Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Well bless his heart ...

I am told that the title of this post is a common insult in the southern US. It apparently means that the person referred to is a few sausages short of a barbecue.

In that vein, I present Professor Will Steffen, contributor to the Climate Council, and one if the authors of a newly released report predicting 1 metre sea-level rises by 2100, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to Australia's economy. (Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding).

Do a quick internet search using the search terms "will steffen climate council" - one of the returned references will be to the ARC Center of Excellence page where you will find:

"Professor Will Steffen completed his Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri.  He was awarded his Masters degree and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Florida."

Now, I fully understand that the natural world is made up of chemicals. I further understand that the interactions between these chemicals involves the transfer of energy. However, I REFUSE to accept that a qualification in chemistry makes one a climate expert. In fact, the ARC biography for the man reports that not one of his manifold "achievements" during his working life is in the field of chemistry.

From his biography, he is a gadfly "mouth for hire" having been climate spokesman for this and that government advisory body around the world. Nice work if you can get it.

The other author - Leslie Hughes - has a brief biography on the Climate Council website (Lesley Hughes at the Climate Council)  that curiously mentions neither her qualifications nor her alma mater.

The two are associated with the impressively named "Climate Council" which is, according to its own propaganda:

"The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. Our mission is to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change."

That's an interesting statement, and yet revealing in an unintended way. Think about it - Climate Council - sounds very official, even governmental, doesn't it? But it's not. It's a private organisation, funded by donations. That's right there in that brief paragraph. So "independent" means "not funded by government" apparently, and I don't doubt for a minute that are we somehow meant to construe that "non-profit" is in every way better than "for profit", as though not being able to sell your expertise for money is a good thing.

The second line needs some corrections though. Somehow, "Our mission is to provide authoritarian, non-expert advice to the Australian public on climate change." seems to better reflect what they do.

The people working for the Climate Council are largely the same as worked for the now abolished, government-funded Climate Commission, the most high profile of which is arguably geologist and paleontologist Tim Flannery. Professor Flannery is yet another "climate expert" with no credentials in the actual, you know, climate sciences.

Why was the Climate Commission abolished? I suspect that things like lying to the government and the public had a hand in the decision - How dare the Climate Commission complain at being caught out. The fact that it was costing at least $1.6 million per year for advice of dubious value probably helped seal its fate.

Oh, and finally, it's about as independent as my left foot is independent from my left ankle. The organisation is beholden to its donors, and the green agenda that they hold. The first time that the Climate Council presents something that fails to adhere to the green agenda of "man is evil, Mother Gaia is hurting" will be the moment that all that lovely money dries up.

At that point Professor Steffen might need to go back to the US, and get a real job, in chemistry even - bless his heart.

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