Politician speaks truth

Tim Blair reports how the NSW Treasurer Michael Costa, in the NSW Upper House, referred to Dr Tim Flannery as an idiot. I would say that if you are going to run around making pro IPCC, doomster predictions knocking the idea that rain will fill dams, influencing national policy, then when the opposite happens, you have to wear it.

The NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa, has called Tim Flannery an “idiot” …

Mr Costa, a renowned climate change sceptic, made his comments in question time in the Legislative Council, saying the environmental campaigner Mr Flannery was wrong to say that dams were going to dry up because of climate change.

Mr Costa referred to “idiots like Tim Flannery saying it’ll never rain” as he launched into a tirade against the theory of greenhouse gases.

He said Mr Flannery and others continually came up with “ridiculous propositions” and told Coalition MPs he would not have appointed Mr Flannery Australian of the Year.


Note on the Gippsland floods

I love seeing the Victorian Premier Bracks on morning TV, fresh from approving a giant, money wasting $3.1Billion seawater desalination plant at Wonthaggi, now prattling on about GL here and there as though he is an expert in dams, river flows, whatever. Pathetic. Fresh from just doubling water prices too.

Remember that Greens and weak kneed politicians killed the proposal for a dam on the Mitchell. Will anyone calculate the value of the water wasting to sea down the Mitchell river, at the cost of water from the proposed Wonthaggi desal plant ? I think it is a non PC calculation that I might eventually have to do.

17 comments to Politician speaks truth

  • chrisl

    There was a gentleman on radio this morning recounting all of the floods he had seen in Gippsland over his very long life.Most of them bigger than this one.He even managed to have a crack at people who believed in Al Gore.
    Later there was an eager young SES controller who warned that we would see a lot more of these wild weather incidents due to “climate change”
    I wonder how the flood plains got there in the first place?

  • Luke

    Where did Flannery actually say it would never rain again. Costa and the Blair are the idiots.

  • John A

    Here’s Flannery in 2005

    Professor Flannery, who is the director of the South Australian Museum, has told ABC TV’s Lateline that global warming is threatening Australia’s chance of returning to a regular rainfall pattern.

    “Three major phenomena are depriving Australia of its rainfall,” he said.

    “One of them is just simply the shifting weather patterns as the planet warms up, so the tropics are expanding southwards and the winter rainfall zone is sort of dropping off the southern edge of the continent.”

    He says the second phenomena is disturbances in the ozone layer.

    “That is causing wind speeds around Antarctica to increase and, again, drawing that winter rainfall to the south,” he said.

    The third phenomena, which Professor Flannery says is the most worrying, is the recurring El Nino weather pattern.

    “That’s occurring as the Pacific Ocean warms up, and we’re seeing much longer El Ninos than we’ve seen before and often now back-to-back el Ninos with very little of the La Nina cycle, the flood cycle, in between,” he said.

    Professor Flannery says that all adds up to back-to-back droughts, and if he had a say he would ration water use.

    “If you think there’s only a 10 per cent chance that this rainfall deficit’s going to continue for another few years, you’d be pulling out all stops to preserve water,” he said.

    “Because every litre you use now on your car, or your garden or whatever else, you might want to drink in a year’s time.

  • Luke, thanks for dropping in. I am sure you can find an email / fax # for the NSW Treasurer and for Tim Blair, who could have on hand more complete answers than I. Can I just mention the TF statement “Perth will die”. 2004 I think.

    Perth is vastly more likely to die if as a nation we get fat, lazy, do not stand up for our values, get too weak to recognize serious threats; then history tells us we will eventually succumb to more vigorous competitors who want this useful area of real estate and mineral rights.

  • John A

    Warwick,

    I just found this from googling, on where Perth’s water supply comes from. What I don’t have are any figures on the reservoir levels for Perth.

    The Sydney ones are here
    The Melbourne ones are here

  • The Water Corp. in Perth (Govt) has some useful info on current dam levels.

    By not managing catchment bush GovWater are steadily decommissioning our dams.
    See my graphic “Graphic of Catchment Efficiency 1980-2006 showing disastrous falloff in catchment yields 1996-2006 after ceasing catchment management.”

    My recent attempt to interpret West Australian Govt. water policy for people who live in societies where IPCC predictions do not have such a grip on public policymakers.

    See also my earlier Blog post “West Australian Premier talks utter nonsense about rainfall”, May 22nd, 2007 by Warwick Hughes.
    The Premier made these statements during a month when our catchments received pretty fair rain, about 80% of norms as I recall.
    The Water category on the left, will also take you to more material.

  • Luke

    John A – thanks, yes and I assume that was the comment. Again I say – where does it say “it will never rain again”. I speak to a number of people who make serious decisions with risk management and they ask about more frequent El Ninos, why neutral years don’t rain, what’s normal (i.e. our view of climate variation is too short a period of history) and what could complications could climate change. People exposed to climate risk want information to base decisions on.

    Surely the lesson of Australia is that we are affected by episodic droughts and floods. We will get more droughts and floods in the future.

    My grandfather had a small cropping and grazing property. He used to tap the rainwater tanks and mark them with chalk even when full. His comment was water saving starts when the tank overflows.

    So contemporrary risk managers have noted the increase in EL Nino frequency, the changes in southern hemisphere/Antarctic circulation, and early research implicating greenhouse and ozone influences over Antarctica. Backed up by a combination of observations and modelling.

    The IPCC reports themselves are equivocal on the issue of AGW and El Nino. It’s not clear. They don’t have a good treatment of southern hemisphere change either.

    Of course we also have paleo records indicating longer drought sequences than we have experienced as Europeans.

    But that’s not to say either you have to have AGW or variability exclusively. The most likely result is some combination of both.

    Future droughts are inevitable. The future frequency of them awaits us. Resource managers need to make decisions – on what basis – our scrappy little 120 year record?

    Meanwhile the south-east Queensland water supply drought which as now well exceeded the Federation drought continues. (based on very well validated models of inflows running against the catchment rainfall of 1902). There is also the additional pressures of population growth.

    So it’s easy to mock Flannery. He’s a soft target. He never said it wouldn’t rain again.
    The attack on him is purely expedient and political. Fair enough if you want to disparage his future view as unnecessarily pessimistic – but based on what ?

    If you analyse what he said it was based on good observation, contemporary science and grandfather’s advice.

    Where has Flannery said “I predict it will NEVER rain again and our cities WILL run out of water !” But he is worried about the future. And the trends since 1976.

    Any reasonable person would be glad that seasons seem to have turned in south-eastern Australia. But let’s start thinking about the next drought now.

    So what advice do we armchair critics, now having dismissed Flannery, have for our water resource and agricultural risk managers?

    P.S. I don’t have a problem an in principle with desalination, water recycling, new dams, or water efficiency measures. Just as long as everyone is happy to pay what it costs.

  • John A

    <blockquote>Where has Flannery said “I predict it will NEVER rain again and our cities WILL run out of water !” But he is worried about the future. And the trends since 1976.</blockquote>

    Flannery has stated several times that one or more Australian cities will die because of lack of rain. He has also stated that because of “climate change” the winter rains were tracking south of Australia and would continue to do so.

    Now that isn’t just rubbish – its a calculated attempt to scare people into accepting a policy of centralized control of energy and continuous rationing in order to appease Nature.

    Australia is prone to periodic multi-year droughts and has been for millions of years. However, over the last 100 years as the Earth has warmed coming out of the Little Ice Age, Australia has become wetter over time. That is what you’d expect with increased evaporation in a warming climate.

    With a growing population, Australia needs to secure its water supply to cover the longer droughts, which means a concerted effort to manage water supplies, add desalination as a backup, and do a much better job all round.

    I am certain that shutting down the Australian economy will have no effect on changes in climate.

  • Luke

    Well John A – do we have actual quotes to those precise words? It is really upon the critics to attribute some source quotes instead of hearsay or implication.

    The quote provided thus far is woefully inadequate (IMO).

    He is certainly picking up on changes in the Southern Annular Mode – which he would also know will reverse as has been the historical pattern. It’s a question though of the dominant mode and whether GHGs and ozone can be implicated in these patterns.

    (surprised actually that Warwick hasn’t featured more on this issue).

    Australia has become wetter over time? Area averaged maybe. Which is meaningless. But not where people live and agriculture exists in broadscale. Tell the Federal Treasury – I’m sure they’d be happy to not be providing drought assistance.

    Periodic multi-year droughts – maybe – maybe not – how common do you reckon?

    In any case – your advice for water resource and agricultural managers towards climate variation and droughts is ????? how are you going to make the engineering calculations or just guess.

    On what basis should Costa evaluate Treasury submissions for water infrastructure?

  • Luke

    (but yes agree – shutting down the Australian economy would have no effect on AGW outcomes – but is that we’re we are at?? – don’t think you’ll be getting many votes for that)

  • Louis Hissink

    Shutting down humanity at once will remove about 11 ppmv from the atmospheric CO2. Now having removed humanity’s contribution to CO2, what natural forces modulate CO2? What natural forces can be used to explain Cretaceous Era CO2 levels?

    This is the crucial question and Flannery would be flumoxed with this question.

    So what are the natural drivers of CO2 in the climate system and how can these be used to explain past CO2 levels AS MEASURED during geological time. (Measured by analysing proxies such as leaf stomata etc).

  • Luke

    Of course the continents in the Cretaceous were nowhere near today’s configuration, India and Australia in very different positions, radically different flora and fauna, and definitely not 6 billion humans. The Cretaceous had both cool and warm periods.

    If you want to consider the role of CO2 in geological history there has been two recent studies (below) that firmly indicate CO2 as a prime climate forcing. So records from distant past are supportive of CO2 as driver of climate.

    A Nature paper (below) produces a mean climate sensitivity estimate of 2X CO2 to 2.9C and at least 1.5C.

    Science 27 April 2007:
    Vol. 316. no. 5824, pp. 587 – 589
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1135274
    Reports
    Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and the Opening of the Northeast Atlantic
    Michael Storey,1 Robert A. Duncan,2 Carl C. Swisher, III3
    The Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) has been attributed to a sudden release of carbon dioxide and/or methane. 40Ar/39Ar age determinations show that the Danish Ash-17 deposit, which overlies the PETM by about 450,000 years in the Atlantic, and the Skraenterne Formation Tuff, representing the end of 1 ± 0.5 million years of massive volcanism in East Greenland, are coeval. The relative age of Danish Ash-17 thus places the PETM onset after the beginning of massive flood basalt volcanism at 56.1 ± 0.4 million years ago but within error of the estimated continental breakup time of 55.5 ± 0.3 million years ago, marked by the eruption of mid-ocean ridge basalt–like flows. These correlations support the view that the PETM was triggered by greenhouse gas release during magma interaction with basin-filling carbon-rich sedimentary rocks proximal to the embryonic plate boundary between Greenland and Europe.
    1 Quaternary Dating Laboratory, Department of Environment, Society and Spatial Change, Roskilde University Centre, Post Office Box 260, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.
    2 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
    3 Department of Geological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8066, USA.

    Vol 446|29 March 2007| doi:10.1038/nature05699
    Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2
    concentrations over the past 420 million years
    Dana L. Royer1, Robert A. Berner2 & Jeffrey Park2
    1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut 06459, USA. 2Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New
    Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.
    In an effort to reduce the uncertainty of climate sensitivity,
    DT(23), we turned to the Phanerozoic record (the past 542 Myr),
    an interval that includes times when the Earth was both colder and
    substantially warmer than the present day8. Phanerozoic records
    generally show a positive coupling between CO2 and temperature9,10,
    but determining DT(23) quantitatively has proved difficult because
    there are no convenient proxies for global-mean surface temperature.
    The GEOCARB and GEOCARBSULF long-term carbon cycle models
    11,12 have been used to calculate multi-million-year patterns of
    Phanerozoic CO2. Importantly, a critical factor in this approach is
    the effect of atmospheric CO2 level on the rate of CO2 uptake by
    weathering of calcium and magnesium silicate minerals. A rise in
    temperature, accompanying a rise inCO2, increases the rate of silicate
    weathering, which in turn accelerates atmospheric CO2 consumption,
    forming a negative feedback loop.
    Here, using the logarithmic relation between temperature change
    and CO2, we examine how different values of DT(23) affect calculated
    Phanerozoic CO2 levels for best estimates, and physically reasonable
    ranges, of all other factors affecting CO2 in the long-term
    carbon cycle. Such factors include solar evolution, changes in palaeogeography,
    palaeolithology, palaeohydrology, global degassing,
    organic and carbonate burial rates, and land plant population11.

    We conclude that a climate sensitivity greater than
    1.5 C has probably been a robust feature of the Earth’s climate
    system over the past 420 million years, regardless of temporal
    scaling. The mean computer sensitivity value was 2.9C – close to the much tauted 3C.

  • Philip_B

    One of them is just simply the shifting weather patterns as the planet warms up, so the tropics are expanding southwards

    If the term Climate Change means anything, it means weather patterns move closer to the tropics or poles.

    Every Australian is familiar with the term ‘High in the Bight’. It refers the predominant weather pattern for most of Australia. High pressure systems that are centred to the south of the Australian continent. These migrate north and south with the seasons.

    In recent weeks the high pressure systems have been centered north of the SA/NT border, the furthest north I can recall seeing them and as a result the north experienced record cold and the south floods.

    It remains to be seen whether this pattern persists. If it does then we have abrupt climate change of the cooling kind. And Flannery was dead wrong, the tropics are contracting northwards, not expanding southwards (in the southern hemisphere).

  • Luke

    What Flannery was projecting was relatively recent research showing that the circumpolar vortex has had a dominant mode that caused the highs to be centred in the higher latitudes in the Southern Ocean. So indeed rainfall had then been falling in the Southern Ocean instead of Australia. Historically this mode has varied but recently more locked onto one direction in recent years. So there is some inherent instability in that system. I await to be shown where Flannery said it would never flip out of that mode ever again.

    Where did Flannery make that specific prediction. Flannery was however commenting on research based on both observations and modelling that the Antarctic vortex had changed its dominant behaviour. How can we say on a sample size of one from the trend that it still isn’t so?

    I continue to be amused that people think AGW implies a monotonic invariant climate that year after year must go up on every single occasion.

    Climate change is overlaid across larger signals such as El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Southern Annular Mode etc. It’s not going to be a simple linear trend.

  • Louis Hissink

    So Luke, you can explain how dolomite forms?

    That is an enormous sink for CO2.

    And then we have the periodic eruptions of kimberlite associated with enormous eruptions of CO2. Any idea how these can be explained?

    Here we have two enormous natural processes which modulate the C O2 in the earth’s atmosphere.

    Are these incorporated into your examples above, or for that matter, any GCM.

    I notice you still are expert in culling the litany but have yet to show any understanding of what you paste in your comments here.

    We should give you 9/10 in Cut and Paste 101.

  • Luke

    Louis – given the lack of dolomite formation in recent geological time I think it’s not a major influence in the contemporary setting. And thanks for bringing up volcanism. I can see diamond formation a topic dear to your heart. Anyway volcanism is a great misquote by The Great Global Warming Swindle fiction which made the geological notion popular of late. Which incidentally has been recenetly skillfully reviewed here www.amos.org.au/BAMOS_GGWS_SUBMISSION_final.htm

    You’ll note that the review specifically deals with volcanism “The documentary’s claim that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than human activities is incorrect. It is difficult to know on what basis this claim is made, as the producers did not cite a source. However, a paper by Nils-Axel Morner and Giuseppe Etiope, published in the journal ‘Global and Planetary Change’ in 2002, estimated that the lower limit for global volcanic degassing of carbon dioxide at around 300 million tonnes per year. By comparison, Gregg Marland and his colleagues at the U.S Dept. of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center have estimated that 26,778 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted by human use of fossil fuels in 2003. Therefore, although Morner and Etiope did describe their estimate of carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes as “conservative”, it is less than 2 per cent of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide from human use of fossil fuels.”

    And given Nils is held in such high esteem here I can only commend the source.

    And it seems from your comments on CO2 that you do indeed consider the addition of CO2 to and from the atmosphere to be a subject of some importance. So it’s good to see that you now agree the CO2 is an important greenhouse issue.

    I thought you’d be quite interested in the paleoclimate articles I listed above using some state-of-the-art methods in paleo-geology.

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