Climate change skeptics or climate change ignoramuses?

Which of our Federal Parliamentarians are among the ignoramuses?

There is a great need for more skepticism in many things, religion springs quickly to mind, but the time for skepticism regarding climate change and its human cause is past. No open minded person of reasonable intelligence and having some knowledge of the workings of science should have doubts that we are causing the climate to change. (Many Liberals do reject the science.)

There is also the 'precautionary principle' that needs to be considered.

The voters in a democracy have the right to know who among their representatives in Parliament are climate change deniers.

Written 2009/12/02, last edited 2023/03/27
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

The difference between a skeptic and a science denier

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry have a page titled "Deniers are not Skeptics".


Wind power displaces fossil-fuelled power stations
Wind farm
This wind farm at Clements Gap near my home in South Australia generates sustainable electricity that results in reduced emissions and the slowing of climate change


I was motivated to write this page when it became public, in November 2009, that many members of the Australian Parliamentary Liberal Party believed (or claimed to believe) that humanity had nothing to do with climate change. The leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate, Senator Nick Minchin, said that he believed there were more Liberal Party members who disbelieved climate change than accepted it.

I have written about climate change itself on a number of other pages on this site (see the box on the right); the subject of this page is confined to climate change skepticism and climate change ignorance, particularly in the Australian Parliament.

A simple definition of the theory of man-made (anthropogenic) climate change
"Climates are changing, a number of these changes are potentially catastrophic, and the changes are primarily caused by the activities of mankind."

Below is a list of those federal parliamentarians who deny climate change and those who accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change (anthropogenic – caused by Man). I had hoped that a few other people would be willing to contact their parliamentarians and put the question; however no-one did, so most of the responses are those from South Australian Senators, to whom I wrote.


Still ignorant in 2011

In August 2011 the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party passed a motion, by a large majority, calling for a royal commission into the science of climate change. The science is settled; has been settled for years. This simply shows the woeful ignorance of science that exists among members of the WA Liberal Party.

And in 2023

At the end of March 2023 there was only one government in Australia that was Liberal; that of Tasmania. Australia, all the states other than Tasmania, and both the NT and ACT had labor governments. Is this due to the continuing ignorance and denialism of the upper echelons of the Liberal Party of Australia?

Why do so many deny climate change? George Marshal wrote: "In the case of climate change, then, we can intellectually accept the evidence of climate change, but we find it extremely hard to accept our responsibility for a crime of such enormity." I have written more on this under climate change denial.

Others have financial reasons for arguing that either no out-of-the-ordinary climate change is happening or that it is not being caused by the activities of humanity, remember how long the tobacco industry denied that their products had any adverse health effects. I believe the fossil fuel industries and other high-polluting big-money industries are influencing some Parliamentarians to the point where they are willing to deny climate change so as to support these industries' continued profitability.

Some Parliamentarians may deny climate change out of honest ignorance; there is a lot of convincingly expressed dis-information about.

Why you should contact your MP

The climate is changing and the changes are largely due to the activities of Man. You have the right to know where your MP stands on this fundamentally important issue; in this democratic nation you have a responsibility to know! Even if you deny anthropogenic climate change, you still should know where your representative in parliament stands.

I can, and have, asked my MP, and all the senators in my state, for their stance on climate change; I have the right to expect a reply. If I ask for the positions of other MPs they will most likely ignore my letter, but you have every right to expect to be told what your MP and the senators of you state believe about climate change.

A form letter that you can modify and use is provided below. Also below is a link where you can find out which electorate you live in.

Climate change deniers in Parliament

This list has been created in early December 2009; I'd appreciate any information on errors or omissions; my email address is at the top of this page. I have listed the Climate change accepters in Parliament that I know of below.

For the purpose of this page I have used the term "Climate change denier" for anyone who believes that the definition given above is essentially false.


2020; the ignorance continues

ABC Media Watch of 2020/09/07 exposed the bias (or blindness?) of Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Liberal-National-Party MP George Christensen who both blamed the unprecedented fires of late 2019 - early 2020 on arsonists, so as to hold that climate change had nothing to do with them. The NSW Bushfire Inquiry's 460-page report ascribed the cause of not a single one of the 32 major fires to arson.
CC deniers in the Parliamentary Liberal Party:

  • Senator Cory Bernardi (said on 4 Corners, "The Earth is not actually warming, we still have rain falling. We have crops still growing. We can go outside and we won't cook.")
  • Senator Julian McGauran (said on 4 Corners, 9th of Nov. 2009: "No I won't be supporting an ETS [emissions trading scheme] under any circumstances".)
  • Senator Nick Minchin (said on 4 Corners, "I don't mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change - of global warming. I don't accept that and I've said that publicly." When asked, "What proportion of the Liberal Party are climate change sceptics do you think from your discussions?" said, "If the question is, do people believe or not believe that human beings are causing, are the main cause of the planet warming, then I'd say a majority don't accept that position.")
  • The majority of the others, if Senator Minchin is to be believed; they should make their stance public.
CC deniers in the Parliamentary National Party: CC skeptic on the cross benches:
  • Senator Steven Fielding of the Family First Party seems undecided but leans toward denying climate change.
If Senator Minchin's statement above is true, and applies to Liberal parliamentarians as well as Liberal Party members, then surely the Australian people have the right to know who these parliamentarians are. Whichever side of the fence one stands on this is a very important subject and the voters have the right to know where their politicians stand; the polies have a responsibility to 'nail their colours to the mast'.

Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, said in late November 2009 something like "Climate change is absolute crap", but more recently he has said that he accepts anthropogenic climate change as real. A very serious matter to speak so ambiguously about!

Climate change accepters in Parliament

This list has been created in early December 2009; I'd appreciate any information on errors or omissions; my email address is at the top of this page. I have listed the Climate change deniers in Parliament that I know of above.

For the purpose of this page I have used the term "Climate change accepter" for anyone who believes that the definition given above is essentially true.

Climate change accepters among the Australian Greens in Federal Parliament: all?

Climate change accepters in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party: This is the biggest unknown; I suspect that very few would admit being skeptics even if they believed that anthropogenic climate change was not happening.

Climate change accepters in the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party (members of the House of Representatives electorates are in square brackets):

  • Senator Sue Boyce (had the courage to cross the floor and vote for the Rudd Government's Emissions Trading Scheme);
  • Joe Hockey [North Sydney];
  • Ian Macfarlane [Groom];
  • Judi Moylan [Pearce]; Said "Climate change is real. It is a major challenge of our time..."
  • Kelly O'Dwyer; [Higgins] (a bit wishy-washy, said 'Man is making a contribution to CC');
  • Christopher Pyne [Sturt]?
  • Senator Judith Troeth (had the courage to cross the floor and vote for the Rudd Government's Emissions Trading Scheme);
  • Malcolm Turnbull [Wentworth];
  • No doubt there are more, but who are they?

Climate change accepters in the Federal Parliamentary National Party: none?

Climate change accepters on the cross benches: all except Steve Fielding?

Letter requesting your MP's stance on climate change

Cut and paste the letter below to your word processor, write your name and address where indicated (italics), replace the name of my representative with yours, my electoral division with yours, and add the correct date.

Feel free to modify the letter, but please carefully consider any modification you make to the definition.

Your address;
December 3, 2009;

Rowan Ramsey,
Member for Grey,
Parliament House,

Dear Rowan;

Whether or not you believe that climate change is happening and is caused by Man's activities I'm sure that you will agree that it is a very important issue; in my opinion it is the most important issue in the world today. Voters have the right to know where their political representatives stand on the important issues.

For the purpose of this letter the theory of climate change can be defined as...
"Climates are changing, a number of these changes are potentially catastrophic, and the changes are primarily caused by the activities of mankind."

Can you please inform me of whether you accept the above as essentially true or false?

Yours faithfully, Your name.


List of South Australian Senators

Names and political affiliations were from the Federal Parliament Net pages, Dec. 2009
The key to political affiliation abbreviations is below.
I wrote to all asking whether they accepted climate change as defined in my letter
NameGroupClimate change
Bernardi, CoryLPDenier
Outspoken. Believes that the climate is changing, but not that the primary cause is man.
Birmingham, SimonLPAccepter
Advocates minimal action, partly on the precautionary principle.
Edwards, SeanLPUnknown I know Senator Edwards personally, he refused to answer
Farrell, DonALPAccepter
Did not answer my question, but his reply implied that he accepted the science.
Ferguson, the Hon AlanLPUnknown
Failed to answer the question. Seems to favour no action
Fisher, Mary JoLPUnknown
Failed to answer the question
Hanson-Young, SarahAGAccepter Believes "that climate change poses the greatest threat to our world in human history"
Hurley, AnnetteALPUnknown
Contacted early December 2009, reply recieved late February 2010. Did not answer the question.
McEwen, AnneALPAccepter
Answered the question unambiguously
Minchin, the Hon NickLPDenierOutspoken, see above. Contacted early December 2009, no reply as of Feb. 21st, 2010
Wong, the Hon PennyALPAccepterMinister for Climate Change. (I did not inquire)
Wortley, DanaALPUnknownContacted early December 2009, no reply as of Feb 21st, 2010
Xenophon, NickInd.Accepter
Contacted early December 2009, replied Jan 8th, 2010

Political affiliation abbreviations:

  • ALP, Australian Labor Party
  • AG, Australian Greens
  • CLP, Country Liberal Party
  • FF, Family First
  • Ind, Independent
  • LP, Liberal Party
  • NATS, National Party

Too small to make a difference?
The great fallacy

Does the use of logically invalid arguments by parliamentarians demonstrate their ignorance, or is it simply a ploy to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant voters?
This fallacious argument is looked at in different ways in a metaphor and the specious greenhouse argument.
Professor Matt McDonald wrote a strong rebuttal of the 'too small to make a difference' argument on The Conversation on 2019/06/18. He pointed out that the argument fails on three counts, the per-capita argument, the fact that Austraia's coal exports should be taken into account, and the fact that Australia has a huge capacity to act while many poorer nations have a far smaller capacity.
Those who 'argue' against Australia doing anything to reduce its greenhouse gas production rates often bring out the 'too small to make a difference' point; they say something like, "Australia could stop producing greenhouse gasses tomorrow and the difference it would make to the world would be tiny".

Senator Alan Ferguson used a variant of this argument when arguing in Parliament against the adoption of the Rudd Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; he said that Australia is "responsible for less than 1½ per cent of the world's emissions" and implied that since our contribution was so small there was no point in risking our economic well-being by reducing our greenhouse gas production.

This argument is quite invalid. The responsibility of any individual, group, society or nation to act on any global issue is logically in proportion to their per-capita contribution to that problem. Yes, Australia only produces about 1½ per cent of the world's emissions, but Australia has only about 0.3 per cent of the world's population, therefore the average Australian is responsible for (1½ divided by 0.3 = 5) five times as much greenhouse gas as the average global citizen.

Any individual could use the same fallacious argument to refuse to reduce his contribution to greenhouse gasses, no matter how wastefully he used the Earth's resources.

An example of the absurdity of the argument: Germany's greenhouse gas emissions are, of course, much smaller than the total emissions of the European Union. Does that mean that if we consider Germany as a part of the European Union it has a greater responsibility to reduce its emissions than if we consider it on its own? Of course not!

Another example: Liechtenstein has 33 000 people, its contribution to global greenhouse must be very small, but as a part of the European Union do all the people of Liechtenstein suddenly have a much greater responsibility to change their behaviour? Of course not!

China and the USA are the biggest greenhouse polluters, they are also among the biggest countries, both in area and population. If each province in China was to declare itself an independent country tomorrow – each producing much less greenhouse gasses than the whole of China – would this mean that all of the new states would have a much reduced responsibility to lessen their greenhouse gas production rates? Again, of course not! It is the per-capita greenhouse gas production rate that matters, and this is where Australia is among the worst in the world.

Per-capita Australia is the greatest greenhouse gas producer among the OECD nations. Of all the countries of the world, Australia, at 26 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year ranks ninth; the USA at 23 tonnes ranks 14th; and China at 3.9 tonnes ranks 121st. The only countries that are worse than Australia are a few poor nations that are ravaging their forests and several Middle-Eastern oil nations that have oil to burn.

Australia (and the great majority of individual Australians) has an ethical responsibility to greatly reduce its greenhouse gas production rate.


Related pages

Find out which Federal electorate (called a 'Division') you live in; Australian Electoral Commission.

Related pages on this site...

Climate change pages...

CC in the international context;
CC in the Australian context;
The affect of CC on the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia;
CC in the Clare Valley of South Australia;
Who is on the right and wrong side of history?
What could be done to reduce greenhouse?
Why accept climate science?

Pages relating indirectly to climate change

Failings and crimes of Australian Governments;
Failings of the Rudd Government;
The problem of ignorance;
Our Environment;
Evaporative air cooling uses less energy than refrigerated;
Pros and cons of various Electrical generating methods;
Why not have a Carbon tax?