By Tony Thomas, journalist – contributor to Quadrant Online, based in Melbourne Australia
I appreciate that Australia’s not the centre of world affairs, but keep in mind that more than 60 Australian scientists helped write the latest IPCC report.
I’ve been a journalist in Australia since 1958. I went straight from school at 18 to The West Australian newspaper, doing news and light features. I also studied literature at university part-time for eight years. In 1971 I switched to Economics and business coverage. I retired from paid journalism in 2001 but I continue writing unpaid for the right-of-centre blog Quadrant Online. In the past ten years I’ve published 460 essays there. All up I’ve been reporting for 65 years and I’m now 83 not out.
I’ve authored close to a dozen books on anthropology, business, history, current affairs and climate, including five collections of my Quadrant essays.
I also like to make my stuff funny. The most effective weapon against climate cultists is to play back their own overblown nonsense — with academics my favourite targets.
My first article for Quadrant in 2012 was about the supposedly drowning Pacific atolls, which in fact are growing in area. Their problem is high birth rates and destructive lifestyles, not rising seas. But this drowning island myth never dies, in fact just a fortnight ago I forced our government-funded ABCTV to correct their latest Tuvalu item.
My first big climate article a decade ago was titled The Fictive World of Rajendra Pachauri, an expose about the long-time chair of the IPCC who later resigned hastily because he was caught out groping a young female staffer in his think-tank. The second article was The Integrity of the Australian Academy of Science, which no one had questioned before. I interviewed the president, who is a microbiologist called Suzanne Cory, and she readily agreed that climate science at that time in 2012 wasn’t settled. This was heresy and her climate minders soon got her to change her tune.
Both main Australian political parties, sadly, aspire to net zero CO2 by 2050. The 2030 target involves installing 22000 solar panels a day for eight years and more than one maxi-sized wind turbine a day. These days I happily write on the emerging train wreck as green politics collides with energy realities.
My talk today will be about the world’s mainstream climate journalists, and the many third-party institutions that are snowing them with alarmist stuff. These bodies warn them off accessing sceptic material, and shower them with money and honors for writing the net zero and alarmist lines.
I began this researching a month or two ago. And every time I check out one of these organisations influencing the media behind the scenes, I discover new ones. They are breeding like rabbits.
A week ago I noticed that Matt Taibbi and 8 colleagues – Matt was a conduit for Elon Musk to disclose Twitter censorship — had been working on the same project – they’ve just published a “Report on the Censorship Industrial Complex”, a compendium of no less than 50 govt/big-tech/ and NGOs feeding the approved lines to the media and shutting down opposing views and platforms.
Those groups don’t just go after climate and covid sceptics, but all conservative material. My own “finds” partly overlap.
I’ve found it costs very little to set up an outfit to bias the climate media. Some of these groups have got huge results from budgets of just 5, 10 or 20 million dollars. Moreover the climate propaganda is usually wrapped inside a platform of worthy roles like training third-world reporters to do a good job. I’m ignoring those feel-good operations.
I mentioned these groups popping up everywhere.
Just this week I picked up material about the BBC boasting about its truth-checking, called BBC Verify.
I watched a BBC News video from yesterday by Marianna Spring, whose title is “Disinformation and social media correspondent” for BBC Verify. She uses several dummy accounts to keep tabs on unapproved media material.
She targets what she calls “conspiracy theory newspapers, alternative media, the “UK conspiracy movement”, and far right figures and local communities.
You can guess what all this really means.
It’s pretty rich given the BBC’s own conspiracies such as “28-gate” dating from 2006. The BBC pretended that a group of 28 external “best scientific experts” had advised the BBC not to give climate sceptics any coverage. After many years of FOI battles to drag out the names, and the BBC using 3 top barristers, the 28 “best scientific experts” turned out to be just 3 scientists, and a mob of 25 Greenpeace and other activists, vested business interests and even someone from the US Embassy. In 2018 the BBC policy reaffirmed to deny sceptics any platform on the BBC.
Trusted News Initiative
BBC has also co-launched a group called Trusted News Initiative. Core membership is newswires Associated Press, AFP, Reuters,Washington Post, and Australia’s government-owned broadcaster ABC. Trusted News has partnered with the online giants Meta/Facebook, Google, Youtube, and Microsoft to rapidly flag what it calls climate and health “misinformation” . The heavyweight in there is Google News Initiative backed by $US300 million of Google money.
Trusted News finds something it doesn’t like and spreads the word among members immediately. They set about knee-capping these sites by warning away advertisers. They’ve already destroyed many popular right of centre sites. One victim Robert Kennedy Jr is suing Trusted News for treble damages on anti-trust grounds. Well done, BBC.
Australia’s Climate Council
My native Australia has an influence group with a stranglehold on our media, that extends into the Pacific region.
Climate Council is led by Australia’s most influential alarmist, Dr Tim Flannery, whose qualification is actually in mammal paleontology. His predictions have been as bad as Paul Ehrlich’s. During a big drought here 15 years ago he predicted it would be permanent and that two of our capital cities would become waterless ghost towns. Two state governments spent billions installing seawater desalinators that have never been needed as floods — not drought — became the problem.
His Climate Council is chaired by a billionaire’s offspring and runs on a $US6m budget. I calculate most funding now is from tycoons and the usual foundations including Rockefellers. It has several investors in renewables on its board, with no concern about conflict of interest. In fact one top alarmist scientist here, Dr David Karoly, was quoted,
The ability to make money while simultaneously solving climate change, can be an appealing proposition to people with deep pockets.”
The council includes a huge 20-member media spinning team. It is incredibly successful in planting stories in the media. Time after time I detect the fingerprints of the Council behind our country’s climate reporting.
The Council’s 2022 annual report boasts of its “drumbeat” of climate calamity, citing the planting of more than 22,000 stories in the media last year intended to influence “millions” of Australians. And it claims a further 20,000 media items “supported” via third-party climate enthusiasts. That’s 800 items a week obligingly regurgitated by stenographers identifying as journalists.
For example, reporters here originally just reported on recent bushfires and floods. After the Climate Council influencers got to work, the journos began routinely calling the fires and floods “climate-caused” or “climate fuelled”. In the Council’s own words, it has “well socialised” journos to parrot the alarmism.
One effective technique has been to create a standing committee of first responders to weather disasters, like firefighters, emergency service leaders, medicos and so on. They brief the reporters as if they have credibility in climate science, rather than rescuing old ladies from their flooded houses.
The council has found and trained another 200 local leaders of all descriptions as “trusted voices” to spruik the climate message, because they know that grassroots local material is more influential than big-picture science.
The Council has saturated local government leaders with climate alarm. 175 councils now claim a “climate emergency” – that’s coverage of 70% of our population.
The council actually trains journos in workshops run with the journos’ union. The goal is partly to inoculate them against sceptic arguments, claiming these are “misinformation”. Typical journo education from the Council is that
# Coal and gas are expensive compared with renewables
# Renewables are reliable
# Renewables create net jobs and
# Australia can make a difference to the world climate even though it does only 1-2% of the emissions.
The Council, although claimed to be non-political, wades into federal election campaigning for green candidates. It helped remove the conservative govt in last year’s elections and bring in our present climate-crazed radical government.
The Council’s CEO is a young woman who’s passionate, smart, wholesome and very photogenic. How can we grizzled old sceptics compete with her?
Covering Climate Now
The most sinister and effective global influencer/manipulator of the media is Covering Climate Now or CCNow.
More than 500 Media outlets have signed on with CCNow pledging to hype climate alarm and suppress critical views. It’s claimed CCNow members have 2 billion readers in 60 countries.
The big endorsers are the global newswires Reuters, Bloomberg, and Agence France Presse. Many if not most US TV and radio outlets have signed up. It’s really deplorable that the science journals Nature and Scientific American have joined CCNow and signed away their objectivity.
CCNow was started four years ago by the Guardian, The Nation magazine and the Columbia School of Journalism. It wants to make climate a part of every beat in the newsroom — from politics and weather to business and culture. It showers reporters with resources and story templates and ideas and pushes absurdities like a billion “climate refugees” by 2050.
Given that the Guardian is a key member, it’s not surprising that CCNow’s founders view fossil fuel executives as criminals against humanity. They also want to “revoke the social licences” of “deniers” in the same way tobacco companies were shafted last century.
CCNow has its style guide for the world’s media, here’s some samples:
Bottom line, there’s no excuse to skip the climate connection in your stories. Here’s some simple language to help:
This [heatwave] is exactly the sort of extreme weather that scientists around the world associate with climate change or a warming planet.
This [hurricane] comes at a time when human-caused climate change is consistently making storms more intense.
It tells journos, “You can also try an analogy or turn of phrase:
Climate change isn’t solely to blame for extreme weather, but…
… it stacks the deck against us.
… it’s baked in with our weather, and often a key ingredient in the outcome.
… it supercharges normal weather patterns, like steroids.
I had trouble rooting out who funds CCNow, and discovered that even the Wattsupwiththat blog tried and failed two years ago, suggesting it was the usual gaggle of leftist foundations.
Agence France Presse
I’ll give you a look now at one key member of CCNow, the newswire Agence France Presse. It has 1700 journalists operating in 150 countries. It’s independent but gets about 40% of its funding from French government subsidies.
AFP’s signed the CCNow pledge to hype climate alarm
despite AFP’s clear ethical code of objectivity. This code states
AFP may under no circumstances take account of influences or considerations liable to compromise the objectivity of the information; it may under no circumstances fall under the control of any ideological, political or economic grouping;
AFP readers are getting their global warming fix from AFP’s specialist Marlowe Hood, who has the title “global coordinator for climate change”. This journo has laughably self-titled himself “Senior Editor, Future of the Planet”. He tells us he was “born at 314 ppm (that is, when CO2 was 314 parts per million) and he now calls himself a “herald of the Anthropocene.”
His stories have headlines like “Acceleration of global warming ‘code red’ for humanity“and “Climate cataclysms set stage for key UN science report.”
He was at an Oxford conference in 2009 on (supposed) impacts of a (supposed) 4degC warming. He wrote, “And suddenly the reality of global warming and the human misery it will trail in its wake hit me in the gut and left me gasping for air. Humanity is standing at the crossroads of a “sixth mass extinction”
Prizes and Rewards
For the environmental journo rat-pack, there beckons not just awards and acclaim for saving the planet, but great gobs of cash. AFP’s Mr Hood pocketed a $US110,000 prize from Spain’s BBVA Foundation two years ago .
Elizabeth Kolbert, writer for the New Yorker, has peddled her ridiculous “Sixth Extinction” scare for the past eight years. She picked up a Heinz prize of $US100,000 from the wife of Biden’s loopy “special presidential envoy for climate” John Kerry. She got another $US110,000 award from BBVA last September.
The BBC’s not very accurate climate journo Matt McGrath got the same BBVA $US110,000 windfall in 2019 for his “accurate” reporting. Typical McGrath scare-stuff was from the IPCC confab in Korea in 2018: “Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’.” There’s been a lot of such “final calls”.
Covering Climate Now hands out prizes like confetti. So do academies like Arizona State University, which on Earth Day last year handed out cash to climate writers for their pieces headed, “Is It OK to Have a Child?”; and “In Search of Environmental Hope,”; and “A year’s diary of reckoning with climate anxiety.” A special mention by Arizona University involved an essay chapter aptly titled, “The Great Derangement.”
Earth Journalism Network
My essay last week in Quadrant was about a UK based group called Earth Journalism Network or EJN. It targets journos in the third world to spread the alarmist message. It’s sponsored by a bigger group called Internews which was created to help improve third world journalism.
Internews Europe has a twin relationship with Internews US. When combined, the pair claim to be the world’s second or third largest media supporting group.
Earth Network claims to have trained 15,000 third world reporters to produce more than 15,000 stories. The network writes climate stories itself to plant in third world countries. It woos low-income journos with a host of small money grants and has distributed 500+ fellowships so far. Indeed the network has had more than 11,000 journos applying for its money, 1000 successfully.
The Network pays for dozens or scores of these journos to have a great trip to big climate conferences, especially the annual UN Cops. The Network even provides money to small third world news organisations, many of them financially struggling.
The Network knows how important visuals and graphics are to stories, so it has 10 regional centres pumping out net-zero friendly graphics for free use in the third world.
I can’t find out how much the Network has paid out, only that its “sub-grants” total $3m.
Funders are the usual Hewletts, the Packards, the Rockefellers, plus giants like the European Commission, UN aid agencies, and the governments of the US, UK and Sweden.
I found a good example of how it woos journos in South Africa, giving them ideas and templates for these stories. Here’s two of their prompts to South African journos:
* What risks will South Africa face if it fails to transition to a low carbon economy by 2050? In contrast, what benefits will the country enjoy from aligning its climate commitments to its developmental agenda?
* How is the climate change bill poised to solidify South Africa’s commitment towards reaching net zero?
What’s the reality? South Africa is facing blackouts even worse than the 10-12 hours a day at present. More than half the country – possibly 80% – is without electricity at any given time. It’s now preparing for blackouts even as long as 32 hours to prevent collapse of the grid. It appears that South Africa is on the edge of a total blackout, thanks to incompetence, corruption and especially its absurd renewables and anti-coal policies . But Earth Network is helping ensure the media sticks with the net-zero advocacy.
I noticed an international crowd called NewsGuard launching in Australia two months ago. It partners with Microsoft. It flags health and climate websites with green or red flags depending whether Newsguard approves of them. You can add Newsguard as an extension to your browser for a token amount of about $50 a year.
Newsguard wants to drive advertising revenue away from the unapproved sites.
Who funds Newsguard? The liberal Knight Foundation, Publicis and others.
Where does it operate? US, UK, Europe and Australia.
It’s already red-flagged 20% of the Australian sites it’s looked at. In the US it’s flagged nearly half the sites.
Almost any sceptic claim leads to red-flagging, such as extreme events not being fuelled by climate, or sea level rise not accelerating. It is even rating TV news and talk shows.
The fearful part is Newsguard’s broad reach. It targets journos, bureaucrats and so far 900 libraries with 7 million users, plus schools. I can imagine a teacher shying away from letting kids look at a red-flagged site. It’s just Newsguard’s inhouse liberal journos and activists choosing the colors.
My final look is at Science Feedback – based in France.
Science Feedback claims to use blue-chip scientists to “Combat misinformation to protect democracy.” It supposedly fact-checks and gives a score to climate and vaccine articles for journalists and editors.
The scientist reviewers need a PhD plus an article in top-quartile publication in past four years.
The Feedback’s web says, “Climate Feedback and Health Feedback use on-call academics to quickly highlight hype or spin in news reports and warn reporters against repeating misstatements of fact.“
Revenue is about $1.3m, which finances 16 staff
It’s used by NYT, Politifact, Guardian, Washpost, BBC, etc
The group is part-funded by Chinese-controlled TikTok. Feedback also partners with TikTok to check viral videos for misinformation. Other funders are Meta/Facebook (also a partner), the Intl Fact-Checkng network, and Google News Initiative, which began with $300m Google funding.
Science Feedback laughably claims to be non-partisan . But I’ve counted 10 fact checks against Prof Ian Plimer, a leading Australian sceptic geologist, which seems a bit obsessive. I found no fact-checks of everyone who claimed the Great Barrier Reef was dying when right now it’s showing record coral cover.
In recent months Feedback was among the consortium going after Elon Musk and Twitter. Feedback, like other liberal groups, was working to deprive unapproved sites of advertising.
Who are these Feedback non-partisan scientists? They’re the usual suspects like Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth of Climategate fame, Stephan Rahmstorf of the extremist Potsdam Institute, Peter Gleick who was involved in an ethics scandal ten years back which he said he deeply regretted, and Gavin Schmidt of NASA.
- In the Australian context I recognise the standard alarmist scientists like Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick who attributes weather extremes to warming and three of those Barrier Reef scientists. There’s also a data quality expert from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The Bureau is right now in the firing line for low-quality temperature recording and refusal to allow critics access to check it.
- A number of the Australian scientists on the Feedback panel are notorious for doing a disgusting rap video a decade ago about “we’re climate bleep scientists, what we say is true, sucking bleep in Copenhagen.” It was not even juvenile, they were professors and post-PhDs singing this, and who wants such people steering the transformation of our society – for the worse.
- I’ve looked at a few more media manipulators like the Oxford University Climate Journalism Network, Climate Central, and Poynters but I’ve rabbited on long enough. In six words, don’t trust the media on climate. #####
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