An unintimidated academic

John Buchanan may live in fear of a Joe Hockey put-down. But not all academics are so shy of taking on politicians. Take Roger Short, a (gasp) Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. According to The Australian, this week he told undergraduate students that:

Australia’s population will increase (and global warming worsen), if Peter Costello gets in,” he said on Tuesday.

“The man’s a bloody idiot.” …

“We’re going to see massive growth in the world’s two most affluent and effluent nations (the US and Australia) on a per capita basis.”

China was unfairly singled out in the debate; its one-child law was the “most exciting policy” to confront climate change.

“Point the fingers of blame at the USA and – as a silly little me-too copycat – Australia.” ..

“It makes me want to tear up my Australian passport. We are a disgraceful country.”

In any case, climate change would redraw the map as rising sea levels flooded many of Indonesia’s islands, he said. “With thousands of islands there are thousands of boats and by the end of this century I think Australia will be part of Indonesia.”

Students might have hoped for some scientific explanation when Professor Short came to give a lecture. After all, they can hear climate change rants at much lower cost from their local Green candidates.

14 thoughts on “An unintimidated academic

  1. I wonder what undergraduate class he was taking. There is nothing in his description that suggests he has any background on climate change.

    Its interesting that he thinks Peter Costello’s baby bonuses will have such strong effects on fertility.

    I wonder if we could get him to tear his passport up in some distant country?


  2. “FHI is one of the world’s largest non-government, not-for-profit organisations dedicated to the provision of family planning services for developing countries.”

    Interesting Bio, so he’s an abortion advocate to reduce population, not because of the woman’s right to choose by the sounds of his views.

    Pity he didn’t do the right thing and lead by example by throwing himself off a bridge.


  3. Interesting comment from you Harry. For one who speaks so vehemently on climate change on his own blog I wonder what expertise other than your undoubted economic qualifications you bring to this debate.


  4. Partly fair comment whyisitso. I’ve taught students about climate change aned have written several papers on climate change – the earliest in 1991. My work is cited by leading economists in the area such as Robert Pindyck. I am trying not to ‘blow my own trumpet’ but need to defend myself against your charge of hypocrisy.

    By the way I argue the case for climate change mitigation by arguing that the costs of dealing with the issue are much smaller than the possible costs of not dealing with it. Not by arguing that Peter Costello is a ‘bloody idiot’.

    I am not sure you are not being a bit agist Andrew. There are plenty of older academics and ex academics around the place (Max Corden and, as I heard last week, Paul Samuelson and Ken Arrow) who seem to be pretty sharp. Not that I am seriously worried about my own grey hair and diminishing faculties!


  5. “I’ve taught students about climate change aned have written several papers on climate change – the earliest in 1991. My work is cited by leading economists in the area such as Robert Pindyck.”

    OK Harry. I don’t doubt that for a layman you are well informed. But your comment brings to mind the wonderful (repeated) interview by Margaret Throsby yesterday with Michael Parkinson.

    Parkinson relates the story of his ageing father’s comment about his own (ie Michael’s) fame and achievements – “Aye Lud. But t’aint lark playin’ for Yorksha is it?”

    Tain’t like you’re a climatologist, is it Harry?


  6. whyisitso, I don’t think that climatologists are the only people concerned with or working in the field of climate change. You don’t have to be a climatologist to be concerned.

    Indeed the climatology is, in a sense, the easy part of the global warming debate – almost all climatologists agree that there is a very severe problem. Listening to a recent talk by Ken Arrow (who started off studying climate) I was suprised to find that his teachers in the mid-1940s firmly argued that greenhouse gas emissions would cause global warming.

    But given that there is a problem a substantial issue is how you deal with it.


  7. There are enough reputable climatologists who have severe doubts about “anthropogenic” climate change and who are keeping an open mind about whether the apparent current climate warming is just another natural recurring pattern. It’s only the non-climatologists who are saying the debate is over.


  8. whyisitso, I’ve used up too many pixels on this foolish debate already. I give up – the time to discuss whether or not climate change is a serious issue has finished.

    In my view the prospects of human-caused climate change are the most serious threat humankind has ever faced.

    The costs of dealing with this problem are a few percentage points shaved off GDP. If I am wrong this amount of growth will be lost.


  9. Harry, there’s no point trying to convince this lot about AGW. You’d have more success telling Mohammed Al Fayed that the car crash that killed his son and Princess Diana was an accident.

    If they don’t want to believe it, then they won’t believe it. No amount of evidence will change their minds. Best to leave them muttering to themselves.


  10. Andrew, this is not a fair comparison. Roger Short was expressing a personal opinion, which we’re all free to do.

    The complaint by Buchanan and his university was not that they would be attacked for expressing personal opinions. It was that Hockey had attacked the honesty and professional standing of researchers in an attempt to rebut research findings he didn’t like.

    That’s quite a different issue. I will add more on this in your other thread.


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