March 04, 2013 | Graham

Not Flannery again

You’d think that Tim Flannery would have given up the forecasting game after his claims that Australia was destined for perpetual drought have been proven untrue by the weather. But no, he’s at it again.

The agency’s chief commissioner Tim Flannery said the summer had been one of extremes, and was in some ways like an athlete who improves their baseline performance by taking steroids.

 ”The same thing is happening with our climate system,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

”As it warms up we’re getting fewer cold days and cold events and many, many more record hot events. So it is – in effect it’s a climate on steroids is what we’re seeing.”

All well and good except that global temperature hasn’t gone up and indeed was only the 10th hottest on record. Which isn’t saying much, because the record they are talking about is the instrumental record and we know from paleoclimate reconstructions that it was warmer 10,000 years ago.

So, it was hotter in Australia, but it must have been colder somewhere else to compensate.

Imagine what Flannery would say if I were to spruik global cooling on the basis of the temperature where it went down? He’d most likely claim that this was just weather, and that global warming is well, global, so weather doesn’t count.

Precisely. And neither does a hotter than average summer in Australia count on its own.

Posted by Graham at 11:02 pm | Comments (11) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Well, I rarely agree with Tim Flannery either, Graham.
    But looking at the trend lines and the, hot, cold, wet and dry extremes, we have been witnessing in recent years, it’s hard to say, he has got it all wrong?
    Be it the fire storms that ravaged Greece or the unprecedented heat wave that stuck Siberia; or the completely hitherto unknown tundra melt, and the consequent possible tripling of greenhouse gas emission?
    Unless you consult the paloeclimate record.
    For mine, the tundra melt is a real worry; given the last time this occurred, according to the paloeclimate record, nearly all life was wiped out in a mass extinction event, some ninety million years ago.
    However, given the predominance of climate sceptics, particularly in right wing political ranks, nothing much in the way of climate mediation will occur?
    Well, at least until the wealthy elite seaside homes are inundated by rising sea levels?
    Then they will complain the loudest and longest, why weren’t we told?
    For mine, there are no negatives in the precautionary principle; and no economic downside, in adopting some new technologies, that slow the release of Co2, into our atmosphere, to the point where previous equilibria is reinstated.
    Besides, we already confront peak oil! And replacing traditional oil with algae sourced alternatives, if done on a large enough scale, will allow us, to seamlessly transfer to superior, less costly, liquid fuel alternatives, all while drawing down Co2 emission.
    Some algae are up to 60% oil, and extracting it, is mere child’s play!
    Algae absorb up to 2.5 times their bodyweight, in Co2 emission, and under optimised conditions, literally double that bodyweight and absorption capacity every 24 hours!
    And algae hold out the promise of clean coal, given their proven ability, in closed cycle systems, to scrub smoke stack emission.
    All while adding quite significantly, to the potential profit margin of the energy provider! So, why would any energy provider in their right mind, want to shell out billions for possibly, very temporary geo-sequestration?
    Every home or high rise, produces enough biological waste, to power the building, all while producing endless free hot water.
    And this is best achieved with current Aussie innovation; be it the completely enclosed 2 tank, no smell digester system, that converts waste to methane, or the ceramic cell, that super silently, with no moving parts to wear out, converts that methane, to the cheapest on earth, on demand electrical energy.
    We are also blessed with significantly large thorium resources.
    They come with rare earth deposits, and mineral sands, and to date, have been treated as a nuisance waste product, needing to be disposed of.
    Rather stupid, given the production of power from thorium, is potentially, cheaper than coal!
    And cheap Carbon free power is just what we Aussies now need, to resuscitate our manufacturing industries!
    Be it direct reduction steel making or alumina refining.
    The production of light metals like titanium, also rely on cheap power and copious salt. So, some new inland industries beckon!
    And our defence and modern defence industries, are virtually completely dependant on self sufficient energy.
    As I understand it, completely impractical Tim Flannery, is totally opposed to the nuclear option, and prefers solar or wind power.
    Arguably, the most expense and least reliable of the available alternative options! This make it dearer mantra, completely ignores the forty or so percent, who can’t afford current price gouging by energy providers!
    [And the Queensland Govt want to divest themselves of their own ultra profitable, money making assets? A rationale, no competent corporate manager, would ever envisage?]
    And, it seems, is Tim strangely silent on other options, like turning our own waste into onsite and ultra-reliable energy, for a fraction of the cost of current coal-fired power; and or, the cheaper than coal thorium option.
    Yes, the lead time on thorium power is significant!
    So, the sooner we crack on with the latter, the sooner we will be be producing cheaper than coal, thorium power, which together with genuine tax reform and massive simplification, could see the high tech industries of the world, and their billions, queuing up to relocate here.
    No downside in that, particularly if we insist, as other nations do/have done, that any development/relocation approval, is reliant on and must include significant Australian partners?
    We are also blessed with quite massive northern water resources, much of which ought to be harvested and used for food production, rather than continually flow out to sea, taking trillions of tons of annual alluvium with it!
    Which then impacts, extremely negatively, on both the reef and sea grass beds, and indeed, the very fauna that is completely dependant on either! [And sea grass, produces three time more oxygen than all the trees of the world. Green advocates, like Tim, seem to have gotten their priorities all wrong?]
    Why, some of that northern water, which as rainfall, is already measured in metres, could even be injected into the Great Artesian Basin, utilising just up country storage and gravity.
    And given that same basin extends from northern Queensland to the northern reaches of South Australia; a comparatively cheap way of transferring volumetric water, to some of the driest parts of Oz.
    Moreover, water rather than land is the basis of all wealth!
    And, the next boom is likely to be a food one, given the protein demanding, growing middle class, of developing Asian nations.
    The very best alternative low carbon or carbon free options, will be those that walk out the door, and or, able to be afforded, by most of the impoverished third world.
    Furthermore, adopting any or all of the above, will have no negative downside, as strictly money making commercial ventures!
    In fact just the opposite!
    However, we do need the govts to stop repeating that ridiculous, risible, nonsense mantra, that the Govt has no business in business. But rather, take a leaf from the very pragmatic book of Singapore, Scandinavia, or the Emirates.
    By picking winners, and or, investing in their own people and their better ideas!
    Which by the way, was almost solely responsible for the Irish economic miracle/Celtic Tiger; only cruelled by debt laden, foreign speculators, and a Govt that responded to a crisis, not of their making, by obtusely privatising profit and socialising debt!
    The very corner stone of our capitalist system, must continue to include/mandate and or occasionally punish private risk!
    Cheers mate, Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 5, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  2. Not sure how we got from climate to socialism, but you elided there very well. The facts are that there is no increase in extreme weather. This is the first article I came across with figures that demonstrate it

    So, next excuse?


    Comment by Graham — March 5, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  3. I don’t agree that I ended with/morphed into Socialism Graham?
    But rather, cooperative capitalism; or indeed, traditional capitalism, which simply excludes virtually compulsory financial prop ups, by the already overburdened taxpayer.
    If tax payers money is to be wasted or thrown away, then it is better spent, on providing Govt owned and operated, nation building alternative power projects, that quite dramatically lower the cost of energy, to prospective and current business operators, or the nation’s major employers; or indeed, self funded retirees!
    Or do you have a problem, with deliberately advantaging small business/local manufacture, by simply excluding the price gouging, debt laden foreign players or speculators, from cash cow essential service?
    I’ve looked around the globe on Google, and can see no examples whatsoever, of prices coming down with power supply/essential service privatisation, or Govts from both sides of the so-called political divide, who renege on their core responsibilities, as essential service providers?
    The conformation bias seems alive and well, in the substance of your article?
    What do you find wrong, with a very wise precautionary principle?
    Do you not insure your house, and or car?
    Your so called “figures” simply avoid real changes, like sea level rises, progressive ice melts, or indeed, that the formerly permanently frozen tundra seems to be melting!
    The rubbery figures you appear rely on, seem more likely the product of creative accounting, rather than evidence based observation?
    Suggest you read my reply once again, and challenge you to isolate said excuses, you claim to have seen, which other readers are likely to conclude, to be just a figment of your politically motivated imagination, or your former political career based training in political spin, rather than fact isolating and or, inherently fair and impartial examination?
    I come from a science background, yet do not chose to ignore empirical evidence, simply because it is empirical?
    I’m completely baffled your seemingly locked and bolted mindset Graham, given the changes I’ve identified as necessary or essential mediation, have no down side, but rather, fairly bristle with quite massive economic and or entrepreneurial opportunities, including profit providing clean coal!
    And what’s wrong with public profits, rather than just more tax, providing some of the social advantages, we could have, but for the obtuse political mindset?
    What’s your seeming problem with endless private wealth and job creating opportunities, outside of essential service, and or, energy and capital; all of which are eminently achievable, with the advent/implementation of entrepreneur/business advantaging, genuine tax reform and quite massive simplification!
    And, is there anybody on your side of politics, with the intestinal fortitude, to undertake that very challenge?
    Or will your side run true to apparent form and simply sell the family silver, the family farm, or continue to kowtow to, I believe, carpet bagging foreign and debt laden, debt reliant investors?
    Do you not understand they are the very reason, we Aussies pay around a 30% premium at the checkout?
    Understand, we and our rapidly diminishing resources, are the only ones paying out on every cent of record and growing foreign debt!
    Foreign corporations, are not altruists, or here to help us, Graham!
    Is our record foreign debt burden, which impacts so negatively on every Aussie, man woman and child, and prevents/delays essential infrastructure roll outs, not already far too large?
    And why can’t we get all the foreign currency we need, from self terminating, tax free, low yield, thirty year infrastructure bonds?
    We’ve yet to try them; and they would likely not cost us as much, as self evident, tax avoiding foreign or multinational corporations, many of who have larger budgets, than many sovereign nations!
    Why do you think Govts can not now find the money to fund essential service?
    Think, we were once the third wealthiest nation on the planet, and a creditor one at that!
    I would have thought, the fact that I do not like or approve of, either the current carbon tax or the mining tax, or the additional complexity they enshrine, ought to identify me as anything but socialist, but rather, simply an intelligent pragmatist, not held captive, or bound in a idea and or thought restricting, mental straight jacket, by either side of politics?
    I previously thought you were a fair-minded, economically astute and intelligent man, Graham, rather than just another, evidence denying Ideologue!
    Without bias, Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 6, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

  4. Ummmm Alan, the bulk of what you have posted, and it is very bulky, has nothing whatsoever to do with my post. I’m not talking about power generation, I’m talking about predictions of the weather.

    I’m not interested in arguing with you about the ownership structure of power generation at the moment.

    Comment by Graham — March 6, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

  5. Okay, the test of true intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the one time, and give equal weight to both!
    If we accept that climate change is real, then we are faced with just two choices:
    A, that it is the product of natural variation:
    B, that human activity has caused at least some of it:
    Neither theory is actually proven!
    However, I believe, that the available evidence, such as it is, indicates at least some human caused change?
    This is good, given we can mitigate against most of it!
    And if we are smart, create a lot of new wealth in so doing; and indeed, by being first to embrace smart alternatives, that simply don’t cruel the economy, corner some major markets!
    What’s new wealth got to do with climate change?
    Well, in order to ring in the proposed changes, or decarb the economy, we will need to create a drone free, very robust and well performing economy, fairly bristling with wealth creating opportunities, for genuine, home grown entrepreneurs and cooperative enterprise.
    This best of all economies, will not include any energy, capital or essential service, in its available private business opportunities, otherwise, the sky is the limit!
    It will include overdue tax reform, massive simplification and mandated harmonisation.
    It will have no room for unproductive parasitical business models, or profit taking middle men, carbon or water broking barons etc., who add nothing but their profit demands, and oxygen to the business and economy harming, price/wage spiral!
    It’s interesting that the only free market/capitalist business model, that basically survived the Great Depression largely intact, was the cooperative model. [And, we could be facing another Great Depression!?]
    Indeed, the cooperative business model has a history of far fewer bankruptcies, than the corporate model.
    Both models include income earning share holders, the first being, that they also become the bulk of the workforce; and in so doing, create a very low cost, ultra competitive products, and incomparable job security.
    And indeed, create a veritable plethora of opportunities to more than compete, with so called emerging economies! [China is currently experiencing an annual 20% wages inflation!]
    Moreover, the cooperative model has no history I can find, of growing too big to fail?
    Climate change and the economy are inexplicably interwoven, Graham.
    Given we are virtually powerless to actually mitigate against any facet of human created climate change, without a very robust and well performing economy!
    That’s why I spend so much time in my posts, which are also read by other readers, on belabouring the benefits of, what I believe, is best practise economic model, from a business person’s prospective?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 7, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  6. Actually I think the test of true intelligence is understanding when what you are saying is relevant to the point under discussion and not. While what you are saying may be true on its own terms, it has nothing to say about my blog post.

    My post addresses the question of whether it is right or wrong to make comments on global warming based on weather that is not representative of the global situation in a particular year.

    I made no comment about alternative forms of energy, the job impact of “green” jobs, or any of the other things you are canvassing.

    My bottom line is that Flannery is a goose who ought to receive no attention at all. At this point in time I’m not interested in arguing about your issues.

    Comment by Graham — March 7, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  7. Apologies Graham, if I seem to have gotten personal?
    Typically, like many of the permanently disabled, when almost everything that gave one one’s self esteem or sense of self worth is gone, and all that’s left is your integrity, integrity becomes incredibly important!
    Therefore, inherently unjustified or totally unfair challenges to that very integrity, become increasingly infuriating, as a purely natural automatic reaction!
    And to reiterate, sincere apologies, for seeming to have gotten unpleasantly personal!?
    However, I wasn’t making excuses, Graham, just laying out what I believe, is a cogent case for climate change, and what we might actually do about it.
    I didn’t expect to be dismissed or labelled an errant green as your first or only reaction?
    But then, I might have deserved it?
    Yes Flannery is goose, but then so are most so-called “greens”.
    Trees store carbon whether vertical or horizontal; and young trees absorb much more than old ones.
    And given sea grass produces three times the oxygen of trees, sea grass ought to be much more important to the “greens” than a few old trees!
    The only way we can protect sea grass and all that rely on it, from increasing out-flowing alluvium, is with myriad northern dams!
    And the “greens” are ideologically opposed to dams! [Maybe there are no marine greens out there, just Eco fascists?]
    Yes sure, some reafforestation will help, but the real and most immediate cure, is erosion preventing dams!
    Isolating a particular year, or one man’s mistakes, in terms of climate change, doesn’t seem a very intelligent way to actually understand climate change; or indeed, what we should be doing about it?
    And yes, the goose may well have got some of his numbers wrong, with relation to a particular year?
    That doesn’t automatically destroy his other claims or theories!
    Even if climate change is just a product of natural variation, we will still need to act and soon, and with even more urgent alacrity, if our species is to survive.
    I’m not here to canvass any particular solution or political brand or stance, just to add my better ideas to what I see as a critical debate.
    Some of the remedies canvassed, include solar deflecting aerosols, that can be placed in the upper atmosphere by high flying freight planes.
    Our ability to adapt, might see us survive, even a so called mass extinction event.
    However, none of those adaptations/solutions are likely to fit the “greens” agenda or please the goose.
    That said, Flannery, who is very knowledgeable on the palaeoecological record, shouldn’t be arbitrarily dismissed, because he got a few facts wrong, outside of his particular discipline?
    I mean, he took a boat ride down the entire length of the Murray, at the height of the worst drought in living memory.
    And intent as he was to link the drought with climate change, identified the fact, that only very hardy algae, were flourishing. His only observation with regard to carbon absorbing algae?
    It made me think, that’s what we should be growing there.
    We import around 80% of our current oil needs, I’m told!
    And it strikes me, we could save the Murray, but particularly, all who rely on it, by using the billions that remain in the save the Murray fund, to kick start an alternative algae based oil industry, right there.
    I mean, algae only require 2-3% of the water of traditional agriculture. And yes, once again, I’m off topic, but only if you want to be pedantic?
    Flannery, seems to be an ardent opponent of carbon free nuclear power.
    Yet claims it is the carbon we are currently producing and exporting to the world, that is the problem!
    But then what would you expect of an errant irrational green advocate?
    And please don’t lump me in that camp.
    Mine if there is any, is the rationalist camp?
    Sincere apologies, if I’ve been out of order, or too verbose, or have too many issues?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 8, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  8. I’m puzzled Alan. Which of my comments does this refer to: “I didn’t expect to be dismissed or labelled an errant green as your first or only reaction?”

    Comment by Graham — March 9, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  9. It seems, I may have misread you, or read too much into your “green” jobs comment or, my issues?
    Am I forgiven?

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 11, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  10. What a lot of words. My only question is: what kind of evidence would you accept that climate change is happening?

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