Thursday, April 18, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: Victory For Peter Ridd and Academic Freedom

Peter Ridd Has Defeated The Climate Inquisition Thanks To You

In this newsletter:

1) Victory For Peter Ridd & Academic Freedom: ‘Sacking Ruled Unlawful’
The Australian, 16 April 2019
2) Peter Ridd Has Defeated The Climate Inquisition Thanks To You
Jennifer Marohasy, Spectator Australia, 16 April 2019

3) Incompetent Tory Government Risks Killing Shale Revolution As Ineos Warns Of UK Pull-Out
City A.M. 16 April 2019
4) Did ‘Our Planet’ Lie To Viewers When It Claimed Climate Change Drove Walruses Off A Cliff?
Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, 15 April 2019 
5) Matt Ridley: A Costly Temper Tantrum
The Times, 16 April 2019
6) Niall Ferguson: Join My NATO Or Watch Critical Thinking Die
The Sunday Times, 14 April 2019

Full details:

1) Victory For Peter Ridd & Academic Freedom: ‘Sacking Ruled Unlawful’
The Australian, 16 April 2019

A Federal Court judge has ruled that James Cook University acted unlawfully when it sacked professor Peter Ridd after he publicly criticised the institution and one of its star scientists over claims about the impact global warming had on the Great Barrier Reef.

Former JCU climate scientist Peter Ridd with his legal team.

Professor Ridd, who worked at the university for 40 years, challenged the dismissal in the Federal Circuit Court, saying the university breached its own enterprise agreement which allowed all staff to express controversial or unpopular views.

The physics professor argued that the Townsville-based university, which is renowned for its marine science expertise, dismissed him for breaching the university’s code of conduct.

Handing down his decision today, judge Salvatore Vasta said that the 17 findings used by the university to justify the sacking were unlawful.

“The Court rules that the 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful,” Judge Vasta said.

A penalty hearing will be set for a later date.

At a hearing last month, Professor Ridd’s barrister Stuart Wood argued his client was entitled to criticise his colleagues and the university’s perceived lack of quality assurance processes.

In 2016, Professor Ridd emailed a journalist to allege that images given to the media by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority were misleading because they showed poorly affected corals, which were selected over nearby healthy coral and used to show “broad scale decline” of reef health.

Professor Ridd claimed the use of the images was “a dramatic example of how scientific organisations are happy to spin a story for their own purposes”.

He also said his colleague Professor Terry Hughes, the head of JCU’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, would “wriggle and squirm” when asked to explain the discrepancies in the images.

Professor Ridd was censured again when he repeated the claims on Sky News.

After a third alleged violation of the code of conduct, Professor Ridd was sacked in April 2018.

Full story

2) Peter Ridd Has Defeated The Climate Inquisition Thanks To You
Jennifer Marohasy, Spectator Australia, 16 April 2019

Peter Ridd was a professor at James Cook University who dared to question claims that the Great Barrier Reef is facing imminent catastrophe from climate change. Eventually he was sacked for not backing down.

But with public support support he insisted that the university undertake some quality assurance of its research, and refused to be censored, for continuing to speak out.

His battle to speak for science against the Climate Inquisition reached the courts, with a three-day hearing in the Federal Court in Brisbane just last month. When the hearing wrapped up the presiding Judge Salvatore Vasta said he hoped to have a judgement before Easter.

We were expecting some notice before this judgement was read in court. There was none. It was presented today. And Peter Ridd won on all counts.

The Court ordered:

* The 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful.

* The issue of the making of declarations and penalty are adjourned to a date to be fixed.

It is very significant that Peter has won on the issue of academic freedom: that he did have a right to ignore the university administrators and continuing to speak out about the lack of quality assurance and also against the disciplinary process he was being unfairly subjected to.

This is important news for freedom of speech and thought and professional conscience everywhere.

James Cook University may have already spent over $1 million in legal fees attempting to silence Peter.
They have assumed that sooner or later he would run out of money and courage. But not Peter, with his legal team and support of people like Spectator Australia readers has kept going.

I have known several good professors lose their will to fight once they are isolated, and risk bankruptcy.

Taking this fight to the Federal Court would not have been possible were it not for Peter deciding to take a stand in defence of the truth, to not back down regardless of the consequences.

Cheryl Ridd has been a rock, in support of Peter and the ugliness that goes with such court cases, including the unfair and untrue affidavits.

John Roskam from the Institute of Public Affairs found Peter the very best legal counsel in Stuart Wood QC.
We then went into fundraising mode – twice. The first time to fight the censure, and the second time for Peter to get his job back.

Bloggers Anthony WattsJoanne Nova, and also Benny Peiser were terrific. Together we raised $260,000 from 2,405 people.

Today’s judgement is only that Peter Ridd was wrongly sacked from his position as professor at the university.

He has not yet got his job back. There has been no ruling yet on remedies and restitutions. Further, the university may yet appeal.

But thank you for your support – so far. May you generosity continue.

Full post & comments

3) Incompetent Tory Government Risks Killing Shale Revolution As Ineos Warns Of UK Pull-Out
City A.M. 16 April 2019

The UK’s largest private company has “strongly hinted” it could pull out of fracking unless rules for the industry are changed.

Ineos staff told the Oil and Gas Authority at a meeting in November that it is “keen to have a dialogue” with the government about changing the level of seismic activity fracking is allowed to cause, according to minutes seen by the Financial Times.

Read more: Anti-fracking protesters deal blow against Ineos in court

Current regulations say all activity must stop if fracking causes tremors above 0.5 on the Richter scale.

Ineos and fellow fracker Cuadrilla have been lobbying government for months to increase its limits, citing US standards which allow activity of up to 4.5 per cent in some states.

“They [Ineos] are strongly of the view that a sensible, realistic, scientifically backed limit is needed — otherwise it was strongly hinted they are unlikely to apply for consents to undertake fracking,” the minutes say.

Ineos is aiming to become one of the first companies to extract shale gas using the fracturing method. It has been performing tests in Nottinghamshire.

An Ineos spokesperson said:

“The issue of seismic limits is important because when they were originally set, we understood that operations under these controls would be subject to careful scrutiny to ensure effectiveness, but would also be reviewed as experience developed to ensure they are proportionate to the risks. This has not been the case and the industry is being stopped from moving forward.”

In February Britain’s richest man and Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe blasted the government’s policy, saying it could help kill off fracking in the UK.

“We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry” the billionaire said.

4) Did ‘Our Planet’ Lie To Viewers When It Claimed Climate Change Drove Walruses Off A Cliff?
Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, 15 April 2019 

The Netflix documentary series “Our Planet” is using chilling footage of walruses falling off a cliff to mislead viewers in the name of climate activism, a Canadian zoologist claimed.

“Our Planet,” narrated by famed naturalist and BBC broadcaster David Attenborough, has a message: Climate change is endangering the planet. But it’s a message that comes at the expense of the facts, according to Susan Crockford, a zoologist and adjunct professor at the University of Victoria.

Crockford argues the Netflix documentary’s iconic scene of walruses falling to their deaths is actually the same incident recorded in Siberia in October 2017.

Polar bears were behind those plummeting walruses, not global warming as “Our Planet” told viewers.

“The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff,” Crockford wrote on her personal blog Sunday.

The documentary’s viral walrus scene was filmed at the Kozhevnikova Cape, near the town of Ryrkaypiy. The same place where, in 2017, a group of roughly 20 polar bears spooked a herd of about 5,000 walruses resting near the cliffs, sending many to their deaths.

Crockford says “Our Planet” filmed the same, widely publicized, walrus haul-out, but neglected to mention the polar bears that spooked the walruses.

“Our Planet” was produced in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a prominent environmental group. Each episode highlights an important ecosystem they see as threatened by man-made climate change.

The “Frozen World” episode’s walrus haul-out scene went viral online. WWF used the scene to make walruses the “new symbol of climate change” — apparently, replacing the iconic polar bear. WWF did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by press time.

The U.K. Telegraph reported that in bonus footage from the “Our Planet” episode, “many polar bears were seen prowling the tops of the cliffs,” but those polar bears were not seen in actual episode.

“I can only conclude, therefore, that the two incidents are indeed essentially one and the same: that the filmmakers, probably alerted by resident WWF employees at Ryrkaipiy, moved in after polar bears caused hundreds of walrus to fall to their deaths,” Crockford wrote. “The crew then captured on film the last few falls over the cliff as the walrus herd moved away from the haulout.”

“This is, of course, in addition to the bigger lie that lack of sea ice is to blame for walrus herds being onshore in the first place,” Crockford wrote.

The “Our Planet” team pushed back. The crew said the walruses weren’t being attacked by polar bears, but instead walked off the cliffs on their own. Director Sophie Lanfear said the walruses fell from the cliffs once the herd began to leave. She blamed the incident on climate change.

“Fundamentally, the reason walrus used this haul out location is because of a lack of sea ice in the region, meaning they are coming ashore more frequently than they did in the past,” Lanfear told The Telegraph.

“Especially mothers with their pups. And at this particular site, once the beach below the cliffs was full, they  spread out and up the cliffs and were unable to find their way safely down, with tragic consequences.”

Wildlife experts, however, remained skeptical that climate change had anything to do with walrus cliff-diving. Experts have documented many past instances of walrus haul-outs, including those where animals fall to their deaths.

“Walruses have shown similar behavior on the U.S. coastline when space and ice were not an issue, and the reason is unknown,” Lori Polasek of the University of Alaska Fairbanks told The Atlantic.

Experts recorded that dozens of male walruses fell from cliffs in southwest Alaska in 1996, and large walrus haul-outs, including ones with females and calves, have been recorded for decades.

Experts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reported in 2017 that “large mortality events from trampling have occurred at coastal haulouts as recently as 2007.” Younger, smaller walruses can get trampled in the crowds, especially when the herd gets spooked.

Predators, like bears, or human interference — hunters, machinery or vehicle noise — can spook walruses and even cause them to fall off cliffs as was observed nearly two years ago at the Kozhevnikova Cape.

Full story

5) Matt Ridley: A Costly Temper Tantrum
The Times, 16 April 2019

A temper tantrum by mostly middle-class protesters to bring London to a halt will do nothing to help the climate and a lot to ruin ordinary people’s lives. They want net zero carbon dioxide emissions from the UK economy by 2025 to avoid “extinction”.

I am not sure they have thought this through. That target would mean scrapping more than 60 million gas boilers and car engines. Because there is not time to build a fleet of nuclear plants by then, replacing all that combustion with emission-free electricity would require carpeting the entire country and most of another country somewhere with wind turbines (made using 150 tonnes of coal each) or solar panels (made with mined metals) to the detriment of birds, forests and landscapes.

They protest that Britain is doing nothing about climate change. Not true. No country has enacted a more draconian set of emissions targets, but try protesting in Russia or China — it would not be such a walk in the park.

So far, analysis has shown, our policies have resulted in higher energy costs, borne disproportionately by the poor, and no greater emissions reduction than if we had gone for gas instead.

If it is extinction the protesters are worried about, they are aiming at the wrong target. Most species extinctions are the result of invasive alien species and habitat loss, itself encouraged by misguided climate policies to turn forests into fuel.

If it is human life they are concerned about, they should know that deaths from storms, droughts and floods have fallen by 98 per cent in a century, but about three million people a year die from the effect of indoor smoke caused by cooking over wood fires (harvested from wild forests) because of lack of access to gas or electricity.

Far from prosperity being the problem, it is the answer. It weans people off habitat-destroying dependence on burning wood, and it leads to reforestation, the creation of nature reserves and the return of wildlife. Why are wolves increasing, lions decreasing and tigers now holding their own? Because wolves live in rich countries, lions in poor countries and tigers in middle-income countries.

The protesters have been duped into old fashioned anti-capitalism. The campaigner George Monbiot gave the game away this week when he said the point of these protests was “to go straight to the heart of capitalism to overthrow it”.

Full post 

6) Niall Ferguson: Join My NATO Or Watch Critical Thinking Die
The Sunday Times, 14 April 2019

A new red army is out to silence debate. We must rise up and resist it

Seventy years ago this month Nato was established to protect western Europe and the freedoms of its inhabitants from the threat of Soviet communism. It has become clear to me that we now need a similar organisation to protect western intellectuals from a growing threat to academic freedom.

The North Atlantic Treaty, signed by 12 governments in Washington on April 4, 1949, was a treaty of mutual defence “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”. Article 5 of the treaty states that “an armed attack against one or more of [the signatories] . . . shall be considered an attack against them all”.

It would be an oversimplification to say that this alone deterred the Soviet Union from attempting to extend its power any further west than the River Elbe. Nevertheless, the commitment of successive American presidents to Nato, along with the presence of US troops and missiles in western Europe, may be said to have worked. During the Cold War, Moscow sought to expand its influence in Latin America, the Middle East, east Asia and Africa. It left western Europe alone.

In those days a small but courageous group of western academics did what they could to expose the wickedness of communism and to support political and religious dissidents in the Soviet sphere of influence. A member of that group was Roger Scruton. During the 1980s he travelled to communist-controlled Czechoslovakia to assist an underground education network run by the Czech dissident Julius Tomin. In 1985, during a trip to Brno, Scruton was arrested and expelled.

A philosopher of international renown, a prolific author, a composer and a polymath, Scruton has one of the most powerful minds I have encountered. But he is one of those rare thinkers who seek to change the world as well as to understand and explain it. There was a time when those qualities were venerated. In 1998 he was awarded the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit by its then president Vaclav Havel, himself a former dissident. A knighthood came in 2016. And last year he was appointed chairman of the government’s commission on buildings.

Almost immediately after that, however, the attacks from the left began. The campaign against him culminated last week in the publication of a cynical hit-piece in the New Statesman, which misrepresented his views on a number of issues — the influence of George Soros, China’s policies of social control and the origins of the term “Islamophobia” — in order to portray him as a racist. The government took the bait. James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for housing, immediately sacked him. A spokeswoman for the prime minister described his comments as “deeply offensive and completely unacceptable”.

In reality, Scruton had been framed. The author of the New Statesman hatchet job, George Eaton, had edited quotations and inserted his own commentary with the clear intention of getting him sacked. He further massaged the “gotcha” quotes (“outrageous remarks”) on social media. Having achieved his objective, Eaton jubilantly published a photograph — later deleted — of himself drinking champagne from a bottle with the tagline: “The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser.”

A month rarely passes without some such tale of a conservative academic being “taken down”. In March it was the turn of the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, who was informed by Cambridge that the visiting fellowship he had been offered by the faculty of divinity was being cancelled. The reason? At a book signing he had been photographed standing next to a man with a T-shirt bearing the (obviously facetious) slogan “I’m a proud Islamophobe”.

Before that it was the US political scientist Samuel Abrams, who now faces a “tenure review” at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. His thoughtcrime? An article pointing out that academic administrators are even more left-leaning than professors.

January’s cause célèbre was that of Peter Boghossian, a philosopher at Portland State University, who is being investigated by his own institution. Why? Because he was one of the perpetrators of the brilliant “grievance studies” hoax, which exposed the ease with which supposedly scholarly journals could be duped into publishing bogus articles.

Then there’s Roland Fryer, the Harvard economist who has been suspended for more than a year because of highly questionable allegations of sexual harassment. I have a hunch those allegations might never have been made if Fryer, an African-American, had not published a paper concluding that the police did not, after all, use lethal violence more readily against black suspects than white.

And let’s not forget Professors Nigel Biggar and Bruce Gilley, both denounced last year for daring to point out that not every aspect of the history of the British Empire was a crime against humanity. I could go on, but you get the picture.

In every case the pattern is the same. An academic deemed to be conservative gets “called out” by a leftist group or rag. The Twitter mob piles in. Mindless mainstream media outlets amplify the story. The relevant authorities capitulate.

The most striking common feature is the near-complete isolation of the target. Did Abrams’s colleagues step up to defend his (and their own) academic freedom? On the contrary: 40 of his fellow professors endorsed the student leftists’ demand that his tenure be reviewed. Did Fryer’s fellow Harvard economists question the way their only black colleague was being treated? Not one has publicly defended him.

My message to all professional thinkers — academics, public intellectuals, writers of any stripe — is this: we either hang together or we hang separately. Even being an avowed progressive won’t help you if you fail just one wokeness test, as Bret Weinstein did when he objected to the idea of a “day of absence” for all white students and faculty at Evergreen State College in Washington state.

A direct descendant of the illiberal, egalitarian ideology that once suppressed free speech in eastern Europe is now shutting down debate in the West. For those, like Scruton, who once helped Czech dissidents to get degrees in theology from Cambridge, the irony is bitter indeed.

The lesson of the Cold War is clear. From now on an attack on one of us must be considered an attack on all of us. I therefore invite all who believe in the fundamental human freedoms to sign a new Non-conformist Academic Treaty.

The present danger to free thought and speech is not Red Army tanks pouring through the Fulda Gap in Germany; it is the red army of mediocrities waging war on dissent within academia and the media. It is time to confront these people with the one thing that will deter them, as it once deterred the Soviets: massive retaliation.

Divided we shall fall. But united we can ensure that the reputation destroyed last week was not Sir Roger Scruton’s but the New Statesman’s.

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

No comments: