Why won’t we ask questions on climate change?
IT happened so fast that few people watching would know they'd just seen a shocking sign of the debasement of journalism in this country. I say that because it actually happened at the National Press Club, in front of many of Australia's top political journalists.
And before that audience, Australian Conservation Foundation boss Kelly O'Shanassy made this preposterous claim: "If we continue to burn coal and gas for decades to come, … we will not have a habitable planet and hundreds of millions of people will die."
"Hundreds of millions of people will die"? We will "not have a habitable planet"?
But get this: not a single journalist in the room said: "Are you nuts?" Not one asked: "What's your evidence?"
To me, it's mad, bad and dangerous that a room of journalists can hear a shiny-eyed speaker proclaim the end of the world - at least for humans - yet react without the slightest scepticism.
Have they no eyes to see or brains to think? Just look outside. Is there any sign of humanity facing this catastrophe - the imminent killing of at least three times more people than died in World War II, followed by the loss of our planet home?
Journalists are supposedly trained to notice stuff, and surely, the journalistic cream in the National Press Club must have noticed exactly the opposite is so far happening outside their front doors.
Over the past century the planet is believed to have warned 1C, much of that perhaps from natural influences, yet every indicator suggests the world's peoples are actually leading longer and healthier lives. The warming has not brought disasters but, if anything, blessings.
For instance, the planet has greened and in the past decade set several records for grain harvests, both in Australia and globally.
We've also had fewer cyclones, here and globally and Australia's rainfall has increased, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The latest report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits there's no proof of more droughts globally, either. Nor are low-lying Pacific atoll islands drowning under rising seas, no matter how often the ABC claims the opposite. Definitive research by Professor Paul Kench confirms that 43 per cent of islands studied are in fact growing and only 14 per cent shrinking.
What's more, satellite records maintained by the University of Alabama at Huntsville show very little global warming this century.
All these facts are easy to check. What stuns me is that almost no journalist bothers, especially on the ABC, despite routinely claiming global warming is a "crisis" that demands Australia take painful "action", such as banning cheap coal-fired electricity stations and ending our $60 billion coal exports.
Any falsehood is now broadcast, as long as it suits the warmist cause. Just last week, the ABC's flagship AM program broadcast - unchallenged - a plainly false claim by a visiting Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, that there had been an "increase in weather variability, the hurricanes, the cyclones". Even the IPCC last month admitted the opposite was true: "Numerous studies … have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy."
But let's now check the possible basis for O'Shanassy's claim that "hundreds of millions of people will die" if we keep burning coal and heating the planet.
O'Shanassy claimed her source was last month's IPCC report. In it, the closest support for her claim is a brief citation of an alarmist paper from Duke University researchers that 153 million people (not hundreds of millions) could be saved from early deaths if the world stopped the kind of emissions that pump out ozone and particulates - the stuff that causes smog.
Be clear: that research is talking about dirty emissions of the kind Australia already restricts, and not invisible global-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.
What's more, it includes not just emissions from older-generation coal-fired power stations but the dirt pumped out from the exhausts of cars and trucks, which don't come from coal at all.
Now, I don't expect journalists at O'Shanassy's speech to have known that detail. But I do expect journalists to hold scaremongers to account.
And here is why Tuesday was scary. Those journalists don't. They don't want to.
They accept wild doom-preaching because for some strange reason they really, really want this junk to be true.
In short: facts and reason no longer count in journalism. If you don't think that's scary, you deserve all the pain that's coming.