Climate Change Science Attitudes Australia and Koch in USA

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Climate science or climate change denialism have been apparent for some decades since the 1970s with Koch Industries being central along with ‘big oil’ of Exxon Mobil etc. in funding through ‘Dark Money’ academia, research, think tanks, media, politicians and PR techniques to influence society.  Now we see the results including wide-spread climate denialism, avoidance of environmental protections and negative media PR campaigns; meanwhile the roots of this strategy have become more transparent with legal action following. 

 

Climate Lawsuits Are Coming for Koch Industries

 

Dharna Noor June 25, 2020

 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that he’s suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute because the three firms deceived customers about the climate crisis. This is the first lawsuit of its kind to name API and Koch Industries, and it takes a novel approach by suing them solely for the lies they told.

 

The consumer fraud lawsuit alleges that the companies engaged in a multi-decade “campaign of deception,” hiding the fact that they understood as early as the 1950s that oil and gas production contributes to climate breakdown and still chose to extract, market, and sell the fuels. It includes claims for fraud, failure to warn and violations of Minnesota statutes on consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false statements in advertising. As retribution, it calls for Minnesotans to be compensated for their losses and for the defendants to fund a public education campaign about the dangers of climate change.

 

“We’re here suing these defendants, API, ExxonMobil and Koch, for hiding the truth, confusing the facts and muddling the water to devastating effect,” Ellison said at a news conference…..

 

….. But while other lawsuits have targeted ExxonMobil and other major oil producers, Ellison’s groundbreaking suit targets not just the polluting companies but also fossil fuel lobbyists who also deceived consumers. The multinational Koch Industries’ does produce fossil fuel products — in fact, it owns a large Minnesota refinery that manufactures about 80% of the gasoline used in the state — but it is also heavily involved in lobbying for the fossil fuel industry’s interests. And API is the largest U.S. trade association for oil and natural gas companies. Naming these representatives, rather than just fossil fuel producers themselves, lays out that they had a role in the deception as well.

 

Meanwhile in Australia, from SBS on climate change attitudes:

 

The number of climate deniers in Australia is more than double the global average, new study finds

 

News consumers in Australia are more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news consumers in other countries, according to new research.

 

16/06/2020 by Caroline Fisher & Sora Park

 

Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

 

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020 was conducted by the University of Canberra at the end of the severe bushfire season during 17 January and 8 February, 2020.

 

It also found the level of climate change concern varies considerably depending on age, gender, education, place of residence, political orientation and the type of news consumed.

 

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia.

 

Strident critics in commercial media

 

There’s a strong connection between the brands people use and whether they think climate change is serious.

 

More than one-third (35 per cent) of people who listen to commercial AM radio (such as 2GB, 2UE, 3AW) or watch Sky News consider climate change to be “not at all” or “not very” serious, followed by Fox News consumers (32 per cent).

 

This is perhaps not surprising when some of the most strident critics of climate change science can be found on commercial AM radio, Sky and Fox News.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, climate change, critical thinking, digital or e-consumer behaviour, environment, fossil fuel pollution, marketing & communications, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, strategic management, WOM word of mouth and younger generations.

 

 

 

Higher Education – University Funding – Course Delivery Threats

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Presently we see results of neo-liberal policies in education, including higher education and universities having budgets cut, with research, course content and study choices manipulated through favouring STEM over liberal arts of humanities.

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether focused upon climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes.

 

Excerpts from Inside Story Australia:

 

The four-and-a-half-decade higher education squeeze

 

Rodney Tiffen 17 JUNE 2020

 

Calls for universities to reduce their reliance on international students ignore the incentives created by successive governments

 

‘It’s a long time — forty-five years in fact — since government funding of tertiary education peaked in Australia at 1.5 per cent of GDP. These days, the government contributes 0.8 per cent, or just over half that proportion. Back in 1975, around 277,000 students were enrolled in higher education; by 2016, the number had increased fivefold to 1.46 million.

 

Those figures capture the essential story of Australian universities over the past forty-five years: massive growth combined with declining public investment.

 

The suddenness of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Australian universities very hard, but the acuteness of their problems has been greatly exacerbated by trends that have been building for decades. The federal government has offered much less support to universities than to other deeply affected parts of the economy, and many conservative commentators have used this as yet another occasion to criticise the sector.

 

Backbench Liberal senator James Paterson (graduate of the Koch affiliated IPA), for instance, says that “universities have not done themselves many favours in recent years,” as if reacting to the diminishing level of public support, especially from his own party, has not been a central driver of the strategies for survival universities have had to adopt.

 

Over the period 1989 to 2017, domestic student enrolments more than doubled, according to former Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, yet the federal government’s contribution to operating costs rose only by a third. Between 1995 and 2005, when OECD governments increased their contributions to tertiary education by an average of 49.4 per cent after inflation, the Howard government provided no real increase at all.

 

As Glyn Davis wrote before the pandemic, “By withdrawing public funding, government has deeded Australia a university system that relies heavily on the families of Asia. If our neighbours tire of cross-subsidising Australian students, the number of local places would shrink rapidly.”

 

The pandemic has thrown university budgets into chaos. No other sector so badly affected by the coronavirus has been treated with so little sympathy, let alone tangible support. It seems the government’s cultural antipathy to universities overrides all else…..

 

There has been an ever present battle over universities and education, not just in Australia on funding, nor recently but in the past e.g. Milton Friedman in 1955 essay “The role of government in education” for the minds and wiring of students.  

 

In some places it is normal for fringe right wing parties new to a governing coalition to request seemingly unrelated portfolios of defence, home affairs, and education…..  Control of the latter gives control over curriculum content and the hidden curriculum; Jane Mayer describes (in ‘Dark Money’, as does MacLean ‘Democracy in Chains) the machinations going on in US (and further) by radical right libertarian donors to not just change what people think, but how they think… (or not).

 

Over generations there has been a move to more liberal student versus teacher and authority centred learning, both overtly and via the hidden curriculum.

 

Hence the curriculum is based on freedom, discovery, experience and creativity, as opposed to engaging with a pre-existing body of knowledge to which the teacher is an authoritative and wise guide.

 

(Liberals, Libertarians and Educational Theory – Lindsay Paterson, 2008)

 

MacLean (like Mayer) has also upset the libertarians:

 

Stealth Attack on Liberal Scholar? Historian alleges coordinated criticism of her latest book, which is critical of radical right, from many who have received Koch funding.

 

Collusion, alternative facts, shadowy billionaires: the words sound ripped from the political headlines, but they also describe the controversy surrounding Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking)….

 

…..Some nevertheless say they worry that swarm-style attacks on progressive scholars’ works — especially in an era of online harassment of professors and plummeting public trust in academe — could become a new normal. MacLean, they say, is the victim of just such an effort.

 

But taking advantage of student centred or liberal approaches can go both ways.  Such antipathy towards the humanities and scholarship does not preclude the likes of Kochs promoting their own ideology through funding academic schools’ programs or research, think tanks and lobbying MPs to promote their ideology e.g. George Mason University, many GOP politicians and think tanks (globally) affiliated through their Atlas Network, e.g. IPA Institute of Public Affairs in Australia promotes climate change denialism. (from Crikey Australia).

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes, into the future…..

 

For more blogs and articles about Ageing democracy, Australian politics, career guidance, climate change, conservative, Covid-19, critical thinking, curriculum, demography, economics, environment, fossil fuel pollutiongovernment budgets, higher education teaching, instructional design, international education, international student, learning theory, nativism, pedagogy, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, soft skills, student centred, VET vocational education and training, work skills and younger generations.

Media on China and Wuhan Virus – Critical Analysis or Political PR?

Australian government including the Prime Minister, supported by senior journalists, have been following the Trump administration and pointing the finger at the PRC or Chinese government regarding causes and management of the Wuhan Coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak. Has Australian media been neutral while applying critical analysis to the trade situation, some think not.

Journalists on the ramparts

HAMISH MCDONALD

20 MAY 2020

 

Has the press gallery forgotten we’re not at war with China?

 

Another triumph for Canberra and the Morrison government’s deft and resolute diplomacy, it would seem. Support for an inquiry into Covid-19 from more than half of the 194 countries at this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva was “a major strategic victory for Australia.”

 

So declared a story by two members of the Sydney Morning Herald’s press gallery bureau based on “sources familiar with the negotiations” over the draft resolution.

 

Once again, Australia saves the world. Yet a closer examination of the emerging resolution, which Chinese president Xi Jinping also supported, reveals it to be nothing like as strong as the original proposal from Scott Morrison’s office.

 

Recall 22 April, when multiple news outlets carried reports from their Canberra correspondents that Australia was calling for reform of the World Health Organization. If necessary, went the plan, independent investigators would be given “weapons inspector powers” to investigate the source of disease outbreaks.

 

“Just got off the phone with US President @realDonaldTrump,” Morrison tweeted the same day. “We had a very constructive discussion on our health responses to #COVID19 and the need to get our market-led and business-centred economies up and running again.”

 

But almost immediately it became clear that Canberra was way out on its own. Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson and other leaders phoned by Morrison demurred at the timing and nature of the proposal.

 

China already had its hackles up after foreign minister Marise Payne’s earlier floating of an “independent investigation,” which a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman described as “political manoeuvring.”……

 

….. This threat of “trade retaliation” then blew up into a major theme of Canberra politics the following week. And instead of cool rationality, a wave of patriotic flag-waving took hold of senior members of the press gallery, urged on by China hawks in Canberra’s military-industrial circles.

 

The latter notably include Peter Jennings, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, financed by the defence department, military suppliers including Lockheed Martin, BAE, Northrop Grumman, Thales and Raytheon, and the governments of Japan and Taiwan. It was time for Australia to diversify its trade away from China, he wrote. Just like that.

 

Business leaders and vice-chancellors who tried to point out that the finger-pointing at China could have economic consequences were derided as traitorous. They “can’t handle the truth” about China, said Channel Nine’s Chris Uhlmann. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher described Cheng’s rather mild words as “gangsterism.”

 

“Cheng’s warning laid bare what those in political, diplomatic and foreign affairs circles have always known about the regime in Beijing,” wrote the Australian Financial Review’s Phillip Coorey. “It was a glass-jawed bully that viewed bilateral relations as one-way affairs that should be skewed in Beijing’s interest.”

 

Iron ore tycoon Andrew Forrest’s springing of a Chinese consul on a press conference with health minister Greg Hunt, “followed by a similar attempt at appeasement” by Kerry Stokes (who has the Caterpillar machinery franchise for China), “came as no surprise to those in the know,” wrote Coorey.

 

As James Curran, Sydney University’s specialist on the US alliance, observed, “It is one thing to be rightfully wary of the brand of Chinese exceptionalism espoused by Xi Jinping, quite another to thrash about in mouth-foaming fulmination.”…….

 

…….As the editorial board of the Australian National University’s East Asia Forum, headed by trade expert Peter Drysdale, noted, there was already “furious agreement” — including from Beijing — about the need for an investigation of Covid-19……

 

….Trump is clearly out to scapegoat China for his own mishandling of the pandemic as he approaches the November elections. Poking Beijing further on trade and technology has already started……

 

……… Rather than preparing for war or butting directly against Chinese communism, Smith advocates “patience, no quick judgements, and no emotionalism.” Which doesn’t make a good media story.

 

Instead of constantly looking for what “the Chinese” are up to, our journalists could take a step back and learn some lessons from this latest episode. They could go to Hartcher’s own recent Quarterly Essay, Red Flag, which concluded with the reasonable point that despite the pervasiveness of China’s political influence-buying efforts and its United Front Work within the diaspora, Australians can have faith in their institutions’ capacity to resist subversion by a regime that, unlike the Soviet Union of the 1940s, has no local following.

 

They could consider that the 1.2 million people of Chinese descent in Australia came here mostly to get away from the People’s Republic, not replicate it. They, and the 230,000 students normally resident here, are a threat more to the communist system than ours, especially if we upgrade the student experience. (Melbourne University’s Fran Martin has found that a majority go home disappointed, not having made Australian friends.)

 

They could consider that our own expertise, along with that of friends like the United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Japan and Israel, at least keeps us up with the level of cyber espionage coming out of China and Russia.

 

In short, we are not at war and we don’t need to match the “patriotic” journalism of Beijing’s intemperate Global Times.

 

Critical Media Analysis from the ABC Media Watch:

 

Virus lab theory. Where did COVID-19 come from? And is the Wuhan Institute of Virology to blame?

 

Wuhan lab dossier.  The Daily Telegraph’s “bombshell” Wuhan lab dossier is dismissed by the intelligence community, with claims it was leaked by the US embassy.

 

For more articles and blogs about Asian century, Australian immigration, critical thinking, economics, global trade, populist politics, media, Australian politics, white nationalism and Covid-19 click through.

Covid-19 Climate Science Vaccination Misinformation PR and Astro Turfing

In recent months there has been an increase in confusion, misrepresentation and misunderstanding in news and social media round Covid-19 using same techniques as in tobacco, climate science denialism and anti-vaccination movements that seem to benefit US radical right libertarians’ preferred ideology and politics.

 

The following articles from The Fifth Estate in Australia and DeSmog Blog in Canada explain the communication techniques well.

 

Separating truth from lies in the causes of the pandemic

 

David Thorpe | 28 April 2020

 

OPINION: What’s caused this devastating pandemic that’s so far cost at least 207,000 lives (and it’s hardly begun) and wrecked the global economy? If, like me, you’ve been on the receiving end of a blizzard of bizarre messages claiming to reveal the truth behind the pandemic you might be forgiven for feeling confused, so here’s your handy guide to what isn’t the cause and what is.

 

Misinformation wars

 

Right from the start misinformation was rife: there was no virus; the disease was like flu and wouldn’t cause significant harm; emails offered baseless cures and treatments; and conspiracy theories spread like wildfire about its origin.

 

It turns out that many who circulated such misinformation have a history of casting doubt on climate science or seeking to debate issues that were already laid to rest within the scientific community, according to DeSmog.org:

 

“The decades that fossil fuel companies spent funding organisations that sought to undermine the conclusions of credible climate scientists and building up doubt about science itself ultimately created a network of professional science deniers who are now deploying some of the same skills they honed on climate against the public health crisis at the centre of our attention today.”

 

Some of this misinformation was/is channelled by presidents Trump and Bolsanaro. Others by think tanks, experts (some self-proclaimed), academics, and professional right-wing activists who are also climate change denialists.

 

After taking apart all of these arguments, DeSmog asserts: “COVID denial should forever discredit climate science deniers”.’

 

From DeSmog direct:

 

The Reason COVID-19 and Climate Seem So Similar: Disinformation

 

Repost By Guest • Monday, April 20, 2020  of Amy Westervelt, Drilled News. Originally published by Drilled News.

 

For a long time, the story went that the tobacco industry cooked up disinformation and then spread it to the fossil fuel guys, the chemical industry, pharma, you name it. But one thing that became incredibly clear when we began digging into PR firms and specific publicists was that this version of history was not quite right; if disinformation strategies were cooked up by any particular industry it was the public relations industry, which put these strategies to work on behalf of fossil fuels, tobacco, chemical manufacturers and more, often all at the same time.

 

The very first publicist, Ivy Ledbetter Lee, worked on behalf of both Standard Oil and, shortly after, American Tobacco, for example. Daniel Edelman developed astroturf campaigns for both RJ Reynolds tobacco company and the American Petroleum Institute, as did John Hill, who went so far as to have tobacco folks join the API. He also worked with Monsanto, juggling all three clients at the same time. E. Bruce Harrison worked for the chemical guys first, then managed front groups for tobacco and fossil fuels at the same time. You get the drift.

 

These industries all surely learned from each other at various points in time, but that was mostly because they were working with the same publicists. The history is less that tobacco or oil embraced disinformation first and then passed it on and more that a handful of PR firms and consultants created the disinformation industry, and then put it to work on behalf of whatever industry needed it at any given time.

 

Today, those same strategies are at work on behalf of those who worry that the response to COVID-19 will undermine capitalism, which is why climate folks keep noting how familiar the whole anti-science component of the rightwing response to the pandemic feels. It’s familiar because the exact same strategies are being deployed, in some cases by the same people. Here are a few key examples:

 

Disinformation Strategy #1: He who controls the language controls the narrative.

Disinformation Strategy #2: Leverage science illiteracy to create doubt.

Disinformation strategy #3: Astroturfing.

 

Our hope, of course, is that when people learn to recognize these strategies and know what’s behind them, they might become less effective. Disempowering the disinformation industry is a necessary part of any climate solution.’

 

For more articles and blogs about climate change, Covid-19, populist politics, critical thinking, marketing & communications and science literacy click through.

Australia Commission for Human Future

Australia has a Commission for the Human Future outlining a series of existing e.g. Covid-19 like pandemic, and other threats.  However, one of the threats cited is ‘human population growth beyond carry capacity’ with unclear support from demographic research and science, who lobbied for its inclusion?

Credible research shows already declining fertility rates with a predicted global peak mid century, then decline.  Further, ‘carrying capacity’ is linked to the debunked ‘Limits to Growth’ construct promoted by the fossil and auto supported Club of Rome, including Paul ‘population bomb’ Ehrlich, which is used by white nationalists to promote the ‘Great Replacement Theory’.

 

The following article from The Conversation Australia explains the Commission for the Human Futures:

 

There are 10 catastrophic threats facing humans right now, and coronavirus is only one of them

 

April 22, 2020 3.08am BST
Arnagretta Hunter – ANU Human Futures Fellow 2020; Cardiologist and Physician., Australian National University

 

John Hewson – Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy

 

Four months in, this year has already been a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced climate change.

 

While the above may seem like isolated threats, they are parts of a larger puzzle of which the pieces are all interconnected. A report titled Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, published today by the Commission for the Human Future, has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival.

 

Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:

 

decline of natural resources, particularly water
collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
human population growth beyond Earth’s carrying capacity
global warming and human-induced climate change
chemical pollution of the Earth system, including the atmosphere and oceans
rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
pandemics of new and untreatable disease
the advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology
national and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.

 

The start of ongoing discussions

The Commission for the Human Future formed last year, following earlier discussions within emeritus faculty at the Australian National University about the major risks faced by humanity, how they should be approached and how they might be solved. We hosted our first round-table discussion last month, bringing together more than 40 academics, thinkers and policy leaders.

 

The commission’s report states our species’ ability to cause mass harm to itself has been accelerating since the mid-20th century. Global trends in demographics, information, politics, warfare, climate, environmental damage and technology have culminated in an entirely new level of risk…..

 

For more articles and blogs about Covid-19, population growth, climage change, environment, populist politics and white nationalism click through.