Sunday, November 17, 2013

Matt Ridley in Australia tells more of his fibs, but gives Andrew Bolt little joy...

Sou | 8:03 PM Feel free to comment!

UPDATE: Anthony Watts has just posted the transcript at WUWT. Only three comments so far - see below.  I'll update if I see any more choice comments in the denier playground. (Archive here, updated here.)
(Sou: 10:45 am Tues 19 Nov 13)

As I said in my last article, UK failed banker, politician and GWPF adviser, Matt Ridley is in Australia.  Seems he was bought by the IPA to quell the fears of fake skeptics.  He did alright with his IPA meeting reported yesterday by keeping all the bad news from them.  He didn't do quite as well today.

This morning he appeared on Andrew Bolt's little Sunday television program.  Andrew Bolt is an Australian right wing blogger with the Herald-Sun, a widely circulated Melbourne daily newspaper which is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia (Murdoch).  A while ago Andrew also managed to snag his own half hour show on Sunday Television - Channel 10. It's not much of a program.  I don't know who wastes their time watching it except for a few right wingers keen to have their ideas reflected by him.   (It was rated way, way down at number 320 here in May this year.) I think I've only watched one other episode.

Andrew Bolt prides himself on his ignorance, claiming that it makes him "objective".  In reality it only makes him look pretty darned stupid most of the time.

I transcribed the video from this morning and have inserted comments of my own.  (PS I just visited Andrew Bolt's blog about today's television program and was a bit surprised that of 115 comments, I'd say there were only about four or five about climate.  Most were about other segments of the show.)

On typhoons...

Andrew Bolt: Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last week and killed perhaps 4,000 people. The Greens couldn't wait to exploit it like they exploited last month's fires and even accused Tony Abbott.

Sou: There's a cut to three separate very short snippets of Adam Bandt talking to the press:

Adam Bandt:  He can be expected to be referred to as Typhoon Tony.
...Many people are saying that this is the worst typhoon that they've ever seen. 
...This is what we're in store for unless we get global warming under control.

Sou: Then back to Andrew Bolt introducing Matt Ridley - my hyperlink:
Bolt: Matt Ridley is a member of Britain's House of Lords and a science writer who's latest best seller is "The Rational Optimist". He's here on a speaking tour for the IPA. Matt Ridley, thank you for joining me.
Ridley: Thank you for having me on the show.
Andrew Bolt: The typhoon in the Philippines er er what do you make of the attempts to make that evidence of the great global warming catastrophe awaiting us.

Sou: As you've seen from what Adam Bandt had to say, Andrew Bolt couldn't find anyone saying that Typhoon Haiyan was caused by global warming.  The best he could come up with was Bandt saying that "this is what is in store for us unless we get global warming under control".  Bandt's statement accurately reflects the science.  But Matt Ridley thinks even that is "ridiculous".

Matt Ridley: Well this is ridiculous. I mean storms and weather events happen.  They've always happened. There have been much stronger typhoons in the past. This isn't the strongest one that's ever recorded or anything like that. They're gunna happen whatever and to blame this on climate change is a bit like Shamanism.  It's witchdoctery. It's going back 10,000 years to try and blame every weather event on mankind.
And we don't have to just know this from basic data.  If you look at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, they say there's been no trend in increasing frequency of typhoons or cyclones or hurricanes. In fact this year's been an unusually quiet one globally and even in that part of the Pacific it's been quiet. So the idea that you can stop typhoons happening by cutting carbon dioxide emissions is just absurd. We've got to tackle typhoons as an issue whatever happens to the climate.

Sou: That's what's called a strawman fallacy.  Reducing emissions won't stop typhoons from happening.  The aim is to reduce emissions so that global warming doesn't cause as much harm as otherwise.  Some of that harm may well be an increase in the ferocity of super storms and an increase in the damage they cause.  For example, even mild storms will be more damaging because of the impact of rising seas on storm surges.

Matt Ridley thinks rising seas are the main worry with global warming

Andrew Bolt: What do we have to worry about if global warming continues. I know there's been a pause in atmospheric temperature rises for fifteen years but should it continue what have we got to fear?
Matt Ridley: I personally think that we are seeing benefits from climate change.  Sorry, that's not my personal view that's what the data says.  [Sou: that's a misrepresentation. There are many more negatives than positives.]  
We're seeing benefits from climate change slightly.  Greener vegetation in the world, slightly fewer winter deaths. [Sou: many more summer deaths, more catastrophic fires, hotter droughts, heavier rains etc etc.] Things like that. Longer growing seasons. [Sou: longer bushfire seasons.] And that's likely to continue for another six or seven decades. After that, if the projections of climate change are right and on the whole they've been too warm for the last 30 years so they may not be right. [Sou: ha ha - Matt's nose grew about four inches right there!] But if they're right we will then start to see net harm.  And the one harm that really would hurt civilisation would be rapidly rising sea levels.
Fortunately the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that sea levels are not rising, are not gonna rise that fast in this century. [Sou: oops, Matt's nose grew another four inches!] Not much faster than they did in the last century.
Greenland's losing ice at the rate of two billion tonnes a year which sounds a lot but it's actually half a per cent per century. So the collapse of ice sheets, that sort of thing has now largely been ruled out by the IPCC as a risk.  [Sou: huh? Collapse of ice sheets is expected in the medium to long term.]
But we are, you know, we do have to get our act together to be ready to deal with some disasters if they happen towards the end of this century or the beginning of the next.

Sou: First up, Matt tells a big fat lie about the IPCC projections for sea level rise this century.  Except for the lowest possible under the virtually impossible to achieve RCP2.6 emissions scenario - every projection is for a substantially higher rate of rise than over the twentieth century.  Here is Figure TS.22 from page TS-122 of AR5 WG1 IPCC report (click to enlarge):

Sou: In my last article I wondered what Matt thought would happen after his 70 years "benefit" runs out.  This time he's given us a clue as to what he thinks, even going so far as to say "we do have to get our act together".  Andrew Bolt picks up on that:

Andrew Bolt: Well, when you say get our act together to be ready.  Um, we're.. obviously the world is spending trillions of dollars on various ways to so-called stop global warming. Does ..is that a sensible use of our resources?
Matt Ridley: No. I think rolling out immature and fourteenth century resources like wind power all around the world which are extremely expensive, don't cut carbon emissions very much and er on the whole keep people unable to afford the measures to adapt to climate by being so expensive ah is not the answer.
 Sou: I wonder has Matt Ridley been ordered by the GWPF (or maybe by the raving ratbag blogger James Delingpole) to run with that particular fib?  In fact the cost of electricity from wind power is very competitive in many parts of the world, as Oklahomans' recently discovered.  Even in Australia, wind power provides a lot more electricity than many people realise.

Matt Ridley thinks Japan will go back to nuclear energy?

Matt Ridley: Um Japan interestingly has just said that it's not gonna try and keep emissions as low as it was hoping by 2020.  Instead it's gonna put a lot of money into research into new energy technologies.  And that's the answer.  If we can get cheap fusion energy or cheap thorium power or even cheap ordinary nuclear power and some of the solar power developed ah by the end of the century we probably won't even need fossil fuels if we can give them up long before they run out um that's a much better approach than trying to roll out immature energy technologies now cos we've tried that and it's just not working.  We're trying it all over the world it's it's disastrously bad for people's living standards.

Sou: Oh boy! Matt Ridley has rocks in his head if he thinks that the Japanese are going to be rolling out more nuclear power plants.  Sheesh.  The aftermath of the Fukishima catastrophe is why it shut down all its nuclear power plants and is switching to gas, and the main reason why it's wanting to change it's emission reduction target.  As for Matt thinking that the Asian smog is preferable to clean energy for "people's living standards"...

No joy for Andrew Bolt's "reason"

Andrew Bolt: So when Tony Abbott gets elected on a platform of scrapping the carbon tax, is that seen as the Green's would suggest as a world-wide embarrassment or is it seen ..er ..as something perhaps ..er ..or the return of reason?
Matt Ridley: Well, I think that until now it's been assumed that you had to pay lip service to dangerous climate change.  I mean, most of us I believe that that human beings do affect the climate and probably have caused some of the warming in the past.  That's not at issue.  What's at issue is a forecast of dangerous warming which is only going to come true if certain positive feedback amplifiers happen. And if that's likely to be the case, it's always been assumed that you had to show real alarm about this in order to get elected in a western democracy.  I think  Tony Abbott has shown that's not the case and a lot of elected politicians around the world will have noticed that and will have noticed that not only was the carbon tax ah something he was ah determined to repeal, but that it was front and centre in the election campaign. So you can't say it was just a peripheral issue. So for example the Canadians have ah commented on that. And I think western European politicians will notice that and will say actually you can take a relatively rational, relatively sober approach to climate change and be elected despite what the extreme greens will throw at you.

Sou: Poor old Andrew Bolt can't win a trick.  Matt Ridley fudges and fumbles a bit, but he doesn't come out and agree with Andrew that scrapping the carbon tax is a "return of reason".  Matt avoids answering that part of Andrew's question altogether.  Instead he grudgingly says that humans do affect the climate.  

Matt doesn't answer the implied question of whether Tony Abbott's policy is the best one or not.  He doesn't come right out and contradict Andrew.  But instead of answering the question he sidesteps like the politician he is - responding in terms of the impact on politics.  

Given Matt Ridley's ideological viewpoint, it's possible that he would favour a carbon price, which is a market-based system and a charge on polluters, over the socialist approach proposed by Tony Abbott - making taxpayers cough up all the money needed to pay for emissions reductions.  And hiding the real cost in consolidated revenue.  (Tony Abbott doesn't favour transparent government).

Andrew Bolt: And er is there any other government then that er will be the next to follow us do you think? 
Matt Ridley: I'm not the one to predict ah political trends. Ah I don't think it's going to happen in a hurry in Europe. Ah um ah sorry in Britain. Um but ah there is huge disquiet in the UK about energy prices. And they're about to go up even more because of green levies and that I think is going to make politicians rethink this agenda.

Carbon is being priced around the world

Andrew Bolt asks longingly if other government's will "follow" Australia.  Follow them in what?  Getting rid of a carbon pricing scheme?  Not very likely.  What places have one and what places are planning one?  Below is a list compiled by SBS (Australia) a couple of weeks ago:


CHINA (state-based action)

The Chinese Government plans to develop emissions trading schemes in seven key cities and provinces from 2013. These schemes will cover around 250 million people. The Chinese Government aims to work towards a nation-wide approach after 2015.

UNITED STATES (state-based action)

There is no nationwide carbon tax levelled in the USA, although a few states have introduced the tax. The United States Administration has not been able to secure support for legislation to set either a price or a limit on greenhouse gas emissions. However, emissions trading has operated in the power sector in nine states since 2009. California's emissions trading scheme will start in January 2013.

CANADA (province-based action)

Canada does not have a federal carbon tax, but two Canadian provinces have existing carbon taxes (Quebec and British Columbia). Alberta implemented emissions trading in 2006 and Quebec's scheme will start in 2013. A further two provinces, British Columbia and Ontario, are considering emissions trading schemes.The Canadian Federal Government has no immediate plans to implement national emissions trading.

INDIA (tax on coal)

In July 2010, India introduced a nationwide carbon tax of 50 rupees per tonne (less than $A1) of coal both produced and imported to India.


The New Zealand Government set up an emissions trading scheme in 2008. The scheme covered forestry initially, and was then expanded in 2010 to cover stationary energy, transport, liquid fossil fuels and industrial processes.


The Republic of Korea passed legislation in May 2012 for an emissions trading scheme to start from 1 January 2015. The emissions trading scheme will cover facilities producing more than 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – expected to be around 450 of the country's largest emitters.


In April 2012, Japan legislated for a carbon tax of approximately ¥289 per tonne ($A3.30) by increasing existing taxes on fossil fuels (coal and LPG/LNG) with effect from 1 October 2012. Half the revenue will
fund low-emissions technologies. Japan has emissions trading schemes operating in the Tokyo and Saitama regions, covering 20 million people.

EUROPE (national-based action)

The European Union emissions trading scheme began in 2005 and now covers the 27 countries of the European Union, and three non-European Union members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Their current target is a 21 per cent cut of 2005 emissions by 2025 (Australia's is a 5% cut of 2000 emissions by 2020).

A carbon tax was proposed by the European Commission in 2010, but a carbon tax has not been agreed upon by the 27 member states. The current proposal by the European Commission would charge firms between 4 and 30 euros per metric tonne of CO2.

Several European countries have enacted a carbon tax. They include: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.


Finland introduced the world's first carbon tax in 1990, initially with exemptions for specific sectors. Manly changes were later introduced, such as a border tax on imported electricity. Natural gas has a reduced tax rate, while peat was exempted between 2005 and 2010. In 2010, Finland's price on carbon was €20 per tonne of CO2.


The Netherlands introduced a carbon tax in 1990, which was then replaced by a tax on fuels. In 2007, it introduced a carbon-based tax on packaging, to encourage recycling.


In 1991, Sweden enacted a tax on the use of coal, oil, natural gas, petrol and aviation fuel used in domestic travel. The tax was 0.25 SEK/kg ($US100 per tonne of C02) and was later raised to $US150. With Sweden raising prices on fossil fuels since enacting the carbon tax, it cut its carbon pollution by 9 per cent between 1990 and 2006.


In 1991, Norway introduced a tax on carbon. However its carbon emissions increased by 43 per cent per capita between 1991 and 2008.


Since 2002, Denmark has had a carbon tax of 100 DKK per metric ton of CO2, equivalent to approximately 13 Euros or 18 US dollars. Denmark's carbon tax applies to all energy users, but industrial companies are taxed differently depending on the process the energy is used for, and whether or not the company has entered into a voluntary agreement to apply energy efficiency measures.


A carbon incentive tax was introduced in Switzerland in 2008. It includes all fossil fuels, unless they are used for energy. Swiss companies can be exempt from the tax if they participate in the country's emissions trading system. The tax amounts to CHF 36 per metric tonne CO2.


In 1993, the UK government introduced a tax on retail petroleum products, to reduce emissions in the transport sector. The UK's Climate Change Levy was introduced in 2001. The United Kingdom participates in the European Union emissions trading scheme and is covered by European Union policies and measures. The United Kingdom has put in place regulations requiring all new homes to have zero emissions for heating, hot water, cooling and lighting from 2016.


A tax on oil and gas came into effect in 2010. It was estimated to add around €43 to filling a 1000 litre oil tank and €41 to the average annual gas bill.


In 1997, Costa Rica enacted a tax on carbon pollution, set at 3.5 per cent of the market value of fossil fuels. The revenue raised from this goes into a national forest fund which pays indigenous communities for protecting the forests around them.


The state of Rio de Janeiro is exploring options to implement a state-wide cap and trade system.


South Africa introduced a carbon tax on new vehicle sales in September 2010. South Africa is planning to introduce a carbon tax from 2013, starting at R120 ($A15) per tonne for emissions above a threshold. Each company will have 60 per cent of its emissions tax exempt, with higher exemption thresholds for cement, iron, steel, aluminium, ceramics and fugitive emissions as well as trade exposed industries. Agriculture, forestry, land use and waste will not be taxed.

From the WUWT comments

Added 10:55 am Tues 19 Nov 13
Anthony Watts was a couple of days late to Andrew Bolt's party.  Here are a couple of WUWT comments on the Matt Ridley monologue (archived here, updated here).

Kev-in-Uk says Matt Ridley caved in too much to the "pig-troughing climate scientists":
November 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm
IMHO, Dr Ridley was a bit too soft and concilliatory – a bit too lukewarm? It’s ok to try and get your point across by appearing calm and reasoned but the fact of the matter is that all the money spent on carbon reductions schemes have been a massive waste of time and effort as well as cash.
I for one do not believe in the ‘AGW is significant’ meme – but the pragmatic view (and incorporating the oft warmist favourite – the Precautionary Principle) the best way to stop carbon emission is to invest in renewables and nuclear ‘properly’. Put it another way, a hundred billion bucks into development of non-carbon energy would have gone an awful long way into helping – instead of producing a sh$tload of useless models, adjusted data and feeding many thousands of pig-troughing ‘climate scientists’……..

Robin says "it's all a communist plot":
November 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Those of us who believe based on the evidence that Sustainability is merely an update of the old Marxian need for a crisis to justify the desired structural and institutional changes will keep watching and listening for the next calamity. I spent part of the weekend reading the beginnings of the ecological Marxism theories in the 70s (as its creators called it) and their justifications that more than an economic crisis would be needed.
IPCC is holding true to the social theories regardless of the facts. Matt is a rational optimist because he believes in innovation. We need to get back to societies that foster genuine innovation of the type he describes in his book instead of sociological innovations in how we are to organize ourselves in the future. Most of us can organize ourselves far better than any bureaucrat or theorist or politician

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