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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)

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.

Its really simple. Lomborg quotes IEA figures as the central plank of his argument. The head honcho of renewables at IEA says he is talking bollux and the actual number is 29% by 2040 as opposed to Lomborg's 2.4%

What part of 'absolute rubbish' is giving you the difficulty?

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke, the concept of renewables having a head honcho indicates a major problem. What purpose does the IEA actually serve anyway, other than to promote inadequate power generation by unreliable means, at unaffordable cost?.

Waste of time and money

Feb 4, 2016 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Tim Flabbergasted; the Nostradamus Down Under, should not be portrayed as "stupid".
He is an opportunist who, becoming bored with observing the copulating habits of tree kangaroos, decided to make some real dosh out of the climate scam.
And he has reaped millions. Unfortunately, those millions come from the taxpayers, and there is not a damned thing we can do about getting it back.

Feb 4, 2016 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterKarabar

Folks here might be interested in the psyche of this frightbat.

Feb 4, 2016 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterKarabar

We are witnessing rolling and expanding crisis.
When the $ price of energy is high , deficit countries experience shocks.
Conversely when the $ price is low we observe implosions in energy surplus countries.

The crisis is just beginning.
Its not a crisis of energy production.
Something is gravely wrong with the production / consumption system.
Ie the economic system.

At its root is the money monopolists unwillingness to give the population a free lunch.
This forces ever increasing costs on the system as the people "work " to access purchasing power.

Feb 4, 2016 at 1:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Tim Flannery on the record.

Feb 4, 2016 at 3:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

A failed tribute to Ogden Nash -- the last line gets the sentiment right, but doesn't quite scan.

The Dork of Cork
is rather hard work,
and most of his prose
is a bit on the nose,
but a ban's too extreme,
so could we move the author name to the head of each comment instead?

Feb 4, 2016 at 4:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

Flannery's pronouncements often have a quasi-religious (Druid) air about them:

"For the first time, this global super-organism, this global intelligence will be able to send a signal, a strong and clear signal to the earth. And what that means in a sense is that we can, we will be a regulating intelligence for the planet, I'm sure, in the future ... And lead to a stronger Gaia, if you will, a stronger earth system."

"When appearing on the ABC's Science Show in January this year, Flannery said: ‘This planet, this Gaia, will have acquired a brain and a nervous system. That will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism, at some sort of level.'"

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterKarabar

Flannery is such an outstanding failure that blogs fill their pages with his serial idiocies.

My favourite woo-woo Flannery quote (partly because it didn't cost billions of dollars) is:

We are not things, Robyn, we are processes. We are a sophisticated electrochemical process that is part of earth's crust. It's not like we've come from somewhere else. So life and earth are one. We are one thing.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

@ Robert Swan 4:17 AM

Newspaper letters always have the name at the end
I've been reading them for a long long time
Finally I realized I should look there first
If I could remember to do that
I also might do better at rhyme

Feb 4, 2016 at 6:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

'...the people "work " to access purchasing power.'

As they have from the dawn of civilisation, and in a system that has worked well for thousands of years.

You are a bit of an odd one, aren't you?

Feb 4, 2016 at 7:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDingbat

GC - One function of the IEA is to write reports including possible future energy usage scenarios.

One function of Bjorn Lomborg is to cherry pick and misrepresent one of those IEA scenarios. Another function of the IEA is to point out that he is spouting 'absolute rubbish', wrong by an order of magnitude.

A function of the Australian newspaper is to carry pseudo-sceptical articles and reprint Bjorn's bollux on its font page.

A function of MP Craig Kelly is to repeat the Australian's misinformation. So that's how Kelly and Craig came to be talking absolute rubbish live on air.

I don't know about their other claims, but it doesn't look good….

Feb 4, 2016 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

@ Robert Swan 4:17 AM

There was a young man of Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When told this was so,
He replied "Yes I know
But I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as I possibly can.

Feb 4, 2016 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

I know a failing system when I see it.

There is a election coming up in Ireland.
Now these are more sporting events then anything really important but the socialists are promising to build 100,000 houses or such.
But there is no shortage of houses !!!! ( I work part time clearing out unoccupied units so I should know)
There is a lack of buying power to purchase the existing stock.

The money supply in Ireland has now remained static for 2 years longer then the 30s depression and trade war .
The central bank figures have recorded a explosive rise in credit of 1 to 5 years duration (these are almost certainly car loans) but M2 is not moving much as house debt is repaid (destroying money)

Yee guys do not understand how these conduit economies work.
The oil price declines , orders come from London to the ICB .
The order is to increase car loans to somehow try to inflate the price of oil or something.
Credit has no local meaning or purpose.
Credit is used for strategic purposes only.
I.e. to bail out BP and the like.

And yes I am strange.

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

"From a Social Credit perspective, the greatest problem with the existing economic order is that the conventional financial system is not designed to either recognize or to equitably distribute this free lunch. Instead, it allows the private banking system to use its current monopoly power over money-creation as a form of leverage so that access to the societal profit is only granted on asymmetrical terms. This results in the transfer of wealth, privilege, and power from the common citizenry to the financial elite. Production and consumption, the activities of the real economy, become beholden to the banking system and its operators. While many monetary reformers make the mistake of thinking that this problem is THE problem with the financial system, it is actually a secondary consideration. The more fundamental problem lies with the price system and its failure to monetize, for the full benefit of the consumer and thus on a gratuitous or debt-free basis, the unearned increment of economic association which is already a feature of the physical economy."

Oliver Heydorn feb 2016

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Its puritanical and incorrect to think there is no wealth without work.

You do not understand the meaning behind the Eden parable.

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Most people are surprised to find that 'climate consensus' predictions are nearly always found to be the exact opposite of the projections claimed.
Professor Flannery and our own Met Office are prime examples.

Surely they should be correct about half the time ( they reason) assuming a random no effect result!

But if they have the wrong theory then they will always have the wrong prediction!

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan
Feb 4, 2016 at 9:42 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews


"You do not understand the meaning behind the Eden parable."

I'm afraid it's worse than that, pal. I don't understand a single thing you're on about - and I'm not alone.

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDingbat

It seems you have the tactic of trying to divert an argument away from your mistakes. You're not alone in this, of course.

Your first link to a critique of Lomborg was to Giles Parkinson. He quotes Lomborg as claiming solar and wind renewables then 0.4 % of all energy, and by 2040 2.2%.

Parkinson shows two charts from the IEA. In the first: solar and wind renewables produces 6 % (2013) and 13 % of electrical energy by 2040. There are no figures for 2025. But as electrical energy is about one fifth of all energy, really the IEA are quoting 1.5 % for 2013 and 2.6 % for all energy. And even here, we're not sure in that first chart whether other renewables includes solar, wind, and biomass. Parkinson was, therefore, wrong.

In a second chart (which by any standard of chart construction is a bugger's muddle), the IEA have claims (lower part of chart) of renewables producing 22 % in 2013 and 29% by 2025. But that's the figure for all renewables, and again this chart is for electrical energy. Also included in those figures are hydro and biomass production, and both are the dominant fractions of renewable energy. The fractions for solar and wind renewables of electrical energy are just 3.3% for 2013 and 8.9 % in 2025 for electrical energy. Of all energy, those figuers would be ~ 0.78 % and 1.8 %.

Now you cite the head honcho of the IEA claiming 29 % by 2040. Of what?: electrical energy, or all energy? That's not clear. And how come that according to Parkinson's quotation of tables from the IEA are they now quoting a figure of 29 % by 2040?

It seems to me that Patterson, the IEA and yourself have confused 'solar and wind' and 'all renewables' and 'electrical' and 'all' energy.

Knowing Lomborg's thoroughness in these matters, I'll go with Lomborg. I've checked some of the error claims against Lomborg's book. I haven't found any of them to hold any water.

Feb 4, 2016 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell


That's a different link to your original.
Funny that. I followed your dialogue with Clarke and when he posted the second comment with the (same - cough) ref to the IEA link in HTML I had a feeling it was for a reason. He hoped you wouldn't notice. What a dork....

Feb 4, 2016 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Everything was bountiful in Eden
Adam and Eve picked what was needed .(not anything more or anything less)

Then came agriculture and the autumn harvest .
Warlords and bankers worked to exploit the power potential of this control mechanism ever since.
I.e. who gets to eat and who does not.
How and what you eat etc etc etc.

I fail to see what's complicated about this .
Its so bloody obvious.

Feb 4, 2016 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

John F. Hultquist:

Newspaper letters are mercifully short. The Corker's comments often run past the bottom of the window so it's an exercise in mouse leapfrog to screen the author. The thing is the quality here is good so I read comments with a presumption of innocence. When my eyes start to cross I reach for the mouse and, sure enough, it's the Dork again.

Nice limerick. Puts me in mind of another deliberate clanger:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp.
When asked, "Does it hurt?"
He relied, "No, it doesn't.
I'm so glad that it wasn't a hornet."

Feb 4, 2016 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

Phil Clark: EIA data forecasts that wind and solar and will account for only 8% of US energy in 2040.

Feb 5, 2016 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson


Please ban the Dork.
He talks complete gibberish and just clogs up otherwise interesting threads with his absolute twaddle.
It's great fun watching Phil C getting taken to the cleaners every day and having to constantly work around Dork's rubbish ruins my enjoyment.

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Smith


Now you cite the head honcho of the IEA claiming 29 % by 2040. Of what?: electrical energy, or allenergy? That's not clear .

Huh? It couldn't be clearer, I even put the relevant bit in bold for you. Lomborg cites IEA data, the IEA tell us his analysis is rubbish. For your convenience here it is again.

“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.

I fail to see how it could be clearer that Lomborg set out to mislead, and on its face, he succeeded.

From <>

Many actual scientists have taken issue with Lomborg's claims, and indeed when it comes to cherry-picking, he has form.

Feb 6, 2016 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Can you give the prime source of a quote from Frankl? All your report says is that once upon a time Frankl said

"That is absolute rubbish"

The words that follow the quote come from a web site with the header 'The Energy Mix'. This a blog curated by one Michael Beer, president of Smarter Shift. You can read all about him at their web site:
and even discover his 'proud' moments!

Everything you claim seems to turn on Patterson's rebuttal - your first reference to the Lomborg controversy. His analysis is flawed. he's not distinguishing between all renewables and just solar and wind, and he's not distinguishing between electrical energy and all energy. And the tables cited by Patterson (IEA originals) do not make either distinction at all clear.

Besides all this discussion, do you seriously think any of the IEA's claims for solar and wind seem sensible? The percentage of global generation from solar and wind to date is negligible, and that for a period when they've been granted subsidies like they were going out of fashion. Now the trend is towards cutting subsidies, which is to be welcomed. By now the renewable industry, given so much funding for research into better technology, should be able to roll out new products which are self cost-effective. We all know they haven't and aren't, so don't hold your breath for any great surge in build. Lomborg's absolutely right to be sceptical.

As an actual scientist and engineer, I'm not impressed with the criticisms of Lomborg. None that I have checked over have been anywhere near convincing. I have found errors, but none that were material.

Feb 7, 2016 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Les Johnson,

Thanks for that. But a small, but significant, point:

in your graph

In fact the graph is for solar and wind AND biomass, and I'll bet biomass will dominate.

But at least we've established that Frankl and Clarke can't read a graph.

Feb 7, 2016 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

I think the relevant part of Phil Clarke's Frankl “quote” is:

...under policies designed to keep atmospheric carbon below 450 ppm...

What policies exactly? When will they be formulated and when will they be enacted? Which countries will implement them? When it comes to “renewable” energy, even outfits like the IEA drift into la la land.

Feb 7, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Everything you claim seems to turn on Patterson's rebuttal - your first reference to the Lomborg controversy. His analysis is flawed. he's not distinguishing between all renewables and just solar and wind, and he's not distinguishing between electrical energy and all energy. And the tables cited by Patterson (IEA originals) do not make either distinction at all clear.

Seems crystal to me. Both Lomborg and Patterson are using (or misusing) data from the IEA World Energy Outlook. That costs too much for me to own a copy, however Patterson reproduces Table 9.3 which clearly shows renewables at between 19 and 29% of Total Primary Energy Demand (TPED) by 2040 depending on scenaro. This would put wind + solar around 10-11%, four times higher that your political scientist hero claims.

The graph from the American Enterprise Institute is US only, we are discussing global trends.

Feb 7, 2016 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Table 9.3 deals with scenarios, not predictions. Scenarios and predictions are not the same thing.

Table 9.3 (top part) shows renewables at 19 % and 29 % of TPED by 2025 and 2040 respectively.

Table 9.3 (bottom part) shows all renewables to be 34 % and 53 % of all electricity generation by 2025 and 2040.

Table 9.3 % shows (by simple calculation) that solar+wind will be 33.6 % and 41.2 % of all renewable electricity generation by 2025 and 2040. As usual, hydropower dominates renewable electricity generation.

From the previous two lines, solar+wind will be 11.6 % and 21.8 % of all electricity generation by 2025 and 2040.

If we assume electricity generation is 20 % of all energy consumption, then solar+wind will be 2.32 % and 4.36 % of all energy by 2025 and 2040 respectively.

Feb 7, 2016 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

depending on scenaro (sic)

A scenario that doesn't exist and isn't likely to exist on any kind of relevant timescale. We can all claim things will happen in an imaginary world, but here in the real one Lomborg is more likely to be correct than that particular IEA graph. Incidently, are US trends in wind & solar materially different from global trends?

Feb 7, 2016 at 5:37 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs


If electricity generation is 20% of TPED and renewables are 29% of TPED, there must be some renewables not going to power generation, which is missed from your analysis.

An alternative analysis would be to assume that the proportion of renewables from solar + wind for leccy is roughly right for all renewable energy usage, then as renewables are 29% of TPED, wind + solar is 11% of the total.

Feb 7, 2016 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Laurie, yes, historically, the IEA projections have been inaccurate.

Feb 7, 2016 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke


Your alternative scenario would have wind and solar going directly into other energy loads such as space heating, all forms of transport, powering TVs, computers, game machines, etc. Now if you think that's likely, and perhaps the IEA does, then a lot needs to change by 2025. Or perhaps they're double counting solar and wind in both streams.

Perhaps it's more credible to just accept Lomborg.

Feb 8, 2016 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

"Many actual scientists have taken issue with Lomborg's claims, and indeed when it comes to cherry-picking, he has form"

That's the Wiki reference to Lomborg, and contains the story of complaints against the Sceptical Environmentalist. I see in the Wiki that the leader of the objections against Lomborg was Kare (Kaare) Fog. Kare Fog has a web site which link's to 'Lomborg's errors'. Previously that was 'Lomborg's Lies' which I objected to.

Fog has 6 examples of Lomborg's transgressions in the book. Like most academic work, those six will in fact be the only objections he thinks significant. Most of the other errors (and he claims hundreds) will probably turn out to be dross when checked, and indeed that is the case.

I had a look at one of his six examples: Air Pollution in London because that was one in which Fog again used the term lying. I took the trouble of reading Lomborg's references in the science library of the local university. I concluded that Lomborg's analysis was reasonably correct and really not worth the considerable fuss Fog was creating. There was perhaps one point of objection, where Lomborg (and all other commentators) was forced to splice several sources of quantitative data; that was what Fog was hysterical about. Dear god, tell him to look at the hockey stick! For all Fog's bluster in this case, science has not progressed one iota.

Feb 8, 2016 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

It was not so much the splicing as the arbitrary multiplication by 5 - when Lomborg claimed to be using 'just the facts'.

Whatever, anyone with Google can find numerous examples of scientists and economists taking issue with Lomborgs Panglossian views (e.g. 'To support his argument, Lomborg often cites the Copenhagen Consensus project, a 2008 effort intended to inform climate negotiators. But there's just one problem: as one of the authors of the Copenhagen Consensus Project's principal climate paper, I can say with certainty that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings thanks to a highly selective memory - Gary Yohe)

Feb 8, 2016 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Well at least you seem to have dropped the IEA absurdities. Chorus of hallelujahs.

The multiplication by 5 was not arbitrary. It was reasonably argued. Fog had a different value. But in either event, Lomborg's case was proved,

And anyone with Google can find sensible defences of Lomborg's views. Panglossian is perhaps pejorative. Lomborg's main thrust is that there is a tendency amongst environmentalists towards doom and gloom. Who'd have thought.

And Gary Yohe (your a Guardian reader!) is talking out of his arse: Lomborg is not a climate change nay-sayer. And further, even sceptical science acknowledges the 2070 point:

"Lomborg also cherry picked the year 2070 to make his economic comparison between the costs of adaptation and mitigation. Why 2070? By that point, in a business-as-usual scenario the planet probably won't have warmed much more than 2°C compared to current temperatures. The problem with this cherry pick is that the world won't end in 2070; in fact, most of today's children will still be alive in 2070. If we continue on that business-as-usual path, global warming will continue to accelerate after 2070, past the point where economists can't even accurately estimate its accelerating costs. "

So the point is right. However we act on this, it was worth saying. 2070 is 54 years away. That's a lot of time to stop, consider, think and then act, rather than hysterically acting before thinking, don't you think?

Thanks to Lomborg yet again.

Feb 8, 2016 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Phil Clarke's comments about Lomborg's paper show something significant.
Lomborg evaluated the INDC submissions from major countries (USA, China & EU) according to marginal impact of actual policies proposed for the period 2015-2030 on emissions through to 2100. In 2030 he assumed abandonment of policies, with emissions would return to the non-policy forecast path. The International Energy Agency managed to get ten times of the impact of the policy proposals through post 2050 splicing onto forecasts the average of two RCP scenarios, both of which made highly aggressive assumptions about the global deployment of technologies and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone who just trusted the IEA would get a grossly exaggerated impression of what the policies proposed at COP21 would achieve if fully enacted. The IEA declared Lomborg's claims as rubbish because they do not want anyone to compare and contrast the different arguments on a rational basis. So here is Lomborg answering explaining his paper at HuffPO, and half way down this post I explain in more detail about the IEA's forecast. In both you will find links to the source documents.
The lesson is clear. If you really want to understand a controversial issue, you need to read, then evaluate the different views by the same standards. Those with science and expertise on their side have nothing to fear.

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Some background is needed to put this interview in context. Tim Flannery is Australia's leading climate alarmist and Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission from 2011-2013. He Commissioner under Julia Gillard's Labor Government. Just before the 2010 General Election she famously said "there will be no carbon tax under a Government I lead" as the measure was unpopular. Gillard scraped in by forming a coalition, and then introduced a carbon tax. Flannery's short-term failed predictions show that he has little or no demonstrated understanding of climate, but as an activist / propagandist he has played a role in passing deeply unpopular policies.

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

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