This is no way to make money

Global warming is a real money-spinner — so long as you’ve got the fossil fuel lobby on your side. [26 May 2009 | Peter Boyer]

I’m not often surprised by the straight, unvarnished responses to my climate musings that appear on The Mercury website, but a few weeks ago I was startled by a reader’s comment that I was “employed by Al Gore’s Climate Project, or should I say Banking Project.”

“If there’s no global warming,” the reader went on, “there’s no jobs for the likes of Gore, Boyer and other Greens party members”. He advised me I should stop “making money for the likes of Gore, who I imagine is a multi-millionaire.”

The reader politely accepted my response that I didn’t get paid for my Climate Project presentations, that I made no money for Al Gore, and that I’d never been a member of the Australian Greens party. We’ll just have to agree to differ, he said.

But he’s far from alone. On the web you can find numerous accusations that scientists and climate change campaigners, including Al Gore, are just in it for the money. It’s a recurring theme among those who feel they must speak out against the “green fascists” who’ve hijacked the global agenda.

Try this one from “George Hudak of USA”: “Any sixth grade science education could reveal that Man made global warming is a hoax the purpose [of] which is to enrich Al Gore and his global carbon trading company [and] enrich research scientists”.

It would seem we’re not just greedy for money, but also power. At a New York gathering of climate change deniers earlier this year, none other than the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, branded the campaign to reduce fossil fuel use as “the largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity” of our age.

This is a view supported by Professor Ian Plimer, an Adelaide University geologist and author of a best-selling book on climate science, Heaven and Earth. Prof Plimer has made a good living from doing the opposite of what I do: he tells people that human activity has nothing to do with climate change.

Ian Plimer argues that the science surrounding climate change isn’t science at all but a political movement whereby people control scientific opinion by controlling the purse-strings. If you don’t agree with their “science”, he argues, you have to make it on your own.

Well, not quite on your own. In putting his case against the climate science mainstream, Prof Plimer has been a frequent guest of Australian big business, notably the mining and energy sector, with which he has been closely associated over many decades by virtue of his academic speciality.

I admit to sometimes feeling a bit miffed that I have to live without such backup. When Ken Jeffreys of Forestry Tasmania (who doesn’t lack institutional support) berated me in a recent Mercury column for having been absent from a forestry forum in Launceston, he probably took for granted that a drive across Tasmania is something anyone can do, any time.

I wanted to go, but things got in the way, like the lack of transport: we’re a one-car family with multiple travel needs and I was too late to arrange a car pool with CoolPool Tasmania. Fortunately for me there are other ways of getting information I need, like that invaluable tool the internet.

But you know, I feel blessed. I’ve been where Mr Jeffreys is, I’ve done the work he does, and I don’t want to go back there. I can express what I think is important, a freedom I didn’t have inside the corporate cocoon. I may have to live on less, but that’s something we all have to learn to do.

I’m thinking I should be flattered by accusations that I’m part of a global/green conspiracy. Is this a sign that our effort to shift mindsets, here and everywhere, is starting to bite?

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