Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Climate Prophet TIm Flannery, who predicted in 2007 that rains won’t fill Australia’s dams, only to see record busting floods in 2011, and who encouraged investment in “straightforward” hot rock geothermal energy, which kind of went nowhere, feels time has vindicated his climate track record.
Vindicated’ Tim Flannery unfazed by climate change critics
Columnist and author
October 10, 2021 — 5.00am
Dr Tim Flannery, the 2007 Australian of the Year, is the most famous environmentalist in the country and was one of the first people to warn of the dangers of climate change.
Fitz: Tim, despite the flak, you talk as a prophet ahead of your time. Most sensible people will now concede you were right on warning of the dangers of climate change and the denialists were wrong. Do you feel tragically vindicated?
TF: I do feel vindicated. Not sure about “tragically”. We do still have time to get on top of climate change, but we have to move quickly.
Fitz: Even now, however, your critics bring up some of your predictions that were wrong, or at least not yet true, like predicting Perth “will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis”. Have you been scarified by that constant bitter criticism?
TF: Not in the least. It goes with the territory I am in. They always leave off the last half of that quote, which was that they’d be the first ghost metropolis unless they made changes. Well, they made changes. Half of Perth’s water now comes from desalination and a few years ago their water commissioner personally thanked me for sounding the warning they needed to get things done. As to the critics, most of them are just doing a job. They are paid lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry. I cannot take them seriously.
Fitz: Do you believe the federal government has genuinely found religion when it comes to taking action on climate change, with more and more of its parliamentarians now beating the drum, or is it all a put-on?
TF: Certain elements within the government know that it is absolutely vital that they change, for the country, for the planet and to win the next election. And the electorate has changed. They all saw what happened when Warringah changed but Tony Abbott didn’t. And I think even Scott Morrison sort of gets it now. I believe he learned a lesson from the bushfires. We had been trying to get to him for months before then, warning of what was to happen. Then when they did happen he went to Hawaii and the electorate reacted accordingly. There was a lesson in that.
…Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/vindicated-tim-flannery-unfazed-by-climate-change-critics-20211008-p58yjc.html
The following is Tim Flannery’s dams won’t fill quote, straight from the ABC transcript of his interview in 2007. Flannery notes in his interview that one of the desalination plants he inspired, the Perth desalination plant, is in regular use. He might have forgotten to mention Perth’s population grew from around 1.5 million in 2007 to around 2 million people in 2020.
SALLY SARA: What will it mean for Australian farmers if the predictions of climate change are correct and little is done to stop it? What will that mean for a farmer?
PROFESSOR TIM FLANNERY: We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/local/archives/landline/content/2006/s1844398.htm
Here’s Flannery on geothermal power;
Flannery backs geothermal energy
PM – Friday, 9 February , 2007 18:22:00
Reporter: Nance Haxton
NANCE HAXTON: Geothermal energy is still in it’s infancy in Australia, with experimental sites in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, but none as yet connected to Australia’s electricity grid.
One of the industry’s greatest proponents is Australian of the Year, Dr Tim Flannery, who told ABC’s Lateline program that the electricity source is one of Australia’s most reliable options for reducing carbon emissions.
TIM FLANNERY: There are hot rocks in South Australia that potentially have enough embedded energy in them to run the Australian economy for the best part of a century.
Now, they’re not being fully exploited yet but the technology to extract that energy and turn it into electricity is relatively straightforward
…Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1844491.htm
Plenty more where they came from.
Given Flannery’s concern his quotes are taken out of context, I encourage readers to read the full references and let me know if you believe I missed anything important.
I think it is fair to say there is a reason why Flannery’s views get less attention in Australia than they once did, except perhaps amongst inner city liberal MPs sucking up to Flannery in the hope of squeezing a few more votes out of his devoted fans.
There is one person in the Tim Flannery saga who has been more than vindicated.
When climate skeptic Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott was asked why he planned to fire Tim Flannery from his well paid part time government climate advisor post if he won the election, he reportedly said he did not see the point of paying Professor Flannery about $180,000 a year, for sharing views on climate change which Flannery was obviously willing to share freely with the public.