Former Australian prime minister and current MP Tony Abbott has said no “big change” in our climate has resulted from increasing carbon dioxide levels in the past century, and called global warming “beneficial” in the same speech.
Will give you a minute to process that … OK, ready? Let’s dive in.
On Monday, Abbott was invited to speak at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in Westminster, London. It’s one of the UK’s most prominent climate denial groups, founded in 2009 by former chancellor and member of the House of Lords Nigel Lawson.
Abbott has strong roots in the climate change denial camp — he famously declared the science “crap” in September 2009.
In his speech on Monday, however, Abbott seemed to have changed his tune from straight-up denial to… encouragement? He suggested that an increase in global temperatures “might even be beneficial,” claiming that, “In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves.”
Abbott’s speech contains blatant lies about climate change, like his suggestion that no major atmospheric change whatsoever has happened in the last 100 years.
“Certainly, no big change has accompanied the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the past century from roughly 300 to roughly 400 parts per million or from 0.03 to 0.04 per cent,” he said.
No big change huh? Well, the world has officially breached the 410 PPM threshold for CO2 — carbon dioxide has not reached this height in millions of years, according to Scientific American. That’s a fairly significant change, and the highest levels we’ve seen in human history.
Just check out Berkeley Earth scientist Robert Rohde’s two-minute history of global warming since 1850:
Abbott careens through accusations of “adjusted” records, the “downplayed” impact of urban heat islands and “slanted” data sets. “Unadjusted data suggests … temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3 degrees over the past century, not the 1 degree usually claimed,” he stated, even though Australia just had its warmest winter on record.
“Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s,” he said. “Sometimes, they do more damage but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased.”
Thanks to a proven increase in global average temperatures, we’ve seen a subsequent acceleration in rising sea levels due to the melting of the world’s ice sheets, and an increase in deadly extreme weather events, including Australian bushfires, heatwaves, and cyclones.
There’s been an increase in frequency of major flood events along Australia’s eastern seaboard, and rainfall during September was below to very much below average over much of Australia, and lowest on record for the Murray–Darling Basin as a whole.
Plus, Australia’s Climate Council found a “clear link” between bushfires and climate change, noting in their 25-page report that heatwaves are becoming “more frequent and severe” over the last 30 years, leading to extreme fire weather across the country.
Reactions have been inevitably strong to Abbott’s speech.
Abbott’s views hew remarkably closely to Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, who announced on Monday that he will move to repeal President Obama’s signature climate change regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan. Pruitt has denied that greenhouse gases are the main cause of global warming.
Additional reporting by Andrew Freedman.