The University of Western Australia has caved in to green activists and cancelled a planned $4 million Consensus Centre because of its associations with Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg.
Blond, gay, impeccably left wing and a former member of Greenpeace, Lomborg has long infuriated environmentalists because his personal politics make it so hard for them to trot out their usual excuse that he only says the things he does because he is an evil, right-wing shill in the pay of Big Oil.
Even more frustratingly for his greenie opponents, Lomborg is not even technically a climate change sceptic. He has long accepted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) so-called “consensus” position on global warming. Where he differs from hard-core greenies is simply in his belief that the world has more pressing environmental and social problems than are caused by the marginal influence of man-made CO2 and that these should be given higher priority than combating climate change.
This is the argument of his not-for-profit think tank, the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Center. One of its main purposes is to help argue how governments around the world can get the biggest bang for their buck on environmental spending – providing micronutrients for the world’s malnourished; giving everyone access to clean water; and so on – recognising that the amount of money available for worthy causes is not limitless and that therefore such projects should be subject to a rigorous cost benefit analysis.
Lomborg’s pro-growth approach to green issues is what drew him to the attention of Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott who invited him to set up a branch of his Consensus Center in Australia, with the help of a $4 million Federal government grant.
However, when word got out at the University of Western Australia (UWA), a “rowdy gathering of academics and students” in an atmosphere described by one witness as “like a Rolling Stones concert” campaigned to veto the project.
Unable to brand Lomborg a “climate change denier” – which he isn’t: he believes, or affects believe, what all the greenies do on climate change – they instead simply ‘argued’ that his “controversial track record as a climate contrarian” was more than enough reason to protect UWA’s precious students from any kind of proximity to or association with the ideas of this dangerously open-minded man.
The University of Western Australia’s Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson, citing what he called a “strong and passionate emotional reaction”, said that the proposed Consensus Centre lacked “the support needed across the university and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers.” With this excuse he cancelled the project.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who had supported the project, tweeted: “What a sad day for academic freedom when staff at a university silence a dissenting voice rather than test their ideas in debate.”
A very sad day. Lomborg has never said that climate change is not real and primarily caused by human activity. He has simply argued that there may be other environmental areas which are more important to spend money on first.
It is reactions like this from the academics, which increase resistant to taking action. People don’t like being told you can’t debate things.