Sky News’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) Chris ‘Fido’* Kenny is a climate change denier that Rupert Murdoch says don’t exist in his media organisations, which are in fact replete with deniers of various degrees of idiocy1-5. The poor benighted Chris Kenny, from the shallow end of the Kenny gene pool (his cousin is Mark Kenny) has now written a piece of climate change denialism in, of course, The Australian6, the standard venue for denialist drivel in the Australian media.
He starts off by saying that we used to be tough, now we are weak-kneed. He opines that if cyclone Tracy (it demolished Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974) happened today, Australians would protest against the climate. This idiotic statement is symptomatic of the lack of journalistic standards enforced by The Australian, which has been demonstrated before by the idiotic drivel from Ian Plimer5 and sundry other scientifically illiterate buffoons. People may well protest at such an eventuality, but it would most likely be not against ‘the climate’, but against things like the government’s denial of climate science, their cutting of funding of emergency services, their continued support for coal mines and coal-fired power stations, their refusal to even consider a just transition to renewables, and their inability to develop any sort of consistent energy policy.
Perhaps the most laughable paragraph Kenny spouts, which demonstrates his inability to understand even the basics of science, let alone climate science, is this: “Rational arguments, hard facts and intelligent debate have been cast aside in favour of woke whingeing. In this information age, ill-informed emotionalism dominates public debate (although thankfully the great mainstream remain level-headed and smart, as they showed in this year’s so-called climate election).” This is rich coming from a climate change denier who has jettisoned any pretence at rational arguments based on the evidence accumulated by scientists over the last 100 years or more. It is rich coming from a denier who is all about being ill-informed, despite this being the information age where all the most recent science is readily available online. To say that the “great mainstream remain level-headed and smart” is simply silly. I have spoken to some people of the “great mainstream”, and the depth of their argument often only extends as far as ‘if the Bureau of Meteorology cannot predict the weather [it can], how can it predict the climate’. If that is level-headed and smart, then we are doomed.
Like most of the old white blokes who become apoplectic when anyone mentions Greta Thunberg, Kenny maintains the lie that Thunberg is “allowing herself to be the face of protest” seemingly unaware that it was Thunberg who, by herself, started the school strike for climate. She started the whole movement that is now represented by millions of children, adolescents and adults around the planet, and which will continue to grow. That is what scares these ineffectual old farts so much; the fact that their obsolescence is staring them in the face.
These old farts like Kenny use the same old tired argument that deniers have been using at the behest of the fossil fuel industries for decades. It is the Dorothea McKellar excuse. It goes along the lines of ‘Australia’s climate has always changed (‘droughts and flooding rains’), therefore climate change is not happening’. As if to bolster this drivel with what he considers data, he relates the fact that the smoke haze in Sydney was so bad in 1936 that a ship struggled to find the harbour, and in 1951 all Sydney airports were closed because of the smoke. This is tantamount to me saying ‘I remember a very hot day when I was a kid in Newcastle, therefore climate change isn’t happening’, and like that would be, it is equally stupid. Kenny does not seem to understand the concept of data or evidence. Data of the sort collected by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is anathema to people like Kenny because it constitutes real evidence. If you read the CSIRO statement on ‘Australia’s changing climate’, you will see that Australia’s climate has warmed by 1.0 degree C since 1910, and most of that has occurred in the last 50 years. You will also see that the number of days each year where Australia’s averaged daily mean temperature is extreme (i.e. where the mean is above the 99th percentile) has gone from 2% of the time during 1951-1980, to 12% of the time during 2003-2017. You will also see that there has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia since the 1950s. You will also see that ‘winter’ rainfall (i.e. April to October) has decreased in southeastern and southwestern Australia7. These interpretations are based on years of observation from numerous sites around Australia and do not rely on the sort of occasional newspaper items Kenny seems to use to suit his narrative.
Another of the classically ludicrous lines in Kenny’s piece is: “Grown adults blame governments for weather”. The inability to distinguish between climate and weather is a common feature of the ramblings of deniers, simply because it suits their purposes and is presumably why much of the ignorant “great mainstream” cannot distinguish them either. However, perhaps the silliest statement Kenny makes epitomises his lack of self-awareness. He says: “Remember when journalism was about facts”. He works for Murdoch media which is, as they say, “where the truth goes to die.” Facts are what science deals in as data. And yet it is people like Kenny who deny the science constantly. Nowhere do people like Kenny even have the slightest familiarity with the basic science of climate change, let alone the more apocalyptic recent predictions from that science, in which it is clear that the feedbacks feared by the IPCC, and initially expected to kick in at about 5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, are now in operation. We are in dire trouble and halfwits like Kenny should face justice for their denialism.
*Kenny got his nickname from Mike Carlton as a reference to a satirical Chaser item which showed Kenny having a sexual encounter with a dog.
- Kenny, C., 2019. Climate change is not the era’s burning issue, The Australian, December 14.