Oh, Australia, you disappoint me


Australia has just handed climate quack Bjorn Lomborg four million dollars.

The Abbott government found $4m for the climate contrarian Bjørn Lomborg to establish his “consensus centre” at an Australian university, even as it struggled to impose deep spending cuts on the higher education sector.

A spokesman for the education minister, Christopher Pyne, said the government was contributing $4m over four years to “bring the Copenhagen Consensus Center methodology to Australia” at a new centre in the University of Western Australia’s business school.

It ought to tell you something when Lomborg got defunded by the Danes, he went begging for cash in the US, and our right-wing think-tanks (but not our government) coughed up a million or so for him — he’s got no legitimacy or credibility except to denialists. And then he lobbies Tony Abbott and is obligingly given $4 million and a professorship and a position as the head of a division at the University of Western Australia.

That’s simply not how real scholars operate. He’s in the business of fleecing wingnuts, and hey, Tony Abbott is an eager mark.


  1. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    But CSIRO and the climate commission were too expensive and had to be defunded. I keep expecting Abbott to hit bottom but yet he just keeps digging.

    Just goes to show you with right wing people in control of most of the media, even mandatory voting and preferential voting systems don’t always stop such people getting into power. Though it was more Labor losing it than the LNP winning thanks to the undermining tactics of Rudd. And Gillard with a minority government did far far better than this bunch of clowns has been able to. I don’t think they ever got last year’s budget passed.

  2. Lofty says

    For a bit of background, Western Australia is a huge state that is mostly desert and relies heavily on mining for income. Renewable energy hasn’t really arrived there yet. It’s agricultural district is tiny and plagued by relatively poor soils and low rainfall. When China’s economic expansion recently slowed the first casualty was iron ore prices. WA’s finances are hurting badly and they’ll take any cash that props up their extractive industry look-out. Their state government is Liberal Party same as Abbott.

    Two thousand miles further east is my state South Australia where wind power typically produces 25-75% of our electricity. Our state government is of the Labor Party flavour. Abbott didn’t install Lombork in one of our universities for some reason.

  3. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Well, there are a number of houses with PV panels on their roofs. But the WA state government of the time when choosing a feed in tariff was under the impression that few people wanted to do this so made a fairly generous tariff. The pretty large response did kind of wipe out the money allocated to that and the tariffs are not nearly so generous now. On the other hand the cost of PV panels on the roof has much reduced, and people are still installing them. At least people who have roofs. Enough so that it put a bit of a crimp in the plans of the local electricity network who had a five year plan for fossil fuel plant expansion based on increasing demand. Whereas thanks in part to the take up of rooftop PV (which is counted as a reduction in demand rather than an increase in supply) and due to the increase in average efficiency of appliances due to a combination of the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) scheme and Energy Rating labelling schemes the demand has actually plateaued and may possibly decrease.

    But I wish we had a few more wind farms too. I like wind farms. I think they look beautiful and elegant.

    The mining sector is both a curse and a blessing to Western Australia. It does provide income to the state government, but in boom years it tends to increase the cost of living for everyone in the state, whether or not they are benefiting from the boom or not.

  4. says

    Figure I’d look it up, and sure enough, Australia has a whopping 55,000 coal jobs out of a workforce of nearly 12 million. Less than one-half of one percent.

    We’ve got the same problem here in the US. Politicians fall all over themselves to protect coal “jobs” when the only thing they’re protecting is the sunk capital of a handful of rich people. There is virtually zero public interest in propping up coal.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Australia has run so low on reality-denying wingnuts that they have to import one?

    Hey, would you guys like Ken Ham and Rupert Murdoch back? Please?!?1? We’ll throw in Mel Gibson too!

  6. Muz says

    Re : Area Man
    To an extent, yeah. But Aus has been described as “the Saudi Arabia of Coal” (and Uranium. Although we seem to have the exact same sorts of resources as Canada so often it’s amazing). So there’s been a lot of play around expanding that sector even more than it is. Chiefly to export to developing nations and China who’ll probably drop the whole thing soon enough.
    As a mainly primary producing country there’s some more cred to the notion that “Australia needs coal!” than other places. But it still represents a severe lack of imagination or foresight.

  7. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    In some ways it’s actually almost due to a superstition as I understand it. One of the election areas that contains the main coal-mining and coal power stations in Western Australia appears to be a predictor of who will win the state election. It tends to go to whoever wins that area. Thus neither of the main two parties will do anything that will piss off the people in that area.

    At least that’s what I vaguely remember, but I’m sick and it’s 2am and I’m going to bed now.

  8. says

    It should perhaps also be mentioned that this happens at the same time as there are cuts to education – e.g. number of teachers teaching primary schools

  9. gijoel says

    I almost started respecting him when he cut child support for anti-vax families. Of course, he had to go and do this shit.

  10. Jack says

    @10 Not superstition, it’s just that those are the key marginal seats. There’s other marginal seats that might fall the unexpected way in landslide elections, but only a very small number of marginals whose balance of voters is very close to the statewide distribution.

    (Single member districts / majoritarian voting systems suck. The Australian preferential vote is marginally better than the classic plurality system such as the US/UK have, but not by much. It’s still only the voters in marginals that the parties care about — there needs to be proportional representation in the state lower houses (and the federal one)).

  11. Joe says

    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD:

    But CSIRO and the climate commission were too expensive and had to be defunded. I keep expecting Abbott to hit bottom but yet he just keeps digging.

    Abbott defunded the Climate Commission within 24 hours of taking office. It was almost the first thing his government did. I found it a rather terrifying view into his priorities.

  12. Rey Fox says

    “consensus center”? Is he trying to buy a new consensus on AGW since the current one doesn’t agree with him?

  13. rorschach says

    Ha! It’s actually worse than it looks.

    No kidding. Between our concentration camps for asylum seekers, Christian proselytisers giving mental health support to primary school children, and the demolition of the renewable energy sector, this is not really our worst problem. But it’s another data point to show just how completely bought by mining industry and Murdoch this Abbott government is.

  14. gjpetch says


    I almost started respecting him when he cut child support for anti-vax families. Of course, he had to go and do this shit.

    So profoundly undeserving of your respect. Obviously anti-vaxers are awful, but it’s notable that Abbott’s approach to the issue is to take a big stick to the poor. Well off anti-vaxers get to continue their anti-vaxing ways entirely unimpeded. That’s Abbott policy across the board, he’s going for the greatest possible inequity he can achieve, on purpose, in every way. Impeding access to education, medicine. Concentration camps knowingly rife with sexual abuse. Closing women’s refuges. Rendering entire aboriginal communities destitute. They’ve drastically cut science, and basic services, in the name of a “budget emergency”, and meanwhile they’ve increased the deficit from 10 billion to 48 billion. This is a dangerous government, it’s doing harm and long term damage. Blows my mind that anyone even considers having “respect” for him.