Were you to take an inquisitive interest in ‘string theory’, the field of physics that predicts all particles are different vibration modes of fundamental filaments of energy, you would likely be thanked for your interest. Discuss the ‘saturation’ of carbon dioxide, as many distinguished scientists do, and inquire whether the gas’s warming properties in the atmosphere rapidly decline after it reaches a certain level, and you will be lucky if the only insult you get is the ubiquitous slur that you are morally equivalent to a Holocaust denier. Slowly, the politicisation of climate – and medicine – is leading to the widespread demise of empiricism. Last month, the Australian Academy of Sciences (AAS) made a disgraceful call for broadcast news and the internet to censor what it called “climate denialism misinformation” as well as “disinformation” about the Great Barrier Reef, Covid vaccines and other issues that result in “societal harm”.
It went on to call for all social media platforms to proactively promote “trusted information” to “inoculate” people against misinformation. Platforms should be “held accountable” for content that challenges the official narrative on any of these issues. According to the Australian climate writer Jo Nova, the head of the AAS is Anna-Maria Arabia, who spent five years advising local Labour politicians and has been calling for legislation to silence climate sceptics since 2011.
Ms. Nova goes on to note: “Once upon a time the AAS had esteemed scientists. If there are any left they had better speak up while they still can.” She quotes the atmospheric physicist Professor Garth Paltridge, who said: “I just cannot understand how any science academy that is supposed to operate through rational debate can behave like this – that is, to use pure political brute force to prevent one side of the argument from putting its case.”
The shutters on serious climate science are coming down everywhere. As the Daily Sceptic reported recently, computer models are being developed at Exeter University to track down “climate disbeliefs”. These ‘disbeliefs’, tracked by Associate Politics Professor Travis Coan, such as the ‘saturation’ of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, along with suggestions that the climate moves in natural cycles and the Sun plays a part in climate change, as does water vapour. The fact that these are central issues in the study of climate and the atmosphere does not seem to have occurred to this academic nincompoop. Over in the Geography Department of this same seat of unlearning, Associate Professor Saffron O’Neill has written a paper suggesting a “solution” to the dissemination of climate misinformation might be “fines and imprisonment”. I hear they’re keeping a table in the Wormwood Scrubs canteen free for the staff of the Daily Sceptic. (Note to fact-checkers: that’s a joke.)
Much of the AAS’s recent comments can be fairly described as trade protection. The Academy holds itself out as providing “independent, authoritative and influential advice” to government, bringing science “to the service of the nation”. Disinformation on health matters, or ecological and environment matters, such as material ‘misrepresenting’ studies of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, ”are a barrier to good policy and a healthy society”.
Writing on Watts Up With That?, Eric Worrall suggested the AAS was in no position to claim the mantle of gatekeeper. “Their inclusion of criticism of Great Barrier Reef science in their censorship proposals is particularly outrageous,” he wrote. Imagine not being able to criticise the alarmist statements of AAS-affiliated scientists like ARC Centre for Coral Excellence Director Terry Hughes, who told us in 2021 that coral bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming.
Just a year later, the Reef was restored to full health with record coral cover. The Reef’s had a difficult past decade and alarmists took full advantage to peddle their global warming agenda. Cyclone damage, starfish attacks and two powerful El Niño oscillations causing sudden spikes in the water temperature around the Reef led to considerable damage and bleaching. Once conditions stabilised, the coral sprang back – in the process, thoroughly debunking the politicised tantrum that it was all due to human-caused global warming.
The AAS is not just prepared to beat up on free speech on the internet. It also has professional mainstream broadcasters in its sights. Sky Australia is a thorn in the side of the green propagandists with a pesky inclination to present all the facts. Or as the AAS notes, “some Australian news outlets are havens for climate science misinformation”. Sky’s media personalities are said to be a “key source of climate science misinformation globally”. Particular irritation seems to have been caused by the news broadcaster’s coverage of the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow. Australia has a ‘Code of Practice’ on digital “disinformation and misinformation”. AAS says that Sky and others should not be excluded from being penalised for broadcasting “misinformation” under the Code, despite following their own editorial legal requirements.
Thankfully, there is a growing push back against these anti-free-speech movements within science, as practised by outfits like the AAS. As we have reported, nearly 300 professors from around the world have signed the World Climate Declaration, stating there is no climate emergency. Climate science is criticised by the signatories for having degenerated into a discussion based on ideological beliefs, not sound self-critical science. One of the lead signatories is the Australian geologist Professor Ian Plimer, who has been a long-time critic of global warming scaremongering. Another signatory is the noted coral reef expert Professor Peter Ridd. In 2018 he was fired from his post at James Cook University in Queensland for pointing out the quality assurance deficiencies in reef-science institutions.
Unlike the coral, Professor Ridd’s position remains the same. He is still fired.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.