November 4th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY National Energy Guarantee: lots of smoke, but no coal-fired power

EDITORIAL Popular revolt against the ideology of globalism

CANBERRA OBSERVED Paris still rules in the party room

ENERGY Renewables and gas conspire to push up prices

ENVIRONMENT Climate change did not cause California fires

ELECTRICITY Consumers will wake up only when there are blackouts: economists

ECONOMICS Something new under the sun from China

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Abbott gets brickbats for exposing house of straw

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Australia is far from fulfilling its potential

TECHNOLOGY Aussie scientists 'write' with adult stem cells

75TH ANNIVERSARY NCC: new challenges, kind of new adversaries

MUSIC All around the beat: the essential drummer

CINEMA Happy Death Day: Deja vu with a sharp edge

BOOK REVIEW Traditions under threat fight back

BOOK REVIEW Journey to freedom


ENERGY Coal-fired power needed to restore economic growth

Books promotion page

Abbott gets brickbats for exposing house of straw

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, November 4, 2017

The speech Tony Abbott delivered to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London (see the entire text here) has attracted all manner of ad hominem attacks, while few have addressed the validity of his claims.

Criticisms of Tony Abbott. Help yourself.

Among the most infuriated were climate-change devotees. As the saying goes, “if you’re not getting flak, you’re not over the target”, proving that Abbott had hit a raw nerve by exposing the irrationality of climate-change policies.

One of the many points Abbott made was that pronouncements in relation to anthropogenic climate change such as “the science is settled” followed “the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages” and that “scientific truth is [not] determined by votes rather than facts”.

He went on to say: “Palaeontology indicates that over millions of years there have been warmer periods and cooler periods that don’t correlate with carbon-dioxide concentrations. The Jurassic warm period and the ice ages occurred without any human contribution at all. The medieval warm period, when crops were grown in Greenland, and the mini-ice age, when the Thames froze over, occurred well before industrial activities added to atmospheric carbon dioxide.”[1]

Abbott’s speech highlighted the futility and destruction climate-change policies were having. “Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We’re more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect.

“In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”

Abbott went on to say, “this trace gas [carbon dioxide], which, far from being pollution, is actually essential for life to exist”, had only increased from 0.03 to 0.04 per cent of the earth’s atmosphere in the past century.[2] But to question the legitimacy of climate-change “science” and resultant government policies was too much for some.

Labor’s Tanya Plibersek described the speech as “just nuts”. “Tony Abbott’s left the realm of the merely destructive and entered the realm of the loopy. This is actually just weird stuff from the former prime minister,” she told Sky News.[3]

C’mon Tanya, you’ll have to do better than that! Describing the many valid points Abbott made as “loopy”, “weird” or “nuts” is not a counter argument, it’s just ad hominem rhetoric. The onus is on you to prove why it’s the things you say it is. But that would be asking too much of the shadow minister.

Even among some in the Liberal party, the response was one of condescension. Attorney-General George Brandis in Senate question time couldn’t hide his contempt: “He made some interesting anthropological observations about people sacrificing goats to volcanoes or something like that … but life is too short to read everything that all of one’s political colleagues may have to say.”[4]

And just like that Brandis attempted to dismiss the validity of Abbott’s arguments. Liberal Senator Scott Ryan also made a rigorous contribution to the debate: “I haven’t seen many goats around the hills of Parliament and I don’t think we will,” he told Sky News.[5]

Former opposition leader John Hewson labelled Abbott “deluded”, adding: “When it comes to climate, and the magnitude and urgency of the challenge, Abbott is prepared to deny the undeniable, and to ignore the risks and costs if left to future generations. History will undoubtedly judge Abbott and Howard and their small band of deniers harshly.”[6]

Rather than providing proof of anthropogenic climate change (which no one has managed to do), Hewson resorted to “the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages” by branding all those who question man-made climate change as “deniers”.

Using indications of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, extreme weather events (not increasing in frequency or strength) or temperature variations (palaeontology shows the climate has never been and can’t be static) is enough proof for many to justify action on climate change. Hardly scientific. Two things happening at the same time does not prove cause and effect. Still, the science-lite detractors ploughed on.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said Abbott was a “dangerous fool who could be simply ignored were it not for his ability to dictate Malcolm Turnbull’s climate policy”;[7] while his colleague Peter Whish-Wilson helpfully suggested that the Libs should disendorse Abbott because not to do so would be “tacit acceptance of the promotion of climate-change denialism”.[8]

Guardian reporter Katharine Murphy said Abbott’s “climate frolic is strange and sad” and “he should have been laughed out of the room”.[9] Another Guardian reporter, Graham Redfearn, penned this headline: “Tony Abbott dares us to reject evidence on climate, but reveals a coward”.[10] The ABC’s Andrew Probyn wrote, “Having drenched the work of climate scientists with contemptuous spittle, the real Tony Abbott has emerged”,[11] but did not attempt to disprove any of Abbott’s assertions in his article.

Reaction to Tony Abbott’s speech has been predictable. A persecution of his character rather than a genuine appraisal of the futility of climate-change policies has been the de rigueur response.


[1] link to NW Abbott speech in full

[2] Ibid.

[3] Latika Bourke, “Tony Abbott's ‘loopy’ climate change speech privately funded”, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 11, 2017.

[4] Claire Bickers, AAP, “Tony Abbott reflects on how he could become prime minister again”,, October 16, 2017.

[5] With AAP, “Climate change ‘probably doing good’: Abbott”, Sky News, October 11, 2017.

[6] Karl Mathiesen, “Tony Abbott says climate change is ‘probably doing good’”, The Guardian, October 10, 2017.

[7] James Massola and Latika Bourke, “Tony Abbott speech: Allies go to ground and Labor lashes ‘loopy’ ex-PM over climate change views”, Brisbane Times, October 11, 2017.

[8] Op. cit. [3]

[9] Katharine Murphy, “Tony Abbott’s climate frolic is strange and sad – and all about politics”, The Guardian, October 10, 2017.

[10] Graham Readfearn, “Tony Abbott dares us to reject evidence on climate, but reveals a coward”, The Guardian, October 11, 2017.

[11] Andrew Probyn, “Tony Abbott’s climate change speech in London reveals his true self”, ABC News, October 10, 2017.

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