June 22, 2005 | Graham

Expert predicts this could be another “mega” moment for Flannery

A few posts ago I threatened to start a database which would check on experts’ predictions after the event to see how many of them are correct. Now I’d like to make a nomination, even though I don’t yet have a database going – Tim Flannery.
Tim’s famous for a number of predictions, one of which is that because of climate change people will have to evacuate Perth as it will run out of water. Another is that aborigines were responsible for exterminating Australia’s mega-fauna.
The second is an interesting sort of prediction, because it’s speculation about what happened in the past in an environment where we didn’t have proof one way or the other. Well, we do know, and an archeological hole dug up on the Darling Downs has shown that the mega-fauna went extinct all on their own, or at least without the help of homo sapiens.
We’ll have to wait a while for his Perth prediction, but he recently made some statements about climate change which are already looking a little rocky.
Working a familiar territory he was predicting that “if” the current drought held up Sydney’s dams would be empty within 2 years. The qualifier means he’ll never be convicted for being wrong on that one. But he claimed that weather patterns had changed because of a number of global warming-induced effects.
The specific one that caught my eye was the claim that the tropics have expanded and driven the rainfall further south. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this one, and it does have some resonance with me as I think I’ve noticed a change in the summer wind patterns in Brisbane. We’ve had some stinking hot summer days, and they’ve all been the result of westerly winds. This isn’t the way it used to be, so something has definitely changed. But is it the tropics expanding?
If that were true I would have thought that the monsoons would have come further south and Brisbane might be hotter, but it would also be wetter. That doesn’t appear to have happened.
Now there’s an alternative position to Tim’s, which if you’ve got keen eyes, you will spot at the end of an article in today’s Higher Ed supplement in The Australian primarily about Hilary Charlesworth. University of NSW climatologist Matthew England has won a Federation Fellowship which would allow him to “concentrate in Australia on his work on reading the southern oceans and the influence they have on Australia’s climate.”
Professor England has been studying “a jet stream which skirts the southern Australian coast [which] has been active further south than normal in recent years, blocking rain-bearing depressions.” So it might not be global warming related at all. Could this be another “mega” moment for Professor Flannery?

Posted by Graham at 11:05 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: General


  1. Are the explanations from Flannery and England mutually exclusive? Could it not be that the change in the jet stream is a function of or related to climate change?

    Comment by n j — June 23, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  2. I am sitting in my computer room in Perth whilst rain pours down outside. It has been the wettest Perth winter since the mid-1970s. As a believer in global warming and its effects on climate, I’m not sure how to account for this. I do know that all the prediction models say that Perth will have a warmer, dryer climate if global warming is real. Since 1974 Perth’s rainfall has diminished by up to 20%. The LAST thing Perth needs is a warmer, dryer climate. It is already too hot and dry. I am hoping desparately that this winter is NOT a one-off.

    Comment by Doug Clifford — June 23, 2005 @ 8:49 pm

  3. GW is a fraud…
    We’ve just got used to living in continuous airconditioning and it seems hotter outside than when we were kids.
    Our real problem is too many scientists thinking up more and increasingly expensive ways to spend other peoples money.

    Comment by Forester — June 24, 2005 @ 10:29 am

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