Doomed Planet

Clash of the Climateers

It’s the slugfest of the century — Australia’s top climate alarmist Dr Joelle Gergis (above) duking it out with Anna-Maria Arabia, CEO of the Australian Academy of Science. The green-Left Academy wants any challenge to its global warming panics to be censored by the federal apparatus – see Shut Them Up, Argues the Academy of Science. Hence I predict Ms Arabia will triumph by getting the impertinent Gergis cancelled as a climate denier.

At issue is “CCS” or carbon capture and storage. This means plucking CO2 out of industry and the atmosphere to achieve otherwise-unattainable net zero. The captured CO2, a plant food which the CSIRO admits has been lavishly greening the planet, has to be safely stored in repositories by the billion and even tens of billion tonnes a year. These CO2 jails must be locked up for thousands or even millions of years, say the Academy’s experts.[1]

But CCS is so much trillion-dollar bunk, as Joelle sets out to demonstrate. She’s playing Samson’s dangerous game — destabilising the Temple of Climate. This temple is already tottering in Europe as Germany et al recognise the havoc the Greens have caused their economies. Renewables are bunk too, not that Joelle would admit that. The climate models causing people to imagine “global boiling” and “highways to hell” are also bunk. As 2022 Nobel Prize winner in physics John Clauser puts it, “There is no correlation between temperature change and carbon dioxide – it is all a crock of crap.”[2]

In what the ABC would describe as “handbags at six paces”[3], the Arabia-Gergis stoush involves:

♦ For the Academy, its Roundtable of  March 2023 on ” Greenhouse gas removal in Australia” and its submission to the feds last July espousing mind-blowing CCS targets. That submission is so silly I’ve banished it to this footnote [4], and will focus instead on the Roundtable.

♦ For Joelle, there’s her vast piece in June’s Quarterly Essay, which makes my wordy Quadrant effusions look like haikus. (Gergis occupies 88 pages of the 122-page issue). She took a break from climate catastrophism to study creative writing, and another break from her ANU senior lectureship to sit in the dark-green Australia Institute for months as writer-in-residence to pen her essay.[5] The Institute is a Siamese twin of the Greens Party[6] . Joelle has now emerged to title her handiwork “Highway to Hell: Climate Change and Australia’s Future.”[7]

In her essay Joelle for once takes a view I agree with, that CCS is a stupid scam with not even the chance of an ice-cream in hell of getting us to the broad sunlit uplands of net zero. More on her CCS demolition down the track.

The Academy, however, trusts CCS as the magic bullet to save the planet from computer-modelled fiery damnation in 2100. In general, the Academy wants Labor’s anti-emissions targets to be made something like twice as fierce. Instead of one giant 7MW windmill being built per day to 2030 (Albo’s scheme), the Academy logically wants two a day. And instead of 22,000 made-in-China solar panels installed per day, it wants circa 40,000 a day. Climate Minister Chris Bowen’s wind farms and power lines are flattening forests and blighting landscapes. The Academy’s brought-forward emissions targets would at least double the damage.

In trying to square the circle on net zero, the Academy’s experts have come up with what I’d call the “Kittylitter Leapthrough”. It involves methane, CO2’s greenhouse pal, (formula CH4, according to Mr Walter House, my despairing chemistry teacher in 1956). At the roundtable, experts suggested that zeolite, kittylitter’s cheap ingredient ($US140 per tonne), might be engineered on a planetary scale to mop excess methane (p15).

The Roundtable was run by Academy President Chennupati Jagadish AC , who thought the Academy’s “independence and convening power made us an ideal host for a roundtable on novel negative emissions approaches for Australia.” He foresaw Australia as a CCS research – or maybe kittylitter — superpower.[8]

A list on page 28 shows that every one of the 18 round-tablers, by invitation, were drawn from the university/CSIRO/govt sectors (12 professors among them). There was not one person from industry. They dreamed of breakthroughs unimpeded by costs or commercial technology. Their suggestions include, with my comments below

1/ Trains that capture CO2 while travelling between mine sites, to be stored subsequently at mine sites.

Does anyone remember that 268-waggon BHP train in the Pilbara that lost its driver five years ago and travelled 100km at up to 160kph before its $300-million pile-up? Imagine such a runaway train dragging captured CO2. Would Gina Hancock, who thinks climate doomism is propaganda, convert her Roy Hill trains to CO2 courier duties?.

2/ Ocean alkalinity enhancement – Addition of alkalinity-enhancing substance generated from mine tailings and other waste.

I’m not sure that whales, sardines, octopi and clown fish cavorting in the Great Barrier Reef would welcome a gazillion tonnes of mine tailings. The roundtablers’ stream of consciousness continued,

4/ Ocean farming (e.g., kelp, seagrass) for CO2 capture…

Ocean storage: – Biomass in the ocean , e.g., seaweed that sinks to the deep ocean, Blue carbon[9], Deep ocean storage.

5/  Injecting in the atmosphere “iron-salt aerosols – iron-containing particles that enhance natural methane sinks by mimicking natural reactions caused by mineral dust particles.

Not content with re-jigging the oceans, the tax-funded boffins also contemplate rehashing our atmosphere. I guess the ivory-tower crowd likes to think big!

6/ Integrating carbon capture into current structural materials and systems, e.g., building materials can perform a dual role as carbon capture surfaces or retrofitting HVAC [heating, ventilation and air cooling] systems to provide capture function.

My villa unit has its Hitachi split-system HVAC motor in the front garden. Its concrete pad is tilting in the mud and the box has quite a lean. Could someone from the Roundtable please drop by, convert my HVAC to airborne CO2 capture, and straighten the lean while they’re at it?.

7/ DAC [direct air capture] used to accelerate biomass production (e.g., bamboo) with a view to use in cross laminated timber as a large-scale replacement/augmentation for steel structures in buildings.

I foresee the CFMEU’s John Setka enforcing a “bamboo site allowance” of $20 an hour on Melbourne’s high-rise jobs. As I write, I hum a tune from my teens which, as I recall, goes

On the windier days, Seems an orchestra plays
On a musical breeze for you;
Like a merry salute From a heavenly flute
To the tower of singing bamboo.


TIME now,as promised, for Joelle’s hatchet job on the delusions of the Academy and its September 2022 Roundtable.[10] Her Quarterly Essay dubs CCS “a fool’s errand that will only lead to delay and failure (p81)…a disastrous gamble (p12)…the fantasy get-out-of-jail-free card that threatens to ruin us (p50). If we buy into these delusions, we will be in very deep trouble.” (p51) Here’s why, she explains (p56-61):

♦ In the past 30 years 80 per cent of all CCS pilot projects have flopped.

♦ “To achieve global targets, approximately 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide need to be stored each year by 2030, growing to 10 billion tonnes per annum by 2050.”

♦ The 41 operational CCS projects in 2023 store less than 10m tonnes of CO2 a year (according to UNEP) or 49m tonnes (according to CCS industry-group figures – Joelle suggests the latter mob are lying, which is normal for green lobbies). Joelle herself is on the Climate Council. She’s mentored there by council chief Tim Flannery, who’s still waiting for his 2004 prediction to bear fruit about my birthplace Perth becoming a waterless ghost town.

♦ Given total human-caused emissions last year alone were 41 billion tonnes, CCS would need to be boosted by 1000 times to do any climate-solving.

♦ “Offshore CCS has added dangers of acidifying marine environments, contaminating groundwater, inducing earthquakes and the displacement of toxic brine deposits. The true risks of the hazards of the offshore CCS industry are yet to be fully scientifically and technically assessed, let alone comprehensively regulated… embarking on such a risky path for such little gain is spectacularly illogical.”

♦ To achieve net zero by 2050, the CCS industry would need to suck up investment worth $US655b to $US1.3 trillion ($A2 trillion or $2,000,000,000,000). Even with that, a commercial CCS plant takes ten years to build so don’t expect wonders by 2050.

A cynic might say that with CCS advocacy, the Academy is pushing a no-lose position for its 700 Fellows. If it works, they save (we hope) the planet. If it doesn’t, well the basic research costing eight or even nine-figure amounts won’t have been wasted in enhancing the Fellows’ lifestyles. There would be lavishly-staffed Centres of CCS Excellence, university promotions and job security, multi-million lab gear approvals, King’s Birthday honours and all that, plus jetting to prestigious conferences.

Also, CCS is not just a job-ticket for boffins who can do maths and engineering — there would likely be near-unlimited CCS funding for artsy hangers-on like Jungians researching the psyches of Joelle and other CCS-deniers; CCS angles re LGBTQI+s, feminists and Aboriginal main-chancers[11]; and CCS strategies expressed in gouache and dance (enjoy!). All this stuff is already affixed like sucker-fish to the mainstream “climate science” shark.

I’d better add that Joelle’s anti-CCS crusade is to stop Albanese from pussy-footing around on emissions, and harden up the progressives’ ruinous anti-fossil-fuel fatwas. Nothing but an immediate crackdown on fossil-fuel use and any new petroleum/coal projects will satisfy Joelle.

I do worry that exposing these schisms among the climate-crazy set could set back my good relations with Academy President Jagadish. He’s already cross with, I believe, other journos for disrespecting the Academy’s wisdom. He wrote to his Fellows last August that “undermining science undermines us all”. Those rogue journos “seek to twist the truth to suit their agenda”, he complained, continuing

We have witnessed the seeding and dissemination of uncertainty throughout the years—to postpone the regulation of tobacco consumption, to continue the use of lead in petrol, to obstruct vaccination during the ongoing pandemic, or to prevent action on climate change to list a few.

His next paragraph had me scratching my head. He seemed to suggest that blaming a Wuhan lab-leak for the global Covid disaster was a “deliberate undermining of public trust in science [and] conspiracy and fearmongering.” [12] I thought Xi Jin-Ping’s incendiary reaction and billion-dollar trade bans over PM Morrison’s mild call for a Covid-origins inquiry were a clue. And indeed, evidence for the lab-leak origin is compounding every day. US intelligence agencies with their vast resources are split or uncertain about the Wuhan lab-leak theory: at least one of these agencies, judging by Jagadish’s comment, must be conspiring and fear-mongering. What on earth’s going on at the Academy?

Jagadish conflated, without evidence, the public’s trust in science with public trust in his Academy, which has been thoroughly captured by the green-black-Left blob[13]. He went on,

Science relies on high-quality journalism to communicate discoveries that impacts our lives. And that is why we must be concerned when journalism and other sources seek to mislead, distort and obfuscate scientific evidence and in doing so undermine public trust in science.

It is a dangerous trend and must be called out. As a national academy whose remit is to uphold standards of excellence in science, we will call out behaviour that serves no good purpose and that harms the essential underpinnings of a stable, safe and civil society that relies on evidence-informed decision making. It is up to all those who value the importance of knowledge as a public good to take a stand in the face of those who would assault it.

I bet those other journos would want to ask Jagadish why, if his outfit is so sciencey and evidentiary, the Academy

♦ organised smoking ceremonies to cleanse Academy premises of evil spirits?

♦ Supported its Future Earth subsidiary’s childish if not vicious call for a no-growth economy?[14] See also the Academy’s conference here where it touts someone claiming “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.

Run fake Aborigine Bruce Pascoe as a plenary lead speaker on how his supposed ancestors communed with whales when Bass Strait was dry land?

 Used a previous school science course to badger 15-year-oldf’s to become ignorant little climate activists?[15] (in the kids’ science quiz: Could we do without it [mining]?… Would you work for a mining company?)

♦ Capitulated to a pile-on by Twitter ferals and apologised for the Academy’s pro-forma welcoming of the Liberal’s Christian Porter as incoming Science Minister? and

♦ Backed the losing Yes referendum, based on its fallacious view on the usage and meaning of “terra nullius”?

Science once had a good name, despite some wayward groupthink. These days orthodox climate science especially is so politicised and corrupted from primary-schooling upward that people would be wise to hold their nose when dealing with it. Case in point: the Academy’s manias about carbon capture and storage.

Tony Thomas’s latest book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. $34.95 from Connor Court here


[1] GREENHOUSE GAS REMOVAL IN AUSTRALIA A report on the novel negative emissions approaches for Australia roundtable. p31

[2] More than 130 scientific papers say that even a doubling of CO2 – not expected for 150 years according to the IPCC – will cause less than 2degC warming, most saying around 1degC.

[3] When I lodged a complaint last year against the sexism of Media Watch’s Paul Barry referring to Peta Credlin with the phrase “handbags at six paces”, I got this response (email August 25) from Investigations Officer “James” at the ABC Ombudsman depot:

“I cannot agree with you that the phrase you complained about is sexist and demeaning. It is on old-fashioned, rarely used reference to a ‘minor disagreement’ – see for example Handbags at 6 paces – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.”

[4] Academy: Australia should commit to building capacity to draw down greenhouse gases at scale, particularly carbon dioxide… In its April 2022 Report, the IPCC identifies that meeting the modelled 1.5°C pathways requires a net negative carbon dioxide emissions volume of 20-660 gigatons [20-660 billion tonnes, TT] by 2100. Building capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – at scale along with the capacity to store it safely for centuries – is critical. Australia should announce a GHG removal target encompassing nature-based and technological solutions. This should be in addition to ambitious emission reduction targets.”

[5] Joelle, to put it another way, says she did her writing on lands of the Bundjalung, Ngunnawal ,Ngambri, Dharug and Gundungurra peoples.

[6] Wiki: “A number of current and previous senior employees of the Australia Institute have also worked with the Australian Greens or other environmental organisations. This includes the founder and former director of the institute Clive Hamilton (who ran as a Greens candidate), former Director Ben Oquist and current Executive Director Richard Denniss (both of whom worked for Australian Greens leader Bob Brown), Deputy Director Ebony Bennett (who worked as a Greens media advisor[4]), Chief-of-Staff Anna Chang (who was a media and campaigns advisor to the Australian Greens) and ex-regulatory lead Dan Cass (who was a Greens campaign manager and office bearer[5]). Ex-Director and Deputy Chair of the Australia Institute (2004–2022), Professor Barbara Pocock, was also elected as an Australian Green Senator for South Australia in 2022.”

[7] The ANU website says Joelle’s still with them. Her job is to coach 200 teen students a year about our climate doom (Essay p7)

[8] Jagadish: “This roundtable and its accompanying report will help propel Australia into leadership of what will likely be a defining endeavour of the coming century.” Roundtable Summary: “Australia has strengths and comparative advantages that could make it an international leader in negative emissions.” p32.

[9] “Blue carbon”, says NOAA, is “carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems.” This makes the Academy’s musings somewhat circular.

[10] I notice Joelle has contributed a chapter to teen Greta Thunberg’s “The Climate Book”. Joelle wasn’t to know that Greta today jigs around in her her Hamas-friendly keffiyeh.

[11] Roundtable p27: “Engaging early with policymakers and communities, especially First Nations peoples, to co-design appropriate approaches to negative emissions portfolios.”

[12] For reference, Jagadish’s wording is: “The current level of discourse around science, in Australia and the world, in relation to the origin of SARS-CoV-2 [covid] is another contemporary example [of mis/disinformation]. It reflects a worrying pattern of deliberate undermining of public trust in science at a time when policymakers need to inform their decisions with rigorously gathered evidence, rather than in response to conspiracy and fearmongering.”

[13] Arabia was originally the anti-free-speech head of Science & Technology Australia, leading a 200-strong demo (see 2.20mins) to federal Parliament to urge laws against purported climate “misinformation”. She was appointed Academy CEO in 2016 after three years part-time as policy director/principal adviser for then Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Science policy director Chris Anderson, appointed in 2019, had been adviser and then chief of staff for six years to Labor Senator, Rudd-Gillard minister and factional warlord Kim Carr.

[14] Future Earth p45: “In fact, the neoliberal economic model has produced enormous inequality in Australia and beyond, has undermined democracy and participation, and has fuelled social and environmental injustice. As such, neoliberalism has become a barrier that undercuts just adaptation to climate change. Therefore, these economic and financial systems must change, not only to sustain the provision of basic goods and services and economic opportunities but also to address the inequities they have created across the world and between generations. Such a change will encounter resistance and hence requires courageous leadership. Yet, it is also an opportunity to learn from Indigenous ontologies that are based on Country and interrelated webs of being. It will mean shifting from growth thinking to degrowth models…” (My emphasis).

[15] Academy advice to teachers: “Ask students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause.” — Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students willappreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.


14 thoughts on “Clash of the Climateers

  • DougD says:

    Back in the day when Christopher Skase’s empire of debt was reaching for the Heavens, his fabulous parties had Brisbane’s great and not so good clamouring for invitations. The very hardest thing to find now in Brisbane is anyone who’ll admit to being at a Skase party. (Although I once met a young woman who said she had. But only as a waitress.) my non-computer modelled prediction:in 40 years or so it will be impossible to find any believer in anthropogenic climate change, outside,that is , a secure ward in a mental hospital.

  • pmprociv says:

    Thanks yet again, Tony, for another great piece of investigative journalism. As a prime example of insanity on steroids, CCS has always bothered me, yet all my reasonable (of course I’d say that, but it’s true) letters to The Oz (and elsewhere) on it are never aired. The technology alone is extremely energy-intensive, something totally ignored by all its pushers, who clearly are desperate for naive (or devious?) government funding. Essentially, the exercise boils down to burning coal to produce electricity that will then drive all the machinery needed to separate out the CO2 from the exhaust gases, then compress and pump it to where it’s going to be stored (either frozen or not; freezing CO2, to liquid or gaseous states, requires huge amounts of energy). It then will have to be forced at tectonic pressures to miles underground. There’ll be precious little, if any, energy left over for useful purposes.

    And that’s before we consider all the baloney about “geologically stable locations”, which simply don’t exist anywhere on our planet — especially after they’ve been disrupted by high-pressure gas injections, on top of having been disturbed by prior mining extractions. All “sequestered” CO2 will eventually seep out back into the atmosphere, to add to total levels. Should that happen quickly, it will prove noxious to most life forms in the vicinity. Talk about dumping today’s problems onto tomorrow’s generation! CO2 as landfill.

    And we mustn’t overlook the stupidity of the term, “carbon capture” — it’s not carbon, but CO2 capture. There’s heaps of carbon already captured in geological stores, as coal, natural gas (methane) and petroleum — all naturally sequestered by plant life over aeons of erosional sedimentation, and still going on today.

    Frankly, I can’t understand why competent engineers and honest remain so quiet about this idiotic concept.

  • Phillip says:

    pmprociv, I think competent engineers are rejecting the idiocy of the concept. The Catch 22 is that a lot of engineers need to earn a dollar to survive and then if they do speak out just wait for their Institution of Engineers to demerit them. The science fiction of this climate crisis fantasy is now so entrenched in fashion and bureaucracy by left wing lunacy that we now see hectares and hectares of national park native forests cleared for the installation of a windmill !! And not a blip from the foaming mouth of a Greens Party looney. The madness of left wing politics is the virus. The loonies are so sick with the virus, they really believe by destroying national park for windmills & solar panels that they’re saving the planet from ruin. In my youth the scourge of society were the tree huggers….the climate crisis (what crisis?) seems to have changed them into sexually disoriented cross dressing morons who want us to believe men can have babies.
    It is all a fashionable idiocy.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Masterly Tony, and I love your expression “green-black-left blob” ; the whole thing smacks of a gigantic made up joke, well worthy of that masterly mad comedy trio from bygone days, The Three Stooges.

  • Max Chugg says:

    Finland have opened the biggest nuclear plant in Europe. The first effects have been a massive drop in the price of electricity. and the establishment of a reliable base load supply. Legislation exists to reach carbon neutrality on, or before 2030.

    In 2023 the average wholesale electricity price in Finland stood at €56.5 per megawatt-hour. (Rate of exchange, $A1 = 1.6 Euro). I megawatt hour = 1000 kilowatt hours at a cost of $A 35.31 translates to $0.035 per kWh.

    Nuclear electricity is the most expensive, Mr. Bowen?

    As importing of Russian oil and gas comes to an end, there is potential for Finland’s objective of having the cheapest electricity in Europe being met.

    Finland is also on track to meet another objective – carbon neutrality on or before 2030.

    Perhaps a spin-off from release from ongoing concerns of an increasingly unreliable and expensive electricity supply in Australia, Finland continues to be recognised as the happiest country in the world.

    Too expensive for Australia, population 27 million, already operating in Finland, population 5.5 million.

  • david g says:

    The first qualification for membership of any Academy of Science surely should be good common sense. It certainly doesn’t appear so in this case.

  • petroalbion says:

    To remove 1 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere would require the capture, compression and burial of 7.8 Gt of CO2, for ever; if it leaks out in say a million years time, the world will boil? Nuclear waste at least has a half life … As half of all emissions are sequestrated naturally by the biosphere and oceans then to stop the atmosphere increasing by 1 ppm, we would have to capture, compress and bury 2ppm, or 15.6 Gt of CO2. Now where do we start?

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      I do in part agree with you. The carbon capture and storage (CCS)) process, as I understand it, involves liquefying the CO2 captured from industrial smokestacks, at around 100 atmospheres pressure, and then pumping it down disused oil wells etc where it can remain ‘forever.’
      The main trouble with that is, again as I see it, that oil exists in the Earth’s crust in geological traps such as domes or faults, as gas over oil over water. That is only possible because oil is insoluble in the said ground water.
      But CO2 is quite soluble in water, forming carbonic acid or soda-water when it does so: the basis of all fizzy drinks. So, unlike the trapped oil, the dissolved CO2 will be free to migrate through the rock strata, and eventually outcrop under the ocean, and help acidify that ocean..
      The rate of radioactive decay of nuclear waste means that it only has to be stored in the ground in a stable geological situation, for a mere 250,000 years or so, or only 50 times the age of human civilisation itself. Should be a comparitive breeze.

  • johanna says:

    It’s a profitable business, results having no relation to remuneration.

    Joelle and her pal whose name I don’t remember put up a catastrophic scenario endorsed by then PM Julia Gillard.

    The whole thing was shot down at Steve McIntyre’s, to the point that it had to be withdrawn.
    But, here she is, still living well on taxpayers’ money.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Johanna, I set out the details here:
    The rising star Dr Joelle Gergis of the ANU is doing well too, with one gong just for feeding the media chooks.

    Canadian sceptics spotted a howler in her big 2012 research paper ($314,000 ARC taxpayer funding) and she had to spend a further four years correcting her material (another $352,000 ARC funding).[1] I assume that’s what she refers to as “a few very difficult years spent battling attacks on my work from climate change deniers.” [2] Stephen McIntyre, of Climate Audit, recounts the entire reaction affair here.

  • johanna says:

    Thanks, Tony. A normal person would be hugely embarrassed about being involved with this fiasco.

    These people have no shame.

  • Lytton says:

    Climate issue debate in Australia is frequently lacking strategic context. Emissions are technically a global problem not a national problem, as if each nation had a sealed silo extending vertically into the atmosphere. Thus, there is often here an odd presumption in internal debate here that we can and must ‘save the world’. That can’t be done. Our 1% of total emissions is too minor to offset the other 99%, no matter how hard we try. As observed by informed commentators recently, global emissions keep growing despite numerous COP grand promises. This is largely because of growth in emissions from China, India, Indonesia and a few others such as Russia. In view of commitments made, we should play our part, in a measured way, but avoid panicky, reckless and ‘way out’ propositions such as unproven CCS. We should be much more aware of the global context and progress, and keep our responses as simple as possible.

  • Peter C Arnold says:

    “Climate catastrophe” reminds me of Chicken Little; “The sky is falling in!””
    What rot! Where is the evidence for this superstition?
    Peter Arnold OAM

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