As the world heats up, ice melts, and species are lost, those seeking to delay action on climate change get ever more desperate. No longer content with alleging weather bureaus are faking data to make it seem hotter than it is, one of Australia's more prominent conservative commentators gave a platform to an astrologer to blame heatwaves on other planets.
Rowan Dean is the editor of The Spectator Australia, an offshoot of the UK magazine of the same name. He also hosts a TV show on Sky News. Despite the show's small ratings, it hosts the most prominent right-wing commentators in the Australian (and sometimes global) media. What is discussed there often leads, and possibly sets, the agenda for columns in mainstream media and sometimes the news pages as well.
Bashing the science of climate change is a regular feature for Dean, but he recently excelled himself, bringing onto the show David Burton, who seized the opportunity to repeat a completely false slur on one of Australia's most distinguished scientists before turning to his own theories.
Burton prefers “astrometeorologist” to astrologer, but it's a distinction without a difference. He claims the planets, and even bright stars influence the Earth's climate so precisely he can predict weather 1,000 years ahead of time.
Dean made no attempt to challenge Burton's claims, instead praising his “huge amount of success” at predicting “when it would be wet, when it would be dry”.
In response to another panelist's question about how such distant objects could alter the Earth's climate, Burton said: “Well, it’s energy points that line up at certain degrees, and Jupiter’s the biggest planet and has the greatest magnetic pull, so when other planets get in between the Earth and the Sun; it’s quite complex actually; but the angles or matrix causes heat and drought and rain and floods.”
Burton provided a specific example of a recent heatwave in Europe, which he attributed to Mars having been closest to the Earth. Leaving aside the fact Mars' closest approach was two months earlier, Burton didn't explain why such an event would localize to one continent. Mars was much higher in the southern skies than northern ones at the time.
Fighting climate scientists is a side-job for Burton, whose main profession is using the planets and stars to predict market prices. He has sadly failed to provide evidence of his success in this regard, but for a fee will offer advice or training to anyone wishing to invest their savings on this basis.
Even most climate change deniers don't endorse Burton's views, but Dean's promotion is indicative of the way they will treat any claims, no matter how farcical, as more credible than a mountain of careful science.