Australian news, and some related international items

Why Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne want Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre

cartoon-climate-AustWhy the Abbott government wants Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre, The Saturday Paper , 16 May 15  MIKE SECCOMBE
Covert negotiations, whispered announcements and an awkward about-face reveal a political agenda behind reaching consensus.  Mazzarol, Winthrop professor in the business school of the University of Western Australia, is reciting the long list of hoops a proponent must jump through to gain approval for a research centre at the university.

“Normally they have to demonstrate they will contribute to research output of the university and the reputation of the university,” he says. “They must have at least six full-time equivalent academic staff engaged in research at the university, a viable plan for the growth of the centre, the capacity to be self-sustaining. They must have an academic and a business plan, a clear indication of the resources, facilities, funding, negotiated targets for research, training, publication volume, output quality and how that will all be measured.”

He continues, citing the criteria listed on the UWA website: “It must also have the approval of the academic council, normally has to have an interdisciplinary role, and to have demonstrated consultation with other parts of the faculty that might be involved.”

The list of requirements and processes is detailed, but Mazzarol’s point is simple. “This one didn’t go through any of those steps.”

He is referring to an entity proposed by Danish climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg, ironically named the Australia Consensus Centre (ACC), whose establishment was secretively negotiated over six months, quietly revealed six weeks ago, and then abandoned after an ugly collision between academe and politics. Continue reading

May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s Climate Change Agenda

Why the Abbott government wants Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre, The Saturday Paper , 16 May 15  “…….Lomborg’s agenda

climate-changeBjørn Lomborg is not a climate change denier. He accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening and that human activity is responsible. His argument is that there are other more pressing issues facing humanity. And this is what makes him useful to the political right.

Simple denialism is not politically tenable anymore. But Lomborg provides cover for those reluctant to take strong action to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, by suggesting we should work on other things first, and that stronger action on climate change might actually impede those other endeavours.

His method is to apply economic cost-benefit analysis to these various problems, to try to determine priorities. His results tend to give comfort to conservatives in general and climate change do-nothing-ists in particular.

By his formulation, for example, freer global trade returns a benefit of $2011 for every dollar spent, making it 45 times more worthwhile than reducing child malnutrition. Cutting people’s salt intake is deemed roughly 10 times as financially beneficial as spending more on health for the world’s 2.5 billion poorest people. It’s a sort of grand cost-benefit theory of everything.

So when Tony Abbott says coal is good for humanity, it is defensible on Lomborg numbers, which hold that bringing electricity to everyone in the world returns $5 for every dollar spent, while limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees returns a benefit of less than $1.

To say his methods are unorthodox and controversial is to be very understated indeed. Lomborg himself is neither a climate scientist nor an economist. His qualifications are in political science. Rather than rely on primary research, his theories are based on meta-analysis – that is, the harvesting of data produced by others, which is then weighted and modelled to determine relative values.

This has led to numerous complaints from other academics that their work has been either misinterpreted or misrepresented. The detail is too extensive and arcane to go into – suffice to say, books have been written and formal complaints made in his native Denmark and elsewhere.

His original Copenhagen Consensus Centre was funded by a conservative government, then defunded by a successor progressive government. After he set up in the United States, his critics complained that he took funds from right-wing climate change denialist organisations……


May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

East Australian Current is changing with Climate Change

climate-changeGoing with the flow: scientists probe changes in the East Australian Current The Age  May 15, 2015 – Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The East Australian Current, a pivotal driver of climate for Australia’s eastern states, is changing as the planet warms but scientists know little about its dynamics.

That knowledge gap should start to close with CSIRO’s new research ship, the RV Investigator, soon to deploy an array of six sensors moored off Brisbane from 40 metres below the surface out to waters almost five kilometres deep……….

Without the East Australian Current, coastal regions would be much colder. Data on any changes will help climatologists better understand how much future climates may be affected by global warming.

Existing climate models “are quite good”, Dr Sloyan said. “These observations allow us to work with the modelling community on how to improve” those models, she said.

Pacific Ocean currents are affected by many factors, including El Nino, the climate pattern that results in the central and eastern Pacific warming faster than regions to the west. Easterly trade winds during El Nino events weaken or even reverse.

“If we are out there long enough, we will see changes” from the El Nino, Dr Sloyan said, noting the Bureau of Meteorology had declared such an event to be under way this week.

The US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday that there is an 80 per cent chance that the El Nino will persist until the end of 2015.

A prolonged event could be bad news for Australia, with most such events linked to below-average rainfall for most of Eastern Australia, along with abnormally warm temperatures.

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Institute of Public Affairs uses Australian tax breaks to push Climate Sceptic agenda

logo-IPA-wolfIPA uses Australian tax breaks to help fund U.S. climate skeptic’s libel defence Independent Australia   DeSmog Blog 16 May 2015 Environment charities like the ACF face having their Deductible Gift Recipient status stripped by the Abbott government, yet corporate mouthpiece, IPA, keep theirs to help fund U.S. climate skeptic Mark Steyn’s libel suit. Graham Readfearn fromDeSmogBlog reports.

WHEN THE facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available.

Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.

Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.

Australian “free market” think-tank The Institute of Public Affairs chose option two in the late 1980s and has stuck with it since.

Now a climate misinformation book produced by the IPA and paid for with the help of tax breaks in Australia is seemingly helping to finance Steyn in a high profile libel case.

So there are two stories to tell here – one about the libel case and the other about the book. The two meet up at the end……..

Changing Facts

The IPA keeps its funders a secret, although its supporters are known to include billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the country’s Treasurer Joe Hockey, News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch are all big fans.

The IPA holds Deductible Gift Recipient status with Australia’s tax office, which means that anyone giving money to the think tank for certain prescribed activities, such as research, can claim a tax break on their donation.

Last year, the IPA started fundraising to produce a book called “Climate Change: The Facts” which, when you glance at the list of contributors, should have its semi-colon shifted forward to better reflect the contents.  It should really be Climate: Change The Facts.

The IPA decided it would use its DGR status to encourage people to donate cash towards producing the book, which the IPA said would cost about $175,000.

As I wrote on DeSmog last year, this meant Australia’s tax revenue would be a tiny bit reduced so a bunch of climate science deniers could spout their usual conspiratorial mush.

Mark Steyn, who has previously toured Australia thanks to the IPA, was one contributor. He has said the book will help “push back against the climate mullahs”………

On sale

The book has been produced and is now on sale internationally.

But according to retailers Amazon and Kobo, the book’s publisher is not the IPA but “Stockade Books” – a venture that’s actually owned by Mark Steyn. ……..,7715

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Sea level rise a serious consideration for Mid North Coast councils

Mid North Coast councils advised to take sea level rise seriously sea level flat earth One of the authors of a new study into sea level rise is advising Mid North Coast councils not to cave-in to landholder concerns about property values.

The study has found sea levels are rising faster than previously thought, and appear to be accelerating.Coastal councils, coastal planners, do need to take account of sea level rise in the 21st century  – Dr John Church, CSIRO

It found seas have risen faster since 1993, compared to previous decades, and its observations are in line with projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

CSIRO Fellow, John Church, was among the authors and said the findings have major implications for coastal planning. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s budget trashes action on climate change

There is hardly any mention of climate change in the budget documents, apart from the Coalition’s continued determination to remove the phrase from the government’s lexicon, and to dismantle the remaining initiatives of Labor’s clean energy package, presumably when (and if) it wins the election in late 2016/17.

spending for the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority will be halted in fiscal 2016/17.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency…— will also be absorbed back into the department and defunded.

Parkinson-Report-Budget losers: climate agencies up in smoke, Crikey GILES PARKINSON | MAY 13, 2015 Like true conservatives, the Coalition’s leadership team thinks the best environmental strategy is to defund every climate science body but boost spending for a bunch of people to pick up litter.

Just a few months ago, the newly constituted and Republican-dominated US Senate was asked to vote on a motion that “human activity significantly contributes to climate change”.

They voted against it. By a slim majority, 50-49,  the senior conservative legislators in US Congress collectively declared that, well, climate science is crap.

In Australia’s ruling Coalition, that view is noisily shared by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s closest advisers, such as Maurice “it’s all a UN plot” Newman and Dick “I’m not a climate sceptic, I just don’t accept the science”Warburton, and of course some rogue members of Parliament such as Barnaby“it’s cold down here” Joyce.

Abbott, the man who made the climate science “is absolute crap” phrase his own, doesn’t like to repeat it Hunt-Greg-climateso much in public these days. Indeed, he has in environment minister Greg Hunt a man whose principal role seems to be Minister for Saying That The Coalition Really Takes Climate Change Seriously, despite its policies that suggest the opposite.

The budget handed down on Tuesday night by Treasurer Joe “I don’t like wind turbines” Hockey continues the recent trend of Coalition policy documents that sweeps the idea that Australia should be acting — urgently or otherwise — on climate action under the carpet.

Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

As CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology warn on extreme weather, Budget ignores climate change


AS THE TREASURER was finalising his Budget speech yesterday, the World Bank released a report onDecarbonising Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future (pdf) and our announced that El Nino was back — a big problem for Australia as global warming puts our already extreme weather on steroids.

These are hardly ‘radical’ organisations. Yet the Treasurer’s speech made no mention of policies to modernise and decarbonise our economy. There was no mention of climate costs and the physical impacts of climate change that CSIRO has now repeatedly warned are happening now, and will only grow. The Treasurer did laud the truly awesome power of our fossil fuel exports — sufficient to power Mumbai, Tokyo and Singapore, apparently.

Last night’s budget highlights a number of problems with the government’s approach to climate and economic policy. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate Council exposes Bjorn Lomborg’s climate fallacies

logo-Climate-CouncilThe low down on Lomborg BY CLIMATE COUNCIL 13.05.2015 Last week’s announcement that the University of Western Australia would no longer house Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘Consensus Centre’ was a fantastic outcome for science. However, the fact that the Centre is still trying to establish itself in Australia is deeply troubling.

Misinformation is harmful. Just as false information about the ‘benefits’ of tobacco misled the public and damaged health, so false information about climate change and its impacts can mislead the public and decision-makers, delaying much needed action to stabilise the climate system. Here are the top four reasons why Lomborg’s arguments about climate change are flawed. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

University of Western Australia praised for ditching Bjorn Lomborg Consensus Centre

cartoon-climate-AustStudents praise UWA for ditching controversial $4m Bjorn Lomborg Consensus Centre think tank ABC News 9 May 15 Students at the University of Western Australia (UWA) say the decision to can controversial Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre is a win for academic integrity and common sense.

The Australian Consensus Centre was going to be set up with the help of a $4 million Federal Government grant, but University Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson last night said the proposed centre was untenable and lacked academic support.

UWA student guild president Lizzy O’Shea said students were concerned about the impact the centre, inspired by self-proclaimed “sceptical environmentalist” Dr Lomborg, could have on the university’s reputation. “It’s a really good sign as far as community action goes that if enough people have mobilised against something, and don’t support it, that people will change their minds,” she said.

“The fact that we had international partners saying they wanted to pull out because of the association. So the reputational damage was probably the main complaint. Continue reading

May 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Abbott govt’s new Renewable Energy Target ensures uncertainty for renewables

the two-yearly review of the target would ensure that doubt remained in investors’ minds. The Clean Energy Council, representing a substantial part of the sector, said on Friday night that the issue was not worth resolving if the reviews continued every two years.
Abbott-destroys-renewablesGovernment’s RET compromise guarantees uncertainty for renewables, Michelle Grattan, The Conversation 8 May 15  As the Abbott government prepares Australia’s post-2020 emissions targets for this year’s Paris conference, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s business advisory council has make an extraordinary intervention in the climate debate.

Maurice Newman, writing in the Australian, maintains it’s all a United Nations conspiracy – a power Newman,-Maurice-ideasgrab of massive proportions.“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN. It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.” Newman claims that 95% of the climate models that we’re told prove the link between human emissions and global warming “have been found … to be in error”.

In his article he targets Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change, who has been visiting Australia. Newman writes that “there is a real chance Figueres and those who share her centralised power ambitions will succeed.

“As the UN’s December climate change conference in Paris approaches, Australia will be pressed to sign even more futile job-destroying climate change treaties.”………….. Continue reading

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Abbott advisor Maurice Newman has embarrassed even our climate sceptic government

the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Richard di Natale, suggests Mr Newman’s views have Newman,-Maurice-ideasbeen influential. 

MARK BUTLER: I’ve never been particularly clear why Maurice Newman holds the position he does hold, given how central climate change is to the future economic prosperity of Australia. 

SIMON LAUDER: Mr Newman says the UN (United Nations) is not working alone, that it’s enlisted compliant academics and gullible media, including the ABC, using fear and appeals to morality to push its agenda.

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Little support for PM’s top business adviser over UN climate conspiracy theory ABC Radio PM 8  May 15   MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister’s top business adviser says the United Nations is trying to use the fear of climate change to orchestrate an anti-freedom, anti-capitalist new world order.

Maurice Newman chairs the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

In today’s edition of The Australian he urges Tony Abbott not to listen to the UN and resist attempts to get Australia to sign a climate treaty. Continue reading

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Education Minister Pyne seeks new home for Bjørn Lomborg climate sceptic centre

Pyne,-ChristopherChristopher Pyne vows to find new home for Bjørn Lomborg centre, Guardian,     8 May 15  Education minister and Lomborg say ‘Australia consensus centre’ will go ahead in a new home after WA university handed back $4m in funding Australia’s education minister, Christopher Pyne, has vowed to find another university to host the Bjorn Lomborg “consensus centre” and is seeking legal advice about a decision by the University of Western Australia (UWA) to hand back $4m in federal government funding awarded for it.

UWA handed back the funding and dropped its connection with Lomborg, saying that lack of support among its academics made the centre untenable….

Pyne accused the UWA academics of “shouting down” views with which they disagreed…………..

UWA academics have been vocal in their opposition to the centre anddemanded that the university sever its contract with the federal government or risk jeopardising its international reputation.

Rachel Siewert, Greens senator for WA and a UWA alumnus, told Guardian Australia that she was relieved the university had responded to pressure from its academics.

“I can now be proud of my university again,” she said…………..

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Public and academic outcry force Uni of Western Australia to ditch Bjorn Lomborg centre

climate-changeUniversity of Western Australia pulls out of Bjorn Lomborg centre, The Age  May 8, 2015 -Kate Aubusson The University of Western Australia has pulled out of its deal to create a “consensus centre” run by climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg and partly funded by the federal government.

The decision is a blow to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose office drove the push to fund the centre.

UWA appears to have bowed to pressure from staff and the public following news the think tank would receive $4 million in government funding.

“I have today spoken to the federal government and Bjorn Lomborg, advising them of the barriers that currently exist to the creation of the centre and the university’s decision to cancel the contract and return the money to the government,” UWA vice-chancellor Paul Johnson said.

“The scale of the strong and passionate emotional reaction was one that the university did not predict,” Professor Johnson said on Friday evening. Continue reading

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES answers Maurice Newman’s attack on United Nations

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES:...” he is certainly not in the majority, not only the majority of scientists, but the majority of citizens around the world, the majority of leaders around the world, are quite clear about the effects that we are actually playing with here and the risks that we have to manage ahead of us.”

UN climate chief responds to tirade from PM’s adviser Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline Broadcast: 08/05/2015 Reporter: Emma Alberici

UN climate negotiator Christiana Figueres says she is willing to meet business leader Maurice Newman in the wake of his extraordinary attack against on UN climate policy – and warns that it would be dangerous for Australia not to act on climate change.


EMMA ALBERICI: One observer with a very keen eye on Australia’s energy debate is the United Nations top climate negotiator, Christiana Figueres. She told a conference in Melbourne this week that Australia must step away from its reliance on coal exports as the international appetite for it decreases and pointedly she noted that Australia was the highest per capita emitter of coal pollution, among industrialised countries.

Christiana Figueres joins us now from our studio in Canberra……………

Continue reading

May 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change making Australia’s hot spells even more costly

climate-changeSevere heat costs the Australian economy US$6.2 billion a year, New Scientist, May 2015 by Michael Slezak Heat stress costs the Australian economy a whopping US$6.2 billion a year – a finding that shows what other countries might be facing in areas where global warming will make extremely hot days more common. Continue reading

May 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment


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