Among the new distinguished fellows of the Academy announced this week, we find:
Professor Timothy Fridtjof Flannery FAA. Environmental sustainability, Macquarie University. Advancing public awareness and understanding of science.
Jo Nova has some trenchant comments on this appointment. Be sure to read the full text of her commentary on this preposterous appointment.
The Australian Academy of Science thinks that it can give the besieged Tim Flannery more credibility. Instead, they pour their own credibility down the sink. If making predictions that are wrong and exaggerated, and following fashions of scientific groupthink is “good science”, who next will make the hallowed list of “Fellows” – Cate Blanchett? Clive Hamilton? Charles Manson?
Hailing people who achieve in Science Communication might be fine, but it is not communicating science when their predictions don’t fit the real world and they won’t change the theory. The prophesies of Tim are a religion. (See “Help! How you can tell a scientist from a non-scientist”.)
Apparently the Academy can’t help itself. Recall Garth Paltridge’s acccount of the review of the draft Garnaut report in his book The Climate Caper.
In 2008 the Academy of Science convened a committee to produce a response to Professor Garnaut’s draft report and recommendations. After a day of deliberation the committee came up with some items, including suggestions for research and a very cautious statement about the hazards of using the existing models to predict rainfall 100 years hence. The members realised that this was difficult ground but they decided that if there is a 50/50 chance that the forecasts are nonsense it was only reasonable to indicate this to the political decision-makers and to the community at large. “The officers of the Academy decided that this called for some discussion with Garnaut himself, which some of the committee members thought strange and others recognized as a standard tactic to ensure that matters of potential controversy are headed off at the pass.” (p 66).The meeting with Garnaut went ahead with officers of the Academy rather than the review committee. “Rumour has it that sometime during the meeting Professor Garnaut became very sympathetic to the need for vast new resources to address the need for basic research…From that point the discussion was all sweetness and light…In the end it seems that the idea of a response to the Garnaut report was dropped altogether.”