Vale George Fox, 1914--2012
George Fox was born in Sydney in April 1914, and died on June 7 2012, aged 98. His memorial service was held in Sydney on 14 June. He graduated in science and electrical engineering from Sydney University in 1937 and after the War had a distinguished career with English Electric, serving as head of their Indian operations, 1955 - 1959 and then MD EE Australasia 1960-69. He was responsible for installing many millions of dollars' worth of mechanical and electrical plant throughout Australia and was widely admired and respected throughout the engineering profession in particular the 'heavy' side of the industry, as well as other heavy industries such power generation of all kinds, steel, mining and transport.
I cannot remember how it was I first came into contact with George Fox, I presume it was soon after the Lavoisier Group was formed in 2000.
This Group was the earliest organisation in Australia to take on the task of rebutting the nonsense which the Greens and their allies in other political parties, and in the media, were peddling on the alleged satanic nature of carbon dioxide, and its propensity, as they said, to drive global temperature into hitherto unprecedented levels, resulting in the end of civilisation.
What was extraordinary about this campaign was first; the complete ignorance of its protagonists about the climatic history of the world, notably the significance of the Mediaeval Warm Period; second, the complete scientific implausibility of the capacity of a minute trace gas in the atmosphere to control the world’s climate; and third, the wide range of institutions which joined in what became perhaps the most successful con in the history of the West. Universities, scientific and learned societies such as the Royal Society of London, government institutions such as Australia’s CSIRO, and the USEPA.
When we first met, George Fox was in his mid-eighties, but he was a very fit octogenarian with a mind that was sharp as a needle. He very quickly became a stalwart of the Lavoisier Group. He joined the Board, he wrote scores of letters to politicians, office bearers in organisations such as Engineers Australia, and as a frequent lunch goer in Sydney, would always leave a Lavoisier tract on every seat at the lunch. He attended many meetings of the Liberal Party organisation, in Sydney and during pre-selection contests would ensure that each candidate had to declare where they stood on the decarbonisation policies of both major parties.
Until growing physical infirmity made travel too difficult, he flew down frequently from Sydney to Melbourne to attend Lavoisier meetings.
He would sometimes get despondent at the disparity of the forces in this struggle for sanity. We were so few and they were so many, and were so deeply entrenched. We spoke almost every day on the phone and I would try and reassure him that in the end the economic damage which would follow from the attempt to shut down our coal fired electricity industry would be so great, that our opponents would be humiliated.
The other big issue in this debate is the virtual certainty of a return of a serious cooling period - perhaps a return of the Dalton Minimum (1795 - 1820). This prediction is based on the close study of sun-spot behaviour going back many centuries and the decline in global temperatures in recent years support this prediction.
In two or three years we will know for certain whether we are heading into a sustained period of much lower temperatures. It is a pity that George Fox could not have lived to celebrate his centenary, however we can celebrate the fact that some are beginning to understand the foibles of a carbon tax and are realising that the majority (a bare majority) may have going down the wrong path. I know that these smaller victories did bring some cheer to George Fox.
We should all remember his commitment and passionate pursuit of our aims. It is time for his rest; for we who continue we do so with the inspiration of George Fox.