Mark Disendorf, flanked by Sustainability Drinks organiser
Luke Poliszcuk of Go Energy

17 July 2014 — Sustainability Drinks last Wednesday night at the Slip Inn was packed. But then it featured renewable energy hero Dr Mark Diesendorf, associate professor and deputy director, Institute of Environmental Studies at University of New South Wales, who spoke about his book “Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change”.

Diesendorf didn’t waste time. Launching straight to the chase, he said there was now an “enormous battle” for the future of renewable energy and also for sustainable energy, such as energy efficiency.

And the reason was that renewable energy was “too successful”.

Among the ammunition used to bring it down was a litany of “myths and lies” such as that baseload power stations would always be needed.

Not true, said Diesendorf.

“We could run the system on 100 per cent renewable energy that is now commercially available. All that has to be done is for it to be scaled up.”

A lively and engaged crowd

You could use a simple thing called a gas turbine, otherwise known as a jet engines, he said.

“Now, these are very expensive to run if you fly from Sydney to London; but you only have to run an hour at a time a few times a year. That’s a way to fill the gaps. We’ve shown we can supply the system with 100 per cent reliable energy.”

South Australia already had 30 per cent of its electricity supplied by wind and could well go to 100 per cent if transmission wires to the eastern states were upgraded to handle more of the load, Diesendorf said.

Another myth was that renewables were expensive. After the initial investment they were not expensive.

“The economics stack up; even though there are up front costs. In the long run it’s not that expensive.” And besides, wind and sun are free (so far), and are unlikely to dole out the never ending price rises of coal and gas electricity.

The battle to destroy renewables was now purely and simply political, Diesendorf said.

It was about protecting the big polluters and the fossil fuel generators.

Annoying the vested interests most was that energy consumption is down. And for a big chunk of that energy reduction you can thank the built environment and its big play into energy efficiency.

Other reasons are the responses of appliance makers who have sensed consumer sentiment and made vastly more efficient products, and of course a downturn in manufacturing.

Hilariously, Diesendorf noted the new book released by climate change denier Ian Plimer and pronounced it “unbelievable drivel from

More questions

start to finish.”  It seemed designed to confuse and baffle the gullible who knew nothing much about energy, he said.

A lucky winner of the Disendorf book, “Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change”

See our take on this and the rather embarrassing long and glowing review provided for the book by The Australian Financial Review happy to sully the name of one of its most valued writers, who of course is a specialist in finance, not energy and not politics and not science.

But in the climate wars, that’s all par for the course. It’s about the might against right.

And Diesendorf’s call on the wars? Renewable energy, he said, was now “unstoppable”.

The Fifth Estate also gave a small presentation at the event on our energy efficiency ebook, The Energy Gold Rush.

And another speaker was Christina Hobbs from 350.org who spoke about the powerful divestment campaign to move money away from fossil fuels that is taking off.

Manuel Weirich takes to the microphone
Christina Hobbs said 350.org’s divestment campaign was taking off

Here again is our take on the AFR’s Plimer-gate, published on 5 June:

Watch out for another blitzkrieg from climate sceptic Ian Plimer with yet another book which he and his pals will promote heavily in coming weeks.

The sad thing is that The Australian Financial Review bothered to allow one of its best financial journalists to write a long and adoring article that celebrates Plimer and the idea that climate change isn’t happening, without some basic fact checking.

Plimer is billed as an academic in the headline, but what’s interesting is that the book seems to be all about politics and anecdotes no better than the one about the grandmother that “smoked till she was 90 and didn’t get cancer so cigarettes must be harmless”.  (And no we are not going to read the book or buy it; our point is the adoring article, not the book itself).

The worst bit about the article is that Plimer’s book has a forward by Patrick Moore, billed as a Greenpeace founder now campaigning against climate change. But no checks to see if this is correct information.

This is some of what the article said:

Professor Ian Plimer has never been renowned for moderation in his opinions about the extremist elements of the green movement and in this book he launches on them in a full-blooded, broken-bottle attack.

In his own words: “What started as a laudable movement to prevent the despoilation of certain areas of natural beauty has morphed into an authoritarian,

anti-progress, anti-democratic, anti-human monster.” That Plimer should attack the greens is no surprise.

More impressive is the book’s foreword, written by Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, who fully supports Plimer (our emphasis).

He congratulates Plimer for a book that provides a “different… and extremely rational look at the agenda of the green movement today”.

“In many respects, they have become a combination of extreme political ideology and religious fundamentalism rolled into one,” Moore says.

“There is no better example of this than the fervent belief in human-caused catastrophic climate change.” Moore even rejects the core green belief that carbon dioxide emissions are harmful.”

Most subs would by now have the alarm bells not just ringing but banging a cacophony.

The AFR isn’t the only one to get it wrong about Moore. Here’s a list of other major fact checking failures by other major media outlets around Patrick Moore.

They include The Washington Times, FoxNews.com, the Daily Caller, Newsmax, and the Daily Mail.

“In every case, Moore was characterized as a co-founder of Greenpeace. [The Washington Times, 2/26/14; FoxNews.com, 2/26/14; Daily Caller, 2/25/14; Newsmax, 2/27/14; Daily Mail, 2/27/14]

Here is what Greenpeace says about Patrick Moore

Background – December 7, 2010

Patrick Moore, a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, the logging industry, and genetic engineering industry, frequently cites a long-ago affiliation with Greenpeace to gain legitimacy in the media. Media outlets often either state or imply that Mr. Moore still represents Greenpeace, or fail to mention that he is a paid lobbyist and not an independent source. This page contains information about how to accurately describe Mr. Moore and to judge his credibility.

Patrick Moore is a Paid Spokesperson for the Nuclear Industry

In April 2006, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the principal lobby for the nuclear industry, launched the Clean And Safe Energy Coalition and installed former Bush Administration EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Mr. Moore as its co-chairs. The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition was part of a public relations project spearheaded by the public relations giant Hill & Knowlton as part of its estimated $8 million contract with the nuclear industry.(1)

Patrick Moore Does Not Represent Greenpeace

For more than 20 years, Mr. Moore has been a paid spokesman for a variety of polluting industries, including the timber, mining, chemical and the aquaculture industries. Most of these industries hired Mr. Moore only after becoming the focus of a Greenpeace campaign to improve their environmental performance. Mr. Moore has now worked for polluters for far longer than he ever worked for Greenpeace. Greenpeace opposes the use of nuclear energy because it is a dangerous and expensive distraction from real solutions to climate change.

Patrick Moore Did Not Found Greenpeace

Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace. Phil Cotes, Irving Stowe, and Jim Bohlen founded Greenpeace in 1970. Patrick Moore applied for a berth on the Phyllis Cormack in March, 1971 after the organization had already been in existence for a year. A copy of his application letter and Greenpeace’s response are available here (PDF).

Patrick Moore Has Provided Inaccurate Information on Nuclear Power

In 2004, Mr. Moore published an article in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) journal entitled “Nuclear Re-think.” According to Mr. Moore, “Three Mile Island was a success story. The concrete containment structure did as it was designed to do: it prevented radiation from escaping into the environment.”(2)

Contrary to Mr. Moore’s claim, the damaged reactor spewed radiation into the environment for days. It appears that Mr. Moore didn’t even bother to check his facts. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s fact sheet on Three Mile Island (TMI) acknowledges that the meltdown resulted in “a significant release of radiation…”(3)

Even the International Atomic Energy Agency, which published Mr. Moore’s article, acknowledges that the TMI meltdown released radiation into the surrounding community. As a result, the IAEA ranks the accident as a Level 5 on a scale of 7, an Accident With Wider Consequences. (Only Chernobyl & the Soviet nuclear waste tank explosion in 1957 rank worse than the Three Mile Island meltdown.)(4)

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 10 million curies of radiation escaped the damaged reactor core. However, nuclear engineers who reexamined the accident estimate that as much as 150 million curies of radiation may have escaped from the reactor.(5) The meltdown at Three Mile Island turned a multimillion dollar asset into a multibillion dollar liability overnight and helped seal the fate of nuclear power in the United States. To claim otherwise is nothing but public relations spin.

Unfortunately, Mr. Moore’s pro nuclear spin is not confined to the Three Mile Island meltdown. While praising the Bush Administration for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol(6), Moore promotes nuclear power as a solution to global warming because,”(i)t produces no harmful greenhouse gases…”(7)

However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) already determined in 1999 that the Nuclear Energy Institute’s claims touting nuclear power’s supposed environmental benefits were misleading because it did not disclose the fact that the production of nuclear fuel produced greenhouse gases. The FTC concluded that NEI’s claims could not be substantiated, “(s)ince there is not yet any permanent disposal system for radioactive waste and since the process of uranium enrichment that fuels nuclear reactors emits greenhouse gases…”(8)

Patrick Moore’s Own Words

Consider Patrick Moore’s own words when considering his claims and those of the nuclear industry: “It should be remembered that there are employed in the nuclear industry some very high-powered public relations organizations. One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste will result in the sexiest smile,”(9) he wrote before becoming a spokesman for polluters.

References

1. “False Fronts.” Columbia Journalism Review. April, 2006. (https://cjrarchives.org/issues/2006/4/editorial.asp)

2. Moore, Patrick. “Nuclear Re-Think.” IAEA Bulletin. Vol. 48, No. 1. September, 2006. p. 56-58. (https://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull481/pdfs/nuclear_rethink.pdf)

3. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Fact Sheet on the Three Mile Island Accident” (https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.pdf)

4. International Atomic Energy Agency and OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. “INES – The International Nuclear and Radiological Scale.” (https://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/ines.pdf)

5. Allen, Scott. “Findings underplayed disaster, 3 say” The Boston Globe. March 28, 1999. (https://research.greenpeaceusa.org/?a=view&d=4592)

6. Morano, Marc. “Former Greenpeace Co-Founder Praises US for Rejecting Kyoto” CNSNews.com. December 8, 2005.

7. Whitman, Christine Todd and Patrick Moore. “Nuclear should be a part of our energy future.” The Boston Globe. May 15, 2006. (https://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/ oped/articles/2006/05/15/nuclear _should_be_a_part_of_our_energy_future/)

8. Bernstein, Joan Z (Director, Federal Trade Commission). Letter to Joseph Colvin, President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute, December 15, 1999. (https://www.ftc.gov/os/closings/staff/991215nuclearenergyinstitute.pdf)

9. Moore, Patrick. “Assault on Future Generations.” Greenpeace Annual Report, 1976.

Here’s more from the AFR piece:

Plimer’s thesis is that the real agenda of green groups (often registered as charities) is nothing less than the destruction of modern civilisation and that a key aim is to kneecap the global energy industry which provides society with electricity. It has always seemed odd that greens are so hostile to a gas which is vital for the life of trees. As a trained geologist, Plimer is well aware that the planet’s climate has been changing since its birth 41?2 billion years ago. “If the Earth’s climate did not constantly change, then I would be really worried,” he says.

What’s not mentioned is that the Plimer has now strayed far from so-called science into politics. And that it’s the speed of  climate change that is the issue.

And this:

What he contests is that manmade carbon dioxide has anything much to do with such change. It must be comforting for left-wingers to blame evil industrialists for destroying our planet, but in fact carbon dioxide accounts for only 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere and man-made carbon dioxide accounts for maybe 4 per cent of that, so Plimer regards the proposition as nonsense.

Yes carbon is natural but what is unnatural is that the sensitive balance of carbon in the atmosphere is unbalanced by fossil human-induced emissions.

Other junk science comes out and is so insulting to the intelligence that it’s astounding in a so-called paper of quality.