Thursday, November 30, 2006

Walkley Awards: Milne v. Mayne

Classic television. 'Poison Dwarf' Glenn Milne, who may have had one or two lagers, attacked founder Stephen Mayne on stage at the Walkley's. Did Milne obtain permission from Peter Costello before launching said assault? That's the question everyone's asking. Mayne has already been condemned by Tim Blair. Accordingly, my recently-lapsed Crikey subscription will be immediately renewed.

Deserving Walkley winners were:
Jack Marx for his brilliant blog post on being Russel Crowe's stooge, and
Steve Kinnane, ex-JJJ Hack host and good bloke.

I suspect there will be only mid-strength beers available at next year's awards (and, unfortunately, at today's Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval).

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sensible conservatives?

An oxymoron? Perhaps not. Tories are taking the fight up to the Labour government in the UK:
"For months the single biggest policy difference on the environment between Labour and the Tories has been in their respective approaches to the climate change levy, a green tax on British businesses introduced by Gordon Brown in 2001.

The Tories claim the levy, the centrepiece of Mr Brown's green taxes, is an excessively blunt tax on the supply of energy to business, as it is applied to the use of energy, rather than the carbon emissions from that use of energy.

The Tories also cited figures suggesting Mr Brown's climate change levy ends up being higher for each tonne of carbon emitted by gas, rather than coal, and has prompted an increase in coal use in the UK. As a result, the Tories claim the levy does not provide an incentive to switch to lower carbon use. The consultation document also suggests the carbon levy on domestic business use of carbon could work alongside the EU's ETS."
Prediction: it won't last. They'll do something silly like propose a Poll Tax next.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Global warming mug: A must have

For the reality-based person who has (almost) everything. What a Christmas pressie!!
"Each mug is covered with a map of the world. When you pour in a hot beverage, the mug shows what happens when the world heats up and the oceans begin to rise... Land mass disappears before your very eyes!"

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Biodiversity plus

Wouldn't you know it? Build, mine, farm and develop no matter what the ecological cost conservatives are really just helpin' little ol' evolution do it's thing (especially the nutty creationist types). You see, wiping out species upon species until you earn the 'mass extinction' award can lead to the evolution of many new complex species.
"The Permian extinction occurred 251 million years ago and wiped out 95% of marine species. Before this “great dying”, simple and complex marine ecosystems were equally abundant. But afterwards, complex ecosystems became three times as common - a ratio that has persisted ever since, Wagner says."

There is a downside however. More complexity and less simplicity means the chance of another George Bush evolving are exceedingly slim. What a terrible thing that would be.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

I wants one

A wind-powered robot. Ain't it pretty? Artist and engineer Theo Jansen creates what he calls "Kinetic Sculptures". This site has a video of some in action.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Ultimate Evil!!!!

The award for this year’s silliest title goes to the Screeching Weasel.
Those who can kill God won't hesitate to kill humans

Beware world, society’s greatest potential evil-doer is none other than……..Richard Dawkins. General A. Bolt and the 101st Fighting Keyboardists are no doubt preparing a pre-emptive surgical strike as I write.

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S. Fred Singer, Joke.

Is Fred Singer a liar, or is he just a little confused?

In a lame attempt at defending his activities as a paid shill (as mentioned on the CBC’s “The Denial Machine”), Singer wrote a piece for the right-wing National Post. He proclaimed that he was not, in fact, a big-tobacco-funded floozy:
"Now, I am a very patient fellow, so I carefully explain to Mr. Grandia that I hate tobacco smoke and sit on the board of the anti-smoking American Council on Science and Health. But I don't tolerate the misuse of science, even by anti-smokers. So I gladly assented when, more than a decade ago, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute asked me to serve as a consultant for a couple of months to review and contribute to a report on misuse of science in environmental policies."

There are a few bits of information Singer forgot to mention. They’re kind of important. According to SourceWatch:
"In 1994 Singer was Chief Reviewer of the report Science, economics, and environmental policy: a critical examination published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI). This was all part of an attack on EPA regulation on environmental tobacco smoke funded by the Tobacco Institute. At that time, Mr. Singer was a Senior Fellow with AdTI.

"The report's principal reviewer, Dr Fred Singer, was involved with the International Center for a Scientific Ecology, a group that was considered important in Philip Morris' plans to create a group in Europe similar to The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), as discussed by Ong and Glantz. He was also on a tobacco industry list of people who could write op-ed pieces on "junk science," defending the industry's views".

If that’s not paid shillism, I don’t know what is.

Still, big-tobacco but no big-oil? Come on, Fred, you’re letting good dollars escape there.
"Mr. Grandia suggests that I sell my science to special interests. And since he cannot show that I am "in the pay of the oil lobby," tobacco will have to do."

Hang on, hang on! What’s this?
"In a Sept. 24, 1993 sworn affidavit, Dr. Singer admitted to doing climate change research on behalf of oil companies, such as Exxon, Texaco, Arco, Shell and the American Gas Association."

It’s no wonder the world now appreciates the reality of AGW when Fred Singer is the best the denialists can offer.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Nuclear Future for Australia?

Personally, I'm not too bothered whether we go down the nuclear pathway or not, as the positives and negatives of such an industry are over-hyped.

Still, it's big news at the moment with the release of a report into the future viability of a nuclear industry in Australia.

The Howard Government-commissioned report, undertaken by Ziggy Switkowski, is just an attempt at a political wedge, however. Jim Falk, writing for, explains why this investigation was never about Australia's energy needs for the future.
It supports uranium mining and nuclear power, rejects uranium conversion and enrichment, and all but ignores the original requirement to investigate the "business case" for establishing a repository accepting high-level nuclear waste from overseas. It stresses that nuclear power could be competitive only if a substantial carbon tax is imposed.

The narrow terms of reference set by the federal government have restricted the panel to a study of nuclear power, not a serious study of energy options for Australia. A panel with broader range of expertise and a less limited brief could have been asked to explore the impact of carbon tax and other policy measures on energy demand. From that it could have tackled the most effective means by which that demand can be met, and greenhouse emissions reduced, taking into account all the energy options, costs, timeframes, waste, safety and other relevant issues.

One thing I am wondering, though, is when Deputy Shrub is going to get around to discussing a carbon tax with the Australian people in a frank and open manor.

How 'bout never.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Debate over!! Good guys win.

Can Climate Audit’s reputation get any worse? Sadly, it can.

This tawdry tale was acted out by the following cast of characters:

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley AKA Christopher Monckton
Goarge Monbiot AKA Top-notch journalist
John Andrews AKA Climate Audit enforcer wing-nut
Coolhead AKA Random wing-nut
Gavin Schmidt AKA A real, live climate scientist
Deconvolutor AKA Someone who is also quite sensible
Al Gore AKA The Next US President

Let us continue on from this post which detailed the problems with reality that the good Viscount was facing.

Still fully endorsing Moncton’s treatise on the great climate change hoax (except for some typos, I’m lead to believe), John Andrews of Climate Audit leapt to Moncton’s defence when George Monbiot published a detailed, reality-based criticism in the Gaurdian. This time Andrews fawned over a comment by poster ‘Coolhead’ in reply to Monbiot’s peice.

The Monbiot excerpt, as posted on Climate Audit:
…”the UN repealed a fundamental physical law”, doubling the size of the constant (lambda) in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. By assigning the wrong value to lambda, the UN’s panel has exaggerated the sensitivity of the climate to extra carbon dioxide. Monckton’s analysis looks impressive. It is nonsense from start to finish. His claims about the Stefan-Boltzmann equation have been addressed by someone who does know what he’s talking about, Dr Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He begins by pointing out that Stefan-Boltzmann is a description of radiation from a “black body” - an idealised planet that absorbs all the electromagnetic radiation that reaches it. The Earth is not a black body. It reflects some of the radiation it receives back into space.

To which, ‘Coolhead’ replied (also posted on Climate Audit):
Gavin Schmidt is a competent scientist. He is also a clever debater. Gavin, and a number of his like-minded colleagues, have perfected the art of targeting a relatively trivial technical point and making it appear as though it demolishes the entire argument. The Stefan-Boltzmann relationship is fundamental in defining the climate of the earth at every level of the atmosphere. Monckton has, admittedly, used the S-B formula in a rather simplistic way in that he calculates the warming response to an increase in Carbon Dioxide - while assuming all other factors remain fixed, i.e. he does not include feedback effects. However, since nobody knows how large these feedbacks are - or even whether they are positive or negative, Monckton’s estimate is as good as anyone’s, so I make this 1-0 to Monckton.

So what’s going on here? Is Gavin Schmidt from RealClimate wrong, as Moncton, Coolhead and Andrews are claiming?

No, of course not.

‘Deconvolutor’ explains why:

This is either a misrepresentation or a misunderstanding or just projection (i.e accusing your opponent of what you tend to do yourself). I have tried to explain Gavin Schmidt’s argument in an earlier posting on this threat so I shall not repeat it. The correct quote is rather different, Schmidt writes:

''Readers need to be aware of at least two basic things. First off, an idealised 'black body' (which gives of radiation in a very uniform and predictable way as a function of temperature - encapsulated in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation) has a basic sensitivity (at Earth's radiating temperature) of about 0.27 °C/(W/m2.''

He is not yet talking about Monckton but introducing a basic definition for non-experts so that they will follow his next point i.e ''The second thing to know is that the Earth is not a black body! On the real planet, there are multitudes of feedbacks that affect other greenhouse components (ice alebdo, water vapour, clouds etc.) and so the true issue for climate sensitivity is what these feedbacks amount to.''

Notice how this version is quite different from yours; it has nothing to do with “absorbing all the radiation” or reflecting radiation back to space (i.e it has nothing to do with being “black” in the popular sense of the term).

The emissivity correction has no influence on this discussion. What he is discussing is whether the Earth behaves as if it radiates with a single temperature equal to that of the ground (Monckton’s approximate conclusion) or whether the true story involves large corrections caused by feedbacks. To add an extra point, the greenhouse gases (including water vapour) also radiate to outer space but since they are much colder than the ground you will get the wrong result if you rely only on the latter.

Feedbacks are not a ''trivial technical point'' as you claim but the whole point of the discussion. Monckton claims to have proved they are small, but as Schmidt shows later in his discussion Monckton’s highly simplified argument is very probably flawed. Just one additional point to my previous comment on this, there is a complete lack of error bars in Monckton. Monckton asserts ''all its other forcings are far smaller, less well understood, and broadly self-cancelling.''

The two phrases ''less well understood'' and ''broadly self cancelling'' are completely contradictory. That is not the way you combine errors. That is just his way of choosing the case which leads to his pre-determined conclusion.

For some reason Andrews didn’t post this on Climate Audit. Maybe it was just an oversight?

Following on, Andrews still pretends that the ‘Hockey Stick’ graph is based solely on the 1999 work of Mann, Bradley and Hughes, and quotes ‘Coolhead’ again:
This one is an absolute 100%, 24-carat gold-plated, gimme for Monckton. The UN Panel’s graph is the infamous “Hockey stick”. Those that still try to defend it (apart from its creators) either haven’t acquainted themselves with the facts or simply don’t understand them. The hockey stick is a reconstruction based on tree ring data which claims to shows the climate history over the past several centuries. There are a number of things wrong with it, but the main case against it is that:-
The researchers used a methodology which identified data series with unusual 20th century growth; then gave them a weighting which ensured that these data would be most influential in the eventual reconstruction. This is a process known as ‘data mining’. Note that this was not necessarily done deliberately. Apart from the H-S fiasco, there is an avalanche of studies from ALL OVER the world which shows that the effects of the MWP and the Little Ice Age which followed were both deep and widespread - 3-0 to Monckton.

This is misleading. Numerous other studies have shown that it is warmer today then during the so-called Medieval Warm Period. Andrews and Coolhead also forget to mention that when the minor mistakes were corrected in the original MBH paper, it still showed roughly the same results. The ‘hockey stick’ still stands tall today.

And when the Viscount and assorted Climate Auditors were down for the count, who steps into the ring to finish the job off? None other than Al “Alien” Gore.
Monckton goes on to level a serious accusation at the scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claiming that they have "repealed a fundamental physical law" and, as a result, have misled people by exaggerating the sensitivity of the Earth's climate to extra carbon dioxide.

If this were true, the entire global scientific community would owe Monckton a deep debt of gratitude for cleverly discovering a gross and elementary mistake that had somehow escaped the attention of all the leading experts in the field. But, again, this charge is also completely wrong, and it appears in this case to spring from the Viscount's failure to understand that these complex, carefully constructed super-computer climate models not only have built into them the physical law he thinks that he has discovered is missing, but also many others that he doesn't mention, including the fundamentally important responses of water vapour, ice and clouds that act to increase the effects of extra carbon dioxide.

Moreover, direct observations from the 20th century, from the last ice age and from the atmosphere's response to volcanic eruptions, all give estimates of the earth's sensitivity to extra CO2 that are exactly in line with model results (around a 3C warming for a doubling of the CO2 concentration).

And, despite Viscount Monckton's recycled claims about the so-called "hockey stick" graph (an old and worn-out hobby horse of the pollution lobby in the US), this faux controversy has long since been thoroughly debunked. The global-warming deniers in the US were so enthusiastic about this particular canard that our National Academy of Sciences eventually put together a formal panel, comprised of a broad range of scientists, including some of the most sceptical, which vindicated the main findings embodied in the "hockey stick" and definitely rejected the claims that Monckton is now recycling for British readers.

Good guys 1: Crazies 0

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dosh for denial

The Caniadian CBC Fifth estate team have released a documentary on paid-up shillism entitled “The Denial Machine”. The promo accurately states:
They believe the case for global warming has not been proven. They are a group of scientist with rich and powerful allies.

Fairly innocuous. But wait, there’s more:

The documentary shows how fossil fuel corporations have kept the global warming debate alive long after most scientists believed that global warming was real and had potentially catastrophic consequences. It shows that companies such as Exxon Mobil are working with top public relations firms and using many of the same tactics and personnel as those employed by Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds to dispute the cigarette-cancer link in the 1990s. Exxon Mobil sought out those willing to question the science behind climate change, providing funding for some of them, their organizations and their studies.

The Denial Machine also explores how the arguments supported by oil companies were adopted by policy makers in both Canada and the U.S. and helped form government policy.

Right-wing ideologues were, of course, not going to take having the truth so nakedly exposed, and fought back. The National Post launches ad hom after ad hom attacks on one of the talking heads in the doco, James Hoggan.

Yep, that’ll prove your case, National Post.

There’s a nice bit of comedy to finish the piece off too.
Through the whole episode, The Fifth Estate did not do one bit of science verification. No mention, for example, of Mr. Singer's role as one the first to notice that the United Nations' claim that we are living through the hottest period in 1,000 years had to be statistically wrong. Without spending one second looking at the science, the CBC crew smeared and discredited the skeptical scientists with corporate associations.

Pot. Kettle. Black. We ARE currently living through the hottest period in 1,000 years. Statistically-correct study after statistically-correct study has shown that, but the National Post editor didn't bother to check.

(Via Deltoid)

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

What would he know?

What to do when the shills leave town?

Now that most of the paid-up 'big tobacco' shills, such as Fred Singer, have moved on to 'big oil'-funded climate change denialism, what's a poor little ciggy company to do? Fill the internet tubes with videos of sexy young teenagers smoking, that's what.
Thousands of videos of sexy, smoking teens are appearing on the internet phenomenon YouTube, possibly being posted by tobacco manufacturers to recruit the next generation of smokers.

A global authority on tobacco marketing, Professor Simon Chapman, of the School of Public Health at Sydney University, has accused tobacco manufacturers of hijacking YouTube by flooding it with videos of glamorous, smoking teens. Each day 100 million video clips are viewed on YouTube.


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Friday, November 17, 2006

Is this a $#%$ing joke?

Why did respected scientific journal Nature publish this letter?

In your News story "Polish scientists fight creationism" (Nature 443, 890–891), you incorrectly state that I have called for the "inclusion of creationism in Polish biology curricula". As well as being a member of the European Parliament, I am a scientist — a population geneticist with a degree from Oxford University and a PhD from the University of Toronto — and I am critical of the theory of evolution as a scientist, with no religious connotation. It is the media that prefer to consider my comments as religiously inspired, rather than to report my stated position accurately.
I believe that, as a result of media bias, there seems to be total ignorance of new scientific evidence against the theory of evolution. Such evidence includes race formation (microevolution), which is not a small step in macroevolution because it is a step towards a reduction of genetic information and not towards its increase. It also includes formation of geological strata sideways rather than vertically, archaeological and palaeontological evidence that dinosaurs coexisted with humans, a major worldwide catastrophe in historical times, and so on.

We know that information exists in biology, and is transferred over generations through the DNA/RNA/protein system. We do not know its origin, but we know it exists, can be spoiled by mutations, but never improves itself spontaneously. No positive mutations have ever been demonstrated — adaptations to antibiotics or herbicides are equivalent to immunological adaptation to diseases, and not a creation of a new function.

We keep on searching for natural explanations of everything in nature. If we have no explanations we should say so, and not claim that an unproven theory is a fact.

Maciej Giertych

Giertych’s statements aren’t religiously inspired? Yeah, right. Let’s look into this. Let’s look at the ‘evidence’ against evolution.

1. Microevolution only involves a reduction in genetic information, not its increase.

WRONG. It can go either way. Genetic duplications commonly occur, with the duplicated region modified through mutation. Result: an increase in genetic information.

2. Formation of sideways geological strata.

MISLEADING. Doesn’t matter how strata form. Older fossils are always in older layers (which can be verified by other means such as carbon dating).

3. Evidence that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

WRONG. This is not one single piece of evidence to suggest this. This is, quite simply, a lie.

4. Worldwide catastrophe in prehistoric times.

MISLEADING. Catastrophes that had worldwide impacts have occurred. For instance, the meteorite that hit the Yucatan peninsular in Mexico. So what? Some species became extinct, some didn’t.

5. We know that information exists in biology, and is transferred over generations through the DNA/RNA/protein system. We do not know its origin, but we know it exists, can be spoiled by mutations, but never improves itself spontaneously. No positive mutations have ever been demonstrated — adaptations to antibiotics or herbicides are equivalent to immunological adaptation to diseases, and not a creation of a new function.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. What doesn’t Giertych understand about duplication and polyploidy? Once you have redundant genetic information, deleterious mutations can occur without drastically affecting the organism’s fitness, as the original ‘good’ genetic information is still present. Every now and then, however, a positive mutation occurs that allows for a slightly ‘improved protein’. As this happens continuously and good mutations are selected for, over time you have gained a whole new function.

Many thousands of positive mutations have been discovered. For example, single nucleotide polymorphisms in plants allowing for adaptation to abiotic stress.

This garbage belongs in the Discovery Institute, not Nature.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Photoblogging: Candles I & II

EOS400D. EF 50mm F1.8. Photoshop CS.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Good news, people!!! Part II

Well, first the bad news. Between 2000 and 2005 carbon emissions grew faster than ever at 3.2%, up from 0.8% from 1990 to 1999. China, India and Brazil accounted for much of the increased CO2 output.

So, what’s the good news? What could possible balance such a disappointing result? Well, while the Earth burns you can play the electric air guitar t-shirt!!! Top work Australia’s national scientific agency, the CSIRO. Rock on!!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Good news, people!!!!!

Australia's answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Costello, has embraced an international carbon trading scheme. Today on ABC he opined:
"I think the ground is changing," he told ABC television.

"... and I think from Australia's point of view if the world starts moving towards a carbon trading system, we can't be left out of that.

"I think the weakness up until now has been that key consumers such as China and India have not been in this.

"But as the world moves towards a carbon trading system, Australia obviously can't stand out against the rest of the world."

As is usual with conservatives, it's not the threat of direct climate change impacts that has bought about this epiphany - it's gold 'ol economics. In this particular case, it's not even the negative economic impacts of climate change as demonstrated by the Stern Review, but rather the negative economic impacts of missing out on a world-wide carbon trading scheme.

Then again, if Australia's involved in such a scheme, the political reasons behind the decision really aren't that important.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Democrats smashed!!

It appears I was utterly wrong in my earlier post. I apologise. The Democrats actually performed below expectations in the US mid-term elections. According to Andrew Bolt:

"The Democrats this time did well, but not well enough with all the cards they were given."

The same Andrew Bolt who said this prior to the election?

"Bush whacks back hard. This is a sublime coincidence of conviction, self-interest and opportunity. It will shift votes."

Sublime. Oh yeah! Or maybe he meant it will shift votes to the Dems?

"There are signs already that the Democrats may not actually score the huge wins in next week’s mid-term elections that they and their media supporters gloated over so unwisely."

Being absolutely correct is the new unwise? That’s the fantasy-based community for ya!
"The 'big setback for Bush' might not be"

Must have meant the Dems taking control of both Houses would be a big step forward – which it is.

By far the best, though, is this little gem from Blair-sycophant Dave S., which was endorsed by itsapundit as Sentence Of The Year.

"The Republicans lost and the Democrats won for the same reason -- they distanced themselves from their base."

Got that? US voters actually wanted to vote for Republicans, and the only way to do that was to vote for Democrats. I second the call for sentence of the year.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

US mid-term elections got you down?

When things aren't going so well, this tune makes it all better. Enjoy!

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Baaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!! In a non-gloating sort of way

Wing-nut 1 (Australian division): Any Americans looking to spend the next two years in Australia are most welcome.

Wing-nut 2 (US division): Thanks, but we’re not Democrats. We don’t cry, pout, whine and threaten to run away. We say, “OK, you won this round. Congrats. See you in ‘08.”

RWDBs don't cry, pout, whine and threaten to run away? Hmmmm.....

Wing-nut 3 (US division): I quite. I not going to vote again. It's time I gave up on this political bullshit. I just hope the nuke attack comes soon. Let it be on the East Coast where it belongs.

Wing-nut 4 (US division): I think this demostrates pretty clearly that voting should be a privilege, NOT a right.

Alas, wing-nut 5 (US division) cuts and runs : Lol I’ll go to australia

Wing-nut 5, You haven't heard about our refugee laws, have you?

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GOP smashed!!

Republicans are copping a hammering in the US mid-term elections. The House is lost and the Senate likely drawn. Congratulations to US voters and a big 'thank you' from the reality-based community of Australia. May the same happen again in two years time.

UPDATE: Senate goes to the Dems. Good on ya, US of A!!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Photoblogging: Henley Beach Jetty II

Primary black and white layer with a few masked colour lays showing sunset reflection of the water. Canon EOS 400D.

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Alas, poor Monckton

Wing-nuts, shills and assorted denialists are trumpeting the release of “Apocalypse cancelled”, by acclaimed climate researcher journalist Christopher Monckton.

Let’s look at the response to date.

Tim Lambert rips into the article and some of its bizarre and twisted claims.

Climate Audit proclaims:
“The backgrounder in particular is a pretty good overview of the current state of the science, such as it is, and covers the salient points from MM03, MM05GRL and MM05EE pretty well."
Kiss of death, that. Perhaps Monckton should have looked at this review, plus various other bits and pieces, to understand why the Auditors are a bit of a joke amongst the climate research community.

So let’s be honest, to date things aren’t looking good for “Apocalypse cancelled”.

I’ve done a bit of my own research and have uncovered an untruth so heinous that I feel dirty even repeating it on my bog. However, it must be exposed.

Monckton states:
“…..State of Fear (Crichton, 2004), a best-selling techno-thriller giving an influential, sceptical and thoroughly-referenced account of the climate-change debate.”

I’ve got news for you, Monckton. State of Fear is fiction. It is not an account of the climate change debate as that would involve something called reality. Not only is it fiction, it’s poorly-written excrement by an author long past his prime. Unbelievably, it’s even worse the Crichton’s Prey, a feat I thought not humanly possible.

Now, Monckton makes other claims such as solar output being the primary forcing agent behind climate change, that most of the world’s glaciers are retreating etc., but why even bother to refute them? It would just be cruel.

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Climate change is real and we'll pay to fix it

That's according to an Australian poll released today by the Sydney Morning Herald.

You've gotta worry about the 26% who believe that climate change is a problem but don't want to pay a little bit to fix it. Rather selfish, I think. We can safely assume the entire federal government sits in that category.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Photoblogging: Henley Beach Jetty and Front Yard II

Tsunami horror hits Britain!!!!!!

Gotta sell them there news papers somehow.

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Silencing the consensus

It begins.

Denialists are fighting back with gusto following the release of the Stern Review. This article in New Scientist details multiple attacks on individual scientists who support the consensus that current climate change is predominately caused by human activity.
Kevin Trenberth reckons he is a marked man. He has argued that last year's devastating Atlantic hurricane season, which spawned hurricane Katrina, was linked to global warming. For the many politicians and minority of scientists who insist there is no evidence for any such link, Trenberth's views are unacceptable and some have called for him step down from an international panel studying climate change. "The attacks on me are clearly designed to get me fired or to resign," says Trenberth.

The attacks fit a familiar pattern. Sceptics have also set their sights on scientists who have spoken out about the accelerating meltdown of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the thawing of the planet's permafrost. These concerns will be addressed in the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global organisation created by the UN in 1988 to assess the risks of human-induced climate change. Every time one of these assessments is released, about once every five years, some of the American scientists who have played a part in producing it become the targets of concerted attacks apparently designed to bring down their reputations and careers. At stake is the credibility of scientists who fear our planet is hurtling towards disaster and want to warn the public in the US and beyond
Does this behaviour fit a pattern? Looks that way:
One of those who knows only too well what it is like to come under attack from climate change sceptics is Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. The lead author of a chapter in the 1995 IPCC report that talked for the first time about the "discernible human influence on global climate", he was savaged by sceptics and accused of introducing this wording without consulting colleagues who had helped write the chapter. One sceptic called it the "most disturbing corruption of the peer-review process in 60 years". Another accused him of "scientific cleansing" - at a time when the phrase "ethnic cleansing" was synonymous with genocide in Bosnia. The IPCC investigated and dismissed the allegations as baseless.

Another scientist to suffer the ire of the sceptics was Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He was attacked after the IPCC assessment in 2001, which highlighted his "hockey stick" graph showing that temperatures began a rapid rise in recent decades and are now higher than at any time over the past thousand years. The sceptics accused Mann of cherry-picking his data and criticised him for refusing to disclose his statistical methods which, they claimed, biased the study to show recent warming (New Scientist, 18 March, p 40). Last year, Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, ordered Mann to provide the committee with voluminous details of his working procedures, computer programs and past funding. Barton's demands were widely condemned by fellow scientists and on Capitol Hill. "There are people who believe that if they bring down Mike Mann, they can bring down the IPCC," sSanternter at the time. Mann's findings, which will be endorsed in the new IPCC report, have since been replicated by otstudies.The.

The article goes on to detail Pat Michael's activities as a paid shill, but that's old news.

By far the most worrying aspect of the article is the implication that US scientists working with the IPCC may be investigated and loose their job for doing so.
For the majority of climate scientists, who are convinced that global warming is a real and present danger, the most alarming outcome of this discord is that federal funding could be withdrawn from those who work on IPCC reports. Here Trenberth may find himself caught in the headlights. The US Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee under its chairman James Inhofe has begun investigating NCAR, Trenberth's employer. Inhofe has repeatedly written to NCAR and other agencies demanding details about financial and contractual arrangements with their employees and with federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). In a letter to the NSF in February Inhofe said he needed the information to help him in "researching, analyzing and understanding the science of global climate change". Inhofe has a record of hostility to the idea of climate change, having asked on the Senate floor in July 2003: "Could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it."

NCAR is not commenting on Inhofe's investigation, but many climate scientists contacted by New Scientist regard it as a tactic designed to intimidate those working on the IPCC reporInhofe'sfe's actions appear to be an effort to discourage leading US scientists from being involved in international scientific assessment processes such as the IPCC," Msays.And.

And finally, some idiocy from Michaels. You'd think it would be embarrassingsing to come out with the following, wouldn't you?
Michales has analysed publications by climate scientists in the journals Nature and Science between mid-2005 and mid-2006. He found 115 articles of which 83 said that the likely impact of the greenhouse effect was going to be worse than previously suggested, 23 saw no change and only 9 said that things were not as bad as previously thought.

To most researchers this is solid evidence that the prognosis for the planet is worsening as new science comes in. Michaels rejects this interpretation. To have any faith in the forecasts of climatologists, he argues, "we should expect that new research should have an equal probability of being better or worse [for Earth's climate] than previous research."

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Wine Review: Paxton AAA 2004

What a fine drop!!! Superb value for money at $21 a bottle at the cellar door. A perfect blend of McLaren Vale shiraz and grenache. Full flavoured but beautifully smooth with minimal acid. None of that horrible finish that lets too many wines down. 14% alcohol so not too overpowering. Spot on for a Friday night dinner with friends. I'm saving the Paxton '02 Shiraz I also purchased for a special occasion though, it should be spectacular (At $37 a bottle it's a once a year jobby).

Rating: ****1/2
Value: *****

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Howard's age a factor in his denial?

The following is the editorial from today's newsletter.
Global warming is different to any other political issue of our times. Not because its advocates are more passionate about their cause -- there are plenty of other issues with equally impassioned advocates – but for two other reasons.

Firstly, global warming is, literally, an issue of survival. There can be debate about the precision of the scientific evidence, but all that does is make it a debate about the level of risk governments are prepared to take on behalf of their constituents. The very real prospect of a climatic catastrophe sits so far ahead of any other issue – including terrorism and financial wellbeing – that global warming cannot be categorised under G in the filing cabinet of political issues. It needs its own filing cabinet.

Secondly, global warming is generational, not ideological. Most other issues of the political agenda are part of the passing parade of topics that rise and fall in the public consciousness within weeks or months. Those issues are about “values” or “prosperity” or “security” and they play to a range of constituencies. Global warming is an issue that plays to all constituencies, particularly anyone with more than 20 years left to live. It is generational, not ideological.

Those are the reasons why the Howard government, indeed any government, will have no choice but to talk and act as if this is an issue of survival. The spectre of a grandfatherly-looking 67-year-old prime minister urging Australians – 62% of whom are under 45 – to be cautious over claims about the risk of climate change is absurd. Politically and logically.

Great stuff. But there's the implication that Howard's age prevents him from taking climate change seriously, as he won't be around to see the major downsides.'s ideology, pure and simple. A 30-year old Howard wouldn't do a thing differently. Howard is a culture warrior. Always has been. He sees climate change through the prism of the culture wars. It's a grand Leftist conspiracy. Nothing to do with science and economics.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Howard Government’s response to the Stern Review: Spin

Australia will take virtually no action to combat global warming. According to the government, new technology is the answer, particularly clean-coal technology.

Nice in theory.

But what is the government actually doing to help bring about the development and adoption of this critical technology?

Stuff all. According to the Age:

To award the CSIRO just $8 million to develop a unit to separate and capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations is to seriously underestimate the scope of the problem, especially when the Government expects an export market for the unit. Eight million dollars.

Compare that to:

$90 million for sheiks in schools
$208.5 million for Liberal Party propaganda Government advertising

Lucky CSIRO. Maybe they should get a few chaplains in on the cheap and funnel off some of the money for research.

If the CSIRO, or some other group, did manage to develop effective clean-coal technology, would it be used? There would be costs involved for implementation and operation and, therefore, a slight reduction in profits for an adopting power-generation company. There is no legal obligation to use it. Simple answer, under Howard there will be no adoption of clean-coal technology. Quite sad, really.

(More at Larvatus Prodeo)

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Right kills Stern Review dead, has way with corpse

Tim Blair and and fan Andrew Bolt have critically maimed the Stern Review with just one incisive post. The sheer audacity of it is something to behold. I stared at my screen in awe upon reading that post for the first time. Without further ado, here it is in all its glory:

Page 23, chapter four of the Stern Report: Gender inequalities will likely worsen with climate change.

Not content with just this one devastating blow, Blair finished off the Stern Review for good:

UPDATE. Climate change will also cause forced marriage.

Now there's probably some silly context stuff, like that Stern was writing about women in agricultural regions of developing African countries, and, if agriculture did collapse in these areas, women would be disproportionately affected. Like that matters! Here's Stern's actual words anyway:

Gender inequalities will likely worsen with climate change. Workloads and responsibilities such as collecting water, fuel and food will grow and become more time consuming in light of greater resource scarcity. This will allow less time for education or participation in market-based work. A particular burden will be imposed on those households that are short of labour, further exacerbated if the men migrate in times of extreme stress leaving women vulnerable to impoverishment, forced marriage, labour exploitation and trafficking. Women are ‘over-represented’ in agriculture and the informal economy, sectors that will be hardest hit by climate change. This exposure is coupled with a low capacity to adapt given their unequal access to resources such as credit and transport. Women are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters with women and children accounting for more than 75% of displaced persons following natural disasters.

On the strength their stunning rebuke, I say Blair to head the World Bank and Bolt for the new Secretary-General of the UN.

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