Category Archives: Tony Abbott

At war with reality: key figures in Liberal Party remain unswayed by evidence

An interesting article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald today examining the views of prominent Liberal National Party politicians on climate change.  Despite the evidence many have held onto their sceptical views:

THE most prominent political climate sceptics see no reason to change their minds, despite the welter of studies over the past fortnight showing forecasts of global warming were correct or underestimates.  

Many of the climate sceptics, influential in elevating Tony Abbott to Coalition leader, say they see nothing to convince them that human activity is causing the climate to change.  

The Global Carbon Project has released forecasts that the planet could warm by between 4 degrees and 6 degrees by the end of the century and Nature Climate Change on Monday published a study finding that warming is consistent with 1990 scientific forecasts.

As I (and many others) have stated this has nothing to do with evidence. The denial of climate change is driven by the ideology, world views and values:

South Australian senator Cory Bernardi, formerly Mr Abbott’s parliamentary secretary, said: ”I do not think human activity causes climate change and I haven’t seen anything that changes my view. I remain very sceptical about the alarmists’ claims.” 

Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce said the whole debate about whether humans were causing the climate to change was ”indulgent and irrelevant”. 

”It is an indulgent and irrelevant debate because, even if climate change turns out to exist one day, we will have absolutely no impact on it whatsoever … we really should have bigger fish to fry than this one,” Senator Joyce said.

Individuals can be very good at maintaining cognitive dissonance, filtering out information they don’t agree with and latching onto “facts’ that support their world view.

West Australian Dennis Jensen back bencher provides a textbook example of this:

West Australian back bencher Dennis Jensen, who had read the recent scientific literature, said he interpreted the findings in different ways and believed climate scepticism within the Coalition was increasing. 

”The scientific papers saying it is as bad as we thought, or worse, are talking about concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere – and concentrations are indeed increasing – but global temperatures have not gone up in a decade,” he said. 

”It’s the impact of the increased concentrations of CO2 that is in dispute and I agree with [US professor] Richard Lindzen that it is more likely to be 0.4 degrees than 4 to 6 degrees … the doomsday prophesies do not stand up to reason.”

Richard Lindzen is one of the few genuinely qualified sceptics. At best he is a marginal figure in science. His entire claim to fame rests upon his status as one of the token sceptics within the community of atmospheric scientists.

Outside of his notoriety he has produced little research of value – and what research he has produced has been flawed and ignored by the rest of scientific community.

Despite the fact 97% of climate scientists accept climate change is real, Jensen clings to the marginal views of outliers such as Lindzen because they buttress is own world view.

In this regard the Liberals resemble the Republicans in the United States and the Tea Party movement who’ve decided to go to war with reality.

Don’t like the facts? Then reject them and dismiss the experts.

Supporting there fantasy world views are the think tanks and conservative media who help create a parallel reality in which the climate isn’t changing  and Obama was born in Kenya.

When facts and evidence contravene ideology figures such as Bernardi, Joyce and Jensen remain steadfastly attached to fantasy.

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Tony Abbott “Why not have a carbon tax”? The 2009 video in which Abbott argues for a price on carbon

Today in Australian politics we saw some extraordinary events centering around events that took place nearly 20 years ago.

Three years is a long time in politics: recall but three years ago Tony Abbott argued for a carbon tax:

He pushes the old “no temperature rise in ten years” myth, but listen carefully.

Quote: “If you want to put a price on carbon, why not do it with a simple tax?”

 

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Merchants of hate: the right wing populism of Alan Jones versus “decent Australia”

I’ve not commented on the so called Jones Affair yet, but I’ve been watching developments out of curiosity. For those unfamiliar with the issue, Jones is a Sydney based right-wing radio shock-jock whose now notorious comments about the Prime Minister’s father have generated intense controversy.

And while the Jones affair has sparked enormous debate it is merely symptomatic a broader issue: for too long our media has been infected, shaped and effectively ruled by the merchants of hate.

The merchants of hate: who are they?

What the merchants of hate have wrought (Source: News)

Every day in both print and radio we are constantly assaulted by men – and they’re mostly older, white conservative males (with some few token exceptions) – espousing a toxic brew of climate scepticism, disdain for the environment, free market fundamentalism and a loathing for women, refugees and anyone who does not fit into a narrowly defined category of what is acceptable to their world view.

One only have to look at the writings of Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, the daily content of The Australian, Daily Telegraph and the messaging from the Liberal-National Party as evidence for the above.

It is the diffusion of right-wing popularism from the United States into Australian political culture, and the blending of conspiracy culture and hate. But what was once restricted to the fringes of society has been made popular via the Internet and – let us be frank – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Noted economist John Quiggin also recently made this point on his blog:

For practical purposes, any comment, wherever it is made, is addressed to the world as a whole. More significantly, political debate has been globalised. In particular, the “cranks and crazies” who dominate the US Republican Party, along with the right-wing of the Tory party in the UK, inform the thinking of much of the Australian right-wing commentariat.

This is line with some of my thoughts: right-wing popularism (as I’m attempting to describe it in relation to climate change scepticism) has burst into the mainstream. In turn, it has had a toxic and destructive effect on the political process and public debate.

I believe a strong case can be made that climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts have been compromised by the intensity of the more extremist elements of the conservative movement opposing both the science and any attempts to address the challenge.

Which brings us back to Alan Jones.

Alan Jones: merchant of hate and unreality

For years Jones has suffered very little in the way of repercussions for the vitriol he directs against his perceived enemies. But now it seems Jones has gone to far.

His comments that Prime Ministers Julia Gillard’s father, recently deceased, died of shame has prompted a feeling of disgust across the country.

To date over 110,000 people have signed a petition to get Jones off the air. Major sponsors have dropped their association with his breakfast show (if you’re interested in signing see here).

Jones behaviour has prompted – to quote Sydney Morning Herald journalist Peter Fitzsimmons – “decent Australia” to stand up and call him on his behaviour:

What has in fact happened in the last week has been the rise of decent Australia  saying enough is enough. And yes, sponsors like Gerry Harvey have publicly  worried that by withdrawing from the Jones program they are taking part in a  lynch mob, but they misunderstand. What you are actually doing, Mr Harvey, is  refusing to sponsor any further “lynch-mob radio”.

The public outrage in relation to the Jones affair as given me a sense of optimism: perhaps we have reached a tipping point, when ordinary citizens have said “enough!”

Nor is it just Jones comments about the passing away of the Prime Minister’s father people are reflecting upon.

It is Alan Jones and his world view that is now under the microscope, as Jones subscribes to the usual cluster of right-wing popularist nonsense:

As one of the most prominent climate sceptics in the Australian media he frequently distorts the public’s understanding of the science. It is worth noting that earlier this year the Australian media watch dog found he’d made “unsubstantiated comments” about the science.

But merely being wrong about the science was not enough to stop Jones.

He had to prompt the disgust of the nation.

And even then, like any school-yard bully pulled up for their behaviour he is claiming the mantle of victim.

Countering the merchants of hate

Perhaps in the public’s justifiable outrage we are seeing the stirring of a new counter-movement against the merchants of hate – one that calls for a return to civility and reasoned debate.

It is vital that we do so with urgency.

Those of us attuned to reality appreciate we are confronted by a broad range of challenges: environmental collapse, resource depletion, an ageing population and less certain economic times to mention but a few.

It is not the end of the world, but some nasty shocks are on the horizon if we don’t start seriously planning a response.

And yet we cannot meet these challenges creatively or with a sense of common purpose when the merchants of hate preach division and call out scientists and environmentalists – indeed anyone perceived to be in opposition to their paranoid world view – as the enemy within.

The likes of Alan Jones are not dissenting voices; he is not the representative or champion of unpopular causes as he and his defenders are so very quick to claim.

The language of hate peddled by Jones, Bolt and News Corporation is merely a tool to silence critics of the status quo. Told that we cannot consume blindly or pollute the world’s atmosphere without consequences, and their response is blind fury and denial.

And yet in opposition to their fury what is an appropriate response?

Censorship in a free society is untenable, and destructive; it is not an option in a genuinely democratic country like Australia. Nor do I advocate it.

What then?

Limits to hate: victory over the merchants of unreality?

We can reclaim the media and public debate by standing up to the likes of Jones; we can bring back accountability.

Which is what 110,000 Australians did in signing that petition to get Jones off the air. It is a genuine grass-roots initiative taken up by tens of thousands. Which is why sponsors are fleeing from Jones in horror at being associated with his tainted brand.

Decency, humility and respect for the rights of others never went away or into decline: the values of our society are not in free fall.

But you would not know that tuning into Alan Jones or picking up The Herald Sun.

By capturing the media and using it as a platform for their distorted reality, the shrill and panicked voices of right-wing popularism attempted to drown out any sense of common purpose in a tirade of hate filled invective.

They wanted to divide the world into us and them and for the public to follow their conspiratorial lead. They treated climate science as a subversive heresy and have been attempting to stamp it out.

Indeed there can be little doubt in coming decades Jones and the climate sceptics will be mocked for their beliefs; that climate scientists perpetrated a gigantic hoax for funding; that environmentalists wanted to de-industrialize the West; or that the Rothschild family is behind it all.

We have listened to Jones and his fellow travellers for years; we have tolerated their hate filled world view far longer than was necessary. They have had their opportunity to put their case forward, in a manner befitting their temperament.

But there are not merely limits to growth; there are limits to the level of hate a pluralistic society will tolerate.

Perhaps those limits are now finally being reached.

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“You’re an absolute disgrace”: Tony Windsor puts Tony Abbott in his place about his fear campaign on that “Great Big Tax”

Tony Windsor the independent member of Parliament puts Tony Abbott in his place in what in a magnificent, plain speaking and direct way. Watch the video in the story

”The Leader of the Opposition knows that very well, because on a number of occasions, he actually begged for the [prime ministerial] job. Begged for the job. You’ve never denied that, Tony, and you won’t.

”He begged for the job, and he made the point, not only to me but to others who were in that negotiating period, that he would do anything to get that job. Anything to get that job.

”You would well remember, and your colleagues should be aware, that the only codicil you put on that was, ‘I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won’t do is sell my arse’.”

You know it, I know… we all know it.

Abbott is an opportunist that would do anything for power.

Tony Abbott, you’re a disgrace.

Make that a bumper sticker.

Coalition of the Rational: if the deniers will soon occupy all levels of government, how should we respond?

“Power abdicates only under counter-power” – Martin Buber

While some may not view it these terms, Graham Readfearn’s article on the real possibility of climate sceptics assuming power both federally and in most states is a call to arms:

Anyone who places any stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn’t) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that the Liberal-led Coalition will sweep to power at next year’s Federal election. Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap“.

As I noted in the articles “Locking in the March of folly” (Part 1 and Part 2), conservative governments and vested interests across the country are in the process of opening up new coal mines, gutting climate change programs, ripping up “green tape”, firing public servants and buying up the media.

What we are seeing is a counter-reformation: in short an attack on the last 50 years of progressive politics, government regulation and even secularisation. It is nothing more than a campaign of revenge against those that dare question the privileged world view of the few.

They have looked for the enemy, and have seen us: progressives, liberals, greens, the LGBT community, indigenous Australians, the irreligious and scientists.

We have dared (dared!) to suggest the ethical circle of concern be drawn ever more broadly to include not just women, gays and minorities but even non-human species. Perhaps even the planet itself.

This may explain the cause of the barely comprehensible rage that finds expression in the denial movement, anti-gay marriage stance of conservatives and resurgent right-wing parties of Europe.

From the rage of the Tea Party against “leftist elites’ and News Corporations relentless war on the mildly progressivecentre right Gillard government, the politics of hate and division seem to rule.

This in turn lead has led to a sense of defeat or deflation amongst those fighting to preserve a livable climate: “Why cant the public see what’s happening?”

As recent polling suggests, concern for climate change and environmental issues amongst the Australian public has declined. It would seem a few decent rain showers that have filled some damns and angst over the “carbon tax” has turned many into climate agnostics: in essence, they may accept that the climate is changing, but they’re going to hold off supporting policies designed to mitigate climate change and its impacts. 

So if the deniers hold the levers of power – as Readfearn has pointed out – and the public has no appetite for action and prefers the safe, warm media bubble of Master Chef and endless home renovation projects what can we – should– do?

Firstly, contemplate the use of counter power.

Keeping the wolves at bay

A good start is Tim Gee’s “Counter power: making change happens” which explains the basic concepts and provides examples:

“No major campaign has ever been successful without Counter power – the power that the ‘have-nots’ can use to remove the power of the ‘haves’. This is examined by investigating the history and tactics of the suffrage movement, the labour movement, the anti-war movement, the anti-colonial movement, the environmental movement and today’s human rights and anti-globalisation movement. In the context of the financial crisis and the threat of climate change, engagement in system critical social movements is on the increase…”

Secondly, consider how the now disparate and deflated activist, scientific and other communities can work together far more effectively.

Within Australia the number of those actively engaged in politics or supportive of environmental activism, science, atheism, and social justice would be in the hundreds of thousands – if not millions.

Over a million voted for the Greens: there is part of our base. Over 22% of Australians have no religious preference – the fastest growing “faith” (or lack thereof) in the country. The politics of those under 30 are in direct opposition to the frightened old men that staff the ranks of the Liberal-National Party. There are more, so many more.

Call it the Coalition of the Rational: those who value the truth, and wish to see public policies formulated in response to what science, reason and compassion tell us.

We can be the twenty-first century’s civil rights movement, its suffragette’s and Abolitionists. We can follow in the steps of the ANC and Indian Congress. Should we not continue the tradition of these social movements?

Could we not?

The evolution of these movements can be traced from William Wilberforce, Thomas Paine, Emily Pankhurst, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Rachel Carson to you. Yes, you.

What the coalition of the rational can demand, and why

Distilled, our demands are simple:

  • a livable climate for us and our children [1]
  • equality and justice broader than just economic opportunities 
  • transparency and accountability in politics

We fighting not just to save the climate: we wish to preserve those core values that have found expression across the centuries in disperse projects such as The Enlightenment, the Civil Rights Movement and gay rights.

Each of these battles were fought – and won – over the span generations. And yet the environmental crisis and the conservative counter-reformation are putting all of this at risk. There is more to this fight than preventing the mass die off species and loss of habitats (though these are tragedies).

The disruptive effects of climate change on our society, economy and infrastructure will test the tolerance and resilience of nations and by extension billions of individuals.

That should be of concern: all too often the Old Russian proverb, “Man is wolf to man”, has proven to be true. The only true competitor to Homo sapiens is Homo sapiens.

But the wolves can be kept in check: the worst and most disruptive effects of climate change and its impact can be mitigated.

Perhaps it is too late the stem the brute physics and chemistry of climate change.

But it is never too late to change minds and win hearts by building a culture based on the values of compassion, rationality and equality.

[1] And their children, and those that follow…

Locking in the march of folly: of herding, theories about greater fools and Australia’s coal rush (part 2)

March of folly redux

The end of the coal bubble

We are at the top of the peak for fossil fuel extraction and as a source of energy: coal included.

Prices may continue to rise for a decade or more as demand for energy intensifies, but this is nothing more than speculative bubble that will spectacularly collapse.

How do we know this?

Apart from diminishing reserves the mother of all market corrections is coming: the climate is changing faster than anticipated.

Picture the world in but three decades with an additional 2c warming, a future in which the current heat wave devastating North America will be regarded as a mild summer.

In this scenario, coal prices will slam into the reality of climate change experienced by billions and collapse. Coal’s one advantage, the perception it is cheap and plentiful, will be seen more as a curse than a boon.

In this scenario the state of coal reserves will not matter becomes irrelevant. There is little doubt climate change will generate a range of policy initiatives to quickly – desperately – phase out coal and fossil fuel usage.

Countries will abandon coal as part of a massive mobilisation endeavor to mitigate rising temperatures. Treaties will come into place to slow and halt the extraction of coal. Billions of funding will pour into alternative sources of energy.

And if market friendly mechanisms fail to spur countries to switch from coal to renewable sources, we can expect economic sanctions against countries refusing to cease coal production.

In years to come, those soon to be opened coal mines and their supporting infrastructure will be seen as nothing more than monuments to folly.

The greater fool theory at play: coals future is limited, but the rush to exploit goes on

Expanding coal production is like betting your future on the tobacco industry.

Perhaps you might choose to ignore the health risks, the suffering of those with cancer or strain on the public funds for the short term.

But ultimately reality catches up.

The IEA has warned we are “locking in” dangerous climate change by betting on fossil fuels as a future source of energy:

Yet, despite intensifying warnings from scientists over the past two decades, the new infrastructure even now being built is constructed along the same lines as the old, which means that there is a “lock-in” effect – high-carbon infrastructure built today or in the next five years will contribute as much to the stock of emissions in the atmosphere as previous generations.

We seeing is the last throw of the profit-seeking dice: “Hurray! Dig it up before we can’t sell it any more!”

Because for the next 10 years or so there will be enough greater fools willing to dig up coal and sell it. But that too will have to stop. It’s inevitable.

But this will be a problem for the future, and is in no way reflected in next week’s opinion poll or babbling anxieties and concerns of the last market focus group.

So where does this leave us?

Locked into the march of folly.

History is unkind to fools

Our political and business elites have chosen to not only sacrifice their interests, but a liveable climate.

Gillian King at the blog “Thisness of that” writes perceptively about that failure. Inaction is not the fault of scientists – they’ve simply provided information – but with politicians:

What more can climate scientists do and say? They conduct the research and publish the facts. Their institutions have prominent websites about climate change (CSIRO, BOM, PIK, Met Office, NASA, NOAA, and more) and individual scientists have published books, websites and blogs aimed at general audiences…

Let’s stop pretending that political failure to act is the fault of scientists. It’s not. It’s the fault of politicians who choose not to know, choose not to lead, choose not to educate their constituencies. 

As I’ve stated many times, the problem is not that of our leaders are suffering form a case of information deficit.

The most privileged members of our society – politicians, business leaders, sections of the media and yes, even some in academia – have consciously and willingly ignored the issue.

Here’s a fact: they have all the data, projections and information at their fingertips. They have the means to influence the debate and the ability to implement policies that address climate change.

But a choice has been made; to ignore, to obfuscate, to deny and to pass the problem onto future generations.

One only has to look at the antics of the Australian leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott to see the choices our elites our making.

Abbott is currently touring Australia, popping up in supermarkets and fish shops claiming Australia’s very modest attempt at climate change mitigation (the so called carbon tax) will be the ruin of us all and promising to “axe the tax” the moment he gets into office:

 

Is it possible for the “climate change debate” in Australia to become even more insipid?

Here’s a suggestion Mr Abbott: have a look at the 40,000 local temperature records that have been broken in the USA this year. Or perhaps the flooding that has displaced millions in India:

 

That’s what disaster looks like Tony.

Believe me; paying a few extra cents for my groceries seems a good trade off compared to the alternatives.

With that in mind, I cannot but help ask “Have men like Abbott no shame?”

History is unkind to fools, no matter how clever or successful they are in the short term. The passage of time and the unfolding of events will inevitably showcase the failings and poor decision making of elites who have sacrificed not only their interests, but those they claim to lead, in return for short term gains.

Across a broad spectrum of politics, business and the media we already recognise just who the fools are.

Hindsight will merely confirm.

We already know their names.

The coming disappointment: how the deniers are about to learn some harsh lessons in realpolitik

Verily I say unto thee, economic Armageddon is upon us!

The wicked carbon tax is about to fall upon Australian like a biblical plague and devastate every household! Repent!

Let us pray that the good knight Tony Abbot will slay the wicked beast – he made a blood oath! – and save us!

Hide your money under the mattress before hordes of Greenpeace warriors descend upon every village to unplug your fridge! Repent!

Or, in the words of Douglas Adams “Don’t panic!”

Here’s my prediction: the world will not end of 1 July 2012.

Business will quickly adjust to the carbon tax – it is already in the process of adjusting (helped along my some generous cash handouts):

BUSINESS leaders overwhelmingly believe carbon pricing will survive and those directly affected have started taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a survey of senior executives.

The survey of 136 executives commissioned by multinational GE found nearly three-quarters believed the carbon price scheme would remain despite the Coalition’s pledge to repeal it if elected.

But nearly half said they thought the scheme starting on Sunday – requiring big emitters to pay a fixed rate per tonne of carbon dioxide for three years, before evolving into emissions trading under which pollution permits can be bought and sold on the market – would eventually be replaced with an improved model.

The “tax” may be tweaked or rebranded by successive governments, but it’s here to stay.

The coming disappointments

The denial movement is about to receive some harsh lessons in realpolitik as they grapple with two major disappointments.

The first disappointment: business opposition to the carbon tax will melt away within six months as it did in New Zealand and Europe (see above). They will lose allies and supporters (except for some very loud and eccentric billionaires).

The second disappointment: the tax is here to stay, regardless of who is in power.

Now this is where Australian politics is set to get messy.

What’s this about a “blood oath” Tony?

There is little doubt Abbott and the Liberals will get into office at the next federal election – it will take a miracle to save the Gillard government.

But once the Liberals are in there will be months of “reviews”, opposition from business, community groups and a heated debate in Parliament, in the media and across blogs, Twitter and YouTube. 

Nor should we forget there will be a hostile Senate that will make it difficult to pass the legislation. Abbot will be faced having to call a double dissolution election in the hopes of gaining the necessary majority – the electorate will not go back to the polls with joy in their hearts.

Abbott and the Liberals have been running so hard on the “big scary tax” meme these past 12 months. They’re great hope has been the collapse of the Labor government prior to 1 July 2012. Once we the tax goes into effect and all the doom saying comes to nothing Abbott & Co are going to very silly indeed.

When – or if – the Coalition gets into office they’re stuck with the tax. No doubt they’ll rebrand the “tax” as part of their broader “direct action” approach to climate change. 

The denial movement – from Gina Rinehart, Plimer, IPA and journalists such as Andrew Bolt will froth at the mouth and talk about the Liberal Party’s “betrayal” on the issue. Reality will hit them hard, as it generally does for those who chose to live in denial.

And so we may very well witness the spectacle of a conservative “civil war”. Those taking a more pragmatic approach to climate change (such as dealing with it and retaining the “tax”) and those still stepped in the culture and habits of denial in conflict.

Some predicitons

What can we expect? I can’t tell the future but let me have a geuss or two:

  1. Prediction: Abbott will lead the Coalition to victory at the next Federal election only to watch his popularity collapse. This will hamper the chances of the Coalition government being re-elected. Malcolm Turnbull may replace him – either by challenging or Abbott stepping down – for the second term in order to offer the electorate a more “moderate” consensus-building politician.
  2. Prediction: Rinehart may try to use her new media empire to apply pressure to the Liberal government to repeal  the carbon and resource tax. The Liberals will learn just exactly why an independent media is not such a bad thing. By turning Fairfax into her vanity blog, she’ll drive away readers and drive the company into the ground.
  3. Prediction: despite the sound and fury the political debate very little will be done to actually address climate change.

The blog post where I dismiss climate science

I’ll admit I was very inspired by this very amusing post over at Genomicron and this brilliant piece over at the Guardian. In short, here is my guide to writing a blog post denying climate change.

In this paragraph I’ll attempt to appear a sincere seeker of truth

In this paragraph I’ll explain some of the basics of climate science, but with extensive use of “scare quotes”. It will be a highly distorted version of the science: the “big picture” may be correct, but wrong on more detailed aspects.

I’ll note that for years I’d accepted the mainstream consensus on climate change, however out of sheer intellectual curiosity I decided to look into the issue myself.

Fortunately, my background in engineering/economics/physics or some other non-climate science related profession that requires maths has given me an understanding of the scientific method.

This how I establish myself as an authority.

At this point I will make reference to my intellectual journey, which in most instances involves extensive Google searching. I’ll note that after several days of trawling the Internet I was amazed to find blogs and web sites offering alternative views on climate change.

My use of search terms such as “climate change and fraud” will prompt Google to produce only the most authoritative materials. I will then muse why such information is not more accessible to the general public.

Here I will take down the IPCC in a paragraph

At this point I’ll take cherry pick quotes from the IPCC report and/or actual scientific research:

[Cut and paste text here…]

In this paragraph I’ll feign mock surprise that the claims in the quote appear to be exaggerated, as my own careful reading of blogs offering alternative explanations cast doubt on the claims of “experts” (natch, more scare quotes of course).

This is probably the appropriate time to make reference to the work of Steve McIntyre, a retired physicist or professor of geology. I might choose to include an image showing the famous “Hockey stick” and question it’s reliability. I’ll describe it as “broken”, without understanding what that means. However, it is an effective meme, and it’s stuck in my brain.

I’ll then post a link to Watts up with That? post that tears down climatologist (boo hiss!) Michael Mann and his stick (Ha ha! Did you see my pun!), pointing readers to bloggers more qualified to dismiss the science.

This is how I help repeat the same discredited claims.

This title indicates my distrust of “science”

Here it is appropriate to mention the “liberated” Climategate emails as proof that the workings of science have been corrupted. I’ll quote some very selective parts of said emails:

[Oh look scientists said nasty thing…]

I’ll feign surprise that scientists could act so un-professionally.

I’ll then move on to discuss how the “peer review process” is now “totally corrupt”. I’ll talk about the government funding of science, and allude to the fact that research funded by governments must be tainted.

Sometimes I’ll resort to Latin phrases. Ipso Facto sounds good. As does Caveat Emptor. I heard a very prominent sceptic uses Latin, therefore my post will sound much more authoritative.

I’ll dismiss the notion of scientific consensus as a kind of popularity contest.

I will make exaggerated claims about the stifling of alternative views: that scientists questioning this new “orthodoxy” have been shunned, picked on and called nasty names. Over 1 BILLION [cough] scientists [cough] have signed the Oregon Petition, stating they do not believe the planet is warming! What further proof do you need!?!?

I’ll throw in the line “They laughed at Galileo!” – but never “They laughed at Darwin!”, because that would betray my genuine doubts about evolutionary theory.

Here I will talk about Nazis, because it always about Nazis!

It is now at this point I usually descend into complete and utter paranoia, claiming the IPCC is the tool of socialists, lizard people and shadowy cabals. I’ll resort to Godwin’s Law and compare scientists with Nazis.

Or communists.

Or Nazis.

Or maybe both.

Clearly both were bad, so scientists must be equally bad.

Or I could term scientists eco-fascists, eco-terrorists or warmists.

By now I’ve worked myself into a rage, demanding that scientists be charged with FRAUD!

I will resort to even more UPPER CASE!

People such as myself – angry, white males feeling threatened by a loss of status – ARE ANGRY AND NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS LYING DOWN!

Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun understands my rage, he writes articles carefully constructed to provoke my sense of grievance and entitlement.

DID I MENTION I WAS ANGRY!

Here I just MAKE STUFF UP because I’M SO ANGRY!

My conclusion will be an appeal to personal liberty, god and small government

I’ll note the age of the Earth – except of course if I’m a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) – and that the climate has always changed.

However if I am a YEC, I’ll note it is presumptuous to claim humanity has any control over the climate. After all it is THE LORD who RULES THE HEAVENS:

[Appropriate Bible quote here…]

But then I might tone down the crazy creationist talk, as drawing attention to my support for other forms of denial might undermine my credibility.

My post will then end with an impassioned defense of liberty and how global warming is really a scam designed to raise taxes and limit your/our freedom.

I’ll end my post with a question.

Shouldn’t we just hope for the best and do nothing?

Election 2010 update: Labour keeps dropping the ball, Liberal leader Abbott pushes denier “climate has always changed” line

Lacklustre, scripted and uninspiring.

That’s the consensus of most Australians and the media on the performance of both major political parties during the 2010 Federal election.

FYI for non-Australian readers, we are in the midst of a rather boring election down under. Both the Labor government (centrist-liberal leaning) and Liberal (right wing-conservative) parties are fighting the most uninspired campaign within living memory.

Indeed the campaign has been so uninspired that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised to unleash the “real Julia” in order to make the Labor party more attractive to voters. As Age columnist Michelle Grattan rightfully asks, just “who” have we been seeing if not the real Julia?

As the impact of climate change becomes more and more apparent, our federal politicians are proposing… banning the import of nasty looking knives.

/face palm

On tackling climate change neither party has been particularly inspiring. Labor has decided we need a “citizens assembly” of 100-200 representatives from all walks of life to examine all aspects of the science and how to respond.

Here’s a hint Julia: 97% of climate scientists accept the science.

Climate was a significant factor in the 2007 election. Labor, then lead by Kevin Rudd promised action and it helped then get into office. But then the wheels fell off…

As The Australian (not a paper normally friendly to science) reports, Labor badly fumbled the climate change issue. They had the public support but got spooked by a “small and vocal minority”.

Here’s another hint Julia: stop worrying about the insignificant, but noisy, cranks who don’t accept the science.

The majority of Australians want action.

That’s the “Julia” we want to see.

Abbott interview

Tony “Climate change is crap” Abbott (leader of the Liberals) was recently interviewed by Laurie Oakes, Australia’s most esteemed political commentators who pressed him on the climate change issue.

Abbott has long been regarded as a “sceptic”. His recent biography “Battlelines” has a few pages dedicated to the climate change issue in which he glowingly refers to the “work” of noted sceptic Ian Pilmer who pushes the climate has always been changing argument”.

Oakes (LO) addresses the climate change issues early in the interview, pressing Abbot (TA) on his understanding of climate change:

TA: Look I’ve always thought that climate change happens. The important thing, though is how do you deal with it? And I think that the best way to deal with it is to take practical action that will achieve the 5% emissions reduction target by 2020.

Anyone familiar with the climate debate will recognise this coded phrase.

It is one of the stock arguments used by the deniers, as provided by this example:

“Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age…”

No one denies the climate has changed over the last four billion years. What’s crucial is the attribution of recent changes in temperature to human activity.

Abbot is threading the needle: he is signalling to the broader base of voters that he “accepts” the climate change while also dog whistling to the “sceptics” who have thrown their support behind Abbott because they don’t want to see any “big new taxes”.

He then goes on to push the lie that the science is not settled:

LO: That’s now, but last year, you wrote a “op ed”? piece in a newspaper saying that the best thing that for the coalition to do was pass the emissions trading legislation, get it out of the way?

TA: I was trying to support the leader, and obviously, the leader, then, had a rather different position to me on this.

LO: Then you said that climate change was crap?

TA: I think what I actually said was the idea of the settled science of climate change is a bit aromatic.

Actually the science is is well and truly settled. A recent report by an international team of scientists has confirmed climate change is undeniable:

An international team of climate scientists led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has confirmed that climate change is “undeniable” and clearly driven by the “human fingerprints” of greenhouse gas emissions.  The findings are based on new data that was not reviewed during the most recent 2007 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

So the science is a “bit smelly” then Tony?

Abbot then goes one to push another misconception, that a tax on CO2 would badly hit household budgets

LO: And then you said you only said that, in fact, on this program, you said you only said that climate change was crap because you were trying to persuade a group of Liberals in Beaufort Victoria that negotiating an improved ETS scheme would be the best thing to do?

TA: Sure, Laurie. Look we can go …

LO: That’s four positions so far?

TA: We can go over all the history, but the important thing is…

LO: The important thing is that then you had another position where Malcolm Turnbull did negotiate a compromise, you pulled the rug out from under him and you became the leader and said no ETS now or ever.

TA: The important thing Laurie is what will happen if the Coalition wins. We will achieve our 5% reduction through some direct action measures. What will happen if Labor wins? If Labor wins, we will have a carbon tax. Simple as that and that will put up the price of everything. A $40 a tonne carbon tax will double the price of electricity.

As economist John Quiggin notes, Abbott is telling another porky:

What’s really striking about this is that it occurs in a context where Laurie Oakes is questioning Abbott about his credibility. The next question, referring to previous inconsistencies is “But, isn’t it important if you become Prime Minister, that Australians can believe what their Prime Minister says?”. Oakes is pretty good on who said what and when, but he lacks the basic arithmetic skills and policy background to call Abbott out on an obvious lie.

This is the quality of the debate we are having.

Did I mention in my last post the oceans are in a death spiral?

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