Friday, April 17, 2015
Indian government crackdown on anti-development Greenies hindered by the courts
The Indian government has stepped up its campaign against Greenpeace’s subcontinental arm by freezing the organisation’s bank accounts after a Delhi High Court twice fended off government attacks on the NGO.
The account Greenpeace India uses to store international funds has already been frozen once - purportedly because Greenpeace’s advocacy had “prejudicially affected the national interest” - but was restored by the courts earlier this year.
In January, Justice Rajiv Shakdher reversed the government’s “untenable” decision, because “there [was] no material whatsoever on record which would justify declining [Greenpeace’s] request for allowing it access to its bank account”.
“Non-Governmental Organisations often take positions which are contrary to the policies formulated by the Government of the day,” he noted. “That by itself, in my view, cannot be used to portray [Greenpeace’s] actions as being detrimental to national interest.”
Greenpeace said the government is trying to shut it down because it has been critical of its development agenda, which it argues is inequitable and damaging to the environment due to its reliance on coal and other polluting activities.
Human rights groups, as well as the courts, have met the government’s financial interventions with scepticism.
“It is clear that Greenpeace is being targeted because its strong views and campaigns question the government’s development policies,” G.Ananthapadmanabhan, the Executive Director at Amnesty International India, said.
One campaign in particular, which aims to shine a light on alleged human rights abuses connected with a mining development in Madya Pradesh province, has embarrassed the government.
The development - known as the Mahan Coal Block - would have destroyed 400,000 trees and the livelihoods of 50,000 people, Greenpeace said.
In a bid to draw attention to the issue a Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was due to fly to London in January to meet with British MPs. When she got to the airport, though, she discovered she had been blacklisted and was not permitted to leave the country.
The government’s interference was slammed by Amnesty International India, which described the move as a further attempt “to disable an organisation for promoting the voices of some of the country’s most powerless people”.
Ms Pillai took the government to the Delhi High Court which, in January, found her fundamental rights had been infringed.
Criticism like Pillai’s may not be “palatable” to the government, Justice Shakdher ruled, but “it cannot be muzzled”.
“The State may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent,” he said in his judgement.
He ruled that the travel restrictions violated fundamental rights and noted that there was nothing on the record to suggest that Greenpeace’s activities “have the potentiality of degrading the economic interest of the country”.
Allowing the government to form a “subjective view” of activists as “anti-national”, Justice Shakdher said, “would result in conferring un-canalised and arbitrary power in the executive”.
Ironically, the government has since backed down on its Mahan Coal Block plans, and will only clear three of the 74 blocks it had originally intended to.
"Even as we celebrate this win for thousands of Indians, we are painfully aware that Mahan is just one of hundreds of coalmines planned in forested India,” Pillai said at the time.
Just under three weeks later, on Apirl 9, Greenpeace received a notice advising that both its domestic and international fund bank accounts would be frozen.
The notice alleges a range of tax infringements, unapproved relocation of its offices and, again, that Greenpeace International funds were used in a way prejudicial to the national interest.
The green group now has 30 days to respond, and will be forced back to the courts to have its funds unblocked.
£1 billion lagoon that could be Britain's pottiest ever green scheme
By CHRISTOPHER BOOKER
Just when it seemed that our national energy policy — alongside defence of the realm, an absolute priority, to keep the lights on — couldn’t be managed in a madder or more alarming way, along comes the most bizarre project of all.
This is a £1 billion scheme to build a colossal U-shaped stone breakwater, six miles long, enclosing the whole of Swansea Bay in South Wales, containing 16 giant submerged turbines, whose blades would be seven metres across.
The idea is that these would be driven by the water pouring through them from both directions by the 30ft daily rise and fall of the Bristol Channel’s tides, the second highest in the world.
This mammoth scheme, recently given a glowing plug on the BBC’s Countryfile, is said to have everything going for it.
It is backed by an array of financial investors, led by the giant Prudential insurance company. Also behind it are our most influential ‘green’ lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The ‘tidal lagoon’ project, which would be like nothing else built anywhere before, is favoured by politicians of all parties, led by Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who can barely contain his excitement, saying that tidal power offers Britain ‘fantastic economic opportunities’.
The plan was given positive mention in George Osborne’s recent Budget speech, and has now been included in the Conservative manifesto.
On the internet, there is a picture of David Cameron meeting the chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP), the company behind the scheme. So, the project certainly has friends in high places.
Fast-tracked through the planning process, it has already been approved by government inspectors, so all that remains to start construction is a final go-ahead from the energy minister.
In fact, the man responsible for the scheme, TLP’s Mark Shorrock, hopes five more such schemes will follow — including one six times as big which he is planning for Cardiff Bay up the coast.
Between them, it is claimed, these lagoons will not just ‘power every home in Wales’ but will put the Principality ‘at the heart of a hugely lucrative global tidal lagoon industry’.
However, when one looks carefully at the figures used to support this wave of euphoria, some rather large and troubling doubts begin to emerge.
For a start, the immense capital cost means that TLP is asking the Government to agree to it being given a uniquely high subsidy.
The project will only work, it says, if the power produced can be sold to the National Grid at the so-called ‘strike price’ of a staggering £168 per megawatt hour.
This is well over three times the wholesale price of unsubsidised electricity from coal or gas-fired power stations.
It is even more costly than the £155 per megawatt hour given to the hugely subsidised offshore wind farms the Government is erecting round our coasts. Even more than the £92.50 offered to the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
It would make Swansea’s tidal power easily the most expensive electricity in the world, paid for by every UK householder through green surcharges on our electricity bills.
But more astonishing is how little electricity the turbines are likely to produce. Although their full capacity, if they could produce at full power 24 hours a day, is rated at 320 megawatts, in fact they would turn, at varying speeds, for only some 14 hours a day, as the tides flow in and out.
So the figure coyly given by the project’s backers is merely that they will produce about ‘500,000 megawatt hours’ a year, enough supposedly to power ‘155,000 homes’.
But divide that by the number of hours in the year (8,760) and it means the average output of all the turbines would be only 57 megawatts, or 18 per cent of their capacity.
Compared with other power stations, this is peanuts. By comparison, the gas-fired power station being built by a French firm at Carrington in Manchester for the same capital cost of £1 billion will be capable of generating 880 megawatts — that’s 15 times as much.
Of course, lagoon-energy fans will point out that this Manchester power station will have to pay millions of pounds for its gas supply, while Swansea’s tides are free. But in economic terms it still makes no sense to plunge into such a colossal capital investment simply to obtain a pitiful dribble of electricity.
It is predicted that, even with a mind-boggling subsidy, the scheme would give a return of only £83 million a year. For anything less, this would surely be a total economic non-starter.
Project boss Mark Shorrock claims that if the go-ahead is given, his other plans — two more in South Wales, one across the Bristol Channel in Bridgwater Bay, others in North Wales and Cumbria — would be on a bigger scale and so generate energy more efficiently.
This, he argues, would reduce their need for subsidies and make electricity as cheap as that from nuclear or even gas-fired power plants.
But any idea that, between them all, they could generate enough electricity to power ‘every home in Wales’ is pure fantasy — not least because they will still need back-up from conventional power stations during all those hours when the tidal power falls as low as zero.
There are other aspects of the plans that seem worrying.
Since Mr Shorrock got into ‘renewable’ energy 14 years ago, he has made millions from wind and solar farms and loves to talk about how we must save the planet from global warming.
His empire’s holding company, of which he is chief executive officer and sole shareholder, is Shire Oak Energy.
Shire has a commercial arrangement whereby he sells all his heavily subsidised electricity to a firm called Good Energy — of which his wife is chief executive — which sells it on to the public.
A company document reveals that, as reward for Good Energy hiring Shire Oak to find ‘renewable’ sites and arranging their financing, her firm has, in recent years, promised commission to her husband’s company of up to £3 million.
Meanwhile, one of Shire Oak’s subsidiaries, of which Mr Shorrock is also the boss, has run into a controversy in Cornwall over its plan to reopen a disused quarry next to the little village of St Keverne, on the Lizard.
Here, Mr Shorrock hopes to create a mini-port from which 10,000-ton barges can take 1.2 million tons of stone a year to build his planned breakwater in Swansea Bay.
When he went to St Keverne in January to explain his plans, he was startled to find the hall packed with several hundred angry locals, concerned about the disruption and environmental damage quarrying would cause.
But the real £1 billion question is, how could Mr Shorrock have won top-level political backing for his project?
The answer, alas, is that politicians of all parties have become so obsessed with their commitment to cut our ‘carbon emissions’ by four-fifths under the Climate Change Act of 2008 that they have totally lost touch with any practical reality.
They can never hope to build the tens of thousands of wind turbines they dream of to meet that absurd target, as ministers wrongly continue to close down the ‘fossil fuel’ power stations which supply 70 per cent of the electricity we all need.
Lost in ‘green’ make-believe, they have fallen for as dotty an energy project as this country has seen. All that stands in its way is the final say-so of whoever becomes Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change after the election.
Tragically, anyone with such a cumbersome job title will, I fear, be so obsessed with the second part of their responsibilities that he or she will happily forget their duty towards the first.
Global Warming in Hot Water
I know the (Aussie) ABC are a bunch of doctrinaire lefties for the most part, but I always enjoy my appearances thereon and Tony Jones is a not un-agreeable host, all things considered. Still, it's sad to see them providing a platform for serial litigant and Clime Syndicate warmano Michael E Mann.
As you know, Mann is suing me for describing his famous scary "hockey stick" graph as "fraudulent", which it is. The graph shows a straight-line "shaft" of the stick representing 900 years of stable global temperature, followed by a sharp upturned blade representing the 20th century temperature rocketing up and out the top right-hand corner. The "message" (which Mann and his colleagues were concerned not to "dilute" with any subtleties or qualifications) was simple: We're all outta graph paper. This thing's off the charts with nowhere to go but up through the ceiling at an unprecedented rate. Give us all your money or the planet's gonna fry.
Instead, from the very moment Mann joined the global-warming A-listers, the actual, real-world temperature flatlined and his hockey stick got the worst case of brewer's droop since records began. As I've said before, if you graduated from college last summer, there's been no "global warming" since you were in kindergarten; if you graduated from high school, there's been none since you were born. For the generation that had Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth (heavily reliant on the hockey stick) shoved down its throat from K through 12, it doesn't feel like that, but nevertheless it's a fact: The "pause" in global warming is about to enter its third decade, and simply being a climate-pause denier (to coin a phrase) is no longer tenable.
So Mann has been given space by the dear old ABC to explain why the pause in global warming is merely, as he calls it in an ill-advised attempt at wit, a "faux pause":
"A new article co-authored by the other of us (Michael Mann), shows that natural ocean oscillations have recently acted to temporarily slow the warming of the Earth's surface temperatures, in combination with a relatively quiet sun, and active volcanoes."
The planet is still broiling, but the oceans are disguising it. In effect, the Big Global Warming Monster is hiding with Godzilla in the chilly depths of the Pacific waiting to spring to the surface when you least expect it. As Mann's paper puts it:
"Using this method, the AMO [Atlantic Multidecadal Variability] and PMO [Pacific Multidecal Variability] are found to explain a large proportion of internal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures. Competition between a modest positive peak in the AMO and a substantially negative-trending PMO are seen to produce a slowdown or "false pause" in warming of the past decade."
Ah, right. As Judith Curry politely asks:
"How can the pause be both "false" and caused by something?"
Mann, of course, is the guy whose "science" more or less abolished in the impressionable layman's mind the very notion of "natural climate variability" (his line is that the planet's climate was unvarying for millennia, and then came the Industrial Revolution), so it's interesting to find him now relying on natural (ocean) variability to explain why his surface scaremongering hasn't panned out. As Professor Richard Muller wrote, very presciently, way back in 2004:
"If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick. Misinformation can do real harm, because it distorts predictions. Suppose, for example, that future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously--that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small--then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling."
Mann now demands we believe in both natural fluctuations and his broken hockey stick.
But, as usual, he's more concerned with the politics of climate:
"Such is the profound nature of human-caused global warming, that it has overcome these many short-term natural cooling influences.
Yet a purported global warming 'pause' (more aptly named the 'faux pause') is often used as an excuse by those who oppose taking action to curb climate change. For example, Republican Senator and US presidential candidate Ted Cruz recently said on American TV:
"Many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up. In particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there's been zero warming."
This assertion is problematic for several reasons.
As all assertions by "Republican Senators" surely are, no?
"The faux pause has nonetheless been used by political partisans like Senator Cruz to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing rapid global warming, simply because they find the political implications of that scientific reality inconvenient — to their ideological views and the views of the special interests who fund their campaigns."
But you don't need to assert "political partisans like Senator Cruz" kowtowing to "the special interests who fund their campaigns", do you? If Mann wants to hoot and jeer at rubes who keep yakking about this "faux pause", why not cite, say, his close buddy and fellow climate scientist Kevin Trenberth? Six years ago Trenberth emailed Mann:
"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."
And because they couldn't "account for the lack of warming" they hushed it up, carrying on - golly, almost like a "special interest". Four years before Trenberth - July 5th 2005 - another close colleague and head of the Climatic Research Unit Phil Jones emailed Mann:
"The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn't statistically significant."
"Seven years of data" isn't "statistically significant", but 17 years is harder to slough off. Hence, the scramble to come up with an explanation. But why should we accept an "explanation" that, by its very nature, says Mann's scary hockey stick is no big deal (hey, forget that graph; most of the action's underwater) and is from the same "hockey team" who denied "the lack of warming" for at least the last decade? Maybe there's something to this ocean theory, or maybe it's as worthless as emanations from Michael Mann's Magic Bristlecone. But why would you buy it from this guy?
Mann appeals as usual to authority - the "overwhelming scientific consensus". There may, indeed, be a broad scientific consensus that supports the idea of global warming ...but it certainly doesn't support fake Nobel Laureate Michael Mann and his opportunistic "pseudo-science" (as a genuine Nobel Laureate, Ivar Giaever, calls it).
Mann and his work have been called "scanty" (by Professor Mike Hulme), "simply unscientific" (Professor Tim Osborn), "truly pathetic" (Mann's original co-author Ray Bradley), "obvious drivel" (Professor Jonathan Jones), "a scientific forgery" (Professor Atte Korhola), "rubbish" (Professor Curt Covey), "worthless" (Professor Barry Cooke), "Orwell's Ministry of Information" (Professor William Happer), "shitty" (Professor Wallace Smith Broecker), "a crock of shit" (Professor Rob Wilson), and "a disgrace to the profession" (Professor Hendrik Tennekes).
Whoops, I'm giving away my witness list. I could go on, but I'll leave it with Professors Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt:
"It is difficult to fathom how the main players and proponents of the Hockey Sticks are still able to act as experts".
Indeed. To go back to that statistically "insignificant" seven years of data, we're now another ten years on. And 30 years is the official distinction between "climate" and "weather". In other words, as I look out the window right now,"Ha! Snow on the ground in mid-April. So much for global warming!" is merely today's weather. But three decades of non-warming is an official WMO climate. If you think Mann's a joke now, he's going to be a lot more of a laughingstock in 2027.
~Kathy Shaidle notes a supposed new publishing trend, the emergence of the climate-change memoir. I may have to corner a piece of that action myself. In the meantime, I'm honored to join some of the world's most eminent scientists as co-authors of Climate Change: The Facts. I like to think of this tome as the antidote to Mann and his Big Climate alarmism, but Brandon Shollenberger says:
"Anyone whose work is included in this book should be embarrassed by how bad a book it is."
Fortunately I don't embarrass easily. Mr Shollenberger is assiduously promoting his pan of Climate Change, so I thought we'd help him out. Here he is over in Judith Curry's comment section:
"Last week, a user here recommended the book Climate Change: the Facts. After reading a preview of it, I concluded the book denies global warming and concluded it was a bad book. A bit later, a user gave me a free copy of the book so I could read the whole thing. Now that I've done so, I can say it is as bad as I thought".
"As bad as I thought". We'll be slapping that on the cover of the second edition.
The Climate Change War Heats Up
By Alan Caruba
There is so much at stake for the charlatans that have foisted the failed “global warming” hoax, followed by the equally dubious claims and predictions regarding “climate change”, that it should come as no surprise that they have begun to wage a propaganda war on the courageous scientists who led the struggle to educate the public about the truth and the organizations who supported their efforts.
Along the way, many groups and publications claiming scientific credentials abandoned those standards to pump out global warming and climate change propaganda. Scientists discovered they could secure grant money for “research” so long as it supported claims that the North and South Poles, as well as all the world’s glaciers were melting. “Research” that predicted vast hurricane activity or a massive rise in ocean levels became routine headlines. None of it occurred. Both the government and liberal foundations provided millions to maintain the hoax.
Now we have a President claiming that his daughter’s asthma was due to “climate change.” It is obscene nonsense. If this was just a disagreement between scientists, we could look on as the facts determine the outcome, but there are vast agendas as stake so we have to keep in mind that billions have been wasted on “renewable energy” alternatives to replace fossil fuels; the oil, coal, and natural gas that are the heart’s blood of modern nations and our lives.
We have to ask why the United Nations Framework on Climate Change takes such a dim view of the world’s population that it cites its use of energy and other resources as a reason to reduce it instead of celebrating it. Hard-core environmentalists do not like humans because they build houses, start businesses, need roads, and generally consume a lot and then create trash. Climate change is also the platform the U.N. is using to "transform" the world's economy.
We have to ask why our government is engaged in shutting down the coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity we use. This isn’t just a war on coal. It is a war on our entire economic system, capitalism. It is a war on Americans by their own government.
Lately, politicians at the federal level have declared war on those scientists whose research and findings have helped the public conclude, along with eighteen years of a natural cooling cycle, that “global warming” is no threat and that we have far greater threats to address than the vague notion that “climate change” is a problem we humans can affect in any way. We can’t and we don’t.
A recent example has been letters sent to seven university presidents by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee asking for information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that raised questions about “climate change.” Grijalva had no legal authority to request such information, but his intention was intimidation. In 2013, when asked about his legislative agenda by These Times, he replied “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy” referring to the activist whose book, “Rules for Radicals”, spells out ways to attack one’s political enemies.
Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, identified Grijalva’s letters as “scare tactics” concluding that we have come to a time when “The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research.”
Around the same time, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to a hundred companies, grade groups and other organizations “affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research.” The message was simple: do not sponsor research that would reveal inaccuracies or falsehoods regarding claims that “climate change” was a threat. The inference was that scientific research receiving such funding would betray scientific standards in ways that government or foundation funding would not.
Suffice to say the letters evoked outrage. As a policy advisor to the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, I was aware of the response of its president, Joe Bast who called the letters something that “fascists do.” He was not alone. The Washington Times called the Senators “climate change Toquemadas” and The Wall Street Journal said the letters were nothing more than an effort to silence science.
When Sen. Whitehouse aired his unhappiness in an April 14 blog post the Huffington Post, “Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions”, Bast responded asking, “If the Senator’s letter wasn’t intended as harassment of individuals who disagree with his extremist views on the climate, why the overly broad demand, the ridiculous deadline, the implied threat of action, and the news release saying it was intended to expose a diabolical conspiracy of ‘right-win groups’?”
When “climate change” reaches the political heights of Congress and the White House, it should come as no surprise that the charlatans who want to use this hoax for their own benefit and agendas are going to unleash efforts to smear and intimidate those scientists who have put true facts before the public.
In late March, Michael Bastash of The Daily Caller reported that “A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they were worried about it a ‘great deal.’”
That’s what has the politicians and U.N. officers on the offensive to silence scientists and defame think tanks and other organizations that have helped Americans come to the sensible conclusion that a “warming” isn’t happening and the planet’s climate is something over which they have no control.
A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of "fabricated" peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications ...
Science, according to scientists, is about facts and evidence. These brave truth seekers prove their hypotheses with rigorous experimentation, and then share the newfound knowledge to make the world better.
That's the theory. Reality is different.
Scientists are no more neutral than journalists are. Some try to expand human knowledge without regard for their own self-interest. Most are like everyone else; they just want to pay the bills and find meaning in their work.
The core problem is the idea that acting in one's own self-interest is somehow wrong or shameful. This causes scientists to hide their true motivations and possibly mislead the public. The fabricated peer reviews reported in the Washington Post are a good example. The only surprise is that publishers are finally resisting.
Many great scientific breakthroughs are the direct result of profit-seeking behavior. Is this wrong? Of course not. If someone invents a product that makes your life better, you are happy to pay for it. Widely useful inventions draw bigger profits. This is perfectly natural.
Of course, the world needs purely altruistic research. Society benefits from having smart people think about long-range, remote challenges. Visionary patrons have long funded such work for their own gratification. This hurts no one, and may help us all.
Today's institutions too often fail to distinguish between pure scientific research and the practical application of their discoveries. University professors and think-tank fellows pretend to be interested only in knowledge for its own sake. Many are in fact servants of profit-seeking corporations that fund their work.
The public doesn't know the difference; we just see people with impressive credentials. They sound smart, and the media tells us they are, so we believe them.
Often we shouldn't believe them. We would all be much better off if the scientists simply admitted their motivations.
Nowhere is this truer than in the dismal "science" of economics. The mush that university economists plant in young minds is only the tip of an iceberg. The real damage occurs on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.
Here is what happens: Large banks hire credentialed economists to give supposedly useful advice to bank clients. Those who are particularly skilled at this move through a revolving door to Washington, where bureaucrats greatly admire private sector experience.
In fact, this private sector experience offers little or no useful knowledge. This does not stop them from influencing public policy, usually for the worse. Then they go back to work for banks at much higher salaries. This cycle can repeat several times over a career.
Incidents like the peer-review scandal occur because lower-tier economists want to break into the top tier. Since the top tier should not exist in the first place, they are grasping at straws. They grow frustrated. Some will cheat – and a few cheaters will reach the top tier, making it even less valuable to anyone.
Such cheating will continue as long as people think it will reward them. The academic journals can and should crack down when they see it, but the dishonesty will re-emerge in a different form.
In one respect, scientific neutrality is almost impossible. Deciding to investigate Hypothesis A instead of Hypothesis B is not a neutral act. Maybe B has more potential benefit, but A gets attention because it has a more generous funding source. (We see a similar dynamic in the news media. Editors slant the news by publishing some stories and ignoring others.)
More transparency would benefit all branches of science. There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed and get ahead. Scientists should simply admit it and let everyone know their angle. Consumers will reward those who deserve it.
GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Three current reports below
Get Them Young, Make Them Green
Education ministers do not seem troubled that a green propaganda machine, Cool Australia, has garnered the support of thousands of teachers and schools, happily peddling slick scare campaigns and nudging students towards its militant allies and dark-green partners. If governments won't object, maybe parents should
Australian schools are handing over the all-pervasive ‘sustainability’ syllabus to a militant green organisation, Cool Australia, whose curriculum material and projects have enjoyed a red-carpet ride into the state and private education systems, with accolades from the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union.
Much of Cool Australia’s program for schools is benign: recycle trash, don’t waste electricity, plant trees, embrace reconciliation. But the rest of the agenda tirelessly advances the supposedly impending global-warming catastrophe, plus, inevitably, preaching the evils of fossil fuels.
The impression of what some might see as brainwashing is enhanced by the featured endorsements of hard-line carbon-phobic groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and civil disobedience advocate/ex-NASA scientist James Hansen . Beyond that, there are links to Bill McKibben, of the 350.org climate-zealot lobby group, and the Skeptical Science website, which devotes itself to pummelling ‘deniers’ while declining to publish their demurrals on its comments threads. Such groups’ videos are offered to students to watch in their own time, leaving more time in class for ‘discussion’ of the messages.
The success of the Cool Australia in planting its deep-green message in the minds of school children suggests a growing and structural obstacle to any rational discussion of climate matters in the future, as green-indoctrinated voters emerge from the education system and join the ranks of voters. Sadly, while green-dyed propaganda becomes a fixture in the classroom, there is not much chance that, say, the coal-mining members of the Minerals Council of Australia or a Big Four bank lending for fossil fuel projects, will be invited to contribute a measure of balance by providing curriculum modules that deviate from the green orthodoxy.
Cool Australia claims that 42% of Australia’s 10,000-odd schools had a teacher registered with it. From early childhood to Year 10, some 500,000 students were engaged, and 120,000 “learning activities” downloaded for their use. Roughly 20,000 teachers are signed on (that’s 1-in-15 nationally) and the number is growing at the rate of 1400 a month. Teacher sign-ups more than doubled in 2013-14. Targets for 2015 are “more than 50%” of Australian schools, 30,000 registered teachers, and 600,000 children from age 3 upwards (about 20% of all students). Penetration rates are about equal in the government, private and Catholic sectors.
One Cool Australia partner and donor is the magazine Dumbo Feather. Here’s inspiration, kids, from a current Dumbo article by Paul Yacoumis, an RMIT tutor (Environment Economics), Melbourne University tutor (“Reshaping Environments”) and acolyte of the university’s nutty Sustainable Society Institute:
“This year I will be further experimenting with self-sufficiency and minimising my participation in the corporate economy. I’m delving into urban foraging, trying my hand at dumpster diving [getting food from rubbish skips] and cultivating a small garden in my front yard—although the food gods have not been especially kind so far… Fortunately for friends and family, I drew the line at hemp clothing.”
“In my darker moments, I’ve even found myself hoping for some kind of global cataclysm—at least then the human race may have the chance to start anew.”
“We can choose to allow the “evil” of social or ecological collapse to fall upon our future kin, or we can start to shift the power away from this unsustainable economic system that’s caused it and build a better one in its place.”
As Cool Australia founder Jason Kimberley puts it: “We understand … that all information at Cool Australia must be science-based, never politically or ideologically driven.” Regard Cool Australia and its partners as a team, however, and more than a whiff of ideology does seem to be wafting around the classroom. Indeed, the Cool Australia material quite specifically encourages students to become political activists. In its main textbook, We Are the Weather Makers, we read:
“Tim Flannery says that community leaders ‘need to hear your voice’. Write a letter to a public figure or other influential member of the community [code for local member, TT] explaining your concerns about global warming and climate change.”
Cool Australia’s long march into schools begins with three-year-olds in "early learning centres", what previous generations knew as day-care and kindergartens, where “our youngest learners" are "a long term investment in shaping our future”. Make no mistake, activism is the end-goal. “Information and awareness are critical, but it’s more important to build young people’s skills and capacity to innovate and implement these solutions…" and this as well, "we educate and engage future generations in the critical thinking required for them to become the revolutionaries we need to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.”
Despite its pleas for reduced consumerism, Cool Australia is, ironically, the brainchild of the Kimberley family, once the proprietors of the Just Jeans chain. Craig Kimberley, who netted $64m from his group's sale in 2001, is a director, and his son, Jason, is founder and CEO. Consumerism is bad, apparently, once you have sold your chain of stores devoted to consumerism.
Jason Kimberley endlessly recycles the story of his ‘eco-epiphany’, which happened during a 2005 visit to Antarctica. He returned an ardent eco-warrior. While he may not yet have noticed that Antarctic sea-ice is at record levels for the satellite era, school principals love his shtick.
Kimberley claims to have spoken personally with 50,000 students, at the impressive rate of 10,000 a year. The people running Armadale Primary School in Melbourne were so impressed that, in August, 2013, they declared Jason “Principal for a Day”, with an address to the school assembly thrown in.
The Australian Education Union’s (former) National President, Angelo Gavrielatos, puts the case:
“I don’t know if the Cool Australia team fully understands what they are achieving… an incredible achievement in just six years. Only UNICEF has a greater schools penetration, and they had a 50-year head start… You are, quite seriously, the good guys in education.”
Cool Australia last year partnered with the AEU and Independent Teachers’ Union (ITU) on the “AEU/IEU Greens Conference”, featuring such activists as the global warming scholar Rod Quantock (B.Arch, Melbourne University [failed]), the comedian whose more recent laughter-generating moments are quite unintentional. The AEU called it “Greens Conference”; Cool Australia called it “Green Schools Conference”. Perhaps they’re both right.
Jason Kimberley has scruples. According to one account, he “delights in reports from teachers of younger children who say their students see the Cool Australia learning activities more like games than serious learning. But he’s less inclined to talk global warming with his own kids: Florence, 8, Cooper, 6 and Olive, 3. ‘I don’t want to shove the environmental stuff down their throats.’ he says.”
Other wealthy backers of Cool Australia include:
Ex-Wotif tycoon and Greens Party mega-funder Graeme Wood, worth around $350m.
Aged-care tycoon Robert Purves, WWF president, former board member of WWF International and Governor of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Purves’ foundation has distributed more than $10 million to environment, climate-change and activist causes.
A major donor (possibly THE major donor) to Cool Australia since 2012 has been Bendigo Bank, whose Bendigo Wealth executive John Billington is on the Cool Australia board and endorsed a three-year sponsoring deal in 2014. In a cosy double-deal, Bendigo says, “Cool Australia will deliver the Bendigo Wealth brand to thousands of teachers, children and their families.”
And Cool Australia’s report re-pays the praise with interest: “[Bendigo Bank] have a conscience and a heartbeat. They are far bigger than a bank.” To suggest the scale of things, bear in mind that Cool Australia’s and Bendigo Bank’s national Enviroweek in 2013 involved 1200 schools and 162,000 students who adopted 500,000 “challenges”.
Here’s how Bendigo Bank gets a free kick against the Big Four:
Cool Australia strongly endorses the Australian Youth Climate Coalition's (AYCC) juvenile activists, who battle for Gaia by jumping around in fish costumes at Lend Lease annual meetings, to name but one of their stunts, while denouncing coal financing.
AYCC boasts that it “can provide speakers and group facilitators to schools around the country. The AYCC draws on the significant experience of many of its member groups, as well as its own ‘Climate Messenger’ program to deliver excellent presentations concerning a broad range of issues surrounding climate change. To find out more visit http://www.aycc.org.au/ or call (02) 9247 7934.”
A current AYCC campaign is Dump Your Bank. “Could your bank use your money to fund the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and our climate?” it asks, going on to urge readers to “Take the Pledge. ‘I pledge to dump my bank because they’ve refused to rule out funding coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef’." AYCC has made a slick little video, featuring photogenic moppets, that specifically targets the Commonwealth, a Bendigo Bank competitor, for allegedly financing the Great Barrier Reef's destruction.
France urges Australia to keep climate commitment ahead of UN summit
What the bungling and unpopular French government says won't butter many parsnips in Australia -- or anywhere else, I would think
The French government is urging Australia to stick to an international commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
The appeal comes just a week before Prime Minister Tony Abbott sits down for talks with French president Francois Hollande in Paris, where climate is expected to be among the top issues discussed.
French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier told the ABC that France, which will host the pivotal UN Summit on Climate later this year, wanted Australia to put an "ambitious" commitment on the table sooner rather than later.
"Your country is a very influential country in the Asia Pacific region and you know that climate change is having tremendous consequences in the region," he said.
"We do believe Australia has a very important role to play during this conference, first of all because Australia has always been a strong promoter of the fight against climate change.
Have your say: do you think Australia should follow French advice and stick to the international commitments on climate change?
"Keeping temperature increase below two degrees in the coming years is a commitment and it's the commitment of 196 countries, so we do believe that it's the ultimate ambition for the world community if we want to leave a liveable planet for the next generation."
But it is unclear if the Federal Government remains committed to keeping long-term temperature rises below the two degree goal as agreed in Cancun in 2010.
The website for the Department of Foreign Affairs states that "governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced to ensure global temperature increases are limited to below two degrees Celsius".
However, the Federal Government's issues paper for the post 2020 targets released two weeks ago made no mention of the two degree goal.
Its Energy White Paper released last week highlighted the economic opportunities from predicted increases in fossil fuel use that the International Energy Agency forecasted could lead to a temperature increase of up to four degrees.
The Climate Action Tracker predicts that on current trends, the global mean temperature is expected to rise between 2.9 and 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
When asked by the ABC, neither the Foreign Minister nor the Environment Minister would directly respond to the question of "whether Australia remains committed to the goal of keeping long-term temperature rises below two degrees".
On Friday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia would play a "positive" role in the lead-up to the Paris talks.
"Australia contributes about 1 per cent of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions and so we will take action that is proportionate to our global greenhouse gas emissions," she said.
One target the Government is talking about is its 2020 Kyoto emissions reduction goal.
To meet it, Australia will need to reduce emissions from 2000 levels by 5 per cent.
It is a target the Government has been extremely confident about meeting and even potentially exceeding. "Australia is on track to meet our 2020 targets," Ms Bishop said. "Not every country, in fact not many countries can claim they will meet their 2020 targets.
"So Australia will attend Paris in a very good position having, I believe, made significant progress towards meeting our 2020 target."
The Government's confidence is based on the fact that Australia has met its previous international targets.
Victoria's government settles East West Link deal for $339m
Green/Left anti-roads zealots hit the pockets of Victorians hard
Victoria has actually sunk up to $900 million into the dumped East West Link, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says.
The state government announced a $339 million deal to axe the $6.8 billion road project this morning.
Mr Guy said as well as the $339 million already spent by the East West Connect consortium and the $81 million in finance costs, another $400-$500 million has been spent by the state government. “These sunk costs by government include land acquisitions, project development and bid costs,” Mr Guy said.
The decision was economic vandalism that would set back Australia’s fastest growing city, he said.
“There will be no major infrastructure project underway in Victoria for years.” Former treasurer Michael O’Brien said the state government spent $190 million in 2013/14 on land acquisition and project costs, with another $290 million set for 2014/15.
The Federal Government slammed the deal with the East-West Link consortium not to build the road as “an obscenity’’ that will cost 7000 jobs.
The Victorian government this morning announced it had brokered a deal with the companies involved in the project, taking on a $3 billion credit facility while the road’s proposed builders walk away with $339m in already incurred costs.
A further $81 million in fees will be absorbed by the state government, after it was spent to set up a credit facility to borrow the project costs.
Federal Social Services Minister Scott Morrison described the payment as “an obscenity” when there were more pressing community needs, such as combating youth homelessness.
“For the Victorian government to spend $420 million to pay to a company not to build a road is an obscenity, and Bill Shorten is linked up with that obscenity in his support for Daniel Andrews’ decision on this,” Mr Morrison said.
“Taxpayers in Victoria and right around the country, when there are so many more worthy needs, would just be shaking their heads.”
The Prime Minister said he was dismayed by Victoria’s decision to not proceed with the project, accusing the Labor state government of damaging investor confidence in Australia.
“The Victorian Government’s decision to abrogate contractual responsibilities sets a dangerous precedent for future projects and threatens further investment in much-needed infrastructure in our country,’’ Tony Abbott said in a joint statement with Jamie Briggs, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure.
“Australia can’t afford to discourage private investment in infrastructure because government alone cannot afford to build the infrastructure that our country needs. There is no alternative to the East West Link in Victoria. The East West Link is the only major shovel-ready project in Victoria. It is the only answer to easing Victoria’s traffic congestion.
“The Victorian Premier has today destroyed 7000 jobs. And the Victorian Government’s actions today mean that Melbourne’s daily traffic gridlock simply gets worse.
“Victorians should feel let down by Daniel Andrews who promised before the election that no compensation would be paid.
“The tearing up of this contract damages Victoria’s reputation as a place to do business — as has been proven by revelations this week that the French and Spanish Governments have made direct representations of concern to Victoria.’’
The Victorian Premier said the deal would mean Victorians pay no compensation and legal opportunities for the consortium to seek compensation through the courts has been extinguished.
“This concludes the matter,” Mr Andrews said. “This extinguishes any claims for the future.”
The group has already been handed and spent $339m on design and pre-construction, including buying a number of properties which the government will now own.
Mr Andrews said the costs could not be recovered, but the government will review it to see if there has been any overspending within it. A further $110m held in cash by the consortium has not been spent and will be refunded.
Mr Andrews said Victoria would benefit from a $3bn credit facility established for the road project (with the $81m in fees already incurred) which would now be used for the Melbourne Metro rail project.
The government also released a redacted version of the East West Link’s contract and confirmation from Treasury that the total cost of the road’s eastern section would have been $10.7 billion over 30 years.
Treasurer Tim Pallas attacked his predecessor Michael O’Brien for having the “insufferable arrogance” to lock Victoria into the contract when it could have been held over until after last November’s election.
He pledged Victoria would maintain its AAA credit rating in next month’s budget.
Mr Andrews said he accepted there would have been serious consequences for Victoria’s business reputation if his government had followed through on its threat to use legislation to kill the contract, but said that had never been his first preference.
“It was always preferable for us to negotiate in good faith and to reach a good faith outcome,” he said. “That is exactly what we have done.
“As part of the settlement there is no compensation for profits forgone, no compensation for any losses that might have been incurred or will be in the future and this notion of opportunity cost all of those matters are settled once and for all as part of this agreement.”
He revealed the government is now planning to introduce legislation that would block future governments from signing significant contracts close to an election without bipartisan support, saying the Napthine government had recklessly rushed into a project “in an act of complete vandalism”.
Asked if the government would consider building the western part of the link — considered by many to be the most vital part of the project — Mr Andrews said he would not rule anything out and further infrastructure announcements would be made in the weeks ahead.
The Australian Industry Group welcomed the end of uncertainty surrounding the East West Link contract, said the group’s Victorian director Tim Piper.
“The completion of an agreement on the East West Link ensures a crisis of confidence in Government contracts has been averted,’’ he said.
“Ai Group welcomes the agreement being reached as it had the potential to cast a pall over the Victorian economy. The sanctity of these contracts is vital to business and the uncertainty around this deal had sent a terrible message to industry, both locally and around the world.
“Ai Group had not supported the contract being rescinded but it is important that both the Government and industry are now able to move forward with certainty. The Victorian Government needs to act quickly to get other projects under way in Victoria, to utilise the skills available and boost the economy.
“The way is now clear, to enable the Government to pursue its projects and regenerate confidence. This should be the end of such contracts being breached.’’
Greens MP Ellen Sandell said the hefty compensation could have been avoided if the Labor government had opposed the East West Link earlier.
“If the Labor Party had come out and opposed this project earlier on rather than flipping and flopping with their position we could have avoided over $300 million of taxpayer funds going to the consortium,” Ms Sandell told reporters. “But it’s a good outcome overall.”
Greens senator Janet Rice said Victorians should “savour this win for the community” and urged the federal Coalition to fund metropolitan public transport.
“Victoria’s traffic woes are never going to be solved by more and more polluting toll roads. The fact is that the only way to reduce congestion is to give people the choice of fast, frequent, affordable, reliable and safe public transport,” Senator Rice said.
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Posted by JR at 12:35 AM