Why We See So Many Horrid Little Activists
Who’s the most important educator of Australian schoolkids? The learned amongst us might nominate my fellow-(ex)journo Derek Scott, CEO of Melbourne’s Haileybury College and current chair of ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority). Nah, not him.
My nomination is Jason Kimberley, whose dad, Craig Kimberley, sold the Just Jeans empire for $64 million in 2001. Jason’s 2008 brainchild, Cool Australia, is all about teaching kids to love the environment  and get with the anti-emissions program. But Jason’s own entertainments seem to have a giant carbon footprint – his Cool biography skites about travelling “throughout the globe”, climbing Mt Aconcagua (23,000ft), man-hauling sledges in Antarctica, walking Denali and kayaking Prince William Sound in Alaska for a month, trekking up Mt Everest and dogsledding in the Yukon.
Whatever, here’s Cool Australia’s impact on your kids and grandkids.
♦ Cool’s free on-line lessons for schoolteachers to download are used by 9000 schools, or 92 per cent of all schools.
♦ 3.3 million kids last year engaged with the materials. Cool claims that since it started in 2008, it’s helped educate 16 million kids (2022 annual report, p2)
♦ Cool claims 205,000 “members” – i.e. teachers, but with a sprinkling of 20,000 parents/home-schoolers.
♦ The teachers downloaded and taught Cool’s lessons 340,000 times last year. Two million lessons have been downloaded since inception.
♦ Cool claims that each lesson teachers download is shared with two other teachers and used in more than two classes.
♦ Cool gets all this done on an annual budget of a mere $2 million and 13 full-time-equivalent staff – including education contractors. For Cool, the cost per student is a mere half of one cent.
♦ Teachers love Cool’s pre-fabricated lessons because nearly half the teachers are teaching outside their expertise and three-quarters complain of unmanageable workloads.
♦ Cool’s ambition is for 1 million members (teachers, basically) enrolled by 2025, and 100 million kids educated by 2030. No, I haven’t added too many zeros. (Annual Report, p12)
So it’s clear that state education departments and private-sector schools have farmed out a good deal of education to Jason’s little team. Cool’s lessons cover the whole spectrum of school topics, and Cool’s design team ensure that every lesson they create is mapped to the official curricula. In other words, teachers can download the written and video material, set up the lesson and tick the box for teaching-job-accomplished.
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Cool’s reason for existence is green-left-wokism. All the non-environmental lessons are a useful “extra”. For example, I’ve written about one of Cool’s lessons inciting kids to remain seated during the national anthem because of its colonialist-oppression aspects. Kids do a ‘swot’ analysis to justify staying seated. Cool offers no contrary argument.
Cool has partnered with green-left film-maker Damon Gameau to promote his films 2040 (92mins) and Regenerating Australia (17mins) with their absurd plot-lines based in the year 2040 and 2030 respectively. In those years all green policies are implemented and all are an unalloyed success in saving the planet from CO2 hell. The movie closes with rapturous music and vision of youngsters of all colors and creeds dancing through a forest to celebrate low CO2 levels. One 20-something gal in a white frock grows from her shoulder-blades giant butterfly wings that actually flap. This might well be the cheesiest movie clip ever made or even imaginable.
Cool offers no fewer than 31 lessons on 2040 plus 12 for at-home use, and for Regenerating, about 10 lessons. Teachers and fans have force-fed 2040 to 1.5 million students and downloaded 2 million copies of Cool’s notes on 2040. So far Regenerating has been fed to 37,000 students and schools have created 2500 “action plans” based on it.
A teacher who screens or takes kids to see a screening of 2040 loses at least half a day’s serious teaching. Far from the leftist education authorities being concerned about indoctrination, we can safely assume they would see that as a bonus. After all, “Sustainability” is one of those three cross-curricula priorities, thanks to Labor’s then-education minister Julia Gillard and the “Melbourne Declaration” of December 2008. The “progressive” politicians and teachers’ unions, of course, endorse and promote Cool. Conservative politicians have never – to my knowledge – pushed back against it. They become their own pall-bearers as new cohorts of kids are brainwashed through the 13-year school system to voting age.
The half of all parents who lean conservative don’t enter the equation. Their kids come home spouting mantras about human-caused catastrophic global warming and how society can be transformed to net-zero emissions. Parents probably retain a vague idea that teachers are looking after their darlings’ best interest. They have no idea how the teachers have stepped back from the coalface (sorry, front-line) to let Cool’s zealots take over with their prefabricated lessons.
I’ve tracked Cool over the years, for example see here and here and here. I took a further look last week when preparing a short speech for the Carlton launch of Dr Mark Lopez’s new book, School Sucks (Connor Court). The talk gathers material on half a dozen leftist third-party institutions enjoying unfettered on-line rights to kids in the classrooms – access a transcript of the talk here. The fresh material from Cool rather threw me, with its naked green slant and palpable errors. Moreover Cool seems never to prune its old, stale material. Masses of it date from more than a decade ago – tired stuff then and trebly so when accessed by teachers today.
To take a random example, there’s a lesson for eight-year-olds about the Arctic and Antarctic. Apart from the supplied text, there’s a video of know-nothing teachers coaching the kids to regurgitate Cool’s messages. The cited data stops at 2008. The text says an increase of 0.5degC at the equator “would mean an increase of as much as 4-6 degrees at the poles [plural]”. Whatever might be happening in the Arctic, the Antarctic is making monkeys out of the global warming brigade’s theorising – it hasn’t warmed in 70 years despite a steady rise in atmospheric CO2, and that’s not even a controversial statement. Kids aren’t told about that, of course. Instead, Cool implies that “changing these patterns will affect our economy, people, crops, water supplies and pretty much everything we do.” Jason Kimberley himself stars in the video, claiming that “our continued burning of coil oil and gas is now having a direct effect on these frozen worlds.”
The film cuts to a teacher showing loss of Arctic sea ice for the decade to 2008 – which happened to be a low point followed by stability for the past decade. Eight-year-olds absorb the message, with a boy repeating back to the teacher that fossil fuel emissions and belching cows are hurting the poles, and a girl grieving that “if we lose the sea ice the animals will lose their homes and what they live on.”
Cool’s aim is not just to indoctrinate but to turn kids into horrid little activists. The video shows these eight-year-olds writing complaints to state and federal energy and resources ministers about emissions, and preparing two-minute-hates against fossil fuels for student radio. The kids say they want adults to cut down of fuels and driving cars around — an idea not entirely without merit, as last week I was cursing the parental traffic jams at the local school gates.
To complete the Soviet-style brainwashing, girls clap along to a song they created for the class:
[inaudible] melting ice, I wonder how they sleep at night.
Global warming is so sad,
Ice is melting really bad.
People want to mine the ice:
Oil and gas has a price.
To the strains of triumphant music, Jason Kimberley re-appears to harangue kids,
“We are mucking around with our planet’s thermostat by changing the balance of nature [cut to picture of power station belching steam]…Will we continue to destroy or can we learn to change? The choice is ours!”
Cool, of course, gives kids an adoring treatment of would-be Aborigine Bruce Pascoe and his dodgy histories.
Cool’s “Fact Sheets” present loaded and dubious material. One example is,
Fact Sheet: Angry Summer: Extreme Rainfall. All-time daily rainfall records for January. This presents the information that, in 2013 (note the staleness), a dozen east-coast hamlets such as Mundubbera (pop 1200), Monto (1100), Moogerah (250), and Old Koreelah (pop 800) had experienced record rain (weather “records” always pop up somewhere about something.) Cool’s intent is to demonstrate global warming’s ill effects. But the BoM report from which Cool takes the records, merely says the record rains stemmed from “the former tropical cyclone Oswald tracking southwards along a track just inland from the Queensland coast.” In a map in the same May 2013 document, the BoM clearly shows equivalent areas further inland at the same time suffering record or near-record low rainfall. (p7). This one-way “Fact Sheet” is an amateurish attempt by Cool to give schoolkids climate evidence based on one tropical cyclone’s unusual path.
Another stale “Fact Sheet” boosts China for its renewable energy expansion. It lauds China’s 7GW of installed solar and 63GW of installed windpower capacity as at 2012, without mentioning renewables (including hydro) represented only 8.5 per cent of China’s primary energy sources that year. A decade later (2021) fossil fuels were still providing 85 per cent of China’s energy. Cool is certainly not going to tell our schoolkids that the coal power capacity China began building in 2022 was six times as much as the rest of the world combined.
What really dropped my jaw, though, was Cool’s “Fact Sheet” on renewables. Its claims include
♦ Coal power plants are not very energy efficient and on average only 30-40% of the chemical energy in coal is converted to useful energy. The rest is lost as heat in the conversion process.
This is bizarre. Engineering has taken the thermal efficiency of modern coal plants close to the theoretical maximum. It’s an argument for coal power, not against it.
♦The alternative is renewable energy sources. These produce energy using natural resources that are constantly replaced and never run out.
Victoria’s brown coal reserves are sufficient for another 1000 years power generation. Who cares if they run out in year 3123?
♦ The amount of energy received from the sun in one hour could power the entire world for a year.
So what? That doesn’t make solar-panel energy cheap, clean or reliable 24/7.
♦ The best part about solar energy is that it creates almost no pollution — some pollution may be generated in building and transporting the solar panels.
Note that Cool makes no mention of horrific and polluting third-world mineral extraction for panels, the Chinese manufacturing near-monopoly, or future problems disposing of millions of toxic panels.
♦Every 24 hours, wind generates enough energy to produce roughly 35x more electricity than humanity uses each day. However, only 8 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation in 2019-20 came from wind power.
For the good reasons that wind power is intermittent, requires vast tracts of land for its low-density energy, and is only viable after massive taxpayer and consumer subsidies. Further, the material pretends that wind’s intermittency is no problem
♦ Wind is not constant and doesn’t blow in the same place all the time (although there will always be wind somewhere and it will never run out, making it a truly renewable source of energy). If the wind turbines are spread far enough they can be always capturing the wind energy and putting it into the grid.
Real fact: wind droughts are normal across the Eastern States grid and can last several days – way beyond any offset from any conceivable battery storage. It is hard to know if the Cool writers are knowingly misleading kids or merely believe their own nonsense.
♦The trouble with wind energy has nothing to do with energy creation itself, but everything to do with the look of wind turbines.
What childish nonsense!
♦ Some people have a problem with them, and this has prevented a number of wind farms being constructed in Australia and other parts of the world.
But thousands of subsidised wind farms have been built regardless of objectors.
♦ There is a very low chance that wind turbines can harm birds or bats flying through them.
Go ask Greens’ icon Bob Brown in Tasmania about bird-mincing turbine plans for Robbins Island.
Weirdly, Cool disparages emission-free hydro power because the power availability varies with rain levels. But Cool has no problem with solar power varying to zero at night, or wind power varying every ten minutes.
♦ Also, constructing the dams and diverting the rivers … can lead to environmental damage, both through the construction of the dam and also through reduced water flows to the natural environment.
So let’s litter the environment with wind turbines instead!
Nuclear: Cool tells kids to rule it out, despite zero-emissions, because it’s costly to build [so what, that’s for the market to decide], creates a nuclear waste problem [which the French and Western world have dealt with for more than half a century], and is a nuclear weapon risk [ditto]. It also lamely cites accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979, (with no fatalities and only ambiguous evidence of any radioactivity harms) and the outdated, Soviet-era, graphite moderated Chernobyl (1986).
Further fact-checking Cool material that teachers stuff down the throats of kids from age of five is just too depressing. In a democracy those with power are supposed to be accountable. But to whom are these leftist institutions intruding into our classrooms accountable?
 “Jason identified the need to provide our current and future generations with relevant and engaging information about the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. Our education system was identified as the most important and effective medium for connecting real-world education with kids.”
 “Step 2. Now explain to students that they will be watching a clip featuring Bruce Pascoe. Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man … In 2014 he published a book called Dark Emu which documents and argues “for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag” (source: Dark Emu, 2018).
Bruce Pascoe – keynote clip (https://youtu.be/UEMeruNEtWY)
Consider inviting students to share their reflections on this clip…
Step 3. Once complete, display the following quotes from Bruce from this clip on the board (also available on the Student Worksheet)…”
For students: “You could create one of the following to communicate your ideas [about Pascoe]:
- Written persuasive piece
- Oral persuasive piece
- Mind-map (with annotations in full sentences)”
 Australia’s total coal is sufficient for 1200 years.
 Rafe Champion, Spectator, Nov 9, 2022: “The [AEMO] records can be interrogated to the depth and duration of all the wind droughts from 2010 to the latest serious episode which lasted over 40 hours through the 7th, 8th, and 9th of August.”