Tim Flannery Pushing Climate Seaweed Farms

The top of a kelp forest in Otago, New Zealand
The top of a kelp forest in Otago, New Zealand. Public Domain, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Tim Flannery, whose doom laden predictions of permanent drought in my opinion led to the waste of billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money, now wants governments to invest in climate seaweed farms.

Climate change expert advocates for seaweed farms to mitigate global warming


Last updated 09:04, August 30 2017

Seaweed farms could be a highly effective way to combat climate change, an expert says.

Acclaimed Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery spoke at The Inconvenient Conference held in Auckland on Tuesday and hosted by the Sustainable Business Network.

Flannery was Australia’s chief climate commissioner in 2011 and founded the Australian Climate Council in 2013. He also chaired the Copenhagen Climate Council in 2007.

He said seaweed’s role in protecting waterways and helping tackle climate change could not be overstated.

Read more: https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/96270852/climate-change-expert-advocates-for-seaweed-farms-to-mitigate-global-warming

Tim Flannery was Australia’s climate commissioner when he infamously predicted that “even the rain which falls won’t fill Australia’s dams”. In response to concern about rainfall, Australian governments initiated a series of useless, disastrously expensive desalination plant programmes.

Some more about Tim Flannery’s dud rainfall predictions here.

I would like to believe politicians have learned their lesson about wasting public money chasing Flannery’s wild climate fantasies, but there is something which resonates about the climate seaweed boondoggle, a magical combination of climate idealism and utter uselessness which I think will appeal to green leaning politicians.

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Ursus Augustus
September 6, 2017 6:10 am

This Tim Flam nuff nuff still hasn’t figured it out. Seaweed is already ‘mitigating’ ‘climate change’ and has been for millions of years, along with the rest of the evil carboniferous empire of doom aka the biosphere. Carbon has been on the way up for billions of years, slowly and steadily organising and sculpting the planet while silicon has been sitting around doing sweet FA, sunning itself and waiting for Tim Flam and Co. to come along and declare carbon is out and silicon based life is in.

Reply to  Ursus Augustus
September 6, 2017 6:12 am

I wonder how much Tim has invested in sea weed farms.

Robert from oz
Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2017 6:17 am

Mark if he’s pushing it you can bet he has a dollar in it somewhere .

Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2017 6:30 am

I’m thinking a relative at least has a vast interest in seaweed farms. Seems anything pushed by enviros generally makes themselves or a relative rich, in spite of their “disdain” for profit and capitalism.

Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2017 6:35 am

Mr Flannery has had quite enough of risking any of his own dough so naturally that only leaves ours-

The Rick
Reply to  Ursus Augustus
September 6, 2017 7:01 am

The science is solid, like that of global warming. It is backed by the Australian government that is replete with funds that need ‘investing’. So what could possibly go wrong with this well thought-out ‘farm’?

Cold in Wisconsin
September 6, 2017 6:16 am

So did the Australian dams fill up when it rained? Just wondering what happened.

Robert from oz
Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
September 6, 2017 6:18 am

Filled and then some , also having a record snow season .

Reply to  Robert from oz
September 6, 2017 7:00 am

This is evidence of global warming right here. Aussie ski fields have a 2.5m snow base and it’s still snowing.comment image?w=1200&fit=max&q=80&auto=format&dpr=1comment image?oh=01a69acdc8d58bc7981c80f80a16a06e&oe=5A58503B

Ursus Augustus
Reply to  Robert from oz
September 6, 2017 12:30 pm

Record! When it snows in Geelong you know it is SNOWING!! (Geelong is at sea level – its a port) For the USA – not quite snowing in Miami but once in a lifetime stuff. When the locals are phonefilming snow in the streets and voicing over just to convince themselves they haven’t eaten the wrong mushroom then you know its weird.

John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia
Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
September 6, 2017 8:08 am

“The mistake that Tim Flannery, as well as the numerous expert commentators made, was that they confused climate variability for climate change. The future impact of climate change is very uncertain, but when one “wants to believe”, then it is all too easy to get sucked in and to get it spectacularly wrong.”
Stewart Franks, Professor School of Engineering, University of Newcastle.
I disagree, it was no mistake by Flannery, he is an opportunist (like Gore) who sees there are fools out there to make him rich and famous. Indeed, he became Australian of the Year with all the perks.

Gayle Ginnane
Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
September 6, 2017 6:09 pm

We actually had some major flooding in Brisbane when the dam which was built for flood mitigation was left overfull in case we ran out of water. My city Canberra expanded an existing dam to cover the short fall by saving all the water we could. We have been visited by record water bills to pay for the cost of the new dam and the much lower usage as the population saved water by using less and leading to less income for the government over of the water. We didn’t run out of water, the higher dam wall has overflowed twice, once during construction when we had two 100 year rain event in a week.

Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
September 6, 2017 7:53 pm

Filled, overflowed, turned Queensland into a lake, and reminded us that a lot of those enchanting Aboriginal place names translate as “Don’t camp here, you idiot. It’ll be flooded when the rains come.”

September 6, 2017 6:22 am

Great idea, Timmy! I’ll send you a list of several select surf spots along the California coast where you can begin planting…there can”t be to much kelp when it’s mothwest at 20. Great for our surfspots, not so much for Global Warming Climate Change.

Reply to  Wharfplank
September 6, 2017 6:24 am

* too

September 6, 2017 6:23 am

Of course, don’t forget that he also said there will be no snow to keep the ski resorts going in Australia (it has been a good year).He has also been responsible for the utter waste of many millions of dollars on desal plants, tidal power, hot rocks power, and other expensive failures. How many dud predictions can one person make before people declare he is a fraud and ignore him?

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Ken1
September 6, 2017 3:06 pm

Ken1. That’s a lot of spectacular failures. At Timflannery.com.au it says he is “mammalogist, palaeontologist, and climate science activist.
Guess he knows all about meteorology, climatology, mathematics, physics, cloud physics, etc.?

September 6, 2017 6:32 am

Please don’t tell Musk about this one. We can’t afford another $500 billion tax credit-based “industry.”

September 6, 2017 6:39 am

Only small fly in the ointment is that reducing CO2 is not good for crops and has little effect on global warming. Other than those small issues ….
If this “idea man” actually had any sense, he would have proposed using the nearly limitless thermal energy contained in nuclear wastes to desalinate sea water. A concrete cask of spent nuclear fuel radiates heat to the tune of roughly 350 degrees. Talk about an enormous amount of free energy …. Of course, the clueless politicians think we should spend money to bury the spent fuel under a mountain, apparently to warm up the subterranium rock strata.

September 6, 2017 6:42 am

Sounds like a slight permutation of Ocean Iron Fertilization – which does work.
Well, it works to restore fish to historic abundance. Who know if it does anything for the carbon cycle.
CO2 makes plants grow, this mean less dust in the wind, less dust in the wind means less iron for the oceans, phytoplankton (the foundation of the ocean food web) need iron.
Add a little iron back to the system and the ocean turns green with plankton, then fills with fish.
$50,000 of iron was used to grow about $1B worth of fish off the Canadian West coast.
The only problem is that it makes CO2 credits too cheaply, so it is labeled geoengineering and deemed too risky.

Reply to  vboring
September 6, 2017 7:54 am

Hey maybe when the off-shore wind farms topple due to lack of maintenance the towers will provide the iron to the local waters, of course those composite blades won’t be so beneficial.

Keith J
Reply to  vboring
September 6, 2017 10:14 am

Iron seeding was thought to be more permanent. Vertical migration wasn’t well known back when Dr Martin proposed “give me a supertanker of iron and I will give you an ice age”. It was this quote that scared the CAGW acolytes into labeling iron seeding as geoengineering.
There is plenty of iron in oceans, it is just not all biologically available. All it takes is a little sulfate emission from vulcanism or burning coal to turn iron oxide dust into the limiting micronutrient.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  vboring
September 6, 2017 3:42 pm

Thanks vboring for highlighting the efficacy of iron fertilization of the oceans.
When this was first demonstrated in the early 80’s, long before there was any meaningful hype about CO2, the Greens of the day jumped on like a demon to try, hard, to discredit it with hand-waving and fearsome alarmism.
No one is promoting the mass fertilization of the entire ocean, akin to mass fertilizing the entire land mass of the planet.
If the goal is CO2 drawdown, iron on the ocean, particularly in the iron-poor areas like the E Pacific, is cheap, effective, reliable, uses waste material, and thereby renders a thousand Heath-Robinson devices irrelevant.

Bruce Cobb
September 6, 2017 7:26 am

Ol’ Flim Flam is still around? Geez, I thought he’d wandered off into the ether. Still dopey as ever, I see.

September 6, 2017 7:37 am

He said seaweed’s role in protecting waterways and helping tackle climate change could not be overstated.
Well that’s overstating it right there. It’s been well understood by phycologists (people who study algae) that the growth niche of seaweeds in terms of light and nutrient availability is highly limited. Where does this nitwit propose to locate the vast acreage of seaweed farms needed for this scheme? And without impacting the current uses of protected waterways? Add to that the difficulty of harvesting the crop and you’ve got just a stupid idea that probably will fool the under-educated journalists he’s pandering to.

Reply to  Gary
September 6, 2017 8:19 am

Where to locate the farms? In the sea, one supposes…
Seaweed farming is well established off the Atlantic coast of Europe – some details of French seaweed farming here

Reply to  Griff
September 6, 2017 9:39 am

“Only 50 tons come from cultivation.” Griff does not even bother to read his link.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  Gary
September 6, 2017 3:44 pm

He could just as well promote placing Chinese Water Lily in all the waterways of the Earth and letting it run free, generating trillions of tons of biomass.
Oh, wait. That already happened. Free. And it’s a pestilence.
So why not repeat the experiment using seaweed? What could go wrong?

Reply to  Gary
September 7, 2017 5:20 am

oh all along the SA coast was one spot, he had an interview and book? promotion on ABC rn last week i didnt hear it all…thing is SA used to have good seaweed supply growing naturally and annoying everyone at the beach as it was heavy masses and a bit smelly
and it made it hard to avoid the broken beerbottles;-/
since the pop grew and the outlets of the sewerage increased as well , we dont have that problem..we also have naff all seagrasses for fish to live in either.
and insead of being able to take a few wheatbags to the beach and collect seawed for the garden or for horses to get nutrient from…
touch any you find and cop an infringement notice carrying a large fine!
dic*wit wants it grown but NOT used..he wants it dumped into marine trenches to rot down n absorb co2 from the oceans..though it might have some commercial use he admitted.
soaked seaweed in water sold as Seasol fertiliser liquid around 15$ au for 250mls
recent price of a bag of King Island kelp for horse supplement? 20kg bag 220$au
i will hunt up the show link…back in a while cos i have a lot of program lists to scan through to find it;-(

David M
September 6, 2017 7:39 am

He’s obviously been smoking the C weed.

September 6, 2017 8:02 am

They’ve got to be desperate to keep this discredited futurist/science disinformation – propagandist on the books. Please just go away and count your gratuities, Timmy. Your biased media pronouncements have failed, along with your failed forecasts…don’t call us, we’ll call you.
another Tim

michael hart
September 6, 2017 9:07 am

Usually it’s just something like “seaweed cures cancer in new study”. I guess inflation means that these days super-foods have to save the planet too.

Reply to  michael hart
September 7, 2017 5:34 am

dont diss that as crap , serious work on fucoidans has actually shown seriously good results.
multiple NIH and PUBMED studies i recently read in the majority showed use for cancer reductions and other uses.
where..it comes from IS a huge matter
a lot of seaweeds is highly contaminated from outflows offshore
you really need to pick the supplier carefully.

Peta of Newark
September 6, 2017 10:20 am

I’m writing this here, like this, because from several recent threads it seems many people (including farmers and academics) do not have fooking clue about how plants actually work. That is sad.
There is a natural process that goes on, it happens to rock and ‘dirt’ and is called ‘weathering’
With rock, it is a physical process that does involve actual weather (one thirtieth of climate if you prefer) whereupon rock is broken down from large chunks into smaller and smaller pieces.
Heating/cooling, freeze/thaw, falling from height, rolling around in streams and rivers – all that sort of sh1t.
The small pieces (down to powder size) get mixed up with dead plant material and become ‘dirt’.
Properly called ‘Top-soil’ or A-horizon.
Plants like to grow there. In fact, they don’t grow too good anywhere else.
Inside ‘dirt’, weathering continues but more as a chemical process. Dead plant material, fallen down by gravity or mashed up by critters large & small, gets ‘eaten’ by bacteria, fungi and bugs-in-general and, just like us, they produce acidic waste (poo)
Some folks call this ‘decomposition’ (Inside people and animals= digestion)
As rocks are typically made of metallic substance(s), they are ‘basic’ in chemical nature and hence are dissolved by the acidic plant poo.
It now occurs why plants have roots?
Roots are not just to stop plants from falling over or being blown away by the wind. Roots suck up the dissolved rock material.
It is all the various trace elements that plants need to grow and thrive.
Therein comes along A Major Problem.
The water soluble rock, created so carefully by dead plants for their living descendants will dissolve in the rain.
Unless there is a large sponge of some sort to hold this water and give the plants time to suck the nutrients out of it, a lot of their nutrient food will wash & float away down streams and rivers – ultimately into The Sea.
Over large periods of time (eg between ice-ages) the nutrients slowly drain away from the dirt.
This is (chemical) weathering.
Once in the ocean, the nutrients never return. Never.
Contrary to popular thought, oceans and salt-water seas do not ‘out-gas’ anything.
Nil. Zilch. Nada outgasssing.
And certainly not magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, cobalt, manganese, selenium, iodine etc etc etc, let alone carbon dioxide.
And so, if you lasted this long, is where I get back on-topic and hopefully you will see that Flannery’s plan actually does have merit.
It is a method to reverse the long running & constant weathering of dirt.

Because if weathering is allowed to run its natural course, the plants will cease growing.
And when they do, The Climate will change – because of the albedo change but mainly because of what they do with water.
At low latitude, this climate change manifests as the change from forest > grassland > (hot) desert.
At higher latitude, the same happens but you get a cold desert.
And that is where/when the ice grows from the poles and the climate becomes that of an ice-age.
Simple really innit?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 6, 2017 1:20 pm

Well … that explanation is a bit like ‘waiting for god’ – who is gonna hang around that long – jus’ arskin’

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 6, 2017 3:15 pm

Not so simple. Ever heard of erosion control, soil modifications and enrichment by plants (humus), soil development, soil morphology, soil science, etc. Might even think of a stasis in development of stable plant ecology.
More questions. Where are all the world’s grain belts? What placed these wonderful silt soils in a belt around the world? These are easy questions an expert should know.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 6, 2017 3:56 pm

While I appreciate your contribution, it is incomplete. The relationship between rocks and plants is a little more murderous. Rocks are broken down by bacteria, not plants. They die making their contents available to the plants in a soluble form. It has recently been found (Dr Karve, Pune, India) that plants exude bacteria-killing chemicals that literally slaughter their food supplying bacteria to get the minerals quickly and conveniently.
Global warming accelerates the lives of bacteria increasing plant production, which creates greater forests and greater rainfall. If it gets warm enough in the mid-latitudes, the rain starts in the deserts (Sahara, Gobi) and a massive greening takes place. This is an emergent phenomena.
If warming continues, the Arctic melts completely in summer and the delta T between the Poles and Equator reduces, a lot.
The only time we have global desertification is during ice ages.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 6, 2017 5:15 pm

Luckily for our descendants, Peta, there are at least a few hundred miles of mostly molten rock between the surface & the end of weathering, so I can’t see plants dying from a lack of topsoil to grow in before the sun turns into a red giant.

September 6, 2017 10:48 am

Anything can be overstated.
When it comes to climate risk, nearly everything is overstated.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
September 6, 2017 10:54 am

Well except that the Earth is dynamic and all the rain dissolved chemicals and silts get deposited as layers of sediments and turned into new rocks and marine plankton grab some too and provide limestones. Then uplift creates new degradable surface features (like the spectacular limestone reef geology of south-east Asia and off) we go again.

September 6, 2017 2:08 pm

Other than the goofy global warming stuff, is more seaweed necessarily a bad thing? Obviously government involvement would make it a soggy mess, but would seaweed make for healthier oceans?

Leonard Lane
Reply to  PaulH
September 6, 2017 3:18 pm

In MHO it is best to keep the government out of everything we can. US politicians can mess up an anvil. Seems yours are much the same.

Warren Blair
September 6, 2017 3:18 pm

Tim F leveraged his AU Government appointments to make millions amassing a personal fortune. He owns numerous properties in Australia. He’s the benchmark for enriching oneself using OPMOG (other people’s money opportunistically gained). The ultimate snake . . .

September 6, 2017 3:36 pm

“Acclaimed Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery” my arse.
Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off!

Mark Allinson
September 6, 2017 4:06 pm

Flannery of the Underflow
I had written him a letter now the weather’s getting wetter
Asking why he felt so certain we would never more see rain.
He was ranting when I met him so I sent a note to get him
To reply to all my questions, just in case he’d grown a brain.
Flanners, tell us all, I pray you, why you chose the scary way you
Once announced that all of Oz would soon be nothing more than dust.
It’s been piddling down for days now and I can’t describe the ways how
You perverted western science in a wicked breach of trust.
And an answer came directed in a way quite unexpected
(And I think the crayon used was all the nursing staff allowed)
‘Twas his Climate Council buddy, Andrew Stock, as thick as Ruddy:
“Flanners flew to Cancun Sunday where his climate facts are wowed.”
In my fancy I saw planners lapping up the threats from Flanners
As they pondered how to use them to strip punters of their dough,
And they dreamed of windmills turning (just ignore that big one burning)
For the planners run the media so the punters never know.
I am sitting in my drippy little shed where a nippy
Draught of frigid air is goosing pimples up and down my arms,
And the chilly wind and drizzle turns my whinging to a grizzle
As I hear the news of cresting dams and waves on flooded farms.
And in place of dust and dryness there is mould and temps of minus
And the puddles on the lawn have all conjoined to form a lake,
And the language oh so slighting of “deniers” is inciting
Me to punch my television and scream “Flannery’s a flake.”
And the scheming warmers daunt me, and their threats of horrors taunt me
To retort: the cyclone count is down and temps refuse to rise!
But their models and their theories and their clear distaste for queries
Mean their true belief reduces science to “denier lies.”
If I fancied tossing spanners I suppose I’d swap with Flanners,
Swanning ’round the warming circus while he’s raking in the dough,
While I face the round eternal of the absence of infernal
Global warming – what a bastard, Flannery of the Underflow.

Reply to  Mark Allinson
September 7, 2017 5:39 am

bloody ripper!!! i am printing it and sharing it widely
you excelledAAAAAA+++++

Reply to  ozspeaksup
September 7, 2017 5:48 am

actually underTOW would be good title
never a rip round when you need one;-)

Ross Allinson
September 6, 2017 4:49 pm

Brilliant !
I hope he gets to read it himself some time.

Ray B
September 6, 2017 4:59 pm

Flim-Flam man should stick to the only area he has any “expertise”, which is studying the past. When he veers away from that he is the proverbial “drip under pressure” type of expert.

Michael Damiani
September 6, 2017 6:07 pm

The man just keeps on giving! More ammunition. PMSL

John in Oz
September 6, 2017 6:50 pm

Australia cannot apologise often enough for having Flim Fammery as one of us.

September 6, 2017 8:02 pm

Well I am off for a September Ski this week in Oz. Best snow for about 15 years. You know “variability”.
Anyone want to buy a Desalination Plant?? We have one at Wonthaggi in Victoria, never been used and guess what? Yep it was built in a panic because people actually believed Flannery and his Bulltish.

September 8, 2017 12:48 am

http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/catalyst/SC1602H002S00 is the on-line episode of the ABC “Catalyst” program “Can Seaweed Save The World?”. Available until 15th August. Probably geo-blocked.

September 8, 2017 6:49 pm

Flannery really is an idiot. The seaweed factory was shown on Catalyst, an ABC science program, where Flannery claimed “making flour from wheat makes carbon dioxide”. Trouble was, the camera was showing a fermentation vat- the mill in Nowra has long made ethanol from wheat byproducts. What was being piped over to the seaweed facility was CO2 from that fermentation.

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