Monday, February 01, 2010

Ten facts conveniently brushed over by the global warming fanatics

The following article appeared in a Left-leaning major Australian newspaper -- replying in part to some dishonest smears against Viscount Monckton elsewhere

1. The pin-up species of global warming, the polar bear, is increasing in number, not decreasing.

2. The US President, Barack Obama, supports building nuclear power plants. Last week, in his State of the Union address, he said: To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

3. The Copenhagen climate conference descended into farce. The low point of the gridlock and posturing at Copenhagen came with the appearance by the socialist dictator of Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, whose anti-capitalist diatribe drew a cheering ovation from thousands of left-wing ideologues.

4. The reputation of the chief United Nations scientist on global warming is in disrepair. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is being investigated for financial irregularities, conflicts of interest and scientific distortion. He has already admitted publishing false data.

5. The supposed scientific consensus of the IPCC has been challenged by numerous distinguished scientists.

6. The politicisation of science leads to a heavy price being paid in poor countries. After Western environmentalists succeeded in banning or suppressing the use of the pesticide DDT, the rate of death by malaria rose into the millions. Some scholars estimate the death toll at 20 million or more, most of them children.

7. The biofuels industry has exacerbated world hunger. Diverting huge amounts of grain crops (as distinct from sugar cane) to biofuels has contributed to a rise in world food prices, felt acutely in the poorest nations.

8. The Kyoto Protocol has proved meaningless. Global carbon emissions are significantly higher today than they were when the Kyoto Protocol was introduced.

9. The United Nations global carbon emissions reduction target is a massively costly mirage.

10. Kevin Rudd's political bluff on emissions trading has been exposed. The Prime Minister intimated he would go to the people in an early election if his carbon emissions trading legislation was rejected. He won't. The electorate has shifted.

None of these anti-commandments question the salient negative link between humanity and the environment: that we are an omnivorous, rapacious species which has done enormous damage to the world's environment. Nor do they question the warming of the planet.

What they do question is the morphing of science with ideology, the most pernicious byproduct of the global warming debate. All these anti-commandments were brought into focus this past week by the visit of the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, better known as Lord Christopher Monckton, journalist by trade, mathematician by training, provocateur by inclination.

Last Wednesday a conference room at the Sheraton on the Park was filled to overflowing, all 800 seats sold with a standing-room only crowd at the back, to see the Sydney public appearance of Monckton, a former science adviser to Margaret Thatcher. At the end of his presentation he received a sustained standing ovation.

Monckton is the embodiment of English aristocratic eccentricity. His presentations are a combination of stand-up comedy, evangelical preaching and fierce debating. Almost every argument he makes can be contested, but given the enormity of the multi-trillion-dollars that governments expect taxpayers to expend on combating global warming, the process needs to be subject to brutal interrogation, scrutiny and scepticism. And Monckton was brutal, especially about the media, referring to all this bed-wetting stuff on the ABC and the BBC.

There has also been a monumental political failure surrounding the global warming debate. Those who would have to pay for most of the massive government expenditures proposed, the taxpayers of the West, are beginning to go into open revolt at the prospect.

Last week the Herald reported that Monckton told a large lie while in Sydney. On Tuesday it reported: He said with a straight face on the Alan Jones radio program that he had been awarded the Nobel, a claim Jones did not question. The Herald repeated the accusation on Thursday. It was repeated a third time in a commentary in Saturday's Herald.

In 2007 the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the former US vice-president Al Gore. The prize committee, in citing its selection of the IPCC, said: Through the IPCC … thousands of scientists and officials from over 100 countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of [global] warming. Thousands of people were thus collectively and anonymously part of the prize process.

So what lie did Monckton tell about the prize? Despite the gravity of the accusation, the Herald never published the offending remark. Here, for the record, is what he actually said:

Monckton: I found out on the day of publication of the 2007 [IPCC report] that they'd multiplied, by 10, the observed contribution to sea-level rise of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet. By 10! I got in touch with them and said, 'You will correct this.' And two days later, furtively, on the website, no publicity, they simply relabelled, recalculated and corrected the table they'd got wrong.

Alan Jones: But this report won a Nobel Prize!

Monckton: Yes. Exactly. And I am also a Nobel Prize winner because I made a correction. I'm part of the process that got the Nobel Prize. Do I deserve it? No. Do they deserve it? No. The thing is a joke.


Training fails to prepare new doctors

An increased emphasis on "social" education has left less time for teaching such basics as anatomy. Many medical schools also now have a bias against very bright students in the name of "equality"

MEDICAL students are emerging from the nation's universities feeling inadequately prepared to deal with crucial tasks such as calculating safe drug doses and writing prescriptions.

In a challenge to Kevin Rudd's twin promise to improve university education and doctor shortages, a government study has also revealed that medical supervisors feel the abilities of hospital interns fall short of their expectations. The study reveals just 36 per cent of junior doctors think they have been adequately or well-prepared to do wound management. And only 29 per cent of final-year medical students feel they have been adequately prepared to calculate accurate drug doses.

The landmark review of the nation's medical education system was finalised 19 months ago but released only on Friday. Medical leaders warn that the extra influx of students since the Education Department commissioned the research has made the failings it describes even worse.

News of the concerns about medical education comes before today's release of a new Intergenerational Report warning that the nation's ageing population will impose extreme pressure on the health system, including the medical workforce. It also comes as The Australian has learned a Rudd government program aimed at addressing the drastic shortage of nurses in the nation's aged-care facilities has failed, attracting just 138 nurses in two years, against a target of 400.

In the past decade, the quality of medical training has come under increasing scrutiny, particularly since chronic doctor shortages have sparked an increase in medical school intakes and the creation of medical schools in regional universities. In 2007, The Australian revealed that almost three out of four medical students said they were taught too little anatomy during their medical degree, while more than a third questioned their own competence in the workings of the human body.

Such findings led the Howard government to commission the Department of Education, Science and Training to do a two-year study, conducted between 2005 and 2007, to find out how best to train the nation's doctors. The report found medical students feared for their skills in a number of key areas, including knowledge of basic sciences, while hospitals increasingly struggled to make time for effective teaching in the face of packed waiting rooms.

Only 48 per cent of final-year students and 64 per cent of junior doctors thought they were adequately or well prepared to write prescriptions. Interpreting X-rays was a concern for 69 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. And just 44 per cent of medical students and 48 per cent of junior doctors felt they had been properly trained to insert a tube through the nose and down the throat of a patient.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon refused to comment on the detail of the report late yesterday. Instead, she blamed it on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a health minister in the Howard government. "Tony Abbott failed to plan for the health workforce needs of Australia and even capped the number of people allowed to train as GPs - a cap that this government has lifted," Ms Roxon said.

The medical community warned that the situation had deteriorated since the report was completed. Australian Medical Association president Andrew Pesce said more needed to be done to properly fund medical training. "Nationally, there will be 2920 domestic graduates from medical schools by 2012, and over 500 international graduates - many of whom will want to stay in Australia," Dr Pesce said. "This will swamp the existing number of intern places - with only 2030 currently available across the country."

The executive director of surgical affairs for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Quinn, said the report was "a missed opportunity" to demand decisive action. Dr Quinn said the RACS was particularly disappointed, given it had been "vociferous about the dwindling and now inadequate teaching of anatomy" in all medical schools. "This would seem to be a failure to recognise the problem, and to propose some solutions to a problem that has been well-identified previously," Dr Quinn said.

Associate Professor Paul McKenzie, the president of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, said the report was a "disappointment" for failing to recommend improvements to undergraduate science training.


Australia's useless navy

With more useless but very expensive ships coming. Rudd's aim of building more ships here shows an utter inability to learn. He wants to build a new design of submarine here even though the previous attempt to do that has been an abject failure and left us with ZERO operational submarines

We are, as the torturous lyrics of our national anthem remind us, a nation girt by sea, a condition that ensures that we rely heavily for our continued existence on ships. One wonders, then, why the Royal Australian Navy and the contractors that supply it have such an appalling record in delivering naval vessels that go anywhere near performing the tasks required of them to defend our island continent.

The performance of the locally built Collins-class submarines has been a scandal since the first was launched in 1996. The fleet has suffered an endless litany of mechanical, electrical and computer malfunctions, which has meant it has never been able to carry out the national defence tasks for which it was designed. The boats were too noisy, the combat systems didn't work, the torpedoes didn't fit and they were not cheap, having to date cost $10 billion. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, some of them only received fully functioning combat systems last year.

When HMAS Farncomb limped into port last week after its generator failed, it meant that only the oldest, HMAS Collins, was fit to put to sea and then only for training purposes – and this from the fleet that was supposed to provide Australia's front line of defence. There are also concerns that the Swedish-supplied Hedemora diesel engines may have to be replaced, an enormous task that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The problems surrounding these intended monuments to Australian technical achievement were all but fatally underlined in February 2003 when a hose failed on HMAS Dechaineux while it was submerged. With 12,000 litres of water flooding the hull, it came within seconds of being lost with all 55 hands.

In May 1998, four sailors died in a horrific engine room fire aboard HMAS Westralia. An inquiry found the fire was caused by the non-standard flexible fuel lines fitted.

In August 2006, four sailors aboard the patrol boat HMAS Maitland were gassed with hydrogen sulphide.

One, Chief Petty Officer Kurt MacKenzie, has launched legal action for compensation, claiming the boats, which were never intended for the RAN but were a commercial design adapted to military use, were rushed into service.

Last week, with much fanfare, the RAN accepted four upgraded frigates into service. They are a welcome addition to the nation's maritime defence ability but were delivered five years late and hugely over budget. The fleet's supply ship HMAS Success does not meet the International Maritime Organisation's requirements for oil tankers to have double hulls. As a result, the Defence Department is seeking a waiver of this requirement from the international body.

In March 2008, the navy got rid of its Seasprite helicopters for $40 million, which may sound like a good deal until you appreciate that it paid $1.4 billion for them and that they were withdrawn from service shortly after being introduced because they were too dangerous to fly and had hopeless combat systems.

Why did we blow more than a billion dollars on junk? Well might you ask, for the decision to scrap them, taken seven years after they were supposed to start flying, ended one of the greatest debacles in the disaster-strewn history of Australian military purchases. The navy is at present flying Sea Hawk helicopters, which Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner has admitted are "increasingly difficult to support". Faulkner has also revealed that the fleet's mine hunters have "obsolescence issues" and that three of its six landing craft would soon have to be withdrawn from service.

Against this background, the Government has declared that it wants to acquire a new fleet of 12 submarines, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talking up the likelihood that these will be a uniquely Australian design. The other option is to buy a proven, off-the-shelf European model.

The political advantages of designing them and building them in Australia are obvious, although even the Defence Materiel and Science Minister Greg Combet has admitted that building the submarines ourselves would be "at the margins of our present scientific and technological capability" and the most complex project ever attempted here. Worryingly, Combet also added a political message, saying it would contribute to the modernisation of the Australian manufacturing industry.

But when the flag waving has ceased and the cheering faded, will we be left with a $36 billion fleet of Made in Australia vessels that are incapable of defending the country? The experience of the Collins-class vessels suggests that if political expedience triumphs over common sense, as invariably happens in this country, our coastline may be left unguarded. The Collins subs have never been called upon to fire a shot in anger. It would be a brave soul who would suggest that their replacements will enjoy the same good fortune.


Catholic schools teach Catholicism! How shocking!

Why send your kid to a Catholic school if that's a problem? I sent my son to a Catholic school despite my Protestant background and he enjoyed his religion lessons greatly -- and got high marks in them. Should I have expected anything else?

CATHOLIC schools are forcing Year 12 students to sit a TEE religion subject that will count towards their university entrance score. Outraged parents are taking their children out of Catholic schools because they believe the now mandatory Religion and Life subject will create an unfair workload on students. Students already studying courses like physics and chemistry will have an extra three-hour exam to cram for. And non-religious students will be forced to rigorously study Catholic values if they wish to get into university.

The Sunday Times understands that the idea to make all Catholic school students sit a religion exam came from Archbishop Barry Hickey. Catholic Education Office of WA director Ron Dullard conceded the decision had upset some parents. "Initially, there was some concern," he said. "I don't think the parents totally understood the implications that it actually does count towards their (child's) TEE and university entrance - and the fact that, irrespective of whether they were doing the exam, they still had to devote that amount of time as part of the policy of their Catholic education obligation to religion anyway."

One southern suburbs parent told The Sunday Times they had pulled their son out of a Catholic school. "My son didn't want the added pressure of juggling his religion exam studies with subjects like physics and chemistry," she said.

Mr Dullard said the mandatory religion exams should be a benefit for students. "It should give them an advantage, particularly if they've been doing RE (religious education) for 12 years in a Catholic school," he said. "I think the students will be better prepared for RE than any other of the new courses of study."

The subject Religion and Life was designed to be non-denominational by the Curriculum Council so that students from every school could study it. Curriculum Council chief executive David Wood said Catholic students would answer questions from the perspective of their faith. "The course is set up so that kids can draw on their knowledge and experiences in whatever faith they're in to respond to the questions," Mr Wood said.


Push for a Human Rights Act fading

The first big Australian political story of the year has raised surprisingly little attention. This is likely to change when the civil liberties lobby realises that the Rudd Government appears to have junked the human rights agenda.

Last Wednesday, The Australian Financial Review reported an interview with the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland. There was considerable media focus on his comment that the Rudd Government, if re-elected, would consider a referendum on the republic, the recognition of indigenous Australians, local government and co-operative federalism.

The interest faded when the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said Kevin Rudd had made it clear "there are no present plans to have a referendum" on the republic.

Gillard said the Government was focused on immediate challenges and mentioned lifting educational standards. Fair enough. But if the republic is a lower-order issue to education, then education reform should take precedence over a human rights act.

This was the part of the McClelland interview that was essentially overlooked. He said it was the Government's philosophy that "the enhancement of human rights should be done in a way that as far as possible unites a community rather than causes further division".

If this is the case then a human rights act seems doomed. Writing in the Herald last February, the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, QC, maintained that at the 2020 Summit "a thousand articulate members of the community came down in favour of … a charter of rights". Not so. This issue was only discussed in any detail at the summit's constitution, rights and responsibilities sub-stream, which was chaired by the legal academic Helen Irving.

There was majority support among sub-stream delegates for a charter of rights but also strong minority opposition. Following the summit, McClelland established the National Human Rights Consultation, chaired by the lawyer Father Frank Brennan, with three other members. He erred in not including someone who opposed a charter of rights. Irving would have been an ideal appointment.

The group released a report in September. Its most controversial recommendations turn on the proposal that Australia should adopt a human rights act and that the High Court should be empowered to declare a Commonwealth law to be incompatible with it. The Brennan report says that this recommendation may prove impractical. Brennan told The Weekend Australian in September: "My own view is that I think this provision is not going to be workable."

Little wonder McClelland is wary. In its foreword, the Brennan report concedes the Coalition is opposed to a human rights act and the Labor Party is divided on the issue. Two of the most articulate opponents are the former NSW premier Bob Carr, and the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos.

Then there is the new Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott. As McClelland well knows, Abbott is capable of running a very effective campaign against a charter presented as giving more power to unelected judges and bureaucrats at the expense of the elected representatives of the people. Abbott's case would be strengthened by the fact that, on this issue, his views are close to those of Carr and Hatzistergos.

The Brennan report revealed that a majority of Australians believe human rights are adequately protected now. Outside such advocacy groups as GetUp! and Amnesty, there is little call for a charter. The majority of submissions came from these organisations while most of those opposing came from the Australian Christian Lobby.

In the lead-up to this year's federal election, Rudd and his colleagues do not need an argument with Christian groups - including the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, who has expressed concern that the human rights lobby is intent on constraining religious freedom. As McClelland has indicated, the Rudd Government does not want to preside over a divisive debate on this issue.

Nor is there reason to. Irving is correct in arguing that the Australian rights record is no worse, and in many cases is better, than in countries which have a bill of rights. Such recognition is missing from the Brennan report. The tone of Australia Day suggests that most Australians are happy with their lot. It seems that McClelland has come to a similar conclusion.


1 comment:

Paul said...

My experience is that Doctors have never been well trained for the realities of their work in this country, either clinically or socially. It's worse now because so many second and third worlders with no interest in medicine other than making Mama & Papa proud are clogging the hospitals with their incompetence and arrogance.