Monday, April 4, 2011

This blog will not be updated from now on

Since joining Posterous I have effectively had two blogs, with this one being automatically updated via posts to the other one.

So this blog has been the mirror of the other.

Unfortunately, whereas Posterous automatically adjusts the dimensions of images and embedded videos, this one doesn't. And if the dimensions are too big it then affects the text as well, making it 'run over' the right margin.

This means I have to manually adjust these things all the time.

Added to this is the fact that while I'm the only contributor to this blog, it is actually not mine.

It was started by someone else as a group blog and I do not have any administrative access to it and no-one can remember the required login and password details.

Time to let it go I think.

I'll be turning off the automatic update feature at and future posts will appear there only.

President of the Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society on Australia's extreme rainfall

Neville Nicholls is one of Australia's leading climate scientists. He is also a long-time participant in the IPCC and current president of the Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society. I first met Neville in the mid 1990s (at a meeting in Vietnam I think) and I have had nothing but great respect for him ever since. In his latest "AMOS - President's Column" he asks, "What caused the eastern Australia heavy rains and floods of 2010/11?"

He begins his answer by pointing to the strength of the current record La Niña event and the relationship of the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index, a measure of the strength of La Niña and El Niño events) and Australian rainfall (see his figure above). He concludes: "Given the well-known relationship between the SOI and heavy rains in eastern Australia (eg., McBride and Nicholls, 1983) we can conclude that the fundamental cause of the heavy rains this past six months was indeed this record La Niña event. Other heavy rain years (1917/18, 1950/51, 1973/74, 1975/76) were also the result of strong La Niña events. The relationship between rainfall and the SOI is very strong, with a correlation coefficient of 0.66. So, the heavy rains were not caused by global warming, but by a record la Niña event – a natural fluctuation of the climate system."

But he doesn't stop there. He next asks: "But perhaps 2010/11 was a record La Niña because of global warming?" His answer: "There has not been any trend in the SOI over the past 111 years, despite the warming of global mean temperature of about 0.75°C over that period. Nor do climate models consistently predict increased strength of La Niña events from enhanced atmospheric content of greenhouse gases (eg., Vecchi and Wittenberg, 2010). So there is no reason, at this moment, for us to suspect that global warming is increasing the frequency or intensity of La Niña events.

He doesn't stop there either, and next asks, "But was the impact of the 2010/11 La Niña on Australian rainfall stronger because of the record warm sea surface temperatures around northern Australia in 2010?" His answer: "These waters have increased substantially over the last century and are now about a degree warmer than early in the 20th century. If these warmer waters were enhancing the impact of La Niña on Australian rainfall we might expect to be seeing heavier rains in recent decades, relative to the rains that accompanied earlier strong La Niña events. There is some evidence of this (eg., Nicholls et al 1996), and there has been a weak tendency towards increased rainfall since 1900, independent of the influence from the El Niño – Southern Oscillation. Perhaps this trend towards increased rainfall might be related to the warmer sea surface temperatures – but much more work is needed to test this. The effect, if there is one, does not look very strong."

He concludes: "The record La Niña event was the fundamental cause of the heavy rains and floods, ie it was a natural fluctuation of the climate system. There may be a global warming signal enhancing this natural variability, but if so then this effect has been quite subtle, at least thus far."

By Roger Pielke Jr, professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

So yes, there has been a moderate degree of warming over the last century, but we are a long way from understanding the climate system in sufficient detail to be ascribing individual weather events to the effects of climate change, despite the efforts of political shysters like the minister for climate change, Greg Combet, and Greens senator Christine Milne to do so.

Combet just yesterday: "Clearly, one of the most worrying aspects of climate change is what this could mean for the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, cyclones and floods."

Milne trying to milk the cyclone Yasi tragedy for political gain: "This is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy of climate change. The scientists have been saying we are going to experience more extreme weather events, that their intensity is going to increase, (and) their frequency."

Well, maybe, but then again, maybe not.

The Australian has forced the CSIRO to release a number of papers by way of a freedom of information request. One of those is a paper by researcher Debbie Abbs that points to a somewhat different possible future.

Her paper predicts that rising temperatures may result in a fall in the number of tropical cyclones. Despite what the newspaper's headline might suggest, the paper itself did not deal with the possible future intensity of cyclones, though Dr Abbs says that it is "expected" that the intensity of some storms will increase.

The paper does highlight though something that we sceptics have been trying to get noticed for many years now, and that is the degree of uncertainty that exists in climate science. The science is by no means settled.

So another researcher, meteorologist Kevin Walsh, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, said he was "preparing to publish research with similar but less extreme findings than those of Dr Abbs."

His yet to be published paper predicts that tropical cyclone activity in Australia's north will decline by 20% by 2100, and that the most intense ones will be only slightly more intense.

So we can see what a scientifically illiterate 'carrion crow' Christine Milne was being when trying to take advantage of the recent destruction in Queensland, whereas Combet (rumoured to be something of a climate change sceptic himself) talks rubbish he probably at best only half believes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How I lost faith in multiculturalism

Important article by the foreign affairs correspondent at The Australian, Greg Sheridan.

It's significance lies in the fact that Sheridan for many years has been one of the foremost proponents and advocate for multiculturalism on the Right side of politics.

Back in 1996 he had this to say:

There is nothing in multiculturalism that could cause any worry to any normal person. Multiculturalism officially promotes an overriding loyalty to Australia, respect for other people's rights and Australian law, recognition of people's cultural origins, respect for diversity, the need to make maximum economic use of the skills people bring to Australia and equity in access to government services.

What mostly passes for "debate" about multiculturalism is really the psychology of paranoia as a political style. That is why opinion polls on these issues are often self-contradictory. People will say they think there should be fewer migrants from Asia, but that the policy should be non-discriminatory. Or people might say that everybody should speak English, but then denounce funding for multiculturalism when its chief expenditure is to teach migrants English.

However, in the 15 years since he and his family moved into a suburb next to Lakemba in 1993 things have changed and he has changed his mind.

IN 1993, my family and I moved into Belmore in southwest Sydney. It is the next suburb to Lakemba. When I first moved there I loved it.

We bought a house just behind Belmore Sports Ground, in those days the home of my beloved Bulldogs rugby league team. Transport was great, 20 minutes to the city in the train, 20 minutes to the airport.

On the other side of Belmore, away from Lakemba, there were lots of Chinese, plenty of Koreans, growing numbers of Indians, and on the Lakemba side lots of Lebanese and other Arabs.

That was an attraction, too. I like Middle Eastern food. I like Middle Eastern people. The suburb still had the remnants of its once big Greek community and a commanding Greek Orthodox church.

But in the nearly 15 years we lived there the suburb changed, and much for the worse.

Three dynamics interacted in a noxious fashion: the growth of a macho, misogynist culture among young men that often found expression in extremely violent crime; a pervasive atmosphere of anti-social behaviour in the streets; and the simultaneous growth of Islamist extremism and jihadi culture.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zhuchengtyrannus, new Chinese tyrannosaurine

From the Dinosaur Mailing List:

David W.E. Hone, Kebai Wang, Corwin Sullivan, Xijin Zhao, Shuqing Chen, Dunjin Li, Shuan Ji, Qiang Ji and Xing Xu (2011) A new tyrannosaurine theropod, Zhuchengtyrannus magnus is named based on a maxilla and dentary. Cretaceous Research (advance online publication) doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2011.03.005

Tyrannosaurids are primarily gigantic, predatory theropod dinosaurs of the Cretaceous. Here we report a new member of the tyrannosaurid clade Tyrannosaurinae from the Upper Cretaceous Wangshi Group of Zhucheng, Shandong Province, China, based on a maxilla and associated dentary. The discovery of this animal, here named Zhuchengtyrannus magnus gen. et sp.nov., adds to the known diversity of tyrannosaurids in Asia. Z. magnus can be identified by a horizontal shelf on the lateral surface of the base of the ascending process, and a rounded notch in the anterior margin of the maxillary fenestra. Several additional features contribute to a unique combination of character states that serves to further distinguish Z.magnus from other taxa. Comparisons with other tyrannosaurids suggest that Zhuchengtyrannus was a very large theropod, comparable in size to both Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twin baby boys have a conversation - part 2

Michael Yon: Calling BULLSHIT on Rolling Stone

Seldom do I waste time with rebutting articles, and especially not from publications like Rolling Stone.  Today, numerous people sent links to the latest Rolling Stone tripe.  The story is titled “THE KILL TEAM, THE FULL STORY.”  It should be titled: “BULLSHIT, from Rolling Stone.”

The story—not really an “article”—covers Soldiers from 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Afghanistan.  A handful of Soldiers were accused of murder.  It does in fact appear that a tiny group of rogues committed premeditated murder.  I was embedded with the 5/2 SBCT and was afforded incredible access to the brigade by the Commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, and the brigade Command Sergeant Major, Robb Prosser.  I know Robb from Iraq.  Colonel Tunnell had been shot in Iraq.

The brigade gave me open access.  I could go anywhere, anytime, so long as I could find a ride, which never was a problem beyond normal combat problems.  If they had something to hide, it was limited and I didn’t find it.  I was not with the Soldiers accused of murder and had no knowledge of this.  It is important to note that the murder allegations were not discovered by media vigilance, but by, for instance, at least one Soldier in that tiny unit who was appalled by the behavior.

The rest here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

'I abhor Earth Hour...It celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness'

It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called "the Earth," all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity. People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in "nature" meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Guardian: How we engineered the food crisis

Despite paid agenda driven bloviations of "Climate-driven food insecurity", even environmental media king The Guardian sees the real reasons behind it, and it isn’t global warming aka “climate change”. Instead, blame gets squarely placed on weather, a new virulent strain of wheat rust, the U.N.’s policies related to GM regulation, shifting economies, and biofuels.

The whole post here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

That right kiddies, it was two declines that were hidden, not just one

From you know who.


Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre now discovers two declines have been hidden in the tree-ring data set which was so influential in IPCC claims that we’ve had unprecedented warming in the 20th century. Anthony Watts explains the background and significance.

But with the government and the green movement increasing their efforts to slime and smear those who point to the actual science, like this, as akin to the Luddites motivated by fear and anger, it is important for people to step back and consider just how incomplete our understanding of how the climate works is, and just how great the uncertainties are.

This ultimately relates to the now infamous Hockey Stick, which purported to show a thousand years of relatively constant climate before the middle of the 19th Century.

So you can see why they fiddled with the graph to remove the "inconvenient" data.

The still best explanation of the scientific fraud lying behind the Hockey Stick and how it was, against the will and active interference of much of the climate science establishment, exposed is this.

Whiteman's dreaming - the terrible failure of the Left's aboriginal policies

So, maybe we're are now entering the endgame of the decades long experiment in the middle-class white fantasy that separatism was a viable strategy for aboriginal people in Australia.

This fantasy, that "spiritual" native people could viably return to and maintain a stone age culture and lifestyle in modern Australia was always doomed to failure.

This fantasy of well meaning members of the white elite, whose own children were sent to the best private schools money could buy to prepare them for stellar careers in the law and medicine, has doomed generations of aboriginal children to lives of squalor and degradation as they sit out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do, other than to go mad.

The traditional life basically ended many years ago. It was never going to be revived. So people sat down and waited for their sit-down money, bored out of their minds.

And some people are surprised this ended in a social catastrophe?

Gary Johns, a special minister of state in the Keating Labor government, has written a book that is hopefully the death knell of this nightmare of good intentions gone horribly wrong - Aboriginal Self-Determination: The Whiteman's Dream by Gary Johns (Connor Court Publishing, $29.95).

The Weekend Australian, (yes, you can almost hear certain minds slamming shut while telling themselves they are so clever with their talk of the LOLstralian), has the first of several edited extracts from the book today.

Here's a taste:

Yet recent visits by the president of Amnesty International and the UN Special Rapporteur to Alice Springs town camps and elsewhere are given prominent coverage in the media, as if there was some profound remedy for Aboriginal strife in their pre-digested human rights policy medicine.

Aborigines do not lack rights. Their struggle is with their past, the ingrained habits of generations that prevent some from getting a foothold in the Australian economy. Aborigines do not need new homes so much as new lives; they need to change their behaviour. Unfortunately, many Aboriginal leaders misdiagnose their people's dilemma.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu boasts: "I have maintained the traditions, kept the law, performed my role, yet the Yolngu world is in crisis; we have stood still. I look around me and I feel the powerlessness of all our leaders. All around me are do-gooders and no-hopers . . . Whitefellas. Balanda. Although the wealth of the Australian nation has been taken from our soil, our communities and homelands bear no resemblance to the great towns and metropolises of the modern Australian nation."

Yunupingu wants the whiteman's economy and the blackman's culture -- what could be simpler? But does Yunupingu seriously suggest Aborigines could build cities and economies, and remain the unskilled people of the Yolngu tribes?

Truly a case of read and weep.

Weep for the lives of so many children destroyed before they ever had a chance to turn whatever their dreams may have been, to be a doctor or have a nice house, whatever, into reality.

For kids - and it is happening right now out in the remote communities (and sadly in not so remote ones too) - being subjected to a level of degradation and abuse almost beyond imagining.

For desperate women, on the receiving end of often savage beatings from their menfolk, still trying to protect their young children being used as disposable sexual commodities. In some areas they do everything they can to prevent men from taking young boys out into the desert for "initiation" ceremonies, knowing exactly what will really initiated into.

Some of us more conservative people have recently been derided, in another context, for being "angry."

Well, too-right I'm angry. I'm seething with anger at yet another avoidable policy cluster-fuck. One that was predictable, predicted and vindicated.

But I can't even summon a hint of schadenfreude here. Being proved right still means a story of human misery and lost opportunity too sad to crow over.

Great cockpit footage Of Tornado GR4 sortie over Libya


No bang-bang, so any sensitive souls out there can watch without having their feelings hurt.

But some great aerial footage of two Tornadoes from the Royal Air Force en route to Libya, including refuelling from a soon to disappear VC-10 tanker.

You can see what a versatile aircraft this supposed "Cold-War relic" has become, with its mixed warload of Litening III advanced targetting pod, Paveway IV bombs (relatively small guided munitions designed to minimise collateral damage), and duel-seeker mode Brimstone anti-armor missiles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tweet of the day

@judyhoracek: For a PM accused of not standing for anything, constantly invoking former PM from other side isn't a good look #qt

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The absurdity of Garnaut's carbon tax position summed up in just a few words

@Dan_J_Thorpe Tax cuts to counter a tax that is supposed to make things more expensive.

From the Twitters.

Excellent chart about understanding radiation doses

Again, this isn't about saying radiation can't be harmful, it can be.

But life has been dealing with constant exposure to radiation since it began over 3 billion years ago.

As there is no such thing as a toxic substance, only a toxic dose, so to with radiation.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Roots of the Vaccine Panic

Do vaccines cause autism or other neuro-developmental disorders? Scientists know that vaccines don't, but the idea lingers everywhere -- on talk shows and blogs and in conversations between parents and their child's pediatrician. It lingers because many people in this country and elsewhere think that vaccines just might not be good for us.

In two books that tell the story of the panic over vaccines, Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Seth Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, argue that bad people pursuing careers or fame or ratings or God knows what became purveyors of falsehoods that duped otherwise decent people into thinking vaccines could harm their children. That duplicity has led parents to make bad decisions -- not to vaccinate their children or to vaccinate them on a non-recommended schedule -- which turn out to be potentially deadly not just for their own children but for others.

How we got into this mess is the focus of both Mnookin's The Panic Virus and Offit's Deadly Choices. The casts of characters overlap, but the emphasis of each is different. Ironically, the journalist (Mnookin) focuses more on the malefactors of science, while the scientist (Offit) focuses more on the malefactors of the media. But each has a special distaste for the one closest to him: Mnookin for the journalist David Kirby, who helped sell the belief that mercury in vaccines caused an epidemic of autism, and Offit for the pediatrician Bob Sears, who willy-nilly invented a "new and improved" vaccination schedule.

More here.

Speaking of turkeys waiting for Christmas, Der Spiegel: Is Environmentalism Really Working?

In economics, it's called the law of diminishing marginal utility. The first glass of water you drink will help a lot to quench your thirst. The second will help a little less and so on. By the 10th glass you will be feeling unpleasantly full or even sick. That's the worst aspect: some major environmental policies aren't just ineffective -- they are counterproductive.

"You're not allowed to do this in science." Must see video explaining the deception behind "hide the decline"

Berkeley professor of physics Richard Muller expresses his disgust at what, (in my view), can only be described as the scientific fraud behind the signature image of global warming alarmism, the Hockey Stick.

For the record, Professor Muller in not a "climate denier," (and has there ever been a more egregious example of dishonest smearing of opponents than this absurd and idiotic term?).

As do we all, he accepts that carbon dioxide is indeed a greenhouse gas and that human beings increasing the amount of that gas in the atmosphere must have some effect.

Not that that is the question at issue, (though you wouldn't think so going by the hysterical carry-on of the alarmists). The question is simply this - what will be the effect of a doubling of CO2 over pre-industrial levels, ie what is the 'climate sensitivity' of CO2?

The answer is that we really don't know, but that there is precious little (if any) evidence to justify the irrational panic that has become associated with climate change.

Watch and make up your own minds, but I'll ask you this: after watching it, will you ever trust the core group of climate scientists associated with the Climategate scandal again?

For me, the answer to that question has to be no.

Are we just turkeys, looking forward to Christmas?

Hat tip to Correllio

In many ways a depressing read below. We have a bunch of incompetents running this country who apparently have drunk their own Kool-aid and have started to believe their own spin.

Witness Ms Gillard and Professor Garnaut's bizarre efforts at trying to spin the lie that China is racing to embrace the fluffy future of wind farms and solar panels that harvest the Sun's love for free.

The reality? Coal. Lots and lots of coal. And before any greenies get too excited about the multiple meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility, consider this - China did have plans to greatly increase the amount of electricity generated by nuclear power, but those plans are now in doubt.

How do you think it is going to make up any power shortfall if it does abandon or scale back those plans? One word: coal. Lots and lots of coal.

All the while as we and others consider cutting our own throats. Here is the remarkable comment from the head of the UK's National Grid, Steve Holliday, on the practical effect of increasingly relying on renewables to supply the nation's power: Families would have to get used to only using power when it was available.

Think about that for a moment: "only when it was available." So we face a future, thanks to the Greens (and now Labor it seems), where you might go to turn your airconditioning on during a stinking hot Perth summer's day, only to find that there's no power available to run it. Or that we've ended up like Manila, being subject to a rolling series of blackouts and brownouts.

We already know that it is precisely when the weather is at its hottest or coldest that the wind often disappears. Scotland experienced this during the UK's recent extremely harsh, (global warming driven apparently ), winter. Pictures from a freezing, snow covered landscape of wind farms becalmed and lying idle.

Truly, we're reduced to being a bunch of turkeys, looking forward to Christmas

Anyway, here's part of the article I referred to earlier:

Depressingly, you would have to conclude that at some level she does. Like so many who say or at least think, even if they understand, that this is all and only about reducing emissions of carbon dioxide; that yes, it's good to get rid of the bits of grit as well.

Witness our down under prophet Ross Garnaut, taking time off from dispensing his weekly profundities ex cathedra, to echo on the ABC's Lateline this same confused but deliberately dishonest mish-mash about China closing "environmentally very unfriendly" power stations and replacing them with new coal ones that had "very low emissions".

The facts on China are simple and irrefutable. It has a coal-fired system equal to more than 13 times our entire electricity generation. Between now and 2020, it is going to add between 400GW and 500GW to its existing 670GW of coal-fired power generation.

That's its projections. And that's net. So if they close, say, 200GW of really dirty old stations, they will be building 600GW to 700GW of new ones, all pumping out carbon dioxide, if hopefully not also grit.

Total power generation in Australia is about 50GW.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Africa Fighting Malaria returns fire on Tim Lambert

The blogger, Tim Lambert (aka Deltoid), regularly engages in the DDT debate by making ad hominem attacks on those who defend DDT in an effort to undermine their credibility. AFM has often been the target of such attacks and as a general policy, has not considered it a constructive use of our time to engage in these often misguided and pointless discussions. However, as Lambert recently blogged about a recent peer-reviewed paper that we published, we consider his comments too important to ignore.

Lambert recently posted a commentary on our peer-reviewed scientific paper investigating false claims made by UNEP and GEF about insecticide-free malaria control interventions in Mexico and Central America, accessible here. Lambert begins his commentary with the statement "Roberts and Tren's key argument is that reductions in malaria in the Americas were not the result of Global Environmental Facility interventions but were caused by increased use of antimalarial drugs."

This opening comment misstates our argument entirely.