Tag Archives: CSIRO

April 18, 1992- Shock, horror; climate denial in The Australian?!

The Murdoch press has been at this for a Very Long Time Indeed.

New and conflicting predictions continue to be made. For example, on 18 April 1992 the Australian carried a page one headline ‘Global Warming May Lower Sea Levels’, while later in the business section a case was made against a carbon tax on fossil fuels.  Business interests remain unimpressed by the call to tax themselves.

Love, R. 1992. Stranger Weather Still.  Arena 99/100 pp.39-46.

Also on this day

1996

“Australian environmental education has been launched onto an international stage, with local group ARK Australia yesterday going live on the Internet with a World Wide Web site called Planet Ark.

“The product of a significant co-operative effort involving the Seven Network , Austereo, Reuters and Sanitarium, the site will provide on-demand 24-hour environmental radio news on the Net, along with environmental software and celebrity campaigns that can be downloaded free of charge, including the “Save the Planet” videos featuring stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.”

Helen Meredith, 1996 “Planet Ark launch – Planet Ark’s world-first on the Net” The Australian Financial Review, 19 April, p. 48

 

2007 How competitive is gas in carbon-priced power generation? APPEA Conference  Adelaide See John Daley (for AIGN! comments). For example, Michael Chaney, BCA President, writing in The Australian on 18 April 2007:

“Climate change and the development of a long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are complex challenges facing Australia’s economy and will be the subject of significant debate in the election campaign. Yet the issue does not lend itself to quick fixes or simplistic political posturing.”

2013: “Lateline follows up with CSIRO on soil carbon and proves again that Greg Hunt’s soil carbon plan would require up to “two thirds of the land mass of Australia.” (From Mark Butler’s Direct Action Timeline)

April 6, 2006 – Business says it wants ‘long, loud and legal’ framework

One of the key ways the Howard government and its allies were able to keep climate change off the agenda between 1996 and 2006 was to say that business was united in opposition to more-than-voluntary commitments.  This was never true, and by 2006, some businesses were both willing and able to stick their heads above the parapet.

The Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change, a gathering of various businesses including Westpac, Origin, BP said the Howard government should get real. It was front page news on the Melbourne Age, a sign that climate change was climbing the political agena…

Colebatch, T. and Myer, R. (2006) Companies urge action on warming The Age. 7 April p.1.Climate change threatens us all: executives

SIX of Australia’s biggest companies have broken ranks to call on the Federal Government to take tough action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, including some form of charge on carbon emissions and a binding target.

The companies – Westpac, BP, power company Origin Energy, paper giant Visy and insurers Swiss Re and IAG – say it is now clear that greenhouse gas emissions are causing hotter and more unstable weather, and could lead to serious costs for agriculture, tourism, and Australian business generally.

CSIRO research commissioned for the study warns that even a rise of two degrees in global temperatures could bleach the Great Barrier Reef, dry up most of Kakadu’s wetlands, cut the livestock capacity of inland Australia by 40 per cent, and deplete Australia’s snowfields.

IAG chief executive Michael Hawker, speaking yesterday at the release of the group’s report, blamed climate change for a massive rise in weather-related calamities, including cyclones, floods, high winds and hailstorms.

Days later, an anonymous and lying-down-with-denialists writer at Crikey was underwhelmed.

….

Finally – but by no means least – it also ignores the hypocrisy that these companies are all investing or benefiting from investing in the economic growth engines of
China and India where the real challenges lie in allowing growth while controlling emissions, and where most of the world’s future greenhouse gas emissions will come from.

This is not corporate leadership on climate change. It is unctuous spin. Or what’s sometimes called hot air.

Feb 20, 2006 – “Dirty Dozen” named, but basically un-shame-able…

On this day in 2006 the executive director of The Australia Institute, Clive Hamilton, delivered a blistering speech at the Hilton Hotel, in Adelaide.  In it he named names, listing ‘The Dirty Dozen’ – the top 12 opponents of effective climate change action in Australia. . You can read it here. Since then the names have changed, but the tactics and arguments have largely stayed the same, with some necessary modifications….

As Liz Minchin reported –

Dr Hamilton had been thinking about making the allegations for months, and said he was not worried about being sued.

“I doubt that anyone I’ve named would want their involvement in this issue dragged through the courts,” he said.

See also  Minchin, L. 2006. ‘Dirty dozen’ accused over fossil fuels. The Age, 21 February.

Also on this day-
In 1995, having defeated the proposal for a carbon tax/levy, the miners and their friends showed ministers what their voluntary measures would do. And so was born the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’…

2006 the excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby had a front page story at the Canberra Times

Beeby, R. 2006. CSIRO appointees drawn from oil, coal industries. Canberra Times, 21 February, p.1.
The Federal Government’s appointment of two new CSIRO board members with strong links to the coal and petroleum industries was ”a tragedy” for the national science organisation, Tasmanian Greens Senator Christine Milne said yesterday

Feb 14, 2007 – “Industry allowed to gag research”

On this day ten years ago the chief of the CSIRO’s division of energy technology explained what many already suspected- research that was inconvenient to industry might not see the light of day… This report comes a year minus a day after, for example, Mark Diesendorf’s article in the Canberra Times (see tomorrow’s post). There’s a paper to be written on the long brutal and depressing history of climate science advice and Australian policy-makers…. #afterthethesis…

Beeby, R. 2007. Industry can gag research: CSIRO. Canberra Times, 15 February.
The CSIRO has confirmed coal industry bodies have the power to suppress a new report questioning the cost and efficiency of clean-coal carbon capture technologies because they partly funded the research. Dr David Brockway, chief of CSIRO’s division of energy technology, told a Senate estimates committee hearing yesterday it was ”not necessarily unusual” for private- industry partners investing in research programs – such as Cooperative Research Centres – to request reports be withheld from public release if findings were deemed to be not in their best interests. His comments followed questions by Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne regarding the release of an economic assessment by a senior CSIRO scientist of a new carbon capture technology to reduce greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power stations

Also on this day – Yet another ‘Kyoto ratification will cause the sky to fall” claim…

AAP. 2005. Signing Kyoto ‘counter-productive’. The Age, 14 
Australia’s energy-efficient exporting industries would be penalised under the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Ian Campbell said today. He said it was counter-productive to the cause of curtailing man-made climate change to prevent Australia exporting its high-quality energy products and low-emissions technology.

Feb 11, 1993 – neoliberalism and planet incompatible, who knew?

On this day, 24 years ago, the Liberal Party’s extreme ‘Fightback!’ policy got a doing-over on environmental grounds, shortly before the 1993 Federal Election (the unloseable one – the one then Liberal Leader John Hewson lost).

According to the director of science and technology policy at Murdoch University, Fightback would result in a six per cent increase in car use immediately, and 28 per cent in a few years.

The table shows that Australia is the third worst polluter in the OECD region and that our poor performance is very much related to low fossil-fuel prices.

If Australia is to get its carbon emissions down to a level comparable with other OECD countries, some form of carbon tax will have to be introduced.

International pressure to move in this direction is likely to intensify over the next decade.
Davidson, K. 1993. Hewson Error Of Emission.The Age, 11 February, p.13.

Also on this day-

Revealing story on what the CSIRO was up to (gutting its climate programmes, natch).

Chandler, J. 2006. Discarded scientists fail to grasp CSIRO logic. The Age, 11 February.

2011 Gillard’s Environment Minister Greg Combet releases info about the (large) Australian Delegation at the Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15)

Jan 19, 2016- outgoing chief scientist says tougher greenhouse targets inevitable

Hmm, at some point I will write on the history of chief scientists and climate change in Australia – it is an interesting tale, dating all the way back to the first one, in the late 1980s…
But for now; on this day a year ago, the estimable Lenore Taylor reported that the outgoing chief scientist, Ian Chubb, reckoned that tougher emissions targets were inevitable [in the long run, perhaps – but in the long run, as Keynes said….] and that “hostility towards climate science may be easing but scientists still have a duty to offer unflinching advice.”

Taylor, L. 2016.Outgoing chief scientist Ian Chubb says tougher greenhouse gas targets inevitable. The Guardian, 19 January.

Meanwhile, 24 years previously,  on 19th January 1992, Dr Graeme Pearman, then co-ordinator of the CSIRO’s climate change research program said that there was little doubt that climate change (or to be more specific  what we nowadays call anthropogenic global warming)  was a reality and that those doubting it were gambling with the future of the world.

Well, Pearman went on to head the CSIRO’s Atmospheric Research Division, before finally succumbing to the horror that was the Howard government’s attitude to climate science (more on that later).

Anon,  1992. Greenhouse cynics gambling with future. Canberra Times, 20 January.