Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sea terrorists obstructing Japanese whalers again

For the sake of Australia's farmers, one must fervently hope that the Australian government keeps right out of this. It has taken decades to open up the Japanese market to some Australian farm products but if the Japanese consumer gets the idea that Australia is backing these hostile and dangerous publicity-seekers, that market would come to an abrupt dead end. Most countries have "country of origin" labelling laws for goods in their shops and the Japanese government would just have to step that up a bit for Japanese consumers to get all the signal they need

ANTI-WHALING activists have described how Japanese whaling ships circled their protest vessel "like sharks" before ramming it off Antarctica. Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson, said the Japanese harpoon ship rammed the conservationists' ship the Bob Barker and tore a 90cm gash in the hull above the water line. The incident happened about 300 kilometres off Cape Darnley, in the Australian Antarctic Territory, about 3pm (AEDT) yesterday. No-one was injured in the incident.

Capt Watson said the collision was "entirely intentional" on the part of the Japanese. "Four Japanese ships circled the Bob Barker like sharks," he said. "Then one of them, the Yushin Maru 3, did a quick turn and rammed a three-foot gash in the hull. "Luckily, the waters are calm at the moment and we have a welding crew working to fix it."

The anti-whaling vessel was blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship, when the collision occurred.

Japan's Fisheries Agency said however, the activist boat caused the collision by suddenly approaching the harpoon vessel to throw bottles containing butyric acid in an attempted attack on the Japanese ship. The Japanese agency accused Sea Shepherd of "committing an act of sabotage" on the Japanese expedition, noting that it is allowed under world whaling restrictions as a scientific expedition. "We will not tolerate the dangerous activity that threatens Japanese whaling ships and endangers the lives of their crew members," it said in a statement late yesterday.

Capt Watson called on the Australian government take action on illegal whaling. "The Japanese are violating Australian laws on whaling and nothing is being done to stop them," he said.

This is the second major clash between Japanese whalers and anti-whaling activists this year, after the Ady Gil sank following a collision with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean on January 6.


West Australian police powers going the way of Nazi Germany

The W.A. wallopers already have a very poor reputation in their community and this is going to make it worse. NOTE: I have given up on posting here stories about the Queensland police. I now post such stories solely on my Qld. police blog -- and that is a very active blog -- with three separate stories just today. -- JR

TWO retired senior police officers have likened a proposal to give police unprecedented stop and search powers to Nazi Germany. Retired police superintendents Dave Parkinson and John Watson have spoken out against the proposal, which has been at the centre of controversy this week. They said the laws were draconian, similar to what would have been used in Nazi Germany. "This is becoming a police state," Mr Watson said. "It is wrong."

The pair claimed that removing the requirement of "reasonable suspicion" for a search to be conducted would affect innocent people, not the thugs it set out to target.

Their comments came after police representatives told a parliamentary committee this week that police did not request the extra powers and failed to guarantee they would reduce crime. But Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has rejected the claims, saying he personally discussed the proposal with the former Labor government. Police Minister Rob Johnson has also stood by the proposal, saying it is needed to combat growing anti-social behaviour in night spots.

SOURCE Extended commentary here

Australia's immigration-fueled population growth too fast to be affordable

AUSTRALIANS must prepare for a fundamental shift in the way we live because the country cannot afford to cope with 36 million people. Economic modelling produced for the Herald by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows the task of building the new roads, houses, schools, supermarkets and recreation facilities needed by 2050 will be so great that the nation's current pool of savings will struggle to cover it, even with the help of foreign capital.

As a consequence Australians will have to make major lifestyle changes. These range from dramatic increases in housing density and an end to our reliance on the car, to the creation of self-sustaining urban communities capable of generating their own energy to avoid the need for new power stations.

Planning experts say we must also consider whether population increases will be accommodated in larger regional centres rather than allowing cities such as Sydney to grow. "The bottom line is 'prepare for change'," the PWC economics and policy team leader, Jeremy Thorpe, said. "The task of providing this infrastructure is a very significant one and at the moment we don't have the savings to cover it. Governments have to make a decision about what trade-offs they want to make to maintain a standard of living." Using figures from the government's intergenerational report, Mr Thorpe and his colleagues have calculated Australia will need 6.9 million more homes to cope with a population of 36 million by 2050. This represents 82 per cent of our existing housing stock.

Should Australians continue to rely on the car, the country will need 173,348 kilometres of new roads - a 51 per cent rise equivalent to the entire road network of Thailand. We would need 3254 new schools, 1370 new supermarkets and 1370 cinema screens.

In dollar terms, the amount spent by both government and the private sector on infrastructure would need to increase by approximately $2.5 billion every year until 2050.

The PWC economists say that while the government talks about increasing productivity, it makes no mention of the crucial role the national pool of savings plays in funding infrastructure. "The banks rely quite heavily on the savings of individual people to provide capital for investment in infrastructure. Because as a nation our savings are currently quite low, there is a real risk that there will be a significant shortage of credit."

As a result, both the private sector and government have come to rely heavily on foreign capital. But the global credit crunch has dramatically lifted the costs of overseas borrowing, requiring government and companies to take on extra debt.

The ageing population exacerbates this situation as older people contribute less to the savings pool, and tend to draw more from government coffers in the form of social security and healthcare.

But a spokesman for the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, dismissed the analysis. "Australia's reputation as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world allows it to access large savings pools of foreign investors … to fund high levels of investment in our own economy," he said. "We are able to be a net importer of capital because foreign investors are confident we use their capital so well."



Four current articles below:

Reality dawns: The Greenest of the Greenies suddenly want factories -- but nice ones, of course

A factory owner would need to have a lot of heart to risk locating himself among such intolerant loonies

It's the Queensland town renowned for a postcard setting, caring community and laidback lifestyle ... but has Maleny become too green for its own good? As the children of a generation of tree-changers begin their working lives, Maleny is discovering that being green is no protection against that scourge of rural communities: youth unemployment. While other towns can rely on mining or agriculture to provide job opportunities, Maleny's young people are increasingly forced to desert the Sunshine Coast hinterland to find work, leaving behind an ageing population.

Community concern has become so acute that even local greenies are calling for drastic action and putting out the welcome mat for new industry. In the town that famously opposed Woolworths, business leaders, families and greenies are now united in their calls for a light industrial precinct to boost employment. Such a precinct could attract anything from brick making to glass fabrication but would have to meet local environmental guidelines. However, under existing council plans, there is no land set aside for industrial growth in Maleny.

Young job seekers currently have to compete for the few jobs at the town's biggest employers, Supa IGA and Woolworths, which both have workforces of about 100.

Latest census figures show Maleny has a median age of 42, compared to 36 for the whole of Queensland.

Hinterland Employment Service owner Jenny Jones said families who moved to Maleny in search of an idyllic lifestyle were often disappointed. "It's a great place to live and bring up children but when the kids leave school, there's just not a lot up here," she said.

Maleny Commerce president Stephen Dittmann said green activists had traditionally held sway in the town but there was now recognition that some development was necessary. "We need measured growth, we can't stand still," Mr Dittmann said.

Paul Gilmour-Walsh, president of local environmental group Green Hills, said even so-called greenies could see the need to grow the town. "There's definitely a need for an area, to put aside land for something like that up here," Mr Gilmour-Walsh said. "We need a balanced community so kids leaving school have somewhere to work; it's as simple as that."

David Schaumberg, 19, loves Maleny, his home since the family left Brisbane for a better lifestyle 16 years ago, but he cannot find a steady job. David recently worked for four months as a jackaroo in Kingaroy to earn some cash but is back in Maleny looking for a job. His friends are in the same situation, with many leaving town. "I actually think an industry precinct would be good for variety . . . as long as they do it the right way and not impact on the environment," he said.

Mother of five Maria Dodd said her eldest son Andrew, 19, held little hope of attaining his goal of a local electrical apprenticeship. The family moved from Brisbane about 10 years ago. "He keeps getting bit jobs. He's a hard worker but there's not much around," she said.


Costs of the greenhouse gas scheme remain a mystery to the party behind it

The Rudd government has failed its first GST-style test over the details of its emissions trading scheme and the compensation being offered to Australians for rising prices. Lulled into a sense of false security through Coalition support for an ETS last year and a largely sympathetic media, Kevin Rudd and his ministers have found themselves ill-equipped and under-prepared to answer basic questions people want answered, whether they are climate change believers or sceptics. After three years of Labor being formally committed to an ETS, ministers can't answer simple questions. The Prime Minister himself has conceded the government has failed to address the "complexity" of the ETS.

In parliamentary question time and in interviews, ministers, including Rudd, have blathered and blustered, dissembled and distracted when asked simple questions. Tony Abbott, once an adviser to John Hewson in his failed campaign to introduce a GST, knows how to run an aggressive retail political campaign on rising food and energy prices and to exploit complexity in policy.

As the treasurer who introduced a GST, Peter Costello rehearsed offsets and compensation for almost three years. He declared later it "scarred my life". But that drab work equipped Costello to answer the thousands of questions he received about the price of Coca-Cola and even the Hockey Bear pyjamas from Korea that Labor's Simon Crean produced in parliament one day, without falter.

This week in parliament, Rudd was unable to answer questions about what compensation a single person earning $45,000 a year would get or what a double-income couple on $65,000 each -- a NSW policeman and teacher -- would get.

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson blustered about the "most stupid question" he had heard when a dairy farmer's concerns were raised about electricity price rises from the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme being added to price rises everyone was already feeling now.

Aged Care Minister Justine Elliott could not address a concern that had been raised for months about pensioners in nursing homes facing increased living costs because of higher energy bills and not getting compensation. Some opposition frontbenchers actually won a bet that Elliott would read her set- piece answer to everything that didn't mention the ETS.

Yesterday, Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said "low- and middle-income earners are fully compensated" for prices rises passed on by power stations. In fact, half of all households will be "fully compensated".

When a government has not laid the groundwork for a major policy, when it can't explain it and makes mistakes about the costs to families it's on the back foot and in the wrong argument.


More Greenie-inflicted costs on the whole Australian community

ALL Australian homes will soon have to undergo a mandatory energy-efficiency assessment costing up to $1500 per property. The assessment has to be done before any property can be sold or rented under new laws to tackle carbon emissions.

The mandatory assessment - being drafted into law by the federal and state governments - will rate homes by an energy efficiency star system, similar to the ratings given to fridges and washing machines. It will apply to all commercial properties from later this year and to all residential properties from May 2011, Adelaide Now reports.

A spokesman for State Energy Minister Pat Conlon said the ratings would inform prospective owners or tenants of a building's energy use, so they could factor it in to their buying or rental decision. The spokesman said details of the "Mandatory Disclosure" scheme - including who would carry out the assessments and how much they would cost - were yet to be decided.

Energy efficiency expert Arthur Grammatopoulos, of Helica Architecture, said rating properties could cost up to $1500 per house. "I think this is a positive move for the industry but the question has to be asked, will there be enough experts to cope with demand when the law is introduced?" he said. A similar scheme with a six-star rating has been operating in the Australian Capital Territory's property market for several years.

Queensland's State Government introduced a mandatory Sustainability Declaration form on January 1, requiring homeowners to declare their property's green credentials to prospective buyers or risk a $2000 fine.

Mandatory disclosure has been criticised by property experts as an unwarranted expense that will not influence purchasing decisions or cut household pollution. The Real Estate Institute of SA said governments were playing environmentally "popular politics" by introducing a law that they say will simply add to the cost of selling and renting a home. "I think they are patronising people who are making the biggest purchase decision of their life by thinking a rating system will influence that decision," REISA chief executive Greg Troughton said. "It's already hard enough to buy and sell a home and this is just another financial impost that also has the potential to delay the sale of a property."

While Mr Troughton said vendors would bear the cost of having their home rated by a licensed expert, independent SA MLC and former Valuer-General John Darley said landlords would look to pass the cost on to tenants. "This will be an extra cost to working families who have to rent because they can't afford a mortgage," he said. "And we need this like a hole in the head unless the governments can convince us there is a definite benefit, like a reduction in household pollution."

The Council of Australian Government's National Strategy on Energy Efficiency says Mandatory Disclosure will "help households and businesses prepare for the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme".


A professor of baseless insults

(Professor Andrew Pitman is Co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) at the University of NSW)

Last week a paid public servant spoke untruths, but instead of being exposed by the media, he was aided by our taxpayer-funded public broadcast network. Andy Pitman spoke about the socio-economic position of a group he avoids, and let down UNSW, abused the title “Professor”, and misled the public.

The journalists allowed the baseless smears to be broadcast without question, not just once, but twice. Professor Andy Pitman on ABC Radio: Sarah Clark interviews Andy Pitman on glaciers. Robin Williams thought it was so “useful” he rebroadcast the same factually incorrect, irrelevant material on his “science” show. Oops. It’s hard to cram more anti-truths into one declaration:
“My personal view is that climate scientists are losing the fight with climate sceptics. That the sceptics are so well funded, so well organized, have nothing else to do, they kind of don’t have day jobs, they can put all of their efforts into misinforming and miscommunicating climate science to the public, whereas the climate scientists have day jobs and this isn’t one of them. All of the efforts you do in an IPCC report is done out of hours, voluntarily, for no funding and no pay, whereas the sceptics are being funded to put out full scale misinformation campaigns…”

Let’s correct the six seven-delusion paragraph

1. Skeptics are well funded?

Let’s put a perspective on just how spectacularly wrong these claims on ABC radio are. ExxonMobil paid all of $23 million to skeptics worldwide in total, over ten years. In the same period, the US government alone was spending around $2 billion a year on climate scientists. And if you include other climate industry players, from 1989-2009, the total funding is $79 billion dollars. Hence believers of the big-scare could dip into a pot that was at least 3,500 times as large as anything the skeptics of the same scare could draw from. (All this info comes from my Climate Money paper).

If there was any equivalent funding for skeptics, Greenpeace would have found that paper trail and the scare-friendly press would have told you all about it. Big-Oil could hardly hide $79 billion now could they?

Andy Pitman earns far more from his beliefs than this skeptical advocate and infinitely more than most skeptics (who earn nothing) while he postulates on things he has done no research on and misleads the public. (Take me to court Andy. I don’t mind discovery of documents, but I don’t pander to bullies’ requests in public.) Most skeptical scientists are those no longer in the pay of government or other alarmist organizations, free to speak up without losing their jobs. They are mainly retired.

In reality it can cost money to be an active skeptic. To print out handouts, to organize speeches at local community halls, to do mail outs to our representatives, or to pay for transcripts of interviews that misrepresent the science. It says a lot that there are so many people willing to put themselves out, money and time-wise, in order to save us from the scare with no evidence.

Pitman has received over $6 million in grants – obviously not paid to him personally, but paid into accounts he controls–for research he directs. Presumably he also earns at least the base salary of a UNSW Professor, I gather, $190,000 a year. For a science PhD that’s not bad, especially if you throw in multiple overseas trips with all expenses paid, and the odd-rock-star-radio interview with no hard questions. It’s a wicket worth defending.

2. Skeptics are “well” organized?

Organized how exactly? With no PR department, no union, no association, no office, no UN agency, usually no budget, and … though you can see how we fund national multi-million dollar televised Ad campaigns like “Think Climate, Think Fraud”, oh that’s right … that was Kevin Rudd: “Think Climate, Think Change” (give us your money). That cost Australian taxpayers $13.9 million dollars.

Pitman cries poor while his scare campaign team includes the major western governments, the UN, the banks, big oil (they always funded alarmism more, and now don’t fund skeptics), the green movement, the alternative energy suppliers, the reinsurance industry, and many businesses. About all the skeptics have is donors on blogs and a few dedicated organizations of like minded people, such as the indefatigable Heartland (which is in turn funded mostly by private donations, with no more than 5% from any single corporation). Skeptics are tiny voices against vast machines.

Pitman wouldn’t recognize a genuine grassroots movement if it mowed him down.

3. Skeptics are misleading the public?

Misleading? You mean like climate scientists who are using tricks to “hide the decline”, removing data from 75% of worldwide temperature stations, ignoring the best ocean temperature network data, colluding to keep contrary papers out of publication, avoiding FOI requests, abusing statistics to make scary hockey sticks no matter what data you feed them, and ignoring the masses of data and analysis (much of it peer-reviewed) that undermines the carbon dioxide theory of global warming? Or, how about putting most “official” thermometers next to airport-tarmac or air conditioner outlets, or pretending that one tree in far north Russia can measure global temperatures?

Strangely, it’s not skeptics who howl that “only peer review counts” while at the same time pretending that speculative information from the WWF, Greenpeace and a student’s paper of mountaineering anecdotes were peer-reviewed research by hundreds of experts.

4. “Explaining science is not my job”.

According to the UNSW Guidelines, it is. It’s what Professors are paid to do: to foster leadership and excellence in their academic area within the university and the community. As it happens, over the last 18 months, I’ve asked Pitman in writing to publicly name any misleading points from the Skeptics Handbook. He has refused.

5. I, Andy Pitman, volunteer to help the IPCC

As Andrew Bolt so aptly pointed out, Andy Pitman’s grants list includes around $60,000 in funding “for costs incurred as lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”. That’s not most people’s idea of volunteer work.

6. Skeptics don’t have day jobs

Pitman, contradicting himself suddenly, claims many “fully funded” climate skeptics don’t have day jobs, and for once he’s half-right, but scores an own goal by using the truth. Most active skeptics don’t have day jobs, precisely because there aren’t any paid climate skeptic positions to have. Many skeptics are retired, because no one else has time to audit the IPCC “for fun”.

As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), total ARC grants specifically available for research aiming to disprove the theory of AGW in 2010 are exactly $0.00, as has been the case since time began. (That’s another scandal, for another day.)

Who should be protecting Australia from paying reparations based on bogus science? When the bogus science is climate science, Andy Pitman ought be high on that list. Instead, he helps to sell out the nation that supports him to a corrupt unaudited foreign committee whose recommendations will mainly end up profiting large financial houses.

7. An ad hominem attack is “scientific”?

Notice how we’re not talking about climate science? Why, on a planet that goes around the sun, is a professor of science launching ad hominem attacks? A science undergraduate should grovel with embarrassment for making this mistake. High school debaters have stronger reasoning skills. Yet, the science reporters on the ABC don’t even blink.

So what if I was paid, oh, let’s say, $190,000 a year, by… an oil sheik (I’m not). But if I was, how would that change the satellite recordings that I write about from Universities on the other side of the world from me? What kind of conspiracy theory do you have to hold in your head to nullify the evidence with any information about funding? I’m a commentator forgoodnesssake, I don’t even collect, hold or publish results from the sediments, corals, ice cores, pollen, diatoms, boreholes, or tree rings that I talk about.

Aren’t we all grown up enough now to attack the ball and not the man? (Which goes for Penny Sackett too, our Chief Scientist, who said that exact thing tonight on The 7.30 Report. Where was Sackett last week? Did she miss the chance to admonish Pitman for attacking skeptical scientists?)

Look Mum. No logical errors here: Lest anyone think I’m committing the same logical error as Pitman by pointing at his vested interests, let’s put a razor fine point on it. He claims we are winning the debate because we have so much funding. We claim he’s losing because he has no evidence. At no point have I ever said his science is wrong because he is paid. So why post about his funding?

One: To show that he’s not only illogical, but spectacularly wrong as well. It’s a baseless smear campaign.

Two: The $6 million in research grants vs the $0 in skeptical grants tells us nothing about the atmospheric climate, but shows that there is a Gravy Train, and he is on it. And he’s the one who suggested that people’s opinions were affected by funding. Go soak in that irony.

Three: If people are going to try to bully and smear us, it helps to make it painful for them, by pouring the truth right back at them.

Since he effectively said “follow the money”, I just said, “ok”. And did I mention that the carbon market was worth $130 billion last year?

Speaking of money, who is paid to audit the IPCC? Officially, no one is. No agency, no institution, no government department. Information from that UN conglomerate committee controls global markets, and yet answers to no elected government, no ASIC, no SEC, no ACCC. Nothing. There ought to be teams of skeptical scientists paid to check on the alarmists, but no one at all is checking, except a few unpaid scientists and bloggers.

The bottom line: Pitman peddles misinformation about science and misinformation about skeptics. He could start by apologizing to the Australian people who pay his salary. Then he could say thanks to the Australian scientists working pro bono to do part of his job for him.

What a sad week for Australian science, a dismal day for Australian universities, and a low point for the ABC. It’s not so hot for taxpayers either, we’re funding someone who throws baseless speculation and insults back at the same Australian citizens he’s supposed to serve.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Paul said...

On the subject of (lack of) infrastructure planning, the whisper up here in QLD is that the Government has been ripping so much money out of Ergon Energy to "balance" its books that planned power infrastructure has been postponed to the point of it not being possible to meet expected demand just five years from now. The contingency at the moment is for rolling blackouts to manage the problem of power delivery. (from someone on the inside)

Paul said...

"After three years of Labor being formally committed to an ETS, ministers can't answer simple questions."

Questions they never thought they would be required to answer?

Ruby said...

The Australian public has been wilfully lied to ever since the Labor Govt came into power. As a result of this, many of the Govt Depts, Police, Hospitals, ABC, etc, know that they can also mispresent the truth and they will not be investigated by a corrupt lying Govt. If the whole of our society is permeated by lies, then there is no substance. There must be change and promotion of moral values or our society is doomed.