Friday, January 23, 2009

The latest Greenie nuttiness

Cheaper to fly than hire a bike. You have to understand that this is a religious thing. Logic is irrelevant

It's cheaper to hire a car, fly to Sydney or take a limousine to the Gold Coast than ride a bike all day as part of Brisbane's new cycle hire scheme. Lord Mayor Campbell Newman came good on an election promise by awarding the contract to JCDecaux to provide 2000 bikes at 150 stations across the inner-city. However, despite claims it would be free, that only applies for the first half-hour and users will still be charged $20 to buy a helmet and up to $300 deposit. For an hour's hire it will be $2, for 11/2 hours $5.50 and up to $150 for more than 10 hours. Which means a person wanting to hire a bike for an entire day on a casual basis, once adding in the helmet fee and subscription fee ($10), will pay $180.

At yesterday's launch, Cr Newman denied he had misled voters. "What I said is we were endeavouring to introduce a scheme like in Paris," he said. "I said we would try and get as close as possible to that and I'll just maintain, I was there at the announcement, I know what I said and that's exactly what we delivered." It's the first scheme of its kind in Australia with stations to be located between St Lucia and Newstead.

The council signed a 20-year contract with JCDecaux and ratepayers will pay about $1.5 million over the next three years, but Cr Newman was unsure what the contribution would be each year after that. "Over a 20-year life, it could potentially generate $9 million of revenue for council. [If anybody uses it!] So ultimately it won't cost the ratepayers of Brisbane," he said. Cr Newman said he was confident the scheme would be successful and promised to use it himself and encourage his staff to do the same. "Let's just see how it goes over the coming months ... ultimately it's going to be very popular," he said.

JCDecaux, which has 16 cycle schemes across Europe, said bikes would be on Brisbane streets by the end of the year. "It's a new system, using new technology, of course there's going to be glitches, but I think it's an overwhelming success," CEO Steve O'Connor said.

Bicycle Queensland manager Ben Wilson said the bike hire scheme was for short-term not all-day use. "And for that, it's very reasonably priced," he said. Opposition Leader Shayne Sutton said Labor supported the scheme if it was implemented properly. "The Lord Mayor needs to ensure there are safe, designated bikeways for cyclists to use," she said.


Overseas students trade Sydney, Melbourne for Australia's wild North

I like Darwin and what is said about it below is true. But what is overlooked below is how big Australia is. Darwin is about 4 hours flying time from Sydney. Most of the OS students come from S.E. Asia (Malaysia etc.) and Darwin is not much more than a local trip from there. And both Darwin and S.E. Asia are in HOT climates. And the Darwin university is now well-established and creditable, despite initial Federal opposition to its establishment. The bureaucrats got it wrong again

International university students are leaving Sydney and Melbourne in search of better lifestyles and work options in the north of Australia. While universities nationwide are recording a drop in foreign enrolment, Charles Darwin University (CDU) appears to be bucking the national trend, according to its manager of international marketing Fiona Richards. "International student numbers are continuing to increase at CDU and are projected to rise by a further 20 per cent every year over the next four years," she said.

The media reported on Monday that foreign students had begun to pull out of Australia, with universities hit hard by the global credit crunch. They have also recorded an increase in deferrals, as students struggle to finance overseas eduction - an industry worth $14.2 billion to Australia each year.

But Ms Richards said a large number of students were choosing to stay in Australia and move to Darwin, as a preferred option to Sydney or Melbourne. "A large segment of our international student body is made up of students who have initially enrolled at more established, southern universities only to transfer their studies to CDU," she said.

There were a number of reasons for the appeal of the north, she said, including an easier lifestyle, friendlier people and more job options. "Traditionally, international students tend to make more identifiable Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne their home," Ms Richards said. "Once there, they tend to struggle in a number of areas such as language barriers, gaining employment, social networks etc, which is partly due to the sheer size of these cities. "This, in turn, has a detrimental affect on their studies."

Ms Richards said the multicultural nature of Darwin and its laidback lifestyle acted as drawcards for CDU. "Darwin truly is a cultural melting pot with pre-established ethnic clubs and networks, tropical climate and an easy going lifestyle which appeals to international students still trying to make the adjustment to an entirely new country and way of life," she said.

It is feared the nationwide contraction of Australia's third-biggest export industry will result in job cuts to the sector and hurt the housing market.


The driving dead

The guy who nominated Einfeld had a sense of humour

HUNDREDS of drivers in New South Wales have refused to heed the lesson of speeding judge Marcus Einfeld and are making sworn statements falsely blaming the dead, strangers or relatives for traffic offences. In desperate bids to escape fines and demerit points, one woman blamed her relatives for 158 offences, a man blamed his dead father and another even blamed former judge Einfeld.

New figures obtained from the State Debt Recovery Office reveal 626 drivers who had lodged a combined 2871 driver nominations blaming others for their fines were investigated. A spokesman for the Office of State Revenue said investigators believed they were suspect because the person they nominated disputed having driven the car, the nominated driver was unlicensed, held a foreign licence or was dead, or the same driver was nominated repeatedly by others. They also checked if the person trying to avoid the fine had done so previously.

Of those 626 drivers, 131 admitted they had falsely nominated someone else for their offence when advised they were being investigated by the SDRO, which has set up a dedicated unit to investigate the fraud. A total of 28 people were referred to police for prosecution and more matters remained under investigation.

The spokesman said while the fraudsters comprised only a small proportion of the total of 305,000 driver nominations processed last year for demerit point offences, they were still a concern. False nominations achieved intense media attention from 2006 when former judge Marcus Einfeld nominated a dead US professor, Theresa Brennan, for driving his car which attracted a speeding fine. He recently pleaded guilty to making a false statement under oath and acting to pervert the course of justice. He faces a possible jail sentence for those offences.

One driver recently admitted lying after nominating his dead father as having driven his car when it was detected committing a traffic offence.


The Contradictions of the Garnaut Report into climate change

The present world financial crisis has seen the great economist John Maynard Keynes making a comeback, with even a fiscal conservative like Kevin Rudd espousing Keynesian deficit finance. Keynes is also remembered for his remark that "madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back". That is an apt description of the climate change mantras that led to the appointment of the Garnaut Review, and the Review's Final Report itself exhibits frenzy distilled from not a few scribblers of the past, including Malthus, Jevons and Arrhenius of the nineteenth century, Paul Ehrlich, the Club of Rome and the IPCC's John Houghton of the last century, not forgetting James Hansen (of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies) and his acolyte Al Gore.

Ehrlich and the Club of Rome confidently predicted exhaustion of all mineral resources by 2000 if not before, and the Garnaut Report merely extends the final date to 2100. Malthus earned fame with his theory that while population grows "geometrically", for example by doubling every twenty-five years (we would say exponentially) food production grows only "arithmetically", that is, by the same absolute amount in every time period.

Arrhenius took over this formulation in his celebrated paper of 1896 that remains the cornerstone of the anthropogenic global warming (or climate change) movement, by asserting that while atmospheric carbon dioxide "increases in geometric progression, augmentation of the temperature will increase in nearly arithmetic progression". Arrhenius won a real Nobel for proceeding to calculate that if carbon dioxide increased by 50 per cent from the level in 1896, global average temperature would increase by between 2.9 and 3.7 degrees, depending on season, latitude and hemisphere, with a global annual mean of 3.42 degrees. The level of carbon dioxide has nearly increased by 50 per cent since 1896-faster it is true than Arrhenius expected-but global temperature according to the Goddard Institute has increased by just 0.73 degrees.

Malthus has long since been proved wrong about food production, which has grown exponentially even faster than population, so that the recurring starvation and population wipe-outs that Malthus feared have yet to materialise. Evidently Arrhenius has been nearly as mistaken, but in a different direction, with global temperature growing almost imperceptibly relative to the near 50 per cent growth in carbon dioxide. Yet the Garnaut Review endorses the claim by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest Report (2007) that if carbon dioxide doubles from the level in 1896 (270 to 280 parts per million, ppm) to 560 ppm, global temperature will rise by between 1.5 and 4 degrees, with a central estimate of 3 degrees, the latter being four times the observed increase of 0.73 degrees for the near 50 per cent rise in carbon dioxide since 1896. Yet Arrhenius had calculated that doubling carbon dioxide from the 1896 level would raise annual global mean temperature by 5.5 degrees, just 1.6 times more than his estimate for an increase of carbon dioxide by 50 per cent. Thus the Review and the IPCC predict an acceleration of temperature increase with respect to increasing carbon dioxide, despite also asserting that the relationship is logarithmic rather than exponential, or, as the Review puts it, using terminology close to that of Arrhenius, "CO2 added later will cause proportionately less warming than CO2 added now".

This is an extraordinary contradiction given that the Garnaut Review as a whole is dedicated to the proposition that global warming will accelerate unless carbon dioxide emissions are subjected to draconian reductions, by as much as 80 per cent of the 2000 level in Australia. But as we shall see, the Report has other equally bizarre contradictions that exemplify Keynes's comment about "madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air".

The Labor governments of Australia's states and territories commissioned the Garnaut Climate Change Review in April 2007. The newly elected federal Labor government took over the Review in November 2007. Its terms of reference required the Review to assess "The likely effect of human-induced climate change on Australia's economy, environment, and water resources", and to "recommend medium to long-term policy options for Australia ... which, taking the costs and benefits of domestic and international policies on climate change into account, will produce the best possible outcomes for Australia". Given this provenance, the Review's Final Report (2008) is above all a political document.

The Report runs to 634 pages and twenty-four chapters, rambling over a wide range of topics, from the science of climate change to the economics of mitigation to prevent change. Clearly it is not possible here to do justice to the whole Report. Instead the focus will be on its unsound economics whereby benefits of avoiding future climate change are exaggerated and costs of avoidance minimised. The centrepiece of the Report's mitigation proposals is its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), yet this receives only a cursory treatment that fails to grasp its likely disruption of the Australian economy.

The Report makes many dire projections for the future, including the claim that without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide, there will by 2100 be major declines in gross domestic product (GDP) across the globe, and that in Australia its iconic tourist attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park will be destroyed by ocean acidification and rising sea levels, while endemic droughts will eviscerate the Murray-Darling Basin. For Australia the Draft Report projected "the median temperature and rainfall outcomes for Australia from climate change with unmitigated growth in global emissions [that] may see GDP fall from the reference case by around 4.8 per cent, household consumption by 5.4 per cent and real wages by 7.8 per cent by 2100".

The Report offers no evidence for such effects having already become apparent despite the warming temperatures experienced globally and in Australia since 1976. On the contrary, that whole period has seen the fastest economic growth ever recorded across almost the whole globe, and Australia is no exception. The last decade of the twentieth century was the hottest on record, but it also delivered Australia's longest known sequence of per capita GDP growth above 2.5 per cent annually.

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