Academic Mob Chases ‘Climate Change Contrarian’ Bjorn Lomborg Off Campus Reply

By Brendan O’Neill

Reason

“Are you now or have you ever been a climate contrarian?”

How long before this McCarthyite question is asked of everyone who enters into academia, in order to weed out those who refuse to bow and scrape before green orthodoxy?

If you think this sounds like a far-fetched proposition, consider a recent scandalous act of academic censorship at the University of Western Australia (UWA). And consider, more importantly, the lack of outrage it caused in the West’s professorial circles.

It involves Bjorn Lomborg, the blonde-haired, Danish annoyer of environmentalists everywhere.

Bjorn LomborgBjorn LomborgFamous for his book The Skeptical Environmentalist—in which he argued that, yes, climate change is real, but, no, cutting back on economic growth won’t help—Lomborg has been a brilliant piece of grit in one-eyed green thinking for more than a decade.

The Australian government, headed by the semi-skeptical Prime Minister Tony Abbott, decided to offer a base to Lomborg for his greenish but pro-growth analysis and agitation.

It asked him to bring his Copenhagen Consensus Center, the U.S.-based, Danish-funded not-for-profit think-tank he’s been running since 2006, Down Under. It would now be based at UWA, would be renamed the Australia Consensus Center, would be funded to the tune of 4 million Australian dollars, and would continue to stoke heated debate about whether mankind really is on the precipice of eco-doom (no) and whether more growth, not less, is the most sensible solution to the problems we face (yes).

Well, that was the plan. But it was scuppered by what can only be described as a ramshackle modern-day Inquisition, which found Lomborg guilty of the crime of denial—not of God, but of climate-change alarmism—and had him cast out of UWA.

As soon as it was revealed, last month, that Lomborg would be coming to UWA, eco-friendly but debate-unfriendly agitators started to bristle and fume.

The Guardian questioned his fitness for academic life. At UWA, there was a rowdy gathering of academics and students, described by one witness as being “like a Rolling Stones concert,” at which there was apparently “riotous applause” when a speaker called on UWA to “end [its] deal with the climate change-contrarian.” Sounds less Rolling Stones gig, and more controversy-allergic mob.

The UWA Student Guild also insisted Lomborg should be kept out of UWA. The language the Guild used was striking: it accepted that Lomborg “doesn’t refute climate change itself,” but pointed out that he does have a “controversial track record [as a] climate contrarian.” So this was about keeping controversy off campus, protecting UWA, not from scientifically incorrect thinking, but from contrarian thinking. It was a demand for nothing less than political censorship, of a thinker who dares to think differently to the mainstream on the issue of climate change.

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