John Howard’s faith vs climate science: former PM to headline talk at climate denial think tank

The first order of business for the incoming Abbott government has been to systematically dismantle Australia’s response to the challenge of climate change.

Whether that be “axing the tax”, cutting agencies such as the Climate Commission or dismantling the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Abbott & Co. are gleefully wrecking revenge on the very notion of climate change.

Not only were these actions anticipated, but they represent a return to the “glory years” of the Howard government.

Disdain for science and obstruction are once again the first order of business. Without doubt Abbott is clearly following the lead of his mentor – John Howard.

Thus it comes as no surprise to learn John Howard will be delivering the Global Warming Policy Foundations annual lecture in November titled “One religion is enough”.

Note the title: climate sceptics disparage the science as a “faith” in the exact same way creationists dismiss evolution as a “religion”. It betrays an almost medieval ambivalence to science and the challenge it presents to its authority.

There is an underlying similarity in the opposition to the science expressed by Australian conservative politicians such as Howard, Abbott and public figures such as Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell (a close confident of both).

All of them profess a deeply reactionary view of morality, the family, marriage and antipathy to science informed by their religiosity.

All of them disdain environmentalism, and regard it as a form of paganism or competing religion to the “one true faith”.

As Pell noted in an 2008 interview with the sceptic think tank, the Science and Public Policy Institute:

“It is true that some of the more hysterical and extreme claims about global warming appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature. 

Years ago I was struck by the fears that middle-class kids without religion had about nuclear war. It was almost an obsession with a few of them. It’s almost as though people without religion, who don’t belong to any of the great religious traditions, have got to be frightened of something. 

Perhaps they’re looking for a cause that is almost a substitute for religion. I often point out that some of those who are now warning us against global warming were warning us back in the 1970s about an imminent new ice age, because according to some criteria an ice age is a bit overdue. Remember the fuss about the millennium bug and our computer systems in the lead-up to the year 2000…”

Pell’s response is reminiscent of that Catholic Church when confronted by Galileo’s evidence for a heliocentric solar system.

Howard was a “late convert” to the science in 2007 as the election that spelt his demise loomed.

However, since being thrown out he has thrown his clout behind the deniers now freed from the constraints of office.

In 2011 Howard helped launched Ian Plimer’s “How to get expelled”, a nasty and error-riddled little tome designed to mislead school students:

Mr Howard attacked the one-sided teaching of climate change in schools.

“People ought to be worried about what their children are being taught at school,” he said.

“It’s a matter of real concern”.

As Michelle Gratton notes in The Conversation, one of Abbott’s most senior advisers is Maurice Newman, a noted climate sceptic and who recently dismissed climate change as a myth:

Newman chairs Abbott’s Business Advisory Group and this week wrote in the Financial Review of climate change “myths”.

“The new Coalition government is faced with enormous structural issues that have been camouflaged by effective propaganda and supported by well-organised elements in the public service, the media, the universities, trade unions and the climate establishment,” Newman wrote.

“With a huge vested interest in the status quo, they will be vocal opponents of change. The CSIRO, for example, has 27 scientists dedicated to climate change. It and the Weather Bureau have become global warming advocates. They continue to propagate the myth of anthropological climate change and are likely to be background critics of the Coalition’s Direct Action policies.”

The CSIRO comes under the Industry department. The scientists working in the climate area might be getting a little nervous.

A war on science has begun.

Or should we say, has resumed?

18 thoughts on “John Howard’s faith vs climate science: former PM to headline talk at climate denial think tank

  1. john byatt says:

    newman is abbott’s adviser mike not howards

    Newman chairs Abbott’s Business Advisory Group and this week wrote in the Financial Review of climate change “myths”

  2. john byatt says:

    cannot find Tims’s media conference after his sacking , Anyone ?

  3. Stuart Mathieson says:

    This gives me a sickening feeling in the stomach. I increasingly encounter hostility to critical thinking and the invective can be frightening. Just look at the standard fare on your TV guides and be frightened, be very frightened.
    In NZ the door has been opened for charter schools to teach Creationism thanks to John Banks (hardly surprising).

    • klem says:

      “In NZ the door has been opened for charter schools to teach Creationism..”

      I have no sympathy for you greenie leftys, none whatsoever. You people bad mouthed traditional religion for years, mocked creationism, humiliated creationists at every opportunity, screamed that the earth was dieing from the demon carbon dioxide, and attempted to create a UN controlled world government based on carbon controls. You awoke the conservative beast is what you did.

      When people began to see the religiosity of anthropogenic climate alarmism, many began to ask the questions “if their religion is being taught in schools, why can’t my religion be taught in schools?” And now they are getting their way.

      This your bed, you made it, now you get to sleep in it. Nice work. Enjoy.

  4. Stuart Mathieson says:

    Fahrenheit 451?

    • john byatt says:

      “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”

  5. Gregory T says:

    Perhaps we should adopt the Texas republican platform regarding schooling.

    In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department, here’s what the Republican Party of Texas wrote into its 2012 platform as part of the section on education:

    Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

  6. Nick says:

    Howard is a snivelling ignoramus. His great triumph was being able to minimise awareness of that fact long enough to grasp power. He was the failed treasurer who was hailed for economic smarts.

    ‘One Religion is Enough’…clearly no climate wreckers from other faiths will be present at that ‘lecture’..what a goose!

    Why is any media outlet even reporting the elderly ex-politician’s engagement with a bogus ‘think-tank’? Oh…I know why. It’s because News Corporation has surrendered much of its climate science reporting to them!

    • J Giddeon says:

      Howard is actually one of the towering figures of modern Australia and is widely lauded in many parts of the world for his triumphs and acumen when he ran this nation.

      He is remembered as the man who got this nation through the asian financial collapse with deft economic policies and the man who oversaw the final advance of Aust away from the moribund 1970’s into a modern advanced nation.

      He is remembered in the wider world for the way he handled things like East Timor, the Bali bombing and assisted Indonesia toward democracy.

      You probably didn’t see it (must avoid anything that challenges prejudices) but he was recently praised on the John Stewart show for his handling of the gun buy-back and treated as a towering example to the US congress.

      This and much more means that he would swat away insignificant bugs whose most fact-filled attack is the invective. “snivelling ignoramus”. Really? I don’t think I’ve heard that type of snotty-nosed tantrum since 8th year playtime.

      This is why he would be invited to speak. He is respected world-wide by those who got beyond 8th grade.

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