This is a shortened version of an address I gave to the Boobooks club in Melbourne earlier this week. The Boobooks is a dining club, the oldest in Australia, founded in 1902 by some young men who later became Sirs, in Fred Eggleston and John Latham. It was an honour to have been asked to speak.

The title was ‘Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the future?’, and in it I revisited ideas that have been rehearsed on this website before. I am not sure whether optimism and pessimism are part of our make-up or the result of upbringing (or how much of either). But I have been optimistic throughout my life. I have also known people who see the dark side of almost everything. Whatever your predisposition, and even for an optimist like me, it is hard to escape the predominantly gloomy, scary tone of the mainstream media.

It is true that bad news sells, and that films about airliners crashing, hotels burning and  fierce sharks eating people do better at the box office than feel-good movies. We may be the descendants of those Neanderthals who had a high respect for danger, if their more sanguine colleagues were eaten. But what irritates me is the lack of understanding in the media that the last half-century or so has seen extraordinary progress in the conditions of life for ordinary people in our country, and indeed the world. We are not in some abyssal pit of selfishness, hate, crime and greed, though you might think so after a sustained diet of the 6pm television news. On the contrary, our people are in an excellent state, if you compare our lives to the conditions in 1953, when I left high school.

Australians today live longer, are healthier,  wealthier,  much more travelled, more creative, more philanthropic and more active in more organisations than was true of their counterparts in 1953. The rise in the status of women in our society has been astonishing, as has been the rise in the status of our Aboriginal peoples. And these processes are not complete, not at all. A boy baby in 1885 had  a life expectancy of 45 years; my cohort in 1937 had one of 63; today’s baby boys have one of 81. The new diseases of today are those of advanced old age — Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in particular. They were not unknown in the middle of the 20th century, but they were not statistically important. Australia, and Canada, a country I know well about which the same story can be told, have both done all this and also showed the world how a modern country can absorb a diversity of immigrants without domestic crises. Look backward to whatever point in time you like, and the progress of Australian society is remarkable. But it is not celebrated — indeed, you will hear people speaking as though nothing at all has happened in the last century.

And much the same can be said about the conditions of life in the rest of the world. There are websites that demonstrate these improvements, and one of them proclaims that ‘The World is Actually Getting Better’. It uses statistics from the OECD, World Bank and UN agencies to show that across the world countries are improving the lives of their citizens, almost everywhere. Here are a few, comparing 1900 with 2012. Life expectancy has risen from 32 to 70, infant mortality has declined from 20 per cent to to 4 per cent. Incomes have risen five times. Extreme poverty has declined from 69 per cent to 17 per cent, while literacy has doubled, from 42 per cent to 84 per cent. Girls are now being educated in most countries (with a few conspicuous exceptions, like Nigeria), because of the recognition that without widespread skills no country can modernise. Rather more than a third of humanity can access the Internet. Warfare is at a century-long low, notwithstanding the rise of terrorism.

Gareth Evans, in talking the launch of  his new autobiography, has said not only that he is an ‘incorrigible optimist’ (the title of his book), but that  however bad things may seem to be, they often don’t look quite so bad when looked at from a longer historical perspective – that’s true of conflict generally, mass atrocity crimes, civil violence, major human rights violations, and certainly of poverty. He could have gone on to say that the forces shaping the rapid progress of the nations of the world are not just the result of some kind of UN directive, but of a growing recognition, in ask countries, that such progress is available, and not impossibly difficult to achieve in a short time.

England was the leader in the Industrial Revolution of the middle of the 18th century, but its success rested in part on the miserable lives of industrial workers, many of whom migrated to the New World, in tens of thousands. One of them was a great great grandfather of mine. Today education and technology transfer can shift any society forward in rapid leaps. I first visited China in 1977, and the progress there in forty years has been astounding. Nor is it over. We do not know what will happen in the long run when China has a billion and more well-educated, citizens who have their own incomes and their own sense of what is best for themselves and their country. But I at least feel optimistic about what has happened there and what might happen.

Of course, there could be halts and even reversals in some countries. No one predicted the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union. An asteroid could hurtle into our planet, and one just missed us on Thursday last. A solar flare could put our communication systems out of whack for weeks. A new and deadly virus could spread quickly around the world. Someone could launch a nuclear attack on someone else. All these things are possible. But as I have pointed out before, there were all sorts of gloomy predictions in the 20th century about what might happen , and none of them actually occurred. A pretty safe bet, I think, is that technological change will continue, and at least one of its benefits will be a continual improvement in the lives of ordinary people.

Because I had been asked to, I offered a critique of the environmental movement, our new secular religion, but I don’t need to do that here, because my views on global warming and ‘climate change’ have been offered many times before on this website. Many of those who cry woe about the environment seem to have no idea of the enormous advances there have been in the last fifty years with respect to clear air, cleaner water and more national parks, to take just three examples. There is a wonderful little article about little birds in North America that have been studied for a long time. Today’s examples are white on the breast; those a hundred years ago were sooty from air pollution. You can see photos here.

And some of the news this week provides a good example of how governments can get themselves into a dreadful tangle when they stray into ideological positions that are not really supported by the science they are said to derive from. I haven’t had a letter yet, but I believe we are about to be offered inducements not to use air conditioners to prevent the system from experiencing blackouts. We have exceedingly large resources in coal, gas and uranium, and all these energy sources could provide us with reliable electricity for the next century at least. Ah, but they are ideologically contaminated. It is hard for ministers in governments even to talk about their use.

So we seem doomed, for a few years at least, until the citizenry wakes up, to high prices for a electricity grid that is increasingly likely to be unreliable. I can’t believe that the Turnbull Government doesn’t collectively know this. It simply can’t talk about the elephant in the room in case it offends someone.

One of the commenters wonders why I remain optimistic in the face of such fatuity, and other examples that could be mentioned as well. The answer is that we learn from our mistakes, and our present idiocy about energy will most likely lead to blackouts before it leads to a saner and more rational system. But, I feel confident, it will produce such a better system in time.





Join the discussion 140 Comments

  • Neville says:

    Everything today is better for everyone, yet stupid pollies, some scientists and the media seem to deny the evidence and data as easily as they tell their porkies.
    Dr Rosling still has his work cut out to try and convince a lot of very foolish and so called educated people. Why are so many people so stupid?

  • David says:

    It seems to me that acceptance of the need for policies to address AGW has been growing consistently for the last 25 years. From memory, the Greens first proposed a Carbon tax in 1993. The ALP started to develop climate policies in the lead up to the 2007 election. Now, with Turnbull in charge, the Coalition also agrees.
    Optimistically speaking, when do you think this trend will reverse?

    • Neville says:

      So tell us how to address your so called AGW ? But don’t forget we will check your numbers.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      I don’t know. Since the policies are not based on sound science and are leading to rapid and unpleasant increases in electricity and gas prices, I expect there will be some kind of electoral reaction. Perhaps i should wait until we hear what the PM has to say.

  • Michael Dunn says:

    The study of history should, in principle, help us see the real picture which you have outlined here. In practice, the sense of progress in human society has tended to drop out of historical writing for various reasons. Lord Macaulay’s wonderful book about the progress of England and Glorious Revolution in 1688 was regarded as rather ‘unsound’ when I studied history, though it is far more nuanced than the ‘correct’ view may claim. Peter Cochrane’s ‘Colonial Ambition’ about the struggle for responsible government in NSW transforms what was taught to me as a rather dreary piece of constitutional history into a lively and important story of the creation of our democracy. The personal abuse heaped on politicians, as distinct from policies, without recognising the difficulties and demands of the tasks they perform is often not helpful. Democratic government is a difficult business.

  • John Campbell says:

    “A boy baby in 1885 had a life expectancy of 45 years”
    He had to
    – Survive to 5 yo
    – Survive WW1
    The first was bad for both sexes but the second was just males, for females I had a lot of maiden Great Aunts.

  • Mark M says:

    Air conditioning is a sign of progress and ingenuity amongst many accomplishments.
    To turn it off is like reversing into tomorrow.
    How Air-Conditioning Conquered America (Even the Pacific Northwest)
    Turnbull, who forced Australians to change to “enviro” light globes to save the planet, now wants to turn the lights off to save the planet.

    • dlb says:

      So true. As I said in another thread, Brisbane would still pretty much be a backwater if it wasn’t for air-conditioning.
      The other day I was quite dismayed to see my primary school now outfitted with air-con. Those teachers of today are missing out on the joy of having sweat drenched students falling asleep at their desks after the lunch break.

      I also blame air-con for the demise of shorts and walk socks 🙂

  • spangled drongo says:

    Don, thanks for the perfect subject highly in need of discussion today.

    It’s hard to imagine that our doomsayers, if they have any idea of history, can look back a very short time to the beginning of the industrial revolution and deny that we have improved in so many ways since then.

    We still have so many problems to solve, particularly among the more primitive cultures, but we are arguably in a better position to advance positive solutions now than ever before.

    Our biggest problem seems to be agreeing on the best outcomes, not how to achieve them.

  • David says:

    Renewable energy, we will all be rooned. Optimist or pessimist?

  • Neville says:

    To back up an optimistic point of view here is a link to various data bases listing life expectancy per country. Amazing how much higher life expectancy is today compared to 1800, 1900 etc when world population was just 1 billion and 2 billion people.
    Yet we still have Gore and most of the media telling us how badly off we are today and all of the dire consequences to come in 10 years or 30 years or by 2100.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    Thanks Don – we now have an entire country who would benefit from your wisdom.

    My parents came through the Depression, were burnt out in the 1939 Victorian bushfires and finished up living without electricity or telephones way out in the bush where my father had taken a job in a saw mill to feed us.

    They battled on, moved so we could be educated, eventually owned a farm and enjoyed the wonders of TV, aircon, a good car etc. I still remember what a big change it was when we moved to a house with electrical power, with light at the flick of a switch, a good fridge and hot water on tap. Today my two brothers and I live comfortably in good, modern houses, with out digital TVs, two cars, amazing food from the local shops, keep in touch by email, are still here because of modern medicine, and all the rest.

    In my case, if the pneumonia I caught years ago hadn’t killed me (which it would have except for antibiotics) I would be blind from the cataracts that made way for the interocular lenses that give me almost perfect sight and I would be toothless.

    I said as much to an old English couple we met over lunch who were agonising about the woes of the world, with no understanding of the great progress made to reduce poverty, disease, illiteracy etc in most of the world and – although they had trouble believing it – far fewer deaths from wars and natural disasters. Like so many others, they had been seduced by naysayers and doom merchants into seeing only the bad and missing the much bigger good all around them.

    I referred them to Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist, pointing out that he was a scientist and a member of the House of Lords (which impressed them, being poms), but I have no idea what they did. Sadly, I think they were too far down the ‘world is getting worse’ road to change and probably believe that if they don’t fry and die in the next few years, the rising seas will get them.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “I said as much to an old English couple we met over lunch who were agonising about the woes of the world…”

      Interesting, Doug, how they get “convinced”.

      What Ridley also points out to those same oldies:

      “Yet here we are with worldwide life expectancy up by more than a third in the past 50 years, cleaner air and rivers than we have enjoyed for centuries, and birth rates falling dramatically everywhere. And all this allied with an economic growth rate that means that most of those who had “never had it so good” in the 1950s would now count as below the poverty line.”

    • spangled drongo says:

      “I said as much to an old English couple we met over lunch who were agonising about the woes of the world…”

      However, it is easy to see how old people in advanced countries simply can’t believe how incredibly stupid the modern generation are becoming on so many fronts and whether there is really any hope for them:

  • spangled drongo says:

    The doomsayers will chant and cry that we are going to hell in a handbasket and have no idea that the real cause for optimism is self help and how that empowers people.

    As Matt Ridley [the rational optimist] says about that self help and the desire and logic to trade the items one person is rich in for items another person is rich in:

    “Great civilisations are built when merchants find new markets, and decline when unproductive bureaucrats strangle their enterprise.”

    And we have seen very good evidence of that period of self-strangulation.

    But the discouragement of self help is demonstrated best in countries where we deliver foreign aid in excess. That destroys their natural optimism and converts it to an entitlement mentality.

    These days govts everywhere seem to be intent on converting the world from a self help, optimistic culture to an entitlement, pessimistic culture in the deluded idea that it is to our benefit.

  • David says:

    But the discouragement of self help is demonstrated best in countries where we deliver foreign aid in excess. That destroys their natural optimism and converts it to an entitlement mentality.”

    I cant believe I am about to say this, but you maybe onto somerhing SD.

    So perhaps we should strip the old age pension/super from you sour old farts send you back out to work and you would develope a optimistic outlook on life.

    The idea has legs.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Davie, it is to be hoped that even to someone as obtuse as you, after reaching the age of entitlement [65] you would be sufficiently steeped in the work ethic to have developed some optimism and therefore be able to collect the pension with a steady hand [even though you may never have pain enough tax in your lifetime to cover the expense]. Me, I’ve never had that entitlement luxury so the problem doesn’t arise.

      So how would you suggest I word the bleedin’ obvious to spell out for the obtuse that when you indulge people all their lives [you see, it’s the first 65 years that are the most important] with hand-outs they tend to lose the self reliance which is the basis for optimism?

      • David says:

        I don’t know SD. I just think if you, Nev and Don got up each morning and went to work instead wandering around in your pajamas until 11 am grizzling at the morning’s news headlines, you would, as you say “restore your natural optimism.” You know like it was back in the 1950’s.

        • spangled drongo says:

          You confirm my point well, davie, about being obtuse.

          As the saying goes; when you simply don’t know about which you speak, it’s best to stay silent and let people only suspect you might be silly rather than speak up and prove it.

  • JimboR says:

    “but I believe we are about to be offered inducements not to use air conditioners to prevent the system from experiencing blackouts. ”

    That sounds like a _pessimistic_ media beat-up to me. I’d be very surprised if anyone is going to suggest you do that, so I too will be interested to hear what your letter says. I suspect they’re simply going to offer you inducement to knock it back a notch or two a few hours a year (although unless you have a smart meter installed, I’ll be curious to know how they’ll know if you have).

    Demand management has been an important part of grid management here in SEQ at least since the 1950s. Peak-smart air-conditioners have been around in Qld for a few years now: No SMSs or customer action required. If you sign up for it, your aircon can be remotely flicked into economy mode during those 5 or so hours per year that peak demand is hit. They use the same AFRC (1042 Hz) protocol that they use to control people’s hotwater systems and pool pumps on a daily basis. I don’t have aircon, my indulgence is a swimming pool, and I’m more than happy to let Energex decide when my pool pump should run, ditto for when my solar thermal hotwater system gets electrically boosted if the sun hasn’t been shining. By permitting them to do that, my pool and hotwater tariffs are reduced by ~15% all year around.

    “We have exceedingly large resources in coal, gas and uranium, and all these energy sources could provide us with reliable electricity for the next century at least. Ah, but they are ideologically contaminated. It is hard for ministers in governments even to talk about their use.”

    I sometimes wonder if we even watch the same news. Turnbull and Frydenberg have been banging on about a “reliable and affordable” energy plan for months now, with barely a footnote to meeting the Paris CO2 reductions that Abbott signed us up for. Jay Weatherill is busy building a state-owned gas fired power station. Rumour has it we’ll see the fed’s plan this week so I guess we’ll know more then.

    “I can’t believe that the Turnbull Government doesn’t collectively know this. It simply can’t talk about the elephant in the room in case it offends someone.”

    I think they do know it, and they are talking about it. Just a month or so ago they were desperately trying to convince AGL to keep one of its ageing coal fired power stations open. It’s AGL that have decided to get out of coal… not the federal government. What would you have Turnbull do? Get into the business of building and owning federal coal fired power stations?

    Remember, the peak only occurs for about 5 hours per year. You need enough generation to cover that peak if you don’t want blackouts. But for the other 8765 hours of the year, demand is way lower so you’re going to have equipment sitting idle. But investors are still going to want an ROI on their shiny new power plant (coal, gas, nuclear or renewable) regardless of how often it’s used. Reducing peak demand is an extremely effective way of keeping costs down … not just for the people who sign up for the incentive, but for everyone else because they’re not paying (either directly or indirectly) for plant that’s only needed 5 hours per year.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Jimbo, as so often you slide away from what I said to what you would wish I said — but then, perhaps I need to write especially carefully for you. To the best of my recollection, no one is talking about uranium as a source of grid power. The Government is trying not to say that coal is good, and must remain the basis of our power supply, though that is in fact the case (I think someone did say that coal was important the other day, but as an apparent afterthought). And gas, yes, the Government is blaming the State governments for the mess, and there is some truth in that. But we do not have a clear statement from the Government that above all, we must have reliable and cheap electric power, and that the RET must come a distant third (or fourth) as a priority.

      Maybe we will hear all this in the next few days. I hope so. In the meantime, there ought to be no need for out voluntary not using power for reasons that are important to us. Perhaps you might explain why you think otherwise.

      • JimboR says:

        “The Government is trying not to say that coal is good, and must remain the basis of our power supply”

        What about this guy? He’s the Treasurer.

      • JimboR says:

        “In the meantime, there ought to be no need for out voluntary not using power for reasons that are important to us.”

        What happened to your patronising offer to write especially carefully for me? I’m struggling to even parse that sentence. I’ll have a shot anyway, and no doubt you’ll scold my poor reading skills if I’ve misinterpreted that jumble of words.

        Demand management has nothing to do with green energy, CO2 emissions or the environment. It’s all about keeping costs down while keeping the network reliable. Even if we were totally coal based (actually, especially if we were totally coal based) it makes sense, and it’s been used in SEQ since the 1950s. Your gold-plated “we can have all the energy we want when we want it” approach would be extremely expensive as it would result in a lot of plant and equipment sitting idle for most of the day and most of the year.

        It’s not even unique to electricity grids but occurs in any finite resource with peaky demand. It costs less to catch a train outside of the peak zone. In both cases the operators are offering us financial rewards to change our usage patterns. Those consumers that don’t have the flexibility or aren’t interested in the financial rewards, can continue to operate as usual.

  • dlb says:

    “Many of those who cry woe about the environment seem to have no idea of the enormous advances there have been in the last fifty years with respect to clear air, cleaner water and more national parks, to take just three examples.”
    True, but if it wasn’t for concerned individuals and government legislation our environment would be in a poorer state.

    “(Australians) more active in more organisations than was true of their counterparts in 1953”
    Is this true? Or perhaps it peaked in the seventies? I get the impression that people, especially the young don’t seem to want to get involved in organisations these days. I also seem to remember you saying there was a greater community spirit in poorer times such as the 50s, where communities needed to pull together for survival.

    Regarding the future, I think the developing world is making great progress in lifting themselves out of poverty, but I do worry about what is currently happening in developed countries. Larry Kummer from the Fabius Maximus blog is concerned about the hollowing out of the middle class in the USA, and I think the same thing is starting to happen here. With an economic system, where profit is to be maximised and the effects of technology, jobs are becoming scarce and money is moving to a new tech savvy upper class. Add to this what I consider an unstainable immigration rate, I’m afraid “The Lucky Country” may only be for some.

    • David says:

      Dlb what are you smoking?. The Greens have fought for biodiversity one national park at a time. The presevation of places like Franklyn Dam or Daintree Rainforest are because of the Greens and etched in oue history. We have had our losses like Lake Pedder, too. It is silly to think we take our wins for granted.

  • JimboR says:

    “….most likely lead to blackouts before it leads to a saner and more rational system. But, I feel confident, it will produce such a better system in time.”

    Isn’t that happening now?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      dlb, there are more organisations now than there were then, and more people belong to them, but Lions, Rotary, JCC and the stalwarts of the 1950s and 1960s are indeed finding it hard to attract members. As are the Scouts. Lots of single-issue organisations now, too. Having said all that, the population is about twice as large, too.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Jimbo, if you believe Tesla I’d like you to meet a friend of mine who has a harbour bridge for sale…

      • David says:

        Not very optimistic, Don

      • JimboR says:

        Don, you’re just being silly now. Do you have any idea how big the SEC fines would be if Tesla were just making that release up?

        Your self declared optimism seems pretty patchy to me. Perhaps optimism is an attribute like beauty and humour…. best left for others to decide how much of it we project. While I only know you from what you write here, I would have to say that “optimistic” is not the first adjective I would use to describe you.

        • Neville says:

          Jimbo we’re still waiting for your evidence that full compliance to Paris COP 21 would make any measurable difference to temp or climate by 2040 or 2100.
          I must admit it is hard to be optimistic about the future when the left believes that wasting trillions $ somehow makes a difference. But please show us your evidence.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Jimb, huge areas of inland Australia used wind and batteries in the mid 20th century and its output always needed 100% backup and can best be summed up by the huge amounts people were willing to pay for the miles of poles when the grid became available. Those systems were right beside where the power was being consumed and still they could not cope. To think they can cope where they have to transmit for thousands of kilometres is delusion.

          There is rational optimism and there is deluded optimism.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Yes, AutoCorrect had a go at what I was typing, but made no sense of it, and now I can’t be completely sure what I wanted to say! I think it was ‘In the meantime there ought to be no need for our voluntarily not using power, when it is important for us to do use power.’ But it was a mangled sentence. Jimbo: 1 DA: 0

          I’ll remember to proof-read next time (I hope).

          • JimboR says:

            ‘In the meantime there ought to be no need for our voluntarily not using power, when it is important for us to do use power.’

            Maybe look up the meaning of the world “voluntarily” while you’re at it. It’s a bit like gay marriage… if you’re not into it, don’t do it. I for one am very happy to be getting a 15% discount for letting Energex decide when to run my non-essential loads. I’ve no interest at all in whether or not you plan to take up the air-con incentive, that’s entirely your business. Surely we can let those who do want to take advantage of it do so. Live and let live.

  • Neville says:

    Jimbo seems to have fallen for the Elon Musk BS and nonsense. Talk about hook line and sinker and on what evidence? Here’s a LA Times story I link to a couple of weeks ago, that highlights this incredible public teat sucker.

    Elon Musk must be one of the world’s best examples of a public teat sucker. This LA Times story claims that he has received 4.9 billion $ in govt funds and that would be much higher now since this story was written in 2015.
    What happens if/when govts pull the pin and he has to raise money like any other business?

  • Neville says:

    The Labor party continues to tell lies about coal fired power and puts thousands of jobs at risk for zero change to climate or temp.

    Media Releases

    Labor’s gobbledygook on coal Published: Thursday, 31 August 2017
    Download Text

    Labor’s hypocrisy on coal has been put on full display this morning in an interview by the Opposition Energy Spokesman Mark Butler.

    Appearing on ABC 774 with Raf Epstein, Mark Butler was asked five times “do you want coal fired power stations to stay open or do you want to encourage them to close?” He fumbled, bumbled and ultimately stumbled, refusing to answer the question. No surprise that the public can see through this charade, with a caller immediately after the interview saying:

    “You asked him the same question five times, do you support the closure of existing power stations and he didn’t give you an answer. He talked about natural attrition and all this gobbledygook.”
    Caller, ABC 774, 31 August 2017

    Bill Shorten and Mark Butler are now all at sea, with Federal Labor supporting completely contradictory Senate motions on the issue over the past year:

    “to encourage the retirement of coal-fired power stations”
    Senate motion co-sponsored by Senator Dastyari, 13 October 2016

    “should not force the early retirement of coal-fired power stations”
    Senate motion supported by Labor, 9 August 2017

    However, it is in fact Federal Labor’s stated policy to close coal-fired power stations across Australia:

    “Labor will introduce a framework to kickstart the closure” of coal-fired power stations.
    Labor Climate Action Plan, April 2016 & Mark Butler, National Press Club, 27 April 2016

    The Labor Party knows that, despite coal providing reliable power and existing coal being the cheapest form of electricity in Australia, their policies will hasten the closure of Australia’s coal fleet. Their policies are a recipe for a higher priced and less stable energy system.

    Despite coal providing over 70 percent of power in the NEM, they can’t give a straight answer on its future:

    “Coal has a future in Australia.”
    Bill Shorten, Doorstop, Melbourne, 26 October 2016

    “Coal is in structural decline and has no long-term future in Australia”
    Senate motion supported by Labor, 22 March 2017

    Labor has form on this issue. In Victoria, the Labor Government has tripled the coal royalties and overseen the closure of Hazelwood, which notwithstanding Daniel Andrews’ predictions of a $44 a year increase has seen household electricity bills go up by $135 this year. In South Australia, a Labor Government of 15 years has run a self-proclaimed ‘big experiment’ of 50 percent renewables which has seen coal-fired power pushed completely out of that state.

    When there are black-outs, investment losses and job destruction, Bill Shorten cries crocodile tears in the full knowledge that it is his Party’s policies that have brought this on. Today’s interview is yet another instance of Labor hypocrisy. They chase green votes at the cost of blue-collar workers. They say one thing in the Latrobe Valley and do another in Parliament. How are Australians meant to trust this gobbledygook?

  • Chris Warren says:

    All eras can self-congratulate themselves on magnificent improvements in the quality of life.

    But wiser men have started to see early signs of great difficulties and even catastrophes in the future if current, well-entrenched, trends continue.

    The Club of Rome “Limits to Growth” ushered in such consciousness in modern times – based on science and if one fact determines the rest, it is that the actions of humanity must never contradict the requirements of ecological science.

    You can have all your wars, your pretty gizmos, and whatever confused religion or set of morals you like, including whatever level of oppression and exploitation you can muster, but you can never set off a tendency that contradicts the ecological basis of life on Earth itself.

    So parading “Optimism” based on:

    Australians living longer, being healthier, wealthier, much more travelled, more creative, more philanthropic and more active in more organisations than was true of their counterparts in 1953. Or on waving the rise in the status of women in our society or the rise in the status of our Aboriginal peoples, misses the point.

    I certainly have never heard anyone speaking as though nothing at all has happened in the last century. Although there have been instances where people were so complacent and indolent or wrapped in some ideological fog, that human-induced calamity struck and their entire civilisation was lost.

    You ned to earn the right to be optimistic and show some awareness as to the conditions for the continuance of such optimism.

    I will leave the words of one informed individual to state the obvious []

    “FRANK Fenner doesn’t engage in the skirmishes of the climate wars. To him, the evidence of global warming is in. Our fate is sealed.

    “We’re going to become extinct,” the eminent scientist says. “Whatever we do now is too late.”

    Fenner is an authority on extinction. The emeritus professor in microbiology at the Australian National University played a leading role in sending one species into oblivion: the variola virus that causes smallpox.

    And his work on the myxoma virus suppressed wild rabbit populations on farming land in southeastern Australia in the early 1950s.

    He made the comments in an interview at his home in a leafy Canberra suburb. Now 95, he rarely gives interviews. But until recently he went into work each day at the ANU’s John Curtin School of Medical Research, of which he was director from 1967 to 1973.”

    • Neville says:

      Chris, can you please supply evidence and data that supports your claims? If not, then what’s your point?

      • Chris Warren says:


        Which claim?

        I am citing Fenner.

        The evidence for his statement is here:

        Apart from the extract I posted earlier, the article on Fenner also said:

        “He wrote his first papers on the environment in the early 1970s, when human impact was emerging as a big problem.

        He says the Earth has entered the Anthropocene. Although it is not an official epoch on the geological timescale, the Anthropocene is entering scientific terminology. It spans the time since industrialisation, when our species started to rival ice ages and comet impacts in driving the climate on a planetary scale.

        Fenner says the real trouble is the population explosion and “unbridled consumption”.

        The number of Homo sapiens is projected to exceed 6.9 billion this year, according to the UN. With delays in firm action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Fenner is pessimistic.

        “We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island,” he says. “Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.

        “The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can’t. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we’ve seen disappear.

        “Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years,” he says. “A lot of other animals will, too. It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.

        “Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already.”

        It’s an opinion shared by some scientists but drowned out by the row between climate change sceptics and believers.”

        And if you read the end of the comment you will find evidence for my claim that;

        “You need to earn the right to be optimistic and show some awareness as to the conditions for the continuance of such optimism.”

        In particular;

        Fenner’s colleague and long-time friend Stephen Boyden, a retired professor at the ANU, says there is deep pessimism among some ecologists, but others are more optimistic.

        “Frank may be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result, the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability,” says Boyden, an immunologist who turned to human ecology later in his career.

        “That’s where Frank and I differ. We’re both aware of the seriousness of the situation, but I don’t accept that it’s necessarily too late. While there’s a glimmer of hope, it’s worth working to solve the problem. We have the scientific knowledge to do it but we don’t have the political will.”

        So if there is no political will, there is no basis for optimism – all you can do to gaze indolently at the past and cover your ears to the scientists.

        • Neville says:

          Well Chris , so you’ve got no evidence or data but just more wishful thinking.
          But contrary to that Dr Rosling, Dr Ridley, Dr Goklany and Lomborg etc have collected data from the WHO, UN, EIA, IEA etc and used that evidence and data to support their optimism.
          Dr Rosling has a roving commission to encourage everyone to be more optimistic because the evidence and recent data supports that point of view. I can supply links AGAIN if you need them.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “So if there is no political will, there is no basis for optimism”

          Whether it be optimism or pessimism, blith, EVIDENCE is wot’s required.

          While you insist on screaming the contrary, I’m afraid sandwich boards and wet knickers are not evidence.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Yes, you are citing the late Frank Fenner, a very nice man whom I knew slightly (we were both professors at the ANU). But Frank doesn’t provide any evidence at all. They are his assertions, and they sound like Ehrlich. Even Stephen Boyden, as green as environmentalists ever are, disagreed with him on his wholly pessimistic view of the future. Homo sapien s gone in a century! For heaven’s sake.

          And you need to remember that enviromentalist professors are not the whole of science. I doubt that one per cent of current scientists would agree with him.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Boyden’s statement according to the Australian was:

            ““Frank may be right, …. ”

            This is NOT a basis for claiming Boyden;

            “disagreed with him on his wholly pessimistic view of the future.”

            Boyden implied there were conditions under which Fenner’s projection would come true, specifically:

            not having the political will.

            We have probably already passed through the unsustainable population level and governments have shown political will to moderate fertility to just near 2 children per couple. However this still puts us on a path for a final population of around 11 billion.

            The Earth’s carbon sink is around 5 GT/C so the population is unsustainable if per capita emissions is exceeds 1/2 GT/C per person. [ 1.832 GT/CO2].

            Our current lifestyle which we have no political will to adjust, is over 4 GT/CO2.

            If the global average per capita emissions end up close to this – overpopulation is reached at 1.25 billion.

            This is the objective reality.

          • Chris Warren says:

            exceeds 1/2 GT/C per person…

            should be

            exceeds 1/2 Tonnes/C per person ….

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Chris, you’ve already printed out what Boyden said. I relied on ‘I don’t accept that it’s necessarily too late’. I guess we’re all entitled to pick the bits that caught our eye.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Yes, maybe it is not necessarily too late, but I see no sign of the necessary political/economic will to do anything that will have any measurable impact on the over 50 year trends depicted at Mauna Loa and nearly 40 year trends from different atmospheric levels from satellites.

            As the Smithsonian Institution (Ocean Portal Team) has said:

            “This trend could spell disaster”


            However science says that as long as CO2 increases in the atmosphere that more heat will be trapped in the atmosphere.

            There is absolutely no possibility, no plan and no theory that indicates in anyway whatsoever that 7 – 10 billion people can exist even with only a fraction of our current lifestyle, without increasing CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.

            The only hope is to implement delaying tactics (renewables and sequestation) and hope for some new technology that, unfortunately, cannot even be imagined at present.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Blith, the irrational optimist is, as usual, obtuse, confused and hypocritical.

      He idolises COR and thinks that the progress of civilisation is something to be lamented, not celebrated, like normal people would but with a bit of luck it will all end soon with CAGW.

      And if he can help to bring it down with any of the usual lefty ideology, without affecting his own comforts, why not?

      “Fenner is an authority on extinction.”

      Well, he didn’t go too well with his Myxo and you would think he would’ve understood that humans are more like rabbits than variola virus.

      Shame he fell off his perch before he supplied all that vital evidence.

  • margaret says:

    Within my grandmother’s lifetime the miracles of aviation, the motor car, the telephone, movie industry, modern dentistry, television, space travel, modern contraceptives, jumbo jets, computers and a multitude of household appliances all occurred, too many to mention from time of birth to her death aged 89. She had a brother and five sisters. Women got the vote too.
    Great strides in human progress for sure and none of them possible without technological advancement. Such progress has led to improvements in health, education and happiness for many if not most people.
    But it’s at the top of the ferris wheel that detachment enables the comfortably well off to bask in the ‘progress of man’.
    The big beneficiaries of this progress can look down at the little ‘ants’ below thinking things like “how lucky that Rule Britannia came to this country and dispossessed the traditional owners, because they were primitive, the land was almost uninhabitable, and, we made it great.”
    It seems to me, correct me if I’m wrong (no shrinking violets grace this cohort of owm that I have experienced), that participation in WWI and/or II may have thankfully, because of the years you were born, either eluded or intruded only minimally on the lives of your nearest and dearest; thereby allowing you to participate instead in the hollow celebration of the ANZAC myth and retained that wonderful cock-eyed optimism that gives a lovely Uncle Arthur air to your musings.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Did your grandmother think the Anzacs were a hollow “myth” marg?

      Or do you only think so because they were just a bunch of potential OWM?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Margaret, who is ‘basking’? I am endeavouring to show that the prevailing gloom about the future is misplaced. And I said nothing about Anzac, mythic or otherwise.

        • spangled drongo says:

          You should stop dredging up your incorrect view of the past if you ever expect to win this argument, marg.

          You are simply proving that the world is improving.

          Like Simon says:

          “The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today’s Western living standards.

          I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse.”

          The reasons for your Malthusian pessimism may never eventuate.

    • margaret says:

      My comment was to the group of owm rather than to an individual.
      Anzac mythology is part of the Rule Brittania heritage of which we were all a part until 1949 legislation really called us Australian not British subjects.

    • margaret says:

      My grandmother joined The Penguin Club sometime in middle age after her three children were ‘grown up’ sufficiently.

      • spangled drongo says:

        The Penguin Club, hey, marg? That wouldn’t be one of those discriminatory, sexist, single sex clubs that you women hate, would it, by any chance?

        • margaret says:

          Ummm …. you really are a Drongo after all.

          • margaret says:

            “The Penguin Club was founded in Sydney in 1937 by women for women. It was one of the first organisations to give women the opportunity to develop communication skills, in an era when women were not active in public life.”

          • spangled drongo says:

            No excuses or alibis, marg, just the facts:

            “The Penguin Club was founded in Sydney in 1937 by women for women.”

            And there I was thinking you hated that discriminatory, gender-segregated, etc. sort of thing.

            Don’t tell me you are becoming more mellow, tolerant and optimistic in your old age?

    • margaret says:

      “Today, disparaging the past is a mark of intellectual respectability. Anyone who believes that history involves loss as well as gain is reactionary: “The preference among liberal intellectuals is for a new kind of Whig history – one where the past is to be surveyed primarily to expose its failings…”

  • Art says:

    The choice between optimism and pessimism often is more a function of ones personal circumstances rather than what is actually going on in the world. As Solon said to King Croesus (reported by Herodotus) Call no man happy until he is dead.

  • Neville says:

    Here is Matt Ridley’s 2016 GWPF lecture at the Royal Society. You will find many references, graphs etc to all of the data and evidence he used during the lecture. Using the latest data you can well understand why he is so optimistic about our future.

    But he also lists all the dud forecasts from earlier times and notes that nearly all of them were wrong. Compare this latest data about the real planet earth to the buffoonery about some fantasy planet from the likes of Flannery’s Climate Council.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Some great cause for optimism about pessimism:

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    To me, as a Cassandra, Don’s essay, and the majority of comments, seem to be directed to technological ‘fixes’ for current problems, and presuppose that social conditions will remain favourable for the development and implementation of the same.

    I do not address global issues, there are plenty specific to Australia.

    The impact of immigration. Politicians of all stripes love to flaunt the ‘success’ of historical immigration to Australia, neglecting to mention that this took place under the most favourable conditions possible – a resource rich country, with plenty of jobs and living space, particularly in the cities. This is no longer the case. Jobs are limited, wages are stagnant, housing is generally unaffordable for any but the affluent, and living costs are amongst the highest in the world. Yet politicians persist with immigration rates that give us the highest population growth in the developed world.

    Australia is unique, in that almost a third of its present population was born outside the country. Yet politicians and the ‘elite’ believe that all these people with wildly different cultural backgrounds and beliefs will forego them as they become ‘Australians’. There is no rational basis for this belief. Indeed, the long-term persistence of expatriate communities in many countries clearly demonstrates the resistance of identifiable communities to integration with the host community. The larger the minority population, and the more self-sufficient it becomes, the more impervious it is to ‘integration’. These communities will inevitably work to acquire political influence for themselves, which may, but probably will not, be in the best interests of Australia.

    It should not be necessary to point out that democracy is extraordinarily susceptible to influence by people who vote as a block. We take it for granted that everyone recognises its advantages, but this is not universally accepted. Millions of people in the world would vote for a theocracy. It is worth remembering that, in a popular vote, Turkey rejected democracy in favour of a dictatorship.

    I have no confidence that an agglomeration of minorities would provide an environment in which a cohesive ‘Australian’ cultural identity could evolve and flourish. The wide-eyed optimists have usually been disappointed.

    • Neville says:

      Yes Bryan and your concerns seem to be reflected across the EU. Personally I would never trust Labor on immigration because they would never take a hard enough line on Muslim extremism. But it’s good to see the Greens losing support in some of the latest election results.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I hope that as an optimist, I’m not wide-eyed.

      You make some good points, but consider what has happened since the 1950s to the Croats, Serbs, Italians, Turks and Greeks, most of who are now recognisably adjectival-Australians. I don’t want a continuation of heavy immigration but equally, I think we may be able to accommodate the new arrivals of the past twenty or so years too. yes, Australia was be different, but if it is better, that doesn’t worry me.

  • Chris Warren says:

    So we now have conditions for Optimism and conditions for Pessimism, provided we ignore the standard denialists that always seem to pop-up.

    Frank Fenner and other ANU voices are right – if we do not garner sufficient political will to ensure that our economics or lifestyle is ecologically sustainable then humanity falls into a final catastrophe.

    We know that continuously increasing GHGs in the atmosphere guarantees eventual catastrophe.

    We know that the amount of carbon that can be reabsorbed by the Earth’s ecology is around 5 GT carbon or 18 GT CO2.

    We know that the population will, inevitably, top 10 billion people.

    So the condition for real optimism is that the future average CO2 emissions per capita must not exceed 1.8 tonnes pa or some incredible new science must emerge to extract GT’s of CO2 and methane from the atmosphere each year.

    The condition for pessimism is simple – it is any spreading of economics or lifestyle that emits more than 1.8 tonnes CO2 pa or 0.5 GT carbon.

    The current (2014) per capita emissions of carbon are:

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 4.43 metric tons.
    AUSTRALIA 4.17
    CANADA 4.12

    So why do our denialists try to spread optimism based on everything else but the science of carbon, even misusing Hans Rosling in the process.

    Wiser people are starting to wake up, for example according to Christine Legarde;

    Even more important is the issue of climate change, which, in my view, is by far the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century. The science is sobering—the global temperature in 2012 was among the hottest since records began in 1880. Make no mistake: without concerted action, the very future of our planet is in peril.

    So we need growth, but we also need green growth that respects environmental sustainability. Good ecology is good economics. This is one reason why getting carbon pricing right and removing fossil fuel subsidies are so important.

    We need to kick our denialists out of the way and start developing the necessary political will to reduce global carbon emissions to the level at which carbon is reabsorbed by the environment.

    Nothing else matters.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Nothing else matters.”

      If you are serious and really believe this, pray tell us what habits you have changed in substantial ways and actions you have taken at personal cost, to help prevent your perceived catastrophe?

      You know, to prove it is true belief as opposed to hypocritical blither.

    • Neville says:

      Chris I know I’m wasting my time, but here is Dr Finkel telling anyone who cares to listen that there is nothing OZ can do to change the climate. And Lomborg has used the best science to show that full Paris COP 21 implementation won’t make a measurable difference either. And Dr Hansen calls COP 21 just BS and fra-d.
      When will you wake up to yourself? Who is the true denier here?

      • margaret says:

        Dr. Finkel looks different there.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Misunderstanding the problem like this reduces you to a laughing stock.

        Of course if Australia – by itself – reduces carbon emissions to zero, this will have NO measurable impact on global warming.

        Noone proposes that Australia does this in the absence of similar measures by other nations.

        Obviously Hansonites cannot tie their own shoelaces.

        Denialists are dimwits at best and drongos at worst.

        • Neville says:

          Well I said I’d be wasting my time and I was correct. Data and evidence means nothing to these people. I would be the last person to defend Dr Hansen but he is right about COP 21.
          He also said that a belief in S&W energy is like believing in the Easter bunny and the Tooth fairy. IOW just a fairy tale.

          • Chris Warren says:


            It is all entirely based on data and evidence and analysis.

            Otherwise you really are wasting your time.

            Ignore Roberts et al, they are ignorant of the data and evidence of the global carbon sink and the analysis that suggests this creates a global limit which humanity must respect.

        • JimboR says:

          I’m not even sure it matters what governments decide anymore since they long ago exited from the building and owning of power stations (with the exception of the SA govt). You really need to follow the money and that will quickly take you to all the giant pension funds around the world. The amount of global capital locked in them is staggering, and they pretty much fund all of this stuff world wide.

          Turnbull and Frydenberg recently begged AGL to extend the life of Liddell and they simply responded “Sorry, but we’re getting out of coal”. It shows how little power they really have. Even their latest plan is rumoured to mandate reliability (something I think we’d all agree on) but it’ll be up to the power companies how they achieve that. Coal will remain a significant source for a while yet as the existing coal power stations steam towards their use-by date, but nobody is going to build a new one. Why? Because those in charge of all those trillions of dollars in global pension funds believe the science and vote at shareholder meetings:

          Why do they care? It’s not because they’re a bunch or rampant lefty greenies, it’s because they own infrastructure all around the world, and they see that infrastructure increasingly at risk by climate change. Australia’s largest Super fund (AustralianSuper – who are also voting at that Origin shareholder’s meeting) has over a hundred billion dollars worth of investments, and they say:

          “Climate change can have a broad ranging impact on economies, financial markets and our members’ investments over the long term. It has the potential to effect the longevity of assets, companies and their valuations in a variety of ways. Investments in property and infrastructure, like toll roads, airports and ports, may be affected and there could be an impact on the operations of many companies in which AustralianSuper invests. We actively engage with companies on the risks relating to future fossil fuel consumption and physical changes in the climate.”

          So the RWNJs may have convinced some politicians that coal is good, but now they need to convince the folk with all the money. Good luck with that.

          • JimboR says:

            And all of these global pension funds invest in global companies and global infrastructure projects. That’s why a Californian pension fund is throwing its weight around at an Origin shareholder’s meeting. Like CO2 emissions, pension funds don’t recognise borders. So “what Australia does” is pretty much meaningless. It’s what the folk with the global capital do that matters.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Good to hear you admit it, jimb.

            Sceptics have been trying to tell you bed-wetters for years that it’s not the science, it’s the money.

            And the money can see that as with the nuclear solution, science, logic, rationality, honesty etc., has nothing to do with the “debate”.

            Doom screaming sandwich boards backed up by wet knickers and endless money is hard to beat.

            Gee!!! A Californian pension fund, hey?

            Is Arnie in charge, by any chance?

            That’s really convincing evidence.

            I thought a clever lad like you would realise how this simply confirms the scam.

            How the effwitz like the COR are winning the war.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Don’t look now, jimb, but here’s some of the science in the “debate” which the alarmists and the money is conveniently ignoring:


          • spangled drongo says:

            In case you can’t figure that out with the added spin of CNN plus WWF, Adelie Penguins have thrived during the Holocene and prefer the good climate that we are generally currently having.

            And Polar Bears [and humans] agree.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Hey blith, not only are we still waiting for “greenhouse”, we’re still waiting for you to answer a simple question.

          Or would you prefer we simply accept that blitherers are the biggest hypocrites of all.

        • Don Aitkin says:


          Would you like to list the measures that are actually being taken by other countries, apart from China’s not doing anything until 2030…?

          • Chris Warren says:

            I think the relatively recent drive to replace fossil fuel cars with electric vehicles is useful and maybe a cause for some optimism. Australia is doing nothing in this regard except there are a few electric and hybrid buses running around and a sprinkling of electric vehicles owned by private individuals on their own initiatives.

            The global moves to establish solar generation also are useful.

            However these steps and global agreements over targets – Kyoto to Paris, seem to only slow GHG accumulation, but with no measurable impact on Mauna Loa data trends.

            However, it is not reasonablr for a small part of the global system, such as a particular city in USA, to say – if we cut our emissions to zero, it will have zero impact on global warming, therefore it is all fraud and bull shit.

            This is a drongo argument even though it comes out of the mouth of one useless parliamentarian.

          • spangled drongo says:

            It is beyond the ken of poor ol’ blith to understand that if we are having supply problems with renewable power while having a 100% f/f transport system, that switching to electricity-powered transport will be nothing short of disastrous.

            He is even optimistic about it. WOW!!!

            He lacks the gumption and imagination to realise that he would then need two electric vehicles, a f/f vehicle plus a pushbike and a public transport pass to achieve the same mobility.

            Plus he is too obtuse to get that if a country like Australia [not a town in the USA, blith] did not go down this path, the savings in CO2 emissions alone would be huge whereas the increases would be near zero.

            So the net emissions would be considerably less.

            Go back to school, blith!

            BTW, have you fitted solar panels to your sandwich boards yet?

            Y’know, so we can read ’em at night?

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Chris, your response does not deal with my request at all. But in any case, as SD pointed out, you can’t run a vehicle system of electric vehicles solely on alternative energy. Or if you think we can, it would be helpful to be told why, and where your evidence comes from. To me it’s snakes chasing their tails.

            I accept that petroleum has many other uses than transport, and it’s sensible to conserve it if we can. And electric cars may be a useful alternative. But then they will depend on coal, if we’re not going to use oil or gas.

          • Chris Warren says:

            I am not a fan of “what countries are doing …”. There is just too much political spin and compromises to set the planet on a path that will result in zero growth of GHG’s in the atmosphere.

            Both China and India and other developing nations are insisting on developing their economies to the same level as in the leading OECD nations and even surpassing them.

            The OECD economies have not shown any hint of even considering dealing with population and growth although there are some activist economists calling for “degrowth”.

  • Neville says:

    I know I’m expecting a lot from these people but somebody has to keep talking about the real evidence and data and the real planet earth. These people are so lost in their fantasy world that they ignore simple maths, evidence and data at every turn.
    Here is the latest data from the IEA (EU) showing the TOTAL energy used by the countries of the world. You’ll note that fossil fuels and bio/waste make up 90.8% and geo +S&W make up just 1.5% of TOTAL energy used today and the EIA tells us that co2 emissions will increase by a further 34% by 2040. The IEA informed Lomborg that S&W alone make up about 0.6% of TOTAL world energy. Starting to get the picture?

  • Neville says:

    Remember how the media, Greens etc keep insisting that China is doing amazing things about co2 emissions? This is just more BS and fra-d when you check the data from the IEA. In fact over two thirds of China’s energy comes from coal and that is much higher than other OECD and non OECD countries. Geo, S&W is just 1.6% or about the same as the rest of the world.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s more proof that wind energy is a disaster and now Minnesota is counting the cost after wasting 15 bn $ and forcing up the price of their electricity. They used to be lower than the US average but because of their stupidity they are now higher.

    Posted on October 15, 2017 by John Hinderaker in Energy Policy, Minnesota
    “Green” Energy Fails Every Test

    “Liberals will tell you that Minnesota is one of the nation’s leaders in “green” energy, so its experience represents a good test: can green energy fulfill the extravagant promises made by its backers?

    The answer is a resounding No, according to a blockbuster paper by our own Steve Hayward and Center of the American Experiment’s Peter Nelson. The paper, titled “Energy Policy in Minnesota: the High Cost of Failure,” can be read or downloaded at the Center’s web site.

    Minnesota is a poor place for solar power, so its renewable policies have focused on wind. Minnesota has gone whole hog for wind energy, to the tune of–the Hayward/Nelson paper reveals, for the first time–approximately $15 billion. It is noteworthy that demand for electricity in Minnesota has been flat for quite a few years, so that $15 billion wasn’t spent to meet demand. Rather, it replaced electricity that already was being produced by coal, nuclear and natural gas plants.

    Wind energy is intermittent and unreliable; it can only be produced when the wind is blowing within certain parameters, and cannot be stored at scale. It is expensive and inefficient, and therefore patently inferior to nuclear, coal and natural gas-powered electricity, except in one respect–its “greenness.” That greenness consists of not emitting carbon dioxide. So, for $15 billion, Minnesota must have bought a dramatic reduction in the state’s CO2 emissions, right?

    Wrong. As the Hayward/Nelson paper shows, that massive investment hasn’t even made a dent. This chart shows total CO2 emissions from the state, by sector, from 1990 through 2014. There was a slight dip in 2012 and 2013 not because of wind power, but because an accident put one of the state’s major coal-fired units out of commission for two years:

    Minnesota’s massive investment in wind power has reduced CO2 emissions from the electricity generation sector slightly, but that reduction has been below average compared with the nation as a whole. Why? Because the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions, if you think that is a worthy goal, has been to replace coal with natural gas. Wind power has many defects, one of which is that it is windiest in the spring and fall, when demand for electricity is at its low ebb, and least windy in the summer and winter, when electricity demand peaks. So what fills those gaps? In Minnesota, coal does.

    So Minnesota’s colossal investment in wind energy has been a total failure, in its own terms–a failure for which the state’s consumers and businesses have paid dearly. Historically, Minnesota enjoyed the advantage of relatively cheap electricity. Generally, electricity prices were around 18% lower in Minnesota than the national average. This was a big deal in a state where some other costs–e.g., the price of heating your home in the winter–were inevitably higher than average.

    So what has happened to that 18% price discount during the years when billions have been spent on windmills and transmission lines? It has disappeared. In fact, 2017 is the first year on record in which the price of electricity in Minnesota is above the national average. Way to go, greenies.

    The sad story of Minnesota’s green energy failure is one that no doubt is being replicated around the country. And one of the ironies of green energy is that it is terrible for the environment. Both wind and solar energy require enormous amounts of land compared with conventional, reliable energy sources. Minnesota has scarred its landscape with endless acres of giant windmills and, to a lesser degree, solar panels. When those windmills begin to rust and fall still, the environmental damage will be even greater. And the green cronies who are now making millions through their political connections will be long gone.”

    There is much more in the paper, which you can read or download at the link above.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Apart from the CAGWers, here is another reason for serious pessism:

    “This pilot hit the nail right on the head in his open letter.

    A newspaper printed that a Muslim doctor is saying we are profiling him because he has been checked three times while getting on airplanes. The following is a response letter from a pilot. This well-spoken man, who is a pilot with American Airlines, says beautifully what is in his heart.


    By Captain John Maniscalco, American Airlines Pilot

    I’ve been trying to say this since 911 – you worry me, and I wish you didn’t. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don’t blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me.

    I notice you because I can’t help it anymore. People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now.

    I don’t fully understand their grievances and hate, but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.

    On September 11, ARAB-MUSLIMS hijacked four jetliners in my country. They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others, hacking their necks, over and over, with box cutters. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings, killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants and children’s mothers.

    The Palestinians celebrated, the Iraqis were overjoyed, as was most of the Arab world. So, I notice you now. I don’t want to be worried.

    I don’t want to be consumed by the same rage, hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists. But I need your help. As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.

    How do I differentiate between the true Arab/Muslim Americans and the Arab/Muslim terrorists in our communities who are attending our schools, enjoying our parks, and living in OUR communities under the protection of OUR constitution, while they plot the next attack that will slaughter MORE of the same good neighbors and children?

    The events of September 11 changed the answer. It is not MY responsibility to determine which of you embraces our great country, with ALL of its religions, with ALL of its different citizens, with all of its faults. It is time for every Arab/Muslim in this country to determine it for me.

    I want to know, I DEMAND to know and I have a right to know, whether or not you love America…. Do you pledge allegiance to its flag? Do you proudly display it in front of your house, or on your car? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation – that He will protect it and let it prosper? Or do you pray that Allah will destroy it in one of your Jihads? Are you thankful for the freedom that this nation affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots who have, throughout our history, given their lives for this country? Are you willing to preserve this freedom by also paying the ultimate sacrifice? Do you love America? If this is your commitment, then I need YOU to start letting ME know about it.

    Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with hard facts on your faith, and what hard actions YOU are taking as a community and as a religion to protect the United States of America. Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the innocent, because I worry about who you regard as innocent. No more benign overtures of condemnation for the unprovoked attacks, because I worry about what is unprovoked to you. I am not interested in any more sympathy – I am interested only in action. What will you do for America – our great country – at this time of continuing crisis, at this time of war?

    I want to see Arab-Muslims waving the AMERICAN flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting ‘Allah Bless America’. I want to see young Arab/Muslim men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money, time and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to our returning wounded and to this nation as a whole.

    The FBI has had a long list of people they’ve wanted to interact with regarding the threats that they believe to be ongoing. Many of these people live and socialize right now in Muslim communities. You know them. You know where they are. Give the FBI a heads up as to where they may be. Better yet, hand them over to us – NOW! But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action. Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close even tighter. You have disappeared from the streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisals.

    The very few Arab/Muslim representatives, like CAIR, that HAVE appeared in the media were defensive and equivocating. They seemed more concerned with making sure that the United States apologize and take responsibility for actions defending our own people. They seemed more concerned with protecting their fellow Muslims from violence directed towards them in the United States and abroad than they did with supporting our country and denouncing ‘leaders’ like the late Khadafi, the late Hussein, Farrakhan, and the late Arafat.

    If the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace, and love for all people, then I want chapter and verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up. What good is it if the teachings in the Koran are good, pure, and true, when your ‘leaders’ ARE teaching fanatical interpretations, terrorism and intolerance? It matters little how good Islam SHOULD BE if huge numbers of the world’s Muslims interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion. A form that has been demonstrated to us over and over again. A form whose structure is built upon a foundation of violence, death and suicide. A form whose members are recruited from the prisons around the world.

    A form whose members (some as young as five years old) are seen day after day, week in and week out, year after year, marching in the streets around the world, burning effigies of our presidents, burning the American flag, shooting weapons into the air. A form whose members convert from a peaceful religion, only to take up arms against the great United States of America, the country of their birth. A form whose rules are so twisted, that their traveling members refuse to show their faces at airport security checkpoints, in the name of Islam.

    We will NEVER allow the attacks of September 11, or any others for that matter, to take away that which is so precious to us – our rights under the greatest Constitution in the world. I want to know where every Arab Muslim in this country stands and I think it is my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to DEMAND it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters who died protecting the very Constitution that is protecting you and your family.

    I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here as my brother, my neighbor, my friend, as a fellow American…… But there can be no gray areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance – and it is up to YOU to show ME where YOU stand. Until then, “YOU WORRY ME!”

  • spangled drongo says:

    Optimism can quickly change with just a tiny spelling mistake:

    “Hi darling I’m enjoying and experiencing the best time of my life
    & I wish you were her!”

  • Neville says:

    After watching OZ waste endless billions $ every year on the S&W idiocy I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The latest data from the IEA shows that OZ generates 97.5% of TOTAL energy from fossil fuels + bio/waste. And just 1.5% from geo +S&W.
    But this morning I listened to Flannery’s climate council telling us we should be using even more S&W to” fight climate change.” These people are barking mad and their ABC follow these donkeys around and seem to be just as careless with the data.
    Of course OZ emits just 1.2% of total world co2 emissions, so there is zero chance of “fighting CC” and yet the media is either too stupid or are deliberately treating the public like mushrooms. Why is it so?

  • spangled drongo says:

    I dunno whether to P or O about this. It could change the whole approach to women’s football:

    “The AFL has declared transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey ineligible to play in next year’s national women’s competition because of the competitive advantage she would receive from her size and strength.

    The ruling leaves the door open for Mouncey, a 27-year-old, former national-level men’s handball player, to pursue her footballing dream in the future if her physique alters or the strength of other women playing in the AFL improves.

    Mouncey, who began transitioning two years ago, can continue to play women’s club football for Ainslie in the ACT. She was inspired to try to play professional football after watching this year’s inaugural AFLW season.

    “I know I’m different and not necessarily in a good or bad way, but I know I am going to be seen differently,’’ she said earlier this year.

    The final decision on Mouncey’s eligibility for tomorrow’s AFLW draft was reached AFL after the AFL considered submissions on behalf of Mouncey and its own legal advice.

    The decision is primarily based on the AFL’s reading of the Commonwealth Equal Opportunity Act, which provides an exemption for sporting competitions to discriminate on the basis of sex or gender identity if the “strength, stamina or physique’’ of competitors is relevant.

    Although Mouncey’s testosterone levels are below the benchmark used by the International Olympic Committee to determine the eligibility of transgender athletes, the AFL was more concerned about the performance advantage Mouncey would receive from her 100kg, 190cm physique developed during her years as teenage boy and adult man.

    The AFL tested Mouncey’s strength, size and stamina and compared her results to every other woman currently playing in the newly formed AFLW.

    “She is just so far off the charts compared to the next closest athlete,’’ a source said.”


      SD, you and I have been accustomed to standing when relieving ourselves trying to dissolve some bastards old cigarette butt, when we should have been sitting (to cover all bases). What do doctors/ midwives do now when it comes to filling out the SEX OF THE CHILD on the birth certificate ? I suppose a safe bet would be TOO EARLY TO TELL.

      Should the other attendants point out that there a tiny sausage in clear and plain sight, the doctor would be well covered in telling them they are penile retentive, to grow up, get a life, and catch up on the new awesome anatomy going forward, and that all things being considerd it will work itself out in the long run.

      Still, there is always Photoshop.

  • Neville says:

    Andrew Bolt and Barnaby Joyce try to explain the Coalition’s new policy on energy. Certainly there seems to be little support from Labor and the Greens. Of course it’s all BS and fraud because the Coalition’s 28% and Labor’s 50% renewables won’t make any difference to climate or temp in 25 years or 50 years or by 2100.
    So why are we so stupid?

  • Neville says:

    Here is the Liberal party’s latest plans for renewables by 23% 2020 and 28% by 2030. The only thing is that they are not as stupid as Labor and the the Green’s plans to further force up the price of electricity.

    Supporting renewable energy

    The Turnbull Government will double large scale renewable energy in Australia over the next four years.

    Under the Renewable Energy Target, more than 23% of Australia’s electricity will come from renewable energy by 2020. We are supporting large scale projects, while at the same time making solar more affordable for households.

    We are encouraging new technology to assist in the transition to clean energy, through the $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund. This Fund will target projects such as large-scale solar.
    Tackling climate change

    To protect our environment for future generations, we need to tackle climate change.

    As a country, we are playing our part in the global challenge on climate change. Australia has signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

    We are on track to beat our 2020 target by 78 million tonnes, and have set an ambitious target of reductions of up to 28% by 2030 based on 2005 levels. That is equivalent to reducing emissions per capita by up to 52%– the second largest reduction of any G20 economy.

    We will meet our targets without Labor’s Carbon Tax, which made electricity more expensive for all Australian families. We are investing $2.55 billion to incentivise business to reduce their emissions through our Emissions Reduction Fund.

    Projects we’ve supported include carbon farming to increase carbon in the soil, energy efficient lighting for town councils, supporting re-vegetation and bushfire reduction.

    We are also implementing a National Energy Productivity Plan, reducing emissions from ozone-depleting gases and supporting investments in new technology such as solar storage.

  • Neville says:

    Denmark is famous for its extreme and very early uptake of wind energy. But this very extreme case is even more absurd than OZ or NZ. It has some of the highest electricity prices in the world and yet still generates 91.6% of its total energy from fossil fuels and bio/waste.

    Oh and like Sweden, Switzerland etc it only emits 0.1% of global co2 emissions. Unbelievable but true.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Jimb, what do you think all the power price increases due to renewables are if they are not a carbon price?

      Not to mention the huge subsidies and grants to the snake oil salesmen and the fake-news scientists.

      Hannam’s just a bit slow and one eyed.

      • Neville says:

        I’m surprised at you SD. You know Jimbo and others have little interest in real evidence, data etc from the real planet earth. They prefer their data from some parallel universe where they can make things up to suit their make believe world. Just like their hero Flannery.
        Forget about data on extreme events, polar bears, SLR, the hot spot, Antarctic ice and temp, droughts, floods, clueless S&W energy, the con and fra-d of Paris COP 21 etc. But apart from the above and many more and the lack of logic and reason from every govt on the planet I’m still optimistic about the future.
        Thanks to Lomborg, Goklany, Ridley, Rosling, Curry, Lindzen. Spencer, Christy, Stott etc for their hard work over many years.

  • Neville says:

    Good post from Jo Nova about the clueless German wind industry. Why are we following these fools?

  • Neville says:

    Here is the latest German TOTAL energy PIE graph from the IEA.

  • JimboR says:

    Looks like both sides of SA state politics are optimistic about batteries. The SA Libs recently announced a $100 million household battery program to assist 40,000 SA homes stick a battery on their solar panels.

    Meanwhile, Turnbull may have pulled off the impossible…. party room approval and ALP (begrudgingly) approval of his NEG.

    “And they say the mechanism, when stripped of its marketing, is not dramatically different from an emissions intensity scheme, which Labor originally favoured.”

    Optimism all around!

    • dlb says:

      Perhaps caution would be the term I would use for this proposal.
      Until the technology has been proven, I would not like to have a battery bank within 10m of my house.
      Regardless of the political parties involved I am getting the smell of pink bats.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Jimb, have you ever done the sums on using your own batteries on solar panels?

      Like $10,000 worth of batteries that are stuffed in 10 years for $3 worth of power?

      When we already have a grid that does it for nothing?

      But you think it is fine economically if the taxpayer subsidises it?

      And that makes you optimistic?


  • spangled drongo says:

    I’m a bit pessimistic about bikes these days:

    “I went to Dan Murphy’s liquor store Friday afternoon on my bicycle.

    I bought a bottle of Scotch and put it in the bicycle’s basket.

    As I was about to leave, I thought to myself that if I fell off the bicycle, the bottle would break.

    What to do I asked myself?


    I drank all the Scotch before I cycled home.

    It turned out to be a very, very good decision.

    Because I fell off my bicycle seven times on the way home.”

  • Don Aitkin says:

    One thread is now too long. So to Chris, who says he is not a fan of ‘what countries are doing’. But Chris, you seemed to want to make the point that
    ‘No one proposes that Australia does this in the absence of similar measures by other nations.’ And I was asking you what you thought other countries were actually doing. You don’t want to know? Then, given (and you are correct to think so) that it doesn’t matter a jot what Australia does, because it won’t have any effect on global temperature [unless other countries are doing the same, and even then, as I’ve shown before, it still doesn’t matter a jot], why in blazes are you supporting all this?

    • JimboR says:

      “[unless other countries are doing the same, and even then, as I’ve shown before, it still doesn’t matter a jot]”

      Shown? I think “falsely claimed” might be closer to the truth. Don, you’re going to have to do a lot more science before you can claim to have shown anything.

    • Chris Warren says:


      The global national responses so far are inadequate and not up to the task. Therefore my disinterest. But don’t play this up as a general point.

      The point remains that the solution requires international coordination and not some individual breakout or a go-it-alone approach by Australia.

      We still need to introduce renewable energy, and need to do so in the context of other countries doing the same.

      Such steps delay the inevitable and give some time and possibly hope for finding some new technology in the next 50 or 100 years – maybe.

      So the current initiatives are not interesting as far as ending CO2 increases, but they are interesting as far as doing what we can to buy time. That is all that can be expected now. There is no possibility of ending current trends as there is not the “political will”, ie the factor pointed out by Boyden.

      • JimboR says:

        Exactly right. Current efforts are all about lowering the trajectory. The MAGICC calculator lets you play out the various possibilities. Last time this came up here, Don did his usual “I don’t have time for this now” retreat when the facts started to overwhelm his position.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          For readers who wonder what this all about (as well they might), I wrote a piece some years ago about how much any activity on our part would reduce global temperatures.

          I used a calculator called MAGICC, and said that anyone could see for themselves by simply following the link. It showed that nothing we did could be of much effect, and was presumably the source of Flannery’s contention that we wouldn’t see any change for a thousand years.

          More recently I went back to MAGICC again, courtesy Jimbo, who told me that I was simply wrong. But MAGICC had been completely refigured, and there was no way of comparing the old and the new (much more serious) outcomes. I wrote to Pat Michaels, who had prompted my interest in MAGICC, and asked him what had happened. He didn’t reply. My sense is that MAGICC has been changed to accommodate the conclusions of AR4, so of course it now provides effects that are much larger. You can see for yourself by going to MAGICC and reading what is said there.

          To me these changes rob the calculator of its meaning. It’s like climate sensitivity, without which there would be no AGW scare,. If you give climate sensitivity values like 3 or 4, of course you will get worrying increases in temperature. But nearly all the recent attempts to ‘measure’ the hypothetical construct have low values.

          So I stand by what I wrote all those years ago. It doesn’t matter what Australia or the USA or the world does. We are not in control of global temperature, any more than carbon dioxide is.

          • JimboR says:

            Pat Michaels? Why not ask the developers?

          • JimboR says:

            “To me these changes rob the calculator of its meaning.”

            How can you possibly judge which version is the more meaningful, until you know what was changed and why?

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Jimbo, I asked Pat Michaels because it was he who introduced me to the calculator. See the link in the original essay of mine. Why don’t I ask the developers? Because it is plain from going to MAGICC what has happened. It is now full of emission scenarios, which was not the case when I used it. As I said, it has been adapted so that it accords with AR4. What use is that? How can I know which is more meaningful? Easy. The one that does not have emissions scenarios and storylines that come from AR4.

            Jimbo, why don’t you go back to the original essays and show what is wrong with them? Go back to the links and show why, in your opinion, they were wrong.

          • JimboR says:

            Don, the scenarios simply pre-load all the various parameters. You can then go to the Advanced Settings page and set individual parameters to whatever you want. No matter what I tried I was unable to replicate your results.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        OK, Chris, so we don’t need to go it alone unless everyone else does (but see my response to Jimbo above). But as far as I can see, most countries are doing nothing, and China simply disregards the whole thing. What we might do in a year China makes irrelevant in a few days. There’s lots of talk, but not much action, and renewable subsidies seem to be going. So why do we need to introduce renewable energy, which is making our baseline power unreliable and expensive?

        I find your reasoning hard to follow. Perhaps you could set it out from first principles, with appropriate references. I would be happy to run it as a guest essay.

        • Chris Warren says:


          That will take a bit of time.

        • JimboR says:

          “most countries are doing nothing, and China simply disregards the whole thing. ”

          Coalswarm track the pipeline of global coal fired power stations, from new starts to development, to retirements. They’re quite a bit more optimistic than you are Don:

          The main cause of the shrinkage in the coal plant
          pipeline was the imposition of unprecedented and
          far-reaching restrictive measures by China’s central
          government. Over 300 GW of projects in various stages
          of development were put on hold until after the 13th
          Five Year Plan (2016–2020), including 55 GW of projects
          that were already under construction. A typical coal-
          fired generating unit is 500 MW, or 0.5 GW, in size, with
          most power stations having two or more such units.

          In parallel with China’s government-imposed slow-
          down, India also experienced a slowdown in coal plant
          development, driven primarily by the reluctance of
          banks and other financiers to provide further funds.
          Work at 13 locations is currently on hold, representing
          13 GW of stranded assets.

          In addition to a shrinking coal power pipeline, retire-
          ments of older plants have steadily grown in the past
          decade, as shown in Figure 8, including 36,667 MW in
          2015 and 27,041 MW in 2016.

  • Neville says:

    Why complicate things when Lomborg has all the detail in his PR STUDY OF Paris COP21. He’s used MAGICC to do his calculations and shown that there is no measurable change by 2100. And that’s if every country followed COP 21 to the letter and were stupid enough to waste 1 to 2 trillion $ a year into the bargain. DR Hansen’s BS AND FRA-D claim is therefore spot on. Here’s the link AGAIN.
    OH and Lomborg’s team has Nobel prize winning stats, economists etc who know how to do these calculations as does Lomborg as well.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Jimbo, as far as I can see, that is not correct. And I repeat that you ought to go to not only my essay but the linked one by Michaels and Knappenberger and point out our errors. To say that you can’t replicate what we did is agreed, but the reason is not, if you will allow me, because I and they got it wrong. Everyone who used MAGICC at that time came away with similar results.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      And I offer you the same opportunity that I offered Chris. Set out what you think the reality is, and why you think so, and I’ll run it as a guest essay. You like the quick jab. Let’s see how you go with a thoughtful and reasoned piece of your own.

    • JimboR says:

      The problem is that the calculator you rely on does not (at least now) produce the results you and the other two claim it once did. All the parameters you set manually can still be set manually. My guess is user error but it is just a guess. If you contact the developers they might be able to suggest what you were doing wrong. Perhaps they had a bug in an earlier version that is now fixed?

      To repeat what I said above, you’ve not _shown_ anything, you’ve made a claim. That might count as proof in the political science department but it falls well short of the requirements needed to prove something in real science.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        That calculator does not now exist. What we have now is one that has absorbed AR4, so it has emission scenarios and representative concentration pathways that include climate sensitivities of much more than 1. There is no way that you now do what I and others didl The fact you can’t is not an induction that I and others must have been wrong.

        And plainly you haven’t gone back to see what we did.

        • JimboR says:

          Yes you can, you’re just not trying hard enough. Clearly you still don’t know how to use the tool. You can still manually load up whatever climate sensitivities you want.

          Don, we can argue about how to work MAGICC until the cows come home, but we don’t seem to be progressing. Step back for a minute. You claim to have shown that nothing we do with CO2 emissions matter a jot to future temperature trajectories. Apart from yours and one or two others’ early dalliances in MAGICC, do you have any other evidence of that? If MAGICC had never existed, what would your proof be?

          Given that MAGICC no longer supports your claim, do you think it might be time to re-assess your position? You seem to be putting all your credibility eggs into a single basket… a basket that no longer exists. Remember, you’re great great grandchildren are going to be reading that essay.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Hey, Jimbo. I’m not trying to do what you want at all at all, and you don’t read what I and others write. Don’t give me work to do. I don’t need it. What is available now is not what was available five years ago. Nothing much has changed in the climate world over that five years, but one can no longer do what one could then. Instead, we have a quite new calculator:

            ‘This is a new version of MAGICC/SCENGEN (version 5.3.v2) replacing version 4.1. There have been many changes, mainly to SCENGEN. These changes have been made primarily for consistency with the Working Group 1 report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment (AR4). The most important changes are:
            Historical forcings and forcing initialization values in MAGICC have been changed for consistency with AR4. Most of these changes are very small.
            The default and 90% confidence interval values for the climate sensitivity have been updated to 3.0°C (previously 2.6°C) and 1.5-6.0°C (previously 1.5-4.5°C)…

            What I wrote five years ago stands as to what was valid then. I say no more.

          • JimboR says:

            Yes the defaults have changed, but you can go in to advanced settings and change them back to any number you like.

            Can you cite any reputable source that believes today that what we do with our CO2 emissions doesn’t matter a jot to future temperature trajectories? The only people I can find making that claim are you and the two writers you quoted years ago. They’re smart enough to have gone quiet on it. You continue to cite it. It does nothing for your credibility.

          • JimboR says:

            “Can you cite any reputable source that believes today that what we do with our CO2 emissions doesn’t matter a jot to future temperature trajectories?”

            should have read

            “Can you cite any reputable source that believes today that what we do with our CO2 emissions doesn’t matter a jot to future temperature trajectories if climate sensitivity turns out to be 3?”

            Obviously you can make the entire problem go away if you set the dials correctly. But I’m particularly interested in your claim:

            “What if we reduced emissions by 40 per cent and doubled climate sensitivity to 3.00? Answer: by 2050, -0.045 degrees C, by 2100, -0.136 degrees C. ”

            Regardless of how you sourced that calculation, do you still believe that to be the case today? And if so, do you think you’re in good company?

            I notice in your original essay there’s a lot of talk of regions. Perhaps you only reduced Australia’s emissions by 40% and left the rest of the world emitting away? I could certainly believe that would have produced the minuscule temperature reductions you found, but that’s hardly consistent with your statement above:

            “[unless other countries are doing the same, and even then, as I’ve shown before, it still doesn’t matter a jot]”

  • spangled drongo says:

    It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future of the Kiwis under this dill:

    ‘“Capitalism is a blatant failure”..Well, goodbye New Zealand, you’ve really done it now.

    Heaven help New Zealand if they are her first comments. Capitalism produced the clothes she wears and stopped her from dying from polio and other childhood diseases. Perhaps she should read Alexander Solzenitsyn.

    After 9 prosperous years, sure, Capitalism is a failure. What a dope. Of course, socialism has worked everywhere, hasn’t it?”

    NZ the next Venezuela:

  • spangled drongo says:

    Sighting wildlife always gives you more optimism.

    This morning I got a Koala, two Crested Hawks, a Whiptail Wallaby and a Forest Kingfisher, among many more commoners.

    In fog, the frog calls from the bog
    And far away is heard
    The Crested Hawk, ‘eat you’, he’ll squawk,
    And the fabled Woop-Woop Bird.

    The Woop-Woop Bird is just about extinct around here from fox predation.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Even more optimistic this morning. My life is complete.

    Actually got a Woop-Woop Bird [Pheasant Coucal] at the bottom of the escarpment.

  • spangled drongo says:

    The Rational Optimist connects again with the Glyphosate scandal and the distortion of science:

  • […] earlier essays I have written about the virtues of optimism versus pessimism,  on multi-ethnicity rather than multi-culturalism (for example, here), and on the nation-state […]

  • […] no one much seemed to realise just how much Australia had improved in the last half century or so. I rather agreed with him. In each case ‘Australia’ was used as though we all knew what was meant, and other words like […]

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