"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bolt vs Flannery - Bolt wins by Knock-out!

Andrew Bolt

While Andrew Bolt's public battle with Tim Flannery over global warming has gone on long enough for Flannery's foolish predictions to catch up with him , the formation of Flannery's  Climate Commission has given the Bolter's campaign a new lease on life. When Andrew asked Flannery how much warming would be forestalled by Australia's Co2 reduction target he could not answer and blustered.Bolt has now enlisted the aid of the skeptic's classically educated scholar , the colorful Christopher Monckton to answer the question Flannery squibbed.

Bolt:  On our own, cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, what will that lower the world’s temperatures by?
Flannery:  See, that’s a bogus question because nothing is in isolation…
Bolt: Everyone understands that that is the argument But we’re just trying to get basic facts, without worrying about the consequences - about what those facts may lead people to think. On our own, by cutting our emissions, because it’s a heavy price to pay, by 5 per cent by 2020, what will the world’s temperatures fall by as a consequence?
Flannery: Look, it will be a very, very small increment.
Bolt: Have you got a number? ....
Flannery:  I just need to clarfy in terms of the climate context for you. If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years.
Bolt: Right, but I just want to get to this very basic fact… I want to know the cost of cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 and will it do the job: how much will the world’s temperatures fall by if Australia cuts its emissions by this much.
Flannery: Look, as I said it will be a very, very small increment.
Bolt: Can you give us a rough figure? A rough figure.
Flannery: Sorry, I can’t ....
Bolt: … Is it about, I don’t know, are you talking about a thousandth of a degree? A hundredth of a degree? What sort of rough figure?
Flannery: Just let me finish and say this. If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years because the system is overburdened with CO2 that has to be absorbed and that only happens slowly.
Bolt: That doesn’t seem a good deal…
But don’t despair! Lord Monckton has been kind enough to give me the straight answer that Flannery et al will not - and his answer explains exactly Flannery’s embarrassed silence:
Q. What is the central estimate of the anthropogenic global warming, in Celsius degrees, that would be forestalled by 2020 if a) Australia alone and b) the whole world cut carbon emissions stepwise until by 2020 they were 5% below today’s emissions?
Answer a). Australia accounts for (at most) 1.5% of global carbon emissions. A stepwise 5% cut by 2020 is an average 2.5% cut from now till then. CO2 concentration by 2020, taking the IPCC’s A2 scenario, will be 412 parts per million by volume, compared with 390 ppmv now. So Man will have added 22 ppmv by 2020, without any cuts in emissions. The CO2 concentration increase forestalled by almost a decade of cap-and-tax in Australia would thus be 2.5% of 1.5% of 22 ppmv, or 0.00825 ppmv. So in 2020 CO2 concentration would be 411.99175 ppmv instead of 412 ppmv…
So the proportionate change in CO2 concentration if the Commission and Ms. Gillard got their way would be 411.99175/412, or 0.99997998. The IPCC says warming or cooling, in Celsius degrees, is 3.7-5.7 times the logarithm of the proportionate change: central estimate 4.7. Also, it expects only 57% of manmade warming to occur by 2100: the rest would happen slowly and harmlessly over perhaps 1000 years (that’s the real meaning of Flannery’s 1000-year point, and it doesn’t do him any favours).

So the warming forestalled by cutting Australia’s emissions would be 57% of 4.7 times the logarithm of 0.99997998: that is – wait for it, wait for it – a dizzying 0.00005 Celsius, or around one-twenty-thousandth of a Celsius degree. Your estimate of a thousandth of a degree was a 20-fold exaggeration – not that Flannery was ever going to tell you that, of course.

Answer b) . Mutatis mutandis, we do the same calculation for the whole world, thus:

2.5% of 22 ppmv = 0.55 ppmv. Warming forestalled by 2020 = 0.57 x 4.7 ln[(412-0.55)/412] < 0.004 Celsius, or less than four one-thousandths of a Celsius degree, or around one-two-hundred-and-eightieth of a Celsius degree. And that at a cost of trillions. Whom the gods would destroy …

If you'd like chapter and verse from the IPCC's documents and from the peer-reviewed for every step of this calculation, which takes full account of and distils down the various complexities and probabilities Flannery flannelled about, you'll find it in this paper

A cautionary note: the warming forestalled will only be this big if the IPCC’s central estimate of the rate at which adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes warming is correct. However, it’s at least a twofold exaggeration and probably more like fourfold. So divide both the above answers by, say, 3 to get what will still probably be an overestimate of the warming forestalled.


  1. The purpose of cutting emissions is to stop the temperature rising, not to make it fall.

  2. No, the purpose of cutting CO2 emissions is to enable a market trading system for carbon offsets and all the financial chicanery that comes along with it.

  3. Anonymous (1 above) best remain anonymous so as to avoid the need to explain his or her 'stop the temperature rising' comment.
    We 'Idiots' have no trouble understanding there is no need to 'stop the temperature rising' when the factual data clearly demonstrates it is not rising at all and has not done so for the past 15 years (as the knowledgeable scientist Professor Robert Carter recently pointed out.)
    Whats more, any claimed increase prior to that is easily explained away by other factors not related to human activity, a far more logical conclusion given that CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to increase while temperatures have continued falling.
    Given the need to feed an ever increasing mass of humanity, we are in far more danger if our planet continues to cool than we are if we do experience some modest warming.
    I suggest Anonymous (1 above) reads the material by Monckton so kindly placed on this blog earlier which clearly explains the (non) impact of playing around with CO2 levels and if he or she cannot understand it, I then suggest he or she should prepare a simple graph with two comparative curves showing a) the increase in CO2 levels since the industrial era commenced and b) claimed temperature increases over the same period.
    Then perhaps get back to us and explain why these curves fail to follow the same rate of incline.
    This might even avoid the need to look at why so many champions of the AGW argument (such as Gore)conveniently ignore the medieval warming period when preparing their charts and graphs.

  4. I'm referring to the monstrous straw man against which an epic battle is currently being waged by the Murdoch press and their minions in the Liberal party.

    I'm remaining anonymous because I'm afraid that the type of person who falls for this sort twaddle could be capable of anything really...

  5. So Anonymous (1) you are really talking politics, not science then?
    I suspected as much.
    What you fail to understand is the necessity for science to get back to real science and to once again adhere to the ethical standards this implies.
    Politicians feeding the egos and grant chasing hunger of greedy scientists is at the heart of this entire fiasco so if you are afraid of 'big business' as you state, you should remember business will only step in where it sees an opportunity to make money and in this instance it is the greedy scientists who have set the agenda.
    Frankly,I believe there is a great deal of naivety in their actions because history suggests scientists who attempt to play the game of big business will, more often than not, be taken advantage of and get their fingers burnt.
    Let the scientists get back into real science and let's get the rigor and truth back into science. The opportunists lurking in the shadows will then be starved of opportunties.

  6. Monkton's proportionate change shows 411.99175 / 412, or 0.99997998. This only shows the numbers are almost the same, so divide one by the other will give you a figure close to 1. The proportionate change is 1 - 0.99997998 = 0.00002002, or as a percentage, 0.002002%. He has overestimated the change himself!