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Fun with Flannery

A firm tip of the hat to reader Stewgreen for flagging up to us this radio programme from Australia in which host Alan Jones and Liberal MP Craig Kelly discuss some of the predictions made by Professor Tim Flannery back in 2006. 

It's very amusing to set out just how badly wrong "Australian of the Year 2007" Flannery has proved, but as the show makes clear, Australians are paying a very high price for heeding his augury.

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Reader Comments (90)

A Sheldon Cooper fan?!

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones


Feb 3, 2016 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterShrdlu

Tim "Cassandra" Flannery aka the Tooth Fairy has figured prominently in the Pratties.

Climate Prat of 2013 – We have a winnah!


Feb 3, 2016 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Well worth a listen! How we need a mouthy okker like Andrew Bolt on our airways.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Pointman - not Cassandra. Her prophecies were correct, but ignored. Flummery is the opposite of Cassandra.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

I will have a go at doing a transcript of the relevant part later today.
Meanwhile can anyone find any links to Flannery making such predictions (oil price, hurricanes, sea ice etc) ten years ago?

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:00 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Great stuff.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Tim Flannery seems to have been stupid enough to make predictions in a time-scale which could be CHECKED...
The rest of the 'warmistas', however, make their predictions about some vague time up to 100 years in the future - by which time this period in people's perception of history will equate with the head of the Patent Office in the 1890's who requested that his Office be wound up, as 'Everything which could be invented, had been invented'....

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Bolt is on 2GB with Steve Price every weekday evening. He also had his own televisual programme on Sunday mornings, not sure if that is coming back after the summer break. That said, you don't get much mouthier than Alan Jones.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Great discussion. The Ozzie accent seems to add an additional level of derision to what is pretty rich pickings anyway.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Mike Fowle... 'Ozzie accent...?'

Strewth, mate, we don't have ACCENTS down here - our English is as pure as XXXX lager, so you'd better retract that comment quick smart...

Anyway, watching Downton Abbey on tv with a few tinnies to hand, we do like to have a chuckle at yer BRITISH accents..!


Feb 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

XXXX is as pure as it comes, it is completely uncontaminated by flavour.

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

'Strewth, mate, we don't have ACCENTS down here'

We have plenty of äccents here in Europe. For the record, I just think the British accent is superior, as long as it is the Oxford one. Your average Londonese sounds do not sound sound.

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterwert

I will have a go at doing a transcript of the relevant part later today.
Meanwhile can anyone find any links to Flannery making such predictions (oil price, hurricanes, sea ice etc) ten years ago?
Feb 3, 2016 at 1:00 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

If you ask the same question at JoNova's blog you will probably get some willing helpers.

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Meanwhile can anyone find any links to Flannery making such predictions (oil price, hurricanes, sea ice etc) ten years ago?

Dunno about that, however towards the end the figure of 2.4% of power generated by wind and solar combined by 2140 is repeatedly mentioned.

I think they must mean total demand for energy rather than electrical generation. A quick Google found the same number cited by Bjorn Lomborg and sourced to the IEA

I guess its from the World Energy Outlook. But, switching back to leccy for a moment the IEA actually say this

The world’s appetite for electricity lifts demand by more than 70% by 2040, and there is a concerted effort to reduce the environmental consequences of power generation. Renewables overtake coal as the largest source of electricity by the early-2030s and account for more than half of all growth over the period to 2040. Renewables-based generation reaches 50% in the European Union by 2040, around 30% in China and Japan, and above 25% in the United States and India. Coal’s share of total electricity generation drops to 30% in 2040, and the output from inefficient sub-critical plants declines by 45%

Very puzzling. Could Jones / Kelly be making stuff up?

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke


Feb 3, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

What a good 20 minutes that was! So funny - yet tragi-comedy to be sure. Fully recommended. And it helps put the bleating of some commented into perspective.

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

He was partially correct.

Yee guys make the mistake that the $ price of oil is a good metric for its affordability.

Need I remind you the velocity and quantity of money has collapsed in many countries.
Ask your average Greek about oil and its affordability .
Greeks in 2007 /8 could afford $100 + oil but now cannot afford $ 30 oil.

The surplus created from national bankruptcy simply gets transferred to other burb waste jurisdictions.
This cannot be denied.
The data is irrefutable.

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

End of 2008 Bolt listed many Flannery and all predicitions ..not all tho

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:32 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

This bloke his versatile if nothing else. Here, also in 2007, he turns his hand to predicting the demise of US car sales in China due emissions regulations.

How did that prediction go?

2008 - Turn on the TV and the market leaders are American. Both Ford and GM. build cars in China for China, and part of their success is what's in a name. In China, a Ford or Chevrolet is considered a high-end import.

2011 - American car sales rise in China

2014 - The top-selling passenger vehicle in China last year was the Ford (F) Focus, with sales of nearly 403,000 units, up 36.2 percent year-to-year. The next best-selling model was the Volkswagen Lavida, followed by the Buick Excelle, produced by General Motors (GM).

About as well as his climate predictions is the answer.

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCB

Could Jones / Kelly be making stuff up?
Of course they are, Phil. You're the only truthful one around here. You are the seeker after truth, not afraid to find and read the sources you find....I've lost count of the references you've dissed.
Silly me....I must be thinking of another Phil.

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Here we go again....looking up stuff for the bone idle (or, in his world, idol) Clarke. You wanted hard facts about Flannery's predictions, well, here's a starter for you - his own book. Now, I'm not going to pay the $24 for the book, but unless you also think the reviewer in this piece is also a liar, I think you'll find he covers a few of Flannery's predictions. If you want more - GO DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK.

Edit: OK....because I'm a good guy, I found this in Phil Clarke's bible.

Feb 3, 2016 at 3:48 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

"Born and educated in Melbourne, Tim Flannery studied English literature before embarking on a remarkable career as a zoologist, palaeontologist, explorer, writer and environmentalist. After gaining degrees in earth sciences and zoology, he worked for a range of institutions including the University of Adelaide, South Australian Museum, Australian Museum and Harvard University. Flannery is best known for his ecological history of Australia and New Zealand, The Future Eaters (1994), and his internationally acclaimed study of human induced climate change, The Weather Makers (2005). An accomplished communicator, Professor Flannery described in clear and accessible language the science of climate change and its likely consequences for a fragile planet. The Weather Makers has been translated into over twenty languages. With climate policy looming as a significant issue in an election year, the Australian of the Year called for greater action from the Australian Government to reduce carbon emissions, saying ‘there’s no doubt this Government’s been dragging the chain.’"

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

From nearly a half a million car units sold in 2007 .
Now less then 19,000.......

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Brazil car manufacturers have halved production . (Its the dominant producer in South America )
Its approaching its 2008 /9 nadir again ,the last time oil price crashed (no coincidence)

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Harry Passfield
Because Phil C regards us as stupid uneducated deniers he thinks no-one who comments here is capable of doing research into his claims. Despite many instances where this belief has been shown to be as erroneous as his claims he has not learnt a thing about the quality of intelligence and internet skills of the Bishop's followers.

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

It is critical to note that Flannery contributed to the decision to use flood control dams (which need to be kept at low levels in case it rains) to store water --so when the Melbourne rains came a few years ago the dams were already full and useless and actually added to the damage because they had to release water to prevent dam failure.
He also contributed to the decisions to build desalinization plants at a cost of many billions of dollars. In a country of only 23.5 million people, this is a notable per capita cost for facilities that are not operational.

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

Shame we don't get a few programmes like that over here.

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

The reviewer of Flannery's 'The Weather Makers' cited by a previous commentator wrote "[n]o book on global warming is ever going to be definitive -- our understanding of the science is advancing too fast. But Flannery's should have a longer shelf life than most, and deservedly so."

This prediction appears to have been 'spot on'. Just not exactly in the sense the reviewer originally had in mind. Quite the opposite in fact.

History never lacks for irony. ;)

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Smith

From Flannery, predictor of never ending drought, or, as he calls it, the new climate.

But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about ""the drought"" - which is transient - and start talking about the new climate.

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

Tim Flannery, who has warned on 20 meter sea level rises, has purchased two properties on the waterfront just north of Sydney. One in 1997, the other in 2002. Total outlay is near 800k. No worries, though. Sydney shows 0.59 mm/year rise, which means it will take nearly 1700 years to rise 1 meter.

Tim and his many failed predictions on Ozzie drought. It should be noted that it was because of warnings like Flannery's, that Australia spent billions on desalination plants that are no longer needed. Nor was that money spent on dams for flood control, as it was thought to be wasted money.

Flannery also predicted that the arctic would be ice free by 2013.

More on Tim's amazingly bad predictions. Now apparently, he is trying to deny that he said what he is recorded as saying.

The company that provides desalinated water to Aussies, has lost 500,000,000 dollars. The good news is that the university pension funds were heavily invested in it.

Note references to building dams, to produce 4 times the water, at 1/3 the cost. And it would also act as flood protection.

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

No mention of Flannery's fanciful dreck called 'The Weather Makers' is complete without a mention of a D Weston Allen's far more trustworthy book called 'The Weather Makers Re-Examined'in which he conducts the biggest piece of Fisking I have ever come across.

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:14 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"He then left Melbourne for Sydney, enjoying its subtropical climate..." and, as anyone enduring Melbourne winters would appreciate, proving that mammals can move to a warmer, more congenial climate.
The Panasonic Chair of Sustainability at Macquarie University does sound comfy.

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

"...Flannery's should have a longer shelf life than most, and deservedly so."

This prediction appears to have been 'spot on'. Just not exactly in the sense the reviewer originally had in mind. Quite the opposite in fact. History never lacks for irony. ;) --Patrick Smith

A good point, Patrick. Science moves onward, but foolishness abides for the amusement of the ages.

Feb 3, 2016 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

@Jeremy. You're quite correct about Cassandra. It's not apt. From memory, Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy to get in her knickers. When she refused to oblige the gentleman after being thus gifted, he spat in her mouth, thus somehow ensuring none of her prophecies would be believed.


Feb 3, 2016 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Great find Stew
A must listen for Amber Rudd & the Dept of Energy & Calamity Climate brigade

Feb 3, 2016 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Is Craig Flannery related to Dame Edna or Sir Les Patterson?

Feb 3, 2016 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

I think Mr Parkinson is confusing 'electrical energy' and 'all energy'. Lomborg is right, as usual.

Feb 3, 2016 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

@ Feb 3, 2016 at 3:48 PM | Harry Passfield

that book has been remaindered in Australia for years. I picked up my copy very cheaply about 2 years after it was published. I disposed of it, mostly unread, because it was crap. Not just my opinion, I lent it to a chap who had voted Labor for 55 years and was presumably predisposed to believe it. He handed back to me saying "I got to page 32 and gave up, I couldn't follow his logic". He also added a few other comments about the author none of which would be printed here.

Feb 3, 2016 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Since he embarked on his career as metaphysician and prophet in the mid-'90s Flannery has been the go-to guy for the ABC bien pensant broadcasters on anything remotely related to environment matters, his books being vigorously promoted on the ads-free taxpayer-funded network, on both TV and radio.
If it were not for the ABC Flannery would still be sitting in some dusty corner of an Adelaide Museum collecting and studying old bones.

Feb 3, 2016 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Capell - Nope. Lomborg got his data from the IEA, who describe his analysis as 'absolute rubbish'

Jones and Kelly also talked about power generation rather than total energy; what's the betting they just saw the picture on the front page of the Australian and liked it so much they forgot to check it wasn't 'rubbish' before using it (over and over) again. Not pleasant when your heroes turn out to be flawed.

But then Lomborg made so many cock-ups in his books alone, you need a website to document them all

Feb 3, 2016 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke: Based on your track record (you won't read the HSI) can I take it that you didn't bother listening to the Jones/Kelly radio clip in this item?

Did you listen to it? I shall take it that a refusal to answer is a negative.

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I have to admit to being thoroughly dorked and clarked over the past few days, to the point that I wonder if it's even worth commenting on this site any more.

However, BBC 3 and 4 have been showing a couple of Timewatch specials, last week Stonehenge and this week the Crusades, looking at how the scientific/historic interpretation of these subjects has changed over the past 60 years.

And in both cases it has - substantially - no fucking 97% consensus at all, whatsoever.

I wonder how many many decades we will have to wait until the Beeb is prepared to take a same non-partisan forensic analysis towards 'climate change'?

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:49 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

There is one area of where Tim Flannery’s voice is not welcomed by ABC luvvies and that is his opinion as a Palaeontologist that Australian megafauna was largely wiped out by the easiest settlers around 50,000 years ago.
Naturally such a notion is an absolute anathema to your average lefty because before the European ‘invasion’ indigenous Australians lived in perfect harmony with Mother Nature, the widespread extinctions being caused by — climate change™.
IMO Tim should have stuck to his knitting.

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Mr Parkinson (your reference) lays his Lomborg 'false' claim before us with great clarity:

"But Lomborg needs to go back to his data source on wind and solar, the International Energy Agency, which he claims estimates that just 0.4 per cent of global energy now comes from solar and wind power,"

He then lays his counter argument before us, again with great clarity with this (your reference):

'What the IEA is suggesting, despite its incredibly conservative forecasts about the cost of solar and wind – explained in more detail here and here – is that wind and solar will overtake coal as the biggest source of electricity by around 2030, and by 2040 will provide more than 8,200 terrawatt hours of electricity a year – twice as much as coal."

Just for information, in the UK, electrical energy is about 20 % of total energy, so really, Lomborg is on the money.

Rickman's argument is badly flawed.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell - here's the link again- the IEA, whom Lomborg relies on, hand him his head on a plate.

For the click-averse: Newspapers belonging to the global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch have been giving Lomborg a platform for blogging from the Paris climate summit to readers in several countries. In his first post, Lomborg asserted that “after two decades of climate talks, we get a meagre 0.5% of our total global energy consumption from solar and wind energy, according to the leading authority, the International Energy Agency (IEA). And 25 years from now… the IEA expects we will get just 2.4% from solar and wind.”

“That is absolute rubbish,” fired back Paulo Frankl, who leads the IEA’s program to monitor renewable energy. In fact, one of the IEA tables that Lomborg cites forecasts that by 2040 (under policies designed to keep atmospheric carbon below 450 ppm) wind and solar PV could meet as much as 41% of global electricity needs, and 29% of total energy demand.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Harry - I listened to the clip, you obviously did not read the thread.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Anyone else having problems with the link to this broadcast?
I think it is screwed up. just like Phil Clarke.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

That's a different link to your original.

Your first link was to a page by Parkinson (whoever he is) making a mistaken/false argument against Lomborg by attempting to contrast present solar and wind production of electrical energy rather than total energy.

Your second link (and complete change of argument) is a hearsay claim of Lomborg repeating his previous point about present day solar and wind electrical generation, and a further, sceptical I think, (verbatim quote?) IEA claim for future solar and wind energy production.

And then your quote goes on, as a counter, to another party claiming even greater energy production for solar and wind!

What's this got to do with the veracity of Lomborg's thinking? All Lomborg has done, quantitatively, is highlight the paucity of present-day solar and wind energy production. All the rest is IEA bollocks.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

This might help with Flannery links

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

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