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Tony Abbott, Green Attacks And Ridley’s Paradox

Paul Matthews, Climate Scepticism

Tony Abbott, former PM of Australia, gave the annual GWPF lecture on Monday night. Predictably, the talk has been attacked, thereby giving it lots of publicity, and equally predictably, there is no substance to the attacks.

Tony Abbott’s GWPF Lecture: Cartoon notes by Josh

He started with some general remarks about world politics and loss of trust in leaders before moving on to some climate-sceptic points. He acknowledged the role of carbon dioxide

Physics suggests, all other things being equal, that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would indeed warm the planet. Even so, the atmosphere is an almost infinitely complex mechanism that’s far from fully understood.

but despite this was labelled a “full-bore climate denier” by one of the idiots at ClimateHome. He talked a little about extreme events:

Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s.

and the potential benefits of warming:

Then there’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

Here, of course, he is in line with the early proponents of global warming, such as Arrhenius and Callendar, in the days before climate science got taken over by political activism.

But most of the talk was on climate policy, with particular reference to Australia, and the problems of renewables and the subsidies they require.

These are not new ideas of course, but I did like his introduction of “Ridley’s Paradox”:

In what might be described as Ridley’s paradox, after the distinguished British commentator: at least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

There are many examples of course – the German “Energiewende” has doubled electricity prices but done hardly anything to emissions levels; diesel cars were encouraged because they produced lower CO2, but this increased levels of dangerous pollutants; trees in the US are being chopped down, chipped, transported across the Atlantic and burnt at Drax, and so on.

Predictably, the talk has been attacked, thereby giving it lots of publicity, and equally predictably, there is no substance to the attacks. The Guardian felt the need to attack Abbot thrice – one article claims that Abbott denied “many of the central findings of the UN’s climate science body”, without giving a single example; another describes the talk as “loopy” and “weird stuff”, without saying why,  and a third says it was strange and sad. The Telegraph reports quite a bit of what Abbott said, but their headline news is that Ed Miliband described it as “idiocy”.

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