How enlightened is Notre Dame University?

How much can you judge a university by its vice-chancellor, effectively its chief executive officer? Surely the board of any university would, or at least should, put a lot of thought into the selection of a vice-chancellor and choose one whose beliefs align with the aims and aspirations of the university.

What, then, does a vice-chancellor exhibiting abysmal ignorance of the causes of the greatest challenge facing humanity today, climate change, tell us about the university itself? Until very recently Notre Dame Catholic University in Western Australia had just such a vice-chancellor.

Is it possible for a university headed by a climate science denialist to provide a good science education?

This page was written 2019/03/25, last edited 2021/06/14
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Is it caused by Man?
This graph shows that the vast majority of climate and earth scientists accept that global warming is largely caused by Mankind.
Graphic credit: The Berkeley Blog
Red stringybark trees suffering from an exceptionally hot and dry summer and autumn
Red stringybark
Photo taken in Spring Gully Conservation Park, 2008/05/11. There was an exceptionally hot and dry summer and autumn in that year, causing the last remnant of red stringybark trees in South Australia to defoliate.
This is just one impact of climate change in Australia; it happens to be within a few kilometres of my home in the Clare Valley of SA.
Professor Hammond was the subject of an article in The Australian in mid March 2019.

The article stated that she rejected scientific opinion that the burning of fossil fuels was the main factor behind global warming. She was quoted as saying:

"I believe man has contributed in some way to climate change – the exact extent is probably very minimal"
The reporter then asked whether her ­belief was backed by scientific evidence. She said:
"I don’t believe it goes against the science. There is a lot of science and a lot of contradictory science."
All well informed readers will be aware that the science on the causes of climate change is well settled. For Professor Hammond to say that it is contradictory is either a lie or an admission of gross ignorance on the subject.

There are many reasons to accept the scientific consensus on the causes of climate change.

In a piece on The Blot Report, 2019/03/15, the administrator wrote, quite rightly in my opinion, that:

"Hammond has demonstrated that she either believes that all Australia’s climate scientists, the Bureau of Meteorology, and the Academy of Science are not capable of understanding the climate, or are all involved in a massive conspiracy. Both of these assertions are simply idiotic..."
The author of the Blot Report went on to write that Professor Hammond has said that:
"she is passionate about the commitment to the harmony of faith and reason".
Of course there is no harmony between faith and reason; they are opposites. Faith demands belief without evidence, reason demands withholding belief where there is a lack of evidence.

The Pope accepts the facts on climate change

Notre Dame University is Catholic; surely then, even if the faculty give little credence to science, they should accept the Pope's encyclical which clearly ascribes the main cause of climate change to the actions of humanity.

Climate science denier Christopher Monckton invited to Notre Dame


Some more questions regarding Ms Hammond's climate science denial

Could it be that Ms Hammond, in her time as vice chancellor, didn't bother consulting relevant people in the science faculty who would surely have known the facts about climate change?

Or was it a very small science faculty with few scientists having any knowledge of climate change? Hard to believe.

Or were the members of the science faculty hand picked for their blindness and climate science denial?

Notorious climate science denier Christopher Monckton was invited to speak at Notre Dame back in 2011. Professor Hammond was vice-chancellor at the time, so it seems likely that she would have been the source of the invitation, even if not, she surely would have had to have been consulted and approved the invitation. As vice-chancellor she had a responsibility to inform herself of the facts of climate change science before approving such a controversial invitation. Why did she not?

Does this suggest that there is a general denial of climate science throughout the university?

Is the ex-vice-chancellor dishonest rather than ignorant?

It is possible that Professor Hammond lied about what she believes on the causes of climate change because she thinks that it was expedient to do so for the development of her political carrier. Would the implications to a university of a shamelessly dishonest vice-chancellor be better or worse than one who was abysmally ignorant?

In conclusion

Notre Dame's recent vice-chancellor is out of touch with climate science and therefore with reality. It seems she invited notorious climate science denier Christopher Monckton to Notre Dame back in 2011.

The fact that Professor Hammond held the vice-chancellorship for 11 years suggests that the university board were happy with her views, which they surely must have been aware of.

Notre Dame is a Catholic university. The Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church, has unambiguously stated that he wants to see action to control climate change, which he fully accepts is largely due to the actions of humanity.

It seems then that the university as a whole may be out of touch with science and with Catholicism as well.

Related pages

On the internet...

More Liberal climate change denial: A piece about Celia Hammond's background and run for parliament on The Blot Report

On this site...

Australian Liberal Party, opposed to action on climate change

Celia Hammond, climate science ignoramus, receives Liberal pre-selection for the federal seat of Curtin and goes on to win the seat (it's a very safe Liberal seat, a drover's dog could win it).

Climate change

Climate change skeptics or climate change ignoramuses?

Greenhouse and climate change, in the Australian context

Ocean acidification, closely associated with climate change

Problem and prevalence of ignorance

Science, religion and delusion

Why accept climate science