The Best of Tim Flannery

This is a copy-in from my old blog site which contained a table. I do not know how to amend a table in WordPress, so I will just add new ones at the top. Because this really does continue to be amusing:

Tim on Peak Oil

As at now (January 2015) oil prices have halved over the last few months. I was worth a quick Google check to see if Tim’s track record is as bad on this issue as it is on climate change.  He doesn’t disappoint.  This is what Tim said in an interview with Wired News in 2006:

WN: Do you believe that we’re coming into the peak production of oil (“peak oil“) — and do you think the inevitable fuel cutbacks that ensue might work to the benefit of fighting climate change?

Flannery: All the projections suggests that we’re hitting it. Again, it just gives the added urgency of dealing with the issue today…Just play a little thought game: We’re 10 years out now; it’s 2016. Sea levels have started to rise quickly… Imagine oil prices twice or three times what they are today.

Well, we are only a year away now from 2016. Sea levels have not started to “rise quickly” – they are doing what they have been doing for hundreds of years – rising very slowly. And peak oil? Despite what the “apocalypse soon” merchants have been trying to scare us with, it didn’t happen.  On the contrary, we are awash with the stuff.  So there really wasn’t then (2006), and isn’t now, any “added urgency” arising from any oil shortage.

Tim on the Wall at the Museum

The South Australian Museum (where Tim was the director until 2006)  has a sign saying this:

Well, first of all, that is not really a “fact” but more of a theoretical calculation like the climate change models that turn out to be contradicted by the evidence of what has happened (or not happened) since. There is no prospect of the polar icecaps melting.  In any event, we are heading into another ICE AGE.

Secondly, what is this with the plural polar icecaps? Sure the Antarctic is a continent, so that if the ice melted off that (actually, the ice is growing in volume there, not diminishing), there would be a sea level rise.  But the Arctic ice cap is floating, so a melt there would have no effect on sea levels.  If you find this concept hard, try putting some ice into a glass of water, and watch what happens to the level of the water as the ice melts. Nothing. So talking about ice caps (plural) in this context is just alarmist claptrap.

Anyway, Tim, try to get the grammar right. There are only two polar icecaps. North and South. So the correct expression is not “all the polar icecaps” but “both the polar icecaps”.  It is bad enough trying to make the children scientifically illiterate without encouraging them to be linguistically handicapped as well.

Thirdly, what is this neo-religious proselytising doing in a museum, anyway?  Just there to scare the children? Bad idea.

Tim on January 30, 2012 on the ABC:

“There is broad public acceptance globally of the need for action. You know it is only in Canada, the US and Australia that there is even a political debate really at all.”

Well, Tim, the famous article of just a couple of days earlier in Wall Street Journal was signed by, inter alia, Claude Allegre former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; Nir Shaviv professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

Also, there are climate sceptic sites all over the world, including Climate Conversation Group in New Zealand, The Climate Scam in Sweden, in Holland and the dozens of other sites all around the world listed, for example, on

The Wikipediea List of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming includes Nils-Axel Mörner, retired head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University and former Chairman of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1999–2003), Khabibullo Abdusamatov, mathematician and astronomer at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Chris de Freitas, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of AucklandTom Segalstad, head of the Geology Museum at the University of OsloNir Shaviv, astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of JerusalemHenrik Svensmark, Danish National Space CenterClaude Allègre, geochemist, Institute of Geophysics (Paris), Antonino Zichichi, emeritus professor of nuclear physics at the University of Bologna, Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in physics and professor emeritus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, August H. “Augie” Auer Jr. (1940–2007), retired New Zealand MetServiceMarcel Leroux (1938–2008) former Professor of Climatology, Université .Jean Moulin.

Russia, there seems to be a fairly solid consensus that global warming, even if there were any, would be a pretty good thing, according to reports:

“Global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, cutting emissions, nuclear waste, incinerators – it might be a topic of discussion among Moscow’s business elite, but the masses are nowhere near these issues. No-one’s talking about them,” said former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of the current Russian government.

“There is one popular opinion, though – that Russia is a cold country and warming it up slightly wouldn’t do any harm.”

In Germany, Der Speigel has been giving considerable publicity to Fritz Vahrenholt’s new book “Die Kalte Sonne” (The Cold Sun), published by Hoffmann and Campe:

Will reduced solar activity counteract global warming in the coming decades? That is what outgoing German electric utility executive Fritz Vahrenholt claims in a new book. In an interview with SPIEGEL, he argues that the official United Nations forecasts on the severity of climate change are overstated and supported by weak science.

Meanwhile the Germany tabloid Bild (circulation 16 million) devoted half of page 2 on an article called:.

“THE CO2 LIES … pure fear-mongering … should we blindly trust the experts?”

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald,

In China, where carbon emissions have surged despite tough government constraints and targets, President Hu Jintao is having to stare down claims that human-induced climate change is an elaborate American conspiracy.

”Global warming is a bogus proposition,” says Zhang Musheng, one of China’s most influential intellectuals and a close adviser to a powerful and hawkish general in the People’s Liberation Army, Liu Yuan.

The failure of the Durban talks demonstrates that, whilst a number of countries might talk about climate change, there is not any political consensus strong enough to persuade them to vote for any action on it.

I could go on, but it should already be clear that to say that it is “only in Canada, the US and Australia that there is even a political debate really at all” is complete and utter nonsense.

In an opinion piece in The Age on March 25, 2011, Tim wrote:

The commission was not set up to comment on particular policies but to explain the facts. First, sadly, all the evidence reveals that the atmosphere is warming.

It is not sure what Tim means by “atmosphere” here. If he means the lower stratosphere, he could hardly be more wrong. The following data are taken from WUWT:

Temperature Lower Stratosphere (TLS) – Brightness Temperature Anomaly – 1979 to Present:

Tim said this: Well…
Tim Flannery is one of Australia’s leading thinkers and writers…An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist
Tim Flannery on his own website, about himself; current
“Most Australians consider Tim Flannery to be a goose of the first order”
A typical blog commentA Google search for “tim flannery” idiot returns over 51,000 hits
Bolt: On our own, by cutting our emissions, because it’s a heavy price to pay, by 5 per cent by 2020, what will the world’s temperatures fall by as a consequence?Flannery: Look, it will be a very, very small increment.Bolt: Have you got a number? I mean, there must be some numbers.Flannery:  I just need to clarify in terms of the climate context for you. If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years… Bolt: That doesn’t seem a good deal… Flannery: What’s that, sorry?Interview March 25, 2011 Tim is not really on message here. He is being paid a lot of taxpayer’s money by the government to push the case that a carbon tax is a good thing; this isn’t really doing the trick
We are not things, Robyn, we are processes. We are a sophisticated electrochemical process that is part of earth’s crust. It’s not like we’ve come from somewhere else. So life and earth are one. We are one thing.The Science Show January 2011 Hard to say what Tim is talking about here.
Yeah, look, this is century of crisis really, because this is the century population is gonna peak. This is the century of the great social transition where we’re building a unified human capacity. We’ve been nations before, but we’re now in transition to something a bit more than that. And it’s also of course the century of the great climate crisis. And I think once we pass those, we’ll be in a much, much better position to forge a sustainable global human entity on this planet and then, you know, the universe beckons.
Interview 23rd September 2010
Brilliant! Bit shaky on the logic, given that he thinks that, even if we cut emissions today, temperatures on earth are unlikely to drop for about 1000 years (see 25/03/2011) but it nice to see that he is thinking about other planets already.
In the last few years, where there hasn’t been a continuation of that warming trend, we don’t understand all of the factors that create earth’s climate, so there are some things we don’t understand, that’s what the scientists were email about, you know, we don’t understand the way the whole system works, and we have to find out.
Interview November 2009
But Tim, you keep on saying that the science is “settled”!
We must boldly take the next step and define ourselves confidently and distinctly before the world….We believe the time has come to embrace a flag worthy of our sovereign…
Tim signs a letter calling for a new Australian flag, getting rid of the Union Flag quarter
Hard to see how getting rid of the Union part of the flag in favour of
New porposed Oz flag
makes Australians more “worthy of their sovereign”
This intelligence of ours is the result of four billion years of trial and error through evolution, you know. I think it’s here for a reason. Earth will never get another chance if we fail because the planets four billion years through a six billion year long cycle. It’s taken us four billion years to get to the point we are now, if we damage the earth sufficiently, there’ll never be another intelligent species like us evolving in the history of the planet. I do think that our intelligence is the best hope that earth has.
Interview 22nd September 2008
Hard to follow this one. If homo sapiens had never been intelligent, there would be no industry, and so no risk to the climate, according to Tim’s other comments. So how come that our intelligence gets elevated to the planet’s “best hope”?
We can only project that if this summer’s melt trajectory follows recent decades, by September this year the Arctic ice cap will have lost around half of its remaining ice, and be just 2.2m square kilometres…”
Article for the Guardian August 2008
Did not happen.  There was more ice in summer 2008 than 2009, and even more again in 2010, at summer minimum of about 4 million square kilometres, and about 11 million square kilometres in winter.
[pumping sulphur into the stratosphere] would change the colour of the sky. It’s the last resort that we have, it’s the last barrier to a climate collapse. We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years time if we fail to achieve what we’re trying to achieve…The consequences of doing that are unknown …The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change… Everything’s going in the wrong direction at the moment, time lines are getting shorter, the amount of pollution in the atmosphere is growing…It’s extremely urgent
Speaking at Parliament House 19th May 2008
Most of us would regard pumping sulphur into the stratosphere as a bad thing, if not downright bonkers, not least because acid raid is … well … a bad thing.  But Tim apparently reckons we should be getting ready to do it by2013.
The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.

Jetstar Magazine, March 2008 source

Adelaide has not run out of water.  Its dams are currently 77% full. SA Water Minister Paul Caica has confirmed that the Adelaide desalination plant will probably be mothballed once the warranty period has run.
In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources.
Article for New Scientist June 2007
See above. Sydney dams are currently 72% full. Brisbane is at 100%.
a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, … is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers… So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
Interview February 2007 with ABC
Major floods across the states.
Common sense also tells us that warming will lead to greater evaporation and loss of soil moisture, which again is just what we see in nature.Furthermore, the computer models predict that as the Pacific Ocean warms, rainfall across eastern Australia will reduce until a semi-permanent el-Nino-like state is induced.Article 2nd January 2007 Not sure sure how this squares with the more usual scientific common sense, that higher temperatures would mean more evaporation from the sea and hence more rainfall
The melting of the Arctic ice cap is proceeding at, quite frankly, a horrifying speed…James Hansen – who is the world’s leading thinker in this area with the Goddard Institute of NASA– believes we’re on the brink of triggering a 25m rise in sea level. So anyone with a coastal view from their bedroom window or kitchen window is likely to lose their house as a result of that change. So any coastal cities, coastal areas are in grave danger.Interview with WWF Australia July 2006 Ice cap melting? Nope; see above.25 metre sea level rise? See blog 2nd August 2011.
the ongoing drought could leave Sydney’s dams dry in just two years.
Quoted on ABC News Online June 11, 2005
No. See above.
the devastating impact that global warming had already had on Perth, means it is likely to become a “ghost metropolis”; WA’s whole primary production is in dire straits” .May 2004 at the State Government’s Sydney Futures forum, as reported by the SMH Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Perth’s population grew by 3.2 per cent in 2008-09 – the fastest of any metropolis in Australia.
2006-07 wheat production in WA was nearly 10 million tonnes, accounting for almost half the nation’s total; Wikipedia

7 responses to “The Best of Tim Flannery

  1. Pingback: Good ‘Ole Tim Flannery | phenell

  2. Neville Quist

    Aside from all of Tim’s difficulties in picking a winner with his doomsday predictions I must add with personal experience both he and his lovely wife did make interesting and witty dinner companions .

  3. Pingback: New material on Tim Flannery Appreciation page | phenell

  4. Pingback: Australia shows us all the way by sacking its useless, pointless Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery – Telegraph Blogs

  5. Pingback: Flannelblog | phenell

  6. Pingback: The Neo-Clergy Against the Wall | phenell

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