tip off

Enough faffing about, the climate isn’t getting any cooler

Nicholas Aberle writes: The way in which climate change is communicated has been a constant theme in the public debate about pricing carbon emissions, but this distracts from the two key topics: the urgency of our situation, and the importance of leadership in taking comprehensive action now.

The science is clear. The next 5-10 years have been identified as a critical period for action and, without significant reductions in global emissions in the very near future, we will be facing a world that it is (on average) four degrees warmer. Droughts, heatwaves, bushfires and floods will become much worse, and our ability to live well in such a world is highly uncertain. Ideally, this would not be the case, but it seems that everyone who studies this material says it is.

That we still see such outrage at something like a carbon price suggests we, as Australians, are nowhere near making the necessary changes commensurate with our per capita contribution (not to mention our imported emissions), especially within the timeframes required by the science. We have the great fortune of living in a stable democracy blessed with both strong institutions and plentiful natural wealth. The nature of a two-party democracy, however, is that if one side proposes unpopular (though valuable) measures, it is there for their opponents to take a more populist and easy route. Overwhelming public support for real action on climate change would largely remove the political slanging match from centre stage, and the bipartisan focus could shift to genuine efforts to address emission levels.

How does one gain public support for such measures, so that those who introduce them are not deposed at the next electoral opportunity? The difficulty of this is demonstrated by polls from the ANU and the CSIRO showing that public opinion on climate change is essentially going backwards.

Public debate is governed, according to cognitive scientist George Lakoff, not by the evidence but rather by how both politicians and the media present the issues, which is understandable but clearly sometimes unfortunate. Further, psychological studies suggest that no amount of evidence will change the minds of many people. Experiments reported by Feinberg & Willer in the journal Psychological Science in February support the view that “fear won’t do it”, and the authors observe a correlation between climate change denialism and the strength of one’s adherence to the “just world theory”. This refers to a belief that the world is just, orderly and stable, and anything that threatens this view (eg. climate change) is instinctively rejected in a form of emotional self-preservation, albeit at the cost of intellectual and moral integrity.

In an essay in which he draws disturbing parallels between climate denialism and both the rejection of Einstein’s theory of relativity in Weimar Germany and the ignoring of Churchill’s warnings about Hitler in the lead up to World War Two, Clive Hamilton discusses how those who reject climate change tend to be those whose cultural identity is most threatened by it. And if this weren’t enough, a major thesis of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s best-seller The Black Swan is that, for the most part, humans simply cannot conceive of the risk of catastrophic events.

Based on their studies, Feinberg & Willer conclude that less dire messaging could be more effective in helping people accept climate change, but can “less dire messaging” really achieve the urgency of action that is required? And if it can’t, what are we left with? Julia Gillard has spoken of the need for “a deep and lasting consensus” across the country. Given the apparent downward trend of community support, and psychological research suggesting we will never achieve it, we cannot afford to wait for this consensus.

The alternative path is brave leadership, with associated courage from an opposition party not to play political games with our future. In a film called Climate Refugees, which we screened at the 2010 Environmental Film Festival Melbourne, Lester Brown, author of “Plan B”, tells a story about US President Roosevelt one month after Pearl Harbour. After announcing that 45,000 tanks, 60,000 planes and 20,000 artillery guns would be needed for the war effort, Roosevelt called the captains of the car industry (who represented a large portion of the US industrial capacity at the time) to discuss how this would be achieved. The manufacturers said it would be difficult to achieve those numbers while still making their 2 or so million cars a year. Roosevelt explained: “You don’t understand. We’re going to ban the sale of private automobiles in the United States.” And so he did, and the arms goals were achieved. Speculate as you wish about the course of history had Roosevelt taken the path of least immediate resistance. While this demonstrates the power of leadership, one wonders what kind of media campaign would be brought out today by those industrialists, and how a political opponent would respond.

In the panel discussion that followed the film, it was said that the war-like mentality serves only to create an “Us-versus-Them” situation, but I submit now that what we need is not war-like in the sense of confrontation or opposition, but rather war-like in the sense of unity in a time of crisis and rallying together around a common problem.

What we urgently need is leaders who make tough choices and people who support those decisions, not because they like it but because it is in their best long-term interests. A price on carbon emissions is a critical starting point for action on climate change, but it does not end there. For example, we have the capacity now to radically change our energy sources for the better (consider the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan from the Melbourne Energy Institute), but what are we doing with it? What if every car manufacturing plant was asked to spend a year making wind turbines instead, and every television manufacturer to make photo-voltaics?

While I suspect not intended to be read specifically in this context, Waleed Aly’s dedication of his book People Like Us to his two children beautifully sums up what we face: “May your world fulfil its potential, not complete its trajectory”. In the conclusion to his Requiem for a Species, Clive Hamilton observes that “clinging to hopefulness becomes a means of forestalling the truth”, and that we will need to embrace a new vision of how we conceive of ourselves in a changed climate. The reality is that we no longer have a choice about whether our lives are transformed or not. We do, however, have a choice of futures, but only if our leaders have the courage to lead us there, and only if people have the courage to follow.

Nicholas Aberle is the Director of the Environmental Film Festival Melbourne.


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  • 1
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Mind-numbingly patronising. Politically self-defeating. A classic of its kind.

    What’s happened to the critical faculties of the Left?

    There’s a weird disconnect- as climate millenarianism sinks under the weight of its own contradictions (policy, not science), this messianic Hyper Bole (as Gillard pronounces it) is treated as Holy Writ. There’s an air of desperation and (shades of Savonarola Hamilton) latent Fascism:

    “Given the apparent (sic) downward trend of community support, and psychological research suggesting we will never achieve it, we cannot afford to wait for this consensus.”

    Whaddya gunna do Nick? State of Emergency? Draconian this and that? Can’t you see that shambolic “climate” policies almost cost the ALP government? And the “carbon tax” is political hemlock?

    Instead of analysing the policy morass, recalcitrant technological reality or the tangle of sociological forces, we’re fed pop psychologism. Translating this verbiage, the refusal of the masses to comply with instructions for their own survival is down to (a) gutless politicians (b) rancid media and (c) dogwhistled nonsense about the natural Toryism of the electorate (belief that “the world is just, orderly and stable”).

    Nikki Film plays nice though- he doesn’t rant about the “selfishness” or “greed’ of materialistic slobdom which blocks “reform” by stuffing the ballot box.

    But it’s the same vulgar message- decorously put.

    When a discourse has degenerated to this extent, real politics has been abandoned. It’s crash or crash through. Gillard has made the next election a referendum on a “carbon tax”. Political suicide. An unpopular Rightwing social throwback will win- no matter how magical the carbon tax pudding is made. Indeed, as each day brings new Govt. contortions as it tries to repackage the “tax”, credibility evaporates. Abbott just has to keep his clothes on and his foot out of his gob (a big ask, you might well say).

    NikFilm’s detachment from reality is best expressed by his policy of choice:

    “What if every car manufacturing plant was asked to spend a year making wind turbines instead, and every television manufacturer to make photo-voltaics?”

    Why not conscript every film festival director to work in these factories too? This is war, Nick!

    Wind turbines will never be made in Australia. Neither will PV. For the same reason manufacturing died years ago in Australia: China, India…

    And what would a brazillion turbines or PV panels achieve? $1 billion has been handed over in middle-class welfare for domestic solar already, which produces 0.1% of total power. Gillard is now dumping the massively-subsidised schemes. We’re all paying right now for those solar panels…As for wind, it’s a very expensive farce. Why do you think Germany and UK have retreated to nuclear? Wind can’t light a single bulb 24/7. Recalcitrant technology. Renewables have been neglected for decades. Scandalous- but where were you, Nick?

    The “carbon tax” will have no effect on global climate whatever. We all know that. Hence the vague moralism (“do our bit”) and fear-mongering (“we’ll be left behind”- left behind what? the sofa?). We all know the ‘carbon tax” is open-ended. It will go up. $25 a tonne will have little economic effect, but jack it up and the poor will suffer. Low postcode Greens are unmoved by this. Their callousness (the Greens are my party) is another guarantee of political death.

    High time you stopped faffing about, Nicholas.

  • 2
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Frank. Let’s be just that. Buried in your erudite prose I see the very same knee jerk reaction behind the public/media/politicians’ failure to engage the conversation on this point (which, by the way, I think you missed) that is required.

    There is a difference between considering and reflecting on some of the limitations of the democratic system, particularly when it comes to highly complex and heated topics such as climate change, and advocating fascism. These limitations are becoming more apparent in Australia, the UK and (most spectacularly) in the US, when one can lift one’s head from down in the trenches for long enough to take stock. It is a sensitive topic, but one that must be addressed if we are to navigate our way through some of the more dire policy and social problems that face our society today. Unless people can openly talk about such sensitive topics, without inciting immediate and unreflective cries of ‘fascism’, we may as well just give up now and admit that solving these problems is beyond us. Which, may you forgive me, is one possible interpretation of your response. But that would signify a very low opinion of the human race, and I wouldn’t want to accuse you of being patronising.

    And on behalf of the world-renowned psychologists who produced the studies upon which this article is based, I take offence at your accusations of “pop psychologism”. If understanding the drivers of human behaviour and world view is not the true realm of psychology, I am not sure what is.

  • 3
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    OK then Frank, having given the article both barrels, how would you reduce CO2 production by 30% or so?

    Because the time for faffing about is over. And with that thought in mind, no denial nonsense please. No one gives that the time of day anymore, because we all know the work of tobacco-style lobbyists when we see it. And let’s be realistic about what is possible, so no nuclear power (because the public won’t buy it, and with some reason) and no sequestration (because it doesn’t work today, and there’s no foreseeable date when it will).

    Let’s hear your plan.

  • 4
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Glenturner1, don’t hold your breath for a coherent answer from Frank. Frank’s speciality is criticising everyone for their contribution, he is not interested in sticking his head on the chopping block by providing his own solutions.

  • 5
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink


    Well gollygee Hiram, aah’m all a-flutter…after two years here hammering the techno-political argument (and being abused daily by the crikey knitting circle from under their burqas), someone asks “WTF would you do then?”

    Desperation. They’ve crashed the car into a tree so they’ve turned to the backseat driver for advice.

    It’s probably politically too late, and I’ve said it all before but…

    Firstly, you mention nuclear and CCS. True, the public here won’t wear nuclear- the brief climate-cult fuelled nuclear renaissance is over. Fukushimaed. And sequestration looks like a dud. But they’re both irrelevant anyway because of the time demand put on CO2 reduction by climate hysterics.

    Second, what’s the Fillum Festival Director insisting on? 5-10 years. His black jeans must be way too tight. World emissions are soaring and the momentum will last at least a couple of decades before there’s the slightest possibility of a drop. Unless that point is grasped there’s no point in discussion- the Left will get a deserved thrashing at the polls. (The big loser will be the real environment-it’s happening now- cattle in the alpine national park, huge areas of pointless “controlled burning” of the deep bush).

    So there are two options: either you believe the hysterics or you allow that Armageddon is not imminent. The game is already over if the Savonarolas are right. So just get pissed, have more royal weddings at Fuckingham Palace and enjoy being Lords of the Flies.

    We all know what will actually happen: the PeeBees of this world will just have to accept that observational science will take decades to confirm/disconfirm AGQ. Endless computer models prove nothing. You all seem to miss the key point: that the vast range of scenarios (from buggerall to Prof. Kevin Anderson’s “95% of us dead in 39 years”) vitiates political action. The latest counter-theory is the ozone hole- AGW models fit all too well- “it has caused a great deal of the climate change” says L. Polvani of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Third, don’t imagine that public caution/scepticism is due to rat-faced capitalists. Of course BHP and all the unsavoury extractives will plot and threaten to keep the status quo. You’ve made it so much easier for them. But they kept fairly quiet until recently, when they could see the tide turning. ALP incompetence has much to answer for (eg introducing a mining supertax just before a risky election- if they’d slammed it on in Year 1 of Rudd, it would have shut the rats up, but now they smell blood).

    You wanna cut emissions by 30% in a hurry? Even knowing that Australia produces only 1.4% of global emissions? Knowing full well that climate will be unaffected and that no other country would give a toss? ( Minister for Anxiety Combet has already given up on Durban in Dec 2011). But OK, how would it be done? Close all coal-fired plants and switch to gas. You know it makes cents. Plenty cheap gas here. And there’s more that could be done…agriculture is ignored. Paddock-thrashers reign supreme out here. Driving across the Western District in the last few days the air has been unbreathable- not DSE pyromaniacs this time, but “farmers” burning stubble. Thousands of fires. That’s not Hyper Bole. All the windows are shut here right now. What’s going up? CO2 and a lot else. And they’re still destroying trees. Sure, the carbon cycle limits effectiveness longterm, but there are many gains possible.

    We’ve planted thousands of trees and minimised stocking rates. The result is much higher productivity. And lotsa soil carbon.

    Why are we producing aluminium at Geelong? An ageing plant (1960s) fuelled by a huge hole in National Heritage heathland at Anglesea. Yup, there’s a coal mine and power plant there. Just had the contract extended for another 50 years. By the ALP. Then climate millenarianism led to a direct attack on the groundwater of the northern Otways (the drier end). Massive extraction for Geelong. Totally superfluous. Too late now. Just like the insane, fossil-fuel guzzling desal plant…$20 billion or so wasted there. If Clown Flannery had his way, Brisbane would have had one too.

    You wonder why the public are sceptical?

  • 6
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Fergie: people will vote for sacrifice when they see the need. Just like in war. Bad wars like Vietnam and Iraq result in division back home- ending in a mess. Right now we have a climate mess.

    Dr F. Festival says “we cannot afford to wait for this consensus”.

    OK Fergie, you tell me what this means if not latent fascism. Don’t forget Savonarola Hamilton either- he rants about the “suspension of democracy” or words to that effect…

  • 7
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    What a beautifully ironic headline.

    The climate has been getting ccoler for a decade now.

    Just look at the dataset used by the IPCC. It shows no warming for over 13 years.

    The IPCC models projected 0.2C warming per decade, which is well outside the uncertainty levels.

    “The science is clear. The next 5-10 years have been identified as a critical period for action.”

    Correct. If this lack of warming continues for the next few years, it shall completely destroy the remains of any AGW myths.

  • 8
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    That’s funny Tones9 because you’ve previously (and wrongly) stated that ten years is enough to infer a statistically significant trend. Going by your own theory, warming!

    Keep shifting those goalposts.

  • 9
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Shorter Frank Campbell: Let’s faff about. Look, industry or politics haven’t done anything, so there. What’s the point. Let’s plant tress for something I don’t think is happening anyway. It’s too uncertain to do anything. Flannery. The public. Blah blah blah.

    We all know what will actually happen: the PeeBees of this world will just have to accept that observational science will take decades to confirm/disconfirm AGQ.

    It’s been confirmed. Waiting decades will be too late, and if we do we’ll still be hearing the exact same arguments – “it’s cooling”/”it’s not us”/’it’s the sun”, including all the same arguments you gave above. I take it from your scatter-gun, all-in arguments you see the writing on the wall and don’t like it.

    The future is a carbon tax and ETS. It’s unavoidable. Abbott will fall and the men behind him want action.

    So there are two options: either you believe the hysterics or you allow that Armageddon is not imminent.


  • 10
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    don’t over-egg the cake. The last decade has not seen “cooling”. It’s a plateau. 1975-2000: warming. Both are absurdly short periods for any definitive statements. No one has a clue if the temp will now rise, fall or stay the same. My favourite theory is 2 decades of cooling followed by a resumption of warming.

    It’s a Melbourne Cup field. Gorgeous women parading their hyoptheses…

    And the jockeys are are mostly sedentary propagandists: there’s the professional victim, Bolt, aboard the promiscuous mare Tabloid; The serial predictor of short-term events (always wrong), the schmoozer Flannery, riding Apocalypse, who secretly bets the field; the anguished armageddonist Glikson- his horse has , ummm, Bolted, dragging him by the foot; The staring-eyed Karoly, who thrashed his horse Fawlty to death before the start, but won’t dismount; Combet, the Minister for Hunter Valley Coal (and former coal engineer)riding Anxiety; Gillard squats on top of the sway-backed Fat Chance, which missed both the start and the finish; Rundle, who was arrested following an incident in the stables with his Shetland “Swedish Delight”; Anna Rose on Carbon Yeti- Anna missed the race because of an airline mixup in Casablanca; Tony Abbott, thrown off the course for public nudity, replaced on Say Anything by J. Hockey, who broke the scales and was replaced by Amanda Vanstone.
    First Emergency is P. Wong, on Evasion, and finally K.Rudd on Its Good to Be With You (scratched pending steward’s inquiry). Paul Howes was on Something, but entered the Stawell Gift in error. He won by 100,000 members.

  • 11
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Rich Uncle Predicts:

    “It’s been confirmed. Waiting decades will be too late…

    The future is a carbon tax and ETS. It’s unavoidable. Abbott will fall and the men behind him want action.”

    Gotcha. You’ve done a Flannery. Lostradamus.

  • 12
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    That’s right Rich.
    The BoM says “about ten years are required for an underlying trend to emerge from the “noise”.

    I’m not sure why you posted a link to a 9 year trend from GISS.
    You really should learn some statistics basics before attempting to create your own graphs.

    As for GISS since 2001, the trend is 0.05C/decade. The uncertainty intervals are also outside the IPCC projections.

  • 13
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Runcle: I just lerv the bit about “the men behind him want action”…

  • 14
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Frank, the IPCC cherry picked 1975-2000 to falsely demonstrate accelerated global warming (by using decadal trends).
    That is despite identical rates of warming from 1860-1880 and 1910-1940.

    The BoM considers 10 years sufficient to make a statement regarding the existence of global warming.

    The Met scientists claim zero trends for 15 years would falsify climate predictions.

    Take your pick.

  • 15
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Malcolm Turnbull is waiting Frank. To think that he has any other agenda than to become prime minister is delusional. Your other option is Joe Hockey, who also wants action. Take your pick. Abbott recognises the public wants action, which is why he offers his pissweak and ineffective “direct-action” plan.

    My favourite theory is 2 decades of cooling followed by a resumption of warming.

    Great. Considering last year was the equal hottest on record, and the last decade the hottest, the cooling is due to begin when exactly?

    The BoM considers 10 years sufficient to make a statement regarding the existence of global warming.

    Tones9, you know that’s a lie. The BOM as an organisation issued no such statement. You also know your previous argument was they say ten years is enough to be called statistical significant, so your shifting facts have been noted.

    But why don’t you two continuing fighting amongst yourselves. Sort out what the official denier line is and get back to me. Be sure to include “Flannery”, “climate-gate” and “UN” in the response. Extra points for “scam”.

    (Finally, Frank, better tone down the alarmism. You sound like a crazy person.)

  • 16
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    tonesnine: Decadal trends yes. Jesus- that’s all anyone’s got! Not much more than weather. Hence the shambles. Decent temp records are very recent. Barely a century in Australia. Not too shit-hot in Somalia either…Not to mention the paucity of sites and lack of scientific controls on them (even today- poor siting, urbanisation etc).

    Proxies are shaky at best too.

    So we’ve got 40 or so years of satellite data overlaid on this mish-mash.

    But never mind. Let’s take it at face value. Post-1800 cooling/warming periods existed. It’s plausible that we’ve had modest global warming on average over the last 150 years. The leap of faith occurs in the final warming period. It isn’t a huge anomaly- yet. Regardless of the cause. So the jury stays out. But 2000-2010 isn’t “cooling”.

  • 17
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been outed. The Crikey Burqas now know what I look like. I’ve been accused of being short (today), bald, fat, demented, deluded and stupid…the entire range of sophisticated insults known to the crikey tossariat…

    but The Age got it right, the swine…today’s front page, in huge print…

    “a photogenic commoner with glossy dark locks, dimples and a high-voltage smile, caught stepping into his Falcon stationwagon outside Mr. Bolt’s private residence”

  • 18
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s plausible that we’ve had modest global warming on average over the last 150 years.

    It is also plausible the sky is blue.

  • 19
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Frank I agree with your analysis.
    But it’s so much fun to use the alarmists datasets, alarmists projections, alarmist time periods, alarmist statements and alarmist logic to demonstrate how wrong the alarmists are.

    Rich your lies continue.
    I have always maintained the BoM argument that 10 years is statistically sufficient to determine global warming.

    When the BoM’s head of the National Climate Centre David Jones publishes a paper which makes that statement, it’s as good as an official position statement. I don’t recall the BoM distancing themselves from it.

    Funny how you don’t like alarmist’s statements when they don’t suit?

    Like environmentalist James Lovelock: “The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet.”

  • 20
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Rich Uncle Burqa:

    So many Liberal Men Wanting Action! Jeez, Rich, it’s like a rightwing gay nightclub in there…

    “’twas a dark and horny night…”

    As I said often on Crikey from Dec 2 2009, the Libs had to get rid of Little Napoleon because he was leading them into Rudd’s corral. They’d have been a dependency of the ALP, held by their short and curly climate credentials….bound to the very raft of idiotic “climate” policies recently junked by Gillard. Reduced to carping about details.

    What can Turnbull offer? He’s signed up reluctantly to Abbott’s ragbag of “climate” policies…Abbott is sinking Gillard even though people rightly regard him with suspicion as a naked jesuit…if Abbott can (a) remember to wear underpants and (b) control the feral Right, he leaves Turnbull with nowhere to go. All this in the context of abysmal “climate” policy failure by the ALP and a spooked electorate which is every day less enamoured of the climate cult.

    what’s your scenario?

  • 21
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    “Like environmentalist James Lovelock: “The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet.””

    And now there’s that damned Ozone Hole! Came up on the outside from nowhere to beat the great Carbine, sorry Carbon by a nose…

  • 22
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    “When the BoM’s head of the National Climate Centre David Jones publishes a paper which makes that statement, it’s as good as an official position statement.”

    he either said it or he didn’t. Which is it? Quote please.

    Jones is a notorious militant millenarian. ( His fellow welshman David Evans is the opposite.)

  • 23
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    “Because of the year-to-year variations in globally-averaged annual mean temperatures, about ten years are required for an underlying trend to emerge from the “noise” of those year-to year fluctuations.”

  • 24
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    tones9 #23

    That’s a statement that if true can be proven. For a given effect size and given quantitiy of variability that is. I tell you what I’ll cut you some slack – rather than a deductive proof of p values for correlations, you can just provide me with an inductive proof.

    So go on, do it. Your failure to do so will be a clear indication that your opinions are still total worthless bullshit.

  • 25
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    tear yourselves away from the Royal genetic infusion for a minute..:

    “Funny how you don’t like alarmist’s statements when they don’t suit”

    There are many such examples: you’ll never read anything on Crikey about Prof. Kevin Anderson. He’s no fringe troll- Director of the Tyndall Climate Centre, created by the Climategate clique.

    No discussion of George Monbiot’s conversion to nuclear- it came in a flash: Fukushima.

    No discussion of the Fairfax revelation of Flannery’s promise to spruik Panasonic on the ABC and everywhere else in his role as Chief Climate Clown. No mention either of Flannery’s failed predictions of Australian armageddon (“ghost cities”, adelaide etc running out of water by 2009…)

    No discussion of Danish/British/Spanish/German emissions increasing after splurging on wind turbines.
    No mention of the reversion to nuclear this year by UK and Germany…

    No discussion of the crypto-fascist implications of sermons from the likes of Savonarola Hamilton…

    No questioning of my party whatsoever: the Greens. In fact the MSM never do- they slag off the greens, but there’s no forensic analysis of their “climate” policies (eg Brown’s demand for a moratorium on wind turbines in tasmania because they kill eagles, but promoting them in eagle habitats on the mainland)

    As I’ve said before on Crikey, none of you have a clue what real criticism is. Loyalty to your (whatever) faction cripples you. You’re trapped in your tribe. Constant bum-sniffing to check if the other dog belongs to the pack. GreenLeft Crikey is not “feisty” or “independent”- it has stricter ideological control than rancid Murdoch- it’s so much easier to use the whip with a tiny staff and a mini-mogul who’s only a coffee-cup away…

    Being attacked by the Right on “climate” (and it is only the Right who do this here-still) merely confirms the immutable correctness of the Official Line.

    It’s one thing to let loose the usual Millenarian mouths like Hamilton, Rose, Keane et al…but Crikey drags in “Film Festival Directors”, media commentators like Margaret Simons (who wouldn’t know a dendrochronologist from an orthodontist), Hunter S Thompson impersonators like Rundle (whose environmental credentials are two dead potplants), anti-smoking propagandist Simon Chapman (one live cannabis), and many others distinguished by their pig-ignorance of the subject.

    How did the Left end up in this mess?

  • 26
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Bravo Frank.

    Cue kd to illustrate the pig-ignorance.

    The statement is not mine.
    It’s from the head of the BoMs National Climate Centre.

    Keep the bullshit coming.

  • 27
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    ““Because of the year-to-year variations in globally-averaged annual mean temperatures, about ten years are required for an underlying trend to emerge from the “noise” of those year-to year fluctuations.” (David Jones)

    Bugger me. He did say it. And it is pure statistical crap. Translation: a trend is what I say it is.

    Anyone care to defend Jones the Statistician?

  • 28
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    No one has a clue if the temp will now rise, fall or stay the same. Yes they do! CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. More CO2 means more greenhouse effect, Temperature goes up. Simple. CO2 has been going up for the last 150 years and the temperature has been rising over that time. Same thing will happen going forward.

    Cue kd to illustrate the pig-ignorance. Please explain? Just add your explanation to the bottom of your deductive proof of p values for correlations or your inductive proof. That should show who is pig-ignorant.

  • 29
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    PB: CO2. “Simple”

    OMG. Pure faith. Admirable in its way, but…

    More importantly, please don’t say “going forward”. Let’s kill corpobabble…no more “put in place”, “in the (whatever) space”, “working through” , “working around” and all the other linguistic sludge we get every day…

    “at the enna thaddai we’ll work around the issues in the working famly spice…”

  • 30
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Frank – keep protecting the grim reapers, that’s the style. After all, why should you worry about Australia’s 2009 emissions being 103 percent above the 1990 levels? And Australia emits a ‘mere’ 1.5% of the world’s CO2 so you do the sums for us would you? 214 countries emitting the balance of 98.5% of the world’s CO2 = an average of how much per country? Right. Did you get it?

    Oh so you worry about the poor people do you Frank but I am poor and it costs me a grand a year to keep Fido but I still have some over for the odd bottle of grog. Mind you none of that canned crap for my Fido. Why would I support the heinous alumina industry that’s dirtying up the air we breathe, eh? Besides, Julia intends compensating we poor people Frank so stop scaring people with the duplicitous bullsh-t old chap.

    And a couple of the rogue industries you are protecting, that would be forced to pull their heads in with a carbon tax are the major emitters of mercury – the alumina (yet again) and metals ore industries. The UN Global Mercury Assessment panel estimated that atmospheric emissions of mercury from Australian stationary combustion sources were more than 90% of all the estimated emissions from stationary combustion for the whole of North America.

    Australia’s coal industry are the third/fourth highest emitter of CH4 out of all the coal producing nations too but why should that worry the culprits when they have the Frank Campbells sabotaging actions (warts and all) to lessen climate change impacts?

    “Latent fascists?” Yeah right Frank so what do you call Australia’s multi-national hit and run mining polluters on rampage? Did Joe Citizen give these ecocidal/genocidal bastards permission to desecrate our past, present and future, set to wipe us out completely with a mining industry running amok in the boom time? Fekking fascists!

  • 31
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Frank, too right I do have pure faith in the scientific process and what it is showing is that the increase in CO2 emmissions is increasing the greenhouse effect and warming the planet.

    I have no faith in ‘who said what when’ type arguments, that prove f#@k all. Stick to the science and peer reviewed published papers (in reputable journals).

    The challenge for the deniers is to come up with one published paper that disputes AGW. That is when I will start to listen to what they have to say.

  • 32
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink


    Your comments reflect the impossible position you’re in- not a wrong position, just impossible. Literally. Hence the rage, flailing about, hunt for heretics etc.

    Take your first point: Australian emissions are above the world average of the 214 countries. Therefore we should all ‘do our bit’. Fair’s fair.

    Trouble is (a) a handful of countries make up the bulk of emissions (b) certain countries (like Australia) supply the FF to those. That’s why Australia is the world’s most egregious “climate” hypocrite. We pump out climate moralism while exporting “pollution”.
    And the “big emitters” are doing buggerall (disregard the spin from China- a new FF power station every week or two).
    And we know Chindia etc will vastly increase emissions (and environmental destruction in other forms) for decades to come. So a 20% reduction here is meaningless. A 5% reduction here is even more meaningless.

    (b) Your “rogue industries” are the Extractives. By their very nature they have always been rogues. Rapacious. Brutal. Ruthless. I researched BHP years ago in Whyalla and got to understand the mentality. (BHP nonetheless is a model corporate citizen compared to Garnault’s Ok Tedi and Lihir Gold…)

    I’m not “protecting” them. You mention aluminium: read what I said- Alcoa should be shut immediately, for many reasons including coal mining at Anglesea.

    But overall it’s impossibility No. 2: the Australian state depends heavily on the extraction boom. Without that Oz would be in recession now. I’ve just read Robert Manne’s 2010 piece on climate Armageddon- he ends by deploring a big coal contract with China. Again, impotent rage. Likewise the idiotic contortions of Paul Howes: he demands “climate action” but subverts Gillard’s “carbon tax” in an instant (“not a single job to be lost”).

    So you are in good company.

    (c) “Compensation”- it’s “scaremongering” to say people will suffer etc. This impossibility is a cruel deception: handing the money to the losers (and/or the “emitters”) contradicts the purpose of the tax, which is to change behaviour. The tax is then either a political sham (to get relected) or a fraud (the tax will increase sharply later to have the desired effect on CO2).

    Note that the government only retreated (in stages) to “compensation” and exemption in the face of mounting criticism after announcing the tax. They’re trapped just like everyone else.

    As usual on Crikey, stating the obvious leads to castigation. The “Frank Campbells” are “duplicitous”, traitors, in league with corporate thugs etc etc. Actually the tribal division (left/right) means only the Right opposes the current ‘climate” policies. This confirms you, Crikey, the sententious Robert Manne et al in your beliefs. After all, this is what we expect from the Right. How many Green Leftists like me criticise ‘climate” policies? Hardly any- they’re either loyal, or cowed. We all know the ostracism, ridicule and discrimination which follows when someone breaks ranks. Scientists especially have to keep their mouths shut to protect their careers. Read Climategate.

    So we have the new corporatism, a form of institutionalised, Marcusian fascism- and crypto-fascism in progressive institutions, driven by the imminent collapse of “climate” policy which in turn is crumbling under the weight of technological and economic reality (NOT “the science”- that’s another story).

    The biggest Impossibility is technological: renewables R and D has been neglected for decades. We still don’t have a baseload renewable that is both proven and remotely economic. Please don’t bleat about a solar plant in Spain etc: the premature rush into wind, domestic solar etc has merely exacerbated the political mess and wasted scarce capital. A classic example of how climate millenarianism is its own worst enemy.

    That’s why the entire debate has to be recast. Start again. First principle: every policy must have multiple environmental benefits, not simply “carbon abatement”. The jury is still out on the AGW hypothesis. Second principle: expunge tribal loyalty from the debate. This would reduce latent fascism on the Left and weaken the influence of the hard Right which now controls the Opposition.

    The final political absurdity of Green/Left “climate” policy is what i’ve been warning about since Dec 2 2009: the apotheosis of the naked jesuit. How you all chortled when he knocked off Turnbull! Greens would sweep urban Liberal seats! The Libs would shatter! And how you rubbished me for denying this hubristic stupidity.

    You’re chastened now of course. But making the next election a referendum on the “carbon” tax shows nothing has been learned. Then what? A decade of Abbott?

    Just remember who put him there: you.

  • 33
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    A wonderful article thanks Nicholas. When I read the denialists’ comments in response, however, I am reminded of Paul Krugman’s comment in the New York Times that denialists be charged with treason. We’re not going to survive four degrees warming! Don’t you guys understand the concept of positive feedbacks? We have to act NOW to stabilise and reduce emissions! We do need to be on a war footing as Lester Brown described in the film.

  • 34
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    PB: all I can say is we must distinguish between science as a Weberian Ideal Type and the actual sociological and political production of science. Science gets there in the end, but it’s as nasty, confused and fractious as anything else…in the climate arena it’s far worse than usual: a small in-group of marginal (East Bumcrack) scientists depend on computer models of chaotic climate systems…this is taken up by numerous propagandists in recent years, creating a full-blown millenarian cult.

    A vast career structure has now developed around the science- there’s no conspiracy (except in the usual academic forms as revealed in Climategate) , just a common interest. The dominant paradigm has all the money and status. Opposition leads to exclusion and ridicule. Extremely nasty.

    No one knows if the AGW hypothesis will be confirmed, weakly, strongly or not at all. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The ozone hole explanation is just one of many competing theories…

  • 35
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink


    Jones is no statistician. What he’s telling you about with his magical 10 years only makes sense with a good amount of assumption based on context and prior observations. However the climate delusionals remove these important factors before making their commentaries.

    And Lovelock says nothing about the sign and magnitude of the effects that we don’t understand because of the limitations of our understanding of the science. Again here the sceptics insert the implication that this causes a negative negative sign with large effect size, despite the strong evidence that the IPCC’s projections tend towards conservative.

    I’d give the conspiracy theory/anti-science stuff a rest. It makes you look like one of the consipiracy theory astro-turf wingnut climate change delusionals.

  • 36
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Nicholas, in my view you have written a very good article.

    You say inter alia: ” Further, psychological studies suggest that no amount of evidence will change the minds of many people. Experiments… support the view that ‘fear won’t do it’, and the authors observe a correlation between climate change denialism and the strength of one’s adherence to the ‘just world theory’. This refers to a belief that the world is just, orderly and stable, and anything that threatens this view (eg. climate change) is instinctively rejected in a form of emotional self-preservation, albeit at the cost of intellectual and moral integrity.”

    That “intellectual and moral integrity” will of course not be as subjectively perceived. I doubt that many of the denialist shock-jocks and Murdochian columnists will be losing much sleep over it. Notions of justice are not absolute, and vary with and depend upon tribal and religious loyalty. Moreover, denialism itself is a religion; the possiblity that the AGW camp could possibly have even the remotest hope of a chance that it might perhaps be right is not allowable under any circumstances, and for fairly obvious reasons, given the stakes.

    But as for no amount of evidence changing some minds, you need look no further than the comment stream following your article.

  • 37
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    KD: “Jones is no statistician.”

    That’s a relief.

    “the IPCC’s projections tend towards conservative.”

    They do. So why is Tyndall head honcho Kevin Anderson not interrogated in the media?

    “I’d give the conspiracy theory/anti-science stuff a rest.”:
    it’s natural for the far Right (esp. in Gringoland) to vomit up aliens, have their vital essences stolen and to froth about World Govt run by Bob Brown clones…it’s a form of mental illness.( And that’s not Hyper Bole, is it Julia? )

    Living and working in America (i.e. not NY, DC etc, which are Unamerican and relatively normal) is a parallel universe…the depth and sincerity of the insane beliefs is stunning. To be lectured in a Texas council office ( by other building contractors waiting for planning bureaucrats) about (for eg) Clinton’s huge drug import business (747s full of cocaine landing in Little Rock), the murders Bill committed to cover up various crimes…you had to be careful, because denying this crap can lead to vicious abuse or worse. Then of course there’s Creationism, alien abduction and now the Birther fantasy about Obama…these are core beliefs for much of the population.

    My warnings about the sociology and economics of science are not “conspiracy theories”. Climategate is normal academic behaviour. They all do it. I’ll say it again: science always gets there in the end, but it’s a tortured, tortuous path. Climate is the worst example because it’s a nascent science dealing with poorly understood and chaotic systems, with very short observational datasets.

  • 38
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    @ Frank: “I researched BHP years ago in Whyalla and got to understand the mentality. (BHP nonetheless is a model corporate citizen compared to Garnault’s Ok Tedi and Lihir Gold…)”

    Not true Frank since Garnaut has resigned his position with Lihir Gold so he’s down a few hundred grand. BHP had already wiped out the Ok and Fly rivers by the 90s from dumping massive amounts of tailings into the watersheds. BHP was subsequently the subject of four legal actions over the Ok Tedi mine before divesting its major shareholding and doing a runner:



    Why don’t you attend BHP’s next AGM like a few of us do Frank? Take some stinky eggs with you. Come on – get out of that sagging armchair.

    “Climate is the worst example because it’s a nascent science dealing with poorly understood and chaotic systems, with very short observational datasets.”

    No Frank climate is not a “nascent” science. One Joseph Fourier in the 1820s, was on to something while studying gases in the atmosphere that might trap heat.

    In 1896 Arrhenius and Hogbom completed laborious numerical computations which suggested that cutting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by half could lower the temperature in Europe some 4-5°C.

    As another scientist would put it a decade later, we were “evaporating” our coal mines into the air. Callendar in the 1940s became aware that industrial emissions were already far greater than in Arrhenius’s day, an event which his predecessors had not anticipated.

    So let’s not bang on about climate uncertainties Frank. There are uncertainties in all disciplines. I mean there are uncertainties about tobacco and lung cancer since not all smokers develop the disease. However, the bulk of citizens in every enlightened nation on the planet have adopted the Precautionary Principle in the interest of self-preservation. Of course the ethics-free Liberal Party megalomaniacs salivate over the donations they receive from the tobacco industry, don’t they?

    And let’s refrain from the petty allegations about academic behaviour when the grim reapers have infiltrated all of Australia’s places of learning by dangling the resource carrot at the rock apes in parliament. Scientists in all disciplines have been reduced to accepting research grants from the biggest polluters on the planet. That also includes the heinous but influential Meat and Livestock Australia , the industry responsible for 70% of agriculture’s GHG emissions.

    Funny that Frank since our actively publishing climate scientists (and Garnaut) paint a very grim environmental picture of their corporate sponsors’ activities. What’s that nonsense you’re peddling about self-interested climate scientists on the take?

    The buzzards are circling. Screw the polluters. We are not a broken people like you FranK. And who are you to predict a carbon outcome? Nostradamus? If an established carbon price/tax fails the people, the people change government. It’s called a democracy which the pigswill polluters and rent boy Abbott have corrupted.

    “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  • 39
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    You’re quite right about BHP and the Fly R., Flower…corporate behaviour does depend on which jurisdiction they’re in.

    But Garnault presided over nasty pollution in PNG recently. And he intimidates anyone who tries to question him.

    You don’t seem to grasp either the corporatisation of the universities (and science) and their related politicisation. Meat and extractive interests are no different in that respect to other vested interests. The politicisation of the CSIRO is a case in point.

    And while there are always precursors, no amount of huffing and puffing can disgise the fact that climate science is still in nappies. The other babies in the creche are the plethora of renewable energy technologies.

  • 40
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant Frank.
    Perhaps you should consider submitting an article to Crikey. Intelligent Green writing would be rare but very welcome.

    Fortunately the power of a small group of people is diminishing by the day. And they have blown it for good. Never before has a campaign with virtually 100% support from every sector of society, failed so miserably.

    PeeBee also uses the commoner Hansen language “please explain?” and enjoys a similar intelect.
    In 6 separate posts it is made clear that it’s not my statement. Yet kd is incapable of this simple comprehension. Hence the pig-ignorance.
    Even after this being clearly explained, Peebee’s pea-brain still demands an explanation.

    It’s no wonder there are still a few individuals who still believe the AGW fairytale.

    When the idiot’s say IPCC projections tend towards conservative, they don’t realise the self-inflicted damage.

  • 41
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Tones: I used to write for Crikey…Black Saturday and all that. Now every comment I make is censored, except (mysteriously) on this blog. Perhaps it’s because they previously asked if I would run it. True! But I’ve attacked their editorial absolutism on climate so often – I think they pray now for a tractor accident….

  • 42
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    tones9 #38

    Sorry, the pig ignorance and stupidity is yours. That’s because you don’t understand that stripping a statement of its context reduces its validity to the point of meaninglessness. Particularly when properly contextualising the statement in question requires a decent grasp of statistical methods and the often counter-intuitive logical basis of applied statistics.

    frank #39

    So why is Tyndall head honcho Kevin Anderson not interrogated in the media?

    Sorry, you think the media are doing a decent job on climate change reporting? I think not.

  • 43
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes it is pointless in terms of enlightening anyone here, but it’s so much fun to watch ignorance and logic flaws.

    Your talent could be put to better use, so I hope you’re exploring other options.

  • 44
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    kd@24 “your opinion”
    Once again, it’s not my opinion.
    The statement, which was not mine, was in full and in full context.
    Anyone but a dumbass can understand that.

  • 45
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    tones: only left/greens can liberate left/greens from millenarianism. Attacks by the Right just confirm their belief.

    The only alternative is to wait for political reality to crash in, which it will probably do within a year or two anyway. A decade in the wilderness beckons.

    You wouldn’t know it from Crikey, but cracks in the facade of absolutism began immediately after Copenhagen. The respectable media gave zero space to criticism before that…then the Monckton circus came along, plus Plimer…at first they were simply pilloried and all climate criticism was equated to the Circus. That’s changed. Bits have been falling off the Great Climate Juggernaut: Bernard Keane for example is now scathing about renewables ineffeicacy and subsidies. Lomborg is given ample space. The shonky Dane had to embrace The True Religion first, but now destroys it from within the cathedral: he had the lead op-ed in The Age on 28th April, in which he stated the obvious (China is anything but Green)- but provided handy statistics…

    So what we’re seeing is a case-study in the decay of a paradigm.

    Politically, within the Left, the washup will be fascinating: the coming political collapse, the growth of doubt, heretics taking to the lifeboats, a handful of zealots threatening excommunication from the burning bridge…

    and what the fuck will Crikey do then? My guess is that Beecher is tired of it anyway by now and will sell…then, a bit like a new govt, there’ll be a serious ummm, repositioning.

    But don’t expect the slightest apology, reward, or acknowledgement of utter failure by Crikey or the Green Left generally. They’ll just try to pretend the fiasco never happened…that they always harboured doubts…that they ( privately) found the Flannerys and Hamiltons quite distasteful…

    But they’ll never forget who shafted them from the start. Traitors like Campbell…..but that’s just a measure of their mediocrity, which was never in doubt.

  • 46
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Frank, the reason there will be no apology is not because they will pretend it never happened, but because they will never admit they were wrong. They have their fascist leaders directing media on how to explain each political event as ideological confirmation.

    The carbon tax unpopularity just proves to them how selfish all us evil people really are.

    Likewise Abbot/Rudd/Gillard/Elections were never given honest analysis, and the left are dumbfounded about what’s going on?

    Remember when the coaltion’s dumping of ETS was viewed by virtually all commentators as the end of the party?

    I don’t share your optimism that left/greens can liberate them. Having come from there, I know the hostility towards any counter-movement is primal and nasty. It is not within their nature to become enlightened.

    However the rest of the population is hungry for reality, so no doubt many new media opportunities will present themselves. Or await to be created.

  • 47
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    tones9 #42

    So let me get this straight. A poorly handled response to a leading question, stripped of context and used in a situation of severe statistical illiteracy demonstrates your point nicely?

    I think it demonstrates something, but it’s more to do with your pointless argument.

    The carbon tax unpopularity just proves to them how selfish all us evil people really are.

    Wow, more idiocy. Why am I not surprised. Again it’s a matter of context. Selling necessary action now for something whose consequences won’t be fully realised for 90 odd years is a very hard sell in a democracy. Especially one that’s been subjugated to extraordinarily short term pressures (think 24 hour news cycle).

    Society’s dysfunctional understanding this topic as evidenced in the discourse of mainstream politics is merely reinforced by your delusional bleating.

    Frank’s rabid nagging about the “real environmental problems” and millenarianism is similarly unhelpful to the discourse, while using dashes of the climate delusional’s arguments to “prove his point” is similarly unhelpful.

  • 48
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    On cue kd proves the point.

    The problem is:
    People are too selfish to solve long term problems – except when everyone believed there was a problem to solve.
    It’s the media’s fault – even though they have totally controlled the media message for years.
    People are too stupid to understand complicated issues – except when they were smart enough to understand complicated issues.
    It’s the politician’s discourse – except when all the politician’s discourse was on our side.
    Real discourse is so ‘unhelpful’.

  • 49
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


    Well, there’s you’re problem, you think you’re having a “real discourse”. But what you’re in fact doing is having a discourse dictated by the astro-turf brigade – also known as the “Greenhouse Mafia” in australian political lobbying circles.

  • 50
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    No kd ‘real discourse’ from people like Frank is your problem.
    I’ve never had a problem with it, even though it rarely gets public.

    Your cries about a Greenhouse Mafia are delusional. Alarmists have always controlled the media discourse. And all of the political discourse is in unison over the need to reduce emissions.

    You can’t get it any easier than this, and you are still FAILING.

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