Tuesday, February 04, 2020

How To Slay The Climate Change Dragon

In our time, as truth corrodes, myths become necessary. As people drift away from truth, they readily agree to intrusive governments – and such invasive governments give consent to supranational entities and conglomerates who then use myths to manufacture political, social and economic consent.

The sales-force that sells these fictive narratives is the vast media-education-entertainment complex which employs, for such purposes, the punditry of experts, the professoriate, globe-trotting zealots, and sanctimonious thespians. Any dissent from these fables is decried, ridiculed, and suppressed.

One such myth is CO2 in the role of the arch-enemy, Hades-bent on heating up the planet, until life becomes impossible; and it is treacherous human activity that has set free this culprit into the hapless atmosphere to work havoc. After much struggle with vile traitors who greedily serve the villain CO2, and their henchmen, the climate change deniers, a few wise politicians and selfless NGOs will finally hurl CO2 into the netherworld of Zero Emissions, from which it will never rise again. Thus, the planet was saved and is now inhabited by fewer but better humans.

People love stories. The more far-fetched the better. The greater the lies, the more believable it is.

The reality is that the monster, the villain is not CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect. The monster is the myth itself, whereby human life – and the very future of humanity – is being asked to conform to the dictates of the lie that is “catastrophic climate change.” An entire complex of anti-human strategies are now justified by way of this lie – carbon taxes, deindustrialization, veganism, fossil fuel divestment,a green economy, population reduction, Gaia worship, green ethics – a brave new world.

It is precisely this global warming, catastrophic climate change myth that The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap sets out to slay. This book is a follow-up to the earlier work, Slaying the Sky Dragon. Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory, which was published in 2011, and which, as the title suggests, did destroy the pretense to “science” that revilers of CO2 leaned upon.

But in the ensuing decade, the myth of global warming has become more deeply entrenched – a lie that must not be questioned. Why this has happened is an important question, and it points to the success of the mythographers, who have a very clever trick up their sleeve – namely, the denial of truth.

Thus, we are supposed to be living in a “post-truth” world, in which “truth” is nothing more than a social construct, where there is only “your truth” and “my truth.” Such “truth” is personal preference, personal taste. In this way, both purpose and meaning are called into question, which brings about cynicism and gullibility; and, thus, people are the more easily led by “thought-leaders,” who serve many masters.

In such a hollowed-out world, climate change is packaged as piety. As Tim Ball observes in his Foreword to the book, “It is hard to believe that such false information as that created and perpetuated by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) continues to exist. Worse, it goes almost unquestioned and is the prevailing view.”

Ken Coffman in his Publisher’s Note succinctly captures the dynamics of this piety: “We have to give credit to the manipulators – they achieved a lot based on nearly nothing. The human-caused global warming was destructive, wrong and stupid, but masterful use of hyperbole and fear-mongering.”

Earlier, Coffman had noted, “There is no limit to the ways a bad theory can be false.” It soon becomes obvious that the climate change myth is not about science – but about power – and to those who manage the levers of power, truth will always be inconvenient and dangerous, and must, therefore, be suppressed. Truth is the greatest foe of ideology.

The Sky Dragon Slayers. Victory Lap offers this truth which is dangerous to those who sell the climate change myth. Thus, in Chapter 1, the entire premise of climate alarmism, of irreversible, catastrophic natural changes, brought about by human activity, is systematically dismantled and then destroyed.

The weapon which slays this mythic beast is the precise definition of what science really is and what it is not. The first Chapter carefully differentiates between the traditional scientific method and “post-normalism.” The former is empirical, rational, and cumulative, where predictions become laws when they can be repeated and always yield the same results. These results become evidence which leads to conclusions, or laws, about reality.

Here, Karl Popper’s famous paradigm serves as a guiding principle: “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.” In other words, truth is first known by evidence and then truth is known by how it is lied about. In our era, post-truth is the lie about truth.

We have to bear in mind that those in power have persuaded many that biological reality of the two sexes is a lie, while the lie of gender-fluidity, that a person can choose his/her own sex – is the truth. This is precisely what Popper meant by falsifiability. We can know truth, when others feel an urgent need to lie about it.

This lying is post-normalism, which stems from norm criticism and intersectionality; both are now de rigueur in all of academia. This means that, by and large, to be educated nowadays means to believe in and promote lies. In such a topsy-turvy world, post-normalist science serves power, not truth, since “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent,” as per Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz.

Such flapdoodle, always uttered with a very serious face, is about managing and controlling the “stakes” and the “decisions,” in which science must be nothing more than another rhetorical device to brainwash people.

This is made rather plain, in case of any doubt, by the academic Mike Hulme: “Self-evidently dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth seeking, although evidence will gain some insights into the question if it recognizes the socially contingent dimensions of a post-normal science. But to proffer such insights, scientists – and politicians – must trade (normal) truth for influence.” Post-normal “science” is politics by other means.

Thus, climate change is not about the climate – it is not about the environment. Instead, it is an absurd attempt to play God – to change how life exists on the planet. And this existence is to benefit the few, rather than the many, via the Fourth and the Fifth Industrial Revolutions – the point being to cull humanity, so it can pollute less. The shade of Malthus once again raises its head. We are in a death-struggle between two opposing views of humanity. One sees human beings as a harmful virus in the body of noble Gaia, which must be controlled, if not eradicated – and the other which sees great value in human life. It is an epic battle between good and evil.

After Chapter 1, which is the longest of the book, the remaining chapters serve as mop-up operations, in which the various limbs of the dragon that is catastrophic climate change are lopped off and destroyed.

Thus, Chapter 2 tosses the famous Hockey Stick Graph into the dustbin of history. As is well known, this graph, the fabrication of Michael Mann, was the show-piece of the IPCC, and made famous by Al Gore – and it remains to this day the most iconic image of climate alarmists. It purported to “prove” that CO2 trapped heat like a blanket and thus heated up the planet, until life would eventually become impossible.

Things came to a head for Mann when he filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Dr. Tim Ball, who had quipped that Mann was from Penn State but more properly belonged in the state pen, given his many falsifications of data.

Throughout this ordeal, Dr. Ball insisted that he wanted Mann to show his “secret science,” or the R2 Regression Numbers, in court, which Mann claimed he had used to fashion his Hockey Stick Chart, aka the Hokey Schtick. The Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed Mann’s lawsuit and awarded the defendant Ball full legal costs. Such is the cunning of reason – Mann was undone by the very mechanism he had devised to destroy Dr. Ball. God indeed works in mysterious ways!

Chapter 3 guts the myth of the Greenhouse Effect, which is still taught as monolithic truth throughout the education system because it is post-normal science. According to the IPCC (whose usefulness would vanish in a trice if it had to rely on truth rather than post-normal science) the Greenhouse Effect is to be described in this way:

The Earth’s surface is warmed by both the Sun and the energy coming back from the atmosphere.
The Earth’s surface in turn radiates all the energy, which is wholly absorbed by the atmosphere.
The atmosphere then radiates half of that energy into space and the other half back to the Earth’s surface.
The result of this continual process is that the Earth’s surface becomes warmer than it would be if it were only warmed by the Sun.

In this model, CO2 becomes a heat-trapping blanket enwrapping the planet. The solution, therefore, is a straightforward one – get rid of the blanket! Hence, all those calls to reduce the “carbon footprint,” to stop using dirty fuels, to save the planet from reaching a “tipping-point,” from which there will be no return. And so forth.

Although this fuels climate alarmism very efficiently, this myth, of course, has nothing to do with scientific facts. The atmosphere is colder than the earth’s surface, so heat cannot bounce back from above, because “colder cannot heat hotter.” Energy is not wholly absorbed by the atmosphere. Some of it escapes into space, the rest is stored in the earth and the oceans and is used to evaporate water.

Any energy that returns to the earth from the atmosphere is always colder, never hotter than the earth’s surface. Therefore, energy returning from the atmosphere can never heat up the planet. All the four points promoted by the IPCC are in fact lies – or, rather, they are post-normal science. It is the sun which heats the planet, while excess heat is radiated out into space.

MORE here

Sanders introduces bill to ban fracking

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week introduced a bill that aims to ban hydraulic fracking.

The bill was introduced on Tuesday and is titled "a bill to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes," according to the Library of Congress, though the text of the legislation was not available on the site.

Sanders has called for a ban on fracking while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, as has Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Sanders tweeted about the bill, which he said was also worked on by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) on Thursday. Merkley was listed as a co-sponsor.

The tweet included a video of actor Mark Ruffalo talking about a potential federal ban fracking.

"Mark Ruffalo just spoiled Bernie and AOC's bill to ban fracking," the video said.

However, the announcement of the bill drew criticism from those in the oil industry.

“Banning a safe, successful method of developing energy would erase a generation of American energy progress and in the process destroy millions of U.S. jobs, spike household energy costs and hurt farmers and manufacturers," said Bethany Aronhalt, American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman.


Enviros Rally Around A Podcast Designed To Out Supposed Big Oil Propagandists

A popular podcast purporting to reveal the supposed propaganda propping up the oil industry is part of a journalism project designed to prod major media outlets into painting climate change as a crisis.

“Drilled” is depicted in the media as a podcast pursuing objective journalism that seeks to unmask what its host Amy Westervelt calls the public relations ploy driving big oil. But the podcast is also part of Covering Climate Now (CCN), a project some media outlets believe lacks objectivity.

Westervelt announced Drilled News in January, a reporting project run by her podcast network, Critical Frequency. Drilled News’s about page discloses the site’s participation in CCN while noting that the website brings together reporters who make their work available to news outlets.

The former environmental reporter has contributed work with The Guardian and The Washington Post, among other national newspapers, according to a Jan. 27 report from E&E News. The “Drilled” podcast itself is plowing through its third season, the report notes.

The third season looks “at how the fossil fuels industry leans on two levers to delay action on climate change,” Westervelt told E&E News, referring to what she believes is the oil industry’s layers of propaganda. “The first lever is pro-fossil fuel propaganda, and the second is climate science denial.”

Westervelt said the fossil fuel industry is fine-tuning its “propaganda machine.” Her group’s role in CCN comes as journalists consider making climate advocacy part of their mission.

CCN’s founders kicked off the project in April 2019 and announced in May of that year that they would ask partners to devote a week to climate-related news, starting in September 2019. The project was organized in part by Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a nonprofit representing professional journalists.

The effort’s target was the lead-up to, and coverage of, the U.N. “Climate Action Summit,” held Sept. 15-23.

The Nation environmental correspondent Mark Hertsgaard co-founded the project under the assumption that modern media were not only underreporting what activists call the climate crisis but are also giving too much air time to the fossil fuel industry.

Most legacy media are unwilling to break away from the idea that journalism should not advocate for a position, according to Hertsgaard.

“The New York Times is not on there, The Wall Street Journal is not on there, The Washington Post is not on there,” Hertsgaard said in a September 2019 podcast with Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of CJR. Hertsgaard was referring to the major outlets that did not contribute content to CCN.

“This has an aroma — in their minds — of activism,” Hertsgaard continued, explaining why the big three legacy outlets preferred not to join. He and Pope noted Covering Climate Now intends on breaking up that perception by wrapping climate coverage in the blanket of science rather than politics.



The big fires seem to have energized them.  Four current stories below

Scientists sign open letter to Australian Government urging action on climate change

We learnt from the replication crisis that up to 60% of scientists are crooked so this tells us nothing.  If they had told us just one of the facts that the government is ignoring that might have been interesting. But they mention no climate facts at all -- just unverifiable speculation about recent weather events

And 270 scientists is insignificant. It is not even the full staff of one of Australia's many universities.  Most academics are Leftists so they could have done a lot better if their letter was seen as important by all its potential signatories

More than 270 scientists have signed an open letter to Australia's leaders calling on them to abandon partisan politics and take action on climate change.

The scientists, who have expertise in climate, fire and meteorology, are calling for urgent action to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and for Canberra to engage constructively in international agreements.

"The thick, choking smoke haze of this summer is nothing compared to the policy smokescreen that continues in Australia," University of NSW climate scientist Katrin Meissner said in a statement on Monday.

"We need a clear, non-partisan path to reduce Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions in line with what the scientific evidence demands, and the commitment from our leaders to push for meaningful global action to combat climate change."

The scientists warned an increase in bushfires was just one part of a deadly equation that suggested the impacts of climate change were coming faster, stronger and more regularly.

Heatwaves on land and in the oceans were longer, hotter and more frequent, they said.

Australian National University climate scientist Nerilie Abram said the letter was the product of scientists' despair as they witnessed the deadly fire season unfold.

"Scientists have been warning policymakers for decades that climate change would worsen Australia's fire risk and yet these warnings have been ignored," Professor Abram said.

Separately, Oxfam said the Government must demonstrate it had fully grasped the lessons of this "horrific" bushfire season.

"In spite of the scientific evidence and the extreme weather we're living through — bushfires, hailstorms and drought — the Government still hasn't joined the dots and taken action to tackle the root causes of the crisis," Oxfam chief executive Lyn Morgain said in a statement.

She said Australia must dramatically strengthen emissions reduction targets and move beyond fossil fuels.

"The Government's narrow-minded focus on adaptation and resilience simply does not go far enough," she said.

She said Australia could wield great authority and leverage globally if it changed its policies.

"If we led by example and immediately strengthened our own emissions reduction commitments, and if we linked our own crisis with those escalating around the world, we could be a great catalyst for stronger international action," she said.


We don’t have money to burn on green mania

Bjorn Lomborg

Scenes of devastation from Australia’s fires have been heartbreaking. How do we stop this suffering? For many campaigners and politicians, the answer is clear-cut: drastic climate policies. When we examine the evidence, this simple answer falls short.

Australia is the world’s most fire-prone continent. In 1900, 11 per cent of its surface burned annually. These days, 5 per cent of the country burns every year. By the end of the century, if we do not stop climate change, higher temperatures and an increase in aridity will likely mean a 0.7 percentage point increase in burnt area, an increase from 5.3 per cent of Australia to 6 per cent.

This increase is not trivial and it is an argument for effective climate change action. By far the most practical policy, with the most impact, is a dramatic increase in investment in low and zero-carbon energy innovation.

That’s because, for decades to come, solar and wind energy will be neither cheap enough nor effective enough to replace fossil fuels. Today, they make up only 1.1 per cent of global energy use and the International Energy Agency estimates that even after we spend $US3 trillion ($4.47 trillion) more on subsidies, they will not even reach 5 per cent by 2040. Innovation is needed to bring down the price of green energy. We need to find breakthroughs for batteries, nuclear, carbon capture and a plethora of other promising technologies. Innovation can solve our climate challenge.

Unfortunately, many reports on Australia’s fires have exploited the carnage to push a specific agenda, resting on three ideas: that bushfires are worse than ever, that this is caused by global warming, and that the only solution is for political leaders to make even bigger carbon-cut promises.

Globally, bushfires burn less land than it used to. Since 1900, global burnt area has reduced by more than one-third because of agriculture, fire suppression and forest management. In the satellite era, NASA and other groups document significant decreases.

Surprisingly, this decrease is even true for Australia. Satellites show that from 1997 to 2018 the burnt area declined by one-third. Australia’s current fire season has seen less area burned than in previous years. Up to January 26, bushfires burned 19.4 million hectares in Australia — about half the average burn over the similar timeframe of 37 million hectares in the satellite record. (Actually the satellites show 46 million hectares burnt, but 9 million hectares are likely from prescribed burns.)

When the media suggests Australia’s fires are “unprecedented in scale”, it is wrong. Australia’s burnt area declined by more than a third from 1900 to 2000, and has declined across the satellite period. This fire season, at the time of writing, 2.5 per cent of Australia’s area has burned compared with the past 10 years’ 4.8 per cent average by this point.

What is different this year is that fires have been mostly in NSW and Victoria. These are important states with a little more than half the country’s population — and many of its media outlets.

But suggesting fires are caused by global warming rests on cherrypicking these two regions with more fire and ignoring the remaining 87 per cent of Australia’s landmass, where burned area has declined.

Peer-reviewed estimates of the future of Australia’s fire threat see a long-term increase in burnt area because of global warming. But these estimates show the effect of climate change does not increase Australia’s burnt area until the 2030s or 2040s.

A new review of available data suggests it’s not actually possible to detect a link between global warming and fire for Australia today. An increase will become detectable only in the 2040s. The images coming from Australia are shocking, but images should not trump science. Along with many other campaigners, the Australian Greens argue that preventing fires is about “rapidly transitioning to a renewable energy economy”. Carbon-cutting promises from politicians are not going to do a thing.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The government’s own commissioned report shows this will cost 16 per cent of the nation’s annual economy, or $US5 trillion across the century. It will reduce temperatures by only four-thousandths of a degree by 2100.

Replicate those costs across Australian states and around the world; taxpayers are just not going to withstand that kind of pain, regardless of the intention.

The world’s poor countries are never going to be able to afford to follow through. The costs alone make this “solution” to climate change wishful thinking.

Moreover, even if Australia were dramatically to change its climate policy overnight, the impact on fires would be effectively zero. If Australia had completely ended its fossil fuel use way back in 2012, the UN standard climate model shows the impact on fires this year would be literally immeasurable.

Even if Australia could somehow be entirely fossil fuel-free for the entire century, burnt area in 2100 would be 5.997 per cent instead of 6 per cent.

This feeble, flawed response is pathetic. We need to spend far more resources on green energy research and development to develop medium-term solutions to climate change. And we also should focus on the many straightforward measures that would help now.

Bushfire scientists have consistently told us forest fuel levels keep increasing, making extreme bushfires much more likely. Controlled burns cheaply and effectively reduce high-intensity wildfires. Other sensible policies include better building codes, mechanical thinning, safer powerlines, reducing the potential for spread of lightning-caused bushfires, campaigns to reduce deliberate ignitions, and fuel reduction around the perimeter of human settlements.

The compassionate, effective response to Australia’s tragedy is to focus on the policies that could actually help.


It's time to step on the gas'

SHUTTING down Australia's coal mines will not reduce emissions or global demand for the resource, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a speech pitched at regional Australia — and his backbench. He defended his Government's approach to climate change, saying gas reserves would be necessary to any transition to a clean economy, while investing in technology was key to meeting emissions reduction targets.

But Labor took aim at him for failing to take action on "the summer of damage" climate change was causing. Mr Morrison indicated Australia's emissions reductions targets would not be shifting, despite comments earlier this month his Government's climate policies would be evolving.

He said "taxes and increased global bureaucracy" would not lower emissions, but practical change driven by technology would. "You will also not reduce the number of coal-fired stations in the world today by forcing the shutdown of Australian coal mines and Australian jobs that go with them," Mr Morrison said.

"Other countries will just buy the coal from somewhere else, often poorer quality with greater environmental and climate impacts." He said a transition to lower emissions could be done "with-out sending jobs offshore".

In good news for Queensland's $1 billion petroleum and
coal seam gas industry, Mr Morrison said gas reserves would be key to any transition to more renewable energy in the electricity market. "Gas can help us bridge the gap while our investments in batteries, hydrogen and pumped hydro energy storage bring these technologies to economic parity with traditional energy sources. So right now, we've got to get the gas," Mr Morrison said.

"There are plenty of other medium or long-term fuel arrangements and prospects, but they will not be commercially scalable or available for at least a decade is our advice."

As well as taking "practical steps" in lowering emissions, Mr Morrison said adaptation would be necessary to deal with "the new norm" of longer, hotter and drier summers.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 30 January, 2020

Greenies hate rock climbers

Parks Victoria has vastly overstated the impact of cultural and environmental damage at national park sites amid fresh doubts about the campaign against Australia’s rock climbers.

For months men and women with clipboards, hard hats and hi-vis jackets have been quietly deliberating among the cliffs in the back blocks of the Grampians National Park, low-key participants in what has become Australia’s seminal public land access dispute.

With specialist surveying tools, the groups have been examining the environmental and cultural heritage impacts of well over a century of white Australian influence in a grand bush setting known to Aboriginal tribes for 22,000 years.

It is widely accepted that Parks Victoria and its predecessors have dropped the environmental ball in recent decades in the outer areas of the park, allowing the Grampians to be degraded by vandalism and at times cavalier behaviour that has alarmed indigenous and green groups.

However, just who committed much of the harm is wide open to debate, given the cross-section of people who visit the park every year from local towns, cities and overseas, arriving on foot, motorbikes, four-wheel drives and even from the air.

At the same time, Parks Victoria has picked an unprecedented fight with the Australian rock climbing fraternity, which has broad implications for recreational access to national and state parks across the country.

The impact, while not as symbolically significant as the end of climbing at Uluru, has the potential to snowball across Australia’s parks, ski fields, mountain biking tracks and climbing theatres as greater power is handed to indigenous co-managers.

With workers in the final stages of surveying large tracts of the Grampians land, Parks Victoria and the traditional owners are planning what sort of access climbers and others will have to the area, potentially maintaining or even widening the effective climbing ban on 500sq km of the park.

Within the current ban areas lie some of the world’s best rock climbing sites. Local businesses such as Mount Zero Log Cabins in the northern Grampians are ­reporting dramatic cuts in revenue, in the order of 25 per cent.

“I’ve got to tell you, I was a bit pissed off about the way Parks Victoria went about it,’’ businessman Neil Heaney tells The Weekend Australian. “They are picking on the wrong people … They (the climbers) are deeply respectful people.’’

There is broad acceptance in the climbing community that there is capacity for its members to overhaul some practices and a willingness to help address core ­issues such as the undermining of vegetation and the need to remove chalk remnants in key areas.

‘Smear campaign’

But there is also growing concern that the Parks Victoria narrative has been bolstered by a series of ­legally unverifiable, anti-climbing claims that included the false ­assertion that a climbing bolt had been put through art. In fact, it was past government workers who desecrated the site.

Valid questions are being asked about whether Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has been ­accurately briefed about who is ­responsible for the most serious harm and whether or not climbers are victims of an excessive spin campaign.

Simon Carter, a climbing photographer with a global following, believes climbers are victims of a sophisticated campaign of vilification. “I believe climbers have been scapegoated to distract from far, far more serious impacts that are occurring to the cultural and environmental values of the park, appalling mismanagement and a sneaky move towards the commercialisation and commodification of our national parks,’’ he says.

“The legal determination ­behind it (the climbing bans) is based on observations and research undertaken at other locations, not based on anything that has actually occurred in the Grampians.

“Rock climbers have been wrongly vilified by parks staff or consultants in what I can only ­describe as a smear campaign based on absolute falsehoods.

“For example, rock climbers were accused of placing safety bolts into Aboriginal rock art. Climbers had done no such thing, not even close, but then Parks published a ‘bolt-in-rock-art’ photo on its website as some ‘evidence’ of climbers’ impacts. But the bolt had been placed by land managers, not climbers. It was a fabrication.

“And photos sent by Parks Victoria in briefing papers to the Minister for the Environment show chain-sawing of trees, fireplaces and other impacts that almost certainly had nothing to do with rock climbers.’’

Evidence doubts

Last March D’Ambrosio was sent a series of photographs from Parks Victoria chief executive Matthew Jackson purporting to show evidence of climber damage, except many of the photos Jackson sent to his minister failed to meet any serious legal test. Instead, what D’Ambrosio received was a series of pictures in which environmental harm had occurred, but with no actual proof of who committed the harm.

Yet this was crucial timing, ­occurring when the government had doubled down on the climbing community.

While different scenarios, the incident is similar to the photographs released by the Howard government in 2001 during the children overboard crisis. In this, there were photos showing that something had happened, but no serious evidence that supported the government’s narrative.

Of the eight images sent to D’Ambrosio, only one shows verifiable harm by climbers; this is of persistent use of chalk at one ­location to help people negotiate a climbing route.

No one would doubt this as climber damage; the rest show a fireplace with nobody around it, a log that had been cut with a chainsaw by an unknown person and some stone stacks created by someone who is not in the picture.

Several other images are of damage to vegetation at Venus Baths, near Hall’s Gap, which has become a popular site for the climbing discipline called bouldering.

What should have been articulated to the minister is that Venus Baths also happens to be one of the most visited tourism hot spots in the Grampians, three hours’ drive west of Melbourne. It is an easy walk for parents with young families, who have trampled through the area for many decades because it is in close proximity to the main town in the park.

Without addressing specific questions on the accuracy of the photographs showing climbing damage, Jackson said in an email: “Information and updates are regularly provided to the Minister for Environment as per standard briefing processes.’’

On the question of who is ­responsible for the damage, he said: “Parks Victoria has continually provided updates on direct recreational impacts in the Grampians to members of the rock climbing roundtable, including updates from independent experts of the impacts of rock climbing at sensitive rock art sites.

“Parks Victoria has specifically informed members of the rock climbing roundtable that not all recreational impacts are caused by rock climbers.”

Assault on art

Parks Victoria has been savaged by climbers and some local businesses for the unilateral bans, which were imposed without any meaningful warning, partly on the basis that the Grampians contain as much as 90 per cent of the indigenous rock art in southeastern Australia.

The Grampians’ Mount Arapiles — Australia’s rock climbing mecca — has just had a major outcrop declared out of bounds ­because of unspecified cultural heritage discoveries. Taylor’s Rock is one of the cradles of rock climbing education in Australia and is a key part of the adventure sport economy that underpins the nearby Natimuk community, 330km northwest of Melbourne.

Ben Gunn, an archaeologist and rock art specialist who recently wrote a paper on the effects of climbing in the Grampians, says he has no doubt who causes the most damage in the park. He also acknowledges that much of the ­indigenous art can’t even be seen with the naked eye and damage may be inadvertent.

“With the explosion of rock climbers in recent years, it is they who currently pose the greatest human threat to cultural heritage sites within the Grampians National Park and surrounding sandstone ranges and potentially to other national and state parks elsewhere in Australia,’’ he wrote with several authors including Jake Goodes, brother of football great Adam Goodes.

Gunn has outraged climbers by claiming that some in their midst were behind graffiti in parts of the wider park; again, climbers want to see the proof of this to a legal standard.

“Much of the graffiti in the Greater Gariwerd (Grampians) has not been produced by rock climbers,’’ Gunn wrote.

“In other instances, particularly at Lil-Lil, it is all too apparent that rock climbers are at fault. At Lil-Lil, some graffiti has been deliberately placed over rock art and the damage is permanent.

“Others have been racially offensive or, through the production of pseudo rock art, deprecating to Aboriginal people and the majority of non-Aboriginal Australians.’’

Chalking, he wrote, was classed as damage comparable to graffiti. Whether this claim about chalking as graffiti passes the legal test is questionable, particularly if people do not know there is art where they are climbing.

Australian Climbing Association Victoria president Mike Tomkins is open to overhauling some climbing practices to protect indigenous art, but says accusations of climbers writing over art and carving words into rock walls are false and unverifiable. “You can’t prove it. You cannot pin that on climbers. All the locations have been visited before there were even climbers,’’ Tomkins says.

While the climbing community has been divided about how to deal with the crisis, there is deep angst about the way the pursuit has been characterised. Climbers have congregated for decades at the Grampians and Mount Arapiles has traditionally been strongly green and sympathetic to the indigenous plight.

Others are highly sceptical, also, about figures used by Parks to suggest an unprecedented rise in climber numbers in recent years, arguing that while there is an uplift in interest, Parks Victoria has greatly exaggerated the number of extra climbers by misreading the statistics.

Uncle Ron Marks, a Wotjobaluk elder with close ties to Mount Arapiles and the Grampians, has worked in cultural education for decades, teaching about indigenous history. He wants a pragmatic approach that protects heritage, but enables people to go about their business in the knowledge that at Mount Arapiles, for example, the indigenous connection is long-running.

He warns the “kerfuffle’’ affecting climbing at both locations is having a clear impact. “You look at it from a business point of view, people are suffering,’’ he tells The Weekend Australian.

Meanwhile, climbers are locked in a form of political purgatory, with no clear line of sight to when the ascension to higher ground will be guaranteed.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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