Graham Readfearn

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Graham Readfearn is an independent journalist based in Queensland, Australia, with 15 years experience as a reporter and writer on newspapers, magazines, radio and online.

In Australia, Graham's features and commentary on climate change and sustainability issues appear regularly for The Guardian, G Magazine, ABC Environment, The Drum and Crikey.

In his native UK, Graham worked on daily regional newspapers for five years at The Gazette in Blackpool and The Yorkshire Post in Leeds. His campaigns highlighted major malpractices at a chemical reprocessing factory and helped secure better payments for war pensioners.

A long-running campaign to increase the levels of physical education in UK schools was quoted in British Parliament and won him the regional sports writer of the year award from Britain’s Sports Writers’ Association.

He moved to London and the BBC’s national 24-hour news and sport radio network FiveLive to work as a broadcast journalist, script writer and producer.

During two years there, he was part of the team producing the live rolling coverage of the New York September 11 attacks and was studio producer as news broke of an IRA bomb in London’s Ealing suburb. In the wake of British race riots, he conceived and co-produced a live three-hour programme on multicultural issues from Europe's largest Indian curry restaurant.

After a career-break to travel the world he returned to the UK as a freelance feature writer covering social affairs, youth issues, regeneration, social enterprise and sustainability for national magazines and newspapers.

After moving to Australia in 2005, he was a feature writer for Queensland's main daily newspaper, The Courier-Mail, where he launched his first environment blog, GreenBlog, writing more than 650 posts and moderating in excess of 14,000 comments.

He likes chickens (he's got six), his kids (he's got two), his wife (just the one), coffee and other things - although not necessarily in that order.

Graham occasionally blogs at www.readfearn.com

UFOs, Sea Level Rise And The Magnetism Of Climate Science Denial

IF there was a prize for the most esoteric and stratospherically “out there” theory against human caused climate change, then surely Thomas Watson would be in line for this particular gong.

In an interview in January for the US-based internet radio show “It's Rainmaking Time”, this 83-year-old Australian from Victoria told presenter Kim Greenhouse that carbon dioxide had nothing to do with climate change and that instead, natural variations in “magnetism” were responsible.

Watson said: “The term gravity is - I won't say - an arrogant term, but it's a term that has been used because Newton saw an Apple fall down…I can show that that Apple is attracted to the Earth as the Earth is attracted to the Apple.” Later, he added: “CO2 is not the cause of climate change and for anyone to say it's trapping heat and expelling heat is in my opinion telling white lies.”

So “When did the lights go on for you that we are living in a magnetic field,” asked Greenhouse.

Just How Many Climate "Sceptics" Are There?

A version of this post first appeared at RenewEconomy.

WHEN Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that former Woodside gas company executive and lobbyist Gary Gray was Australia’s new energy and resources minister, questions turned quickly to his position on climate change.

Whistleblower Claims Australian Govt Censored Environment Concerns Prior To Approving Mega Gas Projects

A WHISTLEBLOWER has claimed approvals for two multi-billion dollar gas export projects in Australia were waved through government despite warnings that key information on a range of environmental impacts were either missing or inadequate.

Environment assessment specialist Simone Marsh, who had been on secondment to the Queensland Government's Department of Infrastructure and Planning when the projects were being assessed in early 2010, has spoken of a process where approval of the projects was never in question. Commercial and economic interests were put above environmental concerns.

“All the scientific arguments in the world wouldn't have changed things in that situation,” Marsh told the ABC's investigative journalism documentary program 4 Corners. “They had decided that they wanted to go ahead with the projects and there was nothing stopping it.”

Documents obtained by 4Corners under Right to Information laws in Queensland also reveal how a state government department tasked with assessing the environmental impacts of the projects were looking to provide the state's co-ordinator general with a “bankable outcome” on which to approve the projects.

The 4 Corners program looked at two major projects costing US$38.9 billion that would drill thousands of wells into coal seams in Queensland and, with the help of hydraulic fracturing and 6500 km of access roads, extract gas and pipe it to a new export facility at Curtis Island beside the Great Barrier Reef. Some 26 million cubic metres are being dredged from Gladstone harbour for the export projects.

Climate Science Denier James Delingpole Calls For "Alarmists" To Face Court With Death Penalty Powers

I IMAGINE only a small percentage of people reading this have had any journalism training, but don't let that stop you from pondering the following ethical question.

If you read a newspaper story that included a direct quote from someone - let's say, for instance, UK climate scientist Dr David Viner - would it be acceptable to put quotation marks on the headline of that story and claim it was a quote from Dr Viner? You can have a minute to think about it.

It might help you to know that the headline was not written by the reporter who interviewed Dr Viner and wrote the story, and certainly not by Dr Viner himself. In short, a third person - a sub-editor - wrote the headline.

You don't need a minute? Of course not: it would be unprofessional, unethical and factually wrong to pass off a sub-editor’s made-up words as Dr Viner’s.

The Australian newspaper has just published a column from UK-based climate science mangler and anti-wind farm activist James Delingpole that tries to argue that Australia's recent unprecedented heatwave and hottest month on record wasn't all that hot and that global warming “alarmists” should be answering to a court with the power to issue a death sentence (no, I don't exaggerate, but we'll get to that at the end).

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.

Research Reveals Almost All Climate Science Denial Books Linked To Conservative Think Tanks

IF you haven't seen them on the television or come across their interviews on the radio or in newspapers and magazines, then you've almost certainly seen their work as your eyes scan the climate change section in your local book store or library.

They are the authors of books claiming to reveal the “real truth” about global warming and climate change - that it's either all a hoax, that it's overblown bad science from green ideologues or an elaborate illusion and wrongheaded nonsense.

You might have been intrigued by titles like “An Appeal To Reason: A Cool Look At Global Warming”, “The Climate Caper” or the subtle sledgehammer that was “Global Warming and Other Bollocks”.

But new research into the origins and authors of more than 100 of these climate science denial books finds almost all of them - about four out of five - are largely the products of conservative-leaning think tanks.

The research finds the books avoid traditional academic peer-review and are often written by non-experts. Dr Riley Dunlap, of Oklahoma State University, and Peter Jacques, of the University of Central Florida, have published their research - Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks: Exploring the Connection - in the journal American Behavioural Scientist.

Research Finds Wind Farm Health Concerns Probably Caused By Anti-Wind Scare Campaigns

ANTI-WIND farm activists around the world have created a silent bogeyman they claim can cause everything from sickness and headaches to herpes, kidney damage and cancers.

This “infrasound” exists at frequencies too low for the human ear to detect but is present almost everywhere from offices and roadsides to waves tumbling on ocean beaches. These low frequencies can crawl menacingly from the back of your kitchen fridge or from your heart beating.

Despite the ubiquitous nature of infrasound, anti-wind farm groups such as Australia's Waubra Foundation like people to think that it's only inaudible infrasound from wind turbines which might send residents to their sick beds.

But two new studies suggest the cause of health complaints by people living near wind farms could in fact be down to the scare campaign of the anti-wind groups and reports about such scares in the media.

Climate Denial Industry Hits Courts And Hollywood As Threats Fly

THE climate science denial industry doesn't like Penn State University's Professor Michael Mann very much.

Mann is the scientist behind the famous “hockey stick” graph that first appeared in the journal Nature in 1998. Mann and two other scientists Professor Raymond Bradley and Professor Malcolm Hughes had reconstructed temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere from the year 1400 to present day using data mainly from tree rings, ice cores and modern temperature readings.

The following year, the same three scientists extended their study to reconstruct 1000 years of temperatures and published this in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Each time the team plotted their data on graphs and each time the plots showed what is the now famous “hockey stick” shape with a sharp uptick in temperatures towards the end of the century.

Lord Monckton Threatens Climate Scientists, Again

MEMBERS of London's famous gentlemen's club Brooks's have no doubt cooked-up a few bizarre plots, plans and wagers over the years as Britain's gentry and ennobled upper class sipped on glasses of port in their smoking jackets.

In 1785, for example, there was an agreement between two Lords to hand over 500 guineas if one of them managed to have sexual intercourse with a woman in a balloon “one thousand yards from the Earth” . There's no record to suggest that the arrangement, recorded in the club's Betting Book, was ever paid.

The exclusive men-only enclave lives on and still attracts high-profile figures, although Rupert Murdoch's son James' application ran into trouble over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Club member and climate science denier Lord Christopher Monckton put Brooks's famous address to good use this week for a letter sent to the University of Tasmania.

Climate Change Conspiracy Theorist's Report "A Pile Of Horse Shit" Writes Environment Editor

BEN CUBBY, the environment editor at Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, admits he has an unusual problem - “how does one critically analyse a pile of horse shit?”

The horse excretion in question is a report - CSIROh! - Climate of Deception or First Step to Freedomsent to Cubby by one of Australia's most tireless - and some might say tiresome - climate science deniers, Malcolm Roberts. But more of Ben Cubby's response later.

Malcolm Roberts is the volunteer project manager for the Galileo Movement - a climate science denial organisation whose patron is popular Sydney radio shock-jock Alan Jones who himself thinks human-caused climate change is a “hoax” and “witchcraft”.

Roberts' “report” appears to have been sparked by an email from ABC Brisbane radio presenter Steve Austin back in February 2010.

“For some time now I have been receiving a barrage of your unsolicited emails about climate change and your analysis of IPCC flaws,” wrote Austin, who attached a copy of a CSIRO report on climate change and suggested Roberts respond. Austin promises he'll send that response to the CSIRO and provide any feedback he gets.

Roberts is a former coal miner and management consultant and in a declaration of  interests writes: “For extensive work performed in the mining industry I was paid money by mining companies (including three government-owned coal mining companies)….” He claims to have foregone more than a million dollars in earnings for his unpaid work researching climate change.

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