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March 15th 2010 print

John Izzard

Flannery nags Launceston

Without being rude or discourteous, Professor Tim’s lecture would have to have been the worst presented, most head-bangingly-boring and uninformative address that this writer can remember.

Climate Change—The Unnatural Crime? 

Last Friday night, (12th March) Professor Tim Flannery gave the 2010 John West Memorial Lecture in Launceston’s Albert Hall to an audience of about 600 people. This annual event is organised by the Launceston Historical Society and previous speakers have included Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, Stuart Macintyre, Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Patricia Grimshaw, Sister Veronica Brady and Justice Michael Kirby. 

The 1990 Lecture was delivered by Manning Clark who spoke, fittingly, on The Writing of Australian History while last year the guest of the Society was Phillip Adams — described in the introduction by Robert Manne as the “most remarkable broadcaster in the history of this country”. They are quite an eclectic bunch at the Launceston Historical Society. 

The lecture is named after the Rev. John West who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1838 and located himself and his family in Launceston where he set up a second Congregational Church, after feuding with the existing one. He then co-founded the city’s present newspaper, The Examiner, and soon became involved in the anti-transportation movement, or more correctly, started running it. One of West’s main weapons, used to stop the import of British convicts, was the exposure of “unnatural crime”. 

This he attempted to do this with mouth-foaming vigour by seeking to track down “the unrestrained indulgence of unnatural lusts — in every barracks, behind every bush”. John West took up most of this homophobic nonsense from an English fop, Sir William Molesworth, who had never been to Australia, let alone Van Diemen’s Land, but was convinced it was a land of the sexually athletic — depravity-wise. 

But back to Professor Tim Flannery and his Friday night’s lecture. And a case of robust red for the first to guess what Professor Tim’s lecture was about. Yep! … Climate Change! Or at least the change-of-climate regarding Climate Change. 

Firstly, without being rude or discourteous, Professor Tim’s lecture would have to have been the worst presented, most head-bangingly-boring and uninformative address that this writer can remember. He told the audience nothing that they didn’t already know or hadn’t recently read in the newspapers or seen on television. It wasn’t about any new insights into climate science, it wasn’t about admitting to the cock-ups at Copenhagen or accepting that the East Anglia emails created a serious credibility problem or that climate realists might have had some good issues worth exploring, and perhaps considering. 

No! What we learnt from Professor Tim Flannery was something of how the next stage of the Climate Change PR campaign will be staged. We learnt that “climate sceptics” were just “uninformed individuals” who dared to challenge “virtually every academy of science around the world”. Except that it wasn’t anybody from “every academy of science” that exposed the Himalayan glacier lie or the Amazon forest falsehood or the Great Barrier Reef scare or the failure of the sea to rise, or the poles to sink…quickly. 

No, it was just “uninformed individuals”. Note: To Ian Plimer and Bob Carter. Join an academy of science! 

The next culprit identified by Professor Flannery, and blamed for the fall from grace of climate alarmists, was the media. The media apparently have this diabolical habit of releasing a bad news story on a Friday, getting a reaction on Saturday then going for the throat on Sunday … or something to this effect. Curiously the last decade of supportive, unquestioning coverage of climate-change theory, by the media, hasn’t been enough for the good professor. Like the hunt for heretics during the Inquisition, any whiff of support for climate-change-doubt just isn’t acceptable. We’ve got to stop these people asking awkward question about the science. Really? 

Possibly without realising it Flannery identified one of the global-warming/climate-change teams’ problems. Like our prime minister, Kevin Rudd, they want all news, all reporting, all expressions of opinion to be on their side. And up until Copenhagen they certainly held most of the world’s media captive. Which diverts us to the ABC. 

In the Orwellian world of climate fear-mongering you would expect an ABC program like MediaWatch to be playing the roll of being a sceptic. Or actually giving a climate sceptic some air-time. It isn’t a hard concept to get your head around. Even the ABC’s chairman, Maurice Newman, detects that ABC intellectuals have a problem. During the invasion of Iraq when every “academy of war” said there were heaps of weapons of mass-destruction, your ABC and your MediaWatch and your 7.30 Report and their Lateline had no trouble welcoming “weapons sceptics” with open arms entwined. 

The third problem identified by the professor was the decline in trust the public has in the climate-change science and presumably in the scientists themselves. Well yes there is a slight perception of a credibility problem. Take rising sea-levels. In his book Now or Never, Professor Tim quotes James Hansen “who is the world’s leading thinker in this area” saying that “we are on the brink of triggering a 25 metre sea-level rise”. Tim goes onto say “So anyone with a coastal view from their bedroom or kitchen window is likely to lose their house as a result of that change”. The Australian of 5th March 2010 quotes a Tim Flannery estimate of a 60 metre sea-level rise. 

In Launceston on Friday evening during his lecture, Professor Tim, who is in charge of the Rudd government’s response to sea-level rises, repeatedly claimed we are now experiencing an annual 3mm rise in the sea-level along Australia’s coastline. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology Official record puts last year’s sea-level rise at 1.7 mm. 

I know this isn’t scientific evidence but if Professor Tim was a Tasmanian Aboriginal giving his lecture 11,000 years ago he would have been able to walk from Launceston to Melbourne, across what is now Bass Strait. The fact that sea-levels started to rise at a then rate of 2 mm per annum, and that sea-level has risen about 130 metres to form what is now Tasmania, seems to be of little importance to climate theorists. 

During his lecture Professor Flannery gave this example as to why we should just accept what we are being told by climate-alarm scientists. “It’s like blood pressure.” Apparently he was recently told by his doctor that he had blood pressure and that he would be on a tablet for the rest of his life. “There is no point in questioning the doctor”. You just have to “accept his verdict, take the tablet, or risk a stroke or heart attack.” Flannery told the engrossed audience. 

This attitude actually gets to the nub of the problem. Another doctor might just take a few months to arrive at a different diagnosis and find that there isn’t a problem. Or advancing science might discover a treatment that doesn’t require a tablet. It is the inflexible notion that planet Earth has “blood pressure” that causes most realists to balk. In the world of the climate-alarm industry you don’t ask for, or get, second opinions. 

But the good professor really gets spooky when he quoted, back in October 2009, James Lovelock’s prediction that “before the twenty-first century is out our global civilisation will have collapsed and a new dark age will have descended upon us. Only a few survivors (perhaps just one in ten alive today) will cling to the few remaining habitable regions, such as Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula.” 

Back at Launceston’s Albert Hall and the first questioner, an obvious sceptic, asked a question of Professor Tim — something about if he was a real scientist and whether he knew whether the sea warmed the atmosphere, or the atmosphere warmed the sea. The poor man nearly unleashed a riot. Much yelling and screaming. Much grabbing of microphones. Much “sit down and shut-upping.” 

Oh dear! The unnatural crime— climate change! The Rev. John West would have loved it.