Saturday salon 30/4

1. Cardinal Pell’s credibility is on the line

Cardinal Pell claimed to the royal commission that he wasn’t told about misbehaving priests. Now a number of former officers of the Melbourne Catholic Education Office have given evidence that Pell was in fact told about the somewhat unhinged priest Father Searson. Continue reading Saturday salon 30/4

Negative gearing: the election scare campaign continues

1461658792643_220The release of the Grattan Institute report Hot property: negative gearing and capital gains tax has raised the temperature of the scare campaign for a day or so on Labor’s Positive plan to help affordable housing, aka negative gearing.

Turnbull says Labor’s policy will drive down house prices:

    “What Labor is proposing is a huge reckless shock to the market. This is not fine-tuning. This is a big sledgehammer they are taking to the property market,” Mr Turnbull said.

Grattan found otherwise. Continue reading Negative gearing: the election scare campaign continues

All square and going nowhere?

Arguably the election campaign started on Sunday with Turnbull’s formal rejection of the ALP’s negative gearing campaign. With 68 days to go the polls are all square in the House of Representatives, and, intriguingly, look set to deliver a hung Senate, with the casting vote resting with pesky crossbenchers. Incredibly, Turnbull may win, but not have enough head room to pass legislation at a joint sitting without negotiating with some of the people he wanted to get rid of.

A few people have been looking at the likely Senate outcomes and the prospects are interesting. Continue reading All square and going nowhere?

Condamine River CSG fire stunt goes viral

NSW Greens Upper House politician Jeremy Buckingham set methane bubbling up in the Condamine River alight, making a video which went viral with 2.2m views from Friday to Sunday. The CSIRO had previously investigated the area and found the methane leakage was probably natural.

Buckingham knows better and accused the CSIRO of “making excuses” for the coal seam gas industry. Continue reading Condamine River CSG fire stunt goes viral

Saturday salon 23/4

1. Remembering Shakespeare

Four hundred years ago on April 1616, William Shakespeare, “widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist”, died apparently from partying too hard on his 52nd birthday. Arguably he is the world’s greatest writer. Continue reading Saturday salon 23/4

Hansen worries that all hell will break loose

Hansen-paper-370x232_250James Hansen worries that “we may be approaching a point of no return, a situation in which our children inherit a climate system undergoing changes that are out of their control, changes that will cause them irreparable harm”. He’s looked at the models, at current observations, and at what happened during the Eemian interglacial 118,000 years ago, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

During the Eemian, when global average temperatures were about 1°C more than now, sea level was about 3-4 metres higher than now for a considerable time. Then about 118,000 years ago, towards the end of the interglacial, it peaked at 6-9 meters, including a rise of 2-3 metres within several decades. A similar sea level rise of several metres now would see the inundation of many of the world’s major cities.

Also there were huge storms at mid-latitudes in the North Atlantic which would make Superstorm Sandy look mild. Hansen thinks that climate change may be entering a phase where similar events could occur this century. Continue reading Hansen worries that all hell will break loose

Saturday salon 16/4

1. Bill finds his voice

No more zingers for Bill Shorten, and now voice coaching from Dean Frenkel, a throat singer and lecturer in public speaking and communications at Victoria University, who thinks we all need lessons in elocution. After 14 years as a union rabble rouser Bill tried to soften his image. But: Continue reading Saturday salon 16/4

WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015

WMO_cropped_220The WMO Statement on the Status of the Climate in 2015 was released on 23 March. In short, the world continues to warm, the seas continue to rise, and the weather becomes hotter, wetter and drier, with continued extreme conditions.

The UN has a useful summary, or go to the new WMO site, or access the pdf document directly.

There were reports on ABC RN’s The World Today and at Climate Central, but the best I found with images that go beyond the report was on our ABC. I’ll pick out some of the elements that interested me. Continue reading WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015

Banks royal commission becomes an election issue

Is Bill Shorten a populist with a thought bubble, or is Malcolm Turnbull shooting from the hip and attempting to defend the indefensible?

Last year in June Labor voted with the government to kill a Greens motion for a royal commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry. As Adele Ferguson said in the AFR, then came NAB, IOOF, CommInsure, allegations of bank bill swap rate rigging and a multitude of smaller scandals.

Labor announced last Friday that in government it would set up a royal commission.

The government claims a RC would damage the reputation of the banks, but Ferguson says it couldn’t get any worse. Continue reading Banks royal commission becomes an election issue

Coral reef resilience

reef_200Recently we took a look at the most recent coral bleaching event in Great Barrier Reef will never be the same. John D subsequently sent me a link to an article Obituaries for coral reefs may be premature, study finds by John Pandolfi, Professor, School of Biological Sciences, at The University of Queensland.

So I thought we should take a closer look. Continue reading Coral reef resilience