Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way

The article from the NYT below gives a good sense of Aboriginal burning practices but does not give enough emphasis to the fact that Aboriginal burning practices -- very frequent small fires -- would not be tolerated for a moment in most of Australia.  They would rightly be seen as dangerous.

The Aborigines described below can get away with it for two main reasons:

1).  They live in Kakadu national park, which is only very lightly populated -- so they have few neighbours to bother them with criticisms

2).  The NT has predicable monsoons, which enables safer detection of risky/non-risky times to burn.  Rainfall in the rest of Australia is much less predictable, if it is predictable at all. So choosing safe times to burn is very approximate. 

Adequate burns can only be done safely in most of Australia if plans for burning cover many areas -- so that a burn can start somewhere as soon as there is a good day for it.  Burns have to exploit ALL good burning days

COOINDA, NT. — At a time when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match.

In the woodlands surrounding her home in the far north of the country, she lights hundreds of small fires a year — literally fighting fire with fire. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. While the efforts draw on ancient ways, they also have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

These programs, which are generating important scientific data, are being held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.

“Fire is our main tool,” Ms. Lawson said as she inspected a freshly burned patch where grasses had become ash but the trees around them were undamaged. “It’s part of protecting the land.”

The fire-prevention programs, which were first given government licenses in 2013, now cover an area three times the size of Portugal. Even as towns in the south burned in recent months and smoke haze blanketed Sydney and Melbourne, wildfires in northern Australia were much less severe.

“The Australian government is now starting to see the benefits of having Indigenous people look after their lands,” said Joe Morrison, one of the pioneers of the project. “Aboriginal people who have been through very difficult times are seeing their language, customs and traditional knowledge being reinvigorated and celebrated using Western science.”

In some ways, the Aboriginal methods resemble Western ones practiced around the world: One of the main goals is to reduce underbrush and other fuel that accelerates hot, damaging fires.

But the ancient approach tends to be more comprehensive. Indigenous people, using precisely timed, low-intensity fires, burn their properties the way a suburban homeowner might use a lawn mower.

Aboriginal practices have been so successful in part because of a greater cultural tolerance of fire and the smoke it generates. The country’s thinly populated north, where Aboriginal influence and traditions are much stronger than in the south, is not as hamstrung by political debates and residents’ concerns about the health effects of smoke.

The landscape and climate of northern Australia also make it more amenable to preventive burning. The wide open spaces, and the distinctive seasons — a hot dry season is followed by monsoon rains — make burning more predictable.

Yet despite these regional differences, those who have studied the Aboriginal techniques say they could be adapted in the more populated parts of the country.

“We most certainly should learn to burn Aboriginal-style,” said Bill Gammage, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. “Our firefighters have quite good skills in fighting fires. But for preventing them, they are well short of what Aboriginal people could do.”

Last week, Victor Cooper, a former forest ranger in northern Australia, lit a wad of shaggy bark to demonstrate the type of fire that burns at temperatures low enough to avoid damage to sensitive plants that are crucial food for animals.

The preventive fires, he said, should trickle, not rage. They must be timed according to air temperature, wind conditions and humidity, as well as the life cycles of plants. Northern Aboriginal traditions revolve around the monsoon, with land burned patch by patch as the wet season gives way to the dry.

“We don’t have a fear of fire,” said Mr. Cooper, who burns regularly around his stilt house nestled in woodlands. “We know the earlier we burn, the more protection we have.”

This year, he will become certified to join the carbon credits program. Money earned through that system has incentivized stewardship of the land and provided hundreds of jobs in Aboriginal communities, where unemployment rates are high. The funds have also financed the building of schools in underserved areas.

NASA satellite data is used to quantify the reduction in carbon emissions and do computer modeling to track fires. Modern technology also supplements the defensive burning itself: Helicopters drop thousands of incendiary devices the size of Ping-Pong balls over huge patches of territory at times of the year when the land is still damp and fires are unlikely to rage out of control.

Those taking part in the program say they are frustrated that other parts of the country have been reluctant to embrace the same types of preventive burning. The inaction is longstanding: A major federal inquiry after deadly fires more than a decade ago recommended wider adoption of Aboriginal methods.

“I have many friends in other parts of Australia who can’t get their heads around that fire is a useful tool, that not all fire is the same and that you can manage it,” said Andrew Edwards, a fire expert at Charles Darwin University in northern Australia. “It’s hard to get across to people that fire is not a bad thing.”

Nine years ago, Mr. Gammage published a book that changed the way many in Australia thought about the Australian countryside and how it has been managed since the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century.

The book, “The Biggest Estate on Earth,” uses documents from the earliest settlers and explorers to show how the landscape had been systematically shaped by Aboriginal fire techniques.

Many forests were thinner than those that exist now and were more resistant to hot-burning fires. Early explorers described the landscape as a series of gardens, and they reported seeing near constant trails of smoke from small fires across the landscape.

As Europeans took control of the country, they banned burning. Jeremy Russell-Smith, a bushfire expert at Charles Darwin University, said this quashing of traditional fire techniques happened not only in Australia, but also in North and South America, Asia and Africa.

“The European mind-set was to be totally scared of fire,” Mr. Russell-Smith said.

As the fires rage in the south, Aboriginal people in northern Australia say they are deeply saddened at the loss of life — about 25 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. But they also express bewilderment that forests were allowed to grow to become so combustible.

Margaret Rawlinson, the daughter of Ms. Lawson, who does preventive burning on her property in the far north, remembers traveling a decade ago to the countryside south of Sydney and being alarmed at fields of long, desiccated grass.

“I was terrified,” Ms. Rawlinson said. “I couldn’t sleep. I said, ‘We need to go home. This place is going to go up, and it’s going to be a catastrophe.’”

The area that she visited, around the town of Nowra, has been a focal point for fires over the past few weeks.

The pioneering defensive burning programs in northern Australia came together in the 1980s and ’90s when Aboriginal groups moved back onto their native lands after having lived in settlements under the encouragement, or in some cases the order, of the government.

Depopulated for decades, the land had suffered. Huge fires were decimating species and damaging rock paintings.

“The land was out of control,” said Dean Yibarbuk, a park ranger whose Indigenous elders encouraged him to seek solutions.

The Aboriginal groups ultimately teamed up with scientists, the government of the Northern Territory and the Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips, which was building a natural gas facility and was required to find a project that would offset its carbon emissions.

According to calculations by Mr. Edwards, wildfires in northern Australia burned 57 percent fewer acres last year than they did on average in the years from 2000 to 2010, the decade before the program started.

Mr. Yibarbuk, who is now chairman of Warddeken Land Management, one of the largest of the participating organizations, employs 150 Aboriginal rangers, part time and full time.

“We are very lucky in the north to be able to keep our traditional practices,” Mr. Yibarbuk said. “There’s a pride in going back to the country, managing it and making a difference.”


Bruce Pascoe scandal: Yolngu now denounce this 'aboriginal historian', too

Now the Yolngu of Arnhem Land join other Aboriginal groups in denouncing "Aboriginal historian" Bruce Pascoe and his fake history that Aborigines were settled farmers, living in "towns" of "1000 people" with "animal pens. Elder Terry Yumbulul writes:

There are no ancient creation stories in our heritage about Aboriginal settlements and there is no evidence of it in our art, languages or songlines. It would have been impossible for my people to have built wells, silos, houses and yards to pen animals, as Pascoe promotes. Australian indigenous animals are not capable of supporting human settlements and my people had no need to settle in one place because we were content living in harmony with nature and travelling by foot from sacred place to sacred place.

Our people also find it insulting so many prominent Aboriginal leaders have supported Pascoe and his theories. Among them is the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, the Minister for Indigenous Australians who has said he could ask for the resignation of members of his advisory council and continued, 'the Pascoe debate is led by one of our own, which is a pity because it's being played out publicly. It is something that we should deal with within communities.'

Other Aboriginal leaders also support Pascoe's attempt to change our valued Aboriginal culture and histories. Professor Marcia Langton AO said Dark Emu, 'is the most important book on Australia and should be read by every Australian', at the same time she insults Yolnga men and women and other Aboriginal nations. During a recent interview on NTV, Professor Langton reiterated Pascoe's Aboriginal ancestry had been settled years ago and she reaffirmed the credibility of Dark Emu. Many employees of the Indigenous units at our national broadcaster the ABC, SBS and NTV have also supported Pascoe publicly. All of these people should know better.

We are also mystified and hurt by the fact the Commonwealth government appears not to be concerned about Young Dark Emu being distributed to pre school and primary school children. The government also appears unperturbed about Pascoe's promotion of the theory Aboriginal people lived in settlements and practiced Aboriginal agriculture. We are also upset the government does not appear to care about the Pascoe claims and/or acknowledge the fact his claims could affect Aboriginal people and/or cause concerns about our ancient cultures, our ancient traditions, our precious stories, our beliefs and our children.

Our people have asked us to call for an investigation into Bruce Pascoe, his claim to Aboriginal ancestry and the financial benefits he and his businesses have derived from claiming Aboriginal ancestry he has been unable to verify.

The Yolgnu now join Victoria's Boonwurrung Land & Sea Council, the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania and members of the Yuin tribe of NSW in denying Pascoe's claims to be Aboriginal, descended from Boonwurrung, Tasmanian and Yuin tribes. They also deny his claims (promoted by the ABC) that Aborigines were farmers, and not hunter-gatherers.

They are also protesting the ultimate colonisation - where whites now assume Aboriginal identity for themselves, rewrite Aboriginal history and deny Aborigines even the right to determine who is in their tribe.

The Left is cleansing tradition Aboriginal culture and tribes from the records. All this is cheered on by the ABC, the national broadcaster.


Facts blurred in climate coverage

Sobriety and perspective were once two of the valued qualities of serious media who considered themselves above the exaggeration and inflammation — commonly referred to as beat-ups — that they view as the domain of the tabloid or shock media.

Climate change has flipped that around. Nowadays media that would assign themselves the “quality” label while rejecting the accurate “green-left” tag are all about hysteria and twisting facts. Let me start with CNN, whose reporter Will Ripley spent a week or so in Australia reporting mainly on bushfires and weather, including a climate protest.

“They (the protesters) say the planet is dying,” Ripley reported. “And Australia is right on the frontline of this climate crisis: you have the unprecedented bushfires, you have the Great Barrier Reef drying up because of the ozone levels in the atmosphere.”

Oh, dear. Fact-checking goes missing when pushing the alarmist perspective. Only sceptical views tend to be treated with any, well, scepticism, by most media.

The word “unprecedented” has been invoked time and again in order to pretend terrifying events, the likes of which have scarred this nation forever, were something brought newly upon us by climate change.

Early in the season NSW had more emergency level fires on one day than ever before (due to arson, natural events and weather conditions), and on two other days the Sydney area recorded its worst fire conditions, and it has been the worst bushfire season in that state. But it is wrong to claim this is the worst season by any measure for any other state or the nation as a whole.

We could fill pages with such hype. Given the essential facts have been so drastic it seems implausible that anyone would want to embellish the story — but the sensationalism has been, well, perhaps unprecedented.

US ABC news headed a story “Wildfire Apocalypse” and chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said “unprecedented” fires were “consuming” Australia.

Maps on US and UK media had flames all over our continent; we were ablaze coast to coast.

At the BBC, TV host Ros Atkins bought into the sensationalism and Twitter-level political debate full-on: quoting people like Lara (Bingle) Worthington on social media, describing us as the “hottest place in the world” (as, of course, we often are in summer) and showing pictures of Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal.

Atkins along with most journalists in Australia adopted the word “megablaze” or “megafire” to describe the main Blue Mountains fire. This is of a piece with the climate change-induced language tweaks to make weather events sound different to all that preceded them. Storms are now “storm events” and heatwaves “extreme heat events” and so it goes. (The concocted word “megafire” even passed my lips as I read a breaking news update scripted elsewhere and presented live on air.)

But worse than the beat-ups has been the politicisation. Green-left politicians and climate protesters, led by former NSW fire commissioner and global warming activist Greg Mullins, were sowing the seeds before the fire season even began and have used every blaze and even every death to push their policies.

The basis of their concern is not seriously disputed in public debate: that global warming will make bad fire conditions more common in many parts of Australia. But the thrust of their arguments, amplified by compliant media, is based on untruths: claims this fire season is our worst, accusations our government is not acting on climate, inferences our policies can alter global climate and, perhaps worst of all, implicit and false promises that climate policies can ameliorate the annual threat of bushfires.

To avoid sensible arguments about historical context, policy options and global impacts, the green-left media deliberately creates a false dichotomy.

They characterise the argument in Australia as one between climate change reality and climate change denial.

This jaundiced falsification is social media click-bait. On the BBC Atkins used some of my commentary to this end, running a clip of me saying the activists and politicians were using bushfires to advocate policies that “can and will do nothing ever to prevent horror bushfire conditions” in Australia.

Instead of making an argument against this incontestable statement — perhaps by trying to explain how Australia’s policies can change a climate that has produced bushfires for millennia — Atkins falsely insinuated I didn’t accept the science and gave us the intellectually lazy climate science versus denial and inaction case.

He then falsely suggested Australia was not involved in global efforts to lower emissions. This is the inane “white hats versus black hats” level at which media conduct this complex debate.

In another segment Atkins asked London-based Sydney Morning Herald journalist Latika Bourke whether it was “fair to say the very existence of climate change is still an active debate in Australia?”

“Yes,” replied Bourke, “it’s been a very ferocious debate in Australia for about the last decade.” She claimed this debate has split the two major parties; one side accepting science and backing emissions reduction, and the other arguing “climate change, if it is happening at all, is not the fault of human activity”.

This is a mischaracterisation of our political debate where the choice at the last election was between a Coalition promising to meet our Paris climate agreement targets of 26-28 per cent by 2030 and a Labor opposition promising to increase that target to 45 per cent. Neither the science nor the need for multilateral action are in dispute between our major parties, but rather the targets and methods of achieving them.

Bourke then went on to say there was no resolution to the debate, “except what we’re seeing this summer and that is a catastrophic weather event.” Atkins aired another interview with Bourke in which she said: “Australia’s well used to bushfires but this extremity, this intensity, this degree, Australia has not seen before.” Plain wrong.

She went on to say, perhaps second-guessing her own hyperbole: “And these are the worst in living memory.” But, again, this is just wrong. It is only 11 years since the fierce firestorms of Black Saturday in Victoria where hotter temperatures and stronger winds saw 173 lives and thousands of properties lost and, of course, anyone involved in 1983’s Ash Wednesday will not have forgotten those hellish conditions or their toll. If we study the historical reports we know maelstroms descended in 1967, 1939, 1851 and many other times in between.

It is unpleasant to do these comparisons between horrible events. But it is sadly necessary to counter a loose conspiracy of misinformation designed to convince everyone that we have created something new, something more horrible than anyone else has experienced before.

It is of a piece with official edicts by news organisations such as The Guardian to inflame climate coverage by talking of “crisis” and “emergency” instead of climate change. It smacks of fake news generated to pursue green- left political goals. And it is as much of a worry as the climate.


Locals vent their fury as Australian flag is removed from a rural town on January 26 and replaced with an Aboriginal one instead

The Australian flag stands for ALL Australians. There is no warrant for the flag of a small minority to supplant it.

The Australian flag was omitted from Woolgoolga's community flagpole Sunday

A New South Wales town has been accused of being 'unAustralian' after officials omitted the Australian flag from display, flying an Aboriginal one in its place.

Residents of Woolgoolga, in the Mid North Coast, were left outraged on Sunday after they awoke to find the Australian flag was missing from the community flagpole.

Instead, the Indigenous flag had been flying high alongside the Southern Cross flag and three others below it, outside the city's Chamber of Commerce.

Although the flags on the pole are known to change regularly, many locals were particularly miffed officials would omit the Australian flag on the country's national day.

A number of residents took to social media to share their disappointment, while some even contacted their local radio station to complain.

One resident sparked on debate on Facebook after he claimed the move breached the 'ethics of our constitution.'

'This is Australia Day and all other flags must fly under the Australian flag,' he wrote, generating dozens of responses.

'Stupid people forgetting the real reason for Australia Day,' one man commented.

'This is disgusting, very un-Australian you should be ashamed of yourself,' another local said.

One man said he believed the move had been intentional to spark a debate. 'Too many people are deliberately trying to provoke division just so they can then argue that Australia Day is too divisive. This sort of stunt is going to do nothing for unity, and everything to incite extreme prejudices,' he said.

'It's Australia Day and it would be really nice if the Australian flag was the only one flying today...because it is about our country as a whole not divisions of it,' one woman argued.   

The Chamber said the idea to fly the Aboriginal flag this year came from a 'member of the community' who regularly looks after the flagpole, and flying the Australian flag under the Aboriginal flag would have violated protocol.  

'Protocol says that if another flag is at the top, the Australian flag cannot be flown. He has included an assortment of flags flying with it including TSI, the Southern Cross and Ruok flag', Lisa Nichols told Triple M.

Ms Nichols said the Australian flag was on display at the town's visitors information centre.


Female cop quota under investigation

Standards watered down to recruit more women?

AN investigation into alleged female recruiting "irregularities" in the Queensland Police Service is under way, in a bombshell for the organisation which strived for gender equality.

The Courier-Mail has been told physical standards and psychological assessment aspects of the recruiting process are under investigation after the claims. The allegations are under-stood to relate to a period between 2016 and 2018, after the service introduced a 50-50 gender recruitment target.

The Crime and Corruption Commission and QPS are 'investigating the allegations.

To get into the service recruits undergo physical tests, psychological and medical assessments, pass cognitive and reasoning ability assessments and are interviewed by a panel of officers.

Among the physical standards required to enter the service, the QPS has a beep test with minimum entry and exit levels at the academy. When asked if irregularities had been discovered with the female recruiting process, a QPS spokesman confirmed a review into recruiting processes took place last year. "As a result, allegations of irregularities associated with some past police recruiting processes were identified," the spokesman said.

"These allegations are now subject to investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission and QPS Ethical Standards Command "In the meantime, the QPS has put mechanisms in place to ensure confidence in more recent and ongoing recruiting processes."

In 2016, then-commissioner Ian Stewart told HR Sections of QPS to aim for a 50-50 recruitment target. At the start of 2017, the ratio of officers and recruits in the QPS was about 265-735. In September, 2017, Mr Stewart said it was becoming difficult to reach the 50-50 recruitment goal but ordered standards not be lowered. "We are not moving any standards. We know that we have large numbers Of female recruits that do meet that standard, so what we're trying to do is encourage more women to come in the front end so we have a larger pool," he said at the time.

Between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 financial years, 558 women and 653 men have been sworn in. Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the union had always insisted. on "clear, transparent, and merit-based recruit selection". "The best.people for the job. should always be chosen rather than people being chosen because Of quotas," he said. "As long as all recruits selected on merit meet the minimum standard and competency, a person's gender is irrelevant"

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 18 January, 2020

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Monday, January 27, 2020

The science behind climate change and its impact on bushfires (?)

I rather enjoyed this article, long-winded though it is.  Prof. Karoly is an old global warming warrior from way back so he has had a long time to perfect his arguments for global warming and, in the version of his talk below, he does present a much more detailed case than one usually encounters.

All of the assertions below are however unreferenced and most have been challenged many times.  And as is normal in Leftist writing, there is no mention of any of the facts which are contrary to his case.  The article leaves out almost all of the many facts which tend to contradict the global warming hypothesis.  Such argumentation is of course completely unscholarly and identifies the article as propaganda only.

Prof Karoly's scientific background does however show in a number of useful ways so it is a pity that such a long article will remain mostly unread -- as there are a number of basic scientific points below that Warmists would do well to note.

The one that stands out most below is his perfectly correct and perfectly basic point that global warming CANNOT explain Australia' drought or any other drought.  Anybody who has watched a kettle boil will know that heating water causes it to give off water vapour so warming the oceans will also give off more water vapour -- and that comes down again as rain.  So a warmer world would be a wetter world.  So, if anything, drought proves that global warming is NOT going on. 

So in his words on the drought, Prof. Karoly contradicts the claims made by almost all Warmists.  There will be much reaching for indigestion remedies by almost all Warmists who read those of his words.

What Prof. Karoly leaves out:

It's hard to believe but in an article that is allegedly about bushfires, there is no mention of the biggest influence on the fires:  Fuel accumulation in the form of fallen branches and leaves.  Without fuel, there would be no fires. If it's not about global warming he doesn't want to know about it, apparently.

If only for the sake of argument, most climate skeptics are prepared to concede that atmospheric CO2 has SOME warming effect. The dispute is about its magnitude.  Is the warming effect large or is it utterly trivial?  The Warmists have little more than assertions for their claim that it is large.  There are, on the other hand, both theoretical and empirical reasons to say that the effect is trivial.

On the theoretical side, the fact that CO2 forms much less than one percent of the atmosphere should indicate that any effect from it will be trivial.  More importantly, however,  a heated atmospheric molecule will radiate heat in ALL directions, not just downwards towards the earth. And the higher up the molecule is, the less heat from it will hit the earth.  Rather than seeing heated CO2 molecules as a blanket or a greenhouse roof, a better analogy for their effect would be a bucket with a small hole in it.  Only what gets through the hole hits the earth.

But all theories must be tested against the facts so what are the facts?  The most basic fact is that over the last 150 years or so we have experienced only about one degree Celsius of warming.  Is that trivial?  If you walked from one room into another where the temperatures in the two rooms differed by only one degree you would not normally notice anything.  You would need an instrument to detect the difference.  So I think "trivial" is an excellent word for that difference.

But a much less impressionistic piece of evidence for the triviality of CO2 induced warming is also available.  If CO2 has the effect hypothesized and the effect is large, we should notice increased warming every time the CO2 levels rise.  But that is not remotely true.  Increases in CO2 mostly have no noticeable warming effect.  CO2 levels can shoot up with absolutely no discernable effect on global temperatures.

Perhaps the most striking example of that is the "grand hiatus". For 30 years between 1945 and 1975, CO2 levels leapt but global temperatures remained flat. See here.  How come?  CO2 molecules don't have a little computer inside them telling them to take a holiday from emitting heat.  They emit heat all the time. So if they were emitting heat from 1945 to 1975, that heat must have been tiny in amount, so tiny as to be undetectable.

Greenies say that "special factors" explain the failure of temperature to change in accordance with rising CO2 levels.  But what special factor could exactly cancel out the effect of CO2 for 30 years? It's an absurdity.

30 years of no effect would be notable in itself but 1945 is supposed to  be the year in which anthropogenic global warming began -- with all the postwar reconstruction.  The 1945 to 1975 period is a critical test of the global warming theory -- and it fails that test utterly.

So it takes only a few basic facts to show that Prof. Karoly's pontifications are a castle built on sand

Charis Chang reports:

When considering the science around climate change, one expert believes it’s useful to compare it to another famous hypothesis – the theory of gravity.

Not many people would think to cast doubt on the theory of gravity, and according to Professor David Karoly, who leads the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub in the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program at CSIRO, the evidence that human activity is causing global warming is so strong it is equal to this theory.

“The theory on the human impact on climate change is just as strong, or stronger, than the scientific basis for the theory of gravity,” Prof Karoly told news.com.au.

Prof Karoly said that there was also evidence climate change was a factor in recent devastating bushfires in Australia.

Prof Karoly will explain the science at a free public lecture as part of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute 2020 Summer School public lecture in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 29. His speech will also be streamed online.

When we talk about science, Prof Karoly believes it’s helpful to remember we are not talking about “beliefs”.

Science is in fact a process that tests a hypothesis to provide conclusions about the way nature works.

Not convinced? Here’s the science.

Some say the world’s climate has always changed and in the past there have been ice ages and warmer glacial periods, which is true.

The difference is whether humans have caused the changes.

We know that humans could not have had any influence on the past ice ages for example, because there were no humans on the planet.

So how do we know that the climate changes now are due to human activity?

Prof Karoly said there were two approaches.

The first approach involves examining “observational data”. If we want to identify long-term trends we need to look at data collected over a wide area and across at least 30 years.

To figure out why the Earth is warming, there are some logical factors to look at first.

The main things that impact the Earth’s climate are sunlight from the sun, how it is absorbed in the atmosphere and how energy is lost from Earth and sent into space.

One thing that can impact the amount of sunlight we get includes the amount of clouds, ice and snow because they all reflect sunlight, making it cooler.

However, greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere can also affect temperatures. These gases make the planet hotter because they absorb heat radiation from the Earth and prevent this from being released into space as quickly.

Greenhouse gases can include carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. “When greenhouse gases increase, the surface temperature of the Earth increases,” Prof Karoly said.

So what does the data tell us about these factors?


Analysis of air bubbles from ice cores trapped in ice in Greenland and Antarctica showed that over the last 10,000 years, carbon dioxide varied a small amount, hovering around 280 and 290 parts per million.

But if you look at the last 150 years, it’s a different story. Carbon dioxide now sits at 400 parts per million.

“This has increased by more than 40 per cent,” Prof Karoly said.

“It is higher than at any time in the last 10,000 years. In fact, it’s higher than any time in the last million years.”

“So that suggests … something weird is happening.”

Prof Karoly said you had to go back more than three million years to find a time when carbon dioxide was around 400 parts per million.

“Three million years ago when carbon dioxide was higher, temperatures were more than two degrees warmer and sea levels were more than 10 metres higher,” he said.

Humans were not around three million years ago so they can’t be blamed for the high amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

So what was cause of these higher levels of carbon dioxide?

Some experts have suggested the carbon dioxide was actually being released from the ocean.

“A warmer ocean can’t absorb as much carbon dioxide,” Prof Karoly said. “As it heats up, it can’t hold as much carbon and this is released into the atmosphere.”

However, the type of carbon dioxide the ocean releases is different to that released by burning fossil fuels and land clearing.

Prof Karoly said the carbon dioxide has a different chemical composition so scientists are able to distinguish between the two.

“Carbon dioxide released from the ocean doesn’t use up oxygen,” Prof Karoly said.

Over the last 40 years, scientists have been able to monitor the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere and the fall in oxygen has exactly matched the increase in carbon dioxide that you would expect if it was coming from the burning of fossil fuels and decomposition of vegetation from land clearing.

“What we now know, is that the increase to carbon is not natural, it’s due to human activity, from the burning of fossil fuels and land clearing,” Prof Karoly said.

This is not just a theory, it is based on “observational evidence”, that is, scientists have data that shows the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is coming from fossil fuels and land clearing.


We can also look at other observational data to help strengthen the theory.

If the Earth was warming up because of increasing sunlight, then you would expect temperatures during the day to increase and for it to be cooler at night (because there is no sun at night!).

However, what scientists found is that nights were actually warming up more so than days.

This points to greenhouse gases playing a role.

As noted above, greenhouse gases trap heat radiation from the Earth and stop it from being released into space as quickly.

This effect can be seen for example, on nights with more clouds, which don’t cool down as much as there is more water vapour in the atmosphere.

In contrast, deserts are more cool at night because there is not as much water vapour over these areas, and it’s a similar story in coastal areas.

So if nights are warming up more than days, it’s unlikely that the sun is playing a role in this, it’s more likely that greenhouse gases are trapping heat on Earth and pushing up temperatures.

Scientists have also looked at temperatures in the Earth’s stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere from about 10km up.

The stratosphere warms because the ozone layer it contains absorbs the sun’s ultraviolent radiation.

If there was more sunlight, you would expect the upper atmosphere to warm up because it was absorbing more ultraviolet rays.

But if there was an increase in greenhouse gases then you would expect the stratosphere to be cooler because carbon dioxide is efficient, not only at absorbing heat radiation but also at releasing it into space, cooling it down.

“Observations have shown that the surface and lower atmosphere have warmed, and the upper atmosphere has cooled in the last 50 years — the entire time we’ve been monitoring it through balloons and other satellites,” Prof Karoly said.

“This pattern of temperature change has happened everywhere and cannot be explained by increasing sunlight,” he said. “And it’s been getting stronger, which is exactly what you would expect from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”


The first approach to looking at climate change is “observational data” but you can also use complex mathematical models of the climate system.

Around the world, Prof Karoly said more than 50 complex climate models had been developed to test climate theories on a larger scale.

While some may question how scientists could simulate the climate when they can’t forecast the weather over long periods of time, Prof Karoly said it was because the climate models looked at levels of radiation, which determine long-term climate.

“Models solve physical equations for the absorption and transmission of radiation in the atmosphere, and for the motion of the air, and for the motions of the ocean,” he said.

These simulations have shown that without human influences there would not be any long-term warming trend.

Temperatures would have stayed pretty much the same with only two-tenths of a degree of warming.

Instead the world has warmed by 1.1 degrees and the warming over Australia has been even higher than the global average, at 1.5 degrees.

This is because land warms up faster than the ocean.


So how does this relate to the catastrophic bushfires that have raged across Australia in recent months?

Higher mean temperatures give rise to a greater chance of heatwaves and hot extremes, Prof Karoly said.

“We have good observational data of the current summer and the last 50 years,” he said.

“There have been marked increases in heatwaves and hot days in all parts of Australia.”

Australia experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019 and December 2019 had a number of Australia’s hottest days ever recorded.

“We have also seen increases in sea levels, exactly what you would expect from climate change and the warming of ocean waters and melting of ice sheets and glaciers on land.”

When it comes to the intensity of bushfires, Prof Karoly said there are certain factors that were known to be important.

The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index was developed to measure the degree of fire danger in Australian forests and the likelihood they will occur.

It combines factors including the temperature of air, wind speed, the dryness of the air (measured by relative humidity) and the dryness of the fuel and the ground (measured by rainfall over the previous month).

“So the combination of high temperatures, strong winds, low humidity and no rainfall leads to extreme fire danger,” Prof Karoly said.

These were exactly the conditions experienced in NSW and southern Queensland in September and October where there were record high temperatures and low humidity.

These conditions were also experienced in Canberra, coastal NSW and particularly East Gippsland in Victoria, which was why there was extreme fire danger in these areas.

The next question is whether climate change caused these conditions.

Prof Karoly says climate change has led to higher temperatures, as discussed above, but it’s unlikely it had a major role in the drought conditions.

He said if the rainfall in 2019 was related to climate change you would expect wetter conditions in northern Australia, not the record dry year experienced in 2019.

Climate change has also been linked with the long-term rainfall in the cool season in south-east Australia.

Prof Karoly believes the drought in 2019 may actually be due to “natural variations” and the “Indian Ocean Dipole”.

The IOD refers to the seesawing temperatures in the Indian Ocean, with colder waters closer to northern Australia and hotter waters closer to Africa.

There were also changes in wind patterns in the south of Australia and over Victoria and NSW, which led to stronger westerly winds that reduced the rainfall over the NSW coast and East Gippsland, where the worst fires and conditions have been.

Prof Karoly believes it was the stronger westerly winds and the Indian Ocean Dipole that ramped up the fire intensity, however, this was combined with the extreme temperatures caused by climate change, sparking Australia’s deadly fire season.

“So it was a combination of natural climate variability and climate change,” he said.


Vital hazard reduction burns were stopped before Australia's deadly bushfire crisis due to residents complaining about poor air quality

Firefighters have revealed they were forced to cancel or delay hazard reduction burns in critical areas due to residents complaining about the smoke.

During the winter and autumn months the NSW Rural Fire Service deliberately burns parts of the bush to reduce the fuel load ahead of summer.

But several burns were stopped or cut short to keep air quality levels from deteriorating.

The elderly, infants and those with asthma often struggle with the thick smoke from the fires.

NSW RFS spokesman Inspector Ben Shepherd told the Daily Telegraph that public health was an important consideration. 

'We speak with National Parks weekly during the hazard reduction season about the burns planned and the impact of smoke,' Mr Shepherd said.

'We look to see if we can change the lighting pattern to reduce the smoke impact.

Mr Shepherd said unpredictable weather can make directing the smoke very challenging.

Air quality issues played a key role in reducing the size of a burnoff in Bowen Mountain, an hour west of Sydney, which later lost several homes to the roaring Grose Valley fire.

More burns were reduced for air quality reasons in Putty, an area near Gospers Mountain which was consumed by a 'mega blaze' that went on to burn an area seven times the size of Singapore.

Other burns at Wiseman's Ferry, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Dural, Pennant Hills and Hawkesbury were postponed.

It comes after revelations that a Independent Hazard Reduction Audit Panel report recommended the government increase hazard reduction burning in 2013. 

The report said that while it was not a solution, hazard reduction would be an critical tool in fighting bushfires going forward.

'Increases in fuel reduction will be required to counteract increasing risk that is likely to arise from climate change,' it said.


Why I’m looking forward to celebrating Australia Day

Some Australians are tired of the constant protests that surround Australia Day. Some just want to celebrate their country and not be shamed for it.

Corrine Barraclough

When I first arrived in Australia 10 years ago, I’d never heard of Australia Day.

There was a lot of chatter in the office about what everyone was up to, talk of family gatherings, BBQs, fireworks, parties, yummy food and a real sense of pride in country.

We don’t have an “England Day”. There is no day when everyone comes together, waves flags and feels proud (that’s not connected to the royals).

Quite simply, Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. I loved the simplicity of that.

Australia Day is for all Australians; no matter where we’re originally from and it felt overwhelmingly inclusive.

I find it incredibly sad that now, years down the track, debate around our special, national day only seems to grow increasingly negative as time ticks by.

Anyone who calls it “Invasion Day” is looking to promote disunity. Anyone who calls it “Survival Day” is missing out on the warmth this day offers. There’s even talk about “paying rent” for stolen land.

There doesn’t need to be any controversy, angry hash tags or vitriol spat on social media. It’s meant to be a day of solidarity, peace, celebration and pride.

Australia Day is, of course, each year on 26 January and celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet of British on Australian soil.

Australia was not invaded – it was settled. There was no warfare, no organised military resistance or conflict. The First Fleet came here with convicts in chains; it was not an invasion force. Certainly, starting a new chapter doesn’t mean everything that’s gone before is forgotten.

There are records of celebrating Australia Day dating back to 1808.

Now, it’s a public holiday across all states and territories.

Doesn’t everyone love a public holiday? Doesn’t everyone look forward to an extra day off work?

And yet, here we are in 2020, and furious protesters are waiting in the wings, ready to preach their religion of division.

If you’re looking to find evidence of “oppression”, you will always be able to find it.

If you’re looking for opportunities to divide rather than bring people together, you will always find them.

If you’re seeking to shout about “shame”, you should take off your blinkers.

Australia is a wonderful country filled with caring, thoughtful, compassionate people. Just look at the incredible response to the bushfire crisis for proof of that.

This is not a racist country – and no one should feel “shame” for looking forward to celebrating this weekend.

This year, more than ever, we should be coming together.

Much as activists like to screech otherwise, the vast majority of people want to keep Australia Day on January 26 – and they want to celebrate freely.

A new poll from the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) found that 75 per cent of Australians support Australia Day on January 26.

This is a huge number, especially considering the constant, monotonous and vocal efforts of the political left and pockets of mainstream media to oppose our national day.

The “woke” bullies with an agenda of bitterness have failed to divide us; that makes me even more proud. Perhaps I shall wave two flags.

“Mainstream Australians are fundamentally optimistic and positive about Australia and its values,” said IPA Foundations of Western Civilisation Program director Dr Bella d’Abrera.

The survey found 88 per cent of people were “proud to be an Australian”, with only 3 per cent disagreeing.

Only 10 per cent of Australians think the date should be changed. They will, no doubt, be the ones covered in glue this weekend.

On Sunday there are protests planned for “Invasion Day 2020” across the country, including Parliament House in Melbourne.

Perhaps we may see some familiar faces from other protests this year and some of the same loudmouths gluing themselves to the road in protest.

Its just noise, whether they’re screaming about “climate justice” or “invasion justice”.

People are sick of these disrupters.

The police should not be battling to maintain law and order against feral left-wing agitators. Their aim is to “burn down Australia”.

We’re in the middle of a bushfire crisis for god’s sake; no wonder most people aren’t on-board with the madness.

No, it doesn’t make me “selfish” for celebrating.

Nor does it make me “insecure”.

No, I’m not “ashamed”.

No, I don’t want to talk about “enslavement”.

And no, caring about Australia Day does not mean that I don’t care about the future of Aboriginal communities. Far from it.

I repeat: The majority of mainstream Australians are proud, they’ll be celebrating and if you’re not part of that, you’re simply a tiny, resentful fringe minority.


How 'Happy Australia Day' became an offensive term

Wishing somebody a 'Happy Australia Day' could be determined as offensive, according to advocates in the indigenous community. 

Kado Muir, who is a leading advocate for Aboriginal culture, heritage and awareness said the phrase was an 'ignorant gesture', news.com.au reported in 2019. He said the annual debate, which has been reignited in 2020, brings sadness to his heart.

'This issue is extremely divisive and sensitive to all Australians,' Mr Muir said. 'I know White Australia is guilty and fragile. I know Black Australia is broken and angry.' 

He called on Australians to rise above the 'base destructive emotions' in the debate and instead shift focus onto the aspects that unite the country.

Leading Aboriginal campaigner Cheree Toka said many people traded in the term 'Australia Day' for 'Survival Day'. She said the national day of commemoration on January 26 was a sad day for First Nations people.

She said she saw the raising of the Australian flag as the moment Aboriginal history and culture was threatened.

The 28-year-old has been pushing for the Aboriginal flag to be flown atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge all year round.

As it stands, the flag is flown for 18 days a year, of which one of those days is on Australia Day.

Despite the 105,000-strong Change.org petition to raise the flag permanently, Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian has stood firmly against pressure.

Thousands of Australians are expected to protest the national holiday as Australia Day celebrations kick off today.

January 26 marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the 'First Fleet' to Sydney Cove, carrying mainly convicts and troops from Britain.

For many indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, it is 'Invasion Day', the start of Britain's colonisation of Aboriginal lands and their brutal subjugation.

'Celebrating Australia Day on January 26th is offensive,' said Joe Williams, a mental health worker and former professional rugby league player. 'To celebrate an invasion which has seen our people dispossessed, displaced and oppressed for some 230 years, is plain offensive,' he told Reuters.

Australia's 700,000 or so indigenous people track near the bottom of its 25 million citizens in almost every economic and social indicator.

While opinion polls suggest up to half the country supports changing Australia Day, the conservative government is under pressure to legally entrench Jan. 26 as a national holiday.

'We should keep the 26th of January as a special day in our calendar,' said Nick Folkes, a painter from Sydney. 'It means respect and acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by explorers, settlers, our convicts,' he added.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The grim reality of gender-neutral toilets: Women are forced to use filthy bathrooms soaked in urine and covered in pubic hair at one of Australia's busiest train stations

Comment from an experienced male social worker:

I have worked in several establishments when the toilets were being converted to unisex, or what now gets termed "gender neutral". In each case, it was feminist women who were pushing for unisex or gender neutral toilets.

None of the men wanted them. After the toilets were made unisex, most men would walk to the basement or the carpark to use the last remaining male toilet. Some men would drive home at lunchtime to use their own toilet.

Most men don't feel comfortable (what a woman would call safe) using toilets with women in them. Men feel vulnerable because we don't want to be accused of molesting a woman.

Also, we men like to stand to pee. And making toilets unisex means the urinals are removed and men are forced to pee in the toilet bowls, and then the same feminists who wanted the unisex toilets start demanding men should sit sown to pee so they don't pee on the seat or floor. They also reprimand any man who does not shut the cubicle door behind him when he pees.

One day, during a shift at the hospital where I worked, the only day that I went in the toilet after it was made unisex, I went in and a female nurse screamed at me to "Get out of here!".

I ran out in a hurry indeed, into the corridor to see people looking at me with horror. It was a most uncomfortable feeling that did not want to experience again.

But I did experience something similar again, recently at a different hospital where I am now stationed. When coming out of the unisex toilet a female nurse stopped me and sternly told me not to use that toilet again. The toilet door had both male and female silhouette signs on it, but I did not argue with the nurse.

As a man who has worked in many female dominated workplaces, I know better than to argue with a feminist without reliable witnesses present. In my observations, with few exceptions, they will accuse the men they conflict with of anger, threatening, intimidation, violence or sexual harassment.

So I simply ignored her and walked on. I have not used that toilet since, though. It did not shake me up as the first time did, but it was still unpleasant.

Good men do not want unisex or gender neutral toilets. And good women do not want them either. Only feminists want them. And feminists do not want them out of any sense of charity or helpfulness towards others, but only for the sense of power over men that public and workplace unisex toilets give to feminists.

Women in Sydney are being forced to use urine-soaked toilets after Wynyard train station introduced unisex cubicles.

Despite being cleaned every hour, the public toilets are often left in a filthy state by commuters, with toilet paper littering the floor. Pictures show the bathrooms covered in urine, toilet roll and even body hair after being used by thousands of commuters every day.

Not accessible unless the person taps their Opal card or train ticket, the two rows of toilets are through the ticket barriers on the concourse in Sydney's CBD.

And there is no choice but to use a single-sex cubicle, as all the toilets are unisex.

One commuter told Daily Mail Australia the toilets often 'stank'.  'They're not great, but how good are any train station toilets?' she said. 'Though they might be a bit cleaner if there were some just for women.' Another said it was 'a bit gross'.

Unisex toilets have become a hot topic of debate across Australia, as gender diversity activists campaign for them to become commonplace.

According to a survey carried out by Sydney officials for its Public Toilet Strategy report, 75 per cent of people - the majority women - preferred to have single-sex facilities.

Of those who preferred single sex toilets, 32 per cent said it was for privacy and 29 per cent stated hygiene. A further 19 per cent they felt safer in a single sex bathroom. 

Despite this, the 2014 policy said all public toilets 'where modification is not possible' should be replaced with compliant unisex automated public toilets. 

It comes after the University of Technology Sydney introduced 'all-gender' bathrooms. The university, based in Ultimo, introduced the gender diversity policy to 'make students feel safe and welcome on campus'. 

One of the students who campaigned for the new bathrooms said they had experienced harassment and intimidation in single sex toilets.  'What motivated me to be involved in this campaign is that I’m a non-binary student who has been harassed in bathrooms in the past, and I experience social dysphoria as well as other types,' the student told news.com.au. 'Gender neutral bathrooms are something that have helped with reducing my dysphoria and anxiety about being verbally abused in a bathroom setting.'

In 2018, a NSW council is replaced its unisex toilet signs because they were deemed offensive.

Hawkesbury City Council, in Sydney's north-west, changed four signs after meeting two campaign groups. The 'unisex' signs were replaced with ones saying they were toilets for 'all genders'. 

This is because not all people identify is either male or female, meaning that 'unisex' wouldn't apply to them, as they are not either gender.


Inner-city council to spends $20,000 of ratepayers' money on one-hour 'mourning ceremony' on Australia Day

The Left love to racialize everything

Inner-city ratepayers will spend as much as $20,000 on an Australia Day 'mourning' ceremony to recognise how colonisation has negatively affected indigenous people.

The ceremony at Alfred Square in Melbourne's St Kilda will run for an hour from 6am on Sunday and will be held in collaboration with the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council.

City of Port Phillip council will then at 11am hold a citizenship ceremony, which officials said is 'presented in harmony' with the mourning event.

The idea for the early morning reflection ceremony was promoted in October as a 'morning of mourning' by the council's mayor Dick Gross. 'There is no doubt that elements of Australia Day are controversial,' he said. 'The First Nations paid an undeniable price from European 'settlement'and we need to acknowledge this.'

The council will spend $20,000 on proceedings, and Australia Day Council funds have also been committed towards the event.

Funds from the Australia Day Council will be used for 'cultural delivery aspects', the Herald Sun reported.

Whittlesea Council, in Melbourne's north, will also hold a minute's silence and an official 'mourning ceremony' to pay respect to the Stolen Generations on Australia Day.

Guest speakers will be required to acknowledge 'past injustices in our nation's history'.

It comes after Darebin and Yarra councils in Melbourne were both stripped of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies in 2017 after announcing they were scrapping Australia Day celebrations.

A survey from The Institute of Public Affairs earlier this week revealed Australia Day celebrations on January 26 are wanted by more than 70 per cent of Australians.


The left media’s different treatment of two very different prime ministers

It is a rare occasion when comments made by two former Australian prime ministers make news on the same day, especially when both are former Liberal Party leaders. The circumstance provides a case study on how the media reports politics.

On Thursday Imogen Crump, editor of the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit research news publication, was the guest commentator on influential ABC television program News Breakfast. She led the discussion on what was making news in newspapers and online. Co-presenters were Madeleine Morris and Paul Kennedy.

It was a busy media morning. News had recently broken about Malcolm Turnbull’s interview on BBC Two’s Newsnight on Tuesday (London time). And The Australian was running an opinion piece by Tony Abbott titled “Lives Matter, Not Political Points”.

Turnbull used the occasion to criticise his successor, Scott Morrison, along with Abbott and US President Donald Trump. Turnbull accused Morrison of downplaying the influence of global warming on bushfires which he declared “is just nonsense from a scientific point of view”. Turnbull also took a swipe at Morrison’s leadership abilities.

Neither Crump nor the co-presenters made any criticism of Turnbull’s intervention in the public debate, although Crump did concede that “harsh words” were spoken. However, Morris did declare that Turnbull’s (alleged) comment, as reported by Crump, that Morrison “is probably the most prominent climate denier in Australian politics” was “quite a big call”. It certainly was. In fact, Turnbull’s put-down was directed at Abbott.

Then Crump moved her attention to Abbott’s article stating that, despite the headline, the former prime minister “does go on to make political points”. In fact, Abbott did not refer to the term “political points” in his article and the heading was not written by him. The piece was essentially a report from the bushfire front, narrating the author’s experiences as a volunteer in the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade in NSW.

According to Crump, Abbott made a political point when discussing his role as a volunteer firefighter. She also declared that it was a political point to state that Australia was meeting its Paris Agreement emission targets.

The same comment was made about Abbott’s decision to quote from a recent speech by Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of NSW, to the effect that there was no link between climate change and drought.

Crump described Abbott’s straightforward statements as “quite extreme language from a former prime minister” — a significant exaggeration.

Kennedy and Morris concurred that Abbott had made political points. Yet no such criticism was made of Turnbull’s at times explosive BBC interview.

In fact, Turnbull has changed his position on the causal link between climate change and bushfires. At a media conference in Bega on March 19, 2018, the then prime minister said it was wrong “to attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or drought or a storm, to climate change”. This statement was made in the aftermath of devastating bushfires that had destroyed parts of the seaside town of Tathra on the NSW south coast. Now Turnbull is accusing Morrison of downplaying the influence of climate change on bushfires.

It came as no surprise that the likes of Crump, Morris and Kennedy seemed to welcome Turnbull’s contribution to the climate debate. That’s invariably going to happen when two ABC presenters interview the editor of a university publication about climate, bushfires and all that.

The ABC is a conservative-free zone, without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent TV, radio or online outlets. And universities are no longer (if they ever were) the repository of open discussion with respect to many contemporary matters. Public broadcasters and tertiary institutions are bastions of left-of-centre thought, and when their personnel get together they tend to agree with one another.

Lara Logan, a former US CBS 60 Minutes correspondent, put it well when talking to Fox News Media Buzz presenter Howard Kurtz on Sunday (New York time). She grew up in a left-liberal (in the American sense of the term) environment “believing that we were all right … we all agreed with each other”.

According to Logan, many journalists are “not aware of our own bias because I never worked in a newsroom where people were not liberal and where people were not Democratic (Party supporters).” She agreed with Kurtz that a certain groupthink was at work and added: “Most journalists are liberal. That doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being objective, it just means you might not be aware of the extent of your own bias.”

Logan’s comments came after MSNBC presenter Lawrence O’Donnell declared recently that he did not interview Trump supporters because anyone who supported the President was a liar and “we don’t bring on liars”. Lawrence is a former Democratic Party staff member.

In view of the fact Australia produces 1.3 percent of global carbon emissions and cannot do anything to reduce global warming on its own, it should be possible to have a considered discussion about how best to mitigate bushfire risk. But this is not the case. Just as it was not possible for News Breakfast to objectively assess the recent comments of both Turnbull and Abbott.

It was much the same on Thursday when Nine Entertainment newspapers’ Latika Bourke reported from London that “Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest has repeated his unsubstantiated claim that the bushfires are primarily caused by fuel loads and arson”. What’s wrong with the sentence is the insertion of the word unsubstantiated. This is journalistic opinion.

Forrest told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour he had a PhD in marine ecology. He said carbon was “partially responsible for the slowly warming planet which has an impact on fires”. But he believes more scientific research needs to be done on the issue. This is a reasonable proposition by a successful business figure who understands the importance of mining and the tragedy of bushfires. But Bourke felt incapable of reporting his position without stating her view that Forrest’s position was “unsubstantiated”. Just as Crump and her presenters felt the need to distance themselves from Abbott.


Bushfires: Land-clearing laws blamed for Kangaroo Island fires

Native vegetation laws that prevent farmers from clearing land and the extent and adequacy of controlled winter burns will form a key part of a major South Australian government inquiry into the summer bushfire crisis.

Premier Steven Marshall’s commitment comes as the mayor of fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island, former Liberal MP Michael Pengilly, lashed out at the “idiocy” of the state’s Native Vegetation Act, saying the destruction of more than half the island this month “proves the old adage ‘burn or be burned’”.

“We used to be able to burn to protect ourselves and regenerate the native vegetation, and that’s what has gone,” Mr Pengilly said.

“That’s the ridiculous part. We have to have common sense across the country. What has been put in place, particularly in SA through the Native Vegetation Act, has just allowed everything to get out of control.

“We have massive loads of fuel that haven’t been touched. It is an offence for a farmer to burn off a little patch of scrub and try to keep something in the back pocket for when there is a proper fire.

“And now it’s gone, the whole bloody lot. It’s like we have been sitting on dynamite. I am not saying anything would have stopped that fire but the fuel load made it worse. The idiocy of the Native Vegetation Act is that it has stopped any serious kind of control for four decades. And today, well, here we are.”

The Weekend Australian travelled to Kangaroo Island this week and also visited the fire-affected Adelaide Hills wine region with Mr Marshall, who confirmed that issues relating to land clearing and burn-offs had been raised with him by many affected landowners.

“There obviously has to be a huge review into every aspect of the bushfires,” Mr Marshall said.

“We will be reviewing not only all of our fires here in SA but taking note of the reviews that are done interstate. If we can learn to be more ­resilient in the face of bushfires that’s precisely what we will do. There is plenty of time for that ­review and it will be done fully.

“All of the prescribed burns and cold burns that were in the schedule on Kangaroo Island were completed ahead of the fires.

“Whether they were adequate is something that will be part of the report. We will go back and look at whether the regime we had in place was enough.”

Mr Marshall said he understood the anxieties of farmers over land clearing but also noted that the January fire that emerged from the Flinders Chase National Park and tore east across the island was of a magnitude the island had never experienced.

He said he had been told by the Country Fire Service that in some cases the fire was spotting 2km to 5km ahead of the front, meaning even a radical increase in land clearing may not have stopped the inferno from spreading.

“This was different from the 2007 fires on KI which were a slow burn,” he said. “I’m not sure what would have helped on January 3. It was absolutely catastrophic.”

The Premier appointed himself Tourism Minister this month to ­elevate the status of the portfolio as it is battered by cancellations and in some areas closures of attractions and the loss of infrastructure.

This week he launched the #bookthemout campaign urging Australians to visit Kangaroo ­Island and the Adelaide Hills.

“We are really proud that we were the first to get on the front foot with this type of campaign,” he said. “Tourism operators have been doing it extraordinarily tough as a result of cancellations and it is ­important that we tell the story … that places like Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills need all the support they can get.”


Jobs surge: workforce on record growth run

As usual, conservative government is good for jobs

An unexpected employment ­bonanza has lifted the share of working-age people who have jobs to a record 74.5 per cent, reducing the likelihood of immediate ­emergency cuts in interest rates and putting the government on track to achieve its workforce ­targets by 2024.

Treasury analysis obtained by The Weekend Australian shows the 74.5 per cent record reached in the December employment data is above the 20-year average share of about 72 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 in work.

Josh Frydenberg seized on the jobs boom as evidence the economy was strong and “resilient”, saying it “made a mockery of the doomsayers in the Labor Party”.

“Unemployment today is at 5.1 per cent compared to 5.7 per cent when the Coalition came to office and employment growth is more than double the OECD average and three times what it was under Labor,” the Treasurer said.

The stronger jobs growth follows a rebound in retail spending and house prices. After a series of weak readings, retail spending jumped 0.9 per cent in November from a month earlier, the largest increase since mid-2017.

Following cuts to the cash rate last year, house prices have begun rising strongly in capital cities and home loan approvals have started to rise, including for first-home buyers, who made up more than a third of approvals in November.

By dollar value, approvals rose 1.6 per cent in November, the ­latest month for which data was available, and were up 10 per cent over the year

The Morrison government struggled to reverse declines in business and consumer con­fidence over 2019, amid news of weak economic growth, sluggish retail sales and concerns about the trade war between the US and China. Westpac’s closely watched monthly confidence index fell by 1.8 per cent in January to 93.4, indicating more respondents were pessimistic than optimistic.

The stronger than expected jobs figures for December, released this week, show the share of women in work has also reached a record. In unadjusted terms, the participation rate for women rose to 61.7 per cent in ­December, the highest recorded.

The figures put the government’s target of 1.25 million new jobs by the end of 2024 within reach. Annual jobs growth of 2.1 per cent is tracking above the 1.9 per cent required to meet the target.

The jobs data will be watched closely by the Reserve Bank, which is due to meet on February 4 and must weigh its employment targets with the impact of the bushfire crisis that has wiped billions from economic activity and hit agriculture and tourism.

The 5.1 per cent December unemployment figure represented a 0.2-point fall from 5.3 per cent in October, prompting market economists to revise down the chances of a cut in the official interest rate by the Reserve Bank.

“Despite domestic and international challenges, the Australian economy remains resilient as a result of the government’s ­economic plan,” Mr Frydenberg said on Friday.

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Friday, January 24, 2020

Fuel reduction, a contrary view

Every official enquiry into the causes of Australia's big bushfires has concluded that more off-season preventive burns are needed to prevent a recurrence of such fires.  Greenies worldwide however have a long history of obstructing such burns.

The far-Left ""New Matilda" has found a couple of scientists who defend the Greenie actions. They say that preventive burns are ineffective.  I excerpt their argument below.  They say that most preventive burns just consume the ground cover, leaving the tops of the trees intact.  And the tops of the trees are plenty to support a big bushfire.

So what do they conclude from that?  They conclude that we are always going to have big bushfires so we had better get used to it.

That is however a very strange conclusion. It is both a non sequitur and a counsel of despair.

If what they say is generally true, I would have thought the obvious conclusion to be that preventive burns have to be more thorough.  If wildfires burn the tops of the trees then preventive burns have to do that too.  Obviously, the bigger the preventive burn the riskier it is going to be but big efforts at containment should be possible. 

A two-step procedure may be needed.  First burn off the ground  cover then attack the top cover.  That would surely halve the risk.

But it is all theory.  In most locations getting any sort of preventive burn done seems to be near impossible.  The inertia of the State government fire authorities seems set to ensure that we will continue to have big fires for many years to come.

Dr Byron Lamont a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Plant Ecology with Curtin University, and Adjunct Research Fellow Dr Tianhua He explain:

The knee-jerk response to the devastating wildfires that have raged in Australia this summer has been for some to demand a more intensive program of prescribed/controlled burning before summer begins. But what are they and do they even work?

Prescribed burns are fires created by fire management authorities to reduce fuel in an attempt to stop the advance of future possible wildfires.

Unfortunately, areas that recently received a prescribed burn have offered little resistance to the advance of current wildfires. The fires have just passed straight through them. But why?

Current practices of prescribed fires essentially burn the ground flora, the shrubs, herbs, and creepers. At most, heat from the ground might scorch the upper canopy, and they tend to be patchy. These are called surface fires.

But wildfires burn everything. They create their own inferno.

Their greatest heat is produced from fuel in the tree canopy. The convective currents created by the firestorm spray embers up to kilometres from the fire front – they simply drop onto or over areas that have received prescribed burns.

These are called crown fires.

The aim of fire managers is to avoid crown fires during prescribed burning for fear that the fire gets out of control and will go far beyond the area intended to be burnt.

Controlled fires are only meant to stop the odd cigarette thrown out of a car window from starting a fire, or lightning strikes igniting the ground flora. They may not even achieve those goals, because scorching the trees above can lead to considerable leaf drop and build-up of litter that increases flammability and deters germination and seedling establishment.

Nature conservation was never one of its overt goals, though research by these same fire management authorities claims that no harm is done. And because they always fall behind in their prescribed burning program, independent ecologists are usually satisfied that species diversity does not appear to be harmed.

The only effective deterrent is areas that have recently experienced a wildfire, as no combustible fuel remains. This inhibitory effect might last for five or so years when the vegetation can carry a fire again.

Ironically, the Australian flora has experienced wildfires of the current type for many millions of years.

It is adapted to wildfires, not prescribed burns.

Thus all eucalypts, paperbarks, she-oaks, and banksias release their seeds only when their canopies are burnt and there is massive seedling recruitment in the next wet season that ensures the vegetation recovers.

Ultimately, we are guests in the world’s most flammable continent and have to learn to live with that fact. The Aboriginal inhabitants learned to but we have not.


How a tiny group of Greenie protesters managed to stop backburning in East Gippsland over worries baby birds would die - before fires ravaged the area killing four people and forcing mass evacuations from the beach

Greenies fighting to save baby birds blocked vital hazard reduction burns in a tiny Victorian town two months before residents had to be evacuated as a deadly bushfire closed in.

Holding placards that read 'be firefighters not firelighters' and 'spring burns kill baby birds', the protesters refused to leave the planned burn area in Nowa Nowa, Victoria in September.

Firefighters were forced to abandon what they considered a necessary step in bushfire mitigation before the government reduced the planned burn area by more than 97 per cent to appease activists.

The backdown has played out in similar scenes across the country with devastating consequences as hazard reduction burning drops to dangerous levels.

'Burning in spring is the worst time because the animals are breeding and trees are flowering and it is still so dry,' Mary from Nowa Nowa told her local ABC outlet during the protest.

'The Department of Environment, Land and Water and Planning (DELWP) is dividing the community because they are telling us this has to be done to save our lives but in fact they're just destroying the environment.'

The department scaled back the planned burn from 370 hectares to just nine in what would prove a disastrous move as Australia entered a summer of disaster.

Just two months later, the town's 200 residents would have to be urgently evacuated as the East Gippsland bushfire - which killed four people, destroyed 340 homes and burnt 1 million hectares - raged. The insurance bill from the Gippsland area alone is expected to surpass $100 million.

The ABC has since blurred the faces of the activists to protect their identities, having become a target for trolls in the wake of the East Gippsland fires. 

But also coming under fire online was the Victorian government and its agencies for bowing to the wishes of Greens and reducing its planned burns in the Nowa Nowa area by roughly 97.5 per cent.

A Royal Commission into the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires found that 385,000 hectares of hazard reduction needed to be carried out annually across the state.

But DELWP's annual reports reveal only one-third of that goal was accomplished in 2018/19, with 130,000ha burned.


Davos 2020: Mathias Cormann defends Australia on climate action and coal

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has fiercely defended both Australia’s climate action record and its coal industry in front of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Australia’s bushfires, the Finance Minister fought off suggestions from Australian artist Lynette Wallworth and a retired firefighter that the government was not taking climate change seriously enough.

Senator Cormann’s defence of the Morrison Government’s commitment to action came hours after US President Donald Trump told Davos not to listen to “prophets of doom.”

“Australia absolutely does its bit,” the Finance Minister said in Switzerland. “The proposition that is circulated by some, that we are not committed to effective action on climate change, is false. “It’s an assertion that suits the narrative of some commentators, but it’s not accurate.”

Scott Morrison has pledged to focus more on climate change adaptation and resilience, but will not shift to more radical emission reductions targets or policies like a price on carbon.

In the wake of the bushfires crisis, the Prime Minister criticised the fact there were clear rules and transparency arrangements for reporting on emissions but not on mitigation measures.

He highlighted hazard-reduction burns, landclearing laws and management of native vegetation and national parks as critical state issues that had to be scrutinised.

Mr Morrison’s mantra on climate change was repeated by Senator Cormann in Switzerland, who also repeated Mr Morrison’s recent comments that hazard reduction is also a highly important focus on fighting future bushfires.

Senator Cormann – who has been meeting with world political and business leaders as Australia’s most senior representative at Davos – also defended Australia’s coal industry and said not every coal mine was “bad for the environment.”

“There is a global demand for coal, and if it’s not met by cleaner Australian coal it will be met by comparatively dirtier coal from other sources and the world environment will be worse off,” he said.

“Not every coal mine is a bad thing for the environment. When you have better quality coal compared to the alternative options that are available, you actually might be able to help the transition and provide better outcomes.”

Senator Cormann also stressed the huge size of the Australian continent and its history of extreme weather events in any global discussion of the bushfires.

“Yes, climate change is making things worse … But we have also got to keep it in perspective. In a sense, Australia has always been a country that has suffered extreme weather events,” he said.


Malcolm Turnbull unloads on Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party that dumped him as PM in extraordinary interview about the bushfire crisis and climate change

He's just a miserable ghost, a big ego and a sore loser

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Scott Morrison, saying he failed to show leadership during the bushfire crisis.

Mr Turnbull said the prime minister misled Australians by downplaying the influence of global warming and climate change.

'Everybody knew we were in a very dry time and as a consequence the fire season was likely to be very bad,' he told the BBC.

'So rather than doing what a leader should do and preparing people for that, he downplayed it and then, of course, chose to go away on holiday in Hawaii.

'At the peak of the crisis? I just can't explain any of that. It's just not consistent with the way in which a prime minister would or should act.'

Mr Turnbull, who was ousted from leadership and replaced by Mr Morrison in 2018, said he could not explain the current Liberal leader's behaviour.

Despite working closely with Mr Morrison and knowing him for 20 years, he said he 'did not know why Scott Morrison has acted the way he has'.

'I can't explain why he didn't meet the former fire commissioners who wanted to see him in March last year to talk about the gravity of the threat,' he said.

Mr Morrison has come under heavy criticism over the past month for his handling of Australia's unprecedented bushfire season, which have killed almost 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

He faced criticism for not acting quick enough to bolster the nation's firefighting capabilities, and for going on holiday to Hawaii during the crisis.

The disaster has bolstered the climate change debate and the government has been criticised for not taking more action. 

Mr Morrison acknowledged that summers are 'longer drier and hotter' than ever before but insisted he was taking action on climate change.

'We will beat the Kyoto targets and meet and beat the Paris agreements... We will reduce our carbon emissions per capita by half between now and 2030,' he said.


Bushfires: Malcolm Turnbull has exposed the opportunism and inconsistency of climate crusaders

He has done a backflip on the role of climate in the fires

We ought to be thankful for Malcolm Turnbull’s intervention. All summer the green Left have been shamelessly trying to use the trauma and tragedy of another deadly Australian bushfire season to promote their political and ideological goals on climate policy.

Undeterred by facts, history, context or decency they have attempted to capitalise on every burned building, every horrible death, as an excuse to promote their utopian goal of a carbon price and the forced closure of fossil fuel industries that would, they suggest, render horrific bushfires a thing of the past.

If you don’t think it has been as shameless as that just look at the twitter feeds of people like Green Leader Richard Di Natale. When firefighters were killed just two days before Christmas he tweeted: “We grieve with those who have lost loved ones and homes in this latest tragedy. This is what a climate crisis looks like.”

More to the point, this is what ghoulish and cynical politics looks like.

There must be room for a sober and informed discussion about the relatively marginal future impacts of climate change on the prevalence of high fire risk weather conditions — but the rush to exploit tragedy for the climate alarmism cause, fanned by a largely compliant media, has been sickening.

What does this have to do with former prime minister Turnbull, who once suggested former leaders should not hang around like “miserable ghosts” but now seems intent on haunting Scott Morrison like Banquo? Well, Turnbull has accidentally belled the cat, he has exposed for all to see the opportunism and inconsistency of the climate crusaders.

If any of this is about science, then it is political science that is mainly at play. And not political science of the high-minded variety but of the personal and vengeful kind.

Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership in opposition (when I worked for him) and then again as prime minister — both times because he was trying to do a bipartisan deal with Labor on climate policy. Climate policy is his bete noire and it seems there are only two ways to rationalise what has transpired for him; either he has been so wrong on the politics for so long that he has allowed it to destroy his political ambitions twice, or most everyone else in his party (and the broader electorate) is wrong and have failed to recognise the wisdom of his national climate leadership.

Guess which version he subscribes to.

And so it is that this summer, while former prime minister Tony Abbott has been at the frontline of fires all over NSW as a volunteer firefighter and the current Prime Minister has been calling in the army reserves to help out, Turnbull has been using the tragedy to support his carbon emissions policy preferences and settle political scores. In order to do so he has been emphatic about the link between these fires and climate change.

“Australia’s fires this summer — unprecedented in the scale of their destruction — are the ferocious but inevitable reality of global warming,” he wrote for Time magazine. This statement is untrue, of course, both in its claims about “unprecedented” destruction and on the climate link.

One of the clearest explanations for why the climate link is wrong comes from Turnbull himself, when he was prime minister and had responsibility for national leadership. In 2018 fire ripped through Tathra in NSW and destroyed more than 60 houses while the Greens tried to link the episode to climate change.

“I’m disappointed that the Greens would try to politicise an event like this,” Turnbull said. “You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought or a storm to climate change.”

Quite. That is correct. And his own words expose his current politicking and that of so many advocates in politics and the media.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The old teacher standards debate

You can demand high academic standards in teacher trainees until you are blue in the face but people with high academic standards don't want a bar of chaotic Australian State schools.  They have better job options. So dummies are all you can get to teach there

What is needed to raise teacher quality is to make teaching more attractive and that means making public school classes less like a warzone.  And the only way to do that is to enforce civil standards of behaviour from the students.  Unruly students should be diverted to special schools where physical means can be used to enforce compliance with the rules. In the old days students were caned as a punishment for bad behaviour.  That could work again but Leftist opposition ensures it will not be reintroduced.

So what is the alternative?  Australia has a well-known alternative:  40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.  Such schools are expensive so the kids concerned have to come from middle class homes -- where even a look can be sufficient discipline.

So in such schools teachers are allowed to teach and that is where the good teachers go. At my son's private school, he even had two MALE teachers, wonder of wonders

So Leftist failure to permit adequate discipline consigns as much as 60% of the child population to schools where very little gets taught in the worst cases.  How compassionate!

THE way to lift Queensland's academic standards? Get brighter teachers. It's not rocket science - but then science, of any kind, is not the strong suit of most who are fronting our classrooms.

By accepting into education degrees the students at the bottom end of tertiary entrance rankings, we can't then expect top outcomes. An OP17 won't get you into most university degrees - and fair enough, too - but it will ensure you a seat in the lecture theatres at the Australian Catholic University.

I've written about this issue before and am familiar with the arguments of those who disagree with me, including fans of ACU and proud parents of young teachers who say the ability to relate to kids outweighs academics.

Now, Deanne Fishburn from the Queensland College of Teachers is claiming that "you can't be registered as a teacher in Queensland without meeting high and rigorous standards".

As director of the QCT - which, according to its website, "registers teachers for Queensland schools and accredits the state's preservice teacher education programs" - Ms Fishburn is hardly going to admit the status quo stinks. Naturally, she will defend it.

However, as part of her argument, she says that those high standards include that "teacher education students must have passed senior English and mathematics". That means obtaining a C. Hardly what I'd call excellence.

When economic experts are continually identifying the greatest jobs growth in fields that require higher level maths and critical thinking, such as engineering and technology, why are we settling for a pass mark in those who would inspire and instruct future job-seekers? It is unreasonable to expect people who are average achievers themselves to be able to confidently unpack complex problems to others.

Alarming findings from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute back me up on this. Only one in four teenagers is learning from a specialist maths teacher - someone who studied maths at university, including for six months as part of their four-year education degree. Too often, sports or music teachers are also taking maths classes.

It's no better in primary school, with AMSI director Geoff Prince saying that teachers are "breaking out in a cold sweat" when they have to teach maths. Contrary to the requirement to which Ms Fishbum refers, Mr Prince says many "haven't done maths through to Year 12 (and) don't understand fractions and percentages properly themselves".

Ms Fishburn argues that focusing on OP scores (soon to
be ATAR) distorts the real picture of the beginning teacher workforce. Reason being, she says, is the average age of graduate teachers is 28, meaning they are likely to have a career behind them or perhaps another degree. They might also have had several gap years, stuffed around  switching courses,'Or taken longer than usual to complete their teaching qualifications.

Don't get me wrong - life experience is valuable, but it shouldn't excuse academic mediocrity or underperformance.

In Finland - a much stronger performer than Australia in PISA international benchmarking - all teachers hold a master's degree.

Teaching polls as Finland's most admired profession, and you can't just walk into an education degree. You have to be the cream of the crop. This is how it should be.

As Peter Goss, director of the Grattan Institute School Education Program, told the Courier-Mail yesterday: "Teaching is a complex job. It requires strong cognitive abilities as well as the  emotional skills to relate to the  children, but unfortunately the academic backgrounds of new teachers has been dropping for 40 years and has continued to drop even over the last decade."

  Lowering the bar to address teacher shortages - which is partly why an OP17 is  considered adequate - will not  attract high achievers.  What will, however, is not an easy fix. It requires a major shift in how we, as a society, view the value of education and, in turn, respect, train and remunerate teachers.  Kids deserve the best educators - those who combine academic proficiency with "soft" skills such as creativity, communication and empathy, but as it stands now, that boils down to sheer luck.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 18 January, 2020

Scott Morrison says hazard reduction burns are more important than cutting carbon emissions in protecting Australians from deadly bushfires

Good that someone in power gets it

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared hazard reduction could be more important than emissions reduction in protecting Australia from increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons.

Mr Morrison has also revealed the government was considering a way to name and shame states which don't complete required hazard reduction burns.

'Hazard reduction is as important as emissions reduction,' the prime minister told Sky News on Tuesday. 'Many would argue even more so, because it has a direct practical impact on the safety of a person going into a bushfire season.'

Mr Morrison flagged clear national standards for meeting hazard reduction targets, along with a review of land-clearing laws, native vegetation rules and allowing grazing in national parks.

'We report all the time on what our emissions reductions are, but across the country there is not a national system of reporting to track how hazard reduction is progressing,' he said.

'There's been plenty of chat around emissions reduction and that's fine, hazard reduction though is the thing that is going to take a more practical effect on how safe people are in future fire seasons.'

He said a proposed royal commission should look at how states were performing on reducing fire risks in the face of hotter, longer and drier summers.

While the royal commission into the 2009 Black Saturday fires took 18 months, Mr Morrison wants the mooted inquiry into this summer's disastrous season to run for a maximum six months.

He also wants the probe to look at when the federal government is able to step in above state counterparts in natural disasters. 'I want to know when the trigger line is,' he said.

Mr Morrison has come under fire for his response to the fires, which have killed almost 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

Climate change debate has been central to the fallout from the disaster, with the government criticised for not taking more action.


Tony Abbott says 'every extreme weather event' in Australia is being used as 'proof of climate change' by eco fanatics who have become 'religious' in their beliefs

He is clearly still aware that global warming is hokum

Tony Abbott says climate change zealots are wrongly using 'every extreme weather event' as undeniable proof of global warming, with the former prime minister denying it was the main cause of Australia's unprecedented bushfire crisis.

Mr Abbott launched a stinging rebuke of eco warriors at an event for the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday - where he also lauded US President Donald Trump's first term in office.

The former Liberal Party leader and volunteer firefighter said deadly bushfires were inevitable in Australia and pointed to the century-old Dorothea Mackeller poem 'My Country' which describes the country as a land 'of droughts and flooding rains'.

Mr Abbott said climate change activists were almost 'religious' in their beliefs that global warming was to blame for the ongoing fires, which have devastated a record amount of land.

'I'm not one of those people who sees the current bushfires as confirmation of all we have feared about the changing climate,' he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

'I see the current bushfires as the sort of thing we are always going to be prone to in a country such as ours.'

Mr Abbott said those who believe climate change is the most important factor in extreme weather events use it as the reason for fires, floods and Hurricane Sandy - which devastated the Carribean in 2012.

'If you think climate change is the most important thing, everything can be turned to proof. I think that to many it has almost a religious aspect to it,' he said.

Mr Abbott, Australia's 28th prime minister, led the country between 2013 and 2015 while served 19 years as a volunteer firefighter for the Rural Fire Service.

He supported Prime Minister Scott Morrison's stance that climate change had some role in causing bushfires, and praised his response to the state of emergency caused by the fires.


Dozens of vegans storm a steakhouse and ruin people's dinners in protest against eating meat - but run away scared when the police are called

Vegan activists have stormed a Queensland restaurant as part of a protest against the meat industry.

Protesters held up signs and repeated the chant 'it's not food, it's violence' in the middle of the Black Hide Steakhouse in Brisbane at the weekend.

The protest was part of a global movement by activist group Direct Action Everywhere.

The group live-streamed the protest to Facebook, urging animal rights supporters to share the video and spread their message. 

'We're at a steakhouse to disrupt normalised violence,' the woman filming the video said. 'We have around 25 dedicated animal rights activists standing in solidarity for animals that are needlessly slaughtered for food.

'We have the choice to end violence with our dollar and in 2020 there is no longer an excuse to pay for someone else's suffering.'

The diners appeared uncomfortable as the group stood in the middle of the restaurant chanting and holding their signs.

Others stood out the front of the steakhouse confronting those who entered the restaurant with their message against meat.

The group are well known for their activities in Western Australia, where they have held several marches and protested outside abattoirs and butchers shops near Perth.

Direct Action Everywhere spokesman Arcadiusz Swiebodinksi said the group planned more protests in Queensland.

'We came here to Brisbane because its a very heavy animal agriculture state here in Queensland and animals need to be spoken for everywhere, he told 7 News. 'This is just the beginning.'

One diner said he was unhappy about having his dinner interrupted. 'Don't interrupt other people's life everyone has got a right to make a choice - they can make there's.  Let the people here who like eating steak make theirs,' he said.

Others offered their support to the steakhouse on social media.  'Hi, sorry you had to put up with those vegan d**k heads last night. We love eating your steak,' one person wrote.

The protest lasted less than 20 minutes, and by the time police arrived the activists had already left.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here