Saturday, 25 April 2015

A distressingly familiar list in Abbott's Australia



So far in Abbott's Australia thirteen of the fourteen signs of fascism have become obvious elements in the national government's interaction with citizens and/or in the formation of government policies.

Fourteen Signs of Fascism*

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism—Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights—Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need".  The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. 


3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause—The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 


4. Supremacy of the Military—Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. 


5. Rampant Sexism—The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, 
traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. 

6. Controlled Mass Media—Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common. 


7. Obsession with National Security—Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. 


8. Religion and Government are Intertwined—Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. 


9. Corporate Power is Protected—The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. 


10. Labour Power is Suppressed—Because the organizing power of labour is the only real threat to a fascist government, labour unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed. 


11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts—Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free-expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.


12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment—Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.


13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption—Fascist regimes are almost always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections—Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.


* Attributed to Dr. Lawrence Britt, a name which is possibly a pseudonym


* Photographs found at Google Images

Friday, 24 April 2015

NSW Coalition Government response to Supreme Court judgment in Metgasco Ltd v Minister for Resources & Energy



This is what passes for community consultation at Clarence Valley Council in April 2015


Take a good look at this concept plan below.

There is no scale to accurately judge distance, eg. changes to road width.
There is no legend to decode symbols drawn on areas which are to be altered, eg. footpaths and outdoor dining areas.
There is no gradient given for the ramps on either side of the proposed change to the Coldstream Street pedestrian crossing.
There is no indication of how high the proposed roundabout will be above the road surface or its final design and visual impact, eg. potential to obscure a pedestrian’s view of oncoming traffic.

Without scale, legend, gradient and full description of the roundabout, Yamba residents have no way of judging whether it will be safe to step onto the new pedestrian crossing. 

Neither will they be able to calculate the stopping distance required by the Yamba to Grafton bus if it is negotiating the roundabout at the same time an elderly person is traversing this pedestrian crossing. Nor judge whether the traffic lane narrowing at one point accommodates the full width of a standard passenger bus.

It is also difficult to judge whether there will be a significant loss of the outdoor dining tables locals enjoy.

The small central business district in Yamba probably has the highest number of pedestrian movements within the town as it services not only local residents but also the many tourists who visit or holiday in the area.

So one wonders why Clarence Valley Council decided that this sketchy concept plan was the single document it would post online when exhibiting Proposed Roundabout Intersection Yamba Street/Coldstream Street, Yamba for comment.

Just as one may wonder why council appears to believe there is a compelling need for a roundabout in the centre of town when there appears to have been no call from the local community to install one there, no history of serious accidents and apparently no traffic movement study conducted on the intersection to determine if there are significant capacity/delay issues associated with it to date.

A roundabout and associated modifications which in council's March 2012 monthly meeting minutes was costed at an estimated $371,688 and will in all likelihood exceed that amount in 2015.

Click on image to enlarge

Committee For Economic Development Of Australia: more than a million Aussies living in poverty is a national disgrace


The number of Australians living in entrenched disadvantage is a disgrace and without a radical policy shake-up Australia will never reduce this number or the cost to taxpayers, CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin has said….
Professor Martin said the past 20 years had essentially been a massive failure by successive governments to address entrenched disadvantage and policies have been economically short-sighted…..
“We need to tear up the rule book and have a radical overhaul of how we tackle entrenched poverty. Labour market programs – essentially using a big stick to tell people they’ve got to get a job or face even further financial disadvantage – should not be the primary policy instrument for this group of people.
“It is absolutely clear that labour market policies have not worked because they fail to tackle the heart of the problem and yet it seems they are the only approach successive governments are willing to focus on.
“The main problem often isn’t that people don’t have a job, but the consequence of a range of other issues including education levels, mental health, social exclusion or discrimination. [Committee For Economic Development Of Australia (CEDA) media release 21 April 2015]

Excerpts from the Overview in the Committee For Economic Development Of Australia (CEDA) report, Addressing entrenched disadvantage in Australia April 2015:

How serious is disadvantage?

There are many ways to measure and define disadvantage, including the poverty line, the deprivation and the social exclusion approaches. Each method has its own shortcomings and strengths, with this study focusing on the deprivation and social exclusion approaches, as they are more representative of experienced disadvantage.

Using the 50 per cent of median income poverty line approach, and after taking into account housing costs, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) found that the threshold for poverty in 2011–12 was a disposable income of less than $400 per week for a single adult and $841 for a couple with two children. This implies that 13.9 per cent of the population (or 2.55 million Australians) had an income below that necessary to acquire a socially accepted standard of living.

An alternative to using poverty lines is to attempt to describe whether households have access to goods and services deemed necessary as defined by a survey of community attitudes (the deprivation approach). An example is the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) surveys conducted in 2006 and 2010 using a list of 25 items identified as essential for all Australians.

In Chapter 1 of this report, Professor Peter Saunders finds that deprivation (using the SPRC surveys) is highest among sole-parent households, and deprivation was pronounced in items that provide protection against future risks related to poor health and unforeseen circumstances (for example, dental treatment or emergency funds). He also finds that only about 40 per cent of those below the poverty line are considered deprived.

A third methodology, the social exclusion/inclusion approach, is generally seen as multidimensional, with concepts based on the capability and deprivation approaches. It captures social inclusion as having the resources; having opportunities and capabilities to work, learn and engage; and having a voice in society.

One such example is the Social Exclusion Monitor (SEM) by the Melbourne Institute and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.10 The SEM captures social exclusion through 30 indicators of disadvantage in seven life domains:

1. Material resources;
2. Employment;
3. Education and skills;
4. Health and disability;
5. Social connection;
6. Community; and
7. Personal safety.

The SEM finds that about five per cent of Australians faced deep social exclusion and a further one per cent faced very deep social exclusion in 2012, amounting to almost one million people, or about 39 per cent of those living below the poverty line, echoing the findings of SPRC’s deprivation approach……

…evidence of the persistence and of the risk of chronic poverty:

*About a quarter of the people who manage to exit poverty have returned to being poor within two years; and
* About 12 to 15 per cent of poor households are still poor 11 years later.

…individuals with a high risk of facing long-term disadvantage fall into the following categories:

* Those with low education attainment, including those who did not complete high school;
* Indigenous Australians;
* Households with someone living with a long-term health problem or disability;
* Those aged 65 and over;
* Jobless households; and
* Those living in disadvantaged areas……

Low-income individuals and households tend to have the poorest health outcomes: They are more likely to have higher mortality rates, lower life satisfaction, poor self-assessment of their health, and higher rates of long-term or severe health conditions.19 Individuals with poor health conditions are less likely to participate fully in the workforce and in some cases, particularly for the more acute and long-term illnesses, there is the additional cost of caring for those who cannot care for themselves……

Policy lessons While each of the three areas of disadvantage comes with its own challenges and policy implications, this study suggests some overarching perspectives that are applicable to all policies, regardless what aspect of disadvantage is being addressed. Entrenched disadvantage is a complex and significant problem: • An estimated four to six per cent of our society experiences chronic or persistent disadvantage. This amounts to about one to 1.5 million Australians; • Between 12 and 15 per cent of disadvantage spells last more than a decade; • The longer an individual spends with significant disadvantage, the more likely they are to be stuck in the spell; • The risk of falling back into a disadvantage spell is highest in the first two years of exiting poverty, affecting about a quarter of people who have exited; and • Children who grow up in a home with entrenched disadvantage are more likely to face the same problem……

Conclusion

Addressing entrenched disadvantage is an onerous task. Current policies are not working as well as we would hope and despite Australia’s relatively good economic performance, our scorecard when it comes to getting people out of the cycle of disadvantage has not been as good. There is a lot more work to do to reduce disadvantage and make sure it does not become entrenched. To do so would require a suite of policies that are evidence-based, focused on long-term objectives, with the view to address the drivers behind the persistence of entrenched disadvantage, including the need to ensure that individuals have the right environment (such as stable housing) to enable better participation. These policies would be subject to transparent evaluation, including ongoing evaluation to ensure they remain effective and have a long-term impact on individuals.

More research into the dynamics of disadvantage, perhaps through the development of better longitudinal data, is required to develop this suite of policies and to inform good policy. One thing is certain: Entrenched disadvantage is a complex problem and in the absence of appropriate and effective policies, it is not going away. A nation as rich as Australia has no excuse for not doing better – we can, and should, do better not just for the benefit of those who are disadvantaged, but for the benefit of all Australians.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

In NSW last year domestic violence was still trending upwards according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research


Reported domestic violence related assaults in New South Wales numbered 29,070 incidents for the year ending December 2014.

A 2.7%  increase according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s New South Wales Recorded Crime Statistics 2014, making this category of assault the fifth highest trending crime across local government areas and the crime category with the highest percentage of legal proceedings commenced last year.

Conversely non-domestic violence assaults were down 5.7% across NSW in 2014, making this category of assault the ninth highest trending crime across local government areas and the crime category with the eighth highest percentage of legal proceedings commenced last year.

Clarence Valley Local Government Area's reported domestic violence related assaults numbered 192 in 2014, a ratio of 1.0 (per 100,000 persons) which had it on par with the state average.

One hundred and ninety-two domestic violence related assault reports in the Clarence Valley represented an 11.5% fall since 2013 or a reduction of 25 incidents.

Reported domestic violence related assaults in other Northern Rivers local government areas in 2014 were:

Ballina – 164 incidents (up 28 on the previous year)
Byron – 135 incidents (up 17 on the previous year)
Kyogle – 33 incidents (up 2 on the previous year)
Lismore – 215 incidents (up 26 on the previous year)
Richmond Valley – 120 incidents (up 15 on the previous year)
Tweed – 407 incidents (up 70 on the previous year).

Alcohol is involved in a significant proportion of reported domestic violence incidents:

[Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Policy options paper: Preventing alcohol-related family and domestic violence, February 2015]

Is Abbott living in a perpetual political phantasy land unable any longer to distinguish truth from lies?


This was Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott altering political history on a whim on 28 March 2015:

Mitch Fifield, the architect of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, who will deliver a genuinely insurance-based scheme which will benefit a half a million Australians with disabilities and everyone who cares for them and which will have its head office in Geelong.

Perhaps someone should remind Abbott that the Australian Parliamentary Library clearly identifies who set the National Disability Insurance Scheme in motion and laid out its basic structure:

On 30 April 2012, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that the Government would fund its ‘share’ of the cost of the first stage of the NDIS in the 2012–13 Budget.[10] The Government’s NDIS media release accompanying the Budget states that its share includes ‘the total administration and running costs for the first stage of an NDIS’.[11] In addition the media release says that ‘states and territories that host the initial locations will also be required to contribute to the cost of personal care and support for people with disability’. At this stage, it is not clear what the Government has in mind as ‘locations’ for the first stage of the NDIS but the Commission’s proposal was for ‘regions that each contained a modest number of people who were likely to be eligible for the scheme (say, around 10 000 per region)’.[12] Commencement of the NDIS in 2013 is one year ahead of the timetable proposed by the Commission.
The $1.0 billion to be provided by the Australian Government includes:
* $342.5 million over three years from July next year for individually funded packages for people with significant and permanent disability
* $154.8 million over three years from July next year to employ Local Area Coordinators to provide an individualised approach to delivering care and support to people with a disability
* $58.6 million over three years from July next year to assess the needs of people with a disability in the launch locations
* $122.6 million over four years to start preparing the disability sector for the new way of delivering disability services
* $240.3 million over four years to build and operate an NDIS information technology system and
* $53.0 million over four years to establish a new National Disability Transition Agency to coordinate implementation and manage the delivery of care and support to people with a disability and their carers in the initial launch locations from 2013–14.[13]

During the final days of the Gillard Labor Government ABC News reported on 3 June 2013:

...the regional Victorian city has been chosen as the headquarters of the new DisabilityCare agency.
All states and territories - except Western Australia - have signed up to be part of the scheme, formerly known as the NDIS.
Once DisabilityCare is fully rolled out, the national headquarters in Geelong will employ 300 people, in addition to 150 people in the regional office......
The Barwon region of south-west Victoria, which includes Geelong, was chosen last year as one of the sites where DisabilityCare would be trialled. The trial will start on July 1 and involve 5,000 people.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Next time a News Corp newspaper tries to tell you that it has an independent editorial stance remember this.....


The Independent 21 April 2015:

Rupert Murdoch berated journalists on his tabloid papers for not doing enough to stop Labour winning the general election and warned them that the future of the company depended on stopping Ed Miliband entering No 10.

The proprietor of Britain’s best-selling tabloid warned executives that a Labour government would try to break up News Corp, which owns The SunThe Times and The Sunday Times. He instructed them to be much more aggressive in their attacks on Labour and more positive about Conservative achievements in the run-up to polling day, sources told The Independent.

Mr Murdoch is understood to have made his views clear on a visit to London at the end of February, during which he met with senior Tories including the Conservative chief whip and former Times executive Michael Gove.

The News Corp boss, who has made no secret of his dislike of the Labour leader, told the editor of The Sun, David Dinsmore, that he expected the paper to be much sharper in its attacks on Labour……

Two days after Mr Murdoch’s visit the paper devoted a two-page spread to the election – with the left-hand page containing a 10-point “pledge” to voters written by David Cameron. The right-hand side of the spread was an attack on Ed Balls under the headline: “I ruined your pensions, I sold off our gold, I helped wreck [the] economy, Now I’m going to put up your taxes.”

It is understood that Mr Murdoch reminded executives that Labour would try to break up News UK, which owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. The party has suggested that no owner should be allowed to control more than 34 per cent of the UK media, a cap which would force News UK to sell one of the titles.

It has also pledged to implement recommendations in the Leveson report for an independent press regulator backed by statute, bitterly opposed by Murdoch. Mr Miliband has made “standing up” to Mr Murdoch over the phone-hacking affair a central plank in his attempts to persuade voters that he is a strong leader. A source said: “Rupert made it very clear he was unhappy with The Sun’s coverage of the election. He basically said the future of the company was at stake and they need to get their act together.”……

Tony Abbott and his attempts to degrade scientific research in Australia


It is well known that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott believes that climate change science is absolute crap, but even he has exceeded expectations of what his passive-aggressive brand of climate change denialism will bring forth when he appointed self-described climate policy sceptic, Bjørn Lomborg*, as an adviser to federal government on foreign aid delivery and arranged for the Australian taxpayer to fund Lomborg to the tune of $4 million now that the Danish Government has defunded his pseudo-scientific approach to research and American donors are not enthusiastically supporting this 'homeless' think tank the Copenhagen Consensus Center Inc.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

Excerpt from one of the Lomborg Errors documents:


"The Skeptical Environmentalist" has given rise to extensive public discussion and debate, both in Denmark and internationally. There have been enthusiastic reviews in some of the world's top newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, and in The Economist.

The magazine Scientific American asked four leading experts to assess Bjørn Lomborg's treatment of their own fields: global warming, energy, population and biodiversity, devoting 11 pages to this in January 2002.

Stephen Schneider: "Global Warming, Neglecting the Complexities"

Schneider is a particularly respected researcher who has been discussing these problems for 30 years with thousands of fellow scientists and policy analysts in myriad articles and formal meetings.

Most of Bjørn Lomborg's quotes allude to secondary literature and media articles. Bjørn Lomborg uses peer-reviewed articles only when they support his rose-coloured point of view. By contrast, the authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were subjected to three rounds of audits by hundreds of external experts.

Bjørn Lomborg employs no clear and discrete distinction between various forms of probabilities. He makes frequent use of the word "plausible" but, strangely for a statistician, he never attaches any probability to what is "plausible". IPCC gives a large "range" for the majority of projections, but Bjørn Lomborg selects the least serious outcomes.

Stephen Schneider then provides a specific criticism of Bjørn Lomborg's four main arguments:

1. Climate Science: Bjørn Lomborg quotes an article in Nature (from the Hadley Center, 1989), uncritically and without the authors' caveats. BL quotes Lindzen's controversial "iris effect" as evidence that IPCC's climate range needs to be reduced by a factor of almost three. BL either fails to understand this mechanism or else omits to state that the data stem from only a few years' data in a small part of a single ocean. Extrapolating this sample to the entire globe is wrong. Similarly, he quotes a controversial Danish paper claiming that solar magnetic events can modulate cosmic radiation and produce a clear connection between global low-level cloud cover and incoming cosmic rays as an alternative to CO2 in order to explain climate change. The reason IPCC discounts this theory is "that its advocates have not demonstrated any radiative forcing sufficient to match that of much more parsimonious theories, such as anthropogenic forcing."

2. Emissions scenarios: Bjørn Lomborg assumes that over the next several decades, improved solar machines and other new technologies will crowd fossil fuels off the market, which will be done so efficiently that the IPCC scenarios vastly overestimate the chance of major increases in CO2. This is not so much analysis as wishful thinking contingent on policies capable of reinforcing the incentives for such development, and BL is opposed to such policies. No credible analyst can just assert that a fossil-fuel-intensive scenario is not "plausible" and, typically, BL gives no probability that this might occur.

3. Cost-benefit calculations: Bjørn Lomborg's most egregious distortions and feeblest analyses are his citations of cost-benefit calculations. First, he chides the governments that modified the penultimate draft of the IPCC report. But there was a reason for that modification, which downgraded aggregate cost-benefit studies: these studies fail to consider so many categories of damage held to be important by political leaders, and it is therefore not the "total cost-benefit" analysis that Bjørn Lomborg wants. Again, BL cites only a single value for climate damage - 5 trillion dollars - although the same articles indicate that climate change can vary from benefits to catastrophic losses. It is precisely because the responsible scientific community cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes at a high level of confidence that climate mitigation policies are seriously proposed. For some inexplicable reasons, BL fails to provide a range of climate damage avoided, only a range for climate policy costs. This estimate is based solely on the economics literature but ignores the findings of engineers and does not take into account pre-existing market imperfections such as energy-inefficient machinery, houses and processes. Thus, five US Dept. of Energy laboratories have suggested that such a substitution can actually reduce some emissions at below-zero costs.

4. The Kyoto Protocol: Bjørn Lomborg's invention of a 100-year regime for the Kyoto Protocol is a distortion of the climate policy process. Most analysts know that "an extended" Kyoto Protocol cannot deliver the 50% reduction in CO2 emissions needed to prevent large increases at the end of the 21st century and during the 22nd century, and that developed and developing countries alike will have to cooperate to fashion cost-effective solutions over time. Kyoto is a starting point, and yet with his 100-year projection BL would squash even this first stage.

Bjørn Lomborg's book is published by the social sciences side of Cambridge University Press. It is no wonder, then, that the reviewers failed to spot BL's unbalanced presentation of the natural science. It is a serious omission on the part of an otherwise respected publishing house that natural-science researchers were not taken on board. "Lomborg admits, 'I am not myself an expert as regards ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS' - truer words are not found in the rest of the book".

John P. Holdren: "Energy: Asking the Wrong Questions"

Bjørn Lomborg's chapter on energy covers a scant 19 pages and is devoted almost entirely to attacking the belief that the world is running out of energy, a belief that BL appears to regard as part of the "environmental litany". But only a handful of environmental researchers, if any at all, believe this today. Conversely, what they do say about this topic is that we are not running out of energy, but out of environment, i.e. the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, energy transformation and energy use. They also say that we are running out of the ability to manage other risks of the energy supply, such as overdependence on Middle East oil and the risk of nuclear energy systems leaking weapons materials and expertise into the hands of proliferation-prone nations or terrorists. This has been the position of the environmental researchers for decades (e.g. from 1971, 74, 76 and 77).

So whom is BL so resoundingly refuting with his treatise on the abundance of world energy resources? The professional analysts have not been arguing that the world is running out of energy, only that the world could run out of cheap oil. BL's dismissive rhetoric notwithstanding, this is not a silly question, nor one with an easy answer.

Oil is currently the most valuable of the conventional fossil fuels that have long provided the bulk of the world's energy, including almost all energy for transport. The quantity of recoverable oil resources is thought to be far less than coal and natural gas, and those reserves are located in the politically volatile Middle East. Much of the rest is located offshore and in other difficult and environmentally fragile areas. There is, accordingly, a serious technical literature, produced mainly by geologists and economists, exploring the questions of when world oil production will peak and begin to decline, and what the price might be in 2010, 2030 or 2050 - with considerable disagreement among informed professionals.

BL seems not to recognize that the transition from oil to other sources will not necessarily be a smooth one or occur at prices as low as the price of oil today. BL shows no sign of understanding why there is real debate about this among serious-minded people.

BL offers no explanation of the distinction between "proved reserves" and "remaining ultimately recoverable resources", nor of the fact that the majority of the latter category is located in the Middle East, but placidly informs us that it is "imperative for our future energy supply that this region remains reasonably peaceful" - as if that observation does not undermine any basis for complacency.

BL is right in his basic proposition that the resources of oil, oil shale, nuclear fuels and renewable energy are immense. But that is disputed by only few environmental researchers-and no well-informed ones. But his handling of the technical, economic and environmental factors that will govern the circumstances and quantities in which these resources might actually be used is superficial, muddled and often plain wrong. His mistakes include apparent misreadings and misunderstandings of statistical data, the very kinds of errors he claims are pervasive in the writings of environmentalists. By the same token, there are other elementary blunders of a type that should not be committed by any self-respecting statistician. Thus, it is wrong that measures in the developed countries have eliminated the vast majority of SO2 and NO2 from smoke from coal-burning facilities: it is only a minor proportion. Other examples are given, and when it comes to nuclear energy, plutonium is such a great security problem as regards the potential production of nuclear weapons that it may preclude use of the "breeding" approach unless a new technology is invented that is just as cheap.

BL uses precise figures, where there is no basis for such, and he produces assertions based on single citations and without detailed elaborations, which is far from representative of the literature.

Most of what is problematic about the global energy picture is not covered by BL in the chapter on energy but in the chapters dealing with air pollution, acid rain, water pollution and global warming. The latter has been devastatingly critiqued by Schneider.

There is no space to deal with the other energy-related chapters, but their level of superficiality, selectivity and misunderstandings is roughly consistent with what has been reviewed here.

"Lomborg is giving skepticism - and statisticians - a bad name."

John Bongaarts: "Population: Ignoring Its Impact"

Bjørn Lomborg's view that the number of people is not the problem is simply wrong. The global population growth rate has declined slowly, but absolute growth remains close to the very high levels observed in past decades. Any discussion of global trends is misleading without taking account of the enormous contrasts between world regions, where the poorest nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America have rapidly growing and young populations, whereas Europe, North America and Japan have virtually zero, and in some cases even negative, growth. As a consequence, all future growth will be concentrated in the developing countries, where four-fifths of the world's population lives: from 4.87 to 6.72 billion between 2000 and 2025, or just as large as the record-breaking increase in the past quarter of the (21st) century. This growth in the poorest parts of the world continues virtually unabated. The growth has led to high population density in many countries, but BL dismisses concerns about this issue, based on a simplistic and misleading calculation of density as the ratio of people to land. In Egypt this would make 88/km2, but deducting the uncultivated and unirrigated part of Egypt, it makes 2,000/km2 - no wonder Egypt has to import foodstuffs! Measured correctly, population densities have reached extremely high levels, particularly in large countries in Asia and the Middle East. This makes demands in terms of agricultural expansion on more difficult, hitherto untilled terrain, increased water consumption and a struggle for the scarce water resources between households, industry and farming. The upshot will be to make growth in food production more expensive to achieve. BL's view that increased food production is a non-issue rests heavily on the fact that foodstuffs are cheap; but BL overlooks the fact that it is large-scale subsidies to farmers, particularly in the developed countries, that keep prices artificially low.

Appreciably expanding farming will result in a reduction of woodland areas, loss of species, soil erosion, and pesticide and fertilizer run-offs. Reducing this impact is possible but costly, and would be easier if the growth in population were slower.

BL overlooks the fact that population growth contributes to poverty. First, children have to be fed, housed, clothed and educated - while economically non-productive - then jobs have to be created once they reach adulthood. Unemployment lowers wages to subsistence level. Counteracting population growth has fuelled "economic miracles" in a number of East Asian countries.

BL overlooks the fact that the favourable trend in life expectancy is due to intensive efforts on the part of governments and the international community, but despite this, 800 million are still malnourished and 1.2 billion are living in abject poverty. Population is not the main cause of the world's social, economic and environmental problems, but it is a substantial contributory factor. If future growth can be slowed down, future generations would be better off.

Thomas Lovejoy: "Biodiversity: Dismissing Scientific Progress"

In less than a page, Bjørn Lomborg discounts the value of biodiversity both as a library for the life sciences and as a provider of ecosystem services (partly due to the general absence of markets for these services). When he does get round to extinction, he confounds the process by which a species is judged to have been made extinct with estimates and projections of extinction rates. In contrast to BL's claim, the loss of species from habitat remnants is a widely documented phenomenon. A number of factual errors are highlighted. BL takes particular exception to Norman Myer's 1979 estimate that 40,000 species are being lost every year, failing to acknowledge that Myer deserves credit for being the first to point out that the number was large and at a time when it was difficult to do so accurately. Current estimates are given in terms of the increases over normal extinction rates. BL cynically spurns this method, because such estimates sound more ominous. Instead, he ought to acknowledge that this method is an improvement in the science. These rates are currently 100 to 1,000 times' the normal, and are certain to rise as natural habitats continue to dwindle.

The chapter on acid rain is equally poorly researched and presented. BL establishes that acid rain has nothing to do with urban pollution, though it is a fact that nitrogen compounds (NOx) from traffic are a major source. Errors are pointed out in BL's view of acid rain on forests.

The chapter on forests suffers from BL not knowing that FAO's data are marred by the weight of so many different definitions and methods that any statistician should know they are not valid in terms of a time series. There are errors in the figures from Indonesia in 1997. BL confuses forests with tree plantations, and asserts that the only value of forests is harvestable trees. That is analogous to valuing computer chips for their silicon content only.

It is important to know that while deforestation and acid rain are reversible, extinction of species is not.

BL entirely overlooks the fact that environmental scientists identify a problem, posit hypotheses, test them and, having reached their conclusions, suggest remedial policies. By focusing on the first and last stages in this process, BL implies incorrectly that all environmentalists do is exaggerate.


Dr Peter Raven, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002 said of Lomborg: "...he's not an environmental scientist and he doesn't understand the fields that he's talking about so in that case, if you have a point to make and you want to get to that point, which is: everything's fine, everybody's wrong, there is no environmental problem, you just keep making that point. It's like a school exercise or a debating society, which really doesn't take into account the facts". 
"Raven said that the success of Lomborg's book 'demonstrates the vulnerability of the scientific process -- which is deliberative and hypothesis driven -- to outright misrepresentation and distortion.'"

Newsweek 21 February 2010:

Lomborg opens Cool It with a long discussion on polar bears, arguing that no more than two (of 20) groups are declining in population, that their numbers are not falling overall, and, in places where they are, that it is not a result of global (or Arctic) warming. In fact, polar-bear populations in warming regions are rising, he argues, suggesting that a warmer world will be beneficial to the bears. As Friel shows, Lomborg sourced that to a blog post and to a study that never mentioned polar bears. But he ignored the clear message of the most authoritative assessment of the bears' population trends, namely, research by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It found that bear populations are indeed declining where the Arctic is warming. In fact, concluded the IUCN, polar-bear populations "have declined significantly" where spring temperatures have risen dramatically. It also offered an explanation for Lomborg's claim that numbers are falling most where temps are getting colder: that area happens to be where there is unregulated hunting.
For his claim that the polar-bear population "has soared," Lomborg cited a 1999 study (scroll down to the paper by Ian Stirling). But that study described declining birthrates and other threats to the bears, blaming warmer spring temperatures that cause the sea ice to break up. Overall, since the mid-1980s polar-bear numbers have fallen, which experts attribute to global warming. The source is thus not exactly the solid endorsement of Lomborg's claim about thriving polar bears that one might assume.

Climate Council 14 April 2015:

The Australian Government today announced they would contribute $4m for Danish climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg to establish a new “consensus centre” at the University of Western Australia.

In the face of deep cuts to the CSIRO and other scientific research organisations, it's an insult to Australia’s scientific community.

As the Climate Commission, we were abolished by the Abbott Government in 2013 on the basis that our $1.5 million annual operating costs were too expensive. We relaunched as the Climate Council after thousands of Australians chipped in to the nation’s biggest crowd-funding campaign…

It seems extraordinary that the Climate Commission, which was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts, was abolished on the basis of a lack of funding and yet here we are three years later and the money has become available to import a politically-motivated think tank to work in the same space.

This is why the work of the Climate Council is so important - to counter this continuing ideological attempt at deceiving the Australian public.

Mr Lomborg’s views have no credibility in the scientific community. His message hasn’t varied at all in the last decade and he still believes we shouldn't take any steps to mitigate climate change. When someone is unwilling to adapt their view on the basis of new science or information, it's usually a sign those views are politically motivated. 

 Bjørn Lomborg states he is a director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, adjunct professor at University of Western Australia, and visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School.
He further states that he has an M.A. in political science (University of Aarhus) and a Ph.D. in political science (University of Copenhagen).
His degrees are in social science and not in any of the scientific disciplines which inform credible climate research.