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Axing the Climate Commission splits Australians from science

The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission. This decision demonstrates to the Australian public the government is not interested in talking to them…

Climate Commissioners, such as Veena Sahajwalla, talked with the public about climate science and ways to respond: who will do that now? Climate Commission

The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission. This decision demonstrates to the Australian public the government is not interested in talking to them about climate change science or climate change action.

I was recently in a taxi on the way to give a talk about communicating about climate science, when I decided to ask the driver if he believed in climate science. “Oh no,” he said, giving me a horrified stare. “I don’t get into politics.”

Climate science has become increasingly politicised over the past five to ten years. People are no longer engaging with the science, but rather engaging or dis-engaging with the politics of the issue. This creates a public controversy, despite almost no scientific controversy.

The Climate Commission was set up to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change, the economics of carbon pricing, and the international action being taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Now the Commission has been axed, there is no independent body in Australia providing simple, direct explanations of the climate science. In a statement, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said “the commission’s function to provide independent advice and analysis on climate change will be continued by the Department of the Environment”.

Climate Commission chair Professor Tim Flannery is sceptical about alternative communicators: speaking to the ABC he said he is not aware of any organisation that can do the same job as the Climate Commission - not even CSIRO or universities.

“It’s increasingly difficult for those groups to fill the role, partly because of the depth of capacity,” he said. “Many of these organisations are also constrained politically to some extent or another.”

The Commission was made up of respected experts in their various fields. Tim Flannery is not a climate scientist but is terrific at explaining the science. Professor Will Steffen is a peer-reviewed climate science expert of international repute. Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a materials scientist leading research teams who invent solutions to climate problems. Professor Lesley Hughes is a worldwide expert on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems. Gerry Hueston is a prominent businessman and ex-President of BP Australasia. Roger Beale is an economist and policy expert.

Australians need people of this calibre to explain the science and economics of climate change, especially when the debate has become so politically polarised.

The new government is also drawing up legislation to scrap the carbon price, axe the Climate Change Authority, and has ordered the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop lending. They are not appointing a minister for climate change or science.

The actions of Tony Abbott’s government reinforce the political nature of climate change, rather than the realities of the science. The direct impact of this will be to turn even more Australians off the science of climate change.

This abolition of the Climate Change Commission will leave a gaping hole in communicating climate change. More resources, not fewer, should be given to an independent group like the Climate Change Commission to communicate and engage with all Australians to:

  • distil and translate the complexity of climate change science, including acknowledging and explaining any uncertainties

  • convey positive messages, based on peer-reviewed science, about what actions individuals, groups and businesses can take to mitigate or adapt to climate change

  • showcase local and regional examples of changes and actions that people or businesses can take to reduce emissions and adapt to inevitable climate change

  • engage people and businesses in open conversations about the science of climate change

  • detail simple and cheap options for people and businesses to change their behaviours to reduce emissions and / or adapt to climate change

  • support collaborations between government, industry and the community to take climate change actions.

Tony Abbott believes he has won a popular mandate to make the changes he has to Australia’s climate change policies and institutions. But in an environment where science has become so highly politicised and where public opinion is often swayed by high profile lobbyists (such as climate deniers), the government of the day has a duty to reach beyond the rhetoric.

They must look objectively at the science and create a vision that meets the needs of all Australians, including future generations.

Tom Dixon helped to research and edit this article.

Join the conversation

173 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Why wouldnt existing uni, abc, CSIRO etc talking heads be able to continue this good work? They certainly would do a better job than Flannery who's alarmisn has done more to create a sceptical public than any number of climate sceptics.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to David Elson

      I like the connotation of Climate Commission.......

      It sounds as though we might just be doing something.

      Is this going to be another 150 comments about how good or bad the CC is or was..........and the usual argy bargy.

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    3. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to David Elson

      Well, David, they do, and have long done. That's how we got to where we are.

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Science does speak. And the evidence and conclusion is overwhelming.

      ""The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now."

      http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus
      http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

      The LNP climate cranks and their supporters can shoot one of the messengers but it will not stop AGW.

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    5. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      And can that action include direct action?

      Science is descriptive not perscriptive, it can only advise not decide. It is obvious that the public have decided that while they want action on climate change they also wanted the carbon tax repealed and Flannery and his ilk off of the public teat.

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    6. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to David Elson

      "And can that action include direct action?"

      Come on David. Man up. Do not pretend you care, when you are just another climate science denier as indicated by your comment below - "I could do with a decreased cost of living; electricity (coal fired) and with lower transport costs (bus/car petrol powered)."

      I do not pretend to understand what is in the head of climate science deniers when they cannot point to a single significant science agency anywhere in the world that shares their views. But I have even less time for fakes.

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    7. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, the point being that we already know all this, and do not need to be belted over the head with it all the time by some climate power-broker seeking to subdue us into their way of think about it, to the exclusion of our own well-founded views and opinions and what happens to the planet from time to time.

      There is no purpose to be served in ramming endless 'evidence' down people's throats, without ever bothering to answer their good and very relevant question (at the root of all research), "So What?"

      And by the way, there is no such person as 'Science', especially presuming to speak for the rest of us. Science is a highly collaborative community which goes on regardless.

      Such so-called 'chaotic' systems are, at the end of the day, intelligent and self-correcting. In that I am currently reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 'Antifragile'.

      Highly recommended . . .

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    8. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Why cant one capture emissions via simple low tech tree planting while also increasing our emissions (the total of which are rather miniscule on a global scale) to keep pace with our growing energy requirements and population growth.

      Man up and detail what personal action you have taken to quell your own CO2 as opposed to advocating for taxes and regulation to burden the rest of us.

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    9. Peter Turner
      Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      Alarmism causes scepticism? We will only know for sure if it was alarmism looking back from the future. We could just as easily condemn him for not making us more alarmed and thus more prepared to act and act quickly.
      Air raid sirens could also be construed as alarmist, right up until the bombs drop.
      On what possible basis do you claim that Tim Flannery's warnings have created scepticism - it sounds like something you just plucked out of thin air.

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    10. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil Hardwick; "currently reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 'Antifragile'." Encouraging to read. His book "The Black Swan" on randomness is fascinating book, well thumbed and listened to. The ideas on managing risk are very challenging.
      Having followed the thersa.org since their first podcast. Nassim has lectured regularly for The RSA, they are worth checking in on as many issues apply here. George Monbiot's lecture on rewilding a favourite.
      Like you can highly recommend grasping Nassim theories, they demonstrate how to apply management, foresight, understand probabilities and more ;
      _____________________________________________
      http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2011/the-predictability-of-unpredictability
      http://www.thersa.org/events/video/archive/nassim-nicholas-taleb

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    11. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, on George Monbiot, not just feral; on rewilding, but its enchantment.

      Refer too to Bruno Bettelheim on fairy stories and the uses of enchantment (specifically in the context of healing, and raising healthy vibrant energised children).

      Why Faerie? Back to Taleb. Capricious. Random. Unpredictable. Black Swan rule breakers.

      It goes on.

      In decisions to be made, ways of going about resolving dilemma, averting catastrophe, best chance we have by a long chalk.

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    12. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Turner

      " Alarmism causes scepticism? ""

      Flannery's comments about pemanent rain fall reductions followed by many months of driving rain and heavy flooding.

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    13. Mark Abernethy

      writer

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil, I think I agree with you. Maybe. I believe the writer has fallen into a classic subject-object conflation problem where she believes her own heart-felt beliefs to be the same as an objective reality aka. 'Science'. The dropping of the climate commission takes science away from politics and gives it back to science.

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    14. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to David Elson

      The public know nothing about Direct Action. Nobody does. It's a $4.3 Bn adventure into the unknown. And now we do it without a compass.

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    15. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil if you want to know why we need an impartial body run by scientists to explain the phenomenon to us, as I say tome and again, read Merchants of Doubt. As a novelist, you will enjoy its narrative structure. As a thinking human being you will be horrified at the deliberately created confusion it meticulously outlines.

      There is an extremely well-funded network of denialists out there working very hard at obfuscating the science for their own ends.

      that is why we need The Climate Commission

      A proposal. Even in these cash-strapped times, could not the universities who are involved in The conversation take over some of the activities of the CC? Sending scientists out into the country to explain the science?

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    16. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      That's quite likely true.

      $4.3 is a big figure, maybe they could reduce it and give the excess back to the states.

      Apparently the finances of WA are in a sorry state and they are in need of some extra cash.

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    17. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      Prove this statement David, the actual sentence within the paragraph. For any who haven't read this quote, this is a record of Tim Flannery and his discussion about rainfall and dams in southern Australia. There are links to the actual Landline interview here also.
      http://indifferencegivesyouafright.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/tim-flannery-did-not-say-australias-dams-would-never-fill-again/
      Anything else he has stated which is alarmist? Please refer me to the actual transcript.

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    18. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Promoting predictions of sea level rises and then buying beach side property?

      http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/flannery_admits_no_chance_of_that_flooding_he_claimed_after_all

      Anyway back to rainfall:

      "In 2007, Flannery predicted cities such as Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming had caused "a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas" and made the soil too hot, "so even the rain that falls isn't actually going…

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    19. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      Carbon capture is not "simple" for Australia as you say, nor would planting trees in a low tech way be a significant a viable option. It can't be done on poor soils. "We can potentially increase these stores in our rural lands and perhaps store or mitigate enough greenhouse gases to offset up to 20% or more of Australia's emissions during the next 40 years" There is uncertainty here, and a long time frame involved. During which time it is suggested that the whole world will need to cut by far more…

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    20. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Hmm that's a very important point you've given me to consider thank you.

      What did you think of Beattie's plan to green the interior of Queensland via channels bring water down from the wet north?

      Could an engineering project like this assist in irrigating greater agriculture and tree planting inland? (and then in turn allow for greater carbon abatement through forestation?)

      I wonder what potential environmental harm could result (as in what potential cost one would need to way up against his proposal).

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    21. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,
      The science is poor. It is not settled, as evidenced by the huge expenditure on satellites, etc., to fill in missing knowledge. Only an unwise person would admit to any science being "incontrovertible". A great deal of present science replaces older "incontrovertible" science. When used they way you have, the statement is merely crude propaganda.

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    22. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to David Elson

      David,
      "Why cant one capture emissions via simple low tech tree planting".
      Because when trees die, they give back to the air almost all the CO2 they took up. If you want a net sequestration gain, you have to maintain a heavier growth than previously, storing more carbon, forever. This required management forever. That is hardly a sustainable approach.

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    23. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      "The science is poor. It is not settled"

      I think I'll take the word of the Chief Scientist of Australia over yours on that matter, if it's all the same to you.

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    24. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to John Newton

      John,
      Can you provide evidence of "well-funded" as applied to "denialists"?
      I thought not.
      If you can find an occasional contribution, unlikely in Australia, do ponder that the funding of compliant NGOs is orders of magnitude higher.
      What a silly statement you made.

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    25. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to David Elson

      Oh fantastic, pull whatever money has been set aside to at least do something (although what and how is quite questionable at this time) to provide the states more money in addition to their mad scramble to dig up and export every single bit of coal and gas in the ground as quickly as possible. Have you ever watched a 2 yr old who is sneaking biscuits from a plate of biscuits and sees their parent coming. They just start grabbing and stuffing as much as possible into their mouths before they are stopped. This is the behaviour of the states as far as I'm concerned and it bodes very ominously for the federal govs behaviour as they are likely to just join the feeding frenzy.

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    26. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Graham Walker

      Spot on Graham ...and even worse the pattern of cuts by conservative states is quite specific ... it follows any and all increases in tied Commonwealth funding ... notably schools, health and soon to be followed by disability and care/support offered by the NDIS. And even this is not enough ... they want more more more from the GST.

      T'was always so.

      States are inefficient, economically counterproductive and fragment national effort and priorities. Don't know why we bother keeping them myself. Like cultivating fleas.

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    27. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Walker

      Well.. if you believe the money is being ineffectually spent, then why spend it on programs your don't agree with?

      "They just start grabbing and stuffing as much as possible into their mouths before they are stopped"

      So basically the ALP prior to getting voted out?

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  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    There's a classic phrase oft repeated in "Love In A Cold Climate" (Nancy Mitford)

    "this is the thin end of the wedge".

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  2. David Elson

    logged in via Facebook

    I would suggest that the LNP had decided upon this course of action some time ago aka had promised this during the election.

    Theyve retained the environment dept what else do we need?

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  3. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    Jenni,

    The Climate Commission was not a science organisation. It was a politically partisan propaganda agency. It was sent up and paid to support Labor's political agenda (as was the Conversation, as most people know).

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    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Could explain the lack of climate scientists present on the commission.

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    2. Darren G

      logged in via email @yahoo.com

      In reply to David Elson

      Either you are being ironic or you didn't read the article at all - since the members of the commission are listed in paragraph 10 or so and seem quite well qualified in their fields.

      I have no idea what Gil Hardwick is waffling about here - what he rights is very old style country gentleman but at the end of the day there is no real substance to it.

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    3. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Darren G

      "rights is or right of . . . very old style country gentleman?"

      No real substance to it?

      OK, whatever. Here is just pixelated shapes on a screen, even less substantial than ink blotches on paper.

      Say we shut down the computers, put away the pens and paper, leave the car of you will - the wank tank - come with me and I'll show you something that will make you change your mind. Assuming you still have a mind, by time we get back.

      Except, maybe, write me a waver in case you don't make it…

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    4. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Definitely. The conversation is most partisan. The media has a distinct left wing bias in this country. The ABC smacks of bias. Someone should do a study to show the ratio of mins of airtime devoted to left of centre issues on the ABC during the election campaign compared to right of centre.

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    5. Luke Menzies

      PhD Researcher, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University

      In reply to David Elson

      Professor Will Steffen.

      Will Steffen has a long history in international global change research, serving from 1998 to 2004 as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), based in Stockholm, Sweden, and before that as Executive Officer of IGBP's Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems project.

      Prior to taking up the ANU Climate Change Institute Directorship in 2008, Steffen was the inaugural director of the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society. From…

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    6. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Darren G

      Indeed the article indicates that they are scientists that are good at communicating with the public not that they are climate scientists.

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    7. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Peter Lang

      I didn't know the conversation was "sent up and paid to support Labor's political agenda". But now that you say it, it makes perfect sense.

      OTOH, axing the climate commission could be taking us away from government propaganda and closer to science.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/Worlds-climate-scientists-confess-Global-warming-just-QUARTER-thought--computers-got-effects-greenhouse-gases-wrong.html

      http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/the-coming-crisis-of-climate-science.html?spref=tw

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    8. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Luke Menzies

      Thanks for your cherry picking...

      In demonstrating that only one of the climate change commissioners is an actual climate scientist you have amply proven my point that this a communication body and not a scientific body conducting research. As such the loss is not that great; there are many voices for the climate still pesent and government funded to boot (thecoversation for example).

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    9. David Doe

      Videogame Producer

      In reply to David Wright

      What is the basis for this claim that the ABC is leftist?

      Do they open their broadcasts with a rousing rendition of The Internationale? Do they extol the virtues of government ownership of the means of industry? Do they decry capitalism as the foundation for all the world's ills?

      Or do you just have no understanding of the concept of classical left versus right political positions, and have been groomed to believe that anything that doesn't agree with the right-wing's perception of reality is instantly 'leftist' and should be dismissed as vile propaganda?

      Get a grip, sunshine.

      "... anything that is socially liberal, anything involving compassion, indeed anything that reflects actual knowledge of the subject at hand, is attacked and denigrated, and the favoured pejorative is “Leftist”."

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    10. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Doe

      "What is the basis for this claim that the ABC is leftist?"

      Identify 1 conservative host that appears on the ABC, if you can to dispel this terrible terrible myth.

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    11. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Luke Menzies

      This morning, on Radio National ,Fran Kelly read a statement from Maurice Newman in which he referred to 'anthropological climate change'. Kelly didn't correct him, but more importantly, Steffen didn't. Unfortunately most scientists are too meek and polite to spar with these bully denialists spouting nonsense for their paymasters.

      But what is deeply disturbing about this new government's denialism - or at least it's dog whistle to denialists - is that it is sending our children and their children down the mine rather than taking Australia into the future of the renewable energy industry. The world has woken up and is moving forward while Australia going back to sleep.

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    12. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to ian cheong

      Oh dear Ian dig a little deeper than this farrago of lies and half truths

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    13. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newton

      And John go back and read where it lists the other climate commissioners credentials.

      You may not have read the article in its entirety. From the above (extracts only):

      * Tim Flannery is not a climate scientist
      * Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a materials scientist
      * Gerry Hueston is a prominent businessman and ex-President of BP Australasia.
      * Roger Beale is an economist and policy expert.

      The above are the other commissioners and they are demonstrably not climate scientists.

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    14. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      You said: "Conspiracy theories are always able to explain everything."

      Like the constant claims of climate sceptics being in the pay of Big Oil, The Heartland Institute and the Koch bros (whoever they are)?

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    15. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to David Doe

      David Doe,

      That the ABC has only one Conservative presenter is telling. That that person presents an obscure radio program named Counterpoint - so named in order to indicate it presents a viewpoint which runs at counterpoint to the mainstream ABC paradigm, is even more telling.

      When the ABC has has Andrew Bolt, and Piers Akerman, and Ray Hadley, and/or their intellectual ilk, regularly presenting programs across the board on all media I will accept that they are making an attempt to conform with their charter. Not before.

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    16. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      You see, David, that's why it's clear you are merely a fact-free troll - you don't even bother to read the article or note the actual make up of the Commission before making irresponsible, sweeping statements like this. Steffen and Hughes are world-class scientists in relevant fields, as is Veena Sahajwhalla.

      Graham Lloyd would be proud of your work.

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    17. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      You actually posted this AFTER Luke Menzies's comment above. thank you for so clearly demonstrating that you hav eno intention of alowing evidence to impede the flow of your claims.

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    18. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Read the article again. Luke has cherry picked his data by referring to only ONE of the climate commissioners, thus proving my initial point.

      The fact that you have chosen to double down on his mistaken is regrettable and indicative of your own troll like tendencies.

      As outlined by myself and this article itself, ONLY 1 or 2 of the climate change commissioners are actually climate scientists.

      As you may not have read the article in its entirety I will detail for you the following extracts from the above article:

      * Tim Flannery is not a climate scientist
      * Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a materials scientist
      * Gerry Hueston is a prominent businessman and ex-President of BP Australasia.
      * Roger Beale is an economist and policy expert.

      The above are the other commissioners and they are demonstrably not climate scientists.

      Thank you please come again.

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    19. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      Did anyone at any time think it WAS a research body? I would have thought there were few things clearer than that the precise point of the Commission was to communicate. The dot point in Jenni's article address this quite clearly (you could experiment with reading it first).

      The point being made as simply that people like Will Steffen can communicate from a position or authority and credibility.

      Given that you've now slithered through several arguments on this question, I await your next transformation with some curiosity.

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    20. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      And, to subject you to your own test, would you care to name one demonstrably 'left wing' host on the ABC?

      (A clue - merely providing a name isn't sufficient - you need to back it up with some evidence of actual behaviour.)

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    21. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris, the problem is not that the ABC refuses to employ conservative commentators, it is that it refuses to employ idiots like Bolt, Akerman and Hadley.

      Of course, if you'd like to keep holding them up as bastiomns of the best the 'right' can offer please do so - all it demonsytrates is that what you mean by 'right' versus 'left' is evidence-free bigotry versus at least some attempt to engag ein actual journalism.

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    22. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      That's right, David, that is because the Commission was designed to explain the science and the possible technical and economic options for dealing with reality. Therefore it made sense to have a good selecrion of expertise.

      But we all know that, had they only included climate scientists, you would now be whingeing about a lack of practical engineers or business people to present those aspects of the situation.

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    23. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to David Elson

      Have you looked at the composition of the ABC Board lately, and who appointed most of them?

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    24. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Barrie Cassidy, Kerry O'Brien, Leigh Sales, Tony Jones and so forth actually every host it would appear.

      Cheers,
      David

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    25. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Luke Menzies

      Luke,
      Maybe your assertions are correct.
      What is wrong is the full-on, partisan nature of Steffen's public statements.
      Like many others, he fails to accept that other scientists could be right when putting opposing views. His way is not science, it is advocacy.

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    26. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      When has a member of the IPA appeared on the Drum as the host of said program?

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    27. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix,

      So, in your eyes there is not a single conservative in all of Australia with the experience or intellectual ability to equal, let alone surpass, any single presenter currently at the ABC?

      And you regard this as a fair reflection of society?

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    28. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Nope I didn't and I wasn't.

      As I've stated above our universities and indeed even the ABC (and why not include the conversation) are amply funded by the government to provide this communication role.

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    29. Graham Walker

      IT Architect

      In reply to David Elson

      I went to one of the climate commissions sessions in Brisbane and I personally believe that the mix of skills they had up on the stage was exactly what was needed.
      There are plenty of climate scientists out there and organisations who in the majority say that climate change is a reality. The discussion didn't need more experts repeating the science. What this mix of skills provide was that ability to translate the science into terms that people could identify with, but even more important was…

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    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Here's hoping that you are right. I could do with a decreased cost of living; electricity (coal fired) and with lower transport costs (bus/car petrol powered).

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  4. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Blair had the Stern Report to tell us that emission trading was the best way to fix the climat problem, KRudd had the Garnaut Report, the UN had an ongoing programme to get emission trading up via IPCC, and Australia had its Climate Commission to do the same thing.

    What if emissions trading isn't the best way to price fossil fuel use out of existence, even though all the world's investment bankers want it like crazy?

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    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Of course the bankers want it, they alone would profit from it.

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to David Elson

      I've given the issue of steadily increasing the price of fossil fuel use until market forces invent appropriate substitutes (eg solar panels, biofuels and so on) WITHOUT letting the bankers get their blood funnels into the action.

      It's actually quite easy to figure out how this could b done.

      The simplest way would be gradual CUTS to Company and to Personal Income Taxes, to make way for consumption taxes on fossil fuels.

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  5. Stewart Franks

    Professor School of Engineering at University of Newcastle

    I am very disappointed to read this article, penned by a phd student with no apparent insight into the physics of climate. To use the 'climate denier' description is unwitting ignorance and highly offensive. The conversation should seek expert commentary rather than promote uninformed opinion.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      It would seem many experts don't agree.

      I read in the Age that Greenland ice is melting at an alarming rate, that the oceans are becoming alarmingly acidic and way too warm.

      These are reports by scientists and researchers........why is there denial if these reports are true?

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    2. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Alarming to whom, Stephen John Ralph?

      The system is intelligent and self-correcting.

      By that I mean, and throwing back to Gaia Theory (I too wrote my thesis modelling field data on Thom's Catastrophe Theory) there may well be a point at which a cusp is reached and catastrophe will occur.

      If that is going to happen, it will happen regardless of who is in government somewhere. Our problem is how we are going to deal with such an event, not theirs to tell us before the fact.

      If we don't want it to happen, it's not carbon emissions or all the other stuff that will cause it, but simple human species rampancy.

      Like all plagues and imbalances, the planet will act to correct the anomaly.

      Or, as we said in our generation's chosen hysteria being The Bomb, lovie, get under the table, bend over, and kiss your arse goodbye.

      But it didn't go off and we're still here . . . maybe it should have . . .

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    3. Stewart Franks

      Professor School of Engineering at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Hi Stephen - the simple answer is that what you have read in the Age is grossly exaggerated.

      Greenland ice sheet melt has not accelerated since we started measuring it. The oceans are not acidic, nor too warm.

      Put simply, the reports are out of context and hence exaggerated

      best wishes, S.

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    4. Stewart Franks

      Professor School of Engineering at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Enough from you already Mr Hansen.

      If labelling and namecalling is valid to your mind, then you already fail to understand that science is to be contested on the evidence rather than on the rhetoric.

      climate change is real, however the human influence remains unquantified and hence a valid science question - nothing that you contribute in terms of namecalling, contributes to objectively quantifying that. Hence, you should refrain from any commentary if it is only namecalling. It is you that politicises the science through the belief that you have something meaningful to add! You don't!

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Love the naive almost religious fervour.......I wish I had it.

      I can see you on the deck of the Titanic about 2 minutes before it goes down and saying - "see this ain't that bad - nothing to be alarmed about"

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    6. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      So YOU say....so why does the Age report differently.

      Now if you're right - they're wrong and vice versa.

      Who to believe? This is like a never-ending story where too many people want another chapter added cos they didn't agree with the proposed ending.

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    7. Peter Turner
      Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Thinker

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      Uninformed opinion? How pompous that sounds Stewart. We don't need to have "insight into the physics of climate" Stewart to know that AGW is real - that's why we have experts - you know like the ones that build bridges etc. I don't need to have insight into the physics of materials before I cross a bridge - that's what engineers are for!
      Jenni is saying that we need experts in all aspects of the science of climate change advising us on how we deal with it. You, I assume are an "expert" engineering wise, who seems to have a problem accepting the qualifications of experts in another discipline - climate science. Honestly now Stewart - if 97% of engineers asserted that a bridge was unsafe and 3% said it was safe, would you take your family across it?

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    8. Jenni Metcalfe

      PhD student and sessional lecturer, Department of English, Media Studies & Art History at University of Queensland

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      I was writing about the communication of climate science, for which I have 25 years of experience. I was not writing about the physics, which I leave to the peer reviewed experts.

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    9. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      So, it's the Titanic now is it, M. Ralph?

      Let me put it to you, as I was asked once in seminar, what is the difference between dilemma and catastrophe.

      Simple, really, and using your Titanic example; the dilemma arose when the Titanic sighted the iceberg. The catastrophe occurred when the Titanic hit the iceberg.

      The situation as it stands re 'climate change' is that we have sighted an iceberg, or what some see as an iceberg, and thus find ourselves on the horns of dilemma.

      From the calibre of debate here, even hysterical demands that "WE NEED EXPERTS" to resolve it for us rather than resolving it ourselves, tends me toward anticipation of catastrophe.

      If on the other hand that's what we don't want, dare I suggest that instead of milling around looking to 'the experts', or worse 'the political classes', then whinging and complaining that maybe they have it wrong and don't know better than the rest of us, how about we get our arse into gear finally.

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    10. Jenni Metcalfe

      PhD student and sessional lecturer, Department of English, Media Studies & Art History at University of Queensland

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      You are right, I meant to say climate science deniers. I dislike the word sceptic, as any scientists worth their salt is a sceptic. And credible climate scientists would love to be able to scientifically disprove a anthropogenic induced climate change, but they haven't been able to!

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    11. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      Yes, Jenni, except, it's not about the "peer reviewed experts" as objects looming on the far horizon, its about collaborative field trials right where we stand, to see what works in practice and what doesn't before we go off spending taxpayers money.

      And I too have Honours in Literature and Media, on top of all the other stuff including over 30 years of field research of my own, and far longer than 25 years in 'science communication'?

      I have to say too that I found myself very, very disappointed in your cheap tabloid journo approach to a very serious and important issue.

      One can only wonder at who you imagine your target audience to be, and their cerebral wherewithal.

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    12. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      Jenni, Are you saying that you are communicating about something that you are not an expert in?
      "Spin merchant" is the term that is commonly applied to such people.

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    13. Peter Turner
      Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Thinker

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil, without in the least excusing your offensive remarks, I invite you to join me on an Airbus to Hawaii - hey I don't need a pilot - I'll fly it myself - no wait I'll swim there instead. When I get there I'll examine myself for any health issues then operate on that nasty lump in my gut - will you hold the light for me? Who needs an anaesthetist - I'll just take an aspirin. Gil why haven't you just walked over and said this to my face - you don't need those useless experts who created the web and computers and phones and stuff. The food you eat? you must be a self sufficient-er, grow it all yourself and cook it too? - don't need experts in food prep and handling, biochemistry for food safety. You don't drive a car either, or ride a bike - they are made by experts. You don't use roads or footpaths - designed and built by experts - and made as safe as possible by experts too. Hey that keyboard you built to type out those rude remarks, very clever Gil. yeah sure.

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    14. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      Agree Stewart. It is with some irony that the first person the stand up for the climate commission is an arts student.

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    15. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Peter Turner

      Offensive? Pointed, I dare suggest, in an effort to get something in the order of existential reality through to you sorts of people.

      No, not all of us are consumers, or even live a life of expectation that stuff will be there for us, made safe for us by some 'expert' somewhere.

      Some of us did actually grow up in the remote inland, from generations out there, where none of this just somehow appeared magically, like some Melanesian cargo. We all had to make do for ourselves, off our own bat…

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    16. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It is truly disappointing that JH chooses to talk before a group of scoundrels and deceivers, GWPF has been caught out so often fabricating evidence against AGW that it is hard to believe that anyone with any personal credibility would choose to waste it on such a bunch of charlatans. This may not be the peak oh JH's career but it will describe the intellectual dishonesty of the Liberal party in the 21st century.

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    17. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to David Rennie

      It's not the 'denier' it's the arbitrary labeling that's at issue here.

      To be consistent, in your continuum you really do need to include 'hysteric' out on one tail and 'denier' out on the other, to my mind <-3SD to >+3SD either way.

      It is reasonable of course to suppose a standard distribution in between, with a nominal 68% within +- 1SD and 95% within +-2.

      Interpreted reasonably of course that the overwhelming majority of people really don't give that much of a shit about the minority's obsessions either way.

      They'd much rather get the budget back into some sort of balance, which if we are to invest in ameliorating the effects of climate change is by far the most sensible thing to be doing.

      Reflected very reliably in the election result.

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    18. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil,
      The problem is that calling someone who denies the science a 'denier' isn't arbitrary it's a factual statement.
      The fact that 97% of climate scientists acknowledge that AGW is occurring is not 'hysterical'. The fact that the range of possibilities includes 5m of sea level rise or 10 degrees of warming over the next decades is not hysterical if that's what the evidence points to.
      The fact that more than 70% of voters support real action on climate change is not hysterical, nor does it justify your claim "the overwhelming majority of people really don't give that much of a shit about the minority's obsessions either way.". The truth is they do, and with good reason.

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    19. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to David Rennie

      By the same token, someone who reviews and critiques the science is no denier but doing their job properly.

      Those who accept the critique and on that basis improve their science are plainly acting professionally.

      But that's not what we are talking about, is it. What we are talking about is political propaganda fueled by media hysteria, especially flouting broad claims of 97% of climate scientists blah blah blah . . . .

      Science is disciplined research method, not an arbitrary academic classification…

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    20. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      "Greenland ice sheet melt has not accelerated since we started measuring it." This is incorrect, Professor: Rignot et al, "Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise", GRL, v. 38, L05503, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583, 2011. Please keep up with the literature.

      "The oceans are not acidic, nor too warm." Oceans are acidic relative to pre-Industrial Holocene conditions, and heat accumulating in ocans is being transferred to high latitudes where it is accelerating ice melt, as implicit in the aforementioned work of Rignot et al.

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      Gday Ms Metcalfe, for climate science deniers, I've taken to using the term "Denialist"; the capitalisation helps emphasise that theirs is a ideological, rather than reasoned, stance, and -ist rather than -er is to avoid their feeble complaint that they are being lumped in with Holocaust deniers.

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    22. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      @Stewart Franks

      Stewart calling for an evidenced based debate. Priceless.

      Here is an article that Stewart wrote last year attacking Tim Flannery, a Climate Commission member and a fellow scientist based on some hearsay that he presumably got from Andrew Bolt. When challenged, Franks was unable to substantiate his claim and the article was modified. (How often does that happen at TC - I would have thought that Franks is unique)

      You can read the details from the following comment including a complaint from Professor Michael Ashley that TC modified the article without leaving Franks original erroneous claims in place.
      https://theconversation.com/climate-and-floods-flannery-is-no-expert-but-neither-are-the-experts-5709#comment_25619

      So when he talks about "unwitting ignorance and highly offensive", perhaps the kettle should attend to its own issues first.

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    23. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      If it helps, here's my summary of the science:

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight. Because of this, Earth's temperature can remain unchanged by returning the same amount of energy to space. That is, solar shortwave energy is balanced by the earth re-radiating to space as a 'black body' radiator with a characteristic temperature of ~255K; that is, from space the earth's spectrum is roughly that of a radiating body with an optical surface temperature of around 255K.

      Earth's…

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    24. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      Here's also Ranney et al's summary of the science, as referred by Ben Newell in his article for The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/science-alone-wont-change-climate-opinions-but-it-matters-10693).

      "Scientists tell us that human activities are changing Earth’s atmosphere and increasing Earth’s average temperature. What causes these climate changes?

      "First, let’s understand Earth’s “normal” temperature: When Earth absorbs sunlight, which is mostly visible light, it heats up. Like the…

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    25. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      It's not about the physics - it's about the Commission and the business of communicating science.

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    26. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jenni Metcalfe

      Don't worry, Jenni, if you had been Will Steffen writing about the science, people like Stewart would have criticised you for not being Jenni Metcalfe writing about communicating science.

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    27. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Thank goodness we have chiropractors to save us from the evils of scientific medicine and jerry builders to save us from the failures of qualified engineers.

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    28. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Nice to see you limit your comments to IT matters then, Philip - wouldn't want to be guilty of hypocrisy, would we?

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    29. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Stewart Franks

      "climate change is real, however the human influence remains unquantified "

      Stewart you acknowledge that climate change is real and presumably you accept the negative consequences that are going to flow from it; we see examples all the time.

      Why would you permit the question of the degree of human influence to govern your response to this threat? If you know a problem is looming, why would you choose not to do something about it? If changing our way of life can avert these negative effects, why would you prefer to accept the consequences rather than avoid them?

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    30. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      'the first person'? Do you have the time logs and complete observations of all media commentary?

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  6. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter

    How can Flannery be said to be independent? He has dabbled in shareholding in would-be "clean" energy generator Geodynamics. Veena Sahajwalla too seems to have a financial interest in the technology she is peddling, Both have a vested interest in maintaining a carbon restrained economy.

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  7. John C Smith

    Auditor

    Democracy has spoken and acted. The climate will change, so what. naturally living things will evolve to live with it.
    I was looking for the climate change related parties and couldn't find any, so I voted Sex Party one most close to the nature.

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  8. Michael Sheehan

    Geographer at Analyst

    "The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission."
    Hardly surprising given Abbott has told us for the past few years he would close it down, including making it a campaign promise!

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  9. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    The CC is dead... Thankyou Mr Abbott! This was a costly political body appointed by the Gillard Government to help sell the ineffective and inefficient carbon tax. They were nothing more than a propaganda unit. They also made a large number of factual errors in selling their biased and alarmist message.
    The money saved can now be spent on something useful.

    Strangely enough they never bothered to answer one of the questions I posed.

    To mark the end of the Climate Commission I am publishing the serial version of The Prince of Precaution over the next 5 day at the ABC News Watch blog....http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Here's one of my questions the climate commission did not answer....

      Lies of the climate commission: Part 6 no islands evacuated

      Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery (who has not published any peer reviewed papers on climate change*), recently stated:
      Prof Flannery said while climate change would be a significant issue for the region over the next century, its effects were being felt in other parts of the country today.
      “There are islands in the Torres Strait that are already being evacuated…

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  10. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    Whatever you may think of the science at various times I had to go through the output of the Climate Commission and my impression was that much of it was straight propaganda designed to push the global warming agenda, not give independent advice on it. One non-science example I can think of off the top of my head was in a list of what countries around the world were doing to fight climate, the listing for Canada neglected to say that the country had abandoned the Kyoto Protocol in the period it was discussing. The material on the US (again from memory) did not mention that the country had never been a member of Kyoto.
    Whatever you may think of climate, the commission had long stepped outside its supposed role of offering independent advice. For better of worse, it was part of the climate change community. The taxpayers should not have been paying for it.

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Agree Mark, it was pure Lysenkoism.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "For better of worse, it was part of the climate change community. The taxpayers should not have been paying for it."

      So the logical next step if for the climate science deniers to demand the defunding of any climate science research. Presumably it is part of the "climate change community".

      You are quickly reverting back to type Mark. There was a brief period were you were pretending to be willing to take the science seriously.

      The hapless Hendrickx does not realise how appropriate his reference to "Lysenkoism" is in the current situation.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      The only tiny problem there, Mark, is that 'the climate change community' is pretty much the same thing as 'the scientific community'. Had the Commission not presented the material they did, they would have been in dereliction of their responsibility to present the most accurate science available.

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  11. Lois Achimovich

    Doctor

    I've never seen a string like this - almost to a man, they’re are climate sceptic. Maybe there's a club to back up the unconscionable slashing of any form of sensible discussion regarding the worst problem the planet has ever faced. Abbott and his mates are latter day vandals - I cannot believe that they are all that stupid. The Australian people have been brainwashed by an abysmal media and a right wing parliament which will continue to tell them lies.
    Some of us want to see our grandchildren survive the 21st century. Wake up Australia - you're voting for your own destruction

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    1. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Lois Achimovich

      "Worst problem the planet has ever faced?"

      Where the f**k have you been all this time? For most of us here it was a bloody miracle we survived the 20th Century; our grandparents praying for us and anxious for us as you so profess, except in the event we are still here, we not only survived we thrived, we know what we did and how we did it.

      Your choice is to listen to the voice of wisdom and experience, and to learn something finally about the way things are in the world.

      If you really do in fact want your grandchildren to survive the 21st Century, mate, watch my lips, that's the best chance you and they will ever have.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil, if you want to be respected as some kind of wise elder, it would help if you didn't degenerate into nasty abuse at the first sign of disagreement.

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  12. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Funniest thing about the CC is that there was not a single "climate scientist" amongst them.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Did you happen to notice reality flying past your head as you typed this lie Marc?

      That's right, Marc, it is a lie. That makes you a liar.

      Care to offer a rational defence?

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  13. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    It is frightening to see the icy determination of Tony Abbott and the LNP to marginalise expert and/or scientific opinion which does not concur with their program.

    Their strategy clearly is to eliminate discussion and debate by sacking key opponents, and/or deprive relevant departments (eg. science, climate change, environment protection) of funding.

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  14. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Example of the weird beliefs of Lead commissioner Tim Flannery...

    From The ABC's Radio National, The Science Show, January 1, 2011:

    FLANNERY: I think that within this century the concept of the strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest. I do think that the Gaia of the ancient Greeks, where they believed the earth was effectively one whole and perfect living creature, that doesn't exist yet, but it will exist in future ... ants of course have democratic processes; they actually vote…

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  15. Ken Alderton

    PhD student, former CEO

    Ian Chubb summed axing the Climate Commission" up beautifully on Lateline last night

    "these sorts of issues [climate change] are not going to go away just because we ignore them."

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    1. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      I think (and hope) that our Chief Scientist will soon join some fellow public servants on permanent gardening leave. He could set up an agency to provide protection on Australian campuses from roo shooters issuing violent threats at dinner functions maybe ????

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    2. Mike Pope

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Ken Alderton

      You mean that the laws of an LNP Parliament will not effectively counter the laws of physics?

      I am not sure that the government or its advisors (Plimer/Monckton) would agree with you

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  16. Lois Achimovich

    Doctor

    Strongly agree with Lee Emmett. "Icy determination" it is! I recall John Ralston Saul speaking on RN about a meeting he and others had with US car company executives. He suggested that one way to reduce greenhouse gases in one fell swoop would be - make smaller cars. All of the executives said no. When he asked why, one said clearly "Because we don't want to."End of conversation. Obviously the fossil fuel industry and the car industry are a) going to continue what they're doing until every little drop of oil and piece of coal are sold and b) the governments that should control them can't do so because those industries are much more powerful than elected representatives (as our recent election shows) Maybe the next generation will be more sensible and brave than we are.

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  17. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. David Doe

      Videogame Producer

      In reply to David Wright

      Wow...

      Two comments from you in this thread that indicate either an unfathomable ignorance of the complexities of the modern realities of globalisation and socio-politics, or simply that your news is limited. On thinking about it further, possibly it's just both.

      Ever use a USB port? Invented by a person of sub-continental dissent. Ever use alternating current? Invented by a Serbian. Ever bought or seen fireworks? Invented by a Chinese person.

      If you doubt the veracity of someone's claims based on their appearance or the pronunciation of their name, you just might be part of the problem.

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  18. Lois Achimovich

    Doctor

    Great quote Jennie - and thanks for your piece. Will look you and Veena up on youtube. Best regards

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  19. Garry Baker

    researcher

    An emotive essay, however it won't make a whit of difference to the pantomimes ahead.

    What the scientific community really need to do now is map the exact footprints on these government moves, because in due course they will probably lead back to a crime scene.

    Its all too evident the incoming government intend to perform a series of smoke and mirrors assaults on the public mind, and carry them out by switching off the watchdogs food supply. Indeed, hope they lie down and suffer a speedy…

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  20. Lois Achimovich

    Doctor

    Love your work Garry, but where will we find that bad-ass? " A communicator who can cause nightmares"? Hmm. Julian Assange comes to mind. I watched the interviews at the Opera House this week (brilliant stuff) and then went back and read Robert Manne's 2011 essay Julian Assange The Unknown Story. This guy takes no prisoners. Manne seemed to be somewhat ambivalent about Assange in the essay, but he was clearly onside this week. He does spread into other areas than leaking. From the essay "Assange helped Victoria Police break a paedophile ring in 1993" and "Assange forwarded an article about the role of the CIA in supplying crack gangs in Los Angeles."He's continues to say exactly what he thinks, which is such a joy in this very careful world. We don't want a messiah, but a mess of committed people who can make denial history! The kids are getting teach about climate change in schools - it's the adults who are sleeping.

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  21. Natasha turnbull

    Student

    Abbott government didn't decide to axe climate commission and Tim Flannery's job today - they promised this action months before the election.

    Good on them to keep the promise.

    Why do we need so many taxpayer-funded climate agencies to tell us the same thing again and again - 100 meter sea level rise, no more rain, no water in the dam etc.

    It is ridiculous to pay someone who only worked part time $180,000 for making wild, ridiculous statements.

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    1. Mike Farrell

      Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Well said Natasha. This action was even included in the Coalition's costings released prior to the election. It will save, in the next four years, $6.048 billion.

      That money can be used to keep the promise of RJL Hawke that no kid will live in poverty, or the promise by PJ Keating that tax cuts are L. A. W. or even to fund a course at ANU in "Transgender Hispanic Studies" which will contribute to academic freedom, excellence, social inclusion and aweness amongst the general community.

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  22. David Collett

    IT Application Developer at Web Generation

    The axing of the Climate Commission is a sad day for the environment, our economy and for our children.

    Thanks for a great article.

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    1. Andy Pitman

      Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at UNSW Australia

      In reply to ian cheong

      Ian,

      as a former editor of several major journals and a regular published in the peer reviewed literature I thought I would comment on this.

      Publishing a paper that disputes the mainstream does require a higher level of proof than a paper that re-enforces the mainstream. That is because those previous papers have all been checked and peer reviewed and are probably right. To publish something that contradicts them requires you to demonstrate the legitimacy of your own paper, and how this explains…

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  23. John Newlands

    tree changer

    The best thing the CC was ever about to do has been nipped in the bud. That was to recommend increasing the 2000-2020 emissions cut from 5% to 15%. How that could be practically achieved is unclear but it will pre-empt the self congratulation in 2020 if we stumble into a 5% cut just through the general economic downturn.

    It will seem strange if events mean the public clamours for climate action but no public body has the leeway to comment openly. It's as if we are returning to a theocracy like Iran.

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  24. Mike Farrell

    Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

    It's a crying shame that in the 2 years and $360,000 salary, first class travel multiple times around the world for conferences and speeches at lavish resorts etc, our belowed Chief Climate Scientist would never say by how much Australia's temperature would drop !!!!!!! Couldn't even give a guesstimate !!!!!!!!

    Billions and billions to be spent, without any actual outcome which the modelling could tell us what would happen next year, let alone in 10 years.

    Even yesterday, he lied about the cause of the bushfires in Sydney last week when he blamed climate change. Maybe the arsonist was hot under the collar, maybe the power lines got hot up between two wooden poles or maybe that backburning that got away thought it was too hot to stay in the same place.

    What a load of hogwash !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  25. Emilie Choukry

    artist

    The Abbott government thus far seems to be on a vengeful crusade.
    Sack Steve Bracks
    Sack Flannery etc..
    Sack many.
    By my reading of it Abbott should not believe in God because the science can't prove he exists.
    Which brings me back to the truth of we only believe what we want to believe .
    I feel inspired by Monty Python...all those who don't believe in climate change...move to the right...low lying Pacific Islands and ...all those who do believe climate change is real move to the left...on higher ground.
    I am grateful to all those scientists who work towards arresting Climate change which I believe is real.

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  26. Christopher Wright

    Professor of Organisational Studies at University of Sydney

    Jenni,

    Thank you for your article which highlights what is essentially an ideological statement by a right-wing government intent on expanding fossil fuel extraction for vested interests. The sums of money 'saved' from dismantling the Climate Commission are piddling compared with the vast sums spent on other dubious policy experiments ('Operation Sovereign Borders' anyone?).

    The governments obsession with axing the Climate Commission (and the associated clean energy initiatives of the previous government) has nothing to do with the veracity of climate change science or the reality of the climate crisis we are now experiencing. Conservative media, industry think-tanks and their political allies play up the 'doubt' in order to confuse the general public and undermine collective pressure for a low-carbon economy. Witness the passion we see in the comments here - nothing to do with science, all about the ideology of protecting business as usual.

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    1. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      Amazing that some academics do not realise the importance of error bars in science. How on earth did they obtain their Doctorates?

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  27. Chris Harries

    logged in via Facebook

    Note that the government will maintain its income stream from the carbon price until such time as it is legislated away, perhaps next July.

    By immediately demolishing the climate apparatus that is paid for from that income stream – the Climate Commission and Climate Change Authority, Clean Energy loan fund etc – the new government is setting itself up to draw income from the carbon tax and put that into the bank and so fund the so-called Action Plan from the carbon tax it despises.

    How's that for having your cake and eating it too?

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  28. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    "Tony Abbott believes he has won a popular mandate to make the changes he has to Australia’s climate change policies and institutions..."

    Which he did.

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    1. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to John Crest

      Exactly what is this mandate John?

      How much money did the Australian public vote for Abbott to spend fighting climate change, given that the figure was disputed and hedged about during the campaign?

      Exactly what was the Direct Action policy that was endorsed? This was never fully described.

      Did the Australian people endorse the maintenance of the bipartisan 5% target or not? Abbott hedged about this during the campaign.

      Does the vote of the Australain people overturn a Treaty that Australia is a signatory to?

      If you do not believe in climate change, why would you vote to spend billions of dollars fighting it?

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  29. Gary Goland
    Gary Goland is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Researcher

    Election results are the decision of the Australian public to align political decisions with what we think will benefit us most. When little detail is given about policy direction until the last minute, it doesn’t allow us much time to evaluate the different choices we have at the election.
    The Climate Commission was set up to provide information that the Government of the day wanted to sell on its policy choice. As a number of commentators have observed, a lot of precious dollars went to the cause…

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  30. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Maybe they're rapidly axing the Climate Commission so as to better "manage" the government message to follow the next IPCC Assessment (next week),

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  31. Tony Grant

    Student

    This act of "DE-sciencification" of a government department (agency) reads consistent with Chris Hedge's book America Fascists (2006) the undertone of his publication is extreme religious interests taking control!

    The USA is far more advanced on these lines but we have this alliance now with ultra-right Cardinal Pell that American Murdoch and the mining interests totally ignoring the majority of science...and their man "Bad Englishman" Tony Abbott heading the political directive!

    1984/A Brave New World it may take some time before Oz hear the "penny drop" slow on the uptake!

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  32. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    The ACC was nothing more than a propaganda unit set up to justify the introduction of the carbon tax. To describe it as an 'independent' organisation is ridiculous. Tim Flannery is well known as an alarmist who predicted that most of our major cities would be out of water by now and that the arctic would be ice free by 2013. How wrong he was.

    The CCA is much the same. Any organisation having eco-loony Clive Hamilton in its board is hardly independent. Hamilton has talked about suspending democracy and complains bitterly about sceptics being an opportunity to air their views.

    These organisations are bureacracy gone mad and a burden on the taxpayer.

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    1. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      If you bothered to read my post properly, you would see that I have clearly mentioned Clive Hamilton as part of the Climate Change Authority (CCA).

      Doh!

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    2. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,
      Seems that site proves me correct. The only clueless one is you!

      Professor Tim Flannery (Chief Commissioner). Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist, environmentalist and global warming activist.

      Mr Roger Beale AO Roger Beale is an economist and public policy expert

      Mr Gerry Hueston Gerry Hueston is a prominent businessman

      Professor Lesley Hughes Professor Lesley Hughes is an ecologist

      Professor Veena Sahajwalla. Professor Veena Sahajwalla is Associate Dean (Strategic Industry Relations)

      Professor Will Steffen Steffen completed a BSc in Chemical Engineering.

      No original climate research from any of these! This is why the commission attempted to gain some credibility by having a science advisory panel. Unfortunately this group all cast from the same die, alarmists like Pitman, so no diversity of views there. The Australian Public is worse off as a result of the lies told by the commission.

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  33. Para Port

    Retired

    I lament for my grandchildren to whom we are bequeathing an unpredictable world in terms of changing global weather patterns and rising sea levels. I lament also for the unbelievable ignorance demonstrated by the 'political' deniers.

    Not the least I am amazed that some obviously 'scientifically educated' electrician can have published on this forum such a racist and misogynistic comment as the one he made about respected scientist Veena Sahajwalla (who I suspect is Australian). The offensive remark made some 8 hours ago reflects a disturbing sense of nihilism apparent in the 'over 50's Anglo-Celtic male' component of our population.

    I think it is time we spent the money and sent all these opinionated deniers overseas to see just how lucky we are in this country and hopefully for them to appreciate that 'shooting the messenger' is not only foolhardy but perilous to our future.

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    1. Para Port

      Retired

      In reply to Para Port

      Editor,
      Thank you for removing the highly offensive comment by John Wright, Electrician, regarding Veena Sahajwalla in which he urged that a foreign born, incompetent woman of science should be sent back to wherever she came from!

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  34. Ian Fraser

    Independent researcher

    An excellent article which underlines the need for people from a range of backgrounds to communicate science to the general public including the current state of play in the science of, and response to, climate change.

    Science communication is perhaps the major challenge facing scientific endeavour in Australia today. The fact that: so many people see climate change as primarily a political issue not an area of science; argument against the scientific consensus of climate change is taken seriously by opinion leaders in politics and the media; the new Federal Government discards the need for a Minister for Science; the list goes on ...

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  35. Chris Harries

    logged in via Facebook

    One thing I think we can all agree on. Mr Abbott made no bones about either climate change or the carbon tax. The first one was crap. The second one he promised to axe. He said it again and again. The voting public knew exactly what his position was and the same voting public put him into office knowing precisely that this is what he would do. If the voting public really cared otherwise with any sort of passion then he would not have been installed.

    As much as this nation is now taking a giant step backwards on global leadership on climate change, on the question of mandate he was emphatically given it and we shouldn't expect him now to go back on his word.

    In hindsight I expect that there will be some huge regret when the public realizes fully what it has done.

    Meanwhile, there is plenty that concerned citizens can do outside the arena of politics, not least joining the very powerful coal divestment campaign.

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  36. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    I'm actually disappointed that Abbott and Co Pty Ltd have decided to scrap the Climate Commission rather than 're-orienting' it to a more 'realistic' viewpoint.

    Had Tony actually recognised a real opportunity, he would have replaced Flannery with Monckton, given Blot and Jones a gig as sciencey advisers, while George Pell could handle the spiritual angle and prayer, which seems to be the central element of Direct Action.

    Could have renamed it the Crap Commission.

    Why is everything getting dark? Is that a bushfire or incense I'm smelling?

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  37. Robert Edwin White

    Professor Emeritus

    The Climate Commission was a surplus government quango. It failed to fulfil its purported role of providing independent, objective analysis and advice on the science of climate change. It very much followed the party line of the climate change 'industry' nurtured by the IPCC and national bodies such as the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and others of that ilk (a la the ABC). The Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the government's own Dept of Environment will be able to provide whatever scientific analysis is necessary in analysing trends in climate change and climate variability.

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  38. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    This article is wrong from the first sentence, "The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission." In truth, which seems to be a victim here, the Prime Minister advised relevant parties of his decision some months ago, as was confirmed by Prof Flannery on ABC TV yesterday.
    "Tim Flannery is not a climate scientist but is terrific at explaining the science." Maybe he was waved goodbye because he failed to communicate good science.
    Australians need…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      I'm still waiting for those articles you reckon you've peer-reviewed Geoff - or even the name of the journals for whom you undertake such work ... I'll settle for one of either ... anything at all by way of evidence to back your claims.

      Or is evidence unnecessary? Are these notions that come in your dreams or out in the shed to have equal weight with reality and the detailed work of tens of thousands of scientists.

      Who would be seeking the opinion of a uranium quarry engineer about climate change?

      Feel the hubris folks.

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  39. Martin Stuart-Fox

    retired professor

    A contradiction lies at the heart of Abbott’s direct action carbon emissions policy – between liberal principles and the method it uses. A party espousing market-based liberal economics could be expected to embrace market pricing for carbon emissions. The beauty of such a system is that when the economy slows, as it has recently in Europe, the price of carbon falls, thus reducing the cost on business. When the economy booms production and carbon emissions increase, and the cost of carbon goes up…

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  40. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    >"Axing the Climate Commission splits Australians from science"

    Rubbish. The opposite is the case. Climate Commission was a propaganda agency, no a science body. To get back to science we have to ditch the politically partisan and ideological agendas that have invaded so much of our academia and especially climate science. 'The Conversation' is just one window into how politically partisan academia has become. Its a disgrace.

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Yes it's just shocking isn't it ... science being handed over to scientists and the like... an outrage.

      Why is that nice vice prince Monckton not spearheading the Government's efforts? ... let's have Alan Jones or Andrew Blot explaining the nuances of the real science ... Where are the retired geologists and engineers who are obviously perfectly equipped to be advising the government and us all on upper atmosphere physics?

      A senseless waste of talent... a disgrace indeed ... stoning is too good for them.

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  41. alan freeman

    insurance man

    I have read a number of comments listed below.

    I do not pretend to be as informed or intelligent on these matters as many of your contributors.......HOWEVER.......as a very ordinary member of the public with children and grandchildren, and a voter, I do appreciate being able to read the scientific findings of highly respected scientists that overwhelmingly provide 'FACTS'.

    It is true that even 'facts' can be presented in emotive ways, with the emphasis on one or the other 'fact' - BUT - I want…

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  42. Mike Pope

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    The most obvious reasons for the Abbott-Hunt decision to abolish the Climate Commission are that it would not want an independent body which it could not control (a) informing the public about (dangerous) developments in climate change and, (b) drawing public attention to inconsistencies between government policies and science.

    The public have a right to know, provided it is government which informs them!

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