‘Radical’ historian Blainey challenges climate-change orthodoxy

From the Sydney Morning Herald

By Tony Wright

July 5, 2019 — 11.11am

Australia’s best-known historian, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, has challenged the idea that the current level of climate change is either unique or largely the result of human behaviour.

While agreeing the Earth was experiencing a warming period which had been under way for several decades, he said this in no way compared with much greater climate change in human history.


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Controversial historian Geoffrey Blainey says human behaviour “may” play a part in global warming.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Professor Blainey, 89, the influential and sometimes controversial author of almost 40 books on Australian and world history, made plain he did not accept the overwhelming view of climate scientists that the changing climate required a unique, modern explanation limited to human behaviour.

He said human behaviour “may be part” of the reason for current global warming.

However, he said this did not explain how or why the climate had changed more dramatically in the past.

“The great period of climate change in Australia’s human history was in Aboriginal times, when the seas rose and cut off Tasmania and cut off New Guinea from Australia,” he said.

He added that ice-core samples from Antarctica had shown that as recently as 1173AD – the time of Francis of Assisi – had marked the start of a “horrible” 39-year drought.

“You have to be very careful that you’ve got good explanations for the past as well as for the present,” he said, in relation to climate change.

Professor Blainey, whose opposition to what he called the “black armband view of history” was used by Prime Minister John Howard during the so-called “culture wars” at the turn of the century, said he did not consider himself a conservative.

“I am a radical,” he said. “I am pro-change.”

Climate change was “the most difficult and interesting intellectual argument of the last 100 years”, he said. But he conceded he did not have answers for many of his own questions on the subject.

“I wish I had another 100 years to see what happened,” he said.

See full story here.

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52 thoughts on “‘Radical’ historian Blainey challenges climate-change orthodoxy

  1. Like me he Geoffrey Blainey has the one big advantage of being old.

    One sees and hopefully remembers all the things that Politicians and others
    have done over so many years.

    Sadly most have not really improved things all that much.

    MJE VK5ELL

  2. Yes, as John Christy points out, UHI is the most observable factor in anthropogenic climate change, along with agricultural land use. To link CO2 with the current SSTs (and therefore the Arctic winter warm anomalies) takes an explanation I haven’t yet laid eyes on.

    • Human activities undoubtedly cause climatic changes or at least a change in weather patterns, However, these changes are primarily local or regional though it is what is seen because that is where the people are. It is assumed the changes are global although the effects may actually be the opposite in other localities and cancel out at least some of the change on a global perspective.
      Although satellite observations come closest, there is no way to establish a global average for temperature, precipitation, extreme events or seasonal variations.
      Every serious gardener is aware of the existence of micro-climates and often take advantage of the phenomenon. There is a large difference in climate between the north and south side of your house which can be lessened or increased as simply as by the choice of exterior colors.

    • I can now personally testify to the UHI. I just returned home from 4 days in Fabulous Las Vegas. Two things I noticed. First was how much warmer it was in the evening as we drove from the suburbs into the the Strip. So much heat radiating from the concrete and asphalt that had accumulated all day. Very noticeable. The second was when we went to the Visitor’s Station at Lake Meade. I noticed a weathered Stevenson screen right next to a new shed and a paved area, all were fairly close to the building. Then I noticed the MTS device right between the Stevenson screen and the shed. I asked if anyone still took daily measurements and was told the Ranger did. I do not know if this location is still used for any official temperature.
      BTW, without WUWT I would not have even known what those things were or what they did.

  3. Professor Blaine would be more widely known -and feted- and his scholarship more appreciated if Australia had not had the disgusting display of fellow academics trying to “send him to Coventry” by ganging up to try to silence him. In the mid 1980s he accused others of fabricating a “black armband view of history”, thus drawing some rebuttals. These went well beyond the norm for dissenting academics.
    Knowing what we now do about the likely fate of academics who challenge the Establishment view of Global Warming and its offspring, we can regard Prof Blaine as one of the early victims of this dreadful procedure. This is a real shame because his historical research has been thorough and told in quite readable fashion. Those who have not read some of his books like “The Tyrrany of Distance” are the poorer for it. Geoff S

  4. From my view here in “flyover” America, it appears that the ‘green idolatry’ has been rejected by most of the gainfully employed friends I have. People with common sense tend to give more consideration to the things they’ve witnessed, than the things they’ve been told.
    My acquaintances who depend on governmental support for their well=being will always regurgitate left-wing propaganda, no matter what facts are presented.

    • As someone who lives in “flyover” Western Canada, I can really appreciate Pop Piasa’s comment about where the green idolatry comes from, government funded people, even regular civil servants, in many cases.

      Also, in my experience, maybe even more strongly, you can almost expect this “idolatry” from anyone who is in any way identifiably a counterculturish or hippie-ish kind of baby boomer. Maybe I’m stereotyping, but persons that just have *that* aspect to them very often buy into this Mother Earth, “humans bad” kind of idea, hook, line and sinker. It doesn’t really have to be a government funding or money issue, this is ideology, “secular religion” at its finest.

      Oh, yes, and I can also appreciate, from the article, that “Professor Blainey [opposes] what he called the black armband view of history .. ”

      After reading the above, I had to look up the meaning of “black armband”, this is something that is apparently worn funereally, to recognize someone’s death, or as a protest against war deaths. How appropriate it is, for Professor Blainey to point out how many influential people are continuing to run a scare scam, in effect wearing a kind of “black armband” in protest of deaths that really only ever occur in their flawed models!

    • Pop
      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am strongly recommending people become more familiar with Dr. Valentina Zharkova’s work regarding the imminent Grand Solar Minimum.

      There is actually a buzz starting to arise suggesting Zharkova deserves a Nobel Prize due to the accuracy (verifiable) and importance of her work.

      The fact that collectivist-leaning personalities seem so swayed by – duh – groupthink, this emerging orthodoxy regarding solar magnetism may well be the Stake Through the Heart of this mass psychosis known as Globull Warming.

      • Zharkova is wrong. And her problem is that everybody will see it as soon as solar activity goes above solar cycle 24 levels in about 4-5 years. She’d be better getting any prize before that happens.

        • Javier
          At least Zakharova has the courage to make a falsifiable prediction. As do you, it would seem.

    • Reality, hopefully, will change a few more minds.

      European power grid in trouble:
      https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/markets-by-sector/energy/european-power-grid-in-serious-trouble/
      “The German power grid crashed on three separate days during June which was so critical, it required neighboring countries to come to its rescue to prevent a total blackout. The entire European power grid has been exposed as a risk. The cause of the insufficient power supply is not yet fully understood. The issue in question is the EU demand for the reduction in CO2 and the push toward electric cars. The power grid of Europe will not be able to cope with such a mass convergence. The shortages in June are a warning that the Global Warming agenda being pushed in Europe really needs to a reconsidered.”

  5. Professor Blainey would be more widely known -and feted- and his scholarship more appreciated if Australia had not had the disgusting display of fellow academics trying to “send him to Coventry” by ganging up to try to silence him. In the mid 1980s he accused others of fabricating a “black armband view of history”, thus drawing some rebuttals. These went well beyond the norm for dissenting academics.
    Knowing what we now do about the likely fate of academics who challenge the Establishment view of Global Warming and its offspring, we can regard Prof Blaine as one of the early victims of this dreadful procedure. This is a real shame because his historical research has been thorough and told in quite readable fashion. Those who have not read some of his books like “The Tyrrany of Distance” are the poorer for it. Geoff S

  6. Perhaps “conservative” has been redefined by the media, with his view being adjusted to the radical right?

    • It has. Look at these charts:
      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/26/opinion/sunday/republican-platform-far-right.html

      You can safely ignore the editorial, it’s not actually supported by their own data. The short summary is that in the US the Republican Party has stayed more or less constant (and in 2016 was even leftward of where it was in 2012) while the Democratic Party has moved far to the left since 2008.

      So if you were even vaguely moderate on the left – even further left than your party – then you are now closer to being a republican than your are to being a democrat.

      No idea how this played out in other countries, which tend to average further left than the US does while also having parties further right (see the charts), and disregarding the problems with the left/right line in the article, which would have put all of the Axis Powers on the left.

  7. This is called wisdom…live long enough, observing the world, keeping an independent but open mind, failing in some of your predictions but learning from them – and the next thing you know you are wiser then your fellow man.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be born a faster learner, but even slow learners can learn – if they can get past being led around by their noses by the know-it-all liberals, who get EVERYTHING wrong. (well, most everything… they might get something right, if I live long enough)

    I have tried and tried to understand the (so-called) scientific anthropogenic global warming position but I still cannot understand how a trace gas like carbon dioxide (measured in parts per million) can make much of a difference until it is at least parts per thousand. I do the math, I try to understand the molecular absorption, kinetic energy transfer, and remaining emission and it just doesn’t work to noticeably raise temperatures. They HAVE to be ignoring convection (or at least under-estimating it) to make their models work.

    So…I am left with observing the weather patterns, and all I see there are cycles. Yes, there appears to be some warming…no it isn’t unexpected or dramatic or historic or unprecedented. Mostly “warming” appears to be sloppy measurements that are twisted by sloppy data analysts (I refuse to call them scientists) who ignore the obvious contamination of their records by UHIE, and then produce ridiculous graphs to further obfuscate the facts.

    Ah, politics…that never changes.

  8. The following statement, as if of fact, appears in the full SMH piece linked to above: “He sparked a major backlash from students and some colleagues from the University of Melbourne during the 1980s when he criticised the level of Asian immigration to Australia at a time of high unemployment.” In fact, Blainey did not criticise the level of Asian immigration. At a speech at an otherwise inconsequential meeting (of the local Rotary Club from memory) in Warrnambool in country Victoria Blainey made the totally uncontroversial comment that governments should take account of public acceptance when proposing radical changes in the mix of migrants. I happened to be at an even less consequential meeting in ‘Bool that evening so remember the fuss well. Further, I had met Blainey at a university graduation ceremony and consider him an exemplar of an old fashioned, courteous and scholarly gentleman. “Backlash” severely understates the revolting treatment handed out to Blainey by comparatively academic midgets after that speech.

    • Prof Blainey should put his name down on the academic Me-Too list (yet to be devised); for those who have fallen foul of the Green Machine hell bent on suppressing opposition to its disreputable agenda.
      Sadly such a list carries considerable danger for those participating; so I doubt it will ever get off the ground except for those whose careers are at an end or are now clear of
      the clutches of the Green influence.

  9. OT,
    New 6.9 quake to Ridgecrest California tonight.
    Follows Thursday mornings 6.4.
    Few weeks ago NZ 6.0 quake.
    more to come.
    And…
    Get ready. Here comes a Big One… somewhere.
    Sun has finally gone to sleep until SC 25.
    Plus volcano or two somewhere.
    The seismic activity uptick at minimum is predictable. But the all important “where” will always be a mystery

    • I see it now is being reported as a M 7.1 earthquake in Ridgecrest, Ca tonight. Plus 3 earthquakes today off the BC coast today around 5.2 and a few days ago on July 3 a M 6.2 earthquake off the coast between northern Vancouver Island off shore and Haida Gwaii. The Pacific North West is definitely due for the big one in the high 8’s or low 9’s, possibly a 1000x larger than the cluster that just hit. But, it is a long fault and who knows where it hits, and how bad. My thoughts it may be further south between California and BC where no quakes are yet being reported. Like maybe off coastal Oregon. The tsunami could be horrific if this rips hard. At least they can’t report this as climate change…can they?

      • Hey… I have my Big Oregon in August vacay with pups and RV. Could be “sporty”, but I have a gas generator on RV.
        Pups can sniff for quake survivors, they’re trained scent Malinois. And I have my 6 rotor drone for video of the Oregon tsunami. Adaptation is the key to survival.
        Adaptation is a concept that will forever elude the small minds of Malthusians and the Left in general.

    • First, I think it should be called the “China Lake Earthquake” since the epicenter was out on the North Range of NAWC, just north of the actual China Lake (usually) playa.
      I and my family rode this one out at my home near Inyokern, about 15 miles from the epicenter. It was BY FAR the most violent shaking I’ve ever experienced. My home is in between the VII and VIII intensity contours of the of the Caltech shake map for this event. Max acceleration was .3g. Plenty of stuff ended up on the floor, but no real damage. In classic fashion we all just stood and sat there “experiencing” it. I was riding a wheeled office chair oscillating north and south about a foot. My wife was sitting on a normal kitchen chair, my daughter surfed it on her feet. After the main event there was a close string of >5 aftershocks and the ground seemed to be constantly moving for a couple hours. That’s kind of nerve racking unless you have extensive sea time. I slept inside but they sacked out under the stars. I have two friends with fairly extensive damage, and I suppose there is a lot of that out there. There were a lot of sirens after the main event, and since then helicopters keep passing overhead conducting surveys. I’ve cleaned up and made sure to correct some of the weaknesses. There is a significant chance of another, bigger, event in the near future. I guess I need to think about that.

      • I understand the USGS, or maybe some low grade media publication, is “blaming” fracking for this quake.

        • I’ve not seen ANY reference to fracking on this event – I would hope you are not casually slagging the USGS – provide the reference. There is NO fracking going on near here. There is plenty of geothermal activity north up in the Coso area. There have been a few minor quakes in the Central Valley, maybe that’s what you are referring to?

          I think any self respecting geophysicist would blame the Pacific Plate grinding northward against the North American Plate. it would be preposterous in this area of huge oblivious fault reliefs, evidence of profound teutonic processes, to suggest otherwise.

  10. ‘Radical’ historian Blainey …
    >>

    Actually, he’s not a radical historian at all, he’s probably the best known classic historian within Australia and very well respected as such.

  11. Yes well he is a human historian not a scientific one so I think I will take what he says with a grain of salt.

    • And therein lies your problem:
      Those that do not study history just make up what they believe it should be.
      I would accept a lot more of his historical views than anything you could bring to the table.
      Now run along and be a good soldier for the cause.

    • A human historian knows more about how the human mind works than does a scientist. A human historian will also know more about how a ”climate scientist’s” mind works than a climate scientist knows about how the climate works.. Pass the salt….

    • Because of my interest in history, I became a skeptic when Dr. Mann tried to erase the Medieval Warm Period.

    • He may not be a modern Thucydides but I would trust his opinion over the likes of you, Flannery, Mann, Jones et al…

  12. What is it with media labelling people these days?
    Why are news outlets allowed to prefix the mindset of the viewer/listener with opening introductions that contain indications of how the “uninformed” should view the output of the scientist/public figure.
    We are constantly hearing this. “The radical professor” or “the controversial historian”, or “the far right supporter” and so on.
    Until we get back to factual reporting without the need to preset the view of the public, we are not going to get the balance of opinions so desperately needed in modern society.

    • They’re labels that their readers wish to see.
      They’re labels that their publishers wish to use, to generate interest, comments & thus attract more readers & advertising revenue.

      • He had the temerity to criticize the green totalitarians. It is a label to discredit his dissent. Few of what goes for journalists and, sadly, scientists in the climate field have the knowledge of history of a grade schooler of a few generations ago. They aren’t competent to comment on his work as a historian. But they don’t want to credit him as a giant in the field of history with his dismissive views on climate warming. It’s a garden variety climate smear.

  13. How can you be a “radical historian”? It is like being a radical street sweeper or a radical bartender. History is history. It either happened or it didn’t.

    • History is always interpreted. Someone may be called radical if their interpretations of history differ greatly from the mainstream.

    • Read the article, he did not say he is a radical Historian, he said he was radical with respect to change, that he is radically in favor of it, i.e. that means he’s radically about future change, he was not talking about his view of history at all.

      >>
      ” … Professor Blainey, whose opposition to what he called the “black armband view of history” was used by Prime Minister John Howard during the so-called “culture wars” at the turn of the century, said he did not consider himself a conservative. “I am a radical,” he said. “I am pro-change.”
      >>

      Radically pro-change is what he was referring to.

    • History is history. It either happened or it didn’t.

      The winner takes it all – die Sieger schreiben die Geschichte.

  14. Quote Yevgeny Zamyatin. …….”Progress is not achieved by preachers and guardians of morality but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels and sceptics.”

  15. “I wish I had another 100 years to see what happened,” he said.

    Herein lies the secret of Blainey’s success: curiosity. He is driven by the need to know more, to find the answers to puzzles that interest him, which reflects an awareness that he does not know all. So many with views contrary to Prof B think they already know everything, or at least, everything that matters. The only puzzle they ever contemplate is why someone would disagree with them.

  16. Perhaps the labelling is to warn the reader that something controversial is
    to follow. So he/she can look around for a Safe Space to hide in.

    MJE VK5ELL

  17. Those who have the clarity of mind to picture their real circumstances, using verified personal observations and bypassing the politicking that is so seductively abundant, will conclude that the world has become a better place over the course of their thinking lives.
    It follows that the future can be viewed with optimism. This is what Prof Blainey is conveying, within the confines of the topic of climate change. I do not find this remotely controversial or arguable.
    In truth, I rather enjoy encounters with authors who can see through the dross to find the gold. Geoffrey Blainey has received an official award as a “Living Treasure” in Australia. He deserves it. Rather than argue with his accumulated wisdom, read and learn.
    Geoff S.

  18. I am an older person too, and |I have experienced much longer and hotter weather spats i my time than we are having now. I agree that we may have a little to do with the climate changing, but it has radically changed many times before over the past thousands of years.. and how much CO2 will be introduced into the atmosphere – besides other contaminants, in the production of all these wind farms, electric cars, etc and what is used to build them. Get off the scare mongering and get real!!!

  19. I am Lex Australia The above comments are mine and I firmly believe that we need to stop wasting time and resources on these panic issues that our brilliant ” scientists” in their labs saying we are warming up. what about the big freeze recently in the Northern Hemisphere? How warm was that?????

  20. So … now you are so desperate you need to quote an Historian ?

    Gee, what you cannot find anymore actual failed scientists willing to say shit for money?

    Are you that poor already?

  21. questions on the subject.

    “I wish I had another 100 years to see what happened,” he said.

    This is called a fulfilled life.

    Reminds of Goethe’s Faust who says to the sheitan “if you hear me expressing a wish you may come to get me”.

    wenn du mich einen wunsch aeussern hoerst magst du mich holen

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