Quicklink: Roger Jones on Bolt on Bandt

NSW fires_250Adam Bandt recently wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian suggesting a link between the NSW fires and climate change, then suggesting that the Abbott Government’s action, or lack of it, on climate change has real implications for loss of life. This incurred the displeasure of one Andrew Bolt who, inter alia, quotes or rather misquotes Roger Jones.

Roger takes a look at these doings at his blog Understanding Climate Risk.

It turns out Bolt is the one who is wrong, wrong, wrong. Oh, and a disgrace, but we already knew that.

Update: Roger Jones has two more posts up:

Fire and climate change: don’t expect a smooth ride


35 thoughts on “Quicklink: Roger Jones on Bolt on Bandt”

  1. Unfortunately, the way the media in this country works, its Bolt who will be listened to.
    And what a lousy excuse for not printing Roger Jones’s letter.Theywould have been more honest if they’d just said ‘Rupert (or Gina or whoever) has ordered us not to print that.’

  2. Has anyone been commenting on the implications of the plummeting price of solar power and the meeting of the target of a 5% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. My initial read is that the reducing price of solar power will mean that we will meet the 5% target with ease, regardless of what sort of carbon pricing scheme we have in place. King coal is dying and it is happening more quickly than we expected.

  3. This whole ‘inappropriate time to discuss this’ reminds me of the US gun debate. Heavens we can’t talk about this while the awful things are happening because of this, people might be offended.

  4. The difference between ‘unbelievers’ and those who accept the science and historical analysis of AGW is education. The fight here, on what Arne Næss called ‘the long front’, also includes sustaining equal access to tertiary education; it also includes that tertiary educators turn their attention to the issues: access to all for science and other rational disciplines.

  5. John Goss @2 the price drop and rapid capacity expansion of solar is indeed good news.

    One emerging effect that we need to be conscious of is the efforts of utility companies to limit renewable energy expansion in order to protect their own bottom line. This is increasingly becoming a real threat, as the utilities have realised that their fossil fuel baseload business model is actually jeopardised by renewable energy, and renewables-unfriendly conservative governments currently predominate at State and Federal levels. Fortunately, solar energy system owners are now numerous enough to make up a political constituency.

  6. Can anyway tell me the difference in the climate that will eventuate under the Coalition policies, compared to the ETS. Assuming of course that what happens overseas will be the same under both scenarios.

  7. The newspapers than run Bolt’s columns in south-east Queensland also publish articles based on the premise that Melbourne has more rain than Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Why am I not surprised?

  8. Here’s the view of someone who knows his stuff when it comes to bushfires:

    “It is my opinion that the extent and severity of the 2003 and 2007 fires is a result of poor public land management over the past 30 or so years exacerbated by the effects of a decade of drought, almost certainly made worse by Climate Change brought about by the enhanced Greenhouse Effect… We need to acknowledge that the effects of Climate Change are with us. Climate Change is predicted to increase the frequency of extreme weather conditions including thunderstorms and droughts. In combination, these two factors will continue to lead to an increase in the number of fires on public land and the potential for more severe wildfires because more of the forest biomass is available to burn during droughts.” – Dr. Kevin Tolhurst, submission to Victorian Parliamentary Environment & Natural Resources Committee, 2007.

  9. Hmmm, this is interesting.

    Roger’s post “Backburning” is a cut and paste of a quotation from one Lucy Evans:

    ‘I might explain myself a little further. My family home is in the fire affected area and my parents are currently awaiting bad winds on Wednesday which could possibly blow embers into their property, even though the fire has already burned its way completely around them. My dad was a member of the RFS for 18 years and I have grown up with a deep respect for fire and all men and women who risk their lives. I’ve experienced first hand what it is like to leave your home, not knowing if you’ll return again. I’ve also witnessed the tremendous work they do whether it be back burning or trying to contain a fire front. Tony Abbott rolled on into Bilpin, sat around and ate, got some happy snaps (despite this being a terribly sad situation), watched some people complete a back burn operation, drove a fire truck, got his moment of glory and then left. Not only is it completely irresponsible of him to put himself at risk (seen as though he somehow managed to get the top job), he also managed to exploit this situation to the tenth degree.’

    The link “source” went nowhere. Googling a chunk of the text led me to this article at The Conversation:


    If you look for Lucy’s comment and presumably one before it, because she says she’s explaining further, all you get is a reference to her in this comment from one of the climate change denialists:

    “So what are we expected to take from your story, Mike —that you were there—– and can vouch for Lucy J Evans’ assertion?” (“Helen Stream”)

    Were Lucy Evan’s comments deleted, or something? The chunk-of-text-google technique didn’t reveal any other instances of this comment.

  10. A google without the middle initial confirmed that this comment was originally in the Conversation article, but it isn’t there now.

  11. It is there, Helen…or at least, I’m seeing it. Buried in the “Read More” under Mike Hansen’s comment with a link to a screenshot of her original comment on Facebook.

  12. The link “source” went nowhere. Googling a chunk of the text led me to this article at The Conversation:

    The link source is slightly corrupted (accidentally prefixed with the url of the blog), but it does work:


    It’s presumably cut and paste from the conversation comment though…

  13. As some wit said in the comments on the Guardian article on PM Abbott denying Christina Figueres’ link between climate change and bushfires, our scientifically obtuse leader was talking through his Suppository of Wisdom.
    But all jokes aside, it is rapidly becoming excruciatingly embarrassing having this morlock representing us to the world.

  14. I heard a Roger Jones on the BBC last night talking about the fires, what an excellent response he had to the critics of the link between climate change and fires. Equally entertaining, in a different way, was Greg Hunt saying he had researched the issue on Wikipedia.

  15. Russell @21, Hunt’s Wikipedia statement could be an oblique way of saying that none of the experts in the agencies that report to him as Environment Minister think that there isn’t a link between climate change and the bushfires.

  16. Paul Norton: that seems like the most likely explanation. He can hardly claim the Suppository of Wisdom as a reference, and using Lord Monkton would just get him laughed at.

    I’m waiting for a “the frequency and intensity of bushfires has always fluctuated” quote to go with the “climate changes, duuuh”.

  17. Paul N,

    I take Hunts Wikipedia reference as a clear indication that the Abbott government intends to sack all parliamentary research staff and subcontract their function to the Wiki for the cost of a small donation each year.

  18. Indeed, the logic of contestibility in government services surely extends to questioning the need for governments to maintain public agencies to provide expert scientific advice on things like climate and bushfires when this can be outsourced through a competitive bidding process with tenders invited from Lex Luthor, Wile E. Coyote, Gyro Gearloose and Dr. Zachary Smith.

  19. That interview with Greg Hunt had me grinding my teeth in frustration. There were so many egregious errors of fact and logic that it’s difficult to know where to start.

    The issue is not whether any occurrence of a “particular event” can be linked to climate change, but whether climate change has an effect on the manifestation of any particular event. There is a difference, even though it’s not one that the Coalition wants the Australian public to understand.

    The facts are simple, really – to the extent that there is an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration occurring directly from human emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels, and to the extent that this increase in carbon dioxide has warmed the planet, resulting in enhancement of soil-drying, of humidity decrease, of higher temperature extremes, and of stronger winds that occur as a consequence of increased regional temperature differentials, then the manifestation of any particular event can be link to the human-caused global warming.

    Humans have raised the baseline and this results in an effect on every weather event. In particular it presents as a disproportionate magnification of the severity of extreme events, and if Coalition politicians and conservative media are in any doubt they should speak to the insurance industry which is already calculating the increasing probability of occurrence of these extremes.

    The comments of Abbott and Hunt show that they are either grievously and criminally incompetent in their ignorance of the implications of the science, or that they are criminally culpable in their awareness of the science and in their determination to misrepresent it to the public.

    Further, Hunt needs to be called on his use of logical fallacy in his feigned distaste at the interviewer’s quoting of the word “crap”. The interviewer was simply repeating Tony Abbott’s own words – words directly and centrally relevant to a critical issue of science and of policy response – and Hunt frames this as the interviewer swearing at him. A simple and patronising ploy, but one that is effective in the context as to address it would be to break the focus on the original question just as much as his fallacious claim does on the first place.

    Further still, the conversation in which Abbott used the phrase was not a “private conversation”, it was a speech given to a room full of people including journalists. And so what if it was a “private conversation” – would Chatham House rules in any way change the underlying implication of Abbott’s disparagement of climate science? If anything it reflects a more unfettered expression and subsequent understanding of Abbott’s opinion on the subject.

    At some point in time Abbott needs to explain why he ever thought that climate change was “absolute crap”, and why and how he suddenly had a Damascene conversion, and to what extent he saw the light, and to what extent he keeps his own previous ignorant ideologies from tainting his current understanding of the need to address human carbon emissions. He also needs to carefully and comprehensively explain on what science he is basing his “Direct Action” plan, and on what understanding of economics he is dismissing a market mechanism to signal to polluters their necessity to stop polluting. Why should not the polluters be required to pay the real environmental cost of their industry?

    There’s also the logical fallacy that results from confabulating Abbott’s apparent “reaffirming” of climate science with any intention to actually do anything about it. Abbott’s mouth might be saying one thing, but his hands are doing something else entirely.

    It doesn’t stop there though. Hunt claims that people are blaming the “newly elected” Coalition government for “fires such as this”. This is rubbish. Where blame is being assigned it’s on the collective responsibility of the (largely) First World carbon emissions over the last century or so. What Abbott and Hunt are being held responsible for is their determination to reverse Australia’s nascent steps to addressing the problem, and to shouldering our national responsibility – our fair share – for doing so.

    Thankfully Roger Jones followed with a reasoned and rational rebuttal of Hunt’s pointing at squirrels. I’m chuffed to see Roger posting here – thank you Roger for giving some balance and pespective to Hunt’s absymally unscientific claims about the nature of the science.

  20. i do feel so disposed.
    We do a lot of talking on this site but it is important to use what we have learnt, distilled or tested here by taking action like signing petitions and sending emails.

  21. Jo Nova has put up a thread on a paper that examines aspects of the mechanism with which Global Warming affects climate and weather, and, by extention, bushfires.


    the paper


    (from my scanning of it) purports to establish a link between solar variance (2 w/sqm) and expansion of the hadley cells to cause wind shifts in Chile over a 3000 year study period. Assuming the study holds up it also equally demonstrates how Global Warming’s constant 3.7 w/sqm solar forcing equivalent (added to that of solar variance) affects climate and weather.

    I suspect that the intention of the thread was to prove that climate change is principally a product of solar variance, but that is not the limit of the logic.

Comments are closed.