Monday, June 04, 2012

Death threats just par for the course for climate skeptics

The wimps of the Green/Left claim that various criticisms of their mental ossification are "death threats" (See here).  It's just projection. The skeptics are the ones that get the threats  --  from Green/Left thugs

DEATH threats and vile abuse are real. They infect the daily lives of key players in the debate over climate change. But it's not what you think: the main recipients of this torrent of abuse are not climate scientists.

They are the journalists and broadcasters whose job requires them to test the received wisdom on this and many other subjects.

They are the inheritors of that great tradition in which Western civilisation has encouraged criticism of the orthodoxy in order to expose its flaws.

That tradition, which thrives on dissent, is very much alive in parts of the media. But it is under threat.

The intolerance of those who support the orthodox view on climate change has reached the point where the physical safety of those who express a contrary view is regularly threatened.

So where is the outraged media coverage?  The ABC and like-minded outlets have devoted considerable resources to allegations of death threats against scientists who defend the orthodox view on climate change.  Later events have undermined the veracity of those allegations, but you would never know unless you were prepared to wade through the corrections on the ABC's website.

But at the same time, real abuse and real death threats against those on the other side of this debate have been largely ignored.

At the moment, climate change is one of the "hot button" issues that brings out the crazies. But it's not just climate change.

Melbourne columnist Andrew Bolt has also had threats of physical violence for criticising Islamism and Anita Heiss's book Am I Black Enough for You?.

He has even been threatened for opposing a national day of mourning for the Black Saturday bushfires.

Bolt puts it down to the morally superior manner of those who play a leading role in setting the tone of public policy debate.

The most startling incident occurred a decade ago when an activist organisation published his home address on its website "along with an exhortation to burn the house down".

Two weeks ago a filmmaker, whom he named, used Twitter to urge his followers: "Let's assassinate Andrew Bolt." It was later removed.

A Greens candidate at the last federal election used Twitter to publish this: "Andrew Bolt is a vile c ... of a man. I openly condone hunting him down and beating him to within an inch of his life."

Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Blair says he has received "death wishes" rather than death threats. The last one contained the cheery sign-off: "Die painfully, yours sincerely ... ".

Blair says this happens relatively frequently, whenever a "hot button" issue is in the news. And the most popular trigger is "anything to do with climate change".

Most of this material arrives by email and while they are abusive, Blair says they are not real death threats.  "They want you to die, rather than saying they are going to kill you," he says.

But he was worried after he published on a private website Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had triggered death threats against the cartoonist.

The Sydney Morning Herald accompanied its report on this incident with a photograph of Blair, which led to police calling him and suggesting he might wish to move to a more secure location.

Broadcaster Ray Hadley says he usually receives about 600 emails a day on a range of subjects, and 10 per cent are abusive.

In the 11 years he has been with Sydney radio station 2GB he has received about 20 death threats, only one of which seemed serious enough to refer to police. It contained details of his movements but turned out to be the work of an eccentric pensioner with an alcohol problem.

"The rest are in the form of 'I wish you were dead and if I could make you dead I would do it' ", Hadley says. "But some of the people I know in the security industry say that if someone is going to knock you off they are not going to tell you about it."

At The Australian, editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell says he has received hundreds of death threats during his 20 years as an editor and editor-in-chief and has ignored them all.

He says the recent debate about alleged death threats against climate change scientists gave rise to an implication that death threats only came from climate change deniers. But in his experience, that is not the case.

He has received threats from both sides of the climate change debate - from those accusing him of destroying the planet for their grandchildren and from those demanding that the newspaper withdraw its support for a carbon tax. In the past two years, most of the threats from the Right have largely come from Queensland and Western Australia.

He believes there would always have been threats made against those in the media and email has simply made it more convenient.

Climate scientists, like other new players in public policy debates, were clearly shocked by the vile nature of some of the abuse they have received.

But after 20 years of abuse and threats, Mitchell has some advice: "These climate scientists need to harden up."

The abuse directed at climate scientists, bad as it was, needs to be kept in perspective.

Ten years ago, the Brisbane home of The Australian's Hedley Thomas was peppered with bullets late at night, narrowly missing his wife and children.

Thomas, who has five Walkley awards, has received threats but does not take them seriously, "because if someone wants to do you in, they are not going to give you a warning".

He says he has never been scared away from a story because of threats.

More than a decade ago, reporter Tom Dusevic was beaten by two young men with baseball bats who were waiting for him when he returned home at night. This came shortly after Dusevic had written a contentious article. But he believes it was probably just a case of mistaken identity.


Tony Abbott's push to cut green tape would benefit Queensland first

QUEENSLAND would become the first state to gain greater control over environmentally sensitive developments if Tony Abbott wins the next election.

The federal Opposition has struck a preliminary deal with the Newman Government to allow it to take control of all approvals under federal environment laws, with the exception of offshore developments.

Federal opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt has been in talks with some states about a possible handover of approval powers to allow faster processes if the Coalition wins power.

He said Queensland had the most advanced proposals to cut "green tape" and the Coalition would use the state as a model for streamlining development applications.  "Queensland would be the first cab off the rank if we win the next election," Mr Hunt told The Courier-Mail.

The plan is designed to prevent fights between state and federal governments over environmental approvals.

State Environment Minister Andrew Powell has won backing from Mr Hunt for a plan to roll out strategic approvals across the whole state, rather than the current process of individual assessments.

The plan is based on discussions between the federal and Queensland governments for a strategic plan for developments affecting the Great Barrier Reef.

"We want to get to the point where there is an agreed level of environmental standards between the Commonwealth and the state," Mr Powell said.

Mr Hunt said the LNP "have shown better environmental credentials than the previous government" by scaling back the planned expansion of the Abbott Point coal terminal and fighting the poaching of turtles and dugong.

The move comes as a UNESCO report warned coastal developments in Queensland were posing a risk to the reef.

But Mr Powell said the UNESCO report backed the Queensland Government's current strategy of developing a joint plan with the federal government for developments affecting the reef.


Australia's Boatpeople crisis grows as 246 arrive in three days

LABOR'S border security crisis is deepening, with the number of asylum-seekers arriving by boat over the weekend accounting for more than half the forecast arrivals for the month of June.

A large boat carrying 150 asylum-seekers and crew was intercepted yesterday north of Christmas Island by Customs and Border Protection officers.

It was the second boat to be detected in Australian waters over the weekend after another vessel carrying 87 passengers and one crew member was picked up on Saturday evening.

It is the third boat to arrive in the first three days of June, and brings the total number of asylum-seekers who have made the dangerous boat journey this month to 246.

This comes after 1176 asylum-seekers arrived last month - the highest number since August 2001, when the Howard government moved to implement the Pacific Solution after the Tampa crisis.

Department of Immigration officials confirmed to a Senate committee last month that Labor's budget is based on estimates that an average of 450 boatpeople will arrive each month over the next financial year.

But since Julia Gillard's bilateral agreement with Malaysia to send 800 asylum-seekers to Kuala Lumpur in exchange for taking 4000 processed refugees was scuttled by the High Court, and negotiations with the opposition to amend the Migration Act to allow for offshore processing broke down in November, an average of 733 asylum-seekers have arrived each month.

The Australian understands the Department of Immigration, along with the departments of Finance and Treasury, will review whether their estimates are appropriate in November's mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.

The opposition blamed the latest boat arrivals on the government's refusal to adopt the Coalition's Pacific Solution.  "Labor is using their Malaysian people-swap as a political shield against their own accountability and responsibility as a government," opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.

But Immigration Minister Chris Bowen put the blame on Tony Abbott.   "Until the Coalition is prepared to allow offshore processing to occur, the Australian people can only conclude he prefers to see more boats arrive, because it's in Mr Abbott's political interests," Mr Bowen said.

The Law Council of Australia has meanwhile condemned the government for detaining in adult prisons up to 28 Indonesian minors accused of being involved in people-smuggling.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry, the law council said it was concerned there may be up to 28 cases where Indonesian minors have been held in detention facilities alongside adults.

"These cases, which have been brought to the attention of the public and the parliament by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Indonesian government, suggest serious inadequacies in relation to the age determination processes employed by Australian authorities and in relation to the approach taken to prosecuting and sentencing persons who claim to be minors for people-smuggling offences," the submission says.

The law council has raised concerns the government might be in breach of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Tarantulas halt cane toad spread

THEY may be creepy and crawly, but tarantulas could become man's best friend in the war against one of Australia's worst pests.

Large native spiders, including the Australian tarantula, the wolf spider and the racing stripe spider, have all been found to prey upon cane toads, the Townsville Bulletin reported.

Experts believe the stealthy arachnids are so successful at hunting the toxic toads, they could be credited with keeping the amphibians' numbers down across North Queensland.

They have suggested residents who want to keep toad numbers at bay in their backyard, should attract spiders into their garden.

Queensland Museum spider expert Dr Robert Raven said he had witnessed a tarantula devouring a toad in the wild near Cooktown several years ago.

"The toad had jumped near the entrance to the spider's burrow at night, and the spider just launched out and grabbed it and took it down into the burrow, like a scene out of a movie," he said.

Since their introduction to North Queensland in 1935, cane toads have been steadily marching west and south to conquer the rest of Australia.

It is now estimated there are 10 toads for every person in Australia.

Dr Raven, who has lived in Cairns, believed spiders, alongside other native predators such as birds and snakes, have played a major role in keeping toad numbers from increasing over the past half-century.

He said residents could help attract native spiders to their yards, to help control the spread of cane toads, by keeping a moist pocket in a side part of the garden.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Had a visit from a NQ Tarantula some months back. Our outside lights are set in the ground to reflect off the white under-roof of the outdoor area. We were sitting outside quietly when we suddenly thought one of the lights had gone out. I don't do spiders well at the best of times but this thing set a new benchmark for good old fashioned horror. It turned up a few days later all cozy in our neighbor's shoe.