Lovelock v Bolt : The Matchup

Whats the difference between James Lovelock environmental scientist and inventor of the Gaia hypothesis, and Andrew Bolt Herald Sun columnist and inventor of such useful terms such as red mist, green gods and compassion industry? Well… less than you might think.

James Lovelock, in a recent depression session with Guardian reporter Decca Aitkenhead sees many of the things people are doing to address global warming as empty gestures

He dismisses eco ideas briskly, one by one. “Carbon offsetting? I wouldn’t dream of it. It’s just a joke. To pay money to plant trees, to think you’re offsetting the carbon?

Do he and his wife try to limit the number of flights they take? “No we don’t. Because we can’t.” And recycling, he adds, is “almost certainly a waste of time and energy”, while having a “green lifestyle” amounts to little more than “ostentatious grand gestures”. He distrusts the notion of ethical consumption. “Because always, in the end, it turns out to be a scam … or if it wasn’t one in the beginning, it becomes one.”

So does Andrew Bolt

I haven’t seen such pointless pain in a holy cause since Silas strapped a barbed cilice to his leg in The Da Vinci Code to prove his piety…….all over the country we have global warming believers slipping on their designer hairshirts so they can itch for Gaia. Sweat for Nature. Puff for planet Earth.

Lovelock is no fan of renewable energy – especially Wind Power.

You’re never going to get enough energy from wind to run a society such as ours,” he says. “Windmills! Oh no. No way of doing it. You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time.”

Neither is Bolt

Ugly, expensive and next to useless.

Lovelock is pro-nuclear

We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear – the one safe, available, energy source – now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.

Bolt is pro-nuclear waste

WE need to dig this hi-tech dump of Bob Hawke’s, and not just to bury nuclear waste. We need it also to bury the green unreason which has held up great ideas like this for far too long.

There are differences though. Lovelock says were doomed

Most of the things we have been told to do might make us feel better, but they won’t make any difference. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable.

“It’s just too late for it,” he says. “Perhaps if we’d gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don’t have time.

Bolt, although not conceding that there is any such thing as global warming, reckons that Chinas contribution to it is so great that we Australians may as well give up, We have no control.

In fact, China is now the world’s biggest emitter and by 2020, Garnaut estimates, it and other developing countries will pump out more greenhouse gases on their own than the entire world dare emit if we want to stop what Garnaut assumes will be potentially catastrophic warming.

We can fiddle, but what’s the point when China will burn, burn, burn? We can make all the sacrifices we like – closing our coal mines and banning cars from our cities – to make us seem “exemplary”, but none of it makes sense unless our pain persuades China and developing countries to slash their own gases too.

The Chinese are in charge, and not even the sweat from the brow of a Trinity boy will persuade them to take their slippers off the accelerator.

So it appears that the key difference between the Lovelock and Bolt views is that with Lovelock we have no future, while with Bolt  our future is in the hands of the Central Committee of the Peoples Republic.

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39 Responses to Lovelock v Bolt : The Matchup

  1. Niall says:

    Bolt the hypocrite. Fervently doesn’t believe in global warming as a scientic concept, yet claims China is the greatest contributor to something he doesn’t believe exists.

    I think that about says all that can be said for the man’s veracity.

  2. SimonC says:

    AGW is a theory that Bolt doesn’t believe is sufficiently proven. CO2 emissions are a demonstrated fact, and China’s increasing contributions to these are obvious.

    These two positions are not in disagreement.

  3. Rex says:

    Niall – Yes, that observation had occurred to me also.

    I presume M. Bolt would justify it on that grounds that hell accept the science temporarily for the sake of exploring the argument with the deluded, and then demonstrate that the deluded are doubly-so since they are also impotent but fail to see it. He can then safely withdraw his acceptance of the science, pat himself on the back for a skewering well done, and crown himself Lord Muck.

  4. Jc says:


    What simon says (no, not that). Add to that as a small nation our contribtuion either way will count for zip.

  5. Rex says:

    AGW is a theory that Bolt doesnt believe is sufficiently proven. CO2 emissions are a demonstrated fact, and Chinas increasing contributions to these are obvious.

    Simon. Your comment seems internally inconsistent to me. You say that for Bolt AGW is not sufficiently proven. Meaning, I assume, that he does not believe that humans are responsible for climate change. (That’s what the A stands for).

    Then you say that CO2 emmissions are a demonstrated fact – and that China is increasing it’s contribution.

    So on the one hand C02 is definitely increasing as a result of human activity – yet on the other hand humans are not responsible for climate change?

    Is that what you (or you on behalf of Bolt) are saying?

  6. wilful says:

    Add to that as a small nation our contribtuion either way will count for zip.

    How many small nations get to go around saying that before it starts adding up to a lot?

  7. Jc says:


    Simon isn’t putting up his own argument. His explaining how bolt sees it and where it ends up. You can’t just take one part of what simon says, corectly attribut it to what simon thinks Bolt is saying and then imply that the last part is what Simon thinks.

    The last part of my comment is what Bolt has also said some while ago.

    ask Bolt. You seem to be making the same mistake that Rex is.

    I don’t see Simon’s opinion in any part of his comment. That applies to my comment as well.

    You want my opinion?

  8. Rex says:

    JC, Fine – replace “your” with “Bolt” . I’m still trying to understand the position that Simon says that Bolt is taking. As I said it seems internally inconsistent – What am I missing?

  9. Brendan Halfweeg says:

    Bolt is saying that *if* we assume humans are responsible for GW, then it doesn’t matter what Australia does, because China isn’t about to chop themselves off at the knees regarding CO2 emissions. We’d be pissing into an almighty wind coming straight from Beijing.

    It’s like your family deciding to go out for dinner when you’d rather stay home. You can still have an opinion on where you go for dinner and have the first preference of staying home.

  10. Patrick says:

    how hard can that be?!?

  11. SimonC says:

    Rex, there is no internal inconsistency. You are conflating increasing CO2 emissions (fact) with anthropogenic climate change (theory).

    CO2 emissions are increasing. We know this, it is a demonstrable fact. We also know that China’s emissions are increasing at an incredible pace. AGW ‘denialists’ cannot dispute this, and Bolt accepts this as fact.

    What Bolt is arguing is that he does not believe there is sufficient evidence to confirm that this increased CO2 makes a significant impact on climate. While I understand many people disagree with him, it doesn’t follow that his arguments are inconsistent.

  12. NPOV says:

    Actually there are AGW that even deny that CO2 emissions are rising because of human activity (including Ian Plimer at various times).
    While it’s logically consistent enough to simultaneously believe that CO2 emissions are rising because of human activity, but that this isn’t causing the planet to warm, such a scenario is basically in direct violation of the laws of the basic physics. A more scientifically-justifiable position is that CO2 levels are rising due to human activity, and that this is causing the planet to warm, but only by the tiniest amount, and the positive feedback loops necessary to give us the projected 3 or 4 degree rise over the next century are unproven.

  13. Darryl Mason says:

    If only Bolt applied his flying-pig levels of skepticism that he aims at AGW and the stolen generation to the Iraq War, the War On Terror in general, and the gaping inconsistencies surrounding the so-called official story of 9/11, then Bolt could truly claim to be an anti-mainstream skeptic. He would also see a fat rise in his readership.

    By raging against the majority view on AGW, but ignoring the lies, double standards and layers of corruption surrounding the WoT, the war industries and 9/11, Bolt only exposes himself as a rabid anti-Green and not a true skeptic.

    The truth is, of course, that the real opposition to the Rudd government today is the Greens and Independents, and not the Liberals.

    Bolt is still trying to fathom this mind fucking shift in Australian politics.

  14. Rex says:

    What Bolt is arguing is that he does not believe there is sufficient evidence to confirm that this increased CO2 makes a significant impact on climate. While I understand many people disagree with him, it doesnt follow that his arguments are inconsistent

    Thanks Simon, Although Mr. Bolt’s general objections are well known, the specifics have always seemed a bit murky. Often he argues that here is no global warming, but now I gather he also argues that even if there was global warming – that CO2 emmissions aren’t the reason.

    So am I right in saying that he’s simultaneoulsy arguing against two prevailing scientific positions. (1) That the measurements and projections of temperature provide no evidence of global warming, and (2) that C02 does not act as a greenhouse gas trapping in heat?

    Perhaps we could SHOCK ask him next time he comes over to take a sqiz.

    Incidently, NPOV above states a nicely logical position for him to adopt if he chooses.

  15. Ken Lovell says:

    Troppo has hit a sudden and hopefully temporary low if commenters are reduced to parsing the thoughts of Andrew Bolt.

  16. Luke says:

    Yes Rex, you’ve got it.

    Bolt is arguing against point 1. His many articles have pointed out how the earth hasn’t actually warmed since 1998, and that last year the climate cooled dramatically, down to levels pre 1960. Based on this, he says he’s not convinced that global warming is happening. He wants to see more open debate and more rational decision making, rather than the green hysteria we see. He wants to make sure that before we spend billions on reducing carbon emissions, we’re absolutely sure they’re the cause of the problem, and that there genuinely is a problem to fix.

    I’m pretty sure Bolt isn’t arguing point 2. CO2 does trap heat, though the amount to which CO2 is responsible for trapping heat is less that 1/4 of one percent. In other words, doubling the amount of C02 in the air makes an insignificant diffence to climate. This may not be his position, but it’s what i’ve read from various sources.

    The major difference I see between Bolt and Lovelock is one is a rational, realist who uses his brain, the other does not.

  17. cohenite says:

    Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have negligible impact on climate; any miniscule influence CO2 has is swamped by natural H2O vapour activity; the idea that CO2 could induce and multiply H20 activity is modelling gone mad. The ipcc has consistently ignored H20 vapour and solar activity and its conclusions are as cynical as the AGW acolyte’s support for AGW is harebrained.

  18. Bolt Reader says:

    Thanks Simon, Although Mr. Bolts general objections are well known, the specifics have always seemed a bit murky. Often he argues that here is no global warming, but now I gather he also argues that even if there was global warming – that CO2 emmissions arent the reason.

    Rex, he disagrees that Climate Change is due to the actions of humans, it quite simple and he is 100% consistant on this matter. We know that Climate change occurs, what we dont know, and what we cant prove, is that Humans are the cause of it. This is Andrew’s view.

  19. Cal says:

    Some of you are simply stupid.

    Bolt is saying that AGW is BS.

    This does not prevent him from also pointing out to those shrieking that we must “do something for the children” that China will be spewing out more than we can cut even if we all go live in caves.

    Simple stuff really.

  20. Ken Parish says:

    Does anyone else get the distinct impression that one of the RWDB bloggers has linked Rex’s post and sent the shouting hordes in this general direction?

  21. Gummo Trotsky says:

    Does anyone else get the distinct impression that one of the RWDB bloggers has linked Rexs post and sent the shouting hordes in this general direction?

    Depends on who you’d regard as a(n) RWDB.

  22. TimT says:

    Fervently doesnt believe in global warming as a scientic concept, yet claims China is the greatest contributor to something he doesnt believe exists.

    It’s perfectly possible to make such an argument in an intellectually consistent way – ie, ‘the theory of global warming caused by men is incorrect, however, if that theory were correct, then we might want to change our approach to emissions by developing nations such as China and India if we want to make a difference.’

    You *could*, of course, argue that by claiming that global warming doesn’t exist, Bolt doesn’t have permission to engage and critique the arguments of those who think global warming does exist. But you couldn’t do that by arguing Bolt is being inconsistent – he isn’t. And you would also look rather like you were trying to pre-emptively shut up all criticism on spurious moral grounds.

  23. Gummo Trotsky says:


    Your argument might stand up if Bolt hadn’t declared, earlier in the linked article:

    Folks, get over this white man’s burden thing. China is now in charge. It will set the world’s temperature.

    Maybe we should blame a subby stuck for column inches for pulling the “If global warming is caused by human activity then …” clause from the front of that second sentence. Or something like that.

  24. J.Hansford. says:

    Warming….? Cooling….?

    In the wise words of Bob Carter…. It depends.

    Just watch this for a bit of insight of the scope of things.

  25. Patrick says:

    I think the new low in troppodom is Bolt apparently being more mentally acute than troppodillians – happily that most of the confused seem to be larva rodents!

  26. Rex says:

    Patrick, I’m quite convinced that Mr. Bolt is a smart fella. Forgive me though if I don’t spend all my time trying to unpeel the layers of rhetoric to get to the nub of his argument.

    From the comments here, it seems that everyone agrees that it is Bolt’s view that the scientific measurements and projections of temperature provide no evidence of global warming.

    But I think there may be equivocation as to whether Mr. Bolt believes that C02 plays a role in global worming or not.

    On the one hand Luke, Simon, Cohenite all interpret Bolt’s position as that CO2 has negligible conribution. While as Gummo points out – Bolt says “China is now in charge. It will set the worlds temperature.” So the question then becomes to what level does Mr. Bolt think that CO2 emmission have an effect on global warming?

  27. cohenite says:

    Rex; AB can think what he likes; I’m saying that due to CO2 saturation, the dominance of H20 vapour in the absorption spectrum and the overall dominance of solar irradiance and sunspot activity, the effect of anthropogenic CO2 on CLIMATE CHANGE is negligible

  28. Patrick says:

    I’d say it was TimT’s comment just about nailed it.

    I would say, though, that Bolt considers it quite possible that the world is growing (slowly and slightly) warmer, and that this is partly about human-sourced carbon emissions.

    Where he diverges fundamentally from the pack is what we believe are the consequences of this. Largely, he thinks that they are unlikely to be very serious. Further, he thinks that if they do eventuate, they are most likely to be best met by more growth and technological development.

  29. Cory Olsen says:

    Question – Why don’t we ask him?

  30. Andrew says:


    The other difference between James Lovelock and Andrew Bolt is that one of them knows what he is talking about, and the other one doesn’t.

    So when the one who knows what he’s talking about says we’re screwed, the response of the commenters is naturally to concentrate exclusively on analysing the thoughts and arguments of the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Makes sense to me. La, la, la, can’t hear you.

  31. NPOV says:

    Patrick, I think it’s unlikely the consequences of global warming will be “very serious” – at least, when compared to many other threats facing us in the coming centuries. But I also believe that the IPCC reports *underestimate* the likely consequences of allowing the temperature to rise by 3 or 4 degrees this century.
    The problem is the concept of “business as usual”. We forget that “business as usual” is actually “inefficiently burning fossil fuels for enormous amounts of energy most of which is wasted” – which has been the practice of about the last half-century. There is no good reason to assume we will keep doing this for much longer, especially as fossil fuels become scarcer. So even if global warming was barely a threat at all, I highly doubt we would keep using fossil fuels in the manner that we have been for too much longer. The negative consequences of inefficient use of fossil fuels are pretty clear enough to me.

  32. Patrick says:

    I can agree with that. I disagree (I think) in that I believe the best solution would be to try and get richer faster.

    I also disagree that the IPCC has understated the risks, but so what – I don’t believe anyone really has much idea of what the likely range of responses to a given rise or decline in temperature is. I just don’t believe that human extinction is one of them.

  33. Jacques Chester says:

    Does anyone else get the distinct impression that one of the RWDB bloggers has linked Rexs post and sent the shouting hordes in this general direction?

    As Gummo pointed out, we got linked by Bolt himself which has brought a few hundred visitors to our humble abode. Tim Blair has sent bigger crowds to beat up Chris Sheill. And I live in hope of someday getting frontpage at Slashdot.

  34. NPOV says:

    If stories like have anything to them, then it’s especially unlikely that global warming will ever become as serious as IPCC predictions make out.
    But it only emphasises the urgent imperative to develop alternative energy sources.

  35. Just Me says:

    “His many articles have pointed out how the earth hasnt actually warmed since 1998, and that last year the climate cooled dramatically, down to levels pre 1960.”

    Shakes head. Complete and utter crap, of the most disingenuous kind.

    2007 was the equal second warmest year on record. How the f**k could that possibly be described as a ‘dramatic cooling’?

    Global average temps are now at least 0.6C higher than in pre-1960, and the long term trend is clearly strongly upwards.

    There is no longer any polite way to say this:

    Anybody who believes or says otherwise about global temp trends is either an idiot or a liar, and often both, and anybody who relies on Bolt for accurate info about this subject deserves all the ridicule they get. There is no longer any excuse for not informing yourself properly about these basic facts from the primary scientific sources. It is all available easily on the net.


  36. Marks says:

    Lordy Lordy, ‘Just Me’!

    All them IPCC people getting in planes and going to Bali and other places instead of videoconferencing mean anything to you?

    From what I can see, many of them claim to be experts in the field of meteorology and climate science. Do you really think that if the IPCC junketeers really thought that AGW was happening and the world was in danger, they would be spewing out CO2 in planes going to Bali? (I think it was Spain the time before).

    If those people who have the technical knowledge keep acting like AGW don’t exist, I am not sure why the rest of us should. Which gets back to your point about idiots and liars – which do you think the IPCC is?

    In fact, have a talk to your local power company and let them show you the ever increasingly spinning power dials on our conventional power stations. These power companies and governments have been pushing conservation messages for the past twenty years, and yet people keep buying bigger appliances and FWD sales have gone through the roof. For all the talk about supposed AGW, they ain’t that many people who act as if it exists. I know, cos I discussed it the other day in my favourite al fresco restaurant what uses those nice gas burners so AGW concerned patrons can keep warm outside instead of going inside in the cold.

    Actually, if you look at the records of power usage, and the tendency of people to increase their energy usage, you would be forgiven for thinking that AGW belief is still a fringe religion.

  37. Just Me says:

    Nice attempt to avoid Bolt, et al’s, dishonesty about the basic facts.


    Did they completely misrepresent the true facts about the temperature trend, or not?

    That is the real issue here, not whether a handful of scientist flew to a conference or not.

  38. A J Nock says:

    Lovelocks been kicking winners for decades. But he’s wrong on the danger involved here. But notice his good sense on what to do about the (non-existent)problem. Nuclear power for industry. And SO2 to take the edge off the planets heat. All very sound on Lovelocks part.

  39. Marks says:

    Just me,

    So are you saying that whether or not scientists who claim to be experts in GW act as if it is happening, that is not important, but rather we should be worrying about what some journalist with no climate quals might say?


    Might I respectfully suggest that Bolt, like most of the rest of us is not a climate specialist, so he and we have to glean what we can from what the climate specialists say and DO. So inconsistencies that AB or you or I may have in our arguments are likely to be inevitable since none of us are climate scientists (or are you?). Add to that the number of disagreements over details within the climate science community, (including the actual numbers of GW), and you might see why the rest of the community is not acting as if GW exists.

    If you don’t think that the rest of us acting as if AGW does not exist is a problem, then what is the problem for you? Why the ‘sheesh’ in your post previously?

    If you cannot see that unless climate scientists actually act as if there is AGW, then the rest of us (including AB) might be skeptical and keep buying bigger aircons and fridges, I cannot advance any further argument.

    But you will be repeating your ‘sheesh’ comments of your earlier post a lot in the next few years I think.

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