Tag Archives: Open Threads

Saturday salon 1/11

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Sleep study

Overnight I’m going into hospital to have a sleep study done. My wife reckoned I stopped breathing the other night, so I thought I’d better get it checked out. I reckon I’m just a shallow breather when I’m not snoring, so we’ll see.

2. Ambulance and emergencies

Our little household has been quite sick this week. It started with our 27 year-old son, who was tired and run down, having just handed in his maths honours thesis. On Sunday night about 10pm he came down with a severe gastric upset – diarrhoea and vomiting. He was really bad, barely able to stand, going numb in his hands and feet, severe stomach cramps. We decided to call an ambulance about midnight.

After a medical officer interviewed us and him, the decision was apparently that he was not in danger of dying, so it might take a while.

Two hours later, we cancelled the ambulance and took him to the Wesley, which is about 10 minutes away. There he was seen immediately. A couple of hours later and he was back home.

It costs a maximum of $250 with Medicare, plus drugs and tests.

If we’d stuck with the public system, he would have been further triaged once the ambulance got him to the hospital.

We definitely have a two-tier medical system.

30 hours later my wife took ill, and 36 hours later so did I, both not as bad as our son. We are all on the mend, though it’s taking a while to regain full strength.

3. ALP set to win in Victoria

Premier Denis Napthine looks like becoming a oncer. The new Ipsos poll, replacing Nielsen in the Fairfax stable has the ALP ahead 56-44. Poll Bludger at Crikey reckons that’s a bit of an outlier.

However, this result is something of a puzzle, in being the odd man out in a crowded Victorian market over the past few days — Galaxy, Essential Research, ReachTEL and Morgan all having proved of one mind in showing Labor’s lead in the range of 52-48 to 53-47.

Seems there are two problems. Firstly, there’s an unusually high Greens vote, without a compensating lower vote for Labor, which no-one quite believes.

Secondly it’s how you allocate preferences. Ipsos did it two ways, by asking the people polled, and according to the 2010 election. The former produces the higher result for Labor, but may not be valid, because there is no effect of how to vote cards. Fairfax grabbed the higher number.

But for complex reasons to do with an unusual preference flow in 2010, Poll Bludger reckons the other polls might show the Libs as about one percentage point higher than they really are.

4. Labor flirts with boats turnback policy

Labor spokesman Richard Marles on immigration flirted with the idea of turning back boats to Indonesia, “if it was safe and didn’t affect Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.” In other words, with Indonesia’s cooperation.

I’ve been wondering whether there hasn’t been back-door cooperation with the LNP Governments turnback policy and what the new prez in Indonesia will have to say.

It does seem, however, that having an open mind on the matter was too much for the left within the ALP, so Shorten has gently slapped him down.

I seem to recall that Frank Brennan walked down the Marles path at the time Rudd announced his PNG solution, much to the consternation of his admirers. My recall is, however, that Brennan saw a much more full-blooded cooperation with Indonesia and other regional powers, setting up an orderly queue there, with increased assistance for asylum seekers to be treated decently in Indonesia, and taking more of our refugee quota from that source.

If the sea crossing is dangerous, which it is, we could take Clive Palmer’s advice and fly them all to Australia. Why don’t the Greens adopt that policy? It’s logical!

5. Nova Peris in the news

The point is that she shouldn’t have been.

The NT senator has broken her silence on the claims, saying she has “done nothing wrong”.

Making a statement to the Senate on Thursday, she said the claims were “baseless” and were connected to a family dispute.

“I have done nothing wrong,” she said.

“It pains me to have to talk about my private life. But the publication of my emails is part of a very difficult child access and financial estate dispute,” she said.
Audio: Nova Peris says explicit email leak was part of a blackmail attempt (PM)

She said the “aggrieved party” in the dispute contacted her by email 10 days before the emails were published to reveal “he had in his possessions a folder of information pertaining to Mr Boldon’s visit to Australia”.

“I did not realise at the time, he was referring to these emails,” she said.

“The release and publication of these emails is an attempt to extract money and embarrass me and my family.”

She told the Senate that the NT News was “well aware” the emails were part of a long-running family dispute “ahead of its publication”.
(Emphasis added)

It was clear from the outset that Peris had an advisory role in athlete Ato Boldon’s visit. Athletics Australia made the decisions and paid the bills. Whether Peris had a personal relationship with Boldon (they had been training partners for years) is irrelevant.

The NT News is no doubt claiming public interest. At best they have been tools in an unseemly family dispute. At worst it was just gutter journalism, seeking to sell papers. I doubt the aim was to destroy Peris’s career, but they didn’t mind if they did.

Now we are told that the Australian Press Council has received a complaint about the coverage and is investigating. And:

The Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says News Corp should have exercised more discretion before it published the emails but a former Media Watch host Jonathon Holmes says, in this case, the public interest outweighs any privacy concerns.

Good one Jonathon! I disagree on two counts. Firstly, there was nothing of public interest to see. Move on.

Secondly, he says we should ignore the motivation of the informants. With respect, that’s ethically bereft.

Climate clippings 111

1. Record warmth

September followed August as record heat for the month worldwide. The period January-September was equal hottest with 1998 and 2010. The 12 months from October 2013 to September 2014 was the hottest 12-month period on record. The heat was just about everywhere, except for central Russia, some areas in eastern and northern Canada, and a small region in Namibia:

Screen-shot-Sept 2014-AM-600

2. Coal is good for humanity!

Thus spake Tony Abbott, repeating lines imprinted on his mind by coal industry lobbyists.

In an important post Graham Readfearn tells how big coal is hijacking the energy poverty issue

telling the world that the only way the poorest nations can pull themselves out of poverty is by purchasing lots of their product.

The point that those same people will likely be hit earliest and hardest from the impacts of climate change being driven by that same product, is neatly swerved or underplayed.

So we have Peabody Energy “fueling the world with energy essential to sustain life”.

Pardon me while I have a quiet chunder!

3. New 2030 climate targets for the EU

On the whole climate campaigners are disappointed with the new emissions targets set by the EU – 40% reduction in emissions, 27% cut in energy use and 27% of energy must be from renewables.

The ETS is seen as essential in reaching these targets, so it will be reformed in an as yet undesignated way.

Rich countries like Germany, the UK and France will have to do better than the designated cuts to compensate for the continued reliance on coal by the likes of Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

At Climate Progress it seems the American reaction is more favourable. They point out that the targets are the first substantive offer from any member of the international community ahead of the UN climate talks to be held in Paris in 2015. The Americans and the Chinese are unlikely to go so far.

Personally when they aim for net zero emissions by 2030 and aim for 350 CO2e ppm by 2050 I’ll say they are reconnecting politics with reality.

4. Arctic sea ice escalator

BilB drew attention to Skeptical Science’s Arctic sea ice escalator:

Sea ice 2014_cropped

He’s right, the next break downwards could shock some doubters.

Perhaps enough to shake pollies of all stripes out of their torpor.

If you look at the trend from the late 1990s it looks even more dramatic.

The full article has two further graphs:

00c36199-0fac-468c-86d4-76d93ce98cba-460x313

120afee8-e360-4a99-ab75-cabf94d6b08c-bestSizeAvailable

Actually there’s something wrong with both. The y axis should go below 4. It’s like where you have a graph on a wall and the line falls off the graph and onto the wall.

5. Pacific warriors blockade Newcastle

Climate Change Warriors from 12 Pacific Island nations paddled canoes into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia, Friday to bring attention to their grave fears about the consequences of climate change on their home countries.

The 30 warriors joined a flotilla of hundreds of Australians in kayaks and on surfboards to delay eight of the 12 ships scheduled to pass through the port during the nine-hour blockade, which was organised with support from the U.S.-based environmental group 350.org.

The warriors came from 12 Pacific Island countries, including Fiji, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Micronesia, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Tonga,
Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Niue.

6. Norway takes to electric cars

Norway, not a member of the EU, now has 15% electric cars. Since 2011 Nissan LEAF has become the nation’s third best-selling car.

Norway is not a member of the EU. It gets 98% of its power from renewables. Presumably it doesn’t go around preaching that oil is good for humanity!

7. How to build without bricks and cement

Just print houses out of mud!

wasp_3d_printed_mud_homes-3_600

Thanks to John Davidson for those last two items.

Saturday salon 25/10

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Jacqui Lambie refuses an invitation to visit a Sydney mosque

“I’m a Catholic; I’m religious,” she said.

“It’s not my moral upbringing. I’m Australian. I simply believe in the church.

“… I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.”

No comment!

2. $4 billion hit to Queensland schools

Queensland schools are set to take a $4 billion hit to their revenues over the next decade due to cuts announced in the federal budget in May, according to the state’s education department.

Education Queensland’s analysis, obtained by the ABC in a Right to Information request, revealed Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek was advised that over the 10 years from 2014, state schools would be $1.66 billion worse off.

Non-government schools fared worse, with cuts totalling $2.284 billion.

The revenue reduction formed part of $80 billion in savings announced by the Federal Government in the areas of health and education.

Other states would be similarly placed, and comparable cuts in health funding are in the budget.

The good news is that the cuts apply from 2017 and there will have to be an election by 2016. So we’ll get what we vote for!

3. New York doctor diagnosed with Ebola

A harlem doctor returning from Guinea has contracted Ebola.

He took several trips on the subway in the past week, visited a bowling alley and took a cab before he began to display symptoms. His fiancée and two friends have been isolated.

Questions arise, I think, as to whether precautions were adequate. He was taking his temperature twice each day.

Contra the article, I heard on the radio that New Yorkers were calm, trusting their public institutions.

4. New president of Indonesia

Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s new president, is a reform-minded technocrat who will need to make tough decisions if he wants to realise his grand ambitions to improve Indonesia’s creaking infrastructure, healthcare and education systems, analysts say.

He seems a man of principle who will take no nonsense. I wonder how he will view the funny games we play with asylum seekers.

I believe Al Jazeera has been airing an investigative report into the horrors of Australian offshore detention of asylum seekers.

5. Run silent, run deep in Canberra’s naval battles

The AFR has been severely hollowed out in Fairfax’s effort to make a buck, but Laura Tingle is still there. Recently she took a look at how we are going about acquiring submarines.

She reckons the politics wavers between regional concern for jobs and wanting to be mates with the Japanese. When senior LNP politicians were spruiking the possibility of saving billions by buying Japanese subs off the shelf, she says the subs were too slow and lacked the range to be useful in our context. Apparently there is no such thing as an off-the-shelf sub.

She has the impression that while the political talk “wobbles wildly” the Defence technocrats are moving “stealthily but relentlessly forward based on assessments of the best option from a Defence perspective.”

That’s a mercy, say I, once a bureaucrat!

6. Interesting houses

Via Mark’s Facebook, Los Angeles 1960:

10348290_10152393879591120_5708361107307885719_n_550

From the road:

65565_843304512354593_8784921791314625353_n

“Heliotrop”, University of Stuttgart’s “sunflower”-house which produces energy using a large photovoltaic sail on its roof:

trarch011234

Climate clippings 110

1. 25 climate change disasters

Business Insider, Australia tells us that 25 disasters may befall us from climate change. The assumptions are conservative – 2°C and half a metre of sea level rise by 2100, though the text sometimes specifies more. Some of the predictions are disturbing: Continue reading Climate clippings 110

Saturday salon 18/10

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. National curriculum review

The Conversation asked several experts to comment on the Review of the Australian Curriculum conducted by Dr Kevin Donnelly and Professor Ken Wiltshire. As far as I can make out, the Government will make a final response by early next year and hopes that changes can be implemented by the states in 2016.

This is insane.

The Review seems to call for a rewriting of the entire curriculum, a task which would take years.

Moreover, the Review calls for a restructuring of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the body which would do the rewriting, which will take time. It seems unlikely that the states will have the capacity to undertake the necessary curriculum development themselves.

The Review itself seems to be based on opinion rather than research.

2. Calls to sack curriculum reviewer

One such opinion is that of Professor Barry Spurr of Sydney University, who was used as a consultant to review the teaching of English. Spurr has been suspended while the university investigates calls for his sacking. As reported on PM calls for his sacking:

follow the publication of a series of emails in which Professor Barry Spurr described Aboriginal people as “human rubbish tips” and reminisced about the 1950s, when there weren’t so many “bogans”, “fatsoes”, “Mussies” and “Chinky-poos” around.

In his review, Professor Spurr advised the Government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature and place greater emphasis on western Judeo-Christian culture.

On reading the original New Matilda report it’s hard to accept that his racist, sexist ranting is merely whimsical word games. See also here and here.

3. Classics in the English curriculum

While we are at it, Stewart Riddle and Eileen Honan took a look at the curriculum review and English literature. Remember that the Review

advised the Government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature and place greater emphasis on western Judeo-Christian culture.

They found that the national curriculum leaves the selection of texts entirely up to the schools. In fact as a result students already get a steady diet of the classics. But they probably don’t read the Bible or as six year-olds commit mediaeval verse to memory as suggested by the reviewers.

4. Five new growth centres for science and innovation

The Federal Government’s adding an extra $400 million to the science and technology budget. Five new “growth centres” are at the heart of the plan – mining, oil and gas, medical, food and advanced manufacturing.

The Government says that should boost growth and create jobs by encouraging co-operation between those sectors and the scientific community.

Sounds wonderful if you stop right there. But then this:

But the new centres will replace some existing co-operative research centres and it’s not clear what it will mean for the nation’s top research body, the CSIRO.

Opposition spokesman Kim Carr is allowed a very general criticism. I heard him later on RN’s Drive. Apparently Labor had instituted 12 such centres, which were slashed by the LNP. Also the cutbacks to research, science and innovation total a whopping $9 billion.

The headline says $400 million, but the article specifies only $188 million of government funds.

Hockey’s plan to shrink Australia continues apace!

Climate clippings 109

1. Home solar power plus battery storage

It’s on the way, according to reports in Climate Progress and RenewEconomy. They are reporting on reports emerging from HBSC, Citigroup and UBS, so the big end of town is taking notice.

Initial interest is in short storage to cater for the peaks, but it seems that full storage systems will become competitive before the end of the decade.

For the next ten years battery technology is likely to remain lithium ion, with newer technologies introduced later.

2. Oceans warming faster than thought

The top 700 metres of the ocean have been warming 24 to 55% faster since 1970 than previously thought. The problem has been poor sampling in the Southern Ocean.

Of course this means that the whole planet has been warming faster than previously thought, since over 90% of the extra heat goes into the ocean.

3. Human hands caused 2013 heat

To me 2013 seems like a long time ago, but it is remembered for breaking a lot of heat records in Australia.

January 7 was our hottest day on record – 40.3°C.

January was the hottest month on record.

The 2012-13 summer was the hottest on record.

September was the hottest on record, exceeding the previous record by more than a degree; this was the largest temperature anomaly for any month yet recorded.

September-November was the hottest on record.

The whole year of 2013 was the hottest on record.

Five studies have now been done establishing human agency in these events. We don’t just need to be concerned about our grandchildren. Climate change caused by humans is happening now.

4. NOAA explains record Antarctic sea ice growth

First of all the record does not represent a dramatic increase on the recent average:

AntarcticSeaIceHistory_600

By comparison the loss of land ice has tripled in the last five years alone.

NOAA have now given a more detailed explanation of how the increase, counterintuitively, may be related to global warming. Firstly, it’s the wind:

NOAA first points out that “much of this year’s sea ice growth occurred late in the winter season, and weather records indicate that strong southerly winds blew over the Weddell Sea in mid-September 2014.”

Secondly, the melting land ice itself may have an effect:

Most of Antarctica’s ice lies in the ice sheets that cover the continent, and in recent decades, that ice has been melting. Along the coastline, ice shelves float on the ocean surface, and much of the recent melt may be driven by warm water from the deep ocean rising and making contact with ice shelf undersides.

How does the melting of land ice matter to sea ice formation? The resulting meltwater is fresher than the seawater. As it mixes with the seawater, the meltwater makes the nearby seawater slightly less dense, and slightly closer to the freezing point than the ocean water below. This less dense seawater spreads out across the ocean surface surrounding the continent, forming a stable pool of surface water that is close to the freezing point, and close to the ice onto which it could freeze.

5. Marshall Islands expendable

The United Nations chose 26-year-old Marshall Islands poet and mother Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner to be among the keynote speakers at the UN’s climate summit in New York recently. Here she is at the mike with her husband and child:

AP5150773745-500

Marshall Islands sits on average about 2 metres above sea level. Already she’s seen waves crashing into their homes and their breadfruit trees wither from salt and droughts.

Jetnil-Kijiner was confident in her speech that, no matter how difficult, climate change would be solved, and her daughter would be able to go on living in the Marshall Islands.

“No one’s drowning, baby,” she said. “No one’s moving. No one’s losing their homeland. No one’s becoming a climate change refugee…We are drawing the line here.”

She said, accurately I think, that saving the Marshall Islands meant “ending carbon pollution within my lifetime.”

Some 125 world leaders were present. Some, like ours stayed away, having more important things to do. Anyone present with half a brain must have known that is not going to happen. The Marshall Islands is expendable.

6. Climate outlook, October to December

In brief, warmer and drier than average, apart from Tasmania, which looks good for rain. There’s more detail and maps here.

This is what the rainfall prospect looks like:

Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

And maximum temperature:

Temp Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

Six of eight international climate models suggest a late season El Niño, or near El Niño, ENSO state is likely.

Saturday salon 11/10

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

At 17, Pakistani education rights activist Malala Yousafzai is the youngest-ever winner of the prize. She first came to global attention in 2012, when a Taliban gunman attempted to assassinate her on her school bus. After surgery and rehabilitation in the UK, she has become an international advocate for access to education, in particular for girls who are denied opportunities to learn.

Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi, who shares the prize with Yousafzai, is the founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan movement. The organisation, which Satyarthi formed in 1980, campaigns against child labour and human trafficking in South Asia.

2. Dr Catherine Hamlin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The Ethiopian Government nominated 90 year-old Australian doctor Dr Catherine Hamlin for the prize in recognition for her work with women suffering obstetric fistula during childbirth. The hospitals she helped establish treat over 2500 women each year. She travelled with her late husband Dr Reg Hamlin to Ethiopia 55 years ago to train midwives and stayed on.

Would you believe, other nominations included Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was nominated earlier this year for his role in dismantling Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.

3. Saudis crack down on political dissidents

The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.

To that end, King Abdullah issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalises “participating in hostilities outside the kingdom” with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.

But the laws go beyond those concerns to anything which could “harm public order”. This includes defining atheists as terrorists.

4. Dozens of anti-Muslim attacks as Islamic leaders warn of community fear

There have been at least 30 attacks on Muslims – mainly against women wearing the hijab – in the three weeks since the police anti-terror raids and threats by Islamic State put relations between the Islamic community and mainstream Australia on edge.

Muslim community leaders are compiling a register of religiously motivated incidents, which includes reports of physical and verbal assaults, threats of violence against senior clerics and damage to mosques.

Escorts are being arranged for women to go shopping.

Queensland has the highest rate of personal assaults and threats to mosques, according to the list.

5. Feral cats rewrite the Australian story

There are between 15 and 23 million feral cats in Australia. Each night they chomp their way through about 75 million native animals.

Campaigns to eradicate foxes have backfired where they have been tried. Initial success has been followed by an explosion of the feral cat population leaving native wildlife worse off.

Other predators include the dingo and the Tasmanian devil.

6. Phillip Adams’ favourite interviews

To coincide with Phillip Adams’ induction into the Melbourne Press Club hall of fame, the host of RN’s Late Night Live has assembled a list of some of his favourite recent interviews from his ‘little wireless program’, featuring everyone from Magda Szubanski to Oliver Stone.

Climate clippings 108

1. Across the ditch

New Zealand has just had a general election. Gareth at Hot Topic tells us that

The National Party has won itself another three years in government. With a probable overall majority and the support of three fringe MPs, prime minister John Key and his cabinet will be able to do more or less what they like. Given the government’s performance on climate matters over the last six years — turning the Emissions Trading Scheme into little more than a corporate welfare handout while senior cabinet ministers flirt with outright climate denial — and with signals that they intend to modify the Resource Management Act to make it easier to drill, mine and pollute, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the next three years are going to see New Zealand’s climate policies slip even further out of touch with what’s really necessary.

2. China most at risk from sea level rise

An analysis of global vulnerability to sea level rise has been done (see at Climate Central and The Carbon Brief).

China is the standout in terms of people affected, but Japan, India and Indonesia also figure prominently. This may assist international climate action negotiations, though recalcitrants like Canada and Australia don’t figure. Here’s the top 20:

assets-climatecentral-org-images-uploads-news-ssrf-Global-TableRCP85-smaller-nums-take5-670x519_cropped_350

Worldwide they found that “147 to 216 million people live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by the end of the century, assuming emissions of heat-trapping gases continue on their current trend.”

The numbers ultimately depend on the sensitivity of sea level to warming. They say the figures may be two to three times too low, meaning as many as 650 million people may be threatened. Also population increase is not taken into account.

3. Human activities cut animal populations in half since 1970

shutterstock_120562819-e1412098764193-500

According to a new report, the Earth has lost half its vertebrate species — mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians — since 1970.

The latest Living Planet Report, put out by a joint research effort between the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, found a stunning drop of 52 percent in the population of wild animals on the planet over the last 40 years. The most catastrophic drop was among the inhabitants of freshwater ecosystems — the last stop for much of the world’s pollution from road run-off, farming, and emissions — whose numbers declined 75 percent. Oceanic and land species both dropped roughly 40 percent.

It’s also all interconnected; land-use change can affect climate change and animal species both, then the altered climate can in turn affect the animals, and the animals’ effect on their ecosystem can in turn alter the climate again. Animals and humans both are inherent parts of the ecological fabrics they inhabit.

4. The science is clear: act now

Roger Jones and Roger Bodman have an article at The Conversation, republished at Understanding Climate Risk commenting on an article by Steven Koonin, New York University theoretical physicist and former US Under Secretary of Energy for Science, published in the Wall Street Journal and The Australian. Koonin accepts that the climate is changing and that human activity is having an effect, but:

Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?” Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.

Koonin’s argument is technical, but he amplifies the uncertainties and does not properly attend to risk. Details which have no great relevance, such as the failure of models to explain why Antarctic sea ice cover is expanding, are amplified. His conclusion is that the science is urgent, but the uncertainty is such that there is no proper basis for action.

To answer in detail would require a volume. Jones and Bodman address his use of the concepts of doubt, uncertainty, confidence and risk and find his argument lacks an appreciation of how scientists use these concepts. Crucially, “acting now and learning as we go is a better way to manage uncertainty than waiting and learning.” On the main issue,s while uncertainty can be reduced at the margins with observations over time, overall the science is clear, we must act now!

%. No cash flows as Louisiana coast slides into the sea

While the issue is mired in legal wrangles, the Louisiana weltands are sliding into the sea at the rate of 75 square kilometres and saltwater increasingly penetrates. In 2012 a $50 billion repair plane was formulated, but the prospects of adequate funding are remote.

Louisiana_cropped_600

I’ve extracted an image of the flood map showing what 5 metres of sea level rise would look like, which is what I think we are looking at in the next 200 years:

Louisiana 5m_cropped_600

Mind you according to paleoclimate data the long-term effect of 400ppm of CO2 is 25m plus or minus 5. A rise of just one metre badly shreds the coastline.

Saturday salon 4/10

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Run, Kate, run!

Labor’s Kate Jones has thrown her hat into the ring to stand against Queensland Premier Campbell Newman at the state election.

The former environment minister will seek preselection in her former seat and the premier’s current seat of Ashgrove, in Brisbane.

ReachTEL have Jones on about 52%, Newman on 41% and TPP goes to Jones 56-44.

Dunno about ReachTEL, it was pretty erratic on individual seats before the last federal election.

In other shenanigans long-standing LNP member Dr Bruce Flegg has been given the flick by party bosses and will be prevented from recontesting Moggill. Flegg has now tipped a bucket on them, saying they have written Newman off in Ashgrove, and it’s about factional manoeuvring as to who will be the new leader.

2. GO8 warns on research funding

The Group of Eight universities have warned that the long-term shift away from basic research towards applied research could rob Australia of the ­fundamental knowledge base it needs to capitalise on new discoveries.

Back in 1992-93 basic research accounted for 28% of gross expenditure on research and development. In 2010-11 this had fallen to 21%.

Other countries are ramping up expenditure. South Korea, for example, is increasing research funding from 4% of GDP in 2011 to 5% in 2017. Europe is aiming at 3% of GDP.

Not sure of the number here, but if it’s $9 billion then it’s less than 1% of GDP. Our government’s strategy is to “massively” increase research funding by cutting grants and university funding, and ‘liberating’ universities to charge higher fees. And then of course there’s the 7% doctors visit co-payment.

3. Abbott to kill off Parliament House burqa ban

Abbott’s done something I approve of. Seems he’s killed off the parliamentary burqa ban.

Jacqui Lambie continues to embarrass herself.

Meanwhile Abbott:

“Frankly, I wish it was not worn. But we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of Government to tell people what they should and shouldn’t wear,” he said.

Tanya Plibersek:

“I’d prefer if Tony Abbott didn’t get about in his Speedos either, but it’s a free country,” she said.

4. PUP gets its Senate inquiry into Queensland

The inquiry will be in the form of a select committee, chaired by Glenn Lazarus, consisting of five members but only one from the Coalition, has a reporting date on or before March 27 next year, very close to the date of the next Queensland election.

the committee will examine Queensland’s use of Commonwealth funds, the administration of the state’s judicial system, and questions around development and environmental approvals.

It’s hard to see how the administration of justice is the Commonwealth’s business. I’m with Nick Xenephon in thinking it’s inappropriate for one government in the federation to be inquiring into another. For Labor, presumably it’s payback, but politically probably not a good idea.

5. Economic clouds gather

The world never really recovered from the GFC. Now:

Global debts have reached a record high despite efforts by governments to reduce public and private borrowing, according to a report that warns the “poisonous combination” of spiralling debts and low growth could trigger another crisis.

Modest falls in household debt in the UK and the rest of Europe have been offset by a credit binge in Asia that has pushed global private and public debt to a new high in the past year, according to the 16th annual Geneva report.

The total burden of world debt, excluding the financial sector, has risen from 180% of global output in 2008 to 212% last year, according to the report.

By Asia seems they mean China, mostly.

Climate clippings 107

1. No more pauses in global warming

Temperatures are likely to rise dynamically for the rest of the century, according to two separate studies.

Masahiro Watanabe of the University of Tokyo colleagues found that over the past three decades natural influences are diminishing.

In the 1980s, natural variability accounted for almost half of the temperature changes seen. That fell to 38 per cent in the 1990s and just 27 per cent in the 2000s.

The implication is that temperature rises will respond more directly to emissions with fewer pauses.

Matthew England and associates used 31 climate models to chart future temperatures. He found that if emissions keep rising the chances of a pause of 10 years or more fall to practically zero. If emissions peak by 2040 we might get a pause by the end of the century.

If we wait until 2040 for peak emissions we’ll be cooked.

2. Rockefeller family moves from fossil fuels to clean energy

The Rockefeller family is turning its back on the industry that made it its vast fortune.

As more than 120 heads of state gather in New York for a UN summit on climate change, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is pledging to move $50 billion worth of investment in fossil fuels into clean energy.

3. War and Peace revisited

At Fair Green Planet Val has reproduced her talk at the Australian Climate Action Summit 2014. It’s about organisational form in relation to climate change action and sustainability. Val suggests we need to change from forms based on competition, hierarchy and exploitation to forms based on co-operation, egalitarianism and sustainability:

From both my research and my lived experience, it seems clear to me that the approach we need to address climate change will not be produced by the hierarchical, top down, unequal organisations that are dominant in society today – but rather by an approach like this:

team earth

These “Team Earth” posters were of course produced in response to Tony Abbott’s “Team Australia”. The posters express to me the values we really need to address climate change: a recognition that we’re all in it together, and an inclusive approach.

We need:

to go beyond climate change and live in sustainable communities – communities that are flatter, networked, egalitarian and inclusive, and recognise themselves as part of an ecosystem.

In other words, we need to change ourselves.

4. Arctic sea ice report

Arctic sea ice melting has now reached its maximum extent. This year was almost exactly the same as 2013, and the sixth lowest on record.

Sea ice Sept_cropped_600

The black line is the 1981-2010 average, the dotted line the 2012 record and the blue line the former 2007 record. Shading represents plus or minus 2 standard deviations.

Volume was also up a bit but still in trend decline.

What this masks is a continued decline in the proportion of older, thicker ice. An increasing proportion is first year ice. At Carbon Brief:

During the 1980s or 1990s, in an average year, around 54 to 58 per cent of ice in the Arctic would be first-year ice. Last year it was 77 per cent.

5. New York UN meeting

Last week some 125 leaders met with the UN Secretary General and each other in New York to indicate what their post 2020 emissions reduction targets might be. I reported on the outcomes here, but it seems that readers of this blog are put off by titles like the one I used.

Problem is, the bad news is getting worse and is not being addressed sufficiently by world leaders. Emissions increased by 2.5% in 2013. Every year the emissions increase the harder the problem becomes. It’s not a case that action is just delayed; we are using up a carbon budget that by some estimates is already in the red.

Of the major emitters only the EU was specific, nominating 40% by 2030, subject to confirmation. Not enough. There were indications that China will give concrete numbers when formal proposals are submitted next March. However, their current rate of increase is quite dramatic, as this graph shows:

gcp-country-emissions-line_550x373.jpg

My expectation is that at best, when the bids are in, our path will match the RCP4.5 scenario (the scenarios are numbered according to the climate forcing pertaining to CO2 levels with the forcing expressed in watts per square metre).

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A new report puts the situation this way:

Nevertheless, the report said there is still a “gigatonne gap” between governments’ current carbon-reduction pledges and what will be needed to limit overall warming to 2C.

Delivering on current policies would only succeed in reining warming back from 4C to 3C, it predicted. The United Nations’ New York 2014 and Paris 2015 climate summits will be crucial in securing an improved deal, the report said. (Emphasis added)

Indeed. In New York on our behalf Ms J Bishop said the Government would consider what post-2020 emissions might be, but consistent with the need for economic growth. I think in her mind this means banking on cheap coal as our dominant power source.

For another view, see Christine Milne at the National Press Club:

I believe that Australia should put on the table for the 2015 negotiations a trajectory of 40 to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030 and net carbon zero by 2050.

Saturday salon 27/9

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Jacqui Lambie blows herself up

Jacqui Lambie will be forever known as an anti-Muslim bigot after her comments on Sharia law on Insiders last weekend. She said that anyone who followed sharia law could get out of the country. Since then she has stuck to her guns, insisting it involves terorism.

Now she is being likened to Pauline Hanson. Then it was Asians, now it is Muslims.

Barrie Cassidy too could have used an explainer.

Palmer was clearly embarrassed.

2. Ebola outbreak

The ebola outbreak in West Africa ia already the worst in history, with a possibility of 20,000 cases.

The BBC reports:

While the outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria were “pretty much contained” and the situation in Guinea had appeared to be stabilising according to the WHO, there appears no indication of a reversal in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Transmission is continuing in urban areas, with the surge in Liberia driven mainly by a sharp increase in the number of cases reported in the capital, Monrovia.

The situation in Sierra Leone also continues to deteriorate with a sharp increase in the number of newly-reported cases in the capital, Freetown, and its neighbouring districts of Port Loko, Bombali, and Moyamba, which are under quarantine.

Sierra Leone quarantined 1.2 million people for three days. Researchers fear there could be up to 1.4 million cases by January. I heard calls for the effort to counter the outbreak to be increased by 20 times.

A vaccine is being developed in Oxford and another in the USA. Both could be fast-tracked and used experimentally in the field in West Africa by the end of the year.

3. Polls stay roughly the same

Newspoll came out on Tuesday showing the ALP in a winning position at 51-49 TPP (two party preferred), compared to 52-48 two weeks earlier, essentially within the margin of error, with the trend starting to flatline.

Abbott has now edged ahead of Shorten as preferred PM 41-37. Abbott’s performance rating has improved from 35-54 to 41-52 for a net -11. Shorten is 38-43 for -5, but more people seem to be unsure about him.

Roy Morgan always favours Labor and has Labor up at 54.5-45.5. Morgan says they ask people about their preferences, whereas Newspoll allocate them on the basis of voting at the last election. We’re dealing with about 25% of the vote here, so the difference could be substantial.

So Morgan see no gain for Abbott from his decision to ‘send in the troops’.

Morgan’s demographics are interesting. Only the 65+ group favour the LNP whereas the 18-24yr olds favour the Labor by a staggering 76.5 to 23.5. In Qld the parties are even, Morgan has the ALP ahead everywhere else.

4. Slight medical issue

I’m having a colonoscopy early on Monday, so I’ll be having an ordinary 24 hours. Expect no posts. I think my GP is just curious but it’s been a while. I’m still traumatised from the last one!

Saturday salon 20/9

voltaire_230

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.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

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 thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

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.

1. Margaret and David call it quits

After 28 years Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton have announced their retirement and At the Movies will be no more.

Sad!

For a wonderfully scripted and acted review of Margaret and David, here’s Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

2. Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

From Friday 19 to Sunday 28 September we have the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. As they say:

Spectacular gardens, country touring, live music and local food & wine, plus much more.

3. NZ goes to the polls

From The Guardian:

New Zealand prepares to vote after ‘strangest, dirtiest’ election campaign

Allegations of online subterfuge and deception over state surveillance have sidelined conventional policy arguments

From Roy Morgan:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows National (46.5%, up 1.5%) set to win a third term in Government on Saturday as support for a potential Labour/Greens alliance slumps to 37.5% (down 4.5% – the lowest since November 2011). Support for both main opposition parties has slipped – Labour (24%, down 2%) and the Greens (13.5%, down 2.5%) less than a week before Saturday’s NZ Election.

New Zealand First (8%, up 2%) appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the Labour/ Greens slump as the election approaches and former Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters looks set to have a prominent role in the new Parliament with NZ First projected to win as many as 10 seats. This is the highest support for NZ first for nearly ten years since August 2005.

4. Vlad will attend the G20

A couple of weeks ago Abbott, Julie Bishop and others, Bill Shorten too, were calling for the banning of Russian president Vladimir Putin from the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane later this year. But it’s not our call. The Fin Review says the feeling from other G20 leaders is, let him come so we can tell him what we think of him. Anyway China says he should be allowed to come, so I guess that settles it.

The Courier Mail says his security people have been here looking the joint over.

Meanwhile Obama’s security arrangements should be quite spectacular. The Daily Mail tells us he might use a bunch of helicopters to fly from the airport to his hotel. Will Hagon said the other day that the Americans would be bringing 50 cars, using their own rather than the high security BMWs we are leasing. That may include The Beast, which weighs about 3.5 tonnes, can turn within its own length and take off in any direction like you wouldn’t believe.

article-2708129-200D489800000578-485_600

5. Meanwhile our politicians are talking

To each other, in a new mood of reasonableness and bipartisanship, according to Laura Tingle.

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Talking about terrorism, about dealing with Islamic State, about renewable energy, about a referendum on indigenous recognition, and possibly even the budget.

We’ll have to see where all this leads, but for Abbott dealing with Labor emerges as an alternative to talking with Clive Palmer and the cross bench. Even Christine Milne is talking about talking about renewable energy and direct action.

Shorten, however, is laying down markers where (he says) he will not go, for example he’s OK with attacking ISIL in Iraq, but not in Syria.

On that score Bernard Keane and Guy Rundle are questioning whether our support of the Americans exposes us to more terrorist attention, and whether the action is calling the caliphate into being, plus whether it really has much chance of success. It’s all very troubling. From the outset it was clear that ISIL would do whatever it takes to get the West involved.