Amid these days of woke ascendancy, I received an uplifting email at the weekend from Melbourne-based ginger group Climate for Change (C4C), confiding that it’s gone phut. All paid staff are out of a job by mid-May.
Its volunteers — for some years an army of 300 — have spent the past decade inveigling citizens to Tupperware-style home parties where “Facilitators” show scary climate videos and steer invitees towards climate activism. It’s poetic that Tupperware itself has reached its use-by date.
Climate for Change was the brainchild of Katerina Gaita, daughter of Melbourne University philosopher Raymond Gaita. She’s a case study in savvy activism transforming the community with intricate and effective webs of influence. Young Katerina departed the leafy piles of Gardenvale to dwell amid the polyglot tribes of Footscray, Seddon and Kingsville in Melbourne’s west. She has confessed,
In 2007, after reading the book Climate Code Red, it hit me like a ton of bricks. For six months, I was just incapacitated. I walked down the street crying, not knowing what to do.
An Al Gore trainee/disciple, she elaborated to the ABC on her round-the-clock meltdown:
I remember waking up in the middle of the night and finding my cheeks were wet, I guess it is the same as any grief; there’s a strange loneliness that comes from being amongst other people who aren’t feeling the same grief that you are.
For consolation, she should get together with the ANU’s IPCC lachrymose lead-author Dr Joelle Gergis. As far as green tears go, it would be Victoria Falls meets Niagara.
Climate Code Red was co-authored in 2008 by David Spratt and Philip Sutton. I tangled politely with David a decade ago when he was urging us at a Moonee Valley Council talk to tip out the state’s sort-of-conservative Premier Denis Napthine — odd since councils are meant to be non-partisan (see Ratepayers & Ratbaggery).
The ABC chronicled Katarina’s “many approaches to tackling climate change, from living green herself, to running a green cleaning business and teaching people how to clean green.” She came to see that electoral work was more powerful, serving as the CEO of C4C from 2014-21 before segueing into canvassing to get the Liberal’s Tim Wilson ejected from his Melbourne seat of Goldstein at last year’s federal election. She coordinated the search by “Voices of Goldstein” for a rival candidate. With the ex-ABC’s Zoe Daniels in the bag, Katerina helped run 1400 volunteers. They knocked on 44,000 local doors over ten weeks, evaporating Tim Wilson’s 7.8% margin via a 3% swing to Labor and getting Daniels elected as a Teal independent.
Katerina is now membership developer for the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN). Chief among its backers are Computershare founder Chris Morris, rich-listed in March at $1.2 billion, and his daughter, Hayley. On its board is the Teals’ funding svengali Simon Holmes a Court, who mobilised $13 million for their campaigns. Another supporter is omnipresent multi-millionaire Robert Purves and his Purves Environmental Fund. AEGN itself acts as a catalyst among funders, itself running on a budget of only $1.4m, a mere five FTE staff and half a dozen volunteers. AEGN’s Vision includes stopping new and existing fossil fuel projects in favour of “clean renewable energy”. How will the lights stay on during wind droughts? Don’t you worry about that!
I’ll get back to the above-mentioned Climate Code Red book after some more on Brunswick-based Climate for Change, of which, as it happens, I am a proud member.
Since inception, C4C’s paid staff have see-sawed between one and seven full-time equivalents. Volunteers were close to 300 a year from 2018-21, tumbling to 20 last year. During eight years it raised a handsome $1.04m in funding drives, $740,000 in donations and received $370,000 in grants (does that mean from taxpayers?), in a total income of about $2.7m. Sadly, it blew its dough on staff in the past three years, racking up $123,000 in losses and reducing net assets to a meagre $71,000.
Co-CEOs Jane Stabb — pronouns: she/her — of Naarm (once known as “Melbourne”) and Lena Herrera Piekarski — she/her — of Kulin country’s Wurundjeri and Woiwurrung, informed me sadly but “with warmth and gratitude” that as a small organisation C4C had been directly hit by “the current economic crisis and inflation”. (That’s a Labor Treasurer for you). So, they continue, they had to make the hard decision to axe all permanent staff, including themselves, and continue their “amazing work” with an all-volunteer cast and board.
Here’s the demographics of C4C :
♦ Main income over the years came from annual six-figure crowd-funding.
♦ It has trained more than 460 Facilitators
♦ Staff costs per trained Facilitator were from $500-1000; with $50-100 staff cost per attendee.
♦ Something over 11,500 hosted attendees by now in Victoria and Qld. Most were female (65%) and betweeen18 and 35 years of age. About 60% were parents.
♦ Attendees who “strongly agreed” to vote for climate candidates doubled from 40% to 80% after the Conversations.
♦ During the 2019 federal election, nearly 40% of attendees went on to help Australian Conservation Foundation with its green electioneering.
♦ Melbourne work was concentrated in the often-dubbed People’s Republics around Brunswick/Northcote.
♦ “Without any targeted campaign from C4C, Facilitators responded to a high demand for Conversations in and around the Brunswick electorate in 2018. In the 11 months leading up to the [2018 State] election, 55 Conversations were held there reaching more than 480 people. In the seat of Brunswick there was a 2.7% swing to the candidate with the strongest climate policies. The candidate won the seat by a margin of just over 500 votes.”
♦ Nearly half attendees of one Facilitator increased their pestering of MPs. One young woman was quoted,
“I’m going to get in touch with my MP and I’m going to get my whole family to do it too.” And there were tears in her eyes as she said this, but there was steel in her voice.”
♦ As an attendee told C4C: “I feel more confident taking action and calling out climate denialists.”
♦ At least one attendee – a business man – turned vegan.
I’ve been inspired as C4C supporter to host a “Climate C.A.F.E. ‘Climate Action For Everyone’ session!”
I’m assured my event will “create real change on the systems we live in”. I’m to invite my trusting but “confused and overwhelmed” friends. I provide the party pies and booze, C4C sends along their climate salesperson. I’m to invent a tale about what inspired me to seek destruction of Australia’s electricity system – people are swayed not by facts but by heart-warming stories, C4C says.
For CAFÉ homework, I’ve downloaded C4C’s 10-page “Conversation Guide”, which coaches me “to help stop climate change”. I’m warned that “pressuring people into actions they’re not ready for can backfire.” Like all good salespeople, I qualify my audience as alarmed, alert, concerned, cautious or whatever, tailoring C4C’s scripts for each. If someone’s “disengaged”, I should say, “I’ve read about what will happen to the cost of living if this drought continues”.
Drought, what drought?
C4C writes, “What if my conversation is with someone who denies climate change is real, or who becomes angry?” I mustn’t waste my time and emotional energy on those creatures, “who could make you feel awful and send you backwards in your relationships”.
As part of my C4C education about First Nations cultures, I’m also encouraged by C4C to swot up on Bruce Pascoe’s “impeccable” Dark Emu pre-history, and I can “Learn to write an Acknowledgement of Country. (Cost included).” Sounds fun.
What of the Climate Code Red book that jellified poor Katerina Gaita?
It references what the official climate crowd was predicting in 2008, and every single proposition, with 2023 hindsight, has proven wrong, stupid and ridiculous. The equivalent climate crowd today, from the IPCC down, is making the same predictions of catastrophes (e.g. UN Secretary-General Guterres: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”). You can safely bet your children’s lives that by 2033, today’s predictions will turn out equally wrong, stupid and ridiculous. But, meanwhile, Australian governments, state and federal, are vandalising the electricity grid and turning us into political and economic satraps of energy-rich China.
The 2008 book cited Spratt as community campaigner for the “peace movement” (unlike the rest of us who support the war movement). He wanted each of us to get a personal CO2 ration, involving surveillance and controls that would make Stalin, the Stasi and Xi Jin-Ping look moderate. Family carbon rationing would “guarantee that the national greenhouse emissions budget is achieved”:
“An authority independent of government , like the Reserve Bank , would set up a national greenhouse – emissions budget each year . The amount of emissions would be decreased each year , through a series of downward steps to zero , in accordance with a rapid transition plan .
Because households in Australia are directly responsible for about one – quarter of emissions ( generated principally by household energy use and private travel ) , one – quarter of the carbon budget would be made available free of charge to each citizen as an equal ‘ carbon credit ’ ( or ration ) , via an electronic swipe ‘ carbon card ’ . The card would be used to draw on an individual carbon – credit balance each time household gas and electricity , petrol , and air tickets were paid for … If a person lacked the greenhouse – emissions credits to cover a purchase they could buy credit at the point of sale.”(p244-5)
My personal view of Spratt’s plan aligns with Orwell’s in his 1984: “Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.”
Clearly the book was a game-changer in its day. Other lady law graduates like Katerina must have staggered down working-class streets for six months in tearful incapacitation after reaching page 14 about Arctic ice:
In 2006 , former Australian of the Year , palaeontologist , and climate – change activist Tim Flannery suggested that ‘at the trajectory set by the new rate of melt , however , there will be no Arctic icecap in the next five to fifteen years.’
On Flannery’s forecast for 2011-21 the sea-ice up there now would barely chill a can of Fanta. Actually, the sea ice has been stable for the past decade and Arctic minimum summer ice last September was 4.67 million square kilometers.  Flannery has been Chief Councillor at his sciencey Climate Council since 2014, which specialises in similar doom-crying.
Here are other Sutton/Pratt scenarios as at 2008:
♦ Even with 25-40% emission cuts, by 2020 we would still be facing “catastrophic environmental damage”. (252)
♦ Climate is creating an urgent need for “a global governance framework” surpassing the nation states. (Spratt might be presaging the World Economic Forum or at least our governance by the corrupt UN.) Foreword, location 109.
♦ “By 2050, the ocean will be so acidic that current US water-quality standards would have to categorise it as industrial waste .” (59).
♦ “We have already entered an era of dangerous climate change. If left unchecked, the dynamics and inertia of our social and economic systems will sweep us on to ever more dangerous change and then, most likely within a decade [i.e. by 2018], to an era of catastrophic climate change.” (145). Fact check: the UAH satellites, further scientifically validated last month, show no global warming for more than eight years and no Australian warming for nearly 11 years.
♦ Sea level rise of five metres by 2095 – that’s above my roofline and way above the IPCC’s namby-pamby guess of under one metre. (36) Climate expert James Hansen forecast we had “as little as a decade” ie to 2018, to avoid meltdown of both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. (27)
♦ Say goodbye shortly to the Great Barrier Reef, “now facing extinction” after 60-95% bleaching in 2002. “This is the case with most coral reefs around the world.” (90). Fact check: The GBR coral is now at record extent. That makes at least 21 years of “experts” dooming the GBR. Global coral reefs are also doing fine, thank you.
♦ Breakthrough technology would see a 35km x 35km array of solar collectors “producing enough electricity to meet Australia’s total power needs”. (201). Huh?
♦ A “peak oil” crisis was imminent, with a Queensland government task force’s report finding “overwhelming evidence” that oil output would reach an “absolute peak” before 2017. (147) Thus citizens would be beset by “a multi-issue crisis of sustainability that incorporates food, water, peak oil, and global warming.” Actual oil production in the US now makes nonsense of theorised “peaks”. Ditto world production.
♦ “In the US , it was expected that a 1 degree rise would result in California and the Great Plains states becoming subject to mega – droughts and desertification : a new and permanent ‘ dust bowl ’ , similar to those seen between 1000 and 1300 AD during the Medieval Warm Period , when devastating , epic droughts hit the plains , and whole Native American populations collapsed . This predicted drying is also occurring.” (90). Fact check: the US is now 1degC warmer than pre-industrial. Things nonetheless seem OK.
♦ Climate change in 2008 meant that “our world is already at the point of failing to cope”, with famine outbreaks amounting to a “climate change mega-disaster”. (89). Fact check: Food yields continue to rise and real wheat rice and sugar prices to fall (at least until the Ukraine war started).
♦ Just make stuff up, the book suggests.
We need stories not just of heroes living in the future, and making desperate, perhaps futile, last-ditch attempts to head off a disaster in the face of imminent doom, but of a world in which climate turnaround is achieved, despite distractions, inertia, and vested interests in the here-and-now — an interesting challenge for sustainability strategists, writers, and movie-makers. (236-7).
Unabashed by his 2008 forecasting failures, Spratt a month ago was claiming that the UN’s net-zero push for 2050 was dangerously conservative – “an appalling gamble with existential risk…paleoclimatology teaches that in the long run each one degree of warming will raise the oceans by 10-20 metres.” [Ouch].
It was exactly Spratt’s cup-of-tea when UN secretary-general Guterres’ warned two months ago that rising seas threatened “mass exodus on a biblical scale.” Bring back Moses!
While climate influencers seem a weird mob, never under-estimate their ability to stitch us all up politically. ####
 C4C: “Our approach is based on social research that explains that people process information – make sense of it, make decisions about it and take actions around it – through conversations with people they trust. This is how social change happens. Our flagship program, Climate Conversations, uses the Tupperware® party plan model to facilitate discussions about climate change in people’s homes, among friends. This model of engagement is unique within the climate movement and has proven extraordinarily effective in engaging new audiences at both depth and scale.”
 Spratt also quotes US sonar data from submarines foretelling no Artic ice by 2013 (p14), and he even suggests an ice-free Arctic at 2009 (p16).
 Spratt 2008 quotes a doozy from woke ANU types: “Waters around the Great Barrier Reef are also acidifying at a higher – than – expected rate . Ecosystem collapse caused by acidification will likely reduce marine biomass and , therefore , the capacity of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide . Professor Malcolm McCulloch of the Australian National University says that , contrary to previous predictions , this acidification is now taking place over decades , rather than centuries : ‘ [ T]he new data on the Great Barrier Reef suggests the effects are even greater than forecast . ’ p59
It’s always regrettable when anyone loses paid employment. I hope those affected soon find alternative paid work, this time doing something useful.
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Tony, I hope you will report back on your C.A.F.E. event. I would love to attend, but the distance is prohibitive. Not to mention how guilty I would feel flying half-way around the world.
Regarding the somewhat crackpot idea of the CO2 ration, if properly enacted it would soon result in climate alarm, net zero etc losing their appeal to the elite. Important people would run out of climate rations in ten minutes. No, you can’t buy mine. No, you can’t buy more by promising to plant a few trees. Once your budget is blown, you’re a pedestrian/on a pushbike – I’ll take your phone, thanks – no internet, no grid electricity, no new clothes – no washing old clothes except in a bucket with no detergent – no food if you didn’t grow it in your back garden without fertiliser derived from/with fossil fuels, etc, etc.
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Mark, we can only hope that Extinction Rebellion, Just Sod Off and South Lakes Action on Climate Change all go the same way as Climate 4 Change. All these out of work middle class eco-hippy types should apply instead to join a new organisation, either as volunteers or paid employees – DSU4C (do something useful for a change). Or maybe XR ex-members, who just can’t stand the thought of contributing positively to society, can join a new organisation rebelling against the extinction of their old organisation.
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Did I see mention of the “Medieval Warm Period”? Don’t they know this was “got rid of” by Mr Mann – he will be very upset if this gets out.