Andrew Bolt

Jan 19, 2011

Living in a linear world.

When I was given a pass mark for first year Physics, it was on the condition that I find a discipline that I was better suited for, and yet even I understand the concept of acceleration

When I was given a pass mark for first year Physics, it was on the condition that I find a discipline that I was better suited for, and yet even I understand the concept of acceleration. I wonder though, does Andrew Bolt understand acceleration? Are there any curved data sets in his world, or does everything progress in a neat, linear fashion?

I wonder this because Andrew Bolt has, once again, trotted out his 2007 conversation with the ABC’s Robyn Williams as some kind of evidence that climate change doesn’t exist.

“100 metres” Williams is already four metres down in four years
The red dot marks the date that Williams claimed the seas could rise 100 metres this century, or a metre a year on average, thanks to man-made warming

I feel stupider for even having to explain this, but here we go.

Setting aside the fact that it was Bolt who bought the 100 metre figure to the conversation, not Williams. And the fact that Williams didn’t actually predict that it was a likely outcome, only admitted that it was a possibility. And the fact that Williams tried pointing out differences between surges and average sea level rises, there’s still one very important problem with Andrew Bolt’s reasoning that needs addressing.

Even if you accept that sea level rises of 100 metres are possible in one hundred years, that does not mean that you think the sea will rise one metre a year, every year. Do we all understand this? Williams isn’t “four metres down in four years” because he never claimed that sea levels were likely to rise by a metre a year, except in Bolt’s retelling of the story.

Seeing as Andrew loves graphs, I’ve prepared some to exhibit different ways that sea levels could rise 100 metres in 100 years.

Picture 2.png

Well this doesn’t seem to be matching our observations.

Picture 3.png

Possibly…..

Picture 4.png

I seriously hope not.

Picture 5.png

Curvey is pervey.

So, even if you did take Andrew’s claim that Robyn Williams had predicted a 100 metre sea level rise seriously, that still doesn’t mean that sea levels should have been rising by a metre a year. I wonder why there’s this need to exaggerate, if the evidence is really so overwhelming?

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29 comments

29 thoughts on “Living in a linear world.

  1. Dave C

    only fairly simple systems (eg Newtonian physics) can predict in the sense of timing (eclipses etc.)

    I suppose that when I hear “predict”, in a scientific context, I don’t think of predicting the future so much as predicting future observations (particularly of a kind not attempted before the theory was proposed).

  2. rhwombat

    Dave. The strength of a theory can be tested by making a prediction (or rather by refuting the nul hypothesis according to Popper), but only fairly simple systems (eg Newtonian physics) can predict in the sense of timing (eclipses etc.). Climate (weather even) – not so much. And (speaking as one of BB’s old profession), biological and human systems not at all. I’m pretty sure that Mozzie doesn’t get any of this.

  3. Dave C

    Science explains, it does not predict.

    All good scientific theories are both explanatory and predictive.

    The trouble here (as far as I’m aware) is that there’s just too much chaos in the weather (as opposed to climate) to be able to predict individual natural disasters. Instead, climate models make aggregate predictions. For instance, the IPCC has indeed flagged “increases in the frequency and intensity” of “heavy precipitation events”.

    It’s very silly to stand on the sidelines, like Mozza, and mock climate models for their inability to predict specific weather events. It’s a bit like a high school drop-out laughing derisively at NASA for having failed to invent a hyperspace drive.

  4. rhwombat

    Mozzie. Science explains, it does not predict. For prediction one needs gullible twats (like you?) who do not understand the concept of probability. Keep buying those lottery tickets.

  5. Fran Barlow

    Rich Uncle Skeleton said:

    [I expect scientific evidence to be presented to me and not strawman statements like “there have always been floods”, “the climate has always changed”.]

    I hpe you get what you seek, but strictly speaking there have always been floods and climate has always changed are not strawman arguments. Land has been inundated and climate has changed during most of Earth’s geological history. It’s more the case that these claims, while true, are almost completely useless for understanding what is happening now, except as sources of contrast and distinction. The temporality of these changes, and their drivers were (mostly)* very different from what we are seeing now so these arguments are best described as exercises in misdirection.

    PS: It’s worth noting that all five extinction events in geological history and at least one that isn’t so regarded (the PETM) were associated with sharp rises in GHGs. That alone should give us pause.

  6. jules

    Mozza @ 17 Bob Brown did a medical degree. I know that you lot can’t actually tell scientific training from bog roll, but to be awarded a medical degree you have to do years of “scientific training” – understanding scientific method, putting it to use in labs etc etc.

    Everyone who does sr high school science (yr 11 and 12) with any competent teacher should have enough scientific training to understand anthropogenic global warming and its implications.

    However Einstein himself started producing papers on maths and physics before he had any “formal” scientific training. Science isn’t a priesthood, well it isn’t much of one. Anyone can join. Anyone can do it. Its not some arcane elite thing that exists for the rich and powerful and only suitably qualified and connected people get selected, unlike other priesthoods.

    There you go. Bob brown does have scientific training. Not that you need much to work out why the floods in brissie were most likely caused by climate change. But still he does have it.

  7. Phil M

    [email protected]

    “I,m not an anthropologist, an ABC science writer,a well paid UN economist or a state governor which means I am unqualified to make weather (sorry climate) predictions”.

    Do you believe Andrew Bolt is qualified then?

    “climate change can explain every natural phenomenom – it just can’t predict them!”

    Wow, you have read some astounding article that many of us have not that states this? I gather you have the url handy to back up your claim? I look forward to you providing it.

    I also look forward to you taking up Rich Uncle Skeletons offer @ 19.

  8. AR

    As to the rise in sea levels, the increae will not just be due to the melted ice sheets on land masses, such as Greenland & Antarctica, but the increase in volume of warmer water.

  9. PeeBee

    Mozza, if you are not all those things, what are you? I’d guess a denialist. Someone who does not believe in the holocaust, tobacco causes lung cancer and that AGW doesn’t exist. In fact you would be impervious to anything that requires/required science to explain it to you.

    Well next time you take some medicine, use your mobile phone, use a laser pointer, drive over a bridge, just remember, the science that gave you these things is the same as the science that is telling you the globe is warming because of what humans are doing.

  10. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    You know, with these worldwide floods we are seeing a new form of denial – precipitation denial.

    I dare any denialists lurking to debunk these facts:

    Fact 1: the planet is warming.
    Fact 2: the oceans are warming
    Fact 3: this has lead to more water vapour in the air (4% in fact)
    Fact 4: Along comes La Nina, which causes heavy rains in the Pacific area

    Therefore

    Fact 5: global warming has caused worse flooding than there would have otherwise been.

    Denialists, should you take me up on my challenge I expect scientific evidence to be presented to me and not strawman statements like “there have always been floods”, “the climate has always changed”.

  11. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Hi Mozza, do you believe weather is climate?

  12. mozza

    I,m not an anthropologist, an ABC science writer, a well paid UN economist or a state governor which means I am unqualified to make weather (sorry climate) predictions. I can make one prediction which has 100% certainty of being correct, unlike the warmists: sometime in the next twelve months Bob Brown will blame a climatic event on global warming (sorry climate change). Without any scientific training he has done what Einstein could never do. He has stumbled on the grand unified theory of everything: climate change can explain every natural phenomenom – it just can’t predict them!

  13. oldskool

    Fair enough Ravenred,-

    However, the market can solve it- IF consumers put a value on carbon dioxide output. Or more simply just environmental impact, and it does have an effect which we can see (consider green washing) though it is small at the moment. Will it ever be enough to change mainstream business models; probably not, but the mechanism is there.

    If only we could convince the rightwingnuts that the market could work- they might help…

  14. Peter T

    One of the joys of the internet is that you do not have to wonder about the various contributions of ice-melt and thermal expansion. One could just google and start, eg here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/11/sea-level-rise-the-new-york-times-got-the-story/

  15. Ravenred

    oldskool, referring directly to the quote quoted. Bolt’s neoliberal beliefs have been confronted with a problem that can’t be solved by the (unbound) market. Either the unbound market isn’t capable of solving every problem, or the problems that the market can’t solve don’t exist. Hard choice? Not for the Bolta.

  16. Dave C

    Bolt doesn’t make this point, but is there actually enough water on Earth to raise global sea levels by 100 metres?

    From Alley et al. (2005):

    The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, with the potential to raise sea level ~70 meters if completely melted, dominate uncertainties in projected sea-level change.

    This is not, of course, quite 100 metres. There’s also no basis (as far as I’m aware) for thinking that this will occur within the next 100 years.

    (Presumably the sea level could rise several metres more due to thermal expansion, but the temperature rise would have to be pretty monstrous.)

  17. oldskool

    I am sorry, Ravenred, could you please clarify- are you suggesting that Bolt accepted the fact that AGW was real in 2007, and since then “facts” have come to light that have changed his mind? Because I am pretty sure that the facts more recently definately point towards AGW – not the opposite.

    Nice quote- it is one of my favourites, however I have yet to see the opportunity to apply its premise to anyone on the right of politics and especially not Bolt.

  18. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Off the top of my head if all the ice melted sea levels would rise 60 metres.

  19. Jeremy Sear

    Bolt doesn’t make this point, but is there actually enough water on Earth to raise global sea levels by 100 metres?

  20. Ravenred

    I agree PeeBee. Isn’t it sad when a man has to choose between politics and science?

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” – John Maynard Keynes

  21. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    I agree PeeBee. Isn’t it sad when a man has to choose between politics and science?

  22. confessions

    [I wonder why there’s this need to exaggerate, if the evidence is really so overwhelming?]

    Then again, perhaps he could get together with Imre Salu-whatever, who says global warming is finally over? This would be good news to the do-nothing crowd, right?

  23. PeeBee

    Fancy referring to an interview where he said:

    I’m certainly pretty sure that there has been global warming, 0.7 of a degree over the last century, which is the IPCC’s latest report. I am pretty sure, given the consensus of science, that man has some role to play in that.

    Doesn’t sound anyting like the Bolt we have come to know and love.

  24. Dave C

    Also, nice work on the graphs. 🙂

  25. Dave C

    I love it when people make the linear assumption – it so clearly indicates how little they’ve actually thought about the issue.

    I also love the way Bolt gives us a start date, as if Williams had claimed that the sea level would instantaneously start rising at 1 metre/year from the moment he opened his mouth; not a day later!

    Basically,
    – Williams says: “It is possible, yes.”
    – Bolt hears: “100 metres in a century. 3, 2, 1, GO!”

    Bolt probably feels it’s necessary to make all this up because he’s never been able to get anyone to actually commit to the sort of stuff he wants to be outraged about.

  26. Coroner de Groot

    Let’s not forget why Andrew was originally on William’s program. It was to explain why he allegedly {EDIT: “allegedly” added – Jeremy} misrepresented a real scientist’s research on global warming.

    “Jeff Severinghaus claims columnist Andrew Bolt used his research to argue that carbon dioxide does not cause global warming.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/1867444.htm

  27. Dave Gaukroger

    I actually added extra data points to that one so that the peak happened in 2012.

  28. Matthew of Canberra

    That mayan calendar looks a lot like an episode out of genesis …

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