The Australian's War on Science 36

On his column in the Financial Review last week, John Quiggin wrote about those who think global warming is some sort of hoax:

While most media outlets give at least some space to these conspiracy theorists, the central role has been played by The Australian. Not only its opinion columnists (with a handful of honorable exceptions) and its editorials, but even its news reporting is dominated by the idea that mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs, publishing their findings not in the peer-reviewed literature but through blogs, thinktanks and vanity presses.

In his piece in the Australian hyping Plimer's error-filled book guess how William Kininmonth quotes Quiggin? Study the passage carefully and then check your answer.

More like this

Now The Australian has recruited an historian from Wollongong, Greg Melleuish, to prove that the climatologists are all wrong, giving another plug for Plimer's book:

"Yet, reading Ian Plimer's excellent Heaven and Earth, what impresses one about his extraordinary account of the Earth's history and its climate is the many forces of nature that are beyond human control.",25197,25395364-5015664,00…

By Sympneology (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

I feel stupid. I was off by one word.

the many forces of nature that are beyond human control.

Which of course says nothing about things that are human controlled.

A historian who thinks humans can do nothing? Interesting!

Perfect score for me !

By Robert P. (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Wow. Quote-mine extreme.

Here's the loc and the cite:

Economist John Quiggin appears so concerned at the direction of events that he claims "mainstream science is on the verge of being overturned by the efforts of a group of dedicated amateurs" (The Australian Financial Review, April 23).

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and isinto its third print run in as manyweeks.

Cold facts dispel theories on warming

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

If "Cold Facts" dispel theories on global warming, it occurs to me that made-up facts are even more effective. At least at The Australian. Our only national newspaper (face-palm).


How can there be global warming when the denialist cherry crop has never been more frantically gathered?

(shorter Bolt)

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Well, mrcreosote, against my better judgement I went to look at Bolt and, to my surprise, it's the same farrago of lies and misrepresentations as usual.

I don't think Bolt is hardcore so much as bone-headed.

By David Irving (… (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

David Irving (no relation)
At least Lomborg is now admitting that AGW is a serious threat AND needs addressing (although he doesn't like an ETS apparently - even though it would create an economic driver for what he sees as the solution). There are still plenty of AGW sceptics out there who refer back to Lomborg's earlier work to argue against AGW - I wonder how Lomborg feels about that (and his earlier work which is helpfully pointed out in the bio at the bottom of the article)?

Blomberg - you know, that environmentalist guy from Denmark who at any moment of any day is being gratuitously publicised in the media somewhere - is without doubt one of the most successful self-promoters of the 20th century, still going strong.

He just makes stuff up of course including these days calling himself a "political economist". It was "political scientist" before but too many with experience of him were feeling justified by that to just dismiss him more shortly as "liar" or "idiot".

Anyway the latest fluff from this environmentalist extremist is kind of priceless:

"Economists who have calculated the long-term benefits for humans and the planet from reducing global warming - such as fewer heat deaths and less flooding - show that every dollar invested in making low-carbon energy cheaper will do $16 worth of "good". Spending a dollar to do $16 worth of good makes a lot of sense".

Yeah whatever you say, mister environmentalist moonbat dude!

Dave55 @ 13, I don't think Lomberg has ever denied that AGW exists, and is a problem (unlike most other inactivists) - he's clever enough to avoid that trap.

However, he still hasn't changed his story that any money spent on abatement or adaption is wasted, and would be better spent on something (anything!) else.

By David Irving (… (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

David Irving (no relation)
Going back over his stuff, I see that you are right, he never denied that there was an effect but rather debated the extent of the human influence.

Lomborg's early work was the basis for much of Michael Crichton's scepticism littered through "State of Fear" and I've seen numerous references to Lomborg's work in TSE to undermine AGW science. The article you link to shows he is far more confident expressing his belief in AGW as a serious threat. You are right though, his cost benefit analysis approach is a little off and I can't see how he gets to his solutyion of making green energy cheap without a heap of money being spent in order to acheive this.


The short rebuttle to Bolt is the 0155 K/decade temperture trend we continue to experience.

Much of the cliams made by bolt are desinged to appeal to misunderstanding. Eg. more snow and ice is predicted in certain situtions where temperture rise remains below zero. That is it snows more in the middle of the Antartic if the temper warms from -40 to -20.

For a more detailed response see…

By mark Byrne (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

See discussion of Lomborg, and see if any of his latest words break that model.

That is: if your goal is to avoid any regulation of CO2 and/or diminution of profits to fossil companies or any other restrictions on first-world businesses, you can say many different things, exactly one of which would really be hated by a coal vendor:

a) There's no warming.

b) It's warming, but not caused by humans.

c) It's caused by humans, but it's way less than the IPCC says, or it's good for us.

d) It's caused by humans, but it will cost too much to stop it.

e) It's too late to mitigate, so just adapt.

f) Other things have higher priority.

g) Everyone should invest in low-carbon energy, so that sometime it gets cheaper than fossil fuel.

h) We should have cap-and-trade, but with many needed exceptions,and big polluters must be given credits.

i) We should have a carbon tax, but must keep it low.

j) We should have a meaningful carbon tax or C&T that clearly raises the prices of fossil fuel, does it soon, and with predictable increases over time.

If you were a coal vendor, in order to prevent j), would you be willing to say any of the others?

Would you say g)? This is somewhat akin to:

"Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."

-- Augustine

By John Mashey (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Your discussion of Lomborg looks like good stuff John. He's never met an economist that he cannot misrepresent, perhaps the hidden meaning of his new claim to being a "political economist". It's nothing but politicking all the way down for him.

As described in that piece at ThingsBreak, the key is understanding whether someone is arguing FOR something because they are FOR it, or because they are trying to AVOID something else.

The latter is akin to the misdirection of stage magicians.

Anyway, as a result one cannot pick put a sentence or two that SOUND reasonable, and infer the real beliefs.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

Oops: as far as I can tell, Plimer may well have shared goals with Lomborg (no government regulation, especially of GHGs), but Lomborg is far more sophisticated and far more successful in his strategy. Plimer attacks science headon [and is trivially disproved), Lomborg is way more subtle, even when he is doing anti-science. People disproving that miss the political effectiveness of he other arguments, i.e., that's the magician's misdirection again.

Again, read that ThingsBreak piece. If you can find "cornucopian" Julian Simon's "Ultimate Resource 2" in a library, read a bit of that, and recall that TSE led off with a quote from it.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

John, your characterisation of Lomborg as a stage magician is perfect. It's the description of him I've been groping after for years.

By David Irving (… (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink

The concept of "misdirection" is _definitely_ key to understanding the Blomberg phenomenon.

Speaking of Kininmonth, I recently discovered that I have a close family connection to him. Very close, in fact, (though long inactive).

It is indeed a very small world.

'War on Science'???

Who are the conspiracy theorists and freaks now? Seems ego-nomics profs like Quiggin are the ones acting likje denialists. Denying reality my friends. The earth has been cooling for over a decade.

By Sally Johnson (not verified) on 16 May 2009 #permalink

Sally Johnson: "The earth has been cooling for over a decade."


That's false, Sally. Show us why you think it's true.

> timwells: I cannot back this up with any emperical
> evidence.OK,here we go. 1]The first line-Humanity
> is THE absolute dominant species of the earth-nothing
> else even comes close.There is so much evidence that this > is true that we really dont need to dicuss it.

Eh? Do you have evidence for this claim or not? Is there some universally accepted definition of "dominant" in this context?

If I had to pick a dominant species, it would be pelagibacter ubique.

Very happy to find your site.
I see that some of my favourite pseudoscience people are here, such as Bob Carter and William Kininmonth, and Ian Plimer.

I puzzle to know what motivates these people, as they scour about academia or wherever, dismissing thousands of respected and peer-reviewed papers, until they find some dodgy stuff about how climate change isn't happening, and C02 has nothing to do with it.

I wonder, are they funded by some apparently respectable "think tank" - which if one delves, turns out to be sponsored by the Heritage society, or Exxon Mobil or suchlike?

Or do they just enjoy the fame and glory of "bravely speaking out against the mainstream?"