Category Archives: Climate

Market research vs science

Christopher Pearson (“Climate lunacy rules at Aunty”, The Australian, 22/12) ascribes three great historical evils to a lack of faith in God: Nazism, Soviet Communism and belief in global warming. Seriously.

Be that as it may, Pearson observes that “popular support for measures supposed to combat global warming has waned” but that “journalists and public intellectuals who embraced the cause…haven’t seen the need to express any reservation”. For this he offers two explanations: they fear “professional embarrassment”, or they have “surrendered themselves to a cult”.

But Pearson has overlooked a third possibility: perhaps they form their opinions on matters of science by listening to scientists rather than opinion polls.

Knee-slappingly hilarious

So, The Australian, let’s get this straight: when scientist Robyn Williams somewhat melodramatically refers to paedophilia as a measure of his frustration with anti-science, this is a grave affront, but when puff-piece writer James Delingpole (“Where free speech is dead as the dodo”, 21/12) does precisely the same thing in the name of precisely the same anti-science, this is knee-slappingly hilarious and any criticism of it is an assault on free speech. Just so we’re clear.


Maurice Newman (“ABC clique in control of climate”, The Australian, 18/12), falls prey to the fallacy of the middle by concluding that simply because a contrary position regarding climate science exists in any form, it warrants equal consideration by the ABC or any other media.

His assertion that “[g]lobal warming is today more about politics than it is about science” is only true in the political realm. There is a minor scientific controversy about the extent of AGW, which the ABC accurately reports. Also duly noted by the ABC is the attendant political controversy, a nonsensical sideshow which is inimical to science, fomented largely through astroturfing by non-scientific groups. Conservatives like Newman mistakenly perceive AGW as a left-wing phenomenon, the idea of which ipso facto must be opposed, and duly join the meaningless fray. Some on the Left make the converse error, with equal irrelevancy to AGW and how it should be reported.

Newman undermines his own argument by quoting the requirements of the ABC’s editorial policies that “no significant strand or belief is…disproportionately represented” and for “a balance that follows the weight of evidence”. Neither the ABC nor any other responsible media is obliged to grant the anti-AGW publicity machine the exposure it demands, rather than that which it deserves.

“Lord” Monckton had his fifteen minutes, now move on

John Redding (The Australian, Last Post, 14/12) calls the ABC’s coverage of global warming “shamelessly one-sided”. Agreed; and that would be because the science is one-sided. Does he expect the tiny rump of scientists who reject it to be given equal time with the vast bulk who accept it? Would he also put the views of flat-earthers on an equal footing with those who know it as round? Just because there are several views on a topic does not mean they are all equally valid, or warrant equal airtime.


By casting climate change deniers as Galileo (Editorial, 1/8), The Australian turns history on its head. Galileo followed the same scientific method as today’s scientists, and was similarly confronted by vested interests which would suppress the truth rather than face the changes it would bring. Then, it was the Church, today it is the fossil fuel industry. The editorial gives a sly wink to astroturf denial organisations like the so-called “Galileo Movement”, and does a grave injustice to the scientist whose name they have hijacked.

How power companies undermine Australia’s climate strategy.

It seems that my electricity provider Origin (among others) intends to increase its green power prices by the same amount as black (carbon-producing) power when the carbon price kicks in.

Green energy customers are buying a product which does not produce carbon emissions, and the vendor is telling them that its price has increased because of the charge on carbon emissions. That is untrue and deceptive. Further, it means they are effectively subsidising their black energy customers by charging green customers a portion of the extra cost of producing the black energy they do not use. This is is counter to the purpose of the carbon price. Continue reading

Bloggers’ bedtime

If the denialists would stop crowing for a second over the revision of the “1000-year” climate study and actually read up on the facts, they would find that the scientists themselves – not “bloggers” – have delayed its publication while they check some subtle aspects of data interpretation.

It is that kind of nuanced thoroughness and accuracy which distinguishes scientists from the ignorant buffoons who mindlessly oppose science simply because they dislike its conclusions, like a child who denies it’s eight o’clock because that’s bedtime.

Tax, then subsidise..huh?

Don Stallman’s question, “Why tax an industry and give it back to us in subsidies?” (The Australian, Letters, 11/6), is understandable given that most of the media spreads fear of the carbon tax instead of explaining how it works. But the answer is simple: low-carbon products will be cheaper than high-carbon ones and will thus be chosen by consumers, giving producers an incentive to switch to low-carbon production. The compensation to consumers ensures that the only losers will be producers who are slower than their competitors to switch. The market will do its job and eventually carbon emissions, the tax and the compensation will all be minimised.

What baffles me is why such a textbook market mechanism is opposed by conservatives. Maybe they’re mad they didn’t think of it.

It’s bin night

Janet Albrechtsen says carbon pricing will fail because “you have to fundamentally change human behaviour – not just from 500 companies” (“Please explain, Prime Minister”, The Australian, 13/7). She forgets the millions of consumers who will choose the cheaper, low-carbon products those companies will offer to avoid the tax.

She claims the ETS will fail, because the Hartwell Group says so. She forgets that the latter advocates instead the rapid deployment of renewable energy – pretty much the same policies as The Greens’, which Albrechtsen says “were expensive and achieved little”.

But such niceties would not faze her, as she argues that our small effect on global emissions means we should have done nothing anyway. In Albrechtsen’s world, everyone dumps their garbage in the street because each individual contribution is negligible, and no-one does the right thing until they are sure everyone else will. Fortunately, most Australians no longer live there.