“A little modesty might suit you better” – Count von Strack, Amadeus

I have to admit that it pains me somewhat to write this piece, because I was briefly acquainted with Professor Tim Flannery, many years ago. While he was an affable enough fellow, even then he was given to some rather odd views, for a scientist. For instance, taking James Lovelock’s “Gaia” hypothesis apparently absolutely literally – something Lovelock himself adamantly opposed.

But, in the years since, Flannery’s self-image seems to have oscillated wildly from self-proclaimed omniscient sage to grumpy Jeremiah.

Academic, author and former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery lamented the world’s failure to heed his warnings about climate change.

The dire situation, he concluded, led him “to look back on my 20 years of climate activism as a colossal failure”.

Flannery might have used this confession as an occasion to reflect on his frankly hilarious record of dud climate predictions. Unfortunately, self-reflection does not seem to be his strong point. The fellow who rants about “predatory deniers”, but then pontificates that “if you slag off people and degrade their reputations, you ultimately degrade your own,” is clearly short of a mirror or two.

Still, for all his paranoid conspiracy theories about alleged cabals of Murdoch journalists who are out to get him, Flannery might want to take heed of what even his scientific colleagues have been trying to tell him.

“Just because a guy is well known does not mean he knows what he is talking about,” said University of Sydney palaeontologist Dr Stephen Wroe. “I’ve got a fairly cynical view of Tim. He’s an opportunist. He knows climate change is a buzzword, but a few months’ work does not make him an expert” […]

And from archaeologist Jim Allen of La Trobe University: “I wish I could be as sure of anything as Tim is of everything”. Another archaeologist, Dr Judith Field of the University of Sydney: “Tim doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. He does a lot of broadbrush stuff, with broad consequences, and some of it is just plain wrong” […]

[Environmental engineering professor Stewart] Franks remarked “He is perhaps best described as an amateur enthusiast.”

Or, as someone once put it to me somewhat more pithily: “First, Tim talked about stuff I didn’t know about, and he sounded really impressive. Then, he talked about something I do know about, and I realised that he’s just full of shit”.

Like another star eco-activist, Paul Ehrlich, Flannery has become something of a running joke for his dud predictions. Despite all that, he says with a straight face:

Asked at [a] press conference about his credibility, he stated “I’ve been really consistent with what I’ve said, which is that we’ve got a water problem in this country.”

Even more consistent than his wildly wrong predictions is Flannery’s ability to turn on a dime and adamantly deny have ever said what he said. Virginia Trioli is a senior ABC journalist, and certainly no right-wing stooge.

In 2011, ABC journalist Virginia Trioli stated “I’ve sat with Tim Flannery at forums and the like, where he has point-blank said: no, I never said that. And I’ll say: yes you did, here’s the quote. And then he’ll run a gag with the audience, a plea to get them on side, saying it must have been in the News Limited papers. And you’ll get a ha, ha, ha. And I’ll be there going, no, here it is, it’s actually in a Fairfax paper, not that that matters anyway. So this is intriguing to me because he has a little bit of a reputation of saying things and then denying it.”

Flannery not only denies his own words but he completely misrepresents others’.

Flannery […] last week wrote of impending climate doom and mass death, stating “British scientist James Lovelock has predicted a future human population of just a billion people.” As Bolt noted in 2012, that was in 2006, and Lovelock later disavowed his alarmist views, the scientist also criticising Flannery for his.

theaustralian.com.au/commentary/professor-tim-flannery-laments-his-colossal-failure-on-climate-activism

Lovelock specifically repudiated Flannery, alongside Al Gore. Ouch.

Tim, it has to hurt when one of your own heroes gives you a public shellacking, but perhaps you might want to use that as an occasion for some humble self-reflection, instead of just amping up your self-righteous screeching?