to Tiny Trots is a mystery. With half of parents voting conservative, it’s time for their own uprising against Left/green indoctrination in schools. Keep in mind that Cool Australia is just one of at least half a dozen green lobby groups — the Youth Climate Coalition is another peddler of pernicious propaganda — that have acquired carte blanche to harangue the classrooms.

Tony Thomas’s previous essay on Cool Australia is here. His new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

[1] Aboriginality and Asian engagement are likewise required as cross-curriculum topics, even in mathematics.

[2] The courses also proffer a film on the topics by Klein’s husband Avi Lewis. The trailer mainly consists of street protests dramas. Nine lessons focus on Tim Flannery’s ridiculous 2006 book, We Are the Weather Makers.

[3] Klein, a Jew, is an avid supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel – a cause she adopted at the height of the Gaza war in 2009. She is now campaigning for international sanctions against the US if Trump dumps the Paris climate accord.

[4] “ Use some of these keywords to initiate conversation (about capitalism): profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans.”

[5] Skeptic blogger Paul Homewood comments on Klein, “In reality, emissions in the West have declined substantially since 1990. Most of the increase she refers to has come from communist China. But it seems that communist emissions are good.”

[6] Klein, asked if one could fight climate change without fighting capitalism, replied, “No, I don’t think there is a way. We’ve been trying that for a long time…So the need for another economic model is urgent, and if the climate justice movement can show that responding to climate change is the best chance for a more just economic system, that creates more and better jobs, greater social equality, more and better social services, public transit, all these things that improve peoples daily lives, people will be ready to fight for those policies.”

[7]  See also,    “Climate policy has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC stalwart, 14/11/2010.

[8] “Keywords: Climate debt, climate justice, social inequality, legacy of colonialism, economic development, This Changes Everything.”

[9] Klein has an apocalyptic impression of Australia, writing last June: “In recent months, the world’s gaze has landed again and again on a hellish Australian terrain of climate-related disaster.” She views the Pacific solution as a “monstrous” and as a racist attack on black and brown lives.

[10] The IPCC itself says 111 of 114 model runs over-estimated the warming trend.

[11] Prahran-based Cool Australia last year had revenue of $923,000 ($45,000 from government grants)  and posted a $73,000 loss, leading to a net liability of $282,000. It reported having 11 full and part-time workers. It creates a huge national impact for an under $1m organization.


  1. Bran Dee

    “Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along – – -”. An appropriate question posed by Tony Thomas and it could be asked of Conservatives in government during the last 40 years and on many topics.
    Working back from the present time:
    Why did Malcolm Turnbull appoint a Green as an advisor? Why appoint a progressive judge such as James Edelman to the High Court?
    Why did Tony Abbott appoint the former Democrat, Natasha Stott-Despoya? Why did Abbott allow and fund, the [Notso]Safe Schools program? Why does Mike Baird put up with NSW Education Minister Picoli and his gender bending? Why did we not oppose James Spigelman to become Chair of the ABC board in 2012 as he had been an advisor to Whitlam in 1972 when they purged the ABC board of conservatives. Why was Mark Scott, formerly of Fairfax Press, allowed 2 terms of hands-off management in the worker’s collective? Why did Mike Baird appoint him to NSW Education when he has been proven to be shy of conservative reform [remember he was Fairfax compatible? etc.

    • Warty

      All very good questions Bran. I might ask further: why have a bunch of deplorables voted for Donald Trump to be their president? Why have 1.7 million Australian voters abandoned the major parties in favour of a few minor parties? Why are there moves afoot in Europe to elect yet more conservative presidents and governments? Why is Francois Hollande on the nose, and Sarkozy cast aside along with Alain Juppe, the latter electing to pursue a ‘business as usual’ course with regards to the problem of Islam, and thereby losing pre-selection to the more decisive Francoise Fillon?
      My feeling is that we have not as yet drunk our fill of the Green bucket of fermented swill; nor have we put aside our tendency towards a ‘she’ll be right’ Australian complacency. But the time will come when it will all be too much to stomach, and our own ‘unwashed’ will want their time at the helm. We simply lack the leader with the degree of vision to lead us out of our own swamp.

    • Rob Brighton

      Because we let them.

  2. Bill Martin

    Contemplating the effects of the stupefying nature of the school curricula is more than a little alarming. Will the next generation of Australians consist mainly of largely illiterate/innumerate, far-left green freaks? Besides the fact that my advanced years will save me from having to endure such calamity, I am also heartened by my childhood experience of growing up in Hungary under Soviet communist domination. Most of us kids knew from our elders that what we were taught in schools – apart from the three r’s – was simply not true and most often reality was exactly the opposite. I do suspect, however, that the understanding of reality by the adults in that community was probably more robust than it is here in present day Australia. Still, I do hope that it still counts for something.

    • Warty

      Oh yes, it does count for something. I fact, I think you’ll have to extend your stay at least another 10 – 20 years Monsieur Bill, just so that you can persuade the adults in Australia that some particularly untoward things are going on under their noses. I have read a few accounts, recently, of life in Hungary during Soviet times, and it was quite a different ‘reality’ altogether.

  3. gray_rm

    I can only agree. Last week my daughter had someone come into school and talk to her Year 8 group about how the Barrier Reef is dying because of developments, mining, and man’s impact. Then she had an Aboriginal group talk about how they were dispossessed from their lands, and watched Rabbit Proof Fence to convince them of their guilt.
    It’s brainwashing.
    And the faux-Liberals do not care.
    Where’s our Trump?

  4. Bran Dee

    I am thinking Gray that in Australia’s game of chance our trump is Pauline Hanson and One Nation.

March of the Climate Cult Kiddies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)

[1] Purves Environmental Trust Annual Review, p18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] 2014 annual report, p22

[10] ibid p32.

[11] ibid p48

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

[13] Madlands, , p143

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

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

[16] By Robert Purves

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

Get Them Young, Make Them Green

Education ministers do not seem troubled that a  green propaganda machine, Cool Australia, has garnered the support of thousands of teachers and schools, happily peddling slick scare campaigns and nudging students towards its militant allies and dark-green partners. If governments won’t object, maybe parents should

eyes have itAustralian schools are handing over the  all-pervasive ‘sustainability’ syllabus to a militant green organisation, Cool Australia, whose curriculum material and projects have enjoyed a red-carpet ride into the state and private education systems, with accolades from the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union.

Much of Cool Australia’s program for schools is benign: recycle trash, don’t waste electricity, plant trees, embrace reconciliation. But the rest of the agenda tirelessly advances the supposedly impending global-warming catastrophe, plus, inevitably, preaching the evils of fossil fuels. The impression of what some might see as brainwashing is enhanced by the featured endorsements of hard-line carbon-phobic groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and civil disobedience advocate/ex-NASA scientist James Hansen [1]. Beyond that, there are links to Bill McKibben, of the 350.org climate-zealot lobby group[2], and the Skeptical Science website, which devotes itself to pummelling ‘deniers’ while declining to publish their demurrals on its comments threads. Such groups’ videos are  offered to students to watch in their own time, leaving more time in class for ‘discussion’ of the messages.

The success of the Cool Australia in planting its deep-green message in the minds of school children suggests a growing and structural obstacle to any rational discussion of climate matters in the future, as green-indoctrinated voters emerge from the education system and join the ranks of voters. Sadly, while green-dyed propaganda becomes a fixture in the classroom, there is not much chance that, say, the coal-mining members of the Minerals Council of Australia or a Big Four bank lending for fossil fuel  projects, will be invited to contribute a measure of balance by providing curriculum modules that deviate from the green orthodoxy.

Cool Australia claims that 42% of Australia’s 10,000-odd schools had a teacher registered with it. From early childhood to Year 10, some 500,000 students were engaged, and 120,000 “learning activities” downloaded for their use. Roughly 20,000 teachers are signed on (that’s 1-in-15 nationally) and the number is growing at the rate of 1400 a month. Teacher sign-ups more than doubled in 2013-14. Targets for 2015 are “more than 50%” of Australian schools, 30,000 registered teachers, and 600,000 children from age 3 upwards (about 20% of all students). Penetration rates are about equal in the government, private and Catholic sectors.

One Cool Australia partner and donor is the magazine Dumbo Feather. Here’s inspiration, kids, from a current Dumbo article by Paul Yacoumis, an RMIT tutor (Environment Economics), Melbourne University tutor (“Reshaping Environments”) and acolyte of the university’s nutty Sustainable Society Institute:

  • “This year I will be further experimenting with self-sufficiency and minimising my participation in the corporate economy. I’m delving into urban foraging, trying my hand at dumpster diving[3] [getting food from rubbish skips] and cultivating a small garden in my front yard—although the food gods have not been especially kind so far… Fortunately for friends and family, I drew the line at hemp clothing.” 
  • “In my darker moments, I’ve even found myself hoping for some kind of global cataclysm—at least then the human race may have the chance to start anew.” 
  • “We can choose to allow the “evil” of social or ecological collapse to fall upon our future kin, or we can start to shift the power away from this unsustainable economic system that’s caused it and build a better one in its place.” 

As Cool Australia founder Jason Kimberley puts it[4]: “We understand … that all information at Cool Australia must be science-based, never politically or ideologically driven.” Regard Cool Australia and its partners as a team, however, and more than a whiff of ideology does seem to be wafting  around the classroom. Indeed, the Cool Australia material quite specifically encourages students to become political activists. In its main textbook, We Are the Weather Makers, we read (emphasis added):

“Tim Flannery says that community leaders ‘need to hear your voice’. Write a letter to a public figure or other influential member of the community explaining your concerns about global warming and climate change.”[5]

Cool Australia’s long march into schools begins with three-year-olds in “early learning centres”, what previous generations knew as day-care and kindergartens, where “our youngest learners” are “a long term investment in shaping our future”.[6] Make no mistake, activism is the end-goal. “Information and awareness are critical, but it’s more important to build young people’s skills and capacity to innovate and implement these solutions…” and this as well, “we educate and engage future generations in the critical thinking required for them to become the revolutionaries we need to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.”[7]

Despite its pleas for reduced consumerism, Cool Australia is, ironically, the brainchild of the Kimberley family, once the proprietors of the Jusst Jeans chain.  Craig Kimberley, who netted $64m from his group’s sale  in 2001, is a director, and his son, Jason, is founder and CEO. Consumerism is bad, apparently, once you have sold your chain of stores devoted to consumerism.

Jason Kimberley endlessly recycles the story of his ‘eco-epiphany’, which happened during a 2005 visit to Antarctica. He returned an ardent eco-warrior. While he may not yet have noticed that Antarctic sea-ice  is at record levels for the satellite era, school principals love his shtick. Kimberley claims to have spoken personally with 50,000 students, at the impressive rate of 10,000 a year. The people running Armadale Primary School in Melbourne were so impressed that, in August, 2013, they declared Jason “Principal for a Day”, with an address to the school assembly thrown in.

The Australian Education Union’s (former) National President, Angelo Gavrielatos, puts the case:

“I don’t know if the Cool Australia team fully understands what they are achieving… an incredible achievement in just six years. Only UNICEF has a greater schools penetration, and they had a 50-year head start… You are, quite seriously, the good guys in education.”

Cool Australia last year partnered with the AEU and Independent Teachers’ Union (ITU) on the “AEU/IEU Greens Conference”, featuring such activists as the global warming scholar Rod Quantock (B.Arch, Melbourne University [failed]), the comedian whose more recent laughter-generating moments are quite unintentional. The AEU called it “Greens Conference”; Cool Australia called it “Green Schools Conference”. Perhaps they’re both right.

Jason  Kimberley has scruples. According to one account, he “delights in reports from teachers of younger children who say their students see the Cool Australia learning activities more like games than serious learning. But he’s less inclined to talk global warming with his own kids: Florence, 8, Cooper, 6 and Olive, 3. ‘I don’t want to shove the environmental stuff down their throats.’ he says.”

Other wealthy backers of Cool Australia include:

  • Ex-Wotif tycoon and Greens Party mega-funder Graeme Wood, worth around $350m.
  • Aged-care tycoon Robert Purves,  WWF  president,  former board member of WWF International and Governor of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.  Purves’ foundation has distributed more than $10 million to environment, climate-change and activist causes.

A major donor (possibly THE major donor) to Cool Australia since 2012 has been Bendigo Bank, whose Bendigo Wealth executive John Billington is on the Cool Australia board and endorsed a three-year sponsoring deal in 2014.   In a cosy double-deal, Bendigo says, “Cool Australia will deliver the Bendigo Wealth brand to thousands of teachers, children and their families.”

And Cool Australia’s report re-pays the praise with interest: “[Bendigo Bank] have a conscience and a heartbeat. They are far bigger than a bank.”[8] To suggest the scale of things, bear in mind that Cool Australia’s and Bendigo Bank’s national Enviroweek in 2013 involved 1200 schools and 162,000 students who adopted 500,000 “challenges”.[9]

Here’s how Bendigo Bank gets a free kick against the Big Four:

Cool Australia strongly endorses the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s (AYCC) juvenile activists, who battle for Gaia by jumping around in  fish costumes at Lend Lease annual meetings, to name but one of their stunts, while denouncing coal financing.

AYCC boasts that it “can provide speakers and group facilitators to schools around the country. The AYCC draws on the significant experience of many of its member groups, as well as its own ‘Climate Messenger’ program to deliver excellent presentations concerning a broad range of issues surrounding climate change. To find out more visit http://www.aycc.org.au/ or call (02) 9247 7934.”[10]

A current AYCC campaign is Dump Your Bank. “Could your bank use your money to fund the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and our climate?” it asks, going on to urge readers to “Take the Pledge. ‘I pledge to dump my bank  because they’ve refused to rule out funding coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef’.” AYCC has made a slick little video (below), featuring photogenic moppets, that specifically targets the Commonwealth, a Bendigo Bank competitor, for allegedly financing the Great Barrier Reef’s destruction.

The material on the AYCC bank-dumping campaign only refers to “Australia’s big four banks”. Posters are provided saying, “Love the Reef? Dump Westpac.” Ditto dump ANZ, CBA and NAB. No wonder Bendigo Bank is thrilled with the Cool Australia/AYCC tag-team operation.[11] Andwith Cool Australia and WWF, donations flow both ways. Cool Australia partnered with WWF on the  school curriculum for 2015 Earth Hour, and the curriculum recommended: “Schools can hold a gold coin day for Earth Hour or WWF-Australia.”

Even more brazen in relieving kids of their pocket money is the material promoting Cool Australia’s Enviroweek, set for the end of August.

“Enviroweek encourages students around Australia to take on a challenge and raise money for their own environmental causes, or donate funds towards Cool Australia’s projects. Since 2009, more than $260,000 has been raised for environmental causes nationwide.”

Education ministers, even Coalition ones, apparently see nothing wrong with environment lobbyists using class lessons to solicit kids’ dollars for their campaigning.

Guy Olian, a director of Cool Australia, is CEO of a business, Energy Lease, providing low-doc, zero-deposit  loans for packaged installation of domestic solar power installations. He was previously director of a similar company, Australian Solar Solutions.  The  pitch is that the solar loans can be paid off from the savings on electricity bills. Whether these savings come good may depend on whether governments maintain their solar subsidies (there was a flurry about threatened subsidy-axing in WA in 2013). Regardless, the solar-power lenders clip  the ticket. Maybe Cool Australia should issue a declaration of interest to teachers and kids every time its lessons sing the praises of household solar power, which they do a lot.[12]

The seductive power of Cool Australia is its professionalism in terms of classroom know-how. Teachers are required in  the new Australian Curriculum to interweave “sustainability” themes into the corpus of their teaching practice. The teachers are flummoxed, as  Dr Margaret Loughnan, a Monash health geographer,  has described:

“I have quite a few friends who are primary teachers and they are ringing me up and saying, ‘What is this about climate change? We have to teach climate change. We don’t know how to teach climate change. We have no text at all to teach Grade 3, so how do we teach?’

“From what I gather those poor teachers are blundering around in the dark and trying to get things off the internet to teach our children. It’s something that needs a little bit more attention.”

Enter Cool Australia with its portfolio of on-line, fun-and-friendly lesson plans: “Free online environmental resources where all the hard work is already done.”  The ‘free’ element must have a special appeal to under-resourced and smaller schools.

Cool Australia claims 90% of Australian teachers want to teach sustainability, with more than 85% unsure how to do it.

“We fill this gap, help fulfil teachers’ demands …  This is our gift to Australia. We are changing the face of education in Australia by incorporating real world understandings as part of the key school curriculum.”[13]

The teachers involved are spread evenly between Science, Maths, English, and the Humanities.

As Cool Australia puts it, “a Maths teacher will teach primary students to tell the time by linking time with water-saving activities. An English teacher will inspire students to develop a communication project that explains the challenges of “a clean energy future”. Some may recall those last three words from the Gillard years, when they featured prominently in the government’s ill-fated Clean Energy Future carbon-tax package.

Back in the classroom, teachers are delighted to have such tailor-made “toolkits”, approved by headquarters, to dial-up as required on “climate change, environment and sustainability”. The risible nature of Cool Australia’s “science”   includes its 2015 focus on “highlighting the impacts of global warming on Aussie food and farming”. Unmentioned is that global atmospheric warming stopped 18 years ago.

Australian farmers now coping with drought, storms etc., are suffering from weather and coping with variations in microclimates, as farmers always have. But Cool Australia knows better: “Tasteless carrots, bad pizza dough and poor quality steak are some of the impacts we can expect from Australia’s changing climate”. It quotes a study from climatologist David Karoly (of course) about the impact that extreme weather, climate-related diseases blah blah blah  “will have on the production, quality and cost of Australia’s food in the future.”

The basis for 16 modules of Cool Australia secondary curriculum material is Tim Flannery’s save-the-world book “The Weather Makers”, written way back in the ‘settled science’ era of 2003. The book in 2006 was re-issued for students as “We Are the Weather Makers” (every secondary school in the country got a copy) and again in 2007 as  “Thinking about climate change – A guide for teachers and students” . That free version was devised by David Harding, Rose Iser, and Sally Stevens, but who are these people? Well, one of them, Iser,  was the 2010 Greens candidate for the Victorian State seat of Essendon and later adviser to Greens MHR Adam Bandt.

Cool Australia has spruced up “Thinking About Climate Change” with up-to-date material from the Climate Council to make it a multi-media resource for its teacher clients, an initiative that reflects the group’s leaders are serious professionals with plenty of management/marketing expertise. Chair David Simpson, an executive coach,  is a veteran international advertising executive. Director Sergio Galanti is a turnaround expert with successes at Coles Myer and Kraft. He’s gone green because of “his children accusing his generation for the environmental challenges we face today”.  (Kids are pretty arrogant these days). Staffer Angela Andrews BComm, MTeach, spent a decade at Sydney boys school Newington College, and was an economics HSC examiner for four years. She also worked for Manly Council as Climate Change & Sustainability Education Officer.

Thea Nicholas, science and sustainability teacher and Cool Australia staffer since 2013, writes,

“I know first hand the challenges that schools, teachers and students face in this current educational climate … By providing a variety of curriculum resources that suits each educators  (sic) personal teaching style and needs, we will be creating a new generation of students who are change-makers and energised to help build a sustainable future.”

When a classroom teacher, she used Cool Australia materials in class for four years, and won many education awards.   However, her style was so apocalyptic that her students, she says, got traumatised. She expects, for example, a 6degC average temperature rise for Australia’s hottest days by 2100, wiping out many species along with the Kakadu wetlands.

“As I digest these devastating [IPCC] findings [she means ‘speculations’] my personal response is despair. I know this isn’t helpful, or productive, when my job revolves around writing sustainability curriculum for school kids.   How do I tell them that we may be up shit creek without a paddle?”

She recalled one of her science lessons six years ago about atmospheric gases. The kids were bored until they started talking about how people are causing global warming that would impact all living things. But then the kids got apathetic, anxious and hopeless. 

“ Had I failed these kids by peddling the scientific gloom and doom and not considering the psychological and emotional impacts of my teaching? It was clear these kids were feeling hopeless and this broke my heart. For me, there is nothing sadder than a child that has lost hope. A child who has barely seen the world – yet has experienced enough to not want to be part of it and contribute to the future.”

So she gave these (benighted) kids hope with a program for going green and cutting their CO2 footprints.

“This was the most rewarding and memorable experience of my life. One that defined my teaching career and ultimately who I am as a person.

“Imagine if every child around the world woke up tomorrow and felt empowered. … Sustainability education in our classrooms can achieve this…They learn that we are part of the Earth rather than simply a destructive presence on the Earth.

“We must make sure all children feel hopeful and enthusiastic about their future. Only then can they develop into CEO’S, politicians, nurses and builders who are solutionaries (sic) of the future.

And they will be solutionaries…if they learn how in schools.”

One Cool Australia module teaches Year 9 science students how to analyse statements by ‘sceptics’and ‘deniers’, and “make judgements around the motivations behind them”. After paying lip service to science scepticism, Cool Australia then equates “denial” about the  global warming consensus with tobacco companies originally denying health damage; anti-evolution arguments; claims that animals can learn languages; and even aliens and UFOs. Elsewhere, Cool Australia links climate scepticism with anti-vaccination campaigning. Any funding of research or groups by industry or energy companies (as distinct from government or green-lobby funding) is seen as cause for alarm.

Students are asked to assess statements by orthodox warmists vs. those by scary sources such as “denier” Fred Singer (a world-renowned physicist and space-research pioneer), the late Ray Evans of the Lavoisier Group, who is dubbed a “sceptic”, and someone from the US Western Fuels Association (another ‘denier’).[14] The exercise is set against the conclusion of John Cook’s notoriously flawed paper claiming a 97.1% consensus on warming orthodoxy (which on the paper’s own figures, was actually only a 0.3% consensus). Students are then asked to put forth their own credible statement on climate change. It would be a brave student who took the sceptic line.

With all its marketing and management firepower, Cool Australia knows how to leverage its reach. For example, it provides a template letter for parents to urge principals to get aboard the Cool cart:

Dear Principal,
Like most parents, I am very concerned for the future of our planet and how this will affect my child and their children. It seems that most of us are under-educated when it comes to understanding that our natural world is our life support system…I have recently become aware of the excellent teacher resource and student toolbox – Cool Australia…  I would like to talk with you to discuss how we can get the Cool Australia resources into the school’s curriculum…

Cool Australia runs on a budget of about $820,000, including $325,000 for the salaries of four full-time and three part-time staff. There is also a 20-strong team of top-qualified curriculum writers. Unless there’s some external source of finance, the pay at Cool Australia seems  modest. Moreover, all team members are expected to contribute an extra Stakhanovite-like  20 weekly hours to their official workload, as part of the struggle to succeed “in a very difficult market to crack – education.”

Cool Australia has superseded its original Environmental Science credentials and now touts its own conception of “Learning for Life” to students:

“This will include understandings about ethics, morality, wealth and the clear link between good mental health and spending time in nature.”[15]

Come to think of it, churches also want to teach about ethics, morality and wealth, but I can’t imagine 20,000 teachers welcoming their dogma and representatives to classroom and curriculum.

When not keeping an honest eye on the piffle being served in Australia’s schools, Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here (I Hope)

[1] From Cool Australia’s website: James Hansen, who warned of the dangers of global warming as early as 1988, said a United Nations-endorsed target for capping global warming is too high and will ensure future generations suffer “irreparable harm.”

[2] Cool Australia touted McKibben’s 2013 Australian visit and message:   “’The fossil fuel industry are outlaws against the laws of physics.’ He contended that the fossil fuel industry needed to lose their veneer of respectability, the way the tobacco industry has. ‘If it is wrong to wreck the climate,” he said, “then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage’.”

[3] A typical message on  Dumpster Diving Melbourne community facebook: “HEAPS of cauliflower, frozen pies, asparagus & some otha goodies in the city Aldi bin if anyone is in the area today & wants to hit it up!”

[4] Annual report, 2013-14

[6]  Annual report, 2013-14

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] ibid

[11]  Other tidbits from the AYCC website include, ‘Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church’ ‪ ; and  “The reckless business model of the fossil fuel industry is now threatening half of all bird species on the planet and entire nations are at risk of becoming environmental sacrifice zones.”

[12]  Cool Australia website: “The installation of rooftop-solar has become such a ‘no brainer’ for Australian households that whole suburbs could generate and store enough electricity to go-off grid.”

Tim Flannery’s Weather Makers book, by the way, also includes a plug for loan financing of solar power. “It is well worth taking out a loan,” he writes, “for in sunny climates like Australia or California or southern Europe the payback period is around two or three years. The solar heating devices usually carry a ten-year guarantee, so you will get at least seven to eight years of free hot water.” (Kindle edition, Location 2896).

[13] Annual report, 2013-14

[14]  You may need to create an account to access the material

[15] Annual report, 2013-14