I just don’t get Climate Change Deniers


There’s one thing that puzzles me about the whole climate change debate and the coupling to the action that is called for by most scientists around the world. And that is:

Who cares if climate change is real or not real, man made or simply natural variation. The action being taken is making the world a better place to live now, and for the generations to come. Who doesn’t want to live in a better world?

I think if this was the focal message of the whole climate change debate, then there wouldn’t be much to debate at all.

The significant part of the action that is bettering the world is of course decarbonising our energy usuage. And a large part of that is converting from coal fired power stations to renewable energy power stations. Here in Victoria, we have some of the world’s dirtiest power stations in the LaTrobe valley. Not only are huge amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, but heavy metals, radioactive particles, dirt and dust just to name a few extra hazards. I can’t believe anyone would want to live anywhere near the LaTrobe valley with that pollution in the air. Lets make the LaTrobe Valley a better place to reside. Lets make Victoria a cleaner State to live in. Lets make Australia the healthiest place in the world.


I read a timely article in The Conversation yesterday titled: 12 ways to deal with a climate change denier – the BBQ guide

The full article can be found here: The Conversation TCCD Festive Guide

The end of the year is nigh and it’s a time for Christmas and New Year parties and gatherings. But for all of us, it probably means we’ll be subjected to at least one ranting, fact-free sermon by a Typical Climate Change Denier (TCCD). You know the drill. Make an offhand remark about unusual weather, and five seconds later someone’s mouthing off about how the internet says that climate change is a bunch of rubbish. So, when you’ve been cornered by your TCCD, what do you do? Instead of providing you with yet another series of climate facts and figures we’ve listed 12 tips, strategies and tactics for you to try out when you next feel inclined to engage a TCCD head on.

1. Pick your audience

Most TCCDs will not change their mind. It’s cheaper – intellectually and socially – for them to stand their ground than it is to change their views. Actually, your arguing may even reinforce their beliefs. But remember – you might convince their friends listening in.

2. Find some common ground

Just because your TCCD thinks they know better than pretty much all of science, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. They value things and are probably well-intentioned at heart. So try finding out what they care about: democracy or economics, knitting or veggie gardening. You may even have some shared interests. You’ll never get them to change their values, but you might be able to talk about climate change in terms of things they care about.

3. Certainty isn’t the issue

Your TCCD may say we don’t understand the climate change with 100% certainty, so we shouldn’t do anything. They’re right about the first point, but utterly wrong about the second. Climate science isn’t 100% certain, but neither is medicine, the law, child-rearing or pretty much anything else. We make decisions without certainty every day.

4. Talk in terms of risk and inaction

Ask them this: “What’s worse, the majority of climate change scientists being wrong but we act anyway, or climate change deniers being wrong and we don’t?” Challenge them to be specific, to go beyond vague assertions of terribleness or repeating empty tabloid slogans.

5. Compare the risk to something more tangible

Do they trust doctors? Try saying: “So, have you ever taken a doctor’s advice, like if they recommended you lose some weight or get that weird growth biopsied?” Doctors rarely guarantee that bad things will happen if you ignore their advice, but it’s pretty damned risky to gamble that they won’t.

6. Speaking of doctors and second opinions

It’s not just one opinion here. Research says 97% of climate doctors believe the planet has a bad case of human-induced climate change, and the prognosis isn’t great. While there is likely to be some wiggle room in the exact percentage, it’s fair to say that consensus is very high.

7. The TCCD with an inkling of scientific knowledge

This trickster knows not all scientific discoveries were immediately accepted by mainstream science. Plate tectonics and the Earth orbiting the sun leap to mind. While scientific mavericks are few and far between, they do exist. But simply being a maverick doesn’t make anyone right. Most of the time it just makes them wrong.

8. Wait for them to say ‘It’s all a big conspiracy’

Sigh. There are those who claim climate change is the lab-coat version of the John F Kennedy assassination or the moon landing “hoax”. Really?

The idea of an international conspiracy across dozens of disciplines, hundreds of institutions and thousands of individuals is honestly laughable. If the world’s climate scientists were so good at conspiracy, they’d be better off using their astounding Machiavellian skills to rig an election or clean up on the stock market. Also, anyone who actually uncovered such a scam would win all of the Nobel prizes at once.

9. Climate scientists are in it for the money

Have you seen the pay scale of a typical research scientist in Australia? Tell the TCCD to go to any university car park and count the luxury vehicles parked near science buildings. They won’t even need all their fingers to keep track.

A related gem is the line that Al Gore and co. are doing this because they invested in renewable energy companies and want to make money. Okay, what makes more financial sense?

  1. create a bogus scare requiring a global conspiracy of academics and scientists and grand appeals for huge amounts of controversial and untested R&D in countries all over the world and then wait for that to gain traction in financial markets and eventually drag in wads of cash.
  2. invest money in existing, lucrative and proved enterprises today and cash in right now.

10. Why pick on climate science?

The odds are they will happily accept – even applaud – any science that isn’t climate change related. Ask them if they accept gravity, nutrition, internal combustion engines or maths? If they say “yes”, probe them on why climate science is different. If they say “no”, back away slowly. Interestingly, TCCDs often endorse mitigation options that support business-as-usual use of fossil fuels, even while asserting human-induced climate change isn’t happening. That’s a fun little “gotcha” if you’re in the mood.

11. Scientists don’t actually want it to be true

Challenge them to find a single, legitimate source that shows a bona fide climate change scientist who is happy about what they are finding and what their findings mean. We’ve been working around such folks for years and have not even heard of one. Seriously, not one.

12. CO2 isn’t a pollutant

This is another claim touted by TCCDs – that CO2 itself isn’t inherently poisonous. It’s important for plants so therefore it can’t be bad. Their underlying logic is that you can never have too much of a good thing – ask them if they realise that’s what they’re arguing, then give them your best scornful school teacher stare. Too much of anything can be dangerous, hence the phrase “too much”. You can even be killed by drinking too much water.


Give us a spell, Mr Treasurer

Now which of these two photos would be described as a blight on the landscape?

BlayneyLoy Yang

Joe Hockey says a lot of things that makes you raise your eyebrows. However last weeks’ rant on commercial radio must take the cake for the most innane piece of self serving commentary yet. And the problem is, he doesn’t believe a word he is saying. Mr Hockey:

Can I be a little indulgent? I drive to Canberra to go to Parliament … and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they’re a blight on the landscape. We can’t knock those ones off because they’re into locked-in schemes and there is a certain contractual obligation I’m told associated with those things.


A blight on the landscape??? You obviously haven’t driven through the LaTrobe Valley. Now THAT is a blight on the landscape. How about building the BIGGEST coal port on the Barrier Reef? NOW THAT WILL BE A blight on the landscape. What about clear felling old growth forests in Tasmania. THAT IS A BLIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE. So don’t go pushing fossil fuel loving dressed up as caring for environmental aesthetics. Just say I hate renewable energy.

We have to remember, this is coming form the treasurer of the party that believes there is already too much protected area. In early March, Prime Minister Abbott made these comments at a timber industry dinner:

We have quite enough National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.
When I look out tonight at an audience of people who work with timber, who work in forests, I don’t see people who are environmental bandits, I see people who are the ultimate conservationists.


So Mr Treasurer, we are not going to lock up the glorious landscape in a designated park, and we wont use it for renewable energy, then what would you like to order? I suppose the answer is “I’ll have mine with a coal mine please”.

Just don’t ask the poor folk of the LaTrobe Valley how it feels to live near a coal power station and open cut mining. Only last Febuary mine fires in the LaTrobe Valley caused mass panic with authorities even considering evacuating 10,000 people  from Morwell as carbon monoxide reached dangerous levels. 25,000 face masks had to be distributed to filter out ash and smoke.


Children were not allowed to play outside. Schools were cancelled. Many people now face the prospect of bills of thousands of dollars to clean up their houses and properties that are inundated with coal ash.

Mr Treasurer, I’m sure they would gladly relocate to live near a wind farm.

Book Launch – Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World

Four Degrees

Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World

Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

Wednesday, 4 December 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Carrillo Gantner Theatre, 761 Swanston Street, University of Melbourne

Register here:

The 2011 conference Four Degrees or More? Australia in a hot world, held in Melbourne, provided an integrated overview of the likely consequences of rapid global warming for Australia and its region. Now, the newly-published book Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a hot world, edited by Associate Professor Peter Christoff, updates the expected consequences of a four-degree world. Contributing authors include many of Australia’s most eminent and internationally recognised climate scientists, climate policy makers and policy analysts. This book provides an accessible and detailed examination of the likely impacts of a four-degree world on Australia’s social, economic and ecological systems.

The Four Degrees of Global Warming launch offers policy makers, politicians, students, and anyone interested climate change access to the most recent research on the potential Australian impacts of global warming as well as possible responses.


Dr Malte Meinshausen Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Prof David Karoly Professor of Atmospheric Science School of Earth Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of Melbourne

Prof Lesley Hughes Professor, Ecology, Macquarie University

Dr Mark Howden Chief Research Scientist, (Primary Industries) CSIRO

Prof Emeritus Tony McMichael Professor, Emeritus of Population Health, Australian National University

Prof Robyn Eckersley Professor, Head of Political Science, University of Melbourne

A/Prof Peter Christoff Climate Change Policy, Melbourne School of Land and Envrionment, University of Melbourne

All Things Carbon Tax

Climate Change

The Australian Government made heaps of policies in 1960’s. Thousands of them. Maybe tens of thousands. But they never made a 1960’s policy in the 21st century. Until now. In the first day of the new 44th Parliament of Australia, they undid a lot of tough work done over the last 15 years and have set Australia on a crash course for 1967. That’s fine if you’re looking at driving a Mustang down the highway, but not if you’re leading a highly developed nation into the middle half of the 2000’s. We need to be leaders. Visionaries. We need to show that it can be done. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen any time soon.

Let’s recap what transpired yesterday:

  1. Carbon tax repealed
  2. Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding cut by 15% ($435M) until 2022
  3. Deferral of an extra $370M for AREA until after 2020
  4. Repeal of $10B Clean Energy Finance Corporation
  5. Unlikely increase of 5per cent  emissions reduction by 2020
  6. Review of the renewable energy target of 20 per cent of all electricity generation by 2020

And the details.

10:25am: Finally, Prime Minister Tony Abbott gets his chance to speak on the first of the carbon tax repeal bills.

Official title: Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013.

The new government cannot undo the past, we can only make the future better, Mr Abbott says.

The introduction of the bill can be read here:

And here is the actual bill itself:

Details of the carbon tax repeal legislation reveals the $3 billion of funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will be cut by $435 million. ARENA was set up to fund renewable energy projects and research, and helped to finance projects such as solar and wave energy. At a time when Australia needs to be the world leader in sustainable energy production, the Federal Government is confining us to the back of the pack. An astounding decision considering our vast supply of these natural renewable assets.

Much of these policies were brought to the September election, and so already public knowledge. Yesterday was just a confirmation of it. The really interesting comments surrounded “binding”, “conditional”, and “aspirational” commitments to Australia’s emissions reductions.

Mr Abbott:

We will meet our 5 per cent emissions reduction target but this government has made no commitments to go further than that and we certainly want to get emissions down as far as we reasonably can.

But we are certainly in no way looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like-binding commitments in other countries and there’s no evidence of that.

We have made one commitment and one commitment only, which is to reduce our emissions by 5 per cent.

And here is where the problem lies. Since May 2009, the Coalition has supported the former Labor government’s commitments to the UN that it would continue reductions beyond 5 per cent below 2000 levels should a number of conditions be met. As other countries made progress towards reducing their levels, then higher targets would kick in to Australian levels. Specific markers to increase the target were set down by Labor, but the word “binding” was not included. In fact, the test was that other countries take comparable action as part of global climate action. In December 2009, Abbott wrote to Prime Minister Rudd stating his support for the target range and the conditions set.

The Climate Change Authority declared the five per cent target was “inadequate” and should be increased to 15 or 25 per cent, in part because the scale and pace of international action warrants an increase.

Taken as a whole, the government’s own conditions for moving beyond five per cent appear to have been met. More broadly, a five per cent target would put Australia at the lower end of effort compared with other developed countries.

Independent experts now say those 2009 conditions have been met for a strengthening of the 2020 target. Professor Ross Garnaut also says the progress the US and China have made on their emissions targets means Australia should adopt a cut of about 17 per cent by 2020.

Furthermore, Mr Abbott’s unequivocal support for the 5 per cent target now contrasts with his position during the election campaign, when he said he would not pour more money into its Direct Action climate change policy should the emissions target become elusive.

We accept that climate change happens, that mankind, humanity, make a contribution to it and it’s important that we take strong and effective action against it, Mr Abbott said.

Really? I wouldn’t correlate strong and effective action with a percentage number of FIVE.

UN Climate Change Conference – COP19 / CMP9 Warsaw 2013


“A new universal climate agreement is within our reach,” said Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
She noted that “the world is ready” and there is a groundswell of climate action, not only for the environment, but also for security, energy, economic and governance reasons.
“We must win the Warsaw opportunity, Parties can lead the momentum for change and move together towards success in 2015,” she told participants at the 19th session in Poland.

The UN seem a little more positive than I do, but lets wait to see the outcomes from Warsaw. Follow all the information here:

COP19 / CMP9 Warsaw 2013

Lets Rewind a Little

Recharge Green

So how did I get to this point of applying to commence a Masters? We have to look back over our shoulder about six months to when I started thinking about my long term career. I felt that a change was in order. I wanted to pursue something that I was truly interested in and passionate about. Something that would sustain me for the next 25 years. And I wanted to do it in an environment that would nurture this direction.

I started thinking about my interests, and how I could amalgamate them into a career. I narrowed the list down to a few core components that I wanted to pursue….. my love of the mountains and wanting to incorporate them into my career, my interest in supplying (renewable) energy to communities, and the collection and use of Big Data – especially in mapping.

How could I intertwine my engineering with these interests. I don’t want to give up engineering, but use it in a new, novel, possibly radical way. Was it even possible to combine these elements? Much thinking was done. Much searching took place. And then I found it.

Recharge Green : Balancing Alpine Energy and Nature

The Alps have great potential for the use of renewable energy. Thereby they can make a valuable contribution to mitigating climate change. This, however, means increasing pressures on nature. What could be the impact of such changes on the habitats of animals and plants? How do they affect land use and soil quality? How much renewable energy can reasonably be used? The project recharge.green brings together 16 partners to develop strategies and tools for decision-making on such issues. The analysis and comparison of the costs and benefits of renewable energy, ecosystem services, and potential trade-offs is a key component in this process. The project will last from October 2012 to June 2015 and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the Alpine Space Programme.

It was the perfect intersection. Mountains. Sustainable Energy. Data.