Were you to take an inquisitive interest in ‘string theory’, the field of physics that predicts all particles are different vibration modes of fundamental filaments of energy, you would likely be thanked for your interest. Discuss the ‘saturation’ of carbon dioxide, as many distinguished scientists do, and inquire whether the gas’s warming properties in the atmosphere rapidly decline after it reaches a certain level, and you will be lucky if the only insult you get is the ubiquitous slur that you are morally equivalent to a Holocaust denier. Slowly, the politicisation of climate – and medicine – is leading to the widespread demise of empiricism. Last month, the Australian Academy of Sciences (AAS) made a disgraceful call for broadcast news and the internet to censor what it called “climate denialism misinformation” as well as “disinformation” about the Great Barrier Reef, Covid vaccines and other issues that result in “societal harm”.
It went on to call for all social media platforms to proactively promote “trusted information” to “inoculate” people against misinformation. Platforms should be “held accountable” for content that challenges the official narrative on any of these issues. According to the Australian climate writer Jo Nova, the head of the AAS is Anna-Maria Arabia, who spent five years advising local Labour politicians and has been calling for legislation to silence climate sceptics since 2011.
Ms. Nova goes on to note: “Once upon a time the AAS had esteemed scientists. If there are any left they had better speak up while they still can.” She quotes the atmospheric physicist Professor Garth Paltridge, who said: “I just cannot understand how any science academy that is supposed to operate through rational debate can behave like this – that is, to use pure political brute force to prevent one side of the argument from putting its case.”