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Tue, 2014-01-14 22:27Graham Readfearn
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Exclusive: Mont Pelerin Society Revealed As Home To Leading Pushers Of Climate Science Denial

THERE’S a popular talking point coming from climate change denialists that all people who accept the science and the need to act on it are somehow blinded by faith.

In Australia, climate science contrarian columnists can barely touch their keyboards without typing out the words “global warming faith” or explaining how human-caused global warming is some sort of “new religion”.

This “climate religion” narrative often goes hand-in-hand with another favourite denialist talking point where climate scientists are only doing what they do because there’s a dollar in it.

Presumably the laws of physics, the melting ice sheets, the increasing risk of bushfires, the hottest decades on record and the acidifying oceans are also waiting for their cash.

Maurice Newman, the man hand-picked by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be the government’s top business advisor, loves both of these debating points.

Newman has described climate scientists as being a “global warming priesthood” and belonging to a new “religion”. In a second opinion column in two weeks in The Australian, Newman repeats his cynicism over the IPCC and climate scientists, describing them as a “cartel” that “will deny all contrary evidence”.  Newman even repeats the myth that in the 1970s scientists were certain the world was heading for global cooling, when in fact, as this study shows, a healthy majority of scientific papers were predicting the opposite. 

Yet Newman has a deep belief system of his own, having long been associated with a form of “classic liberalism” – a particular world view which advocates small government and low regulation of the activities of businesses.

Not only that, but he is a member of a global society of influential business people, academics and think tank associates known as the Mont Pelerin Society who share the same broad ideology.

The Mont Pelerin Society

The Mont Pelerin Society was established in 1947 by free market economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek.

Maurice Newman, a Mont Pelerin member since 1976, has long been an admirer of the work of Hayek and fellow free market economist Milton Friedman, a past president of the Mont Pelerin Society.

Newman was responsible for bringing Friedman to Australia in the mid-1970s, at a time when Newman was helping to set up the Centre for Independent Studies – a Sydney-based free market think tank.

Mont Pelerin’s website explains that while all members don’t agree on everything, “they see danger in the expansion of government, not least in state welfare, in the power of trade unions and business monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation.”

The Society, which holds a meeting annually in different parts of the world, also explains how its members see their society “as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by those classical economists, political scientists, and philosophers who have inspired many in Europe, America and throughout the Western World.”

To become a member, individuals have to be nominated by a current member and then seek endorsement by the membership committee before being endorsed. 

DeSmogBlog has obtained a full list of the society’s members that includes senior representatives of many of the world’s foremost “free market” think tanks actively pushing back on proposed policy solutions to tackle climate change.

The list, from 2010, includes almost 500 people from 52 countries, with the bulk of members coming from the United States and the United Kingdom. The 70-page list includes private contact details. DeSmogBlog has decided to publish only extracts with contact details redacted.

Among the notable members is Charles Koch (list excerpt here), the US oil billionaire who has been a Mont Pelerin Society member since 1970.

Wed, 2013-12-04 15:14Graham Readfearn
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Donald Trump Tweets Infographic Undermining His Own Anti-Wind Energy Rage

There were a handful of clues which should have caused wind energy-hating American billionaire Donald Trump to pause before tweeting what he thought was an anti-wind power infographic to his 2.4 million Twitter followers.

One clue might have been the inclusion of a quote about research which suggested that health-related complaints about wind farms in local communities often coincided with the presence of anti-wind farm groups.

Another clue the infographic might actually have been designed to highlight the fallacy of Trump's anti-wind cause, rather than bolster it, was a quote pointing out that “thinking anecdotally comes naturally, whereas thinking scientifically does not.”

The infographic, created by Australian blogger and wind energy industry employee Ketan Joshi, listed some 87 symptoms in humans and animals that have been blamed on wind farms, taken from a list of more than 200 maintained by University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman.

These symptoms included vibrating lips, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease and infertility in humans, “reduced wool quality” and “behavioural problems” in sheep and cows being born without tails.

Donald Trump has been battling a proposed offshore wind farm development in the courts claiming the 11 planned turbines will spoil the view for golfers at his new “greatest golf course in the world” gouged out of the sand dunes on the coast of Scotland's Aberdeenshire.

Fri, 2013-11-29 13:54Graham Readfearn
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Guide Claims Warsaw COP19 Climate Talks Were Captured By Corporate Fossil Fuel Interests

Cover page of The Cop19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying

THERE were two logos on the grey felt conference bags offered to delegates at the recent COP19 United Nations climate change negotiations in Warsaw.

One was the official COP19 logo, embroidered onto the flap of the document bag inside which negotiators, observers and UN staff could carry around the draft texts which were supposed to pave the way for a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nestled unashamedly and proudly alongside this COP19 logo was the official mark of the Lotos Group - an oil and gas company majority owned by the Polish Government.

The juxtaposition was emblematic of the talks in Warsaw, which some observers described as the most “corporate captured yet” of any of the United Nations climate talks since the first “Conference of Parties” was convened in Berlin, Germany, in 1995.

Alongside LOTOS Group, other major corporate sponsors of COP19 included fossil fuel energy giant Alstom Power - delegates were greeted with that company's logo whenever they took a drink from the free water coolers scattered around Poland's National Stadium, the venue for the talks.

The main negotiating rooms and plenary rooms were elaborately constructed canvas and steel marquees on the stadium's playing surface and were provided with cash from another sponsor, ArcelorMittal, which lays claim to be the “world’s leading steel and mining company.”

Thu, 2013-11-21 07:14Graham Readfearn
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Exclusive: Greenpeace Leader Kumi Naidoo's COP19 Walkout Message For Governments "Playing Political Poker" With Planet's Future

At about 2pm, they started to stream down corridors and sift down escalators, weaving through the halls leading to the negotiating rooms and out through the main security gate - hundreds of them.

The United Nations climate change talks had not been going well - perhaps an understatement - and for the first time in the 18-year history of these negotiations, the environment groups and civil society organisations had had enough.

It was time to walk out of Poland's national sports stadium in Warsaw - groups from all corners of the world donning white t-shirts and streaming out of the talks, known as COP19, beneath a giant United Nations sign reading “Welcome”.

Speaking exclusively to DeSmogBlog outside the talks after checking in his UNFCCC badge, Kumi Naidoo, the human rights activist and executive director of Greenpeace International, insisted the walkout was not a sign of them giving up.

“It is clear that what's happening here is not just betrayal to future generations - because it is clear that the people negotiating here are not going to bear the brunt of climate impacts. It's our children and grandchildren that are going to.

“This is not about giving up, but is about taking the struggle to a different level. If we are to get a solution out of this COP we need people around the world to start - in every country - putting pressure on their governments to actually come to these COPs with a very strong mandate which has serious levels of ambition with regards to cutting carbon.

“Serious ambition too with regard to ensuring that poor countries have the money to adapt to climate change and not follow the same dirty energy pathway that rich countries followed to build their economies.”

Thu, 2013-11-21 04:30Graham Readfearn
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Environment Groups Walk Out Of Warsaw COP19 Climate Change Talks

LEADING global environment and civil society groups have dramatically walked out of the United Nations COP19 climate change talks in Warsaw in an unprecedented move in UNFCCC conference history.

The talks in Warsaw have been dogged by uncertainty and a lack of progress, with campaign groups complaining daily of blocking tactics and buck-passing by many governments.

Groups including Greenpeace International, WWF, Oxfam International, ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth Europe and the International Trade Union Confederation joined the walkout.

Losing patience with the Warsaw talks, the groups accused governments of putting the interests of the “dirty energy lobby” first and of failing to address a global “climate crisis”.

In a statement, the groups said: “enough is enough” but some stressed they were not walking away from the UNFCCC process entirely, promising to return for the talks in Lima, Peru, in 2014.

Tue, 2013-11-19 10:47Graham Readfearn
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Climate Denial Group CFACT Congratulates Australia During Warsaw Talks

AUSTRALIA finally has a vocal cheerleader at the COP19 United Nations climate talks currently taking place in Warsaw - a climate denial activist think tank which rejects the science of human-caused climate change.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, a fossil fuel-funded group which denies that emissions from burning fossil fuels cause climate change, declared in a UN-sanctioned press conference inside the talks that the world should be following Australia's lead in repealing laws to price carbon emissions.

Environment groups have been critical of Australia at the talks, giving the country four “Fossil of the Day” awards for slowing down the talks, while one group said Australia is taking an “anti-climate” stance in Warsaw.

Campaigners have been shocked at the rhetoric coming from Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recently described carbon pricing as a “so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one” and characterised moves to financially support developing countries to manage climate change as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”

Marc Morano, the editor of the ClimateDepot denial website, appeared Tuesday alongside CFACT executive director Craig Rucker. Morano unleashed a torrent of previously debunked climate denial talking points to a sparsely populated and occasionally perplexed press conference audience.

“Coal is the moral choice, particularly for the developing world,” said Morano in the CFACT Warsaw press conference - a comment greeted with laughter from many in the room. Conference hosts Poland have been criticised for simultaneously hosting a World Coal Association conference elsewhere in Warsaw.

“The model for the world right now should be Australia,” Morano said. “Australia gets it. Scientifically they get it, politically they get it and particularly when it comes to the United Nations, they get it. They are pulling out of this, they are repealing their carbon tax and Canada seems to be intrigued by what Australia is doing.”

“Australia gets it - they have realised what the United Nations is doing here today. Viva Australia - let's hope the world follows Australia's model,” said Morano, who is a former advisor to Republican Senator James Inhofe, who has said global warming is a scientific “hoax”.

Support from CFACT is not the kind of attention which Australia will welcome.

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