Australia’s veteran climate alarmists clank with more medals and awards than a North Korean general. The rising star Dr Joelle Gergis of the ANU is doing well too, with one gong just for feeding the media chooks.

Canadian sceptics spotted a howler in her big 2012 research paper ($314,000 ARC taxpayer funding) and she had to spend a further four years correcting her material (another $352,000 ARC funding).[1] I assume that’s what she refers to as “a few very difficult years spent battling attacks on my work from climate change deniers.” [2] Stephen McIntyre, of Climate Audit, recounts the entire reaction affair here

Ms Gergis now writes book-length polemics about the allegedly monstrous CO2 emissions. The first was Sunburnt Country (2018) which claims global warming was fuelling Australian bushfires. For those readers interested in the real reason Australia burns, I’d recommend Inferno by Quadrant Online’s editor, plus essays published here by forester and polymath Roger Underwood and others.

Ms Gergis’s new book, out last month, is Humanity’s Moment: a climate scientist’s case for hope. In it she catches up with the Australian floods, which she also attributes to global warming.[3] By the way, she’s not only an IPCC lead author (2018-21) but on Tim Flannery’s Climate Council, which dubs every fire, storm, drought and flood to be proof of deadly global warming. End-of-the-world Christian fundamentalism has nothing on her new book’s forecasts of an inescapable climate Armageddon unless we junk fossil fuels “immediately”. That’s right, immediately, she says (p253). Back to the caves, families!

The real villain in the Gergis climate crusade is, of course, capitalism. The IPCC lead author laments that aggressive, self-serving forces of capitalism have “dominated Western social and economic values for far too long” (119). She quotes approvingly the deranged UK Guardian writer George Monbiot and his insight, ‘Capitalism is killing the planet’ (231) and further claims there is a perfect nexus between “colonialism, capitalism and environmental degradation” (278). It must be that no-one has told her about the state-sponsored environmental barbarities in the Soviet Union and its colonies so she rants like a Marxist undergraduate:

The world’s dominant economic model is capitalism, which rests on the exploitation of the planet’s natural resources and the poor for corporate profit, often with scant regard for the collective good or the wisdom of First Nations peoples. Since the end of World War II, capitalism has turned humans into consumers and the Earth into a giant quarry to generate wealth for people to live comfortable lifestyles, predominantly in rich nations. (178) 

Actually capitalism has brought unparalleled human health and longevity.

You might detect a whiff of autocracy in Ms Gergis view of the world. “How can young people establish trust in the very institutions that allow perpetrators of intergenerational damage to roam free?” she asks (183). Sceptics, prepare to pack your toothbrush for a spell in porridge, you’ve roamed free for quite long enough.

“We need to have important conversations about what we will and won’t tolerate as a society,” Ms Gergis writes (245), deploring “a dangerous distrust of science” (230) i.e. distrust of her tribe’s jihad against coal and oil. Any promotion of right-of-centre views is apparently anti-democratic: “As we start to see democracy being undermined around the world, we don’t have the luxury of being apolitical” (244). Our “social and political systems” must be transformed, to (Writing-and-Editing Diploma Metaphor Alert) “correct our course and steer humanity out of the treacherous seas of greed and apathy, back to the safe shores of sanity and wisdom” (233).

A scale for a book’s nuttiness is its Murdoch Derangement Syndrome. Gergis whines Murdoch’s Australian newspaper and Sky News “continue to give platforms to outrageous climate change sceptics who have profoundly shaped the public debate, resulting in ruinous political inaction” (235).

She quotes ex-Liberal PM Malcom Turnbull (my emphasis below) about Murdoch’s media

surpassing the influence of the country’s two main political parties – which [Murdoch media] he says now poses a real threat to Australian democracy…The Murdoch-owned media have been similarly destructive in the United States, where serious damage has been done to democracy through relentless climate change denialism and other far-right political extremism aired by outlets like Fox News” (236).

Recalcitrant Rupert has refused to treat climate change as “scientific reality” (she actually means treating apocalyptic sooth-saying as “scientific reality”). Instead he allegedly weaponises coverage to please fossil-fuel shills and “morally challenged fake experts” (236). She deplores Murdoch giving any coverage to sceptic views, hence sowing public confusion and deeply dividing opinions on climate change (236). Murdoch sadly ignores that “we [the UN and other alarmists] own the science” by organising with Google to enforce the hegemony.

Well down her own garden path, Gergis says, “If left unchecked, weeds of misinformation will choke the growth of the grassroots movement needed to mobilise people to act.” She claims,

The same way the vast majority of us would call out racism or misogyny, we need to become someone who can’t walk past the lies and misinformation that continue to delay our collective response to the climate crisis. We can choose to be part of a tireless force for change that fights for truth, sanity and basic human decency to prevail (239)

Brava, Joelle!

For hyper-ventilating, you can’t beat her Great Barrier Reef doomism. A small problem: coral reef cover on the Reef is now at record extent. Her Sunburnt Country book asserted the Great Barrier Reef was 50 per cent dead in 2017-18. As she told The Monthly (August 2019),

We are witnessing catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the largest living organism on the planet…As I share this horrifying information with audiences around the country, I often pause to allow people to try and really take that information in.

In her new Humanity book, she’s at it again. Since 2016 the Reef has been “utterly devastated by climate change”, she claims (133). “Is it possible to witness the death of the Great Barrier Reef – the largest living organism on the planet – and not feel wild with desperation at the thought of it all?” (20).

In late March 2020, … Professor Terry Hughes, one of the world’s leading [and multi-awarded] experts on coral reefs and our foremost authority on the Great Barrier Reef, rushed to conduct an aerial survey of the third mass bleaching event to strike the reef since 2016. It was the first time that severe bleaching impacted virtually the entire reef, including large parts of the southern reef that had been spared during bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. It was hard to hide from the reality that the entire system is in an advanced state of ecological collapse. In desperation, Terry took to Twitter, sharing his experience of surveying the carnage: ‘It’s been a shitty, exhausting day on the #GreatBarrierReef. I feel like an art lover wandering through the Louvre . . . as it burns to the ground.’ By the end of his fieldwork he was a broken man: ‘I’m not sure I have the fortitude to do this again.’ His results now reveal that just 1.7 per cent of the world’s largest coral reef has escaped mass bleaching since 1998 … It is clear that the largest living organism on the planet is in terminal decline. It’s truly the stuff of nightmares” (133-4).

Did I mention that coral extent has risen to a record level?

Proclaiming herself an arts buff[4],  Gergis argues instead like the Soviet Ministry of Culture enforcing socialist realism. She frets that punters don’t absorb the IPCC climate line but might be persuaded by books, poems, plays and “goddamn operas” (240), enthusing that “our creative industries have the power to influence how we feel, what we wear, what we eat, what we put in our homes and, ultimately, how we vote” (247).

She extols a UK crowd called “Julie’s Bicycle” which co-opts artists into its “Creative Climate Movement”. It’s already captured the likes of Tate Galleries, Universal Music, Warner Music and the British Film Institute (242). “They understand that a cultural revolution is needed to drive political change,” Jergis writes (243), with a tin-ear reference to Mao’s disastrous program. But no suprise, really, as she’s queen of hyperbole, for example.

♦ If our planet were a child, there would be a moral outcry of disgust and rage – how can we bear to stand back and watch the life be beaten out of the very thing that sustains us? It’s brutal, horrific, to think about how badly we have abused our Earth. I feel my heart breaking today (189).[5]

♦ Near-term warming of 2degC will saddle global citizens of the year 4022 [that’s right, 4022] with sea rises of 2 to 6 metres (94).

She pats herself on the back for worrying about future people living “a thousand generations from now” (177) which I guess takes us to the year 32022 AD.

♦ Those who come after will look back on the age of fossil fuel as an age of corruption and poison. The grandchildren of those who are young now will hear horror stories about how people once burned great mountains of poisonous stuff dug up from deep underground that made children sick and birds die and the air filthy and the planet heat up (218).

♦ Just like a doctor diagnosing a critically ill patient, as a climate scientist I face the terrible task of being the bearer of bad news. It is akin to asking each person to sit with the horror and grief of the prospect of losing the very life force that miraculously sustains us all. I need to take you by the hand and gently ask you to stay with the gravity of what’s at stake and what it means for your future” (26).

And with each bout of weather

♦ My stomach burns in pre-dawn darkness, my teeth ache from the nocturnal grinding that my dentist now just acknowledges with a sigh (165).

Her take on Australian politics is, predictably,  jejuneleftist. She describes the Teal candidates’ money-Svengali Simon Holmes a Courtas as a  “renewable energy expert” (224) which should read “renewable energy investor”. The Teals are a “grassroots political movement” who battle “the domain of wealthy and well-connected political forces” (222). Gergis has overlooked that successful Teal candidate and poor little rich kid Allegra Spender enjoyed a $280 million dividend to one of her private entities in 2019.

Joelle’s entire book is a weep-a-thon: “I’ve found myself overcome by tears many times as I’ve come to terms with the reality of what I’m writing,” she snuffles. “No matter how grim things get, the ocean is able to absorb all the sorrow I pour into it” (159) – which is just as well given Australia’s recent floods. As her mentor Dr David Karoly blurbs the book, “The pages are stained with the author’s tears, hopes, heart and soul. Thankfully I have the Kindle version and don’t need to dry it out with a renewables-powered radiator.

Weep-1: Greta Thunberg’s hilarious “How dare you!” speech to the UN in 2019 “still sends chills down my spine and tears to my eyes” (184).

Weep-2: Attending the Glasgow Cop 26 by Zoom,“I wept listening to the procession of stirring speeches delivered at the opening ceremony of the World Leaders’ Summit” (198).

Weep-3: “Like millions of people around the world, I wept watching [semi-senile] President Joe Biden and [idiotic] Vice President Kamala Harris sworn in” (214). [More millions wept with laughter the other day when Kamala at Panmunjom praised the “strong alliance of the US with the Republic ofNorth Korea”].

Weep-4: “Sometimes I just want to drop to my knees and howl like a child who just can’t understand the [climate] injustice of it all… I feel my heart breaking today” (158-9).

 Weeps 5-10: Enough already.

It’s not all bad, however. When Ms Gergis discovered that climate-obsessed artists could manipulate people into believing her apocalyptic fantasies,“For the first time in a long time, I wept tears of joy” (227). Soon, though, it was back to the slough of despond

I received an email from an IPCC colleague in a far-flung corner of the world: I’ve been deeply depressed since the meeting in Singapore . . . I almost lost my position here at the university because I could not care less about work knowing that we seem to be doomed. I just wanted to sleep and do nothing” (19) …  Even the most conservative scientists I know of are starting to share their own sense of panic on Twitter (189).

Actually, the UAH satellites record no warming in Australia in the past ten years and no global warming for eight years. Awkward, that.

But what really grates is Gergis scaring kids. She writes, “Any young person can tell you that stabilising the Earth’s climate is literally a matter of life or death. It will impact the stability of their daily lives, their decision to start families, and their chance to witness the natural wonders of the world as their parents did” (177). And naturally, “Emerging research shows that as young people become increasingly aware of the current and future global threats of climate change, their mental health starts to suffer (182).

Herself a vegan cyclist (when I last checked), she wants a mass movement to remove our social licence for “eating animals” (247). She also writes, “We can remove the social licence for high-impact, industrial agriculture, one meal at a time” (271). There goes my rare rib-eye.

I did sometimes find myself in total agreement with this IPCC lead author:

I’m sure by now, many of you want to put this book down and stop reading. Trust me, I understand how you feel (174).

But my duty to Quadrant Online compelled me to persist [6] :

Wherever you are on this path, I want to offer you my company, to let you know that you are not alone. I am sharing my personal response to facing this unimaginable dilemma, and how I’ve tried to navigate my own despair (29).

Thanks, Joelle, but too much information.[7] Anyway it’s a lovely day and my priority right now is to wash the dog.

Tony Thomas’ essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt. A new title, “Anthem of the Unwoke —Yep! the other lot’s gone bonkers”, is in production

[1] “The mammoth process involved three extra rounds of peer-review and four new peer-reviewers. From the original submission on 3 November, 2011, to the paper’s re-acceptance on 26 April, 2016, the manuscript was reviewed by seven reviewers and two editors, underwent nine rounds of revisions, and was assessed a total of 21 times – not to mention the countless rounds of internal revisions made by our research team and data contributors. One reviewer even commented that we had done “a commendable, perhaps bordering on an insane, amount of work”.

[2] Her latest book, p158. The supposedly conservative Morrison government bankrolled her with $56,000 grants from 2019-21 and she got another $4500 from the feds this year.

[3] Gergis: ‘Some say we’ve seen bushfires worse than this before. But they’re ignoring a few key facts’ , The Conversation, 13 January 2020. Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse. The Conversation, 24 March 2021.

[4] Virtually all of my friends are creatives of some kind: my inner circle is blessed with musicians, writers, poets, visual artists and dramatic performers (plus one divine yoga teacher) (239).

[5] She also feels “my heart breaking today” on page 159. Perhaps she should consult a specialist.

[6] I wasn’t looking for errors but two jumped out. First, she mistakes that there’s an official Anthropocene era. We are in the Holocene era (12,000 years) of the Cenozoic (66 million years). The IUGS has declined to declare any “Anthropocene”.  Second, she mistakes that the local Greens were the world’s first Greens Party (161) in the early 1980s – the German Greens got the jump several years earlier.

[7] Also in the too-much-information category is, “I made love to my golden-tanned man in the rain” (227). Personally, I’m a fan of keeping it to just singing in the rain.

9 Comments

  1. Regarding

    a few very difficult years spent battling attacks on my work from climate change deniers

    Steve McIntyre is not a “climate change denier.” His work has always had a very narrow focus, that of making sure that temperature reconstructions from proxy records are done correctly. As far as I know, he has never said that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will not result in warmer temperatures.

    The key point of the 2012 Gergis paper was that it said in methods that it used detrended proxy data to screen series. This is important, because it is very easy to obtain hockey sticks from proxy series that have no relationship with temperature at all if you use the non-detrended proxy data to screen series. Thus detrending is the way to go, but McIntyre spotted that the Gergis paper did not use the detrending method, thus making the resulting hockey stick highly suspect.

    Co-authors of Gergis were seemingly monitoring Climate Audit, knowing that Steve and a few others there were smarter than they were. Once the error was spotted at CA, it was fed back to Gergis and the credit given to her team, not CA. At first the mistake was badged as a typo (i.e. we never intended to use detrending; the method as used is sound). Unfortunately the method as used was not sound, and using the proper method resulted in a tiny surviving network of proxies. In the link Tony/Beth give, Steve Mc describes the method Gergis banged together over 4 years to obtain a similar network to the one she started with. [Describing it as data torture, since the confession was pre-determined.]

    The correct move would have been to act like a scientist: thank Steve for spotting the error, acknowledging it, applying the correction, and presenting the revised results. Instead, Steve was not given credit, the importance of the error was minimised, and new methods were devised that gave the desired (i.e. the same) results.

    a few very difficult years spent battling attacks on my work from climate change deniers

    You could put it that way, but I wouldn’t.

    [I see a couple of comments from this minor sceptic on that CA thread, together with quite a bit from Dr. Ellipsis.]

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Jit,

    By ‘Dr Ellipsis’, I presume you mean Dr Ken Rice. I thought his exchange with Steve was the highlight of the link. It is a recurring theme of Ken’s that there is nothing to be gained by digging up old areas of controversy. We sceptics have to endure this criticism even when it is others who have done the archeology.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jit, John,

    Yes, I just followed the link too. Well worth reading. Some things never change.

    Like

  4. Beth – thanks for the link (remember it vaguely)

    “Responding to then recent scandals in social psychology, Wagenmakers (2011 pdf, 2012 pdf) connected the scandals to academics tuning their analysis to obtain a “desired result”, which he classified as a form of “data torture”:

    we discuss an uncomfortable fact that threatens the core of psychology’s academic enterprise: almost without exception, psychologists do not commit themselves to a method of data analysis before they see the actual data. It then becomes tempting to fine tune the analysis to the data in order to obtain a desired result—a procedure that invalidates the interpretation of the common statistical tests. The extent of the fine tuning varies widely across experiments and experimenters but is almost impossible for reviewers and readers to gauge…

    Some researchers succumb to this temptation more easily than others, and from presented work it is often completely unclear to what degree the data were tortured to obtain the reported confession.”

    as said above – “Some things never change”

    ps – Tony, thanks for quoting her comment –
    “The world’s dominant economic model is capitalism, which rests on the exploitation of the planet’s natural resources and the poor for corporate profit, often with scant regard for the collective good or the wisdom of First Nations peoples. Since the end of World War II, capitalism has turned humans into consumers and the Earth into a giant quarry to generate wealth for people to live comfortable lifestyles, predominantly in rich nations”

    well, no bias expected in her work then.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Beth,
    If dear Joelle has her way, she will be displeased to find out that dental serivces under anti-capitalism will not be as she has become used to…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.