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Weekend reflections

February 12th, 2011

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. In keeping with my attempts to open up the comments to new contributors , I’d like to redirect discussion, as opposed to substantive new contributions, to the sandpit(s). As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

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  1. Robert (not from UK)
    February 12th, 2011 at 22:13 | #1

    Someone called Peter Smith at Quadrant is protesting against your writing, I see, Professor – is he known to you? I don’t recall hearing of him before this:

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2011/02/john-quiggin-s-flying-saucer-world

  2. Freelander
    February 12th, 2011 at 23:00 | #2


    “Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”

    Vaclav Klaus
    Blue Planet in Green Shackles

    It is essentially a debate all about Freedom.

    Are we free to choose our own reality, in the proud tradition of those whom fine publications like the Quadrant venerates? Or is our reality to be mercilessly dictated to us by a mountain of scientifically supported evidence?

    For how long is the human spirit to be weighed down by this evidence-based tyranny?

  3. jquiggin
    February 13th, 2011 at 05:19 | #3

    Never heard of him, but I’m impressed by the following “I am not sure what the [multi-decadal oscillation] means but that is beside the point”. The whole piece, complete with Vaclav Klaus tag at the top, could have been written to illustrate my points about “sceptics”.

  4. paul walter
    February 13th, 2011 at 08:57 | #4

    I came a sceptic and leave converted.
    Different moderators use different tactics with posters. Some screech, some cold shoulder you.
    Quiggin’ trick is the gentle art of silently falling or dropping from an unanticipated trajectory from a height on a recalcitrant, like a silent brick outhouse. No noise, is the movement dynamic or kinetic ?
    It’s a fascinating technique to behold.

  5. PeterS
    February 13th, 2011 at 12:14 | #5

    The gentleman in Quadrant is worried about the temperature rise between 1900 and 1945 – apparently believing the Industrial Age commenced in 1960, I suppose. An awful lot of coal and oil (and much other stuff) was burnt in that interval.

    I wonder if articles equally ignorant about economics or politics ever get published? I have never seen any.

    Disclaimer – I am definitely not that Peter Smith, and I have never heard of him. But then, we Peter Smiths tend to stay as far apart as possible; life gets too confusing otherwise.

  6. Robert (not from UK)
    February 13th, 2011 at 14:18 | #6

    If the Peter Smith responsible for the Quadrant piece was some sort of climatologist or meteorologist, I dare say Q would have been only too eager to announce the fact. As matters stand, perhaps the Peter Smith in question was invented. It would not be the first time that Q has given column-inches to an article by an author (“Sharon Gould”) who had not previously gone through the tiresome business of, uh, existing:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/quadrant-falls-victim-to-its-own-reasoning/2009/01/06/1231004021054.html

  7. Charlie
    February 13th, 2011 at 15:44 | #7

    Peter Smith is the former CEO of Australian Payments Clearing Association, and has been chief economist at State Bank of Victoria and economic adviser to the Australian Bankers Association. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Adelaide.

  8. rog
    February 13th, 2011 at 16:40 | #8

    Charlie, I think that the argument centers more around

    1) why you would need to reference a politician to support a science based argument

    2) why the author needs to say that he isn’t “doing economics these days”

    3) The authors opinion is limited to the “graphs that I have seen”

    4) the author relies on expert opinion despite it being “right or wrong”

    Let me guess, the author is retired and has bought a small farm with some cattle?

  9. jquiggin
    February 13th, 2011 at 16:56 | #9

    Note that he is careful not to deny the existence of a statistically significant upward trend, instead shifting the goalposts to issues of causality. Then citing a 10-year old article which he admits to not understanding, but which reinforces the political prejudices proclaimed in the initial tag. A sad case of emeritus disease, I fear.

  10. Charlie
    February 13th, 2011 at 23:20 | #10

    JQ: “To the best of my knowledge there is not a single economist in Australia with any professional credibility who denies the reality of global warming or the need for a global policy response.”
    Me: “Peter Smith is the former CEO of Australian Payments Clearing Association, and has been chief economist at State Bank of Victoria and economic adviser to the Australian Bankers Association. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Adelaide”.

    By Einstein’s Law, JQ is refuted.

    Then rog: “1) why you would need to reference a politician to support a science based argument” Neither Smith nor I mentioned a single politician.
    rog 2: “2) why the author needs to say that he isn’t “doing economics these days”. Evidently rog cannot grasp irony. Peter is retired, that is why he feels free to write as he did.

    rog 3 and 4. Peter shows a graph and cites Akasofu and nowhere states he is an expert whether right or wrong. You are a liar, rog, like almost all posters here, and especially the many Marxists amongst them.

    Be that as it may, the joke is that JQ has been elected President of AARES even though he believes fossil fuels are evil and combustion thereof must be banned, although such combustion generally yields more than a litre of water per litre of say gasoline, and comparable amounts of CO2.

    Like ALL non-retired Australian economists, those of the AARES who voted for Quiggin did so in the expectation he would facilitate their access to the DCC trough because of his love affair with Combet, even though they well know that crops depend on both CO2 and H2O, and that burning fossil fuels releases increasing volumes of those scarce resources from deposits laid down many millennia ago, with wholly beneficial impacts on crop yields. But when research grants beckon, who cares about truth? Certainly none of the AARES fraternity, as I can vouch from direct experience of many of them.

    For the record, before I sign off ahead of my inevitable banning. the formula for combustion of say propane using air rather than pure oxygen is:

    C3H8 + 5O2 + 18.8 N2 > 3CO2 + 4H2O + 18.8 N2

    Using oxygen the amounts of CO2 and H2O are about the same, using air it is 2:1 CO2 to H2O. But even then the emissions of H2O are huge, for gasoline about 1 litre of water per litre of fuel.

    So JQ supports what is not a carbon tax but a CO2 + H2O tax. Brilliant. Try selling a water tax to Africa, China, and India. But when none of the IPCC’s AR4 teams is capable of citing let alone understanding the formulae for emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, JQ is in excellent company along with the even more credulous Garnauts of this world.

    For Marxists here, the radiative forcing from H2O is much the same as from CO2.

    Peter Smith is right, JQ et al believe in flying saucers.

  11. zoot
    February 13th, 2011 at 23:26 | #11

    @Charlie
    Yeah, QED Charlie. Why don’t you go and play in the freeway. The adults want a bit of peace and quiet.

  12. Chris Warren
    February 14th, 2011 at 10:05 | #12

    Bye bye Charlie.

    Economists, particularly capitalist-banking economists, especially those using ‘nicotine-science-tactics’ to deny inconvenient truths, instantly loose credibility.

    One the other hand, the credibility of Marxism (properly understood) tends to increase particularly when you try to understand the root economic causes of excessive exploitation of fossil fuels.

    Quiggin’s “leftish-Keynesianism” policy approaches are also loosing credibility. The rightwing (including in the ALP and in the Greens) will always use wedge-politics to stymie or obliterate all such initiatives.

  13. Alice
    February 16th, 2011 at 20:15 | #13

    @Chris Warren
    Agree completely Chris Warren on your comments “Quiggin’s “leftish-Keynesianism” policy approaches are also loosing credibility.The rightwing (including in the ALP and in the Greens) will always use wedge-politics to stymie or obliterate all such initiatives.”

    They are doing just that right now. Look at Roozendahl and look at what he has accomplished in his short reign and its well known he is touting for a an executive job in the private sector and his colleagues want him ton resign now because he is on the nose after the electricity privatisation. Whats more interesting is KK stacking the senior ranks of the health bureacracy with appointments on five year contracts. Why when we need more nurses and front line services and beds and ambos? Why senior executives??. Does KK hope the senior manadarins will stay loyal to labor and try to stymy (and put leaks out about) the opposition when they gain the power everyone predicts will be a landslide to OFarrell?

    That woudnt surprise me at all. The sheer waste has the hallmarks of State Labor all over it. They should just get out now.

    Tell me – who does Roozendahl stand for apart from himself (the rich? Macbank? the ruling elite?) All of the above but this party of his wants to pass themselves off as friends of wrking class families. Its a joke. The party is nothing. Its more right than Barry OFarrell’s party and note Barry is moving more towards the left while the Labor Party is as right wing as all get out (and have the greedy infiltrated the Greens yet?).

    There is no answer to this except that no party is what it seems or what it likes to advertise, so no vote should be kept sacredly in trust to one party. Its a mad world we live in and everyone should go to the polls with their BS detectors switched on full.

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