Doomed Planet

‘Doctor’ Hare’s Nasty Green Prescriptions

Murdoch University[1] and its ex-Greenpeace alarm alumnus “Dr” Bill Hare truly deserve each other. At Perth-based Murdoch, Mr Hare earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in 1983 and in 2008 Murdoch gave him an honorary Doctor of Science for being, among other things, “the best climate lobbyist in the world”. Ever since he’s been paraded around by himself, Murdoch and others as “Dr” Bill Hare.

And here’s the bombshell: Murdoch has authorised and encouraged him to flaunt the “Dr” title generally “to promote the university”. Truly, Murdoch is sui generis, or for non-Latinists, “constituting a class alone: unique, peculiar.”


“The title ‘Dr’ is only used by Honorary Degree recipients when engaged in Murdoch University activities.” – Murdoch University policy document, last revised 14 October 2016.

 Murdoch’s response to my query about Hare[2] is below, with my emphasis added:

I have a statement for you that can be attributed to a Murdoch University spokeswoman…

“Bill Hare is a distinguished alumni and Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University working closely with our students and staff on a number of research and engagement projects.

“He was awarded an honorary degree in 2008, which entitles him to uses (sic) the title Dr in relation to his activities in the Murdoch University environment.

“At the time, he was advised that it was appropriate to use the title generally to promote the University …

“I acknowledge that I am working on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar [country] and pay respect to all Noongar people and Elders, past and present.” 

Murdoch’s abrogation of its own honorary title policy – “The title ‘Dr’ is only used by Honorary Degree recipients when engaged in Murdoch University activities” —  could hardly be more official. But rather than throw Hare under the bus, the university threw itself under the bus.

What will the senate, led by Chancellor Mr David Flanagan AM CitWA make of this?[3] Mr Flanagan earned his Curtin University BSc in Mining & Minerals Exploration Geology and became a distinguished geologist and mining executive.  Suppose a mineral exploration company  prospectus described its geologist with a Murdoch honorary degree as “Dr Fred X , Ph.D”? Next move, I’d say the board would be shirt-fronted by the corporate regulator.

To protect the public from a jungle of spurious academic titles and claims which could even lead to serious harms, the federal-state Australian Qualifications Framework was set up in 1995. Mainstream universities subscribe to its formulae. AQF rules include,

Use of titles by graduates

Individuals who have been awarded a Doctoral Degree at Level 10 on the AQF are entitled to use the title ‘Doctor’. The title ‘Doctor’ will not be used by those who hold an honorary award. An honorary award is not an AQF qualification … As such any certification documentation issued to an honorary award recipient will specify that the award is honorary. (My emphasis).

Here’s how Sydney University puts it in its Honorary Awards Policy,

15A Use of titles

An honorary doctorate is not a qualification under the Australian Qualifications Framework, and therefore does not entitle the recipient to use the title ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr’ except when participating in an activity or event associated with the University.

ANU’s policy is the same

Use of title

Use of the title ‘Dr’, associated with an honorary degree of the University, is only permitted when participating in an activity or event associated with the University.”[4]

A year ago Hare’s Climate Analytics group launched its report, “Western Australia’s Gas Gamble – Implications of exploiting Canning Basin and other unconventional gas resources for achieving climate targets.” On the third page, reproduced below, is the imprimatur and co-authorship, “Dr Bill Hare, Director.”

On a Climate Council petition signed by 28 alarmists last month, Hare is among its top tier of 15 professors and doctorate-holder signatories. I challenged the Climate Council about Hare’s “Dr”. The council replied that Hare’s Doctor of Science outranks a Ph.D.

Quoting a Monash University document, the council continued,

The degree [D.Sc.] will give the applicant authoritative standing in that field and the right to general recognition of this standing by scholars in the field.” The council concluded, “Dr Hare is a globally respected scientist who has made an extensive contribution to the field. He is an important and welcome addition to the signatories of the list.

The council obtusely missed the point that Hare’s D.Sc. is honorary. Such honorary D.Sc.’s are two a penny on the stripey-gown investitures of our 40 universities. Advised of the Sydney University ‘don’t-use’ policy about honorary doctorates, the Climate Council declined comment and suggested I contact “Bill Hare” direct.

It might seem overkill to pursue this “Dr” Hare issue. But Hare has been a key influencer in international climate policy-making for the past 30 years.

Hare helped run Greenpeace International as its “climate policy director” (1992-2002) and as a climate adviser to 2009. He was also, strangely, helping to run the IPCC process, dating back to the IPCC’s origin in 1988. He’s been a lead author and co-writer of an all-important summary report. For the 2013 report he wore his hat from Potsdam’s Climate Impact Institute (PIK).

PIK houses the world’s most fanatical climateers, some of whom are now ensconsed in dark green corners of Australian academia, including Melbourne University. The money quote from PIK’s then-deputy head,Ottmar Edenhofer[5], is that climate policy “has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection” and “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

Hare pioneered topics, if not actually invented them, that are now commonplace in the global policy lexicon. Thanks to Hare and his pals at Greenpeace and/or PIK,  we can  all parrot mumbo-jumbo like “global emissions budget” (Hare’s Greenpeace shtick from 1997), 2deg/1.5deg  “tipping points” and most perverse of all, leaving accessible fossil fuels permanently in the ground.

Concerning that emissions budget, he wrote in 2009 to ginger up the Copenhagen conference that the ceiling ought to be only another half-trillion tonnes of emitted carbon: “The probability of exceeding 2°C rises to 53–87% if global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are still more than 25% above 2000 levels in 2020.” His worst-case crystal ball was pretty foggy because the cumulative emissions went up 50% (never mind 25%) from 2000—2016 alone, with last year’s emissions setting a new record. If Hare and his Potsdam pals can’t get their ten-year assumptions remotely near reality, what credence can be invested in their 20-, 50- and 100-year climate forecasts?

Hare’s dire predictions about warming harms have been designed to frighten Western governments into destroying their fossil fuel industries.  Australia’s policies are consistent with this, the EU’s more so.

His 1997 Greenpeace paper demanded governments  immediately curtail fossil fuel exploration, thus capping reserves at 1997 levels. The goal would be to “limit the long-term committed increase of temperature to less than 1C above 
pre-industrial global average temperature.” 
(Compare that with the current target by extremists of a maximum 1.5degC increase. The 1degC rise has already occurred.)

Hare’s 1997 prescription involved

# leaving all but “a small fraction” of global coal reserves in the ground

# “There should be no further exploration and/or technical development of unconventional oil and gas reserves” [today that would stymie the US fracked-gas revolution]

# “Further exploration and development of fossil fuel resources by industrial nations should be halted immediately, as it makes the problem worse and more difficult to solve and is a waste of money that should be invested in clean energy.”

# To lock in the above measures,  Western countries should sign a legally binding emission cut program at the Kyoto 2005 climate conference.

# The global cost of fossil fuel phase-out for renewables would be equal to or less than business-as-usual.

”This is the carbon logic,” he concluded.

In the event, cheap electricity since 2000 has lifted hundreds of millions of the world’s poor into happier lives. Meanwhile CO2 emissions have greened the planet to an extent even greater than the landmark study of 2016 (with CSIRO involvement) suggested, and agricultural yields and output have hit new peaks. Global temperatures have barely risen, according to UAH satellite measurements, apart from the 2016 el Nino effect. How wrong could a Greenpeace guy be?

But Hare’s extremism has changed little since 1997, and his nostrums are now mainstream among the West’s so-called progressives. Yet this person who would transform the world still can‘t get his title right!

Academics can get enraged about honorifics. Here’s Dr Hannah Forsyth, now Senior Lecturer in History, Australian Catholic University:

A degree that is awarded honoris causa (because Latin boosts snootiness) has never conferred the right to use the degree.

The public can rest assured that there are not medical doctors, veterinarians, accountants or lawyers plying their trade without actual qualifications.

This need for the public to trust university degrees is important. It means that it is considered a shocking faux pas to call oneself a “doctor” on the basis of an honorary doctorate. Don’t expect to see anyone refer to “Dr John Howard” anytime soon.

This does not make it impossible … When this happens, the scholarly community averts its gaze in embarrassment. That may not sound like such a terrible fate, but for the types that are awarded honorary degrees, it kind of is.[6]

The exceptions merely prove the rule, like “Dr” Billy Graham and Lowitja O’Donoghue who, in an excess of kindness, is referred to, even officially, as “Dr O’Donoghue”.[7]

Sometimes since 2008 Hare describes himself as “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare”, acknowledging the honorific element (honoris causa).  In the 2017 annual report of the Climate Analytics non-profit Hare co-founded and leads, he’s written in as “Dr Bill Hare” four times and “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare” twice. However, in the 2016 and 2015 reports, he’s “Dr (h.c) Bill Hare” three times each and never “Dr” Bill Hare. [8]  Do a search of “Dr Bill Hare” (no honorifics) on his Climate Analytics website and it comes up 28 times.

The ANU, Sydney and Murdoch Universities’ protocols say use of honorary doctor titles is OK if the occasion is an event or activity at that university. I’m guessing the drafters had  special ceremonials in mind, like graduations. In practice, the universities bung on hundreds of events and publications targeted at both their own people and the outside public. It would  be unusual for honorary doctors speaking under such circumstances to be described as “Dr”, but Hare again gets the gong. Murdoch’s 2017 Keith Roby lecture was advertised by Murdoch as being by “Dr” Bill Hare. Sally Neighbour, executive producer of Four Corners, has referred me to a Murdoch publication, its alumni news-sheet Murmur. In its Spring 2018 issue it refers to “Dr Hare” once  as B.Sc Hons, Hon Doc Sc, which is accurate, and three times to “Dr Hare”.

The ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy advertised as its public speaker for March 12, 2008 “Dr Bill Hare, IPCC author and Potsdam Institute fellow”. Maybe that was splitting hares or jumping the gun. Murdoch presented his Honorary Doctorate five days later on March 17.

Among the publications of  Sweden’s Air Pollution and Climate Secretariat (a combination of Swedish-based nature groups including WWF), a 2009 environmental fact sheet is described as authored by Potsdam’s Katja Frieler, Ph.D., Malte Meinshausen, Ph.D., and Bill Hare, Ph.D. Frieler and Meinshausen have earned Ph.Ds. It’s doubly wrong on Hare’s honorary degree, which is D.Sc.

The fawning media’s been wrongly citing “Dr Hare” since about 1992. The latest example was the  climate propaganda piece on Four Corners last April Fools Day. When I squawked about “Dr” Bill Hare,  producer Sally Neighbour promised to be more wary next time, and she alerted colleague Laura Tingle who had also bruited “Dr” Hare to the world.

Others getting “Dr” Hare wrong include the non-profit independent Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) “giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise. We aim to increase the quantity and accuracy of science reporting in the media, and hence the public understanding of science.”[9] AusSMC, you’re inaccurate on this: “Other Australian scientists involved in drafting the synthesis report [for 4th IPCC report] are Neville Nicholls, a Professorial Fellow… and Dr William Hare.”[10]  I never found a single correction to all the times the media, NGOs and academia have mis-labelled Hare as “Dr Hare”.

As for Hare’s main base at Potsdam, Australian journalists have been duchessed to respect the PIK crowd, especially its (recently retired) boss Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who has called for the unconditional destruction of the fossil fuel industry and “warned about the end of civilization”. 

For example, in June 2015 the Berlin-based Green thinktank Ecologic organized a three-day Berlin climate-study tour for Peter Hannam, environment editor for SMH/Age, Tony Walker (Financial Review) and Sid Maher (The Australian), as a warm-up for the Paris climate negotiations. Ecologic is funded largely by the EU and German governments, and the tour was funded by the German government and its Canberra embassy. The German  briefers included Bill Hare’s wife, Dr Ursula Fuentes-Hutfilter, who has a senior policy role in the German climate bureaucracy. According to Ecologic, only Hannam delivered with two media features, involving panegyrics to Merkel-adviser Schellnhuber at his “renowned” PIK. Hannam wrote, “Seated in the same Potsdam room that Albert Einstein discussed his theory of relativity in 1916 with fellow pioneers, Professor Schellnhuber said …” and so forth blah, blah, blah. The other piece featured humble-bragging by Schellnhuber about advising Pope Francis on his strange climate encyclical Laudato Si.[11]

As a reality check on the journos’ immersion in 2015 German spin, German energy authority Professor Harald Schwarz was reported this month, “We will not be able to cope with the shutdown of coal and nuclear power in three years’ time and can only hope that there are still sufficient reserves of coal and nuclear power in neighbouring countries to supply Germany when we can no longer do it ourselves”. The Wall Street Journal dubbed Germany’s Energiewende last week as “the stupidest energy policy in the world”.

Bill Hare’s Climate Analytics site, like PIK, is full of modelled projections of our climate doom.[12] For example, he offers a tool for local sea level rise projections, based on the IPCC models. I plugged in Fremantle, my home town and port. By 2100 we’re talking 52cm sea rise, as per Paris Agreement, and a very serious 103cm by 2200. For the 4degC temperature rise scenario, it’s 80cm under the Paris deal by 2100 and 198cm by 2200. The very worst case 2200 outcome is four metres, which would also put most of Perth underwater.

Woe to my two fair cities in 180 years! But I cheered up by checking how much the sea level at Fremantle has actually risen in the past 100 years, as measured by its trusty tide gauge. Answer: 13.6cm, about the length of my palm and middle finger.  

The deep explanation for Murdoch University’s suck-up to Hare is that its culture from top to bottom reflects a green mania. Think of “Dr” Bill  as something akin to Murdoch’s patron saint with his decades of jeremiads on global emissions politics. And one gathers that honorary degree of 2008 was too little honor. Hare in 2017 bagged a gig delivering the university’s signature Keith Roby Lecture, preceded in 2015 by ex-leader of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and ex-GetUp campaigner Kirsty Albion, who led the fight against Port Augusta’s now-blown-up coal-fired generator. In addition, Hare collected, along with Greens leader Dr Adam Bandt (earned Ph.D)[13], a 2017 “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Vice-Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen.

Time-travel back 34 years and Murdoch’s green delusions were already flourishing. In 1985, Murdoch was a sucker for disseminating the faux Armageddons of Paul Ehrlich, who in 1969 was predicting disastrous global famine by 1975 that would require compulsory birth control via sterilising agents in food and water. He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation in the Eighties, and that  the US population would decline by 1999 to 22.6 million.[14] Today’s US population is 330 million. Another Ehrlich climate forecast, from 1971: “If I were a gambler, I would take even-money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”[15] Instead of derision, Ehrlich has wallowed in honors ranging from Murdoch’s lecture to the 50 million yen ($US450,000) 1999 “Blue Planet Prize” of Asahi Glass for environmental conservation biology.

Hare describes himself not just as “Dr” but as a “physicist”.  As a Bachelor (Hons) student he majored in physics for sure in 1983,[16] but for the past few decades he’s been a global-warming politician. None of the peer-reviewed papers he cites in his Climate Analytics’ c.v. are in physics journals, they’re all related to anti-emissions politics.[17]

He refers to his roles as “policy responses to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion” (my emphasis). Of course, one can call oneself “physicist” or whatever one likes. I’m an economist (B.Ec., 1974). Hire me.

Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60sis available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and online here.


[1] Named after the late Sir Walter Murdoch, great-uncle of Rupert Murdoch

[2] “Does Murdoch have a protocol guide for holders of Murdoch honorary degrees, as to when/how they may be referred to as “Dr”, e.g. ‘Dr Thomas’?”

[3]  “CitWA” is a newie on me. It must refer to his 2014 WA Citizen of the Year Award.

[4] Melbourne University is currently revising its honorary degree policies

[5] Now PIK director

[6] Some gloss came off the historian’s polemic when she described Benjamin Franklin as a US president.

[7] O’Donoghue has honorary doctorates from five universities including Murdoch.

[8] I sought clarifications from Hare but was emailed by his office in Berlin, “Bill is currently on Easter holidays for the next 10 days and unfortunately there isn’t a way to reach him at the moment.”

[9] AusSMC’s “Gold Sponsors” include the Academy of Science, SBS, a law firm and various universities. ABC science stalwart Robyn Williams is a deputy chair. The Australian Museum in  Sydney is under the delusion that Williams’ honorary doctorate is a real one.

[10] AusSMC doesn’t bother to explain to journalists – who don’t want to know anyway — that the all-important Synthesis Reports are written by the politicians from IPCC member states, whose views trump those of IPCC scientists.

[11] “The Pope is interfering in the writing of my book,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber jokingly told visiting Australian journalists. “The request is a pain in the neck, but you have to accept it, as it comes from above.”

[12] Funding partners of Climate Analytics are a remarkable array, ranging from EU, UN and German and UK government sources to World Bank and Greenpeace. Sceptics’ main funding is from tip jars.

[13] And three others

[14] Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York, Ballantine Books, 1968.

[15] Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For BiologySeptember 1971.

[16] And environmental science

[17] His own c.v. says his peer-reviewed articles are in journals including Nature Climate Change, Nature, Climatic Change, Regional Environmental Change, and Climate Policy

  • Richard Harrison

    Another along the same lines is “Dr” Karl Kruszelnicki. He has never earned a doctorate in any discipline, but has been referred to as “Dr Karl” by his ABC (and other) enablers since Adam was a boy.

    In 2016 the University of the Sunshine Coast gave him an honorary doctorate, so since then there has been a fig-leaf for his titular pretensions.

  • en passant

    What is the word for cultists so bereft of self-awareness, so certain in beliefs that are designed to hurt their country and its people that they push on year after year despite the overwhelming evidence they are wrong? Is it Greenie? Is it Lysenkoist? Is it hare-brained… I am sure someone knows a suitable word for someone so narcissist that they need a tin title to stroke their ego.
    Fell free to call me ‘Sir’.

  • Tony Thomas

    I have belatedly discovered that Hare’s own Potsdam institute in April 2007, a year before his honorary D.Sc., was describing its guest staffer Hare as “Dr” Hare.
    Hare Bill Dr. Social Systems (guest) 288-2412 Bill.Hare A31/0.22
    How could that be justified?

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