Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Four current articles below

Predictions, Forecasts or Just Pure Guesses?

By veteran Queensland computer scientist Richard Kelly

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts a "likely" increase in average global temperatures of between 1.5 and 4.5oC by the year 2100, with a "best estimate" of 3oC, and attributes this increase to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, most notably CO2.

Now, politicians of almost every persuasion, bureaucrats, economists and "global warming soothsayers (such as Al Gore)" tell us that there is now a "scientific consensus that global warming and climate change is a fact, not a theory" and that, unless we spend trillions of dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next century, "the whole world will be devastated by catastrophic climatic events"!

Meanwhile, thousands of eminent scientists continue to demonstrate that the IPCC's statistics and computer models are fundamentally flawed (even fudged), yet their opinions are censored and suppressed by those on the populist bandwagon!

Interestingly, there appears to be no rigorous definition of what the term "average global temperature" means. Is it the average between daily maxima and minima; or between day and night temperatures; summer and winter; northern and southern hemispheres; the poles and the tropics; sea-level and mountain tops; or the oceans and the outback? Importantly, what does the term "average" mean across such diverse locations?

Unlike Melbourne (which often experiences "Four seasons in the one day"), Brisbane has one of the most stable and predictable climates in the world (as we like to claim: "Beautiful one day, perfect the next"). For this reason, one might expect that the Bureau of Meteorology, with all of its highly-skilled scientists, monitoring stations, weather balloons, radar stations, satellite observations, over 100 years of accurate historical data and state-of-the-art weather-modelling computers, to fairly accurately predict Brisbane's minimum and maximum temperatures for the following 24 hours!

Interestingly, despite this plethora of knowledge and technology, they rarely attempt to forecast temperatures more than 7 days ahead. With this in mind, I've been monitoring the Brisbane Bureau's 24-hour temperature forecasts and actual temperatures for a total of 2834 days (over 7-3/4 years). So how have they managed to perform?

In 2834 days, they've managed to predict both the minimum and maximum temperatures correctly on only 239 occasions - approximately one day in 12 (or 8.4% of the time). The average total error in their predictions was 2.4 degrees, whilst their maximum error was 9 degrees! If, on the other hand, one made the assumption that "Brisbane's weather is so predictable, that tomorrow's temperatures will be the same as today's", one would have been correct on 187 occasions - one day in 15 (or 6.7% of the time). More recently, I've been monitoring their 7-day forecasts as well, and have found that their forecast is correct only 4.1% of the time or once every 25 days, with an average error of 3.43 degrees.

According to the IPCC's "Guidance on Addressing Uncertainties", any prediction with less than 10% probability is "very unlikely" to be correct! So, where does this leave their own projection of a rise in Average Global Temperature of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees over the next 100 years and with what accuracy?

Earlier this year, I happened to hear a Senior Meteorologist from the Melbourne Bureau interviewed on the ABC's 7.30 Report, who was asked: "How accurate are forecasters today?" Given the statistics I've quoted above, his response literally staggered me: "Well, on average, around about 85-90 per cent - that's the accuracy of the temperature forecast; that's looking at one day ahead. And that falls away to about 60 to 65 per cent out to 7 days." -

Ignorance? Wishful thinking? Or just plain hype? Actually, in quoting the above statistics, I am not attempting to denigrate the Bureau of Meteorology or its staff - merely to highlight the difficulty of reliably predicting temperature changes in the immediate, let alone the distant, future.

In summary, the global warming protagonists have failed to define what they mean by "average surface temperatures", have fewer than 30 years of accurate world-wide temperature measurements, upon which to base their projections, and completely ignore natural phenomena, which have produced global warming and cooling cycles over millions of years.

And what will be the outcome of government-imposed reductions in CO2 emissions, emissions trading schemes, renewable energy targets, etc? - Huge increases in energy bills and the price of food, the distortion of agricultural and farming practices, increased taxes and galloping inflation - not forgetting the adverse impacts on the poorer countries and their economies! These outcomes are already evident in countries such as the USA and the EU, which have mandated and subsidised the addition of ethanol to motor fuels, causing sky-rocketing prices for grains and meat and shortages of other commodities.

Call me a sceptic if you must, but I'm prepared to accept that "the Earth is flat" and that "the Sun revolves around the Earth", before I am willing to accept "the fact that global warming is solely due to human emissions of CO2 and that it will have catastrophic climate change consequences"!

Article received direct from the author

In Melbourne: Big Al, Small Protest

ANYONE who denies global warming is in the pay of big oil. Remember that is what the big man, Al Gore, said in his movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. But like so much that Mr Gore says, it just isn’t true.

Consider the 30-odd protesters who held placards outside the breakfast he spoke at this morning in Melbourne. The scruffy-lot, lead by a farmer Leon Ashby, were not there because someone paid them, but because they are outraged by Al Gore and what he has thrust on the world. In particular, his belief that we already have a climate crisis and that the only solution is carbon trading.

It might all sound well meaning. But it is going to be expensive. Indeed, quoting Ronald Bailey from Reason magazine, cap and trade in the US will be the largest corporate welfare program ever enacted in the history of the United States. And the corporations hope government is just as generous to them here in Australia.

Indeed if there were any in the pay of big oil at Dockland Peninsula this morning, they would have been inside applauding the big man. Has the big end of town ever taken to holding placards? I don’t think so.

A protest like the one in Melbourne this morning was about the seemingly disempowered and disenfranchised attempting to be heard. Of course history is replete with stories of such groups finding their voice and a crowd – eventually.


Greenie goes yellow (as in yellowcake)

Economic realities defeat ideology -- jobs and revenue needed -- even from the evil uranium

PETER GARRETT, whose first tilt at politics was a run for the Senate with the Nuclear Disarmament Party, gave the go-ahead for a new uranium mine yesterday. The Environment Minister approved the Four Mile mine in far northern South Australia, the first fully fledged uranium project to be approved by the former Midnight Oil frontman and one-time anti-uranium campaigner. Last year Mr Garrett approved an expansion of the Beverley mine, about 600 kilometres north of Adelaide. The Four Mile mine is about 10 kilometres from the Beverley project.

As Mr Garrett's opponents rushed to ridicule yesterday, he said the decision was difficult and "came after a rigorous and comprehensive assessment". "I have not taken the decision lightly," he said in a statement. "As with all proposals examined under national environment law, this mine was subject to a comprehensive, scientifically robust and transparent assessment process."

The Opposition environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, accused Mr Garrett of hypocrisy by reminding him of his speech to the ALP national conference in 2007 in which he spoke against abolishing Labor's three-mine policy on uranium. "I have long been opposed to uranium mining and I remain opposed to it. I am unapologetic about this. In fact, I am proud of it," Mr Garrett said two years ago.

He said there was no absolute guarantee Australian uranium would not end up in nuclear weapons "but we can guarantee all Australian uranium will become nuclear waste". The conference voted to abolish the three-mines policy and this made possible the approval of the Four Mile project, which will become Australia's fourth operational uranium mine.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the decision was consistent with party policy. Despite expanding the uranium industry, he remained opposed to nuclear energy in Australia, saying our low emissions energy future lay in "clean, green renewables".

The South Australian Liberal senator, Simon Birmingham, said the Government was sending mixed messages and should now ratify a deal to export uranium to Russia for peaceful purposes.

After entering politics in 2004, Mr Garrett accepted he was bound by party policy. "I'll be expected to accept the policies of the party. It doesn't mean that my strong views about different issues can't be expressed but they'll be expressed within the party," he said.


State Premier goes in to bat for coal industry

THE Queensland government is demanding special treatment to shield its coalmines from the cost of Canberra's action on climate change. Jolted by a $15 billion crash in treasury revenue, Premier Anna Bligh has written to the federal government's junior climate change minister, Greg Combet, raising "a number of significant outstanding issues" with its greenhouse emission trading scheme, known officially as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

"The CPRS will significantly reduce the competitiveness of coal production in Queensland," Ms Bligh wrote in a letter tabled during a state parliamentary estimates committee hearing in Brisbane yesterday. "Options to assist the coal industry ... need to be developed that go beyond that currently proposed."

Ms Bligh said modelling by the federal Treasury confirmed that Queensland faced the greatest impact from emissions pricing, with the biggest cut in economic growth of any state or territory by 2050. Her decision to go in to bat for the coal industry betrayed the Premier's fears of further job-shedding in the state's struggling mining sector. The state budget in June predicted the mining downturn would rob Treasury of $1.6bn in royalty revenues this financial year. It also forecast a $15bn cut to revenue through taxes, royalties and the GST over the next three years.

Forced to defend her economic management yesterday, Ms Bligh conceded that the 110,000 jobs she has promised to create through an $18bn infrastructure program over the next three years might merely replace jobs shed elsewhere in the private sector. She blamed wet weather on underspending by $900 million in last year's capital works program.

Ms Bligh also defended her decision to sacrifice the state's AAA credit rating by plunging Queensland deep into debt to pay for record infrastructure spending. "Every single project is absolutely necessary. It might be all very well for rating agencies to sit down and look at our set of numbers, but they don't live here."

In her letter to Mr Combet, Ms Bligh warned that hundreds of jobs could be lost when NSW abolished its Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, to be replaced by the CPRS in 2011. The NSW scheme gave an incentive to generate electricity using waste gas from coalmines. "As a consequence (of the scheme's abolition) existing ... projects that are delivering lower emission electricity are at risk of closure with the potential for hundreds of jobs to be lost," she wrote. "Clearly this would be a most perverse outcome."

Ms Bligh called on the federal government to give "specialised assistance" to Queensland underground coalmines which she described as being "very gassy", with limited capacity to cut emissions. "Some coal companies have also advised that they cannot pass on carbon-related costs to their energy generator customers because of restrictive long-term contracts. Firms would need to absorb these costs, with a direct reduction in the profitablility of these investments," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Combet said yesterday the minister had not yet seen Ms Bligh's letter, written last Thursday.


Should kids be criticized?

Children tend to be cosseted much more than they once were and that does extend to sport. So some old-fashioned sports motivation directed towards a team of young Australian footballers has been much criticized -- but it worked! The team are now top dogs in their division

A FOOTY team of nine-year-olds has been branded greedy and hopeless in a scathing match report by its club. The blast was posted on the club's website after the Preston Bullants under-10s lost by just two points. The report upset many parents, while footy greats including former AFL premiership coach Ron Barassi said the comments were shocking at junior level, the Herald Sun reports. "I've followed my own son and grandson in football at those levels and I've never seen or heard anything like that," Barassi said. "That's very, very wrong. I wouldn't be doing that to under-10s." The four-time AFL premiership coach said football coaches and managers at junior levels should encourage young players and use constructive criticism.

In the Bullants blast written by coach Tim Rentos and team manager Edward Hore, the boys were roasted for what is meant to be a fun game. "Our skill level was hopeless ... we were greedy in the forward line," parents and club members were told. Bullants president Dennis McNiece last night distanced the club from the comments, saying the report was "not what Preston Bullants Junior Football Club is about". But the tactics appear to have worked, with the team undefeated since the spray, which came after a round 6 loss to Doncaster.

In their report, Mr Rentos and Mr Hore wrote: "A day of unfortunate mishaps. It all began at 9am with miscommunication and disorganisation ... a coach that wasn't organised to win the game, a manager stressed to the eyeballs and a team that depends on a certain few players to win the game week in, week out. "Our skill level was hopeless. There wasn't any kicking or handballing going to our players, our tackling, bumping and shepherding wasn't in the game."

Former VFA coach Phil Cleary, who now coaches West Coburg under-16s, said the "carping" attack was "awful" and unnecessary. "It's too negative," he said. "At under-10 I can't understand why you would want to send out a carping, negative document. It doesn't blend criticism with praise."

Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said as long as individuals weren't singled out the tactic appeared warranted and would help the boys deal with the real world, something too many parents were not doing. "Basically it was tantamount to a psychological grenade and it lifted everybody," he said. "I do think we shelter our kids a lot. I think that this is a good, gentle introduction into the reality of this world."

Family psychologist Renee Mill said such methods were a great way for boys as young as four to bond and be motivated. She said too many parents were afraid to demand improvement from their children, and expected boys to suppress their urge "to be boys". "There needs to be a place where men can just be raw men," she said. "We have to step back as mothers and say fathers are actually the role models for our boys to be male."

Mr Hore admitted yesterday some parents were initially upset but the boys took it on the chin and lifted their game. Mr Hore, whose son Terance plays in the team, said no child was singled out and the players were deemed mature enough to take the criticism. Since the spray his team had knuckled right down. "They play as a team, they listen to each other, they pat each other on the back, they talk to each other," he said.

Mr McNiece said the report should not have been published and refused to allow about 12 boys to be photographed by the Herald Sun. "The person who wrote this was not the coach or team manager at the time," he said. "He has been sanctioned by the committee and will not be allowed to write any more articles on our newsletter."

The Bullants now top the Yarra Junior Football League under-10 blue division ladder with a percentage of 272.73.


Sir Lunchalot -- from the party that claims to represent the little guy

THE NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, previously dubbed Sir Lunchalot by the Opposition, has spent nearly $150,000 on lunches, dinners and accommodation for a wine advisory group he created, and $15,000 on a charter flight. Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show Mr Macdonald spent $24,156.21 on a trip to Dareton in which he and a group from the NSW Wine Industry Research and Development Advisory Council lunched at Stefano's Restaurant at Mildura.

Last night the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, called for Mr Macdonald to be sacked over the revelations, saying they were "the worst display of arrogance from a Labor minister to date".

The costs of the trip follow a series of controversies the minister has been involved in, including revelations he used departmental funds to buy office furniture for his home and a television set and the fact he has spent more than $12,000 over two years on lunches for him and his office. He was also one of the highest spending ministers on overseas travel last year, spending $67,336 on visits to the US, China, Hong Kong, Japan and India.

The documents, obtained by Channel Seven, show that the group also dined at Catalina Restaurant at Rose Bay, at a cost of $7747 for 18 people. On another trip to Mudgee $9788.86 was spent, a trip to Wagga cost $10,887.13, and a journey to the Southern Highlands in February last year cost $7258.98. A trip to Tyrrell's Vineyards in the Hunter Valley cost $11,567.17.

"Mr Macdonald is a disgrace, and if Nathan Rees had any authority or standards he would sack him," Mr O'Farrell said.

Mr Macdonald denied last night that the Wine Industry Research and Development Advisory Council was a "luncheon club". "If you're going to consult with the regions of NSW you have to pay for people to do that consultation, to get out there and mix. We don't want people making decisions based on sitting around in …Parliament House," he told Channel Seven. "I've chosen none of the restaurants, nor do I determine the itinerary."

In a statement to the Herald, Mr Macdonald said the trip to Dareton - including a dinner for 25 costing $3390 - had been "a business meeting, where a range of important issues were discussed including development and export opportunities, research and water shortages because of the drought". "The council needs to meet with industry and regional communities in the heart of wine regions - it's pretty difficult to do this from the centre of Sydney."

The council had been going for six years, he said, and the "average expenditure is around $20,000, which is reasonable, given it conducts meetings in regional areas across the state".


Weasel language from a government health bureaucracy

A missive from Queensland Health director-general Mick Reid reminding staff about how important it is to be honest with the public now that the Right to Information laws have begun:
Special Broadcast 1/07/2009 6:43 pm

All staff of Queensland Health need to be aware that the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009 commenced today.

Both of these Acts are key components of the Queensland Government’s Right to Information policy that is aimed at promoting a culture of openness, accountability and transparency, balanced with appropriate protections for certain information, including personal information. In practice, this means that information will be released unless, on balance, its release is contrary to the public interest.

All of the Queensland Public Service need to be aware that the objectives of the Right to Information reform process mean we operate on a presumption of disclosure of government information.

To this end could all staff please note the contents of the attached Statement of Right to Information Principles For the Queensland Public Service issued by the Premier of Queensland.


I think comment would be superfluous

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