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Bjorn again

In December 2015, Australia made a commitment to the global goal “to hold average temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep warming below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

Then in March 2016, the Turnbull government signed an agreement to make a $640,000 grant to Bjørn Lomborg to write yet another climate contrarian book saying that “limiting global temperature rises to 2C was a poor investment.”

In 2012, the Danish government stopped funding Lomberg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre.  Lomborg does not have a background in climate science and has published no peer-reviewed articles on climate change – his views have been widely discredited.

So how did he end up here with his hand out?

Apparently he made a big “impression” on a rather simpering Julie Bishop.

Come sit near me Bjorn

Minister Bishop launched DFAT’s development innovation hub as innovationXchange affirming the Government’s push for the department to be more creative, entrepreneurial and innovative in its design and delivery of the Australian aid program.

The Minister also announced the creation of a 14-member International Reference Group that has brought together leading innovators who will provide strategic guidance and forge linkages with new partners and new sources of financing.

Lomberg was one of this ‘expert’ panel.

Not content with being paid to advise how our foreign aid should be spent, he was also given $4 million to set up a new version of his “Consensus Centre” at the University of Western Australia.

Such was the outcry at giving this man government funds, the university refused the money and, despite Christopher Pyne’s best efforts, he could not find any other reputable educational facility that wanted to be associated with Lomberg’s ‘research’ even if he came with Julie Bishop’s imprimatur and a truckload full of government money.

“You can be certain it will happen,” said Pyne.  “Freedom of speech demands that it does.”

Immediately Andrew Bolt, Henry Ergas, Nick Cater and Tim Wilson cried foul, accusing the university of censorship.  (Having that quartet on his side should be enough to raise concern for anybody.)

As far as I can see, no-one has been stifling Lomberg’s freedom of speech – he just wanted a patsy to fund it.

And that’s where we come in.

On Thursday last week, three days before Christmas, it was revealed that the Department of Education gave Lomberg the money anyway – or at least a goodly portion of it.

The Turnbull government signed an agreement to make a $640,000 grant to Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre nine months after plans to establish the centre had been abandoned.

A breakdown of costs released on Thursday shows that $482,000 of the Australian funding was spent on professional fees and services including research, “outreach” and forums.

About $146,000 was spent on travel in an ambitious global project convening seminars to discuss the UN development goals in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and New York.

The project formed the basis of Lomborg’s book The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World, which is not widely available in Australian shops.

Lomberg’s whole body of work is about comparing the return for money invested in social outcomes.  For example, he thinks that encouraging sustainable tourism or reducing child marriages or drug abuse are relatively wasteful uses of aid funds, and action to reduce GHG emissions is too expensive.

If we are talking about wasteful use of funds, could I suggest that paying Lomberg $640,000 to write another discredited book and fly around the world promoting it was an enormous waste of our education budget, and I have a very uneasy feeling that our Foreign Minister and our ex-Education Minister are susceptible to being charmed.


32 comments

  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yet another cynical, depraved and flagrant abuse of public funding and public expectations by this LNP bunch of bastards.

    I really hope we can make their lives miserable in 2017.

  2. Jaquix

    This is outrageous. Another example of shockingly poor management of the country and its finances. They just seem to get away with all this underhand incompetence/arrogance. No thundering headlines from Murdoch of course. No “Kick This Mob Out” from them. Good to see though that even in Murdoch-riddled Quernsland, the Federal L/NP are on the nose by 5.2% only a few months from their precarious election. Loss of 8 seats possible if an election now. Unlikely to improve either. Only wild card will be Pauline Hanson. Malcolm neednt bother visiting Qld either, fish out of water, no credibility left.

  3. Matters Not

    KL also noticed that payment and in particular the response given by Birmingham in Estimates:

    “Special purpose funding was allocated prior to [Christopher] Pyne deciding to terminate the process … It was commenced under Pyne’s tenure as well,” he said.

    “The decision to initiate it and also the decision to terminate it occurred prior to my appointment as minister. So you are trawling over some ancient history really.”

    Yes Birmingham was correct in pointing out that the Committee was trawling over some ancient history – (no definition of trawling supplied and no definition of ancient history – and none asked for). What curious logic. Just imagine if the ‘legal’ regime proceeded on Birmingham’s definition of ancient history – particularly when it’s within the realm of Pyne’s recent ‘administration’ – laughingly described. No investigation of MPs’ rorting of ‘entitlements’? No exposure of Bishop the Elder’s helicopters’ ‘flights of fancy’?

    When does this timeline for investigation expire? Presumably it doesn’t include the 20 year continued (and successful) investigation of the Claremont murders? Nor does it include the RC’s (failed) investigation of Rudd and Gillard.

    Where’s John Faulkner when you need him? Another missed opportunity?

  4. helvityni

    I suppose our simpering Foreign Minister finds it easier to support a six foot tall Nordic blond man… black Sudanese boys like Faysal Ahmed are not really worth saving….

  5. Matters Not

    Foreign Minister finds it easier to support a six foot tall Nordic blond man

    Perhaps? But given Lomborg is gay, Pyne’s ‘interest’ (and subsequent financial reward) might be a more fruitful avenue for political exploration. Who knows? But also unknown is the Foreign Minister’s attitude to Conversion Therapy . Was that part of the plot? Again we do not know. What we do know, is her ability to ‘come and go’ as many of her ‘boyfriends’ will attest.

    She did marry Neil Gillon – and then left, then came Ross Lightfoot, (I kid you not) – and then left, then came former Perth Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass – and then left. And I won’t go into the number of Lib Leaders she most ‘loyally served’. Here today and gone tomorrow? Or perhaps -‘come and go’ might be the best descriptor’ after all.

    That Lomborg left before he …. will always be a matter for speculation. Or perhaps not?

  6. LOVO

    MN….the pictures you have put in my mind…..bastard….ewww comes to mind …and then theres the question of ‘that’ unmoving hair, umm, in ,umm, that, umm, situation…. 😯 …one wonders if her “coiffure” uses an asbestos based hairspray.

  7. wam

    Be fair a few million is peanuts to a rich country’s prime minister to keep the naysayers sniggering without understanding his point of view?
    The man has two points that count.
    The climate change is real and it is man-made.
    Surely this puts him in agreement with the aimn?
    His far more important point, arguably, highlights the stupidity of the howard government.
    Is it not obvious the billion of us who got rich by shameful waste of coal, oil and gas cannot stop the other 6 billion from using the cheapest form of energy in their ‘getting rich’???
    Was howard stupid in not pumping money into the csiro on renewables?
    Are we still stupid not to realise there are billions to be made if we can make cheap power?????

  8. Matters Not

    LOVO, re:

    the pictures you have put in my mind

    No LOVO! I just provided a few words. The 'pictures' in your mind are all down to you. No responsibility intended nor accepted.

    I'll repeat my mantra – meaning giving is always down to the reader(s).

  9. Miriam English

    Hearing Bjorn Lomborg is here again getting more money out of our pitiful “government” is a bit like the experience of treading in dog shit. It’s disgusting and it stinks. It’s stuck to you despite trying to get rid of it. And it makes it embarrassing to talk to other people because you just know they suspect there’s something wrong with you.

  10. Arthur Tarry

    I thought I was now used to the utter stupidity of this government but this left me gobsmacked and outraged. They are just simply too incompetent to govern this country. Please go away.

  11. John Brame

    Never heard of this guy before. Just another nutjob spouting funded bullshit while our planet continues to suffocate. These morons just slow the whole process of sensible climate action. Shame on the Australian Government.

  12. Keith

    wam

    It has become abundantly clear that Turnbull would make any kind of deal to become PM. While his words in the past might suggest he believed in anthropogenic climate change; his actions show otherwise … he is in the denier portion of the COALition. Supporting the direct action “policy” when in the past extremely critical of of that “policy” is an example. Since PM Gillard’s carbon tax was stopped, CO2 emissions began to creep up. The goals set by the COALition for 2030 will not be met.

    In relation to costs, renewable energy is becoming increasingly cheaper; while, the cost of fossil fuels is going in the opposite direction. That is, without taking into account the hidden costs associated with coal; health, environmental damage, and agricultural matters due to extremes in weather patterns. In the last month or so, while the Arctic is in darkness there have been periods of sea ice melting, rather than, forming. Multi year ice which provides stability for newly formed ice has also been lost. Over decades sea ice thickness, volume and extent have been going down shown by the trend line.

  13. nurses1968

    With the Governments continued denials on Climate change I find some of the results of the latest Newspoll a bit troubling
    ” The government, however, has posted a 1.6 point gain among voters aged 18 to 34 and held its position among voters aged from 35 to 49.”

  14. Kaye Lee

    The government signed a funding agreement with UWA on 24 March 2015. It was terminated by consent on 26 June 2015 and no money was paid to UWA. Whilst there was a memorandum of understanding between UWA and Lomberg’s CCC, there was no government obligation directly to Lomberg. That was a whole new agreement signed on 21 March 2016 which they tried to pass off as an obligation for costs incurred before the cancellation. When this was shown to be completely untrue, they then backtracked saying “The government’s decision to pay the grant was based on the merits of supporting further work to complete the project.”

    Pyne was determined to make sure Bjorn was looked after even after he was moved on from education. It makes me very nervous to know that Pyne is now in charge of spending $400 billion over the next twenty years. I am not convinced that Christopher employs the appropriate criteria when deciding who to shower with his largesse,

  15. helvityni

    LOVO, re ‘unmoving hair’

    When Ms Bishop senior left Canberra, she left her huge collection of hairsprays behind. Michaelia took the most, but there was enough to be shared between Julie and the Fixer Pyne……

  16. Keith

    Just came across this article which provides a critique of a Lomborg article:

    http://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/sea-level-rise-those-non-disappearing-pacific-islands-bjorn-lomborg-wall-street-journal/

    Quote:

    “This Wall Street Journal article comments on the fact that atoll islands in the Pacific are not all simply shrinking as sea level rises, because dynamic coastal processes can move sediment to build shorelines outward. However, the article doesn’t mention that sea level rise related to unchecked global warming would ultimately make many low-lying islands in the Pacific uninhabitable.

    The author, Bjorn Lomborg, cherry-picks this specific piece of research and uses it in support of a broad argument against the value of climate policy. He also misrepresents the Paris Agreement to downplay its potential to curb future climate change.”

  17. Ricardo29

    No thundering headlines from Murdoch of course. No “Kick This Mob Out” from them.

    Many of us Territorians are reading the book du jour, “Crocs in the Cabinet” an examination of the four years of the worst NT government ever (my assessment having lived through them all) and described as an instruction manual in ‘how not to run a government’. It is written by two scribes from the (Murdoch owned) NT News and while The News might not have been as raucous in its condemnations of the Mills/Giles government as it might have been, the book certainly sets that right. My point is that there must surely be outsiders ready to write the history of the Abbott/Turnbull/??? Government (surely the worst in australia’s history) once this sorry saga of sad and expensive incompetence is brought to a close. However its unlikely to be as entertaining as C in the C and won’t redress this mob’s iniquities.

  18. keerti

    I love the use of the word “charmed” in your article. I wonder if it was the Scandinavian accent or the fair hair and good looks. Whatever, it is clear what bishop uses to think with!

  19. John Brame

    I guess we are lucky Malcolm Roberts isn’t tall, buffed with nordic good looks, otherwise he might be showered with more cash to fund Galileo.

  20. Andreas Bimba

    MReading about the ministers in this government just leads to ever greater contempt for them where they continually outdo each other to be the most contemptible of the bunch, until you read about the next one – a bit like spiralling into a black hole of destruction.

    Lucky for this government the truth is well hidden from the wilfully ignorant electorate. The mass media instead of describing our imminent demise portray this government as the bringer of prosperity and sunshine. Indeed as Malcolm said “There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian”, and for those who he associates with that is probably true, and for he and his party that is all that they are paid to deliver.

  21. townsvilleblog

    If Julie’s got the hots for him, $604,000 seems a modest sum to have him around. We can’t waste money on Australian citizens, but this bloke is not an Aussie, so she’ll be right ole’ China plate!

  22. totaram

    “..very uneasy feeling that our Foreign Minister and our ex-Education Minister are susceptible to being charmed.”

    Come on Kaye! Charmed or not, it is all part of the “plan”. The IPA has decreed that AGW aka “climate change caused by human activity” is a fraud, and anyone who writes in support of doing nothing about it, or rather doing “something else”, needs to be funded.
    No other explanation required. It’s just good to expose the fact that after all the fuss, this guy still gets the funding, but quietly. Bjorn again indeed!

  23. Max Gross

    The brazen LNP outrages continue with impunity. How the hell will Australia survive another two or three years of this willful idiocy?

  24. wam

    thanks keith the costs are going down but so is our science participation in renewable energy bleat all the aimn likes our real input into the atmosphere is insignificant but we could be helping africa, china and india get rich on our science. Rather than spend wastefully we could be ‘great again’ at developing renewable technology with a few dollars to the CSIRO??????

  25. LOVO

    So Wam (sorry to hear a about George ) , what you seem to be sayin’ is that APART from the COAL that we sell overseas ‘our real input into the atmosphere is insignificant ‘. …umm… WTF mate…But HEY we ain’t burnin’ it HERE so it’s not OUR’S….is that correct?
    Though I Will agree with you on CSIRO funding…they are world leaders on many fronts…..especially about the success of HIP’s and other FACTS in regards AGW. Discuss 😛

  26. Miriam English

    wam, perhaps re-read your posts before sending them. Like LOVO, I’m struggling to work out what your previous post was about. (Please don’t read this as a rude rebuke. It isn’t intended to be. Just a straightforward statement of difficulty.)

  27. John Brame

    Per capita oz is on par or above the US with co2 emissions and well above India and China.

  28. Miriam English

    John, we are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. We are the biggest wasters of many things. We have a terrible record.

  29. wam

    miriam when I read it makes sense when I re read after your comment it doesn’t say what i meant. sorry for my stupid brain which runs faster than my words.
    the CSIRO was the only positive thing done by ming in his 16 years of living off labor catholics and the godless commos. The CSIRO was undermined by howard when we were leading the charge to renewables? The source of energy needed to make the 6 million non europeans rich.
    The reference to ‘great again was a feeble attempt to parody trump’s slogan.

    Individually were are the biggest and totally we are insignificant which truth do we choose? Let us be altruistic with a big boost to the CSIRO to suck up some of the billions to be made in china, the subcontinent and Africa.
    The pollies are so blind as to place the future of Australia firmly in the hands of god through the worship of mammon.

  30. Miriam English

    wam, no worries. I do the same thing from time to time, usually when I’m tired or rushed.

    The way to resolve the apparent conflict over us being individually the worst polluters, but collectively almost insignificant on the world stage, is to do the mental experiment of merging us with another nation such as USA. Consider the moral bankruptcy of this statement:
    USA is the worst polluting nation on Earth, so everybody, except for the small number of the worst of the worst, should curtail their pollution.
    Suddenly it makes no sense at all.

    I wish I knew what the pollies are thinking. Are they horrified that they are at the wheel of an out-of-control vehicle carreening toward a precipice, so deny it to avoid blame? Or do they see the problem, but just don’t care because their greed is being fed while they deny it? Or have they gladly put on blinders so they don’t have to see the problem and, like the child believing in Santa so that they can get xmas pressies, dismiss climate change with great relief because it relieves them of the burden of knowing the evil of their actions? Or some mix of all three?

    Regardless of which, they are contemptible.

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