Michael Gilchrist

Climate change alarmism in schools: a timely antidote

A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents & Punters
by Ian Plimer
(ConnorCourt, 2011, 243pp, $29.95. ISBN: 978-1-92142-180-8. Available from Freedom Publishing)

Professor Ian Plimer, Australia's best-known geologist, has followed up the worldwide success of his Heaven & Earth book with a more concise demolition of man-made global warming alarmism. Whereas Heaven & Earth was loaded with technical details and thousands of footnotes, the present book is aimed squarely at the non-specialist reader in simpler layman's language.

As the tongue-in-cheek title indicates, Plimer has in mind the secondary school and university students whose youthful idealism has been shamelessly exploited via heavy doses of green brainwashing. Indeed, the new Labor-created national curriculum insists that "sustainability" be brought into all subject areas and Australia's various Catholic Education Offices have been organising conferences for Catholic teachers to explain this and other requirements.

Teachers, students and parents need to study Professor Plimer's new book with its facts and figures and rational argumentation as a much-needed antidote, given the green push into classrooms.

Parallel religion

Even mentioning Ian Plimer's name will be a tall order in some Catholic secondary schools where environmentalism has taken over from yesterday's "Peace Studies" as a parallel or even replacement religion. Teachers (and students) harbouring sceptical thoughts about the current man-made global warming hysteria may well feel discretion is the better part of valour. One Catholic teacher (a closet sceptic) shook his head when I suggested he circulate among staff or students Cardinal Pell's recent Australian article (a summary of a longer UK talk) questioning the global warming dogma. Not worth the risk to his future employment, he said.

In some Catholic schools, visiting speakers hold forth on the wonders of pantheistic "eco-theology" while "sustainability co-ordinators" now ensure teachers toe the environmental line in their respective subjects. The Al Gore science fiction "documentary" still gets a regular airing despite exposures of its copious scientific errors.

This is hardly surprising when climate change alarmism, as distinct from a balanced Christian care for God's creation, which Pope Benedict regularly emphasises, is deeply entrenched in some Church bureaucracies. For example, the Catholic Earthcare Australia website informs us:

"Catholic Earthcare Australia has partnered with CarbonSystems to provide Catholic organisations with the means for measuring and reporting on their environmental performance as a part of the ASSISI sustainability initiative. The purpose for this partnership is firstly, to enable Catholic organisations to measure their ecological footprint and secondly, to reduce their footprint using the intelligence gained from the audit tool 'ECIS' (Energy & Carbon Intelligence System).

"ECIS is being offered through Catholic Earthcare Australia to all Catholic organisations including Catholic Schools, Education Offices, Diocesan Offices, Parishes, Agencies, Universities, Health Organisations, Religious Congregations and Orders. The ECIS system can aggregate and report on all of these diverse areas and over time will enable Catholic Earthcare Australia to report on the environmental footprint of the Catholic Church in Australia."

The final section of How to Get Expelled, "One Hundred and One Questions for Your Teachers", cuts through this bureaucratic busyness like a knife through butter. Any student brave enough to ask one or more of these questions will soon learn whether the teacher is an environmental activist or a genuine seeker after truth.

For example, Question (6) asks: "If we have dangerous warming and the global temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees celsius since the Little Ice Age, does this mean that the ideal temperature for life on Earth is that of the Little Ice Age?"

Having read numerous recent books and articles debunking the claims of the climate change industry, How to Get Expelled is the most readable and persuasive I have so far encountered. It summarises and updates the material contained in Heaven & Earth, providing an easy to grasp bird's eye view of the many and complex factors at work on the earth's climate, while exposing the weaknesses in the alarmists' exaggerations.

Geological perspective

As Plimer rightly points out, there is no such discipline as "climate science", since the study of climate involves a host of specialist sciences, no single one of which can adequately explain the complex workings of climate change.

Perhaps the closest contender would be geology, since it involves a detailed history of climate fluctuations over millions of years. With such a perspective we can determine whether what has occurred over the past century is unusual. The answer is a resounding no: nothing of more recent vintage has been unprecedented.

By Plimer's calculations, if Australia stopped all CO2 emissions right now the decrease in average global temperature would be in the order of 0.0145 degrees celsius by 2050. As Australia contributes about 1.5% of the world's CO2 emissions, if the entire world did likewise and returned to the caves en masse, the result would be a drop of just under one degree! In cost-benefit terms, unlimited pain for next-to-no gain.

The book's appeal is further enhanced by Plimer's mocking humour, for example, at the expense of those attacking his earlier Heaven & Earth. Take the following example.

"And then, just when all had quietened down, another attack came in from left field. The Australian Government was trying to introduce a 'Carbon Tax' so it gave its stooges a free kick at a Senate Estimates Committee. Can you imagine my bliss when the Bureau of Meterology chief Greg Ayers claimed that Heaven & Earth had influenced Cardinal Pell. I was so overjoyed with the claim that one who had been a mere Professor of Geology for more than 25 years could actually influence a Cardinal. I had always thought that this was the role of the Pope and the Almighty."

Perfect storm

Significantly, given the current pride of place enjoyed by environmentalism in Catholic schools, Plimer notes that climate change alarmism has all the hallmarks of a new pseudo-religion where facts and rational thinking give way to zeal and emotion. He refers to "an almost perfect storm of quasi-religious hysteria with all the hypocricy that one associates with a fundamentalist religion."

He adds: "The climate catastrophist movement has been embraced by much of society because they are either not scientifically educated or they need to believe in something. It is the new fundamentalist religion of the West that has replaced Christianity and has many elements of the replaced religion (sin, indulgence, salvation, worship of a higher authority). However, the new environmentalist religion is atheistic, anti-human, vacuous and secular with no music, history, literature, coherent philosophy or deep thinking."

One wonders how many more revelations discrediting the endlessly parrotted "science is settled" claim need to emerge (including the recent Climategate 2) before the penny drops and the scandalously wasteful scam (including the recent futile Durban junket) is universally recognised for what it is. In the meantime, our politicians and journalists (even the apparently more intelligent ones) continue to spout nonsense endlessly about "consensus" and "carbon pollution".

Professor Plimer's compact book targets every major claim, personality and key body (notably the IPCC) of the climate change industry with an array of telling facts and figures. Anyone with an open mind should be outraged at the manner in which Australia, the world - and even parts of the Catholic Church - continue to be taken on a hugely expensive wild goose chase.

However, as Charles MacKay, a Scottish journalist, pointed out in his Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a history of popular folly first published in 1841, and quoted by Plimer: "Men it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

One hopes that Professor Plimer's latest book will speed up the process of sense recovery, including among the Catholic Church's teachers and bureaucrats. The students deserve much better.

As former President of the Victorian Liberal Party, Michael Kroger, writes in his endorsement: "In every classroom where global warming is discussed Plimer's Expelled is a must have text for every student to ensure that they are exposed to a more rational evaluation of this debate and not just the views of the alarmists and their far left green adherents."

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