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.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Intelligent Voter's Guide to Global Warming

Hear the lamentation of the woman! Conan the Barbarian: The Musical




European shale gas - as big as North America?

The size of European unconventional commercial gas reserves rival that of North America, according to a major new study by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA). The study, Breaking with Convention: Prospects for European Unconventional Gas estimates Europe’s total unconventional gas in place could be 173 trillion cubic meters (Tcm), or 6,115 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).

Breaking with Convention is the first of a series of essential analyses of the prospects for unconventional gas development in Europe and the world. Based on the systemic analysis of the key unconventional gas plays in Europe (both shale gas and coal bed methane) and drawing on extensive IHS proprietary databases, the study explores the extent to which the sizable potential of unconventional gas is likely to be realized and what it means for European gas markets.

“The technological revolution in unconventional gas has been the single most important energy innovation so far this century,” said IHS CERA Chairman and author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book, The Prize, Daniel Yergin. “Its tremendous potential has already transformed North America’s energy landscape and may now transform the global gas industry.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

GREEN is, like, so hot right now, thanks to Miranda Kerr...whether at her plush New York pad or her luxurious LA digs…

The disconnect between fantasy and reality here is bizarre.

But yes, the WWF has made Miranda Kerr, who has a carbon footprint the rest of us could only dream about, their global Earth Hour Ambassador.

The reaction from the Fairfax Press to this absurd hypocrisy?

GREEN is, like, so hot right now, thanks to Australian model Miranda Kerr, who has been named Earth Hour’s ‘’global ambassador’’.

Kerr, a self-styled earth mother, who gave birth to her first son, Flynn, in January, and has an organic skin-care range and blog, has pledged to turn off the lights on Saturday, March 26 - whether she’s at her plush New York pad or her luxurious LA digs…

Kerr has said that on top of supporting the hour-long lights-out event, she will also ‘’go beyond the hour by continuing to recycle and by buying organic produce from local farmers’ markets’’.

Now in its fifth year, the environmental event is expected to be one of the biggest, with more than 130 countries participating.

Just as an aside, the Quadrant article referred to at the end, The Intelligent Voter's Guide to Global Warming, is not behind the magazine's pay wall and is available free on the interwebs.

Laurie Oakes warns Wayne Swan "I've rarely seen an issue that has inflamed anger to the extent that this one has"

Apparently the tax that Julia Gillard says is a tax is, according to Wayne Swan now, not a tax at all!

In roughly the same way that the goods and services tax isn't a tax either.

Well, I’ve rarely seen an issue that has inflamed anger to the extent that this one has. A friend of mine in Brisbane told me two days ago that he thought it was running so hot up there that if there was an election now you would lose your seat.

Skeptical science: meteorite aliens (and Fox News) bring out the armchair experts

All up, P Z Myers (who in my opinion is very clever but, when it comes to politics and the like, can be a very nasty and petty piece of work), is quite right in the general points he makes about this latest episode of a gullible and scientifically illiterate media falling for a press release put out by an attention seeking scientist.

And the media generally has fallen for the recycled claims about supposed microfossils found in a meteorite; claims that came in the form of a press release little different to one issued by the same person back in 2004.

But in amongst this is the way Myers displays the typical liberal obsession with Fox News, an obsession that you'd have to start thinking is evidence of a psychological condition verging on the pathological.

He brings up near the end a very cogent argument on how science matriculates, and ideas are vetted:

While they’re at it, maybe they should try publishing it in a journal with some reputation for rigorous peer review and expectation that the data will meet certain minimal standards of evidence and professionalism.

I agree completely.  And, whenever the Union of Concerned Scientists or World Wildlife Fund marches to the podium with some obvious politically tinged research, I’ll expect the same level of skepticism from both sides of the proverbial aisle.  The hair trigger response to a “Fox News exclusive” has brought out the armchair experts, who have unloaded a salvo of rhetorical firepower at the listing Journal of Cosmology.  Unfortunately, in their zeal to score a partisan political point, most neglected to see the rest of the media reported the same exclusive story.  This is called “science by press release”, and it has to stop.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gaddafi's useful green idiots

I see that the BBC has devoted some attention to links between the Gaddafi family and various British institutions and politicians. However, I can't seem to find any mention of the useful idiots who, in the name of climate change, supported this particular PR exercise/vanity project back in 2007:

The Libyan government has announced the creation of what it claims is "the world’s first sustainable region". It’s backed by architects Foster and Partners, enthusiastically endorsed by Sir Nicholas Stern – and directed by the Colonel’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

The rest here.

The reverse of UN’s disastrous "oil for food" program: Ethanol uses 40% of US Corn Crop

Yet another example of bad science (amongst other things) leading to bad policy.

Global Food Prices Jump To Record Level Because of Higher Corn Prices – or the alternate title: Cornholing the future

From The UN FAO - corn prices were the biggest driver of this trend

There’s lot of gloom and doom being pushed, trying to link food prices to climate change by the usual howlers. As shown above, food prices surged to record levels in February despite February wheat and rice prices being essentially flat. Yet, February corn prices are up significantly even with 2010 being the 3rd largest U.S. corn crop ever. Why? Well part of the reason is that our cars now have a mandated, growing and voracious appetite for corn based ethanol.

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. writes:

When certain information proves challenging to entrenched political or ideological commitments it can be easy for policy makers to ignore, downplay or even dismiss that information.  It is a common dynamic and knows no political boundaries.  Global Dashboard catches the Obama Administration selectively explaining the causes for increasing world food prices:

“The increase in February mostly reflected further gains in international maize prices, driven by strong demand amid tightening supplies, while prices rose marginally in the case of wheat and fell slightly in the case of rice.”

“In other words, this is mainly about corn. And who’s the biggest corn exporter in the world? The United States…And where is 40% of US corn production going this year? Ethanol, for use in US car engines.”

So here we having wailing and gnashing of teeth by the usual suspects over global food prices, and they are using this as an example of the supposed “climate change drive food prices” link. Of course there isn’t any link in this case. It’s the corn stupid.

The simple solution: stop burning food for fuel, drill for more oil, work on alternate energy system that actually might work, like thorium based nuclear power.

Paul Johnson: Why America Will Stay on Top

From The Wall Street Journal:

In his best-selling history of the 20th century, "Modern Times," British historian Paul Johnson describes "a significant turning-point in American history: the first time the Great Republic, the richest nation on earth, came up against the limits of its financial resources." Until the 1960s, he writes in a chapter titled "America's Suicide Attempt," "public finance was run in all essentials on conventional lines"—that is to say, with budgets more or less in balance outside of exceptional circumstances.

"The big change in principle came under Kennedy," Mr. Johnson writes. "In the autumn of 1962 the Administration committed itself to a new and radical principle of creating budgetary deficits even when there was no economic emergency." Removing this constraint on government spending allowed Kennedy to introduce "a new concept of 'big government': the 'problem-eliminator.' Every area of human misery could be classified as a 'problem'; then the Federal government could be armed to 'eliminate' it."

Twenty-eight years after "Modern Times" first appeared, Mr. Johnson is perhaps the most eminent living British historian, and big government as problem-eliminator is back with a vengeance—along with trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. I visited the 82-year-old Mr. Johnson in his West London home this week to ask him whether America has once again set off down the path to self-destruction. Is he worried about America's future?

"Of course I worry about America," he says. "The whole world depends on America ultimately, particularly Britain. And also, I love America—a marvelous country. But in a sense I don't worry about America because I think America has such huge strengths—particularly its freedom of thought and expression—that it's going to survive as a top nation for the foreseeable future. And therefore take care of the world."

Friday, March 4, 2011

" c..., here's a stunt. Kick him 'til he's dead." Where were our delicate flowers of civility then?

It's a lyric taken from the Rock Against Howard CD.

Tracks included John Howard is a Filthy Slut and Gun Him Down.

Interesting in the context of the current bout of insincere and fake leftoid hand-wringing about those nasty conservative race-baiters making horrible comparisons between Ms Gillard and Mr Ghaddafi, or saying hurtful things about the member for New England.

Labor's then national president, Dr Carmen Lawrence, was so shocked and disturbed at the violent and extreme content that she sent a note congratulating the man behind the CD, Lindsay McDougall of the band Frenzal Rhomb, as did Bob Brown.

Or, for the theatrically inclined, when the Melbourne Theatre Company put on a play by Hannie Rayson that portrayed then Treasurer Peter Costello as a liar and adulterer with a dead drug addict for a son - and showed him letting boat people drown and stabbing a refugee.

But as Mr Bolt observes, it's only rude when a Liberal does it.

John Curtin - champion of the Empire

I'd tweeted about this on Wednesday after reading it in the Oz's Australian Literary Review, but have just come across the article online. August 1943, in preparation for his visit to London the following year for the Dominion Prime Ministers Conference, Curtin announced to the Labor Party and the Australian people his vision for the post-war British Empire. Speaking to the United Commercial Travellers Association he called for a "new approach to empire government". It was simply no longer sufficient for Britain "to manage the affairs of empire on the basis of a government sitting in London".

At the core of his thinking was the need to create a permanent imperial secretariat or "Empire council", which would oversee the introduction of a new era in imperial affairs once the war was over. Curtin wanted this new machinery to "provide for full and continuous consultation" between Britain and her overseas dominions -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. He envisaged more frequent prime ministers conferences that could be held in all parts of the Empire, not just London, with a secretariat of high-level officials to provide advice on matters of common interest.

As Curtin put it, such a body in its ability to meet at all corners of the Empire would represent "everything inherent in dominion status" and thus symbolise the ideal of organic imperial unity. In other words, he wanted an Empire that worked better to protect Australian interests, an Empire truly representative of its constituent parts, not confined to the corridors of Whitehall but a "moveable venue", equally at home in Ottawa and Canberra, Pretoria and Wellington, and therefore equally attentive to the needs and interests of all parts of greater Britain. Curtin was trying to find the means by which the British peoples around the globe could face the world as one.

It's interesting that, speaking the day after the Japanese attack on the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, Curtin did not just say as is so often repeated, (in the context of declaring that we were now at war with Japan), that Australia would be a place where civilisation would persist.

He also declared that Australia would be "a citadel for the British-speaking race."

"We Australians have imperishable traditions. We shall maintain them. We shall vindicate them. We shall hold this country, and keep it as a citadel for the British-speaking race, and as a place where civilisation will persist."

Great read for anyone interested in Australian history and identity.

I see that James Curran also has a book on this subject out at the moment, which I saw at Boffins the other day.

Curtin's Empire:

Drawing on new archival material including sensitive and private correspondence from Curtin never before seen or quoted, Curtin’s Empire shows that this British world vision was not imposed on him from abroad, rather it animated Curtin from deep within. Since entering politics Curtin had fought a bitter battle with his opponents – both inside and outside his party – over loyalty, identity and national security. At stake was how he and Labor related to the defining idea of Australian politics for their times: Britishness.

I think I'll be buying this one and helping to support a fantastic independent book seller at the same time.

Clive James on Dorothea Mackellar's "sunburnt country" and understanding that for Australia, extreme is normal

Strange times we live in when one of our most accomplished men of letters can see the blindingly obvious that professional scientific alarmists can't (or wont).

James may not be a scientist, but he is one of the smartest men ever to be produced by this country, and it shows.

Poetry, said Auden, makes nothing happen. Usually it doesn't, but sometimes a poem gets quoted in a national argument because everybody knows it, or at least part of it, and for the occasion a few lines of familiar poetry suddenly seem the best way of summing up a viewpoint. Just such an occasion has occurred recently in Australia.  By the time the heavy rains first hit Queensland early this year, the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW, to borrow the unlovely acronym) was ceasing to exercise unquestioned thrall in the minds of Australia's progressive voters. But spokespersons for the Green party clung on to it, encouraged by the fact that the theory, in its Climate Change form, was readily applicable to any circumstances.  

Before the floods, proponents of the CAGW view had argued that there would never be enough rain again, because of Climate Change. When it became clear that there might be more than enough rain, the view was adapted: the floods, too, were the result of Climate Change. In other words, they were something unprecedented. Those opposing this view — those who believed that in Australia nothing could be less unprecedented than a flood unless it was a drought — took to quoting Dorothea Mackellar's poem "My Country", which until recently every Australian youngster was obliged to hear recited in school. In my day we sometimes had to recite it ourselves, and weren't allowed to go home until we had given evidence that we could remember at least the first four lines of the second stanza, which runs like this. 

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror —

The wide brown land for me.

The first four lines of the stanza are the bit that everybody knows, partly because they are so addictively crafted, and partly because they fit the national experience of what Australia's geography and climate are actually like.

Do yourself a favour and read it all.

And to labour a point, because the idea that the recent rains in Queensland and elsewhere were somehow "unprecedented" is still being peddled by the ignorant, it's worth remembering that so-called one-in-a-hundred-year floods like the one that hit Brisbane last month occurred six times between 1840 and 1900.

Two of these happened within just a fortnight of each other, while three were bigger than the most recent one.

Similarly, for all the hand-wringing about the drought being the worst in a thousand years (as the premier of South Australia so foolishly claimed), it is still arguable as to whether or not it was worse that the Federation Drought of the 1890s.

Germany and Bob Brown's imaginary 330,000 extra green jobs

First, it is necessary to count the costs of the alleged green jobs miracle. A study by the respected economic research institute RWI concluded that every single worker in these industries had been supported to the tune of E175,000 ($240,000). Given this enormous subsidy, it is remarkable how few jobs have been created.

In Germany, subsidies for renewable energies are paid for by energy users. Renewable energy suppliers can feed their production into the grid at guaranteed high prices; the additional cost of green electricity is passed on to private and business energy users.

As consumers have to pay more for power than they would have otherwise, they cannot spend the money elsewhere. Job losses then occur in other industries.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"In some cases mild death may occur"

I so, so want to go to the Heart Attack Grill, which has been treating anorexia since 2005.
Though I'll stick to just the Double Bypass Burger with my flatliner fries and butterfat shake (world's highest butterfat content apparently).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My favourite tweet today

 @LaurieOakes: Good Abbott line."She needs an honesty transplant but looks behind her and can't find a single donor."

The Australian Conservation Foundation's tricky maths concerning "subsidies" for the fossil fuel industry

Jeff Beck:

Reader ICW emails:
If you have the time or the inclination, I think it's worth a post on the "fossil fuel subsidy" canard that green groups regularly peddle, but which rarely gets corrected by the media.
The latest example is the ACF's Don Henry claiming that the fossil fuel industry gets $12b of subsidies.
If you click through to the accompanying document, it's clear the ACF's definition of a "subsidy" bears no resemblance to reality.

The rest here.

It's interesting that even Possum from Crikey clearly thought the claims were absurd.

Though none of the ACF's dishonest trickery matches those leftoids that have seriously suggested that the Iraq war was a subsidy to the fossil fuel industry. (I kid you not.)

Wow! Something in Crikey I can heartily endorse

Tamas Calderwood writes: Seeing as Tim MacKay (comments, Friday) attended both my universities with me and played fullback on my rugby team, he knows full well that my qualifications are in economics and finance, not in climate science. But I do know numbers and I read lots of climate science, so I can say quite confidently that the world has not warmed for 13 years, that the three warming spurts of the last 150 years were the same magnitude and that the world was warmer during the medieval and Roman warm periods -- indeed, the world has been warmer for 80% of its 4.5 billion years.

These facts do not support the hypothesis that it's our gasses that are warming the planet. And I refuse to submit to the cult of credentialisation that insists you need a PhD in climate science to legitimately argue these points. You don’t; It’s a simple hypothesis (the world will warm) and the data is incontrovertible (it hasn't for 13 years).

To answer Tim's specific questions: I ascribe a 100% probability to climate change existing. I just think humanity's 4% share of a trace gas that constitutes only 0.038% of the atmosphere is irrelevant because far greater natural forces are at work. Any risk management actions should be based on adaptation to any warming (or the far greater threat of cooling). Attempting to control the climate, particularly via a tax, is simply insane.

Finally, I think business should take no role in climate change, just as I think business should take no role in Earth's slowing rotation, the Sun’s fusing of 620 million tons of hydrogen per second or the accelerating expansion of the known universe. There is no possible role for business in these things, so why waste billions pretending?

Appeared on Monday I believe.

Best comment on the carbon tax I've seen so far. And it's on a horse.

chriskkennylook at me, here's a promise, now it's a tax, look at my levy, back at me, another tax, look it's gay marriage, I'm on a horse.

If you're on the Twitters, Mr Kenny is worth a follow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bloody bryozoans! Stealing our carbon dioxide!

Mr Bolt reports:

By studying collections of a marine bryozoan that date back to a famous 1901 expedition to the South Pole, researchers have found that those organisms were growing steadily up until 1990, when their growth more than doubled. The data, reported in the February 22 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, provide the highest-latitude record of a century of growth and some of the first evidence that polar carbon sinks may be increasing.

The bryozoan in question, known as Cellarinella nutti, is a filter-feeding invertebrate that looks like branching twigs. ...

“This is one of the few pieces of evidence that life in Antarctica has recently changed drastically,” said David Barnes of the British Antarctic Survey. ”These animals are taking more carbon dioxide out of circulation and locking it away on the seabed.”

The more rapid growth of C. nutti reflects a coincident increase in the regional production of the phytoplankton that the bryozoan eats. Those algae rely on carbon dioxide dissolved into the seawater for their sustenance. The carbon in the algae is taken up by C. nutti, where it is incorporated into their skeleton and other tissues. As the animals grow, portions of it break off and are buried in the seabed. “Thus, the amount of carbon being buried on the seabed is increasing – whilst globally we are becoming more aware of the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Barnes said.

The important point here is uncertainty.

While the UN and the IPCC assume that climate feedbacks are positive, ie that the responses within the climate system to increasing carbon dioxide will have the net effect of making any warming worse, the reality is that we just don't know if this is true or not, and here we have an example where the system changes to possibly mitigate against any warming effect.

However, a knowledge of geological history should have prepared people for this. We know that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been greater in the past without causing the kind of doomsday outcomes the Greens keep droning on and on about, so we should expect that the dynamic responses of the system will probably tend towards returning it to a reasonable equilibrium.

Resource tax based upon assumptions that make the carbon tax pointless

Bill Leak 26 Feb
(Bill Leak's devastating cartoon from this morning's Weekend Australian.)

Terry McCrann points to the irreconcilable contradiction that lies at the heart of JuLiar Gillard's "national suicide pledge" to introduce two new taxes and drive up the cost of everything.

The proposed resources rent tax, (not in itself necessarily a bad idea), is based upon the assumption that the Chinese and Indian economies will continue to grow at their current breakneck speeds for the foreseeable future, and thus save the government's bottom line.

That is, they will continue to suck in the resources we mine, including coal, and continue to emit more and more carbon dioxide.

China is of course already now the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide and this is set only to grow in coming years.

Oh, but what's that I hear you say? China says it is embracing the wonderful fluffy future by setting the kind of renewable energy targets that will make dolphins sing and cuddly polar bears leap for joy, while we'll have the flying cars and floating cities we were promised all powered by nothing more than the sun's love?


Indeed, China for all its claimed commitment to aggressive world leadership in alternative energy, plans to get most of its electricity from coal-fired power. Not just today, but tomorrow and, indeed, the day after tomorrow.

Over the next 10 years, it plans to install net [yes, net!] new capacity of coal-fired power equal to 10 times our entire power generation sector.

Wind farms and solar panels are the window dressing hung on all this to make it look pretty. Nothing more.

And then there is India closely following behind.

Now, the upshot of all this is the fact that any reductions we make to the tiny 1.5% of global emissions that we produce are going to be completely dwarfed by the increases in global emissions made just by China and India, (let alone the rest of Asia and other parts of the world with growing economies).

(And if you honestly think the world is waiting with bated breath to see what Australia does, to then follow our lead, then you aren't a sucker, you are a fool.)

So, what's the point of setting out on a course of action whose only practical outcome will be to drive up the cost of everything we buy, either directly or indirectly, but which will have no environmental outcome at all?

Why is JuLiar all of a sudden a convert to taking action on climate change when, as Laurie Oakes observes, "just 10 months ago Gillard was demanding then prime minister Kevin Rudd shelve plans for an ETS. So strident was she on the issue that Rudd, according to a source close to him at the time, worried that she might actually “leave the show”?"

I suspect JuLiar doesn't really hold especially strong views on climate change, but she does know a political problem when she sees one, and she knows that one of Labor's biggest problems at the moment is the perception that it doesn't believe in anything or stand for anything.

Cue the return of the "greatest moral challenge of our time."

(And if you want a bit of a primer on just how differently the media treats one side of politics compared to the other, just go here and here and here.)

Finally, surely I'm not the only one worried that this bunch of clowns is "running" the country?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

"There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead"

Even Richard Farmer from the very left-leaning is appalled at the way Julia Gillard has gone back on what she said to the Australian people during the last federal election campaign.

When solemn election promises can be broken without even a pretence of explanation parliamentary democracy is in a sad, sad state. So it is in Australia now that Julia Gillard has confirmed that her word means nothing. Before the last election she vowed that there would be no carbon tax if she became Prime Minister. Today she announced one.

Ms Gillard now stands exposed as one of the great political liars of all times. She is not a woman to be trusted.

Here's the video:

Though very quickly on Twitter the excuse was 'well, John Howard said there'd never be a GST, and then he introduced it.'

Which is fine, except for one little point.

Howard, once he'd decided to try again to introduce a GST first took the proposal to the people at a general election. He staked his political survival on winning that election, and thus gaining a mandate, before introducing it.

He didn't say during that election campaign he wouldn't introduce a goods and services tax, only to do so once returned as the prime minister. 

Unlike Ms Gillard and her carbon tax.

And I'll pose the question here I've previously put to the Greens, only to be fobbed off: by how much will this measure, which by its very nature will drive up the cost of just about everything, reduce the average global temperature?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Peer review and how sceptics are frozen out: the Antarctic example

Mr Bolt:

From the latest Spectator, a gotcha on the corruption peer-review process that the Climategate emails suggested but which Nicholas Lewis and Matt Ridley now demonstrate. Spectator editor Nelson Fraser sums up (the Lewis/Ridley article is behind a pay wall):

In January 2009, Nature magazine ran a cover story … conveying dramatic news about Antarctica: that most of it had warmed significantly over the last half-century. For years, the data from this frozen continent - with 90 percent of the world’s ice mass - had stubbornly refused to corroborate the global warming narrative. So the study, led by Eric Steig of the University of Washington, was treated as a bit of a scoop. It reverberated around the world. Gavin Schmidt, from the RealClimate blog, declared that Antarctica had silenced the sceptics. Mission, it seemed, was accomplished: Antarctica was no longer an embarrassment to the global warming narrative.

He spoke too soon. The indefatigable Steve McIntyre started to scrutinise his followings along with Nicholas Lewis. They found several flaws: Steig et al had used too few data sequences to speak for an entire continent, and had processed the data in a very questionable way. But when they wanted to correct him, in another journal, they quickly ran into an inconvenient truth about global warming: the high priests do not like refutation. To have their critique (initial submission here, final version here) of Steig’s work published, they needed to assuage the many demands of an anonymous ‘Reviewer A’ - whom they later found out to be Steig himself.

Lewis and Matt Ridley have joined forces to tell the story in the cover issue of this week’s Spectator. It’s another powerful, and depressing tale of the woeful state of climate science

in 2009, when Steig’s work started to fall apart, explains some of the problems McIntyre uncovered..