The good and the bad

This page has a global perspective.
Another page looks at the same question relating particularly to Australians.

I was moved to write this page following publication of a piece about the wealthiest person in Australia who makes much of her money out of coal mining (bad enough in itself) and donates huge sums of money to try to convince people that climate change is not happening, so that she can continue to make even more money.

There are some very good people on this planet, and then there are some despicable people.

This page was written 2018/07/22, last edited 2024/03/18
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

While Trump enjoys golf, former president Jimmy Carter, aged 92, is building homes for the poor as reported by Charlotte Beale writing for the UK Independent, 2018/07/15. This is a very appropriate and apt item for an introduction to this subject, showing a great contrast between two US Presidents: one man conceited, greedy, self-interested, vulgar, coarse, almost unbelievably dishonest, a misogynist; and the other still doing his best to help people in his nineties.

Self-respect or self-loathing

How can a person who behaves as Trump does have any true self-respect? He obviously has a form of pride, or conceit, but surely deep down he must despise himself and know that he is a person who could only earn disrespect from truly respectable people.

The Good

There are those who we remember for having done very good things (for example Michail Gorbachev, who moved the Soviet Union strongly toward democracy and freedom) and those who seem to have simply been very good people (for example Nelson Mandela). Fred Hollows and Beat Richner certainly seem to have done far more good than the great majority of our fellow humans.

Billionaire Bill Gates (with his wife Malinda) deserves a mention; over the last several decades he has been a leader in showing the huge amount of good that can be done with abundant money. And it's not just his money, but also his time that he has devoted to doing good. In mid February 2021 he had just released his book, 'How to avoid a Climate Disaster'. For a taste of this see Breakthrough Energy.

I've listed many of the Australians who are doing what they can to get action on climate change on another page on this site. Notable, and worth mentioning here, are the Community Independent federal politicians: Kate Chaney, Zoe Daniel, David Pocock, Monique Ryan, Sophie Scamps, Zali Steggall, Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink and Andrew Wilkie. They have all been elected and replaced tired, corrupt, pro-fossil-fuel politicians.


The Positive Power Plan

In mid December 2023 Twiggy Forrest initiated a push for people to support the Positive Power Plan that he had a large part in formulating.
Among Australia's billionaires Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are, along with their involvement in other commendable projects, early investors in a proposed $20 billion project to provide 20% of Singapore's electricity from a huge solar PV installation in the Tennant Creek area of Australia's Northern Territory via undersea cable. (See Sun Cable's web site about the project and Angela Macdonald-Smith's article in the Financial Review for Forrest and Cannon-Brooks' part in the project.) Forrest and Cannon-Brookes seem to be at the other end of the ethical spectrum to two other Australian billionaires, Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer (see below).

Andrew Forrest is also, through Fortescue Metals, of which he is chairman and a major investor, pressing for billions of dollars of investment in green hydrogen which will displace fossil fuels and provide thousands of jobs.

Among the good people world-wide could be listed the Nine activists defending the Earth from violent assault; The Guardian, Jonathan Watts, 2018/07/21. I would certainly add Jane Goodall to this list. David Attenborough also deserves an honourable mention.

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian and presses for a more just and sustainable world. As an example you could read is piece For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth.


The community independents and Climate 200

Since I wrote the paragraph on the left, in the Australian federal election of May 2022 a number of well motivated community independent politicians have been elected to parliament. An organisation called Climate 200 played a big part in promoting and funding these high-minded people. While they are truly independent they have collectively been called 'Teals' for the colour that most used in their campaigns. All the community independents are pressing for urgent action on climate change.
Back in Australia, while both the Liberal-National Coalition and Labor can't see beyond the coal industry that is largely responsible for the progressive destruction of our planet several independent politicians have added refreshing honesty, good sense and high ethical standards to Australian politics. Perhaps the most outstanding of these at the time of writing is Andrew Wilkie, a long-standing member of the House of Representatives for a seat in Tasmania. Newer to politics are Zali Steggall, Helan Hains and Senator Rex Patrick. Others, who have come and gone (and may come again), are Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. Of course the Australian Greens must be thanked for their unfaltering support for all things environmental.

The Bad

The inexplicable decision

Why would anyone choose to take actions that will cause them to be despised by future generations? Making such a decision is certainly well beyond my understanding.

It would seem to me that to be remembered as someone who did all they could to make the world a better place is a far more sensible aim than amassing wealth in life, especially when that wealth is amassed by contemptible means.

Dishonest media shock-jocks may be remembered with some fondness by the people they mislead (so long as those people remain mislead), but they will either not be remembered at all or be remembered as despicable by well informed people.

And then there is the question of self respect; how could anyone take pride in being devious and dishonest?

This section added

International criminals, some of the world's worst


Most despicable of all?

Those who have leading positions in fossil fuel companies are far more to be despised than their counterparts in the tobacco industries; tobacco harms a minority of humans, climate change will harm all humans and much of life on Earth for hundreds of years into the future.

At the top, or perhaps I should say at the bottom, of this particular heap are my fellow Australians, Meg O'Neil, Gina Rinehart, and Clive Palmer.

At this time how could I not add Vladimir Putin to the list? Due to his unjustified, inexcusable, murderous and barbaric invasion of Ukraine, by early 2024, he was guilty of thousands of innocent civilian deaths.

And on the other side of the world, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping was guilty of forcing his tyrannical rule on the people of Hong Kong, plainly very much against their will. He intends to do the same to the people of Taiwan, by military force if need be.

I have mentioned Donald Trump above and at some length on two other pages Real USA and a page of his own. His potential for evil acts was limited by the American democratic system for a time, will he make a comeback?

Some stand-out criminal Australians

Morwell coal mine fire, February 2014
Hazelwood fire
This coal mine fire burned in Morwell, in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, for over a month, producing a huge amount of air pollution. The Latrobe Valley, with its coal-fired power stations, is notorious for its air pollution at the best of times.

Image credit

The Rinehart enigma

Ms Rinehart is an enigma to me. With her enormous wealth she could do enormous good, instead she chooses to do enormous harm. As I have argued elsewhere, why would anyone choose to make themselves contemptible and despicable?

I cannot understand what motivates the woman. How could she possibly have any self respect?


The worst criminal

I have argued elsewhere that in the present age, when climate change is endangering the future of civilisation and action on limiting climate change is urgent, that to resist the needed change to renewable energy, knowingly lying to do so, and being in a position of power, all at the same time, adds up to an exceptionally heinous crime.

Ms Rinehart has placed herself well and truly in this class.

Gina Rinehart

Ms Rinehart is the wealthiest person in Australia, according to some sources, she is the wealthiest woman in the world. She could do enormous good works with her money.

For example, a simple calculation shows that she could give $5,000 to each of the million poorest Australians without losing her position as the wealthiest person in the nation. Think, for a moment, how much relief such a gift would provide for these people; and this is just a very simple example of what she could do.

Ms Rinehart does philanthropic work, but from what I've read (and referenced below) the amount of harm she does to the planet and future generations by trying to make people doubt the truth of anthropogenic climate change far outweighs any good she does. She undermines climate action, probably so that her coal-mining businesses can make even more money for her. Surely that is a recipe for self-contempt rather than self-respect.

Ms Rinehart's coal exports have probably killed thousands of people from the air pollution resulting from the burning of that coal. Her work in casting doubt on climate science and anthropogenic climate change has probably done even more harm.

I have written elsewhere on these pages that for a person in a position of power to dishonesty work to slow action on climate change is a great crime.

See, for example:

Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer tries to undermine COVID-19 vaccination


Tilt at a Senate seat, January 2022

On or about 2022/01/19 Mr Palmer announced that he was going to aim at getting a Senate seat. I believe he announced that he was intending to spend even more money on his campaign than he spent at the previous federal election.

I'm sure that with the huge amount of money he has at his disposal (most of it earned while killing thousands of people each year through his coal mining investments) he will have a good chance of achieving his goal.


Some facts about COVID-19 and vaccination in Australia

By January 19th 2022 COVID-19 had killed 2,800 Australians, the AstraZeneca vaccine has led to the death of about six people. At the time 78% of Australians had been doubly vaccinated, 21% had received a booster shot. The disease is something like 10,000 times as likely to lead to death than is the vaccination.

Quoting the TGA:

"The most frequently reported suspected side effects associated with Comirnaty (Pfizer) and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines ... are commonly experienced with vaccines generally."
Mr Palmer, like Ms Rinehart, is making millions out of the coal industry. He bragged about keeping Labor's Bill Shorten out of office and the shamefully corrupt and pro-fossil fuel Liberal/National coalition, under PM Scott Morrison, in power at the May 2019 election. He funded candidates in every electorate; none of them were elected, but preferences were directed to the Liberals and Nationals.

In June 2021 Mr Palmer paid for radio advertisements (until they were stopped because of their misleading nature) and circulated millions of pamphlets trying to frighten people about COVID-19 vaccinations. Palmer's pamphlets implied that there were 210 deaths due to COVID vaccinations in Australia. It seems that the figure came from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). They had reported that 210 people had died after being vaccinated, not due to being vaccinated. Of course people are dying all the time due to a whole multitude of reasons.

On 2021/06/24 I read the following on the TGA's web site:

"To 13 June 2021, we received 303 reports of death following vaccination for COVID-19 vaccines."

"For reports of death other than TTS [thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome; (blood clots)], our review of cases and analysis of reporting patterns does not suggest that the vaccine caused these deaths."

By mid 2021 some 5.9 million Australians had received one vaccination. Given a mean life expectancy of about 80 years one would expect about 6,000 of these 5.9 million to die in an average month (and 1,400 in an average week), with or without a vaccination. While Palmer's statement may not have been a lie it was certainly quite misleading. (Was it intentionally misleading, or was it misleading simply because Mr Palmer stupidly didn't understand the statement from the TGA?)

Meg O'Neil

Woodside Energy's CEO Meg O'Neil seems to have no scruples about using Woodside's huge wealth to try to gag those who are campaigning to slow climate change and preserve some quality of life for the generations to come. Ms O'Neil no doubt rightly sees environmental activists as a threat to the profitability of her business.

Those, like Ms O'Neil, who have leading positions in fossil fuel companies are far more to be despised than their counterparts in the tobacco industries; tobacco harms a minority of humans, climate change will harm all humans and much of life on Earth for hundreds of years into the future. They place themselves among the worst criminals in the world when they use their power to slow action on climate change.

See Activists threatened with Woodside lawsuit over protest cleaning costs and lost productivity

Woodside Energy's Scarborough gas field off the NW coast of Western Australia will, if fully utilised, result in about 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 going into our shared atmosphere, that is more than three times the total current annual emissions of Australia. (See Gas Outlook for more information.)

One wonders who people like Ms O'Neil, Gina Rinehart, and Clive Palmer socialise with? Who would have standards so low as to wish to mix with such blatantly unethical and despicable people?

Ian Plimer


Profesional liars

Then there are the media shock-jocks such as Aland Jones and Andrew Bolt who make 'good' livings by peddling anti-environment nonsense to the many people who are only too pleased to hear it.

Such people are like a disease or a virus, they are sustained by exploiting a weakness in human nature.

Graham Readfearn wrote in RenewEconomy on 2019/02/06 about Ian Plimer's anti-climate rant in the notoriously anti-renewables, pro-coal, Murdoch-owned The Australian newspaper. Plimer was making the conspicuously dishonest claim that there was no consensus among climate scientists about climate change. Mr Readfearn pointed out the many errors in Mr Plimer's piece.

Mr Plimer is a retired professor of mining geology, and as Mr Readfearn pointed out he:

"sits on the board of several mining companies owned by Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart (who is herself a key funder of climate science denial efforts), including Queensland Coal Investments."
Plainly, Mr Plimer is hardly a disinterested party in the 'climate debate' and, as a retired professor of mining geology has little standing in climate science. Note that there is no debate among climate scientists, the 'debate' is only in the imagination of the supporters of the fossil fuel industries, the popular media, and especially in the Murdoch media.

I have had cause to write about Mr Plimer on a number of my pages. The reader could search my pages using the embedded search feature.

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, through his media empire, has done enormous harm to the fight to slow anthropogenic climate change and to democracy, especially in Australia. I would think that his mother, Elisabeth Murdoch, a notable philanthropist, would be thoroughly ashamed of her son, if she was still alive.

I've had some discussions, outside of these pages, about whether Mr Murdoch should be called evil or just amoral. Is a person, like Murdoch, who does terrible things because he doesn't care that they are criminal and very harmful properly labelled evil? Or to be called evil does a person have to intentionally do terrible things? I suspect that Murdoch would support the publication of anything if it would increase the profitability of his media empire and that he doesn't specifically encourage the publication of misleading stories harmful to the renewable energy industry.

Gina Rinehart who does terrible things knowingly, such as funding the climate change disinformation industry, by contrast to Murdoch, should certainly be classed as evil.

Dishonest wind power opponents

If the world is to avoid terrible damage from climate change, ocean acidification, ocean warming and sea level rise we must change from the burning of fossil fuels to renewable, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power. (Not only does the burning of fossil fuels cause the above problems, its air pollution kills millions of people world-wide each year.) It happens that I live in Mid-North South Australia, which has led Australia in the development of wind power. I have spent a great deal of time in debunking the lies of those who dishonestly (and generally selfishly) oppose wind farms.

Australian Coalition governments

This section added 2019/06/08
The Australian Liberal/National Coalition governments from September 2013 to the time of writing have been not only shamefully pro-fossil fuels but also dishonestly and stridently opposed to the introduction of renewable energy.

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments, particularly the first and last of these, betrayed all people of future generations. One of the worst of all the criminals in these governments was the shamelessly dishonest Energy Minister of the Morrison Government, Angus Taylor.

The federal National Party section of the Coalition is even more out of touch with ethical standards than is the Liberal Party.

The most evil

If you Google something like "who is the most evil person in Australia" you will be guided to pages about serial killers and child abusers. Isn't someone like Gina Rinehart more deserving of being called the most evil person in Australia? The coal from her mines kills thousands of people each year and she tries to mislead the public about the harm coal is doing by donating millions of dollars to the misleadingly named Institute of Public Affaires (The IPA is an Australian 'right wing think tank' that blatantly and dishonestly supports the mining, exporting and burning of fossil fuels and opposes renewable energy development). As I have argued elsewhere, a person in a position of power who knowingly lies about climate change has to be in the running to being the greatest criminal in the history of Mankind. This would apply particularly to people like Ms Rinehart who also owns huge coal mines.

A noun

There should be a noun for people who are not really bad, but who are selfish, inconsiderate, annoying and lazy at the expense of others. The sort of people who:
  • Throw rubbish on roadsides or in parks;
  • Have their car exhausts modified to make them more noisy;
  • Do wheelies in parks or on roads;
  • Tailgate;
  • Don’t bother signalling when turning;
  • Leave dog poo on paths;
  • Allow weeds to grow in front of their homes with the result that seeds spread to neighbouring places.
I can't think of an appropriate noun. If there is not one, there should be.

Maybe yobbo? Bogan? Although I don’t think they are specific enough.

Related pages

Ask who?: if you were able to ask the most respected people in the world about climate change what would they say?

The right and wrong side of history

Why would you do that?: why would you do things now that will make you despised by future generations?

The end of coal cannot come quickly enough!

"Coal is good for humanity"; stupid statement by ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Corporate greed


Contribution to society


Heroes-criminals, the spectrum

What memorial should one have?

Despicable individuals - other than those covered on this page

Aland Jones

Andrew Bolt