Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

Qld Land and Resources Tribunal finding queries IPCC assessment

I’ve done a few posts of late on climate change. Clearly some people who have commented on them do not believe there is a problem with human induced, rapid climate change. These people will be pleased by a judgement just handed down in the Land & Resources Tribunal of Queensland. The judgement considered objections by the Queensland Conservation Council and the Mackay Conservation Group to the plan by Xstrata mining company and others to develop a new open cut coal mine near Mackay.

The Tribunal recommended that the mining application be granted without any of the conditions sought by the objectors, which revolved around seeking a requirement for a reduction or offsetting of the consequential greenhouse gas emissions that would come from the mine.

Without suggesting that the Tribunal erred at law in any way, I did find it in interesting that in amongst the published assessments and conclusion, the Tribunal member appears to dispute the findings and concerns contained within the recently released Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This quote gives an indication of the Tribunal member’s views

“With all respect, a temperature increase of only about 0.45 degrees over 55 years seems a surprisingly low figure upon which to base the IPCC’s concerns about its inducing many serious changes in the global climate during the 21st Century.”

I think the Tribunal member could have dismissed the objections against the mining application without having to dispute the validity of assumptions about the cause and effect of global warming. It is interesting that they chose to do this, as well as question the IPCC report, and also cite a paper which severely criticised the recent Stern Review and “concluded that Stern’s claim that the sceintific evidence for greenhouse gas induced serious global warming and climate change was overwhelming was just an assertion and was wrong.”

It no doubt is true to say that one individual mine will not have a substantial impact on annual global carbon emissions, but it does raise the dilemma of death by a thousand cuts. If you assess each mine individually, each won’t have a significant impact, but cumulatively they do. I guess that’s all the more reason why an accurate carbon pricing signal and consistent overarching policy settings from government are preferable to having a fight about each individual mining project.

This link goes to the transcript of an ABC radio report on the judgment.

ELSEWHERE: You can read other responses to this judgement at the following sites: John Quiggin, Jennifer Marohasy, Tim Lambert at Deltoid, Andrew Bolt and Robert Merkel at Larvatus Prodeo.


19 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. The Feral Abacus

    Andrew, can you provide details of the paper criticising the Stern Review? It’s probably not peer reviewed, given that the latter was released just over 3 months ago.

  2. Feral A, the papers referred to are by Prof Robert Carter et al and Prof Sir Ian Byatt et al, contained World Economics, Vol 7, No 4, Oct-Dec 2006. It seems like it might be two separate papers contained in the same issue of that journal. That’s the reference given in the judgement – haven’t seen the actual paper or papers myself.

  3. Top heavy with professionals ticking what they want to believe I would say. I am reminded the scale of mining in Australia,is based on what the states will allow as well.Seeing they want the Feds to agree on city planning,they become toothless paper tigers on environment matters if it suits them.And these holes in the ground dont even have roofs over them to catch water,and for future use.And the coal gets wet going to export,and the laws of thermodynamics, apparently, disallow scale change in thermodynamic outcomes,if the stuff was drilled ,although,I read somewhere about scale and outcomes,and,coal wasnt used as the original experiment in thermodynamic laws.And what was the temperature ranges found in experiment, in the test to see if gases in pipe of a satellite modelling re entry reached any temperatures that modify carbon dioxide and other gases?I believe Queensland Univ. did these tests for Japanese reentry requirements of their satellites.And the pipe material was?Senator I am feeling more than angry,about your new rules,and with elections on,it is the only chance people like me get to kick every bastard around the place,as they try lying their way into power,with qualified morons in tow.Australia is suffering from a lack or robust argument, even on coal, because the comfortable middle class cannot handle debate,they would rather make money,and that option ,for them has diminished,and I am totally ripped off by their laziness.An example,of what I am talking about here,is Garrett,on another issue, makes compelling reason why pub band musicians should not make it to government.This may seem to suggest that both Greens and Democrats,should find a commonality somewhere, regular as tactic and divide on what it may mean.It is fairly evident the ALP is is only interested in power,and does little to notice its stageyness is all tv.

  4. Austin

    The quote seems strange unless the tribunal member is an expert in climate. It _could_ be the case that a 0.1 degree change in the global average could drastically change the entire earth much like a phase transition. Not that I’m suggesting that this is the case, it is just a hypothetical.

    It is also interesting that he/she uses the word “seems”. So many things in this world are not as they seem.

  5. The Feral Abacus

    Thanks Andrew – I’ll see if I can find them.

    Thinking about the Tribunal’s approach, is it possible that they’ve dragged criticisms of the Stern Review into this case to signal that AGW considerations will not be treated as valid objections, thereby stifling the opportunity for future cases?

    Austin: its more the case that it is only now becoming possible to detect the effects of anthropogenic climate change with any degree of certainty – see the .pdf that I linked to on the ‘political climate changing on climate change’ thread. The 0.1 degree change is not of itself the main issue. Rather, the likely consequences of increasing change in the foreseeable future is what is really at stake.

  6. Austin

    What I was trying to point out was the “surprisingly low figure” comment. It is a faulty premise to make a criticism unless you have some evidence for it. However, I am basing my criticism on a faulty premise also. It could be just possible that this tribunal member is an expert in global climate models with 0.45 average temperature high than today. I’m not sure where he/she would get the time.

  7. I’m not a legal expert, but an ordinary court judgement would surely be overturned on appeal if the judge took account of allegedly expert opinions which had not been presented as evidence, especially if, as in this case, the alleged experts were in fact lobbyists associated with one of the interests represented in the case.

    I’ll try to review the World Economics papers some time soon, but the short summary is that they are absolutely wrong.

  8. The Feral Abacus

    John Quiggin – would you mind reviewing Tol & Yohe that appears in the same issue too? I’ve only seen the abstract, but it appears that they accept the scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change, but dispute Stern’s economic arguments. I’m particularly interested that the Tribunal has relied on one paper from World Economics while overlooking the opinion of another paper in the same issue.

    Austin – I think I wasn’t as clear in post #5 as I might have been. I agree with you that the Tribunal member’s statement is flawed, and I’d add that it is flawed on several levels. But what I wanted to emphasize was that the Tribunal member is basing his argument on estimates of the change to date, when the real issue is the magnitude of the changes that are predicted to occur over the next few centuries should no action be taken.

    The predicted changes form the basis of the objections that were lodged, as far as I can tell, so surely this is the matter that the Tribunal should have addressed.

  9. The Feral Abacus

    For those interested, Carter et al’s critique of the Stern review can be downloaded from here (250 kB pdf). I haven’t found a link to the main body of Tol & Yoh so far, but the abstract can be seen by following the link from here.

  10. John, if you read the full judgement Koppenol states that he is allowed to use his own knowledge and research in making tribunal decisions.

    Doesn’t alter my view that Koppenol has gone well off the reservation on this decision (or at least the jusifications thereof; I don’t think planning tribunals are a good forum for tackling greenhouse emissions). Surely, if you are going to bring independent research to a pseudo-judicial decision, it’s a very heavy responsibility to get it right.

  11. PC police

    Excerpt from politcal climate scientist, John Quiggin:

    “especially if, as in this case, the alleged experts were in fact lobbyists associated with one of the interests represented in the case.”

    Another day, another head to kick. Johnny’s getting a reputation for being nothing more than a shrill head kicker for the campus hard left.

    Andrew, I am surprised you would let that slanderous comment on your site. This shameless climate science imposter spends most of his time trying to kick heads, usually when they aren’t looking. He only offers alarmist comments about global warming yet is not prepared or is incapable of doing the hard work to study the science formally.

    As a federal senator, you ought to remove such slanderous comments meant to ruin people’s reputation.

    Quiggin isn’t a scientist and he’s a mediocre economist at best. Unless he is able to prove wrong doing his comment should not be at this site as it is meant to wreck a fellow citizens reputation.

    At the very least the person conerned ought to be contacted and told about Quiggin’s attempt to smear him.

    Remove it, or contact him. Which one Andrew?

  12. PC police

    It really is unseemly that Quiggin is allowed to cast aspersions on people’s professional conduct on your site.

    The climate scientist (Quiggin) ought to leave the head kicking for his own site, not a senators.
    I think that it is your duty as a senator to remove it and ask Quiggin not to sully this site with such accusations again.

  13. It seems likely to me that a finding could easily have been made against the environment groups without needing to attack the IPCC report or the Stern Review judgement is a recommendation to the Minister, just on the grounds that the total impact of the mine was too small in a global sense to merit a ruling specifically against it – which means the Tribunal member was determined to make a political point by doing so. This Tribunal may not be the best place to be assessing climate change impacts and appropriate responses, but blithely dismissing mainstream scienitific consensus hardly helps the Tribunal’s credibility.

    PCP, it looks to me like you’ve done rather more smearing and slandering of Prof Quiggin than he has of the person he mentions in his comment. Trying to figure what the right balance is between stridency and civility in comments is a perpetual problem. Context is often important, but it is something that will inevitably involve some selective judgement. In any case, I’ll leave both his and your comments up on this occasion.

  14. Dear Andrew,

    A key problem for all of your players is that the debate lacks a coherent basis for analysis and synthesis of data [potential & actual].

    That is, the debate comes down to views of players that have different models to analysis [a SELF-limited] of a given data set [that will include FALSE or irrelevant] – further, a synthesis of the data will depend on a user defined model.

    How many models of analysis & synthesis can we have as a group? Further, how will the group adapt as new data & models evolve over time.

    Thus, let us say one person in a group has a SINGLE model of analysis & synthesis ever get their voice heard among the many?

    The reason why literacy & numeracy in business ethics is so important to the social evolution becomes self-evident. It is for this reason that religions of any class have been crucial to the evolution to the human species.

    I attach a web-site below to give some idea how this can be done:

    Justice is a global system of fair exchange markets – “social justice” means the same thing as “economic justice” i.e., social & economic are redundant to JUSTICE.

    We are all biased based on our personal history & a ‘hidden’ set of core axioms that drive our view of the world. Further, we block views [by design or by default] of others due to self-interest or lack of skills to see meaning.

    I have reviewed many comments from a very wide range of sources from all walks of life.

    I make the claim that I have invented a SINGLE [i.e., unique] error-correcting linear code [see Shannon for a ‘constructive’ proof].

    This will only happen once in human history. BUT, our IP laws & security systems exclude the option of ensuring that ALL people can have ownership. i want my invention to be a global public patent.

  15. PC police


    Any reason you’re giving me a bollicking but seem to give the professor a pass?

  16. Because you’re comments seemed to me to be more aggressive attack than the one by Prof Quiggin which you’ve taken exception to. But if I thought your’s was excessive in the context, I would have removed it, which I haven’t. I wouldn’t have thought my comment was a “bollocking” either, but I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder.

  17. Moriarty

    PC Police: Rule number 1 – left wingers can slander anyone on the right with impunity, but no aspersions can be cast by people perceived to be on the right.

    Rule number 2 – people on the right are always wrong, thus vindicating Rule number 1.

    Basic stalinist logic really.

  18. Well your the one making up and implementing the ‘logic’, Moriarty, so I guess you’d know what best to call it. It seems to me like PCP has managed to cast aspersions with impunity here, but if it makes you feel like a suitably persecuted minority to make out that he has been gagged, feel free to pretend.

    It seems a bit strange that a self-identifying right winger would be so keen to play the victim, but as you wish. I would have thought you’d be above such petty pre-fabricated partisanship.

  1. Deltoid - Feb 19th, 2007

Mini Posts

  • Rhetoric vs reality

    I’ve had a break from writing for a variety of reasons, but the reckless approach the new Queensland government is taking to their spending decisions – and the straightout nonsensicality of some of their claims – roused me enough to pen a piece for New Matilda. Time will tell whether the Newman government will start trying to ensure their statements have some connection with reality – I suggest the way they respond next year to the findings of the inquiry into child safety which they’ve established will be a significant test.

  • End of LP the end of a blogging era

    Back in October, I wrote here about the decline or re-defining of blogs, at least in the Australian political arena.  The relatively few posts I’ve done on this blog since then shows how much less useful I find it to do my own blog than I used to, and as I mentioned back then, a big reason why I don’t read many of the blogs I used to is because the valuable links to many interesting stories, ideas and pieces of information can be found more easily through Twitter or Facebook, sometimes with comment threads which are also at least as good.

    The recent announcement by the Larvatus Prodeo blog that they are ceasing to operate is quite a significant one. (more…)

  • A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments

    Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there.

    Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition.

    But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

  • The Ups & Downs of Ups & Downs – interview with Greg Atkinson

    I’ve mentioned before my liking for the 80s Brisbane band Ups and Downs. I got a chance to interview their lead singer Greg Atkinson on 4ZzZ FM a few weeks ago. They’ve released a compilation CD of 20 of their best tunes and played a gig in Brisbane earlier this month to promote and celebrate it.

    It was a fairly long interview, but I found it very interesting to hear the views of someone who has been active in the independent sphere of the music industry for so long about what has changed and what is the same.

    You can listen to the interview at this link.

  • Speeches to refugee rally + SIEV-X exhibition

    A local activist helpfully recorded speeches given by myself and by Julian Burnside at a refugee rights rally held in Brisbane last Saturday.  You can listen to them here and here. The rally was held to mark the tenth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X.  353 refugees drowned when that refugee boat sank on the way to Australia on 19 October 2001.  There is a beautiful exhibition at The Studio on the ground level at the State Library of Qld this week, commemorating that anniversary. It finishes this weekend – I strongly recommend you try to get along for a look if you have a chance. The Library also has a screening of the documentary Hope on Friday October 28 – this film tell the story of Amal Basry, one of the few survivors of that tragedy.