I went to university with Eric Abetz and upon the mention of his name, most people at the University of Tasmania would simply roll their eyes. Everyone knew he was a religious nutter. Time has not moderated that opinion of him, nor Abetz’s extreme religiosity. The latter has been demonstrated subsequently and constantly with his idiotic comments on same-sex marriage, homosexuality, transsexuals, the rainbow flag and sundry other people or events he believes are beneath his rabidly religious contempt. Given his religious ultraconservative outlook, Abetz is, of course, also a climate change denier. Denialism is a strange phenomenon and says much about a person’s inability to deal with reality. It is one of the ways humans have to deceive others and themselves, and to hide from the truth. Denialism these days has attached itself to the holocaust, vaccines, evolution, the age of the earth, the sphericity of the earth, AIDS, the moon landings and numerous other facts of history and science3.
Nobody in their right mind could accuse Abetz of being knowledgeable about climate science, yet he believes he knows enough about it to deny that climate change is even happening. Anyone who believes this is a rational assessment of the evidence is deluding themselves. Like other buffoons such as Alan Jones4, Abetz’s knowledge of science and how it works is so profoundly limited, that he probably believes that science is just a matter of opinion; that his ignorance is just as valid as someone else’s deep knowledge. This attitude to climate science is simply another manifestation of the Dawkins ‘argument from incredulity’, which, in Abetz’s case is probably ‘I cannot believe my god would do this, therefore it cannot be true.’
The Conversation, a non-profit media outlet that obtains its content from academics and other researchers, has at last woken up to itself and has stated “We’ve recently vowed to improve our climate change coverage, and part of that means moderating comments with a similar degree of rigour. Once upon a time, we might have viewed climate sceptics as merely frustrating. We relied on other commenters and authors to rebut sceptics and deniers, which often lead [sic] to endless back and forth. But it’s 2019, and now we know better. Climate change deniers, and those shamelessly peddling pseudoscience and misinformation, are perpetuating ideas that will ultimately destroy the planet. As a publisher, giving them a voice on our site contributes to a stalled public discourse.” Now The Conversation is implementing a zero-tolerance approach to moderating climate change deniers5.
Of course, Abetz spat the dummy, and naturally made a complete fool of himself. He stated in the Senate that “Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong couldn’t have put it better themselves. They’d be so proud.” Abetz described himself as a “climate change agnostic”, but in the same statement said that ‘the environmental prophets of doom have been getting it wrong for half a century’6. That, from Abetz, is not agnosticism; it is denialism, and it is also a lie. Scientists, via the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have been getting it right for the last 30 years or more7. It is deniers like Abetz who have stood in the way of any action to mitigate the effects of climate change. They should pay for this crime against humanity8.
To cap this Abetz idiocy off, he stated “this ugly, unscientific, totalitarian, arrogant approach taken by The Conversation is the exact opposite to the principles of scientific endeavour.” The gall of this malevolent little man attempting to pontificate about the principles of scientific endeavour, when he is one of those who denies science at every opportunity if it goes against what he wishes, or what his church tells him, is truly staggering. He also said that the lesson of history was that truth would ultimately prevail; and so it will, but that truth will not be kind to climate change deniers like Abetz. He really is a very stupid little man.