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Clash of the Climateers: Australian Academy of Science ‘wants any challenge to its global warming panics to be censored by the federal apparatus’

Clash of the Climateers

By Tony Thomas

It’s the slugfest of the century — Australia’s top climate alarmist Dr Joelle Gergis (above) duking it out with Anna-Maria Arabia, CEO of the Australian Academy of Science. The green-Left Academy wants any challenge to its global warming panics to be censored by the federal apparatus – see Shut Them Up, Argues the Academy of Science. Hence I predict Ms Arabia will triumph by getting the impertinent Gergis cancelled as a climate denier.

At issue is “CCS” or carbon capture and storage. This means plucking CO2 out of industry and the atmosphere to achieve otherwise-unattainable net zero. The captured CO2, a plant food which the CSIRO admits has been lavishly greening the planet, has to be safely stored in repositories by the billion and even tens of billion tonnes a year. These CO2 jails must be locked up for thousands or even millions of years, say the Academy’s experts.[1]

But CCS is so much trillion-dollar bunk, as Joelle sets out to demonstrate. She’s playing Samson’s dangerous game — destabilising the Temple of Climate. This temple is already tottering in Europe as Germany et al recognise the havoc the Greens have caused their economiesRenewables are bunk too, not that Joelle would admit that. The climate models causing people to imagine “global boiling” and “highways to hell” are also bunk. As 2022 Nobel Prize winner in physics John Clauser puts it, “There is no correlation between temperature change and carbon dioxide – it is all a crock of crap.”[2]

In what the ABC would describe as “handbags at six paces”[3], the Arabia-Gergis stoush involves:

♦ For the Academy, its Roundtable of  March 2023 on ” Greenhouse gas removal in Australia” and its submission to the feds last July espousing mind-blowing CCS targets. That submission is so silly I’ve banished it to this footnote [4], and will focus instead on the Roundtable.

♦ For Joelle, there’s her vast piece in June’s Quarterly Essay, which makes my wordy Quadrant effusions look like haikus. (Gergis occupies 88 pages of the 122-page issue). She took a break from climate catastrophism to study creative writing, and another break from her ANU senior lectureship to sit in the dark-green Australia Institute for months as writer-in-residence to pen her essay.[5] The Institute is a Siamese twin of the Greens Party[6] . Joelle has now emerged to title her handiwork “Highway to Hell: Climate Change and Australia’s Future.”[7]

In her essay Joelle for once takes a view I agree with, that CCS is a stupid scam with not even the chance of an ice-cream in hell of getting us to the broad sunlit uplands of net zero. More on her CCS demolition down the track.

The Academy, however, trusts CCS as the magic bullet to save the planet from computer-modelled fiery damnation in 2100. In general, the Academy wants Labor’s anti-emissions targets to be made something like twice as fierce. Instead of one giant 7MW windmill being built per day to 2030 (Albo’s scheme), the Academy logically wants two a day. And instead of 22,000 made-in-China solar panels installed per day, it wants circa 40,000 a day. Climate Minister Chris Bowen’s wind farms and power lines are flattening forests and blighting landscapes. The Academy’s brought-forward emissions targets would at least double the damage.

In trying to square the circle on net zero, the Academy’s experts have come up with what I’d call the “Kittylitter Leapthrough”. It involves methane, CO2’s greenhouse pal, (formula CH4, according to Mr Walter House, my despairing chemistry teacher in 1956). At the roundtable, experts suggested that zeolite, kittylitter’s cheap ingredient ($US140 per tonne), might be engineered on a planetary scale to mop excess methane (p15).

The Roundtable was run by Academy President Chennupati Jagadish AC , who thought the Academy’s “independence and convening power made us an ideal host for a roundtable on novel negative emissions approaches for Australia.” He foresaw Australia as a CCS research – or maybe kittylitter — superpower.[8]

A list on page 28 shows that every one of the 18 round-tablers, by invitation, were drawn from the university/CSIRO/govt sectors (12 professors among them). There was not one person from industry. They dreamed of breakthroughs unimpeded by costs or commercial technology. Their suggestions include, with my comments below

1/ Trains that capture CO2 while travelling between mine sites, to be stored subsequently at mine sites.

Does anyone remember that 268-waggon BHP train in the Pilbara that lost its driver five years ago and travelled 100km at up to 160kph before its $300-million pile-up? Imagine such a runaway train dragging captured CO2. Would Gina Hancock, who thinks climate doomism is propaganda, convert her Roy Hill trains to CO2 courier duties?.

2/ Ocean alkalinity enhancement – Addition of alkalinity-enhancing substance generated from mine tailings and other waste.

I’m not sure that whales, sardines, octopi and clown fish cavorting in the Great Barrier Reef would welcome a gazillion tonnes of mine tailings. The roundtablers’ stream of consciousness continued,

4/ Ocean farming (e.g., kelp, seagrass) for CO2 capture…

Ocean storage: – Biomass in the ocean , e.g., seaweed that sinks to the deep ocean, Blue carbon[9], Deep ocean storage.

5/  Injecting in the atmosphere “iron-salt aerosols – iron-containing particles that enhance natural methane sinks by mimicking natural reactions caused by mineral dust particles.

Not content with re-jigging the oceans, the tax-funded boffins also contemplate rehashing our atmosphere. I guess the ivory-tower crowd likes to think big!

6/ Integrating carbon capture into current structural materials and systems, e.g., building materials can perform a dual role as carbon capture surfaces or retrofitting HVAC [heating, ventilation and air cooling] systems to provide capture function.

My villa unit has its Hitachi split-system HVAC motor in the front garden. Its concrete pad is tilting in the mud and the box has quite a lean. Could someone from the Roundtable please drop by, convert my HVAC to airborne CO2 capture, and straighten the lean while they’re at it?.

7/ DAC [direct air capture] used to accelerate biomass production (e.g., bamboo) with a view to use in cross laminated timber as a large-scale replacement/augmentation for steel structures in buildings.

I foresee the CFMEU’s John Setka enforcing a “bamboo site allowance” of $20 an hour on Melbourne’s high-rise jobs. As I write, I hum a tune from my teens which, as I recall, goes

On the windier days, Seems an orchestra plays
On a musical breeze for you;
Like a merry salute From a heavenly flute
To the tower of singing bamboo.


TIME now,as promised, for Joelle’s hatchet job on the delusions of the Academy and its September 2022 Roundtable.[10] Her Quarterly Essay dubs CCS “a fool’s errand that will only lead to delay and failure (p81)…a disastrous gamble (p12)…the fantasy get-out-of-jail-free card that threatens to ruin us (p50). If we buy into these delusions, we will be in very deep trouble.” (p51) Here’s why, she explains (p56-61):

♦ In the past 30 years 80 per cent of all CCS pilot projects have flopped.

♦ “To achieve global targets, approximately 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide need to be stored each year by 2030, growing to 10 billion tonnes per annum by 2050.”

♦ The 41 operational CCS projects in 2023 store less than 10m tonnes of CO2 a year (according to UNEP) or 49m tonnes (according to CCS industry-group figures – Joelle suggests the latter mob are lying, which is normal for green lobbies). Joelle herself is on the Climate Council. She’s mentored there by council chief Tim Flannery, who’s still waiting for his 2004 prediction to bear fruit about my birthplace Perth becoming a waterless ghost town.

♦ Given total human-caused emissions last year alone were 41 billion tonnes, CCS would need to be boosted by 1000 times to do any climate-solving.

♦ “Offshore CCS has added dangers of acidifying marine environments, contaminating groundwater, inducing earthquakes and the displacement of toxic brine deposits. The true risks of the hazards of the offshore CCS industry are yet to be fully scientifically and technically assessed, let alone comprehensively regulated… embarking on such a risky path for such little gain is spectacularly illogical.”

♦ To achieve net zero by 2050, the CCS industry would need to suck up investment worth $US655b to $US1.3 trillion ($A2 trillion or $2,000,000,000,000). Even with that, a commercial CCS plant takes ten years to build so don’t expect wonders by 2050.

A cynic might say that with CCS advocacy, the Academy is pushing a no-lose position for its 700 Fellows. If it works, they save (we hope) the planet. If it doesn’t, well the basic research costing eight or even nine-figure amounts won’t have been wasted in enhancing the Fellows’ lifestyles. There would be lavishly-staffed Centres of CCS Excellence, university promotions and job security, multi-million lab gear approvals, King’s Birthday honours and all that, plus jetting to prestigious conferences.

Also, CCS is not just a job-ticket for boffins who can do maths and engineering — there would likely be near-unlimited CCS funding for artsy hangers-on like Jungians researching the psyches of Joelle and other CCS-deniers; CCS angles re LGBTQI+s, feminists and Aboriginal main-chancers[11]; and CCS strategies expressed in gouache and dance (enjoy!). All this stuff is already affixed like sucker-fish to the mainstream “climate science” shark.

I’d better add that Joelle’s anti-CCS crusade is to stop Albanese from pussy-footing around on emissions, and harden up the progressives’ ruinous anti-fossil-fuel fatwas. Nothing but an immediate crackdown on fossil-fuel use and any new petroleum/coal projects will satisfy Joelle.

I do worry that exposing these schisms among the climate-crazy set could set back my good relations with Academy President Jagadish. He’s already cross with, I believe, other journos for disrespecting the Academy’s wisdom. He wrote to his Fellows last August that “undermining science undermines us all”. Those rogue journos “seek to twist the truth to suit their agenda”, he complained, continuing

We have witnessed the seeding and dissemination of uncertainty throughout the years—to postpone the regulation of tobacco consumption, to continue the use of lead in petrol, to obstruct vaccination during the ongoing pandemic, or to prevent action on climate change to list a few.

His next paragraph had me scratching my head. He seemed to suggest that blaming a Wuhan lab-leak for the global Covid disaster was a “deliberate undermining of public trust in science [and] conspiracy and fearmongering.” [12] I thought Xi Jin-Ping’s incendiary reaction and billion-dollar trade bans over PM Morrison’s mild call for a Covid-origins inquiry were a clue. And indeed, evidence for the lab-leak origin is compounding every day. US intelligence agencies with their vast resources are split or uncertain about the Wuhan lab-leak theory: at least one of these agencies, judging by Jagadish’s comment, must be conspiring and fear-mongering. What on earth’s going on at the Academy?

Jagadish conflated, without evidence, the public’s trust in science with public trust in his Academy, which has been thoroughly captured by the green-black-Left blob[13]. He went on,

Science relies on high-quality journalism to communicate discoveries that impacts our lives. And that is why we must be concerned when journalism and other sources seek to mislead, distort and obfuscate scientific evidence and in doing so undermine public trust in science.

It is a dangerous trend and must be called out. As a national academy whose remit is to uphold standards of excellence in science, we will call out behaviour that serves no good purpose and that harms the essential underpinnings of a stable, safe and civil society that relies on evidence-informed decision making. It is up to all those who value the importance of knowledge as a public good to take a stand in the face of those who would assault it.

I bet those other journos would want to ask Jagadish why, if his outfit is so sciencey and evidentiary, the Academy

♦ organised smoking ceremonies to cleanse Academy premises of evil spirits?

♦ Supported its Future Earth subsidiary’s childish if not vicious call for a no-growth economy?[14] See also the Academy’s conference here where it touts someone claiming “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.

♦ Run fake Aborigine Bruce Pascoe as a plenary lead speaker on how his supposed ancestors communed with whales when Bass Strait was dry land?

 Used a previous school science course to badger 15-year-oldf’s to become ignorant little climate activists?[15] (in the kids’ science quiz: Could we do without it [mining]?… Would you work for a mining company?)

♦ Capitulated to a pile-on by Twitter ferals and apologised for the Academy’s pro-forma welcoming of the Liberal’s Christian Porter as incoming Science Minister? and

♦ Backed the losing Yes referendum, based on its fallacious view on the usage and meaning of “terra nullius”?

Science once had a good name, despite some wayward groupthink. These days orthodox climate science especially is so politicised and corrupted from primary-schooling upward that people would be wise to hold their nose when dealing with it. Case in point: the Academy’s manias about carbon capture and storage.

Tony Thomas’s latest book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. $34.95 from Connor Court here


[1] GREENHOUSE GAS REMOVAL IN AUSTRALIA – A report on the novel negative emissions approaches for Australia roundtable. p31

[2] More than 130 scientific papers say that even a doubling of CO2 – not expected for 150 years according to the IPCC – will cause less than 2degC warming, most saying around 1degC.

[3] When I lodged a complaint last year against the sexism of Media Watch’s Paul Barry referring to Peta Credlin with the phrase “handbags at six paces”, I got this response (email August 25) from Investigations Officer “James” at the ABC Ombudsman depot:

“I cannot agree with you that the phrase you complained about is sexist and demeaning. It is on old-fashioned, rarely used reference to a ‘minor disagreement’ – see for example Handbags at 6 paces – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.”

[4] Academy: Australia should commit to building capacity to draw down greenhouse gases at scale, particularly carbon dioxide… In its April 2022 Report, the IPCC identifies that meeting the modelled 1.5°C pathways requires a net negative carbon dioxide emissions volume of 20-660 gigatons [20-660 billion tonnes, TT] by 2100. Building capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – at scale along with the capacity to store it safely for centuries – is critical. Australia should announce a GHG removal target encompassing nature-based and technological solutions. This should be in addition to ambitious emission reduction targets.”

[5] Joelle, to put it another way, says she did her writing on lands of the Bundjalung, Ngunnawal ,Ngambri, Dharug and Gundungurra peoples.

[6] Wiki: “A number of current and previous senior employees of the Australia Institute have also worked with the Australian Greens or other environmental organisations. This includes the founder and former director of the institute Clive Hamilton (who ran as a Greens candidate), former Director Ben Oquist and current Executive Director Richard Denniss (both of whom worked for Australian Greens leader Bob Brown), Deputy Director Ebony Bennett (who worked as a Greens media advisor[4]), Chief-of-Staff Anna Chang (who was a media and campaigns advisor to the Australian Greens) and ex-regulatory lead Dan Cass (who was a Greens campaign manager and office bearer[5]). Ex-Director and Deputy Chair of the Australia Institute (2004–2022), Professor Barbara Pocock, was also elected as an Australian Green Senator for South Australia in 2022.”

[7] The ANU website says Joelle’s still with them. Her job is to coach 200 teen students a year about our climate doom (Essay p7)

[8] Jagadish: “This roundtable and its accompanying report will help propel Australia into leadership of what will likely be a defining endeavour of the coming century.” Roundtable Summary: “Australia has strengths and comparative advantages that could make it an international leader in negative emissions.” p32.

[9] “Blue carbon”, says NOAA, is “carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.” This makes the Academy’s musings somewhat circular.

[10] I notice Joelle has contributed a chapter to teen Greta Thunberg’s “The Climate Book”. Joelle wasn’t to know that Greta today jigs around in her her Hamas-friendly keffiyeh.

[11] Roundtable p27: “Engaging early with policymakers and communities, especially First Nations peoples, to co-design appropriate approaches to negative emissions portfolios.”

[12] For reference, Jagadish’s wording is: “The current level of discourse around science, in Australia and the world, in relation to the origin of SARS-CoV-2 [covid] is another contemporary example [of mis/disinformation]. It reflects a worrying pattern of deliberate undermining of public trust in science at a time when policymakers need to inform their decisions with rigorously gathered evidence, rather than in response to conspiracy and fearmongering.”

[13] Arabia was originally the anti-free-speech head of Science & Technology Australia, leading a 200-strong demo (see 2.20mins) to federal Parliament to urge laws against purported climate “misinformation”. She was appointed Academy CEO in 2016 after three years part-time as policy director/principal adviser for then Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Science policy director Chris Anderson, appointed in 2019, had been adviser and then chief of staff for six years to Labor Senator, Rudd-Gillard minister and factional warlord Kim Carr.

[14] Future Earth p45: “In fact, the neoliberal economic model has produced enormous inequality in Australia and beyond, has undermined democracy and participation, and has fuelled social and environmental injustice. As such, neoliberalism has become a barrier that undercuts just adaptation to climate change. Therefore, these economic and financial systems must change, not only to sustain the provision of basic goods and services and economic opportunities but also to address the inequities they have created across the world and between generations. Such a change will encounter resistance and hence requires courageous leadership. Yet, it is also an opportunity to learn from Indigenous ontologies that are based on Country and interrelated webs of being. It will mean shifting from growth thinking to degrowth models…” (My emphasis).

[15] Academy advice to teachers: “Ask students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause.” — Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students will … appreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.