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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.

Thu, 2013-03-21 23:16Graham Readfearn
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Climate Denial Think Tank's Plans To Abolish Climate Change Departments in Australia

A LEADING Australian free-market think tank with close ties to the country's conservative Liberal Party has revealed its plan for climate change - abolish it.

Aside from the current Labor-led government's mud-wrestling over its leadership, all opinion polls point to a landslide victory for the Tony Abbott-led Liberal Party at the next election, which has been set for September.

The Institute of Public Affairs, a leading promoter of climate science denial and misrepresentation, has revealed its recommendations for the next government in a document outlining budget cuts. The plan was written by Alan Moran, director of the think tank's deregulation unit.

The document made the pages of The Australian newspaper but the report did not mention the document's detailed plans to obliterate all climate change functions in the country's public sector. In one section the document outlines the think tank's recommendations for public sector departments. In delaing with the future of the “Climate Change and Energy Efficiency” department, Moran writes simply: “Abolish”.

Pretty much every other federal government function to administer climate change policy, research global warming, ensure sustainable development or support renewable energy gets chopped under Moran's plan. Many publicly-funded research programs and agencies are either chopped entirely or cut to the bone.

Sun, 2013-02-17 22:15Graham Readfearn
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How To Spot A Fake Grassroots Movement

PERHAPS somebody should write a pocket guide book with the title: “How to spot you've been suckered by a fake grassroots movement”.

Once it's written, these guide books could be distributed free of charge to crowds at anti-carbon tax rallies, US Tea Party marches and pretty much any gathering of a “movement” telling you that you're freedom is being put at risk by big governments, nanny states, new world orders or communists disguised as climate scientists or public health professionals.

But why the sudden need for the guide?

There's now emerging evidence that if these really are “grassroots” movements, then many of the seeds and the fertilisers are being supplied by major corporations and “libertarian” billionaires. It turns out that the US Tea Party movement and its calls for “freedom” from government intervention wasn't some organic uprising of community concern after all.

A new academic study documents how the Tea Party was envisioned and planned by tobacco company executives in concert with Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group established by oil billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

As reported on DeSmogBlog, the study “‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party” shows how the industry wanted to hide their profit motive and fear of the government regulating their deadly products behind a “movement to change the way that people think”, as R.J Reynolds Tobacco's head of national field operations Tim Hyde described it.

Wed, 2013-01-09 14:00Graham Readfearn
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Australia Scorches In Record Heatwave As Warming Trends Bite

AUSTRALIA is baking in a heatwave which has broken all historical records for its geographical size and sheer number of extremes.

For seven days straight, the country's average maximum temperature has been above 39C (102F), beating a previous run of just four days of such temperatures set back in 1973.

The country's Bureau of Meteorology has issued a special statement outlining the unprecedented heat event and some of the records broken

Australia set a new record for the highest national area-average temperature, recording 40.33 °C (104F) and surpassing the previous record set on 21 December 1972 (40.17 °C). To date (data up to the 7 January 2013) the national area-average for each of the first 7 days of 2013 has been in the top 20 hottest days on record, with 6 January the fifth hottest on record and the first time 6 consecutive days over 39 °C (102F) has ever been recorded for Australia.

So hot have been the temperatures, that BoM was forced to add extra colours to its forecast maps so they could show temperatures beyond 52C (125F). Deep purple is no longer just a 1960s heavy rock band, but is now also a colour that beckons 54C (129F).

On consecutive days the country beat its previous daily mean temperature record, which had stood since 1972, with 32.36C (90F) set on 8 January.

Hobart in Tasmania reached 41.8C (107F), its hottest day by a full degree in a record going back 120 years. Eucla in Western Australia, more than 2500 kilometres away, also broke its record with a searing 48.2C (118.7F).

In Birdsville in outback Queensland, a place well used to extreme heat, the roads started to melt, sticking to residents' shoes. In Oodnadatta in South Australia, the town's petrol station stopped pumping because the heat was vapourising the fuel.

Aside from the effects of heat exhaustion and dehydration, the most immediate threat facing Australian in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria has been bushfires.

Wed, 2012-09-12 17:00Graham Readfearn
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James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank

JAMES Delingpole is a UK columnist waging a long personal jihad against wind farms, environmentalists and climate science.

A resident blogger and columnist at The Daily Telegraph, Delingpole is probably best known for being among the first mainstream columnists to declare, wrongly as it turned out, that emails illegally hacked from an influential climate research unit showed scientists were trying to con the public.

So he is the perfect person to be appealing for people to donate their cash to the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think tank which has been working for about 20 years on a campaign to mislead the public about climate science and the impact of carbon pricing.

In the appeal, Delingpole lauds the IPA's campaign against climate science and action on climate change. Readers of the appeal might be forgiven for thinking the IPA is struggling for cash. Says Delingpole: “Their budget is always stretched. If you don’t give them money they’ll go broke.”

Yet the IPA's most recent financial returns to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission suggest that rather than scrambling around for spare change, the think-tank is in fact in rude financial health.

Wed, 2012-07-18 02:07Graham Readfearn
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Australians Beware: Soon The Climate Science Deniers Will Be In Charge

ANYONE who places 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 a Liberal-led coalition will sweep to power at next year's Federal election in Australia - the world's biggest exporter of coal and on track to be the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas.

Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap”. Views shared among Abbott's parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.

The Liberal-National Party's new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell are currently presiding over a massive boom in coal and gas projects. Both have said they're unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the country's main science agancy the CSIRO and the country's Bureau of Meteorology, plus every major science academy on the planet.

Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.

Sun, 2012-07-08 18:40Graham Readfearn
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Donna Laframboise Flown To Australia By Climate Science Denying Think Tank

CANADIAN blogger and climate science sceptic Donna Laframboise has flown off for a tour of Australia to tell anyone willing to listen that the world's foremost body on climate change, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is something resembling a shambling mess.

Laframboise's trip has been organised by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a long history of promoting doubt about the science of human-caused climate change and the risks of the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels.

The blogger, who describes herself as an investigative journalist, gets to visit Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to promote her book “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World's Top Climate Expert - IPCC Expose.

The IPA describe's Laframboise as a “world renowned author” which is stretching credibility to breaking point. This “world renowned author” has written just two books. Her first was about feminism published in 1996. The Delinquent Teenager is her second, and is currently ranked #17952 in the book seller Amazon's Kindle store [#41,202 in the U.S. Amazon Kindle Store.]

Essentially the book makes three central claims. The first is that the IPCC has engaged several young scientists which Laframboise says goes against the IPCC's claims that they use the world's top scientists. A second is that some of the scientists working on some of the reports have links to environmental groups which are not always made clear. A third is that the IPCC reports use too much non-peer reviewed literature.

All of these arguments are used as a proxy to question the science. Yet the IPCC's main climate change reports (the latest being the 2007 Assessment Report 4, the next being AR5 currently being worked on by more than 800 authors and expected some time in late 2013 or early 2014) don't actually do any science.

They are reviews - albeit almighty ones - of research being conducted at institutions around the world and of scientific papers published in journals.  This means that even if the IPCC was found to be run by a small group of mentally-challenged llamas, this wouldn't affect the science on human-caused climate change. In essence, Laframboise's book is one giant strawman argument.

Wed, 2012-06-27 02:06Graham Readfearn
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What The World's Richest Woman Gina Rinehart Thinks About Climate Change

SHE is the richest woman on the planet with a personal fortune approaching $30 billion thanks to her coal and iron ore businesses.

But when it comes to arguably the planet's most pressing problem - human-caused climate change - the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart dismisses out of hand not only the issue, but the expertise of the world's climate science community.

Now, Rinehart, the head and owner of Hancock Prospecting, has revealed that she wants to use her substantial stakes in two leading Australian media companies to be able to promote the views of climate science deniers.

Earlier this week, the publicly-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative television documentary Four Corners looked at Ms Rinehart's life story.

Her climate science denial did not appear in the broadcast, but the ABC did ask her about it and  has released the answers to questions on the issue of climate change and her promotion of climate scepticism.

The program comes as Rinehart is engaged in a very public fight with the board of Fairfax, the media company which owns the nation's most respected newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

As reported by Fairfax, Rinehart told the ABC that she would consider selling her 19 per cent shareholding in the struggling company unless she is given three board seats and the right to influence editorial policy.

Mon, 2012-05-21 10:37Graham Readfearn
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Who Are The Australian Backers Of Heartland's Climate Denial?

ANY conference worth its salt needs a nice long list of sponsors to give the impression of widespread diverse support for whatever the conference  organisers are advocating.

In the case of the Heartland Institute and their advocacy for the denial of the risks of human-caused climate change, their just-started conference for climate science misinformers in Chicago can boast official supporters from as far and wide as India, England, Austria and New Zealand.

But one of the most devoted and long-standing group of supporters for their climate change denial conferences over the years has come from Australia. This year there are four Australia-based groups listed as “co-sponsors” and over the history of the seven conferences no less than nine different Australian groups have been happy to have their organisation's name hitched to Heartland's colors.

A mistaken impression could be that there's widespread support for Heartland's extremist views in Australia. The word “co-sponsor” gives the impression that these organisations are willing to actually give up money to support. 

Yet in at least one case, and probably several others, being a co-sponsor is as easy as contacting Heartland and saying that you agree with them.
 
The reality is that those supporting Heartland from Australia come from a small circle of active and loud free-market idealogues.
Tue, 2012-01-24 16:36Graham Readfearn
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Study Tracks Australian Climate Denial Echo Chamber Back to Think Tank

EVER heard the one about climate scientists being a bunch of rent-seekers just out to chase taxpayers money, or the one where climate change scientists are just part of an elite left-wing conspiracy out to trample on the heretics?

How about your nearest conservative columnist telling you that “green is the new red” or how climate science and environmentalism has become a new religion?
 
Where do these rhetorical tricks and debating points actually come from? How does the echo chamber work?
 
In Australia, a new study has found these themes often don’t spring forth from the minds of insightful and thoughtful newspaper columnists and bloggers.
 
Rather, many have emerged from the free-market think-tankery of Australia’s The Institute of Public Affairs, which has been muddying the waters of climate science for more than 20 years.
 
Published in the international peer-reviewed journal Journalism Studies, the author, University of Technology Sydney PhD candidate Elaine McKewon, reveals how popular rhetorical “fantasy themes” which aim to create controversy around climate science are conceived at the IPA before being repeated, magnified, endorsed and legitimised in the opinion pages of Australian newspapers.

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