Oz Blog News Commentary

Strange bedfellow

July 3, 2020 - 08:52 -- Admin

About three weeks ago,
I wrote a piece about the Liberal candidate for the Eden-Monaro by-election,
Fiona Kotvojs, specifically about how she, at Scott Morrison’s urging, spouted
the Liberal Party line about climate change; i.e. that they have always
believed in climate change and that humans are contributing to it1. As
I said at the time, this is the Liberals saying ‘we don’t really believe it,
but we have to say we do, because even some of the people who voted for us are
starting to realise that it is already happening’. As an example of her
denialism, I gave the instance of an article Kotvojs had written, in which she
referred to sea level rise as a ‘scare’.

Alan Burdon is Kotvojs’
partner with whom she shares a farm a few kilometres to the northeast of the
badly fire-damaged township of Cobargo. Since Kotvojs was nominated as the
Liberal candidate, Burdon has been busily deleting ‘embarrassing’ entries in
his Facebook page. Fortunately, an eagle-eyed member of the twitterati, had
obtained many of them as screen shots, and they can be perused at leisure. They
are quite enlightening as to the peculiar makeup of Burdon’s opinions,
prejudices and ignorance.

The first instance was
one copied from the Advance Australia organisation which was set up by a bunch
of wealthy individuals, in part, to protect Tony Abbott’s seat in Parliament,
and supposedly as an ‘antidote’ to Getup. Like Abbott, Advance Australia are
climate change deniers, and Burdon copied their piece with the comment ‘trust
the scientists?. This piece from Advance Australia was entitled ‘CSIRO caught
fudging to boost climate conspiracy’2. Yes; that’s right, they think
climate change is a huge conspiracy perpetrated by thousands of climate
scientists over decades. This conspiracy assertion is one of the standard and
perhaps most desperate techniques used by climate change deniers, creationists,
flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers and any other bunch of science-denying fruitcakes
you care to list3. Anyone who knows how science operates realises
that a conspiracy of more than a couple of people in science is impossible to

This Advance Australia
article refers almost entirely to a gotcha moment by the silly Senator Canavan
at a Senate hearing in March 2020. Canavan wondered why
CSIRO’s official published position on climate change and bushfires of
‘However, no studies explicitly attributing the Australian increase in fire
weather to climate change have been performed at this time’, was not included
in a summary ‘explainer’ document. As the CSIRO scientist said: “…it is really
a question of what you choose to put in and not put in. There’s a lot of other things
we could have written.” This is what Advance Australia, and presumably Canavan,
believe is a sign that there is a huge, world-wide, decades-long conspiracy. Canavan,
was seemingly uninformed, as was the CSIRO scientist, that an analysis by the
World Weather Attribution Organisation in January 2020 demonstrates precisely that
the probability of Fire Weather Index as high as in 2019-2020 has quadrupled
since 1900 (i.e. the likelihood of such severe conditions occurring has gone up
fourfold), and the probability of the Monthly Severity Rating (a measure of the
overall seasonal fire risk) reaching 2019-2020 levels has increased ninefold5.
They also found that the
devastating early bushfire season was much greater than that predicted by
traditional climate modelling. Australian heatwaves were also found to be 1-2
Celsius hotter and 10 times more likely to occur than in 19906.

One of the next posts from Burdon was from
another Queensland Senator; the hilariously idiotic, climate-change denying
Gerard Rennick7, who is the epitome of the Dunning-Kruger Effect8.
It was Rennick who tried to argue that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle,
which applies at the quantum level, should also apply at the climate system
level. He tried to argue this with the CEO of CSIRO, Larry Marshall, who has a
PhD in physics9. Marshall made Rennick look a fool, which is
entirely appropriate and very easy to do. In Burdon’s post, Rennick was whining
about the Guardian which was complaining about the lack of action on climate
change, which he denies is happening.

Perhaps the weirdest and most unsavoury
posting came from the certifiably stupidest parliamentarian, Craig Kelly
(although now Rennick might be giving him a run for his money). This was a
letter from one of Kelly’s constituents. This was headed by Kelly as “A letter
from a constituent about how he advised his teenage daughter on climate change”.
The daughter of this constituent was moved to tears by the speech given by
Greta Thunberg at the United Nations. So, what did this climate change denying
constituent do? They disconnected the heat vent in her room; this in a part of
the country which drops below freezing overnight. They decided that she would
only take a cold shower, and will wash her clothes by hand and hang them on the
clothes line to dry. He then states that all her synthetic clothes will be
taken to the second-hand shop, and they will only allow her to wear undyed
linen and jute clothing without a brassiere. No wool will be allowed because,
apparently, sheep fart. They intend to turn off the wifi at 7pm (presumably
after the parents have finished using it). Of course, this ignores the fact
that a rapidly increasing proportion of the nation’s electricity is generated from
renewables, and is simply a malevolent parent punishing their fifteen-year-old daughter
for not agreeing with them. All state and territory jurisdictions have slightly
different definitions, but in New South Wales, where Kelly’s electorate is,
this parental behaviour could be construed as child abuse because “a parent or
other caregiver has behaved in such a way towards the child or young person
that the child or young person has suffered or is at risk of suffering serious
psychological harm”10. Kelly, and presumably Burdon, seem to take a
great deal of glee in this young girl’s mistreatment at the hands of her

Burdon has posted a claim from the ‘stopthesethings’ group, the
anti-wind turbine mob supported by Angus Taylor11. This post claims
that 1,200 tons of insects are killed by wind turbines every year in Germany.
This assertion is from a report by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF),
the climate change denialist organisation set up by former UK Chancellor of the
Exchequer Nigel Lawson. However, the number is wrong
(it is more). In the introduction
to the GWPF report, Fritz Vahrenholt from the German Wildlife Foundation says
“initial studies estimate that about 1200 billion migratory insects (or 3600
tons) are killed annually in this way”– 5% of migrating insects. “The
German Wildlife Foundation will be researching whether there is a correlation
between the rapid expansion of wind turbines and the estimated decrease of
flying insects by 75% in the last 20 years…,” he noted. “Is it agriculture? The
clearing of land? Monocultures? Or could it be linked to another potential
cause, namely wind turbines? If that were the case, there would be an important
indirect effect on the nutritional foundations for birdlife. This would
represent another impact of wind turbines on birds”12. So, apart from Germany it is something which still remains unclear.
Insects have been declining all around the world, not just where wind turbines
have increased in number. They are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, as food for other animals,
as pollinators and as recyclers of nutrients13. Indeed, despite
trying to co-opt environmental groups to their cause, the GWPF’s views are at
odds with most environmental groups. This is clear from
one of their press releases, which refers to “the appalling environmental cost of wind energy”, and the wider report’s
summary, which says, “far from making the world a better place, renewable energy will destroy all we hold dear”12. As an
aside, the report from GWPF also whines about birds being killed by wind
turbines and while they are killed, they are not killed in the numbers GWPF
would like. A survey in Germany has found that a median collision rate of 0.47
buzzards or 0.14 red kites per wind turbine per annum. So that is one buzzard per
two turbines per annum, and one red kite per seven wind turbines per annum.
While this may have an effect on populations, it is clear what GWPF is on about
given that cats kill up to 3.4 billion (yes, billion) birds per annum in the US
alone12. In Australia, it is estimated that cats kill over 100
million birds per annum14. From this it is clear the GWPF is all about
denying climate change and maintaining the fossil fuel status quo, and is not
concerned about the deaths of any birds.

One of Burdon’s subsequent
posts implies that voting for Labor at the 2019 election was voting for full
term abortions, and that getting rid of franking credit refunds was a retiree
tax. These are two of the standard Liberal lies from the 2019 election. Nobody
was suggesting that full term abortions would happen, as the free abortions Labor promised at the last
federal election were to be in line
with the laws in each of the states15. None of these permit full
term abortions. Franking credit refunds were not a retiree tax, but went
overwhelmingly to the wealthy, with over 74% of the benefits going to the top
10% of income earners16.

Another post which is an indication of
Burdon’s religious fundmentalism, is a recycling of a post from the Australian
Christian Lobby which asks “what is religious freedom?” This is another
fundamentalist attempt to gain support for the religious discrimination bill
the government was touting. This bill is mostly about the protection of the
right of religious organisations to discriminate against people and to protect
hate speech17. Burdon also made a submission to the consultation process
for the religious discrimination bill. While most of it is the usual religious
drivel about the bible and how he is a practising Christian, he does bemoan the
disintegration of the moral base of our society. By the standard of crime
statistics18, people are becoming more ‘moral’, but that is not what
the religious are about. To them, morality is all about sex and sexuality. People
like Burdon look upon homosexuality, sex between unmarried people and abortion
as immoral. For them, same sex marriage is an abomination and should never have
been permitted. The religious are obsessed with sex. As Arthur C. Clarke said “One
of the greatest tragedies in mankind’s entire history may be that morality was
hijacked by religion”.

Another of Burdon’s
posts, and perhaps his silliest, was as an introduction to a post from Canavan
with another pre-election pitch from Senator Canavan about the Labor Party
deserting the coal and mining industries; yet another lie. Burdon introduced Canavan’s
post with “Seeking to destroy the use of what has largely given us the standard
of living that we enjoy, and which has done more to bring millions out of
poverty world wide [sic], is about as suicidal as any society can get. Labor
and the Greens will ruin us all and do nothing for the planet.” In addition to being
totally out of touch with the reality, the argument sounds like that used to
resist the replacement of the horse with the car, or the replacement of whale-oil
street lighting with gas and then electricity. Also, this is a conflation by Burdon
of electricity with coal, in the same way that Canavan associates coal mining
with that for other commodities which will not lead to global warming. Burdon’s
conflation of the two is simply a tactic used to introduce the concept that if
we don’t continue coal mining we will all die, which is of course a lie (one of
his many), whereas if we keep mining and burning coal unabated, it is likely
that millions will die or be forced to leave their lands. That is something
Burdon refuses to acknowledge, but that is the reality.

Given Burdon’s climate
change denialism and religious fundamentalism, and Kotvojs’ obvious denialism1
and the fact that she signed Burdon’s submission to the consultation process on
the religious discrimination bill, it is clear that they are birds of a
feather; and it is clear that Kotvojs is just another climate change-denying
religious nutter. Should she win the Eden-Monaro by-election, she will slot
into the Liberal Party perfectly, because climate change-denying religious
nutters are what the Liberal Party has become.