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August 07 2012

22:35

Andrew Bolt Cuts Ties With Climate Science Denying Galileo Movement Over Alleged Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theory

ANDREW Bolt is Australia's loudest and most popular climate science doubt-spreader who just loves to stoke the fires of environmental conspiracy theorists with his daily splurge of blog posts and his weekly radio and TV shows.

The blogger and columnist in the Murdoch-owned News Ltd press describes climate change as a "religious movement" and says climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy.

Bolt allows his commenters to refer to the United Nations as the "United Nazis" and regularly joins the "one world government" conspiracy theorists while pulling quotes out of context to insinuate "warmists" have ambitions of totalitarian "global management". He maligns solar power at every opportunity and claims wind farms are an "insult to the intelligence".

But there is at least one conspiracy theory which Andrew Bolt isn't happy to endorse. Up until last week, Bolt was listed as an adviser to one of Australia's most active climate denialist organisations the Galileo Movement. But then what happened?

In a report late last month in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Galileo Movement's project manager Malcolm Roberts, a former mining industry consultant, was asked if recent research led by US physicist Professor Richard Muller had swayed the group's thinking on human-caused climate change. The SMH report read

Mr Roberts said climate change science had been captured by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''. He said he understood that the group's views might sound strange, but claimed they were becoming increasingly popular.

''It does sound outlandish,'' Mr Roberts said. ''I, like you, was reluctant to believe it [but] there are significant things going on in Australia that people are waking up to. The UN's climate front is just a part of the overall UN 'Agenda 21', which is the sustainability program and the biodiversity program … But the biggest one's the UN agenda for global governance.''

The bit about "banking families" made its way to Bolt, who was apparently spooked and wrote Roberts an email saying his words "sounded very much like one of those Jewish world conspiracy theories that I despise". After getting a reply, Bolt wrote:

Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

Bolt then asked to be removed from the list of the Galileo Movement's advisers, which is a veritable who's who of climate science denial, listing the likes of Lord Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer and the Cato Institute's Pat Michaels. Popular Sydney radio host Alan Jones is Galileo's patron. Will any of them feel the need to follow Bolt?

In the comments section, Roberts claimed his words were not anti-semitic and that "Some of my friends and those who I respect, admire and value enormously for their achievements are Jewish." But Roberts then offered to educate Bolt on "major international banking families", "cabals" and pushes for "global governance".

Bolt's defection does put him in something of an awkward position, not least because one of the people who Roberts recommends to Bolt for more on his banking theories is David Evans, who is one of Bolt's favourite skeptics. For example, Bolt cites Evans here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and, well, you get the picture.

Evans, the husband of climate sceptic blogger JoNova, once outlined his thesis in a 2009 paper published by the Science and Public Policy Institute titled Manufacturing Money, and Global Warming. Naming the "Rothschilds", Evans writes

The banking families don’t work for a living in the normal sense, like the rest of us. They avoid scrutiny and envy by blending in and make themselves invisible. Since they own or influence all sorts of media organizations, it isn’t too hard. There are unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories, but nobody can really credibly say how much wealth and influence they have.

One of Bolt's other favourite "experts" to cite is Christopher Monckton who, like Evans and Nova, is also an adviser to the Galileo Movement. Bolt cites Monckton enthusiastically  hereherehere and here and probably lots of other places.

Monckton has been pushing his various conspiratorial talking points around the globe for years. To add to his insistence that climate change is some sort of socialist plot to take over the world, Monckton has recently taken to questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in a Tea Party-sponsored tour. Is Bolt happy to stick with Monckton, one wonders?

But is it fair to generalise that people who deny climate change science are all conspiracy theorists? Well no, but one piece of new research does suggest that people who reject the science are also more likely to entertain a whole range of whacky ideas.

Research led by cognitive psychologist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Western Australia, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, found an important predictor for climate science denialism was a belief in free-market economics.

But the research also found a correlation between denial of human caused climate change science and "conspiracist ideation", such as acceptance of supposed CIA plots to kill Martin Luther King, faked Moon landings or how the US government let the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour so they could enter World War II.

Or the strongest correlation, plots to create world governments.

July 25 2012

02:07

Climate Science Denier Debunks Greenhouse Theory With Two Fish Cooler Boxes And A Roll Of Cling Film

SOMETIMES in the world of climate science "scepticism", things can become a little surreal. A bit odd, if you will, to the point where you need to inflict a sharp pain upon your person to confirm you've not drifted off into an alternate reality.

Like the time, for example, when Australian mainstream TV station Channel Seven chose a "climate expert" who once wrote a book called "Pawmistry" detailing how to read your cat's paws. 

Or the time when a Christian fundamentalist claimed the Victorian bushfires were his god’s revenge for the state’s “incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb”. 

Then there was the time when US free market think-tank the Heartland Institute said "the people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen."

To me, the odd thing about these instances is not that they actually happened or that there are people with enough arrogance and ideology to believe their own fantasies. What's odd, is that people in positions of influence still associate themselves with them.

Ken Ring, the "pawmistry" guy, still gets slots on Channel Seven. He was on again just a couple of months ago.

The fundamentalist Christian Pastor Daniel Nalliah later hosted a lecture by climate science denier extraordinaire Lord Christopher Monckton, who is also favoured by the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart.

The Heartland Institute may have paid the price for its billboard campaign juxtaposing climate science and the unabomber but it didn't stop Australia's Institute of Public Affairs science fellow Professor Bob Carter concluding the campaign was a good idea.

And so with all this in mind, we come to the latest episode in this compendium of climate contrarian curios.

To fill you in, Queensland's ruling Liberal-National Party has overwhelmingly accepted a motion that climate science shouldn't be taught in schools. The proposer of the motion (which may not be taken up by the parliamentary wing of the party), is a Dr Richard Pearson, from the Sunshine Coast town of Noosa.

It now appears that Dr Pearson has been running his own climate science experiments at home, in his kitchen, with results that some may find remarkable.

Armed only with thermometers, two fish cooler boxes and a roll of cling film, Dr Pearson believes he may have disproved the greenhouse effect (you may now pinch yourself).

We know this because he wrote about his experiment on the website of the climate sceptic group the Galileo Movement (patron, popular radio presenter Alan Jones, with a cornucopia of climate contrarian advisers). What was Dr Pearson's conclusion after running his fish box test?

 The Greenhouse Effect theory is not confirmed by this experiment and may be disproved by it.

Now, even though the notion that a guy in his kitchen armed with two fish cooler boxes and a roll of cling film could disprove the greenhouse theory may seem a little fanciful (because I acknowledge that to some it may), I thought I'd waste the time of an actual atmospheric scientist.

Because after all, I don't presume to be a scientist even though I did once make one of those volcanoes from bicarb of soda, vinegar and food colouring. My experiment was a success and also falsified the outrageous claim that my mum's tablecloth was "stainless".

I guess though that there's an extraordinarily slim chance that a Nobel prize could be winging its way to Dr Pearson's residence (he could put it in his fish cooler box for safe keeping). 

So I asked Professor Steven Sherwood at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre to review Dr Pearson's experiment. This is his response. Settle in.

This request falls at an interesting time, as I just finished lecturing about the greenhouse effect to students who have no background in science  - they're mostly arts majors.  At this point I would expect - or hope - these students have sufficient understanding to see why this "experiment" by Dr. Pearson did not work.  In fact I may use this as a test question or follow-up question to see if they understood the lecture. 
Also, if Dr. Pearson would spend even one hour studying the greenhouse effect he would learn why this test does not work. The greenhouse effect is determined by the difference in temperature between the added infrared absorber (in this case, CO2) and the surface.  Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere radiate to space at an average temperature of about 250K (-23C).  It is because they are so cold that they exert a greenhouse effect.  Absorbers at temperatures matching those of the surface would exert no greenhouse effect. In his film-covered boxes, the temperature is essentially uniform.  Thus there is no greenhouse effect, no matter what substance he puts into the box. 
Incidentally for a number of years I had students build such boxes(not filled with CO2) and they can be a good way to learn about radiation — for example, if he places this (air-filled) box outside at night he will see that the temperature falls below the surface temperature.  This is because of emission of infrared radiation which is not balanced by sunlight. In fact, Dr. Pearson could mimic the true greenhouse effect if he could build a several-layer system and put CO2 in the top layer, but thermally insulate it from the lower layer.  This would be quite a bit more difficult to build, and the performance could be severely compromised by diffusion of heat within the apparatus and to the outside, but in principle could begin to reveal the greenhouse effect.
By the way, the greenhouse trapping of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is not a theory as Pearson falsely claims but is directly observed by satellites.  It is an observed fact, and the warming follows from the principle of conservation of energy, which is as close to observed fact as one gets with theories in physics.

So there you go.  If only Dr Pearson had checked with an actual expert in atmospheric physics, then he could have saved himself some time and the cost of some Glad Wrap. If you bother to read Dr Pearson's "experiment" then it might well sound vaguely plausible to non-experts, which includes the vast majority of the general public.

At the end of his experiment, Dr Pearson recounts how his daughter then asked how a man bearing cling film could "disprove a theory that hundreds of climate scientists around the world say is true". A fair question. “That my darling is science”, was Dr Pearson's response.

Is it really? Professor Sherwood again.

When Dr. Pearson says,'that's science' he is I am afraid kidding himself. The way a real scientist interprets an observation is to write down the equations governing the system.  This is what my students have done.  They are not hard, and for the type of system Dr Pearson is putting together do not involve, for example, calculus - only the ability to solve a coupled system of linear equations.  Only then do you know whether you are interpreting it correctly.

Professor Matthew England, of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre and also chairman of the Australian Climate Commission's science advisory panel, says the motion Dr Pearson succesfully proposed to the LNP could have broad ramifications, if only for the state's reputation.

If the proposal to remove greenhouse science from the school curriculum is enacted, Queensland's education system will become an international joke overnight.  Basic greenhouse gas physics has been established with around 200 years of scientific progress - any move to muzzle climate science facts from being taught at schools will be condemned as world's worst practice in scientific education.
So if the Queensland Education Minister John Paul Langbroek does act on the motion (campaigners are petitioning) from his party, then Prof England says the state will be a laughing stock.
 
Until then, we'll just have to settle for the majority of the members of the LNP.

 

February 03 2012

01:50

Australian Meteorology Bureau Corrects Record On Former Research Head William Kininmonth's Actual Climate Change Experience

WHEN it comes to climate change science, as with most things in life, it pays to listen to actual experts with a solid background in their field.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal and, later, The Australian newspaper, ran an editorial from a group of climate science contrarians which claimed global warming had stopped and that CO2 was food for plants, rather than a potential pollutant. 
 
In a scathing response in the WSJ, also published by The Australian, 38 genuine climate change scientists, explained the original WSJ 16 were "the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology."
 
"While accomplished," the response explained, "most of its authors have no expertise in climate science. The few who have are known to hold extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert."
 
The group also debunked the misleading notion that global warming had stopped. "Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade,'' the group wrote. "In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter."
 
Several journalists and bloggers, including Media Matters, have also investigated the expertise of the signatories to the original op-ed, which included members of free market think-tanks, climate science denial organisations and even a former researcher for Exxon.
 
One of the WSJ 16 in question, did appear on paper though to have some solid experience on his CV. William Kininmonth, a long-time sceptic of human caused climate change, was described in the WSJ editorial as the "former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology".

read more

December 13 2011

07:26

Climate Science Denier Ian Plimer Recruits Former Australian PM To Launch Book Targeting Children

ON November 24 in Melbourne, Professor Ian Plimer launched his new book which aims to spread doubt and uncertainty on the science of climate change.

Targeting school children and teachers (at least superficially) with his book, Professor Plimer told the audience: “These children are being fed environmental propaganda and these children are too young to be fed ideology”

Yet the book – How to Get Expelled From School – is being supported by the Institute for Public Affairs, a think-tank that exists to do little else than spread its own free-market ideology.

Not only that, but Professor Plimer, a geologist at the University of Adelaide, was actively fundraising for the IPA just last month when the Federal Government’s carbon price legislation was passed.

The executive director of the IPA John Roskam, former corporate affairs manager for mining giant Rio Tinto, is on the editorial board of the book’s publisher, Connor Court.

During his 20-minute launch speech on YouTube, Professor Plimer criticised climate scientists for being allegedly part of a “political movement”. Yet in virtually the next breath, he told the audience “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming.”

So much for spreading ideology and taking the politics out of science?

Since that late November gathering, Professor Plimer has managed to fit in a trip to the UK to speak at a debate in London hosted by a group called Repeal The Act. The aim of the debate was to encourage people to sign a petition calling for the repeal of the UK Parliament’s Climate Change Act.

The group boasts as its patron Professor Bob Carter, the IPA’s science policy advisor and another Australian climate science “skeptic”.

Plimer is also on the advisory committee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think-tank chaired by former UK chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson and which has much in common with the IPA.

Both groups aim to spread doubt and confusion on the science of climate change and the efficacy of renewable energy and both have recruited Professor Carter and Professor Plimer as speakers and advisors.

Neither of them are prepared to reveal any details about their funders. Professor Plimer and Professor Carter are also advisors to the Australian Climate Science Coalition and the Galileo Movement – two other climate science denial “think-tanks” which exist entirely to attack climate science and oppose regulation on greenhouse gases.

A recent “research” paper from the GWPF criticizing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contained a foreword from former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, in which he described climate change campaigners as “zealots”.

On Monday evening this week, Mr Howard was the star attraction at the Sydney launch of Professor Plimer’s book at the Sydney Mining Club. The IPA was again a supporter, as it will be for the launch in Brisbane later this month.

Mr Howard said he was an “agnostic” on climate science and displayed an odd paranoia of the “left” when he said: “The progressive left has got their grip on the commanding heights of education instruction in this country.”

When Mr Howard uses the term “agnostic” what he’s actually saying is that he isn’t able to accept the multiple lines of evidence contained in the decades worth of climate science published in journals across the world and backed by every major science academy on the planet that excessive burning of fossil fuels will very likely be bad.

Despite Mr Howard’s enthusiasm for the new book and its author, Professor Plimer has never actually had any research published on climate change in a peer-reviewed journal.
When he published his last book – Heaven and Earth – it was roundly and forcefully dismissed by actual climate scientists as being riddled with misrepresentations and errors of fact.

This didn’t stop it from being widely popular around the world, and helping influence the likes of Opposition leader Tony Abbott and Australia’s most senior catholic, Cardinal George Pell.

Scientists have begun responding in much the same way to his new book (despite ordering the book myself more than a week ago, my order appears to have fallen into a black hole), by pointing out its errors and one-sided ideologically driven narrative.

Review copies for the ABC and Fairfax newspapers have not fallen into a black hole, however. Rather, Professor Plimer revealed in his Melbourne speech that the publisher Connor Court had refused to send them any review copies.

Media coverage so far has been relatively soft and unchallenging, with the ABC’s Radio National AM show failing to balance any of the views of Professor Plimer, Mr Howard or the receptive audience in the room of the miners’ club.

Plimer is among friends at mining venues. He is a director of mining companies Ivanhoe Australia, Silver City Minerals and the UK-listed Kefi Minerals, and is chairman of TNT Mines (he enjoyed remuneration of at least $140,000 from these companies and holds shares worth about $200,000). He resigned in November as a director of coal seam gas explorer Ormil Energy, even though he is still listed as a director on the company’s website.

These associations don’t tend to get a mention in media coverage and I doubt it’s in the author’s biography of his new book either (but I might be wrong).

But the contents of his Melbourne speech do reveal the same tired and long-debunked arguments that scientists diligently tore to shreds in 2009 when his previous book was published.

Professor Plimer claims that the climate has always changed (which it has) and that CO2 is a trace gas (which it is, but is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human activity) that couldn’t possibly affect the climate (which it can, and does).

A recent analysis of Professor Plimer’s statements at the science-based website Skeptical Science – titled Plimer vs Plimer – shows how consistently he contradicts even his own statements.

At the Melbourne launch, for example, Professor Plimer said that there’s no relationship between carbon dioxide and global warming. He makes the same statement in his book Heaven and Earth on page 278, but then on page 411, he says “Together with water vapour, CO2 keeps our planet warm so that it is not covered in ice, too hot or devoid of liquid water.”

If Professor Plimer is aiming to target school children and families with his new book, then he’s also attune to the provocative and cynical nature of his pitch.

The book will in all likelihood help his followers and his fellow free-market ideologues to “maintain the rage” and their climate science denial – even if it is maintained on debunked science.

August 04 2011

18:20

Denial Down Under With The Galileo Movement

THERE'S a new climate denial lobby group on the block - bravely regurgitating previously debunked pseudo-science and making wild unsubstantiated claims that climate scientists are all corrupt.

Not happy with misrepresenting the science on climate change, The Galileo Movement has also misappropriated the name of the father of modern science who was persecuted for his insistance that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was the centre of the universe.

The Galileo Movement, launched in Australia, has stated its prime mission is to stop the Government's current efforts to introduce a price on greenhouse gas emissions and boasts a list of advisors resembling a who's who of international climate change denial.

Included on the group's advisory panel are Professor Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Professor Bob Carter, Professor Ian Plimer, Joe D'Aleo, Professor Richard Lindzen and Lord Christopher Monckton.

Galileo has been getting plenty of air-time and online exposure thanks to its patron, popular conservative radio host Alan Jones, and News Ltd blogger Andrew Bolt, who is also listed as an "advisor". 

Jones, a fierce and fearless host on 2GB who leads radio ratings with his breakfast slot in Sydney, has been on a relentless tirade in recent weeks attacking climate science and the federal government's plans to tax greenhouse gas emissions.

Since March, Jones has interviewed seven of the Galileo Movement's advisors and the project's coordinator. He's interviewed Professor Carter twice and Lord Monckton three times. Both are advisors at the US-based climate denial "think-tank" the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI).

He's also managed to squeeze in interviews with sceptics Lord Lawson, chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus.

During one slot, Jones claimed on-air that "human beings produce 0.001 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the air", prompting an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority

Yet Jones is also an outspoken critic of the massive expansions to coal mining and coal seam gas development in rural and remote regions of Australia.

Galileo has also brought in the services of JacksonWells, a Sydney-based public relations firm with a client list that you might describe as diverse.

As well as providing PR advice to international brands including computer firm Dell, Warner Bros. Entertainment, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, JacksonWells also has The Church of Scientology and the closed religious group The Exclusive Brethren on its books.

JacksonWells also lobbies government officials on behalf of many of its clients. The firm appears on the federal government lobby register and similar registers in the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Picking up the Galileo PR work is the well-travelled JacksonWells director Bob Lawrence, who also provided media advice and support to organisers of climate change denier Lord Monckton's 2010 Australia-wide tour.

In an article last year in the JacksonWells company newsletter, The Well, Lawrence explained how he had helped to gain positive media coverage for Lord Monckton.

He wrote the firm had employees "who agree that climate change is a major global threat and we have our skeptics" but he added "the firm itself takes no corporate position on political issues".

A political issue?

Disagreeing would be the world's acidifying oceans, warming climate, changing atmospheric composition, melting Arctic and the vast majority of its working climate scientists.

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