Ross Gittins describes the CSIRO’s first Australian National Outlook report as “heroic” and “fair dinkum”. It does what the Government Intergenerational Report failed to do. It takes account of the effects of climate change and environmental sustainability.
When the first named cyclone in July appeared off the Queensland coast some asked whether this was caused by climate change. My response would be that a single event is weather. Climate is about changes in the patterns of weather over time.
The topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is very broad, but where we left it the focus had been on the safety of GM foods.
I’d expressed a need for someone knowledgeable who was both engaged and detached to explain the topic. Frankly I get concerned when people, however well-informed, seek to shove the truth down my throat. Reliable information from someone who is not trying to convince me one way or the other, is what I need. Continue reading Seeking answers on GM food→
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.
Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.
Three birthdays to mention.
Larvatus Prodeo was born at Easter 2005, so would be 10 years old if still alive. I started blogging there about three months later.
Secondly, I turned 75 just over a week ago.
I usually don’t make a fuss over birthdays, reasoning that I’m just one day older than the day before. So every day is new. My cardiologist is very happy with me, and I can tell you that since my triple bypass in 2000 he’s the main man!
Third, Climate Pluswas born a year ago tomorrow. Some 318 posts later we are still here. It has been an experience – some surprises, some disappointments.
For the foreseeable future I plan to carry on. Political posts are more than twice as popular as climate posts, but our main reason for being here is climate. My aim is to keep the lay reader abreast of important developments in a brief and digestible form.
Betty Churcher died during the week, aged 1984. As an artist, as a teacher, as an arts administrator, and as a human being she excelled and attracted nothing but praise.
As a woman she had several firsts, most notably in 1990 she became the first woman at the helm of the National Gallery of Australia, where she was director for 7 years.
While there she earned the nickname “Betty Blockbuster” for presiding over 12 international blockbuster exhibitions, which in turn led to a corresponding growth in the gallery’s attendance numbers and revenue. She also initiated the construction of new galleries for large-scale temporary exhibitions, gave the gallery its current name after dropping “Australian National Gallery” and acquired Arthur Streeton’s Golden Summer, Eaglemont, 1889, for $3.5 million.
Every year Canadians waste some 40% of their food. A large part of the problem is that “ugly” food, misshapen or marked, is thrown out. Now one large retailer is selling this food at a discount in Ontario and Quebec.
As of Wednesday evening 14 cases of hepatitis A have been linked to frozen berries. More are expected. Schools are on the alert as the berries have been used and consumed in cooking classes. At least one preschool used the berries to make smoothies for an afternoon snack.
Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the government was considering a review of testing on imports under Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) as more hepatitis A cases turned up. His department wrote to the Chinese government to ask for assurances on the food testing measures.
As for the government doing anything concrete Abbott has virtually ruled it out, saying that it is the responsibility of businesses ‘not to poison their customers’. A crackdown would just add to the cost of food, he says.
“policy was to acquire Australian fruit wherever possible,” despite the fact in the past two years it sourced berries from China, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, United States, Greece, Turkey and Serbia.
In this case:
The four recalled products – one-kilogram packs of Nanna’s Raspberries and Frozen Mixed Berries, as well as 300 gram and 500 gram packs of Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries – were largely sourced and packed in China. (Emphasis added)
Hepatitis A can come from the berries being grown in infected water, washed in infected water, picked or packed by people carrying the virus, getting contaminated by infected animals, such as livestock, rats, mice or bats, at some stage in the production cycle, or mixing with other ingredients contaminated with hepatitis A virus during processing.
The infection can be inside the berry itself.
About 90 per cent of China’s groundwater is polluted, 65 per cent severely so, with contaminates such as pesticides, fertilisers and petrochemicals, a report from the Centre of International Security Studies at Sydney University showed.
The real problem, however, is faeces. Human poo is used in China as fertiliser. I understand that customs don’t test for bacterial or viral pollution. I did hear that the berries were now sent to an overseas lab for testing. Are we a first world country?
A new focus has come on labelling. Consumers want it, there have been endless inquiries, and exactly nothing happens. Choice tells us we are stuck with statements like ‘Packed in Australia using imported fruit’ or ‘Made in Australia using local and imported ingredients’ which offer very little information about a product’s origin and are largely meaningless to consumers.
It looks as though Joyce wants to do something about labelling, but I think it lies in the health portfolio. At least eight governments have to agree. Without the support of the PM who seems to have made up in his mind in the negative, nothing will happen
Ironically the Chinese would rather eat our fruit than their own if they can afford it, but there is no provision to export our produce directly to China. It has to go through third countries. We are currently working on a trade deal with China. Andrew Robb, please note!
Worldwide, solar energy has continued to grow even when economies were shrinking. By 2013, almost 138.9 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic (PV) had been installed globally, states the European Photovoltaic Industry Association in the report Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018.
From the bottom, blue is Europe, brown is Asia Pacific, purple is the Americas and orange is China.
4. Australia could become manufacturing hub of battery storage
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) met in Abu Dhabi last weekend, ahead of the World Energy Future Conference in the same venue. Australia thumbed its nose by sending an embassy staffer rather than a minister, as a country genuinely interested in renewables would have done.
Australia is increasingly being seen as a “no-hoper” and an “outlier” in terms of large scale renewable energy.
Sadoway thinks Australia would provide a strong home market, ideal for remoter population centres difficult to serve with a high quality grid.
The LMBs [liquid metal batteries] are being hailed as a potentially low cost option for utility-scale battery storage. That is because the nature of the technology means that they can cycle – or discharge – thousands of times without having its capacity reduced.
The batteries could last for 300 years.
No doubt the minister for industry will quietly tell him that we don’t do large scale renewables, or manufacturing, in Australia.
Inconvenient words about climate change and torture were snipped out of President Obama’s State of the Union speech when posted on the (Republican) Speaker’s official site. Words like this:
The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.
6. Republican opinion on climate change
Meanwhile the Republican-controlled US Senate has voted 98-1 to say the climate change is real and not a hoax. However, that doesn’t mean that humans are the cause. After all the Bible tells of climate change and it’s just arrogance to think humans are the cause!
A recent Yale study identifies four different kinds of Republicans – liberal, moderate, conservative and Tea Party. While overall only 44% of Republicans think global warming is happening, the sub-groups vary considerably:
Yet overall 56% think CO2 should be regulated as a pollutant, again with vast variations of opinion:
2014 heat referred to surface temperature. Since about 93% of additional heat resulting from global warming ends up in the oceans, they give a better indication of changes in the Earth’s energy system.