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Daily Archives: July 18th, 2012


August 18, 2011

Conservative white men ... (from top left) Cardinal George Pell, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Christopher Monckton.Conservative white men … (from top left) Cardinal George Pell, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Christopher Monckton.

When it comes to climate change, most people have heard of the greenhouse effect, but what about the “conservative white male” effect?

A US-based study has found that white men with politically conservative views are far more likely than the rest of the population to doubt the science of human-caused climate change.

These CWMs tend to stand out and do well in many social, work, and political organisations, they align themselves with those sharing similar views

And the “conservative white male effect” has been linked to Australia, with one prominent researcher citing the existence of a successful, politically engaged and outspoken coterie operating in high-profile positions that attract wide media coverage.

In the US researchers’ paper published in the journal Global Environmental Change, Dr Aaron McCright and Dr Riley Dunlap analysed data from 10 annual US opinion polls on environmental issues.

They found 58 per cent of conservative white males – or CWMs for short – thought recent global temperature rises were not caused mainly from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels. This compared with 31 per cent of other adults.

Some 29 per cent of CWMs thought the effects of global warming would “never happen” compared with only seven per cent of other adults.

The paper, titled Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States, found CWMs who claimed they understood the global warming issue “very well” were even more convinced that global warming wasn’t happening.

The researchers concluded that “organised climate change denial” had spread from US conservative think-tanks to other nations, including New Zealand and Australia.

They wrote: “Throughought these Anglo countries organised denial seems to be dominated by politically conservative white males, and this suggests that a similar conservative white male effect might be emerging in the general publics of these nations with regard to climate change denial.”

Professor Joseph Reser, a Research Fellow with Griffith University’s Climate Change Response Program in Queensland, agreed broadly with the findings, but said his own research and other comparable studies from the US and Europe suggested the proportion of true climate change sceptics was much smaller.

“If you look at this group of conservative white males, less than 30% are characterised as denialists – they are not a majority even within this grouping,” Professer Reser said.

“But these CWMs tend to stand out and do well in many social, work, and political organisations; they align themselves with those sharing similar views; and they are also more likely to be outspoken in their views and politically engaged, and to work and operate in sectors where their views get aired more.”

He said the fact conservatives were unduly confident about their own views on climate change “also makes them less open to differing views or able to accept that they might be wrong”.

Dr Kelly Fielding, a senior researcher at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research, said political affiliation was strongly linked to climate change beliefs.

Dr Fielding was part of a research project which last year surveyed more than 300 Australian political leaders.

Only 38 per cent of Liberal-National politicians thought humans were causing global warming, compared to 89 per cent from Labor.

“We’ve shown results that are consistent with the US results,’’ she said. “Political ordination is the strongest predictor for what people believe about climate change.”

But she added that political conservatism wasn’t linked to climate scepticism everywhere, pointing to Germany and the UK as examples.

Dr Reser led a national survey last year of more than 3000 Australians which found 90 per cent of respondents accepted humans were “playing a causal role” in climate change. Less than six per cent could really be classified as strong disbelievers, he said. There was also a distinct gender divide, with more women willing to accept the scientific evidence.

“I don’t accept – nor does the evidence support – that there’s a high level of denial in Australia or North America,’’ he said. “It’s something of a cultivated urban myth – and a substantial misreading of where the public is at. There has been a small but strident group of climate sceptic lobbyists pushing that argument for a long time.”

Criticising the current political debate around climate change, Dr Reser added: “What’s happening with the Coalition and their prominent spokespersons is that they are playing on public concerns and worries about not only the profound threat of climate change, but multiple and interacting social, political, and environmental issues, both national and global.

“People in turn want to hear that things are not as bad as they appear to be. This might be an effective political strategy, but it is also a rather crass exploitation of very genuine public concerns for the sake of political point scoring – rather than seriously acknowledging or addressing these genuine concerns – or indeed the core challenges of climate change.

“This cynical political rhetoric is really unfortunate, it undermines well-founded public belief, scientific credibility, and political will, and it is part of the reason that this urban myth exists.”

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July 18, 2012 – 10:08AM

Graham Readfearn

Anyone who places any stock in safeguarding the current and future climate (and for that matter anyone who doesn’t) should prepare themselves for the risk that very soon, climate science deniers, contrarians and sceptics will be running the show.

All the polls suggest that the Liberal-led Coalition will sweep to power at next year’s Federal election. Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott, if we care to remember, once described climate change as “crap“.

Our descent into the deluded world of pseudo-science occupied by astrology, creationism, crystal healing and homeopathy is almost complete.

Views shared among Abbott’s parliamentary coalition ranks are that climate science is a “leftist fad” and a “work of fiction”.

The Liberal-National Party’s new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his environment minister Andrew Powell have both said they’re unable to accept the evidence of human-caused climate change, going against the scientific findings of the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology and every major science academy on the planet.

Instead the Newmans and Abbotts of this world would rather stake the future of their constituents, our economies, our food supplies and our coastlines on the ideologically-blinkered pseudo-science of narrow vested interests and free market fundamentalists.

The latest snapshot on this inglorious race to the bottom came last week during the Queensland LNP state conference with a motion proposed by the Noosa LNP member Richard Pearson.

Pearson’s motion called on the state’s education minister John-Paul Langbroek to “remove environmental propaganda material, in particular post-normal science about ‘climate change’, from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time”. The motion was passed with party members overwhelmingly in favour.

LNP state representative Glen Elmes recently thanked Pearson in parliament for helping him win his Noosa seat at the state election earlier this year (perhaps those visits to Noosa by fake experts Christopher Monckton and Professor Bob Carter have rubbed off on the Sunshine Coast community).

As reported on Brisbane Times, Pearson said: “Few people understand that the so called science of climate change is really what can be defined as ‘post-normal’ science,” before apparently arguing that climate change went beyond traditional understanding of science based on experimentation and falsifiable theories.

To Pearson and others, the experiments of John Tyndall in 1859 which established the warming properties of what we now know to be greenhouse gases just didn’t happen. Not in existence either, are the reams of scientific papers over many decades which have attempted but failed to falsify the “theory” that burning fossil fuels is causing the world’s average temperature to rise, the oceans to become more acidic, the sea levels to rise and the ice at the poles to melt.

Also not in existence is last week’s study by almost 400 scientists (they’re everywhere) which showed that greenhouse gas emissions were increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events.

So far, Premier Newman has clarified that while Pearson’s motion has been passed by the party, this doesn’t mean it will be adopted by the parliamentary group which he leads.

“We will always do the right thing by Queenslanders ahead of the LNP,” he said, forgetting that just a few weeks ago he told Queenslanders the state was actually “in the coal business”.

Regardless, reaction to the motion has been damning. Anna-Maria Arabia, the chief executive of Science & Technology Australia, which represents almost 70,000 scientists and technology experts in Australia, described it as “extremely harmful”.

The secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union Kevin Bates told The Australian that it was important schools taught children to have an “open mind” (but presumably not so open that your brain falls out). “Our greatest concern is that this is a government that is going to interfere in the education process,” he said.

One blogging research scientist wrote that the motion was “preparing our children for future ridicule“.

Helping in this process is the Institute for Public Affairs, which has been sending out a discredited book on climate change to Australian schools. The book How To Get Expelled From School, written by Professor Ian Plimer, a member of the board of two of Gina Rinehart’s mining companies, was launched by former Prime Minister John Howard.

At the launch, Professor Plimer said “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming”. Clearly, Professor Plimer sees his book as a political tool.

While consistently claiming that school children are being brainwashed by climate change “propoganda”, those who push this line rarely (if ever) produce any actual evidence. Pearson didn’t define what he meant by “propaganda” or “post normal science”.

Plimer’s genuine piece of propaganda was described by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, which analysed his book, as “misleading” and based on “inaccurate or selective interpretation of the science”.

It should not be forgotten that Tony Abbott isn’t afraid of pushing his own misinformed climate dogma on young schoolkids when given the chance.

In 2010, he told a class of five and six year olds in Adelaide: “OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now.”

Nobody should be surprised that conservative politicians are unable to accept climate change science. A survey of political representatives at local, state and federal level carried out in late 2009 found that acceptance of climate change science was divided along political lines.

The University of Queensland survey found only about one third of Liberal/National politicians accepted the world was warming because of human activity. This compared to nine out of 10 Labor politicians and practically all Greens.

Then there’s the “conservative white male effect” discovered by scientists (yes, them again) in the US linking the described demographic to the denial of human-caused climate change.

The Australian conservative political movement’s lurch towards the denial of human-caused climate science is like a mirror-image of the same enlightenment-crushing ideas of many US Republicans.

None of the recent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination (excusing possibly John Huntsman) were able to publicly back climate change science, with some reverting to scepticism after previously accepting the issue.

Also in common with the US is the existence of Tea Party-style “grassroots” activism in Australia, helped along by free market think tanks that claim regulating greenhouse gas emissions is an attack on our freedom.

But rather than have an honest debate about a policy response to a real world risk, they sink to trying to discredit climate science while telling the public that carbon dioxide from burning coal is just “food for plants”.

Earlier this week the climate sceptic organisation the Galileo Movement, founded by two retired Noosa (!) businessmen, tweeted a link to a document written by Viv Forbes claiming coal was not dirty and CO2 was plant food. No mention anywhere in the document that Forbes is a director of Stanmore Coal.

Galileo’s patron is Sydney radio host Alan Jones, who recently told a crowd that climate science was “witchcraft” and a “hoax”.

Our descent into the deluded world of pseudo-science occupied by astrology, creationism, crystal healing and homeopathy is almost complete. It’s a place where progress dies and business-as-usual thrives.

Graham Readfearn is a member of the BT Blog Army. He blogs at

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The 6 People You Need in Your Corner

 Nothing incredible is accomplished alone. You need others to help you, and you need to help others. With the right team, you can form a web of connections to make the seemingly impossible practically inevitable.

The Instigater:

Someone who pushes you, who makes you think. Who motivates you to get up and go, and try, and make things happen. You want to keep this person energized, and enthusiastic. This is the voice of inspiration.


The Cheerleader:

 This person is a huge fan, a strong supporter, and a rabid evangelist for you and your work. Work to make this person rewarded, to keep them engaged. This is the voice of motivation.

The Doubter:

This is the devil’s advocate, who asks the hard questions and sees problems before they arise. You need this person’s perspective. They are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. This is the voice of reason.

The Taskmaster:

This is the loud and belligerent voice that demands you gets things done. This person is the steward of momentum, making sure deadlines are met and goals are reached. This is the voice of progress. 

The Connector:

This person can help you find new avenues and new allies. This person breaks through roadblocks into finds ways to make magic happen. You need this person to reach people and places you can’t. This is the voice of cooperation and community. 

The Example:

This is your mentor, you hero, your North Star. This is the person who you seek to emulate. This is your guiding entity, someone whose presence acts as a constant reminder that you, too, can do amazing things. You want to make this person proud. This is the voice of true authority.


by Greg McKeown | 11:55 AM July 17, 2012


Stephen R. Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, died yesterday. In a testament to his impact, his passing was news on CNN, The Washington Post and in many other publications around the world.

The comments on these obituaries include two very divergent types. On group says he was a “snake oil salesman” who “started a wave of BS in the corporate world — all about clichés and posters and one liners.” The other says “he cleared out a lot of BS by making some important ideas simpler to grasp.” Which is it?

I have read every word Stephen R. Covey has published. And by read I mean read, reread, taught, thought deeply about and tried to apply. Certainly, I have done my fair share of thinking on the principles and ideas he espoused, which have been shared in almost every corner of the world. At more than 20 million books sold, he has clearly been one of the most widely read management thinkers of the last thirty years. The 7 Habits alone has been published in 38 languages. At the height of his fame he was named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Americans.

On a more personal level, Stephen took time to support my own efforts to teach and write. Whether in his home, on the phone or in encouraging notes along the way, I benefited from his personal mentoring. In one of our first conversations, when I was 21 years old and hungry to write my first book, he said “Oh Greg, you are so naïve, you have no idea about life. You don’t even know what you don’t know!” And I wondered whether this was really the principle-centered leader I had heard so much about! But then he continued, “But so were many of the thinkers and leaders before you. They had a mission. So do you. That is enough.” Then, he sent a follow-up note, saying “Some day, you’ll send me your magnum opus full of spirit, vision, love and insight. God bless you to fulfill your dream in blessing His children. Love, Stephen.”

Yet, I have also seen the ideas Stephen taught being used like scenes from The Office: like the tyrannical boss who printed large posters with the word, “Synergize!” and posted them around the office cubicles (a true story). Like something from a Dilbert piece, these moments are cringe-worthy. Indeed, the hypocrisy people feel when they hear such mantras and see such behavior is truly painful.

I do not seek in this piece to summarize Stephen’s thinking nor necessarily to advocate it. I am confident I can go toe-to-toe on any aspect of his thinking and writing with critics or zealots. What I learned from Stephen was not to be like him. The principle that captures my own sense is: “Follow not in the footsteps of the masters, but rather seek what they sought.”

Stephen Covey sought to shake corrupted assumptions embedded in organizations everywhere. He believed in creating organizations that are different than the ones we have inherited. There is irony that some of his ideas are now clichés within the very systems he sought to dismantle, but it doesn’t change the importance of his intent. His vision was to create schools, hospitals, governments and institutions that throw out industrial age thinking and innovate to create something better. We are still barely scratching the surface on this, but the work has begun.

He believed in teaching children to be leaders. In an awkward interaction here, Stephen was asked, “What do you want to be known for?” and he answered, “Every child is a leader.” It doesn’t seem like an answer to the question — unless it is. Teaching children to be leaders may well be a mechanism for changing the world. For example, I recently interviewed a couple, James and Shaylyn Garrett, who are in Jordan training teachers and students critical thinking skills and other leadership principles. Their work is a quiet revolution — one that is desperately needed. Thomas Friedman recently cited the amazing work they are doing in a column for The New York Times called, “First, Tahrir Square, Then The Classroom.” It’s the kind of work that truly does change the world, and leaves a lasting legacy.

Stephen aimed to be a light, not a critic. According to Cynthia Haller, Stephen’s oldest daughter, when Bill Clinton was running for President of the United States in 1992, Stephen was at a gathering where many people were badmouthing Clinton, but he refused to participate. Someone asked him what he thought and he said, “I don’t want to criticize him, because I never know if I’ll have a chance to influence him. I don’t want to be a hypocrite if he ever needs my help.” A couple of months later he received an unexpected call from President Clinton: “I just read 7 Habits twice,” Clinton said. “I want to integrate this into my presidency.” A few days later, Stephen flew to Camp David to share his insights with both President Clinton and Hillary Clinton. And they asked him to stay an extra day. (Read more of this account here). Stephen told me that when he was teaching at a conference, he would arrange meetings with national leaders wherever he was. He taught 50 Heads of State around the world. That is a vision worthy of emulation.

In his speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” Theodore Roosevelt famously said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

There are many who want to be like Stephen Covey. There are many who didn’t like the way his ideas were expressed or applied. But Stephen was a man who was in the arena trying to teach and make a difference. In this pursuit, I do aspire to be like him.