FINALLY, Turnbull Government ministers are waking up to a frightening thought: are our universities muzzling global warming sceptics?
Three ministers have now expressed concern about the latest apparent example: the sacking of marine scientist Professor Peter Ridd.
And so they should.
Ridd was fired by James Cook University last week after questioning alarmist claims that man-made global warming is destroying the Great Barrier Reef.
You should be outraged by this, too, even if you’re a global warming believer. We cannot get good science if we cannot debate. And nowhere do we more need that debate than with the great global warming scare.
We have had climate scientists convince politicians that our emissions of carbon dioxide are heating the planet dangerously. This is why our politicians are destroying our cheap and reliable electricity system by driving coal-fired power stations out of business.
You can see the cost in your big electricity bills and in the factories forced shut by power prices that have more than doubled.
Now Leftist politicians want to shut down coal mines, too.
When we are doing something so horrendously expensive, we must be certain that the science our politicians rely on stacks up.
But does it? Abroad, scientists point out that we haven’t actually had the warming that was predicted.
Nor have we seen the predicted disasters. We’ve had fewer cyclones, not more. We’ve had bigger crops, not smaller. Most atoll islands are growing, not drowning.
Yet in Australia, academics who say such things take a terrible risk — not just the risk of losing the massive grants that government give to alarmists.
The late Professor Bob Carter was one of the first scientists in the world to note that warming had, in fact, paused for most of this century.
He then lost his position as professor emeritus at this same James Cook University. Cost- cutting, it claimed.
Then there was Professor Bjorn Lomborg, once listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Two Australian universities refused grants to host Lomborg’s famous Copenhagen Consensus Center because he’d argued — correctly — that a lot of global warming schemes waste money without changing the climate.
Angry academics and students at Flinders University and the University of Western Australia insisted Lomborg’s views made him a pariah and embarrassment, and the university administrators caved.
All this is was shocking enough. It told academics who question global warming catastrophism to keep their mouths shut.
But Peter Ridd wouldn’t and has paid the price.
His nightmare started last August on Sky News when he said claims that the Great Barrier Reef was being destroyed by global warming were exaggerated.
“The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated,” he said.
“We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine''.
Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.”
He may be right, he may be wrong. This is a vital question that must be answered with arguments.
Instead, the James Cook University gave Ridd the don’t-argue. It attacked him for bucking groupthink — for “failing to act in a collegial way” and “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues”.
It also ordered him to shut up about the steps it was taking against him.
Ridd refused. And now he’s been fired. But sadly, most academics are too cowed, indifferent or ideological to protest against this assault on scientific debate.
Luckily, many Australians aren’t and in just days raised all the $260,000 Ridd asked for on his GoFundMe page to fund his legal case against his university.
Politicians are now also speaking up. On Monday, former prime minister Tony Abbott (below) defended Ridd’s right to challenge the warming scare and warned: “If we can’t have debate, we can’t have true science.”
On Tuesday, Assistant Minister for Science Zed Seselja told me he was troubled by Ridd’s sacking: “What I think is really important is the issue of intellectual freedom, the issue of academic freedom when it comes to scientific endeavour.”
He said Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg shared his concern, and Education Minister Simon Birmingham said “any university should be encouraging their researchers and students to ask questions, not shutting down debate”.
The Way I See It....but will the government now force James Cook University to back off?
It may be up to people power instead. So speak up. Tell the university that debate must be defended.
Dissent must not be crushed if science is to advance.
Say ''No'' to the muzzle.