‘Soft Censorship’ Decried in Climate Science Fight Down Under

Australian University bullied by climate alarmists into dropping new department, Inside Higher Ed says.

Global warming alarmists in Australia tanked a project at University of Western Australia because they don’t agree with one person connected to the new venture, prompting complaints of “censorship” and “bullying.”

In April, the University of Western Australia (UWA) announced it would create the Australian Consensus Centre, as part of its business school. The mission of the new department would be to apply an “economic lens to proposals to achieve good for Australia, the region and the world, prioritizing those initiatives which produce the most social value per dollar spent,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

The Australian effort was going to be in conjunction with the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which is directed by “skeptical environmentalist” Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, until critics of his protested and pressured UWA to drop the planned department.

Inside Higher Ed reported, “Politicians on Australia's liberal wing, staff members at the university and academics at other Australian institutions joined the fray. More than 6,000 people signed a Change.org petition seeking to ‘turn away Bjorn Lomborg's anti-climate science institute funding.’”

Lomborg agrees that global warming is real and is a problem, but because he has disagreed with exaggerations and alarmist fearmongering, he’s been labeled “anti-science.”

He has infuriated alarmists because he has encouraged people to reject exaggerated claims about the climate and argued that policy decisions should be based on facts instead of fear. Lomborg has also argued that other world problems are more dangerous than global warming and should take priority.

The alarmist bullies won when UWA caved to the pressure, but the university is taking heat for that decision. Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said, “it is with great regret and disappointment that I have formed the view that the events of the past few weeks place the center in an untenable position as it lacks the support needed across the university and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers.”

Australia’s human rights commissioner Tim Wilson and an editorial in The Australian blasted that decision as censorship and an example of the “cancerous” practice of “no platforming.”

“ ... the decision has only shown that the intellectual and political bullying against dissenting views might be even worse in this country than we had imagined. That a university would reverse its decision to welcome a center for challenging ideas on the basis that some felt challenged by the idea is almost too farcical to be true. But it is not a laughing matter,” The Australian said. 

— Julia A. Seymour is Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business at the Media Research Center. Follow Julia A. Seymour on Twitter.