Glass jaw: don't criticise Flannery with 'vicious' attacks, says Steffen

Rapidly losing credibility

Advice to Climate Commission: when you’re in a massive hole of your own making, best stop digging. But they are so horribly compromised that such painfully obvious action is impossible.

The Climate Commission’s sole purpose is to “spruik the government’s case for tackling climate change” as the Sydney Morning Herald article puts it (somewhat too honestly in fact!), so what else are they supposed to do?

Anyone with half a brain (even Steffen and Flannery when they are alone with their consciences) knows that nothing Australia does alone will make any difference to the climate, so the Commission has to rely on blatant and shameless alarmism to scare the public into believing the government’s pointless carbon tax will actually make some discernible difference to the climate.

The latest chapter in this never-ending saga of alarmism from the Climate Commission was released on Monday and predicted dire consequences for New South Wales. Not surprisingly, many regarded the report as hysterical. And when the Commission gets called out for it, they have no response, except to attack their critics:

Climate commissioner Will Steffen has called on critics to stop their “vicious” attacks against the body’s chief Tim Flannery and rejected suggestions the federal government-created commission is alarmist.

Flannery, Steffen and the Climate Commission have a glass jaw. Note how, just with the ANU “death threats” non-story, criticism or disagreement of any kind is immediately emotionalised and exaggerated by being branded “vicious”. The report was described by various commentators and politicians as “alarmist” and “fear mongering”. Which of those terms are “vicious”, Prof Steffen? Maybe he was referring to the bloke in the penguin suit…

Flannery has a track record of making hopeless end-of-pier style crystal-ball gazing prophecies, as Gaia’s self-appointed incarnation here on Earth, which have been wrong virtually every time – and paid very nicely for by taxpayer dollars, lots of them. If he can’t take the heat, maybe he should get out of the kitchen, or take the criticism without resorting to this kind of whining:.

“Climate scientists take exceptional care to be absolutely straight,” [Steffen] told AAP in an interview on Wednesday.

“We don’t use inflammatory language, we don’t overplay and we don’t underplay.” [ACM editor snorts coffee all over the screen – Ed]

The ANU researcher compared climate scientists to the family GP.

While you wouldn’t want them only to give dire warnings, “you certainly don’t want them to underplay the risks you might face and can do something about”. (source)

But this is patently nonsense, and exposes Steffen’s impossible position of having to defend a pointless policy through alarmism. Because there is nothing we can do about it, even if you believe CO2 is the main driver of climate, unless China and India decide to do something about it as well. Otherwise, it is utterly pointless.

Claiming not to overplay the seriousness of the issue is verging on incredible, since the only way the government’s policy can possibly be sold is through fear. Here is what the report says (p10) about health risks:

  • increasing mortality due to heat
  • heat related injuries like dehydration
  • increased cardiac, respiratory and mental health problems and death
  • increased air pollution that would affect asthma, hay fever, lung cancer and heart disease
  • decrease in rainfall would “increase the suicide rate by 8%”
  • behavioural and cognitive disorders increase during heat waves
  • electricity outages due to “extreme weather” may cause refrigerators to fail and cause illness from improperly stored foodstuffs
  • damage to sewage systems may contaminate water supplies
  • droughts will increase algae and contaminants in dam water

It goes on and on. And the report is punctuated by scary graphics like this:

Just in case you weren't scared enough

And that’s just health, let alone all the other issues like sea level rises of a metre by 2100 washing thousands of houses into the sea, despite actual data showing sea level rising at the same rate (about 3mm per year), leading to a rise of perhaps 25cm by the next century. And many, many more.

All, allegedly, from an increase in global average temperature of less than 1 degree in the last 200 years, much of which was likely due to natural variation. And Steffen has the gall to claim that they take “exceptional care to be absolutely straight”.

Steffen also claimed in several interviews that it was like “the climate on steroids”. That’s not inflammatory language? If not, what is, pray?

May I offer the Climate Commission a little more advice. If you want people to start listening again (because right now they are switching off in droves), you must cut the emotionalising, acknowledge areas of doubt, cut the arrogance, display a little more humility, cut the alarmism and stop trying to silence your critics and perhaps, just perhaps, you may be able to regain some credibility, because right now, your credibility is running on empty.

But there’s no chance of any of that – the Climate Commission is hamstrung – the inevitable result of an organisation having to defend the indefensible – a government climate mitigation policy that will do nothing for the climate.


  1. G’day Nerds. I will send you the bill for my carbon tax, in 2 weeks

  2. The Climate Commission sees itself in the same role as the IPCC, which as Pachauri “intimated”, is to make up scary stories to convince people to take action.

    Action decided by those who know what’s best for us.

  3. Good work. This is an illustration of that adage “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. Only when these individuals are repeatedly exposed and held to account for their false and incorrect fear making predictions will we see some honesty return to the debate.

    Its sickening that these professionals are now so bound up in this elaborate charade that they no longer can see the damage they have done to their own integrity and even worse to science as a whole.

  4. Streetcred says:

    Flannery and Steffen should stop their despicable psychological assault on the minds of the Australian people.

  5. The Federal Coalition has an opportunity to change the game here. All they have to say is that it has become clear that the claims that “the science is settled” can now be seen to be incorrect. Cite latest IPCC comments and various climate scientists to that effect. Acknowledge that there is much that is not known, and for issues that were previously thought to be settled, new information has raised concerns. Propose that the best solution is, for once and for all, to get to the bottom of the science. Propose a Royal Commission like inquiry (or similar) to address each of the key issues in the Anthropogenic CO2 Caused Climate Change discussion. Invite the concerned scientists to make their case in relation to each point. Invite leading sceptics to put their counter arguments. Allow cross examination.

    The issues:

    1. Is the world actually warming? It is clear that we may be seeing local and regional warming, but global warming? And why have we had all the adjustments, always “making it worse”? And has the delta UHI effect on temperature records been properly adjusted?

    2. What is the cause of observed warming? Is it natural cycles (particularly solar), changes in land-use causing changes to local and regional climate confused with global warming, is it anthropogenic CO2? What is the evidence for each? How much contribution from each?

    3. To the degree that anthropogenic CO2 is causing warming, how much? Sceptics agree that the physics shows some greenhouse effect, generally reckoned to be around 1 deg C for every doubling of atmospheric CO2. The key issue is feedbacks. The IPCC and friends say the feedbacks are strongly positive, giving 3.5 deg C for doubled CO2. Sceptics say that the temperature record v CO2 shows that the feedbacks are likely neutral or negative. Substantial papers support the latter position, whereas the IPCC position is based on models included in assumptions.

    And so on…………

    This would be a very good way for the Coalition to address the issue constructively, and find the right answers as to what we should be doing about anthropogenic CO2, if anything.

    In fact, there is no reason why the Coalition couldn’t convene such an exercise right now. Invite Steffen, Flannery and co to participate. Invite Bob Carter, William Kininmonth, David Evans, Ian Plimer and others to present the sceptical side. We’d soon sort it out. If Steffen, Flannery refuse to play, that effectively says that they are not confident enough in their ‘science’ to stand up and defend it.

  6. An increase in the suicide rate by 8%? Nice to know they can so accurately predict human behaviour, because you know, they predict everything else so well.

  7. Cool fool says:

    Climatology version of peer-review: chatting to your mate on the end of a pier.

  8. Timothy says:

    If Flannery et al. predicted the winners of each Saturday’s horse-races like they predict doom and gloom, they would have been bankrupt long ago. Why are so few journalists tackling them over their hopeless predictions and waste of money trying to scare the pants off people?

    • Baldrick says:

      Tim Flannery is a gambling man of sorts. In 2007 he was given 90 million tax-payer dollars ($90,000,000) to invest in Geodynamics – hot rocks.
      The company began trading at $1.50 per share.
      It’s now worth 0.12.

      Great work Tim!

  9. Very well said Simon.

    They don’t like it up ‘e,, do they. But wouldn’t it be great to have a post from a professional psychiatrist offering some public opinion on the psychiatric issues afflicting your average ‘government climate scientist’.

    I mean given some of the very high-profile examples we are all far too familiar with (nonames- wink-wink, nudge-nudge) it’s pretty clear that there is enough material there for entire convention of shrinks . Sure these people function at a high level – but then that’s a trait shared by many psychopaths.

    To my untrained eye, narcissistic and delusional tendencies seem to feature strongly… just my five bob worth.

  10. Greg Scott says:

    Flannery is upholding a fine old IPCC tradition

    “We need to get some broad based support,
    to capture the public’s imagination…
    So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
    make simplified, dramatic statements
    and make little mention of any doubts…
    Each of us has to decide what the right balance
    is between being effective and being honest.”
    – Prof. Stephen Schneider,
    Stanford Professor of Climatology,
    lead author of many IPCC reports


  1. […] how awfully oversensitive he is, in the same way he deemed criticism of Tim Flannery to be “vicious“. It is time to stop the phony, divisive, manufactured “debate” on climate […]

%d bloggers like this: