Doomed Planet

The Asylum Atop Their Ivory Tower

All right, all right! I’ve been wrong all along. My bad. Sorry. Get over it. Don’t beat a dead horse.

I’ve long suggested that Melbourne University in Premier Dan Andrews’ People’s Republic of Victoria[1] is the epicentre of Green-Left climate idiocy. I’ve suggested the affliction peaked at the university’s jellified brain with an Honorary Doctor of Laws to doom-crying shameless huckster Al Gore, probably a captain’s pick by then-vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, whose personal carbon footprint was embigged by his $1.6m salary package, three times that of the Prime Minister. The Melbourne University’s green affliction meanders down to its Sustainable Society Institute, representing the haemorrhoid on the Carlton campus corpus. For example, the Institute seed-funded a green symposium last July featuring an imported NZ authority on “tree-humping”.

Part 2: The Most Disgusting Climate Cult of All

The Institute’s Dr Sam Alexander co-authored a book with Extinction Rebellion guru Rupert Read.[2] who writes,

It is just-about conceivable that this civilisation might survive by adopting an extremely disciplined eco-fascism.[3]

They’d also like to return Western civilisation to horseback. Incidentally, in these straitened times, the Carlton academics and administrators will enjoy a 2.2 per cent pay rise from May 1, and 9 per cent total rise from 2018 to 2021. Suck that up, private-sector helots.

I emailed UniMelb press office:

1/ Does Melbourne University consider it appropriate to be handing its academics and administrators 2.2 per cent pay rises at a time when the private sector is enduring its worst conditions since the 1930s depression?

2/ Has Melbourne University since Feb. 2020 made any attempt to re-negotiate its Enterprise Bargain concerning the 2.2 per cent pay rise next week?

3/ Are Melbourne University spokespeople themselves eligible for the 2.2 per cent pay rise from next week?

I got the following reply from PR Emma Sun, senior media advisor to Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell

Thanks for your query. We won’t be providing a response for your story.

A bit odd, not to mention rude, for an institution founded for free inquiry.

Melbourne Uni rates as top Australian university, which isn’t saying much. They’ve all gone downhill since the late Australian war hero and Quadrant columnist Peter Ryan, for 26 years director of Melbourne University Press, described them as “money-grubbing academic slums”. Melbourne Uni rated 32nd in Times Higher Education world rankings this year. Whoever does these rankings ought to be taken outside and, er, counselled.

Anyway, my bad is that all along I overlooked the mightier green lunacy at RMIT University, which is Melbourne Uni’s southern neighbour by a kilometre or so. I’m a data-driven person and there’s an index of the relative sanity of Melbourne’s two education icons. RMIT academics, by the way, are getting a 2 per cent pay rise from June 1 and 8 per cent for the four years to 2021.[4]

An RMIT spokesperson says, “For employees covered by the current RMIT Enterprise Agreement, the salary increases set out in the agreement occur automatically. Any changes would require our employees to approve a variation to the agreement.”

At Melbourne University only 18 academics signed the manifesto of Extinction Rebellion last September, including six at professor/associate rank. But RMIT academics eclipsed that effort thrice over with a thumping 63 signatories, including 15 professors and associate professors. RMIT’s Dr Peta Malins and Professor Rob Watts were the two lead signatories, among about 275 signers. (More about Watts to come). The national roll-call of the XR-petitioning professorial ranks – and remember this is just the tip of the iceberg of top-tier academic green-lefties — is about 70.

Extinction Rebellion, as will be documented in Part Two, is a vicious upper-middle-class death cult.

Monash academics came second with 44 XR acolytes (11 at professor levels), and even little Deakin equalled Melbourne with 18 (three professors).[5] The Guardian lied that signatories were “leading academics” although heaps were mere post-grad students, and Melbourne University’s list included self-described “comedian” and mattress salesman Rod Quantock. His academic qualification is having failed Melbourne’s Bachelor of Architecture degree after spending five years getting to Year 3 of the six-year course. Melbourne University seems to set a low bar for activists. (“You’ve done the Al Gore climate course? Great, drop by and the VC will fit you with your bonnet and stripey gown for an honorary doctorate.”) [6]

You may be wondering what XR’s university professors get paid via taxpayers and via their institution shaking down international students. At Melbourne University a ‘Level E’ professor from May’s pay rise will be on a base pay of $199,992 plus heaven-knows-what perks, starting with 17 per cent employer-paid super (RMIT from June: $187,148).[7] A Level D or Associate Professor at the top of the range at Melbourne U will be on $170,993 plus perks. (RMIT: $160,059).

The Guardian headlined the XR petition, “Leading academics from around the country say it is their moral duty to rebel to ‘defend life itself’”. The petition for “rapid total decarbonisation of the economy” itself deserves a prize for bombast by pathetically vain academics. Here’s a sample:

It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented [climate] disaster … The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.

Jan Palach should have been so brave.

The petition starts off:

The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day.

If you check the “200 species” links and look past the hand-waving of “scientists say” and “say many biologists” (exact quotes), you wind up with a ten-year-old Guardian article citing a UN biodiversity chief Ahmed Djoghlaf. UN biodiversity reports are political documents, with 100 or more UN national delegates having carte blanche to tinker with the text, as occurred last year.[8] The extinction claims were debunked in Djoghlaf’s time by actual peer-reviewed work.[9] Life is too short to fact-check for Quadrant Online readers all the absurd apocalypticism in the XR petition, which ends, strangely but dutifully, with a call “for the urgent establishment of a treaty with First Nation Australians.”

Why do XR acolytes seem so scarce at UniMelb? In recent months I’ve been to their basements and halls packed with hundreds of XR fans, a great many looking like time- and space-wasting faculty members or unemployable green-minded post-grads, and all worshipping a projected image of Greta Thunberg.[10] The Top Four universities were certainly all Victorian; my state’s barmy academic army trounced NSW and all other States on fealty to Extinction Rebellion.

About the signatories

The academics say they signed in their personal capacity, yet they proudly cite their universities and titles. Their campus controllers are fine with them signing on to what British counter-terrorism police last November labelled an extremist ideology that should be reported to counter-terror officials. The Guardian reported that XR featured alongside threats such as neo-Nazis and a pro-terrorist Islamist group. “The guide, aimed at police officers, government organisations and teachers who by law have to report concerns about radicalisation, was dated last November,” said The Guardian. Within days Britain’s top cops insisted their labelling of XR was an unfortunate mistake, but as Queen Gertrude put it, the lady doth protest too much.

I sent 60 RMIT signatories this insincere email:

Dear Professor/Dr X,

I want to congratulate you on your courage and ethical leadership in signing the Extinction Rebellion petition for official action to ensure the survival of ourselves and the planet’s manifold species by emissions reduction. I am of an academic background (retired), MA (UWA, 1969) and B.Ec (ANU, 1974) and am still involved in educating young people. I am checking how and whether I can add my name to the petition which clearly failed to comprehensively show the support for XR in academia.

My question is how best to promote XR to students and pupils? I note that Sustainability is a required parameter in all high school courses, which is a good start. Are you personally able to integrate the message of climate crisis into your pedagogy and, if so, can you please advise me on useful techniques and links? Yours sincerely,

Anthony Thomas

Some might claim I’ve crapped all over the journo union’s Code of Ethics.[11] But XR enthusiasts love breaking laws and up-ending civil conventions in the cause of saving the planet. I’m just doing it in reverse, in the cause of amusing and informing Quadrant readers.

I was disappointed to get only a handful of responses. But my prize exhibit is Professor Rob Watts, second lead signatory and a founding member of the Greens Party in Victoria.[12] He replied (emphasis added), 

RMIT Classification: Trusted.

Dear Anthony,
Very good to hear from you … I have a simple view: the question of global warming and the associated issues (like species extinction) are fundamentally and simultaneously ethical and political in nature (because they go to basic questions about the good society, the good life and justice) and so should be central to contemporary curriculum in both our schools and universities …  

I am currently teaching a first year first semester politics subject in which we spend the last third of the first semester addressing the politics of global warming. It worked well last year …” (My emphases).

He attached a submission he drafted for the Unemployed Workers Union[13] to the Senate last year about a “Green Jobs Guarantee”, and said, “I’d be interested to hear what you think. Meanwhile we need lots more conversation and engagement wherever it can happen. Stay in touch. Best wishes, Bob.” 

The submission he mentions chants

Global warming poses a global existential threat and the Australian government needs to move away from the use of fossil fuels as fast as possible to avert a planetary disaster triggered by uncontrolled global warming.

It features a nice proposal to solve the housing-affordability problem “by using social infrastructure financing to build a million new social houses” (p4-5). In Watts’ world, as distinct from Wayne’s World,  “not only can governments ensure that workers who depend on renting can reduce their exposure to rapacious property markets, they can also stimulate a construction boom that would generate thousands of direct and indirect construction jobs.” Let me see, one million houses at, say, $500,000 a pop, that’s half a trillion dollars if I’ve got all the zeroes lined up. That’s about a quarter of last year’s GDP – and a million new government houses is just the start of Watts’ formulae to build a better, fairer, greener Australia, as he sees it.

His Green Jobs Guarantee involves the federal government as “employer of last resort” handing out a “well-funded” guarantee of regional jobs for all, not just any old jobs but jobs to hasten us to his zero-carbon nirvana. There would be vast pay rises to health workers, badly needed “to provide for the care and regenerative work necessary to mitigate and adapt to climate change.” Watt’s evidence for climate’s ill-health effects from 1degC of warming in the past century is none other than that Chinese satrapy known as the World Health Organisation. Watts says WHO “has declared that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the twenty first century.”[14]

Other Watts brainwaves are “flexible public service employment” to smooth the variability of seasonal agricultural work, and fancy government borrowing programs to prop up hopelessly inefficient wind and solar industries.

I don’t know how much more of this RMIT brain flatulence your nose can absorb but Watts’ effusions extend to a forecast 41-49 per cent drop in WA wheat yields in 2090 (that’s right, 70 years from now) because of global warming. Back in the real world, the CSIRO has just forecast WA yields this year to be significantly above the long-term WA average, 1.78 tonnes per hectare vs 1.66 average, the past century’s global warming notwithstanding.

So, since you ask my opinion, Professor, your submission reads like undergraduate green-left tosh and I hope the sensible senators threw it in the recycling bin. Good luck with Extinction Rebellion. And congrats on your 2 per cent pay hike.

The XR signatories at RMIT were concentrated in the Global, Urban and Social Studies Department, with 40-plus sign-ons. Maybe failure to sign was a career hazard, given the solid group-think there. Within the department, the Design & Social Context unit had about 20 sign-ons, particularly those of criminology types involved in “climate justice” and virulent feminist wankery. Science was represented only by about six signatories engaged in geospatial work. This involves remote sensing and ties in closely with climate work and, need it be said, grants.

The petition was master-minded (or mistress-minded) by lead signatory and lecturer Dr Peta Malins, a criminologist working on reasonable topics like drugs policing, sniffer dogs and adverse impacts of strip searches. However, try this among her publications: “An Ethico-Aesthetics of Heroin Chic: Art, Cliché and Capitalism.” I assume she gets brownie points from peer-reviewers, the dean and grant selectors for slagging “capitalism”, given the Green-left mindsets of such university gatekeepers.

As a journalist, I have been a communications professional for more than 60 years, but I have no idea what Dr Malins’ paper is trying to say, e.g.

Such becomings and deterritorialisations, however, cannot be separated from the movements of reterritorialisation, which are also an essential part of the operation of capital. As Patton suggests, ‘capitalist societies simultaneously reterritorialise what they deterritorialise, producing all manner of “neoterritorialities”’

But there’s no mistaking the Politburo flavor of Dr Malins’ opus, as seen in bits like this:

In many ‘producing’ nations, for example, workers protesting their conditions are often violently crushed by a totalitarian State acting in the direct interests of – and with the cooperation and support of – large multinational corporations… The extent of these violences, which includes violence against all sorts of minoritarian bodies (third-world producers, ethnic minorities, Indigenous bodies, women, children, animals, forests) is also often obscured by the ‘freedoms’ offered within spaces of ‘first world’ consumer capitalism, at least for those who have the capacity to consume…

She continues,

Bennett’s argument that an ethics can – perhaps even must – emerge from a kind of joyous deterritorialisation or ‘enchantment’ is an important one. It is from such an ethico-aesthetics, rather than from ethical or moral imperatives, that it becomes possible to bring forth a ‘people to come’.

Do you get that? Me neither.

In the XR petition’s zoo-like catalogue of scholars and scholarship (the real zoo, in Royal Park, is just a few minutes’ stroll away), I have settled on Dr Blanche Verlie as the Lion(ess) King.[15] In the anti-free-speech academic junk blog The Conversation a year ago, funded by taxpayers, Dr Verlie penned a paean to school strikers and their anger-and-grief state of “existential whiplash” caused by the “Sixth Mass Extinction”. Her tribute is illustrated with a boy of about 12 holding a sign, “We are frying and dying. Earth is crying.” Verlie writes,

Striking students’ signs proclaim ‘no graduation on a dead planet’ and ‘we won’t die of old age, we will die from climate change’. This is not hyperbole but a genuine engagement with what climate change means for their lives, as well as their deaths.

The hyperbolic signage was of course mostly cooked up and disseminated by the cynics of the (adult) Youth Climate Coalition who ghost-ran the kids’ strikes.

Quoting troubled teen Greta Thunberg saying, “I want you to panic”, Verlie continues,

The school strikers, and those who support them, are deeply anguished about what a business-as-usual future might hold for them and others [and many further deeply-anguished by their parents’ reluctance to upgrade them to the latest $1500 iPhone -TT]. As adults, we would do well to recognise the necessity of facing up to the most grotesque elements of climate change. Perhaps then we too may step up to the challenge of cultural transformation.

RMIT University administrators were so impressed with Dr Verlie’s word-salad they republished it officially.

 I did find joy perusing Dr Verlie’s co-paper on “Becoming Researchers: Making Academic Kin in the Chthulucene”. The Chthulucene, since you asked, is a new epoch, “where refugees from environmental disaster (both human and non-human) will come together. This is a time when humans will try to live in balance and harmony with nature (or what’s left of it) in ‘mixed assemblages’.” That’s the definition provided by some entity called “Southern Fried Science”. We learn via Verlie’s peer-reviewed scholarship that researchers covet “a form of refuge from academic stressors, creating spaces for ‘composting together’ [no misprint] through processes of ‘decomposing’ and ‘recomposing’. Our rejection of neoliberal norms has gifted us experiences of joyful collective pleasures.”[16]

I, too, felt joy perusing the works of XR petitioner Dr Anitra Nelson, who departed RMIT recently after 21 years’ lecturing there for “Pastures new” (see Milton’s Lycidas of 1637) at Melbourne University’s spectacularly eccentric Sustainable Society Institute. She touts herself as an “activist-scholar”, a plus in academia these Leftist days, but once a logical dead-end.

I felt further joy that Dr Nelson’s edited works includes a real cracker: Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies. The bookis a collection explaining both why the institutions of money and the state prevent us from achieving socialism”, she explains. I last came across a no-money advocate in the person of Dr Jim Cairns lecturing at ANU in late 1974, when the deputy prime minister rabbitted about substituting money with kindly love, while his swami-clad office manager sat at his feet, the pair forming a living tableau. Money was good enough for the Mesopotamians and ever since, but Drs Cairns and Nelson know better. Nelson’s book announces,

The money-based global economy is failing while market-led attempts to combat climate change are fought tooth and nail by business as environmental crises continue. Crucially, [the book’s contributors provide] a direct strategy for undercutting capitalism by refusing to deal in money, and offer[s] money-free models of governance and collective sufficiency. Life Without Money is written by high-profile activist scholars making it an excellent text for political economy and environmental courses, as well as an inspiring manifesto for those who want to take action.

My emphases above. She certainly lets the cat out of the academic bag.

Another of her co-edited collections is Housing for Degrowth (2018, $59.17 even as e-book). A whole section of the book is under Anti-Capitalist Values and Relations. She says

Firstly, serious degrowth needs to take place in the global north to tackle overconsumption and conspicuous consumption,” she’s quoted from her academic comfort zone. Her base pay as RMIT associate professor would be $160,000 plus perks. “The [degrowthed] home is a much richer kind of an environment then what it has become under capitalism – a mere resting place between work.”

Dr Nelson cites a half-dozen awards and honors, so well is her work prized in academia. I assume Dr Nelson will forgo her 2.2 per cent Melbourne University pay rise from May 1. More money would make her spiritually worse off.

Researching these researchers’ climate/leftist obsessions is like prospecting with a detector and discovering a Welcome Stranger, a Hand of Faith, and a Normandy Nugget all in a morning. They signed the XR petition to get noticed and that made my job a lot easier.

All that remains now is to demonstrate the true and evil nature of Extinction Rebellion and this I’ll do in the forthcoming Part II: “The most disgusting climate cult of all”.

Tony Thomas’s new book, Come to think of it – essays to tickle the brain, is available as book ($34.95) or e-book ($14.95) here.


[1] Currently organising a “Treaty” with alleged descendants of Aborigines at the time of settlement qua “invasion”.

[2] The book is cheerily titled This Civilisation is Finished. Simplicity Institute, Melbourne 2019

[3] Currently, Read says of the ChiCom Flu pandemic, ‘there is a huge opportunity for XR … It is essential that we do not let this crisis go to waste.’

[4] An RMIT spokesperson says, “For employees covered by the current RMIT Enterprise Agreement, the salary increases set out in the agreement occur automatically. Any changes would require our employees to approve a variation to the agreement.”

[5] Allow a 3 per cent error margin for ambiguous cases

[6] Quantock does have an OAM in sustainability and conservation.

[7] MU Enterprise Bargain: “A Level E Academic will have attained recognition as an eminent authority in their discipline, will have achieved distinction at the national level and may be required to have achieved distinction at the international level. ..”

“The research work of a Level D Academic will make a major original and innovative contribution to their field of study or research, and be recognised as outstanding nationally or internationally.”

[8] “Conservation scientists convened in Paris to issue the report, which exceeded 1,000 pages. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) included more than 450 researchers who used 15,000 scientific and government reports. The report’s summary had to be approved by representatives of all 109 nations. Some nations hit harder by the losses, like small island countries, wanted more in the report. Others, such as the United States, were cautious in the language they sought…”

[9] Contrary contemporaneous scientific studies abound:

Re-assessing current extinction rates” by Neil Stork in Biodiversity and Conservation, February 2010. Open copy. He cites the overwhelming peer-reviewed research evidence that claims of mass extinctions occurring today are exaggerated or false, and explains the reasons for these errors. Conclusions … “So what can we conclude about extinction rates? First, less than 1% of all organisms are recorded to have become extinct in the last few centuries and there are almost no empirical data to support estimates of current extinctions of 100 or even one species a day.”

Species–area relationships always overestimate extinction rates from habitat loss” by Fangliang He and Stephen P. Hubbell in Nature, 19 May 2011. “Extinction from habitat loss is the signature conservation problem of the twenty-first century. Despite its importance, estimating extinction rates is still highly uncertain because no proven direct methods or reliable data exist for verifying extinctions.”

John C. Briggs (Prof Marine Science,USouthFL) in Science,14 November 2014.- “Most extinctions have occurred on oceanic islands or in restricted freshwater locations, with very few occurring on Earth’s continents or in the oceans.”

[10] Except by academia, and any such slots will be evaporating along with universities’ lucrative Chinese students, many of whom were barely able to speak or write English but have gone home flaunting their Australian degree certificates.

[11] Ethics code: “Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.”

[12] He admits this role in the preamble to his book, Criminalising Dissent. In this 284-page excoriation of Western awfulness, he manages to refer to China only three or four times.

[13] Assisted by post-grad Connor Jolley

[14] UN secretary-general António Guterres who runs WHO was making the same claim but has now substituted the ChiCom virus as the threat.

[15] Verlie has inhabited both RMIT and Sydney University.

[16] I wrote about Verlie last week, by coincidence, musing about “educating” our youth: “…what are the strategies we are using to engage people with issues such as (but not limited to) climate change, the ongoing colonisation of Indigenous peoples, xenophobia or homophobia, or mass extinction? What are the specific characteristics of how such issues play out in classrooms (or other spaces)?”

6 thoughts on “The Asylum Atop Their Ivory Tower

  • en passant says:

    As Oz is now bankrupt it’s time to search around to see where we can save a few $$ or a $M. Thank you for finding a goldmine.

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, several years ago I attended a school function where two Year-12 students were giving a presentation (with 97% certainty, of course) that CAGW was causing the 6th mass extinction. I was almost turned into a pillar of salt when I asked “Can you name two species that went extinct last year?” Fortunately, if there was two losers, they have been replaced by at least 45 new viruses …

  • norsaint says:

    Jesus wept.

  • padraic says:

    Such ratbags. I hope they are able to be confined to the asylum.

  • Rob Brighton says:

    These people are supposed to be educating my children.

    @norsaint Indeed.

  • DG says:

    The academics might give credibility to their signatures by adopting Hallam’s eco-communist digital university and quit the cushy jobs at RMITU (odd to call a big Tech. a uni, BTW) and MU.

  • DG says:

    And second comment, I wonder why XR (odd abbreviation, but I guess “ER” could be confused with the famous lady from Windsor castle) etc. are worried about species extinction. After all, it is part of the normal course of evolution that the unfit die out. They should be celebrating being able to watch evolution at work.

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