Every new Thing gets opposed by people in one way or another for a variety of reasons. Marriage equality, for example, where apparently if we get that, people will be marrying goats soon enough. Those of us who support renewable energy solutions have been aware of opponents to wind farms for a while now. Like climate change deniers, the supporters have either dubious university degrees and / or silent financial backers.
The latest in this group of alarmists are the creators of the “Stop These Things” website. Their rally in Canberra on June 18 would ordinarily be a stock standard group of cranks with signs saying Stop The Things! We Don’t Like Things! Things (especially new ones) are Bad. Normally, most people would probably ignore a campaign by such an organisation rallied around a blog site. I know my constant calls for rallies fall on deaf ears. No-one showed interest in my rally ideas – Better Beer in all Sydney Pubs, Genetically Modify Goats to Look More Like Bob Katter, Stop the Supercars (Wasting tens of millions of dollars in Homebush every year) and Stop the Boats (The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is a waste of money).
I should have just said “Stop These Things”, because this Stop These Things rally has gained the support of a variety of Federal politicians, including Craig Kelly, Alby Schultz, Chris Back, Nick Xenophon and John Madigan of the DLP, as covered in this Chris Johnson article. Oh, and Alan Jones. Point him towards a “Stop The Things” rally of any sort and there he’ll be. It does point, however, to a schism in Liberal Party ranks about climate change and their policies in relation to it.
As for Stop These Things!, their blog site is filled with the usual features of an astroturfing operation. Claims that
“We are not affiliated with any group, political party or industry… a kitchen table group of citizens concerned about what is happening across rural and regional Australia, by the harm being done by the wind industry, in partnership with governments”
and yet follows up with
“We are surprised and alarmed by how the Green movement is now in bed with big industry.”
With this broadside we hear the creaky line about a “Green conspiracy”, then discover on the same site that Alan Moran of the IPA will be speaking at the Stop These Things rally – indicating a strong link to one of our oldest and most clandestine lobbying groups, in terms of hiding their links to business and big industry.
It’s a not so new tack for these movements, claiming to be a “kitchen table” movement, then claiming some kind of major conspiracy, while hiding their own connections. Later on, they follow up with a picture of the lone opponent to the tank at Tianamen Square, invoking a new China related version of Godwin’s Law – maybe Tianamen Law – attempting to categorise yourself as powerless in the face of a monolithic machine. Yet they manage to attract politicians and a broadcaster with a large audience to speak at their rally. Powerless?
When I first read the website I was hoping, as ever, that this new group was honest and have the intention of just expressing an attitude towards wind farms and wasn’t an astroturfing operation. I hoped it had no links to the Waubra Foundation and its relationship with fossil fuel company employees and “Not in My Backyard” campaigners. I hoped that, unlike Tasmanian wind farm opponents, they won’t seek expensive support from PR companies linked to things like the Galileo Foundation. (thanks to @leroy_lynch for those links).
A purview through the site, however, didn’t fill me with confidence. On the “experts” page, listed with one expert – an acoustic engineer. Then they have a “people who get it” page, listing Sarah Laurie, the CEO of Waubra; Alan Jones (the most expert English teacher in the history of English teachers); John Madigan and Nick Xenophon; Graham Lloyd, from the Australian (whose campaign against wind farms is dissected here), and Robert Bryce, a spruiker for the Manhattan Institute, a think tank funded by fossil fuel companies. And, as mentioned, they have Moran from the IPA speaking at their rally. It should be concerning us that Xenophon and Madigan are supporting things like this Stop The Things idea – they hold a good chance of holding the balance of power in the next Senate.
Ultimately, groups like this come across as cranks who don’t like the look of wind turbines and make up spurious claims of health impacts – but, more importantly, do not offer any alternative solutions for long term power generation. There’s not any support provided to the idea of renewable energy alternatives to wind farms, nor is CSG mentioned – even though CSG poses more of a threat to public health than any wind turbine. I would suggest, though, that people could turn up to the rally in Canberra on June 18, ready with signs declaring “Stop These Things”, but with a variety of Things on them. That would liven up the event.
They are Things! And they must be Stopped!
Oh, and as a postscript, this video should convince you why we need to create Kattergoats.