Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Declining trees spell gloom for planet -- say Greenie nuts

Since global temperature changes over the last decade have been in tenths of a degree only, whatever is happening to trees is not the result of global warming. There IS no global temperature change to speak of. Besides, any ocean warming would INCREASE overall rainfall, which is good for trees -- and increased CO2 is good for them too.

The study below blames the decline in trees that they saw on drier weather overall -- but drier weather overall is a sign of global COOLING! Pesky! How come these so-called scientists know nothing of the most basic physics of evaporation?

LESS rainfall and rising global temperatures are damaging one of the world's best guardians against climate change: trees. A global study, published in the journal Science, shows that the amount of carbon dioxide being soaked up by the world's forests in the past decade has declined, reversing a 20-year trend.

It diminishes hopes that global warming can be seriously slowed down by the mass planting of trees in carbon sinks. Although plants generally grow bigger as a result of absorbing carbon-enriched air, they need more water and nutrients to do so, and they have been getting less.

A fierce drought that dried out vast areas of the Amazon Basin in 2005 is seen as a key to the global decline in carbon sinks in the past decade, but Australia is not immune. "Australia is a significant contributor to the global pattern, and the findings are consistent to what we have seen here," said a senior CSIRO researcher and director of the Global Carbon Project, Dr Josep Canadell.

"There has been a measurable decline in the leaf area of plants this decade, though we don't have all the data for Australia yet. What we have seen is strongly consistent with projected patterns of climate change."

The Science study, Drought-induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000 through 2009, used data from a NASA satellite that orbits Earth every 15 days to build up a global map of changing leaf density and forest cover. It estimated net primary production, a measurement of how much CO2 is taken in by plants and stored as part of their biomass.

The study found that in some areas of the world, higher temperatures had driven more plant growth. But these gains have been cancelled out by drier conditions in rainforests, leading to the overall decline in total amount of CO2 the forests are soaking up.

The findings reinforce work being done at the Australian Bureau of Rural Sciences, which is researching how much carbon can be stored on a long-term basis in the landscape.

Scientists say that a sustained decline in the amount of carbon being stored in forests risks locking in a vicious cycle, in which trees absorb less carbon because the world is warmer and drier, while the rising carbon levels in the atmosphere continue to trap heat.

"There is no single silver bullet answer to this, but one of the partial solutions is the protection of old-growth forests, which store a lot of CO2, and the replanting of those that have been removed," said Professor Andy Pitman, the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW. "This doesn't actually get to the heart of the problem though, which is rising CO2 emissions from human activity."

Rainfall patterns in Australia are expected to alter significantly over the next few decades as average temperatures increase, with more rain likely to fall in the north and north-west and less precipitation likely in southern Australia. This means that many of Australia's existing old-growth forests, which are located in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, can be expected to become less efficient carbon sinks.


Hung parliament may be just what Canberra needs

Minority government can be a useful corrective

THE political catastrophists are already counting down to the parliamentary Armageddon they predict will strike Canberra once a minority government is sworn in. We're not so sure. Stable government is a pre-requisite for competent administration, and vital for economic reform. A ruling party is helped considerably if it can command a workable majority in the lower house. Whoever emerges as prime minister this time, however, won't have that luxury. And that might not be such a bad thing.

If the major parties and independent MPs can work together, as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been in what first appeared an unlikely coalition in Britain, we might see more checks on wasteful spending and a useful circuit breaker against encroaching big government. The hubris that has infected both sides of politics in office will be kept in check. The Howard government, for example, would never have taken Work Choices too far had it not commanded both houses of parliament. The ultimate outcome of that excess, unfortunately was the reversal of 20 years of vital workplace reforms. In a finely balanced parliament, it is also doubtful whether the Rudd government's judgment would have been so badly clouded by the adulation fanned by the "Kevin07" campaign.

No government relying on the support of crossbenchers would have dared bypass the process to launch a revenue grab against the mining industry as blatant and excessive as Kevin Rudd's original resource super-profits tax proposal. Underpinned by public accounts and other committees with real teeth, a minority government would also have faced intense scrutiny of the school building stimulus. If independent MPs remained true to their pledges about protecting the public interest, such vast expenditure would not have been sanctioned in a form that wasted billions of dollars. Nor would the shambolic pink batts program have been anything more than a thought bubble, quickly discarded. A minority government might have asked tough questions before the Governor-General was sent of a grand tour of Africa to drum up support for Australia's questionable bid for a UN Security Council seat. Unlike in the US, with its in-built checks and balances in the different powers afforded the president and congress, legitimate concerns raised in parliament in Australia have been sidelined too often.

A clear-cut election result would have made life easier for everyone. But provided the players rise to the challenge responsibly, a few years of minority government could put a much-needed brake on the trend towards bigger government as any blatant attempts to buy off various constituencies are likely to be blocked. Some may object to the kingmaking status granted to independents Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, but they have little to fear. The trio will not pick the winner without serious thought, knowing that they will be out of a job in three years, or sooner, if they make the wrong call. A democracy as vibrant as ours never gets it wrong for long. No one wants to see the semi-permanent inertia that hung parliaments have inflicted in Europe. But, for a while at least, the experience will not be entirely negative.


There was no room at the hospital for gravely ill child. He died 16 hours later

The killer NSW hospital system again

The parents of a dead toddler have lodged a complaint with the NSW Ambulance Service, saying paramedics arrived at their house but told them there was no point taking their ill son to hospital because there were no spare beds.

A coroner's inquiry has been ordered into how Connor Williams, 18 months, died only hours after paramedics treated him at his home near Dubbo.

Paramedics say the tragedy highlights an under-resourced health system struggling to cope, and fear they will be forced to shoulder the blame for a chronic lack of hospital beds across the state.

Sarah and Graeme Williams called paramedics to their home after Connor became "shaky on his feet", "tired and lethargic", and "couldn't even hold his head up", but were told they should keep him home because the emergency department at Dubbo Base Hospital was full.

"[The paramedic's] words were, Dubbo hospital is full, they have no beds in the ED, they have no beds in the hospital, [but] if we were worried [to] bring him back," Mrs Williams said. Sixteen hours later Connor was dead.

Tess Coates, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Service Protection Association, which represents about a third of paramedics in NSW, said paramedics were "extremely frustrated" and were being "stretched to the limit" by a shortage of beds across NSW.

She could not comment on the case involving Connor, but said paramedics were being "screamed at all the time to get to another job" and were continually facing increasingly aggressive patients and their families who were upset at waiting longer for treatment.

"Bed availability is absolutely crazy. There are unending delays, and at some hospitals they will wait … up to six hours to get the patient off the trolley. Paramedics are the meat in the sandwich. And every time there is a bad outcome the ambulance services takes it out on the officers."

A spokesman for the NSW Ambulance Service said the paramedics involved, who face dismissal if found guilty by the service's Professional Standards and Conduct Unit, had been interviewed. He said Mr and Mrs Williams had signed a form saying they did not want Connor taken to hospital, but he could not comment on their reasons.

"We don't know what happened in this case yet, but ambos know whether there are any beds, and if a patient asks if they'll have to wait long at the hospital, the ambo will say yes or no," he said. "It's then up to the patient to decide if they want to go."

Connor had been diagnosed with an ear infection three days before his death. Later that night, after he developed ulcers on his tongue, his parents took him to hospital, where he was seen by three doctors. He was later sent home, but his condition worsened two days later, when his parents rang triple-0.

Five hours after the paramedics left, Mr and Mrs Williams took him back to the hospital. He was kept in overnight and a helicopter was ordered to transfer him to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, but he died before he could be flown out.

The general manager of Dubbo Base Hospital, Andrew Newton, extended sympathy to the family but said Connor was seen promptly in the emergency department.

The opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said the case was tragic and deserved a coroner's inquiry. "Whenever I speak to ambos they are so frustrated because so often beds are not available. And the poor ambos are the ones who end up copping the blame."


The charming Victoria police again

And note that these are top cops

POLICE up to the rank of superintendent are being investigated over racist, homophobic and pornographic emails circulated through the Victoria Police email system.

In March, police announced more than 100 officers were being investigated over the emails.

A police statement today said those under investigation included a "small number of senior officers up to the rank of Superintendent''.

The statement says a number of police members have been interviewed and charged with disgraceful conduct, or failing to comply with an instruction of the Chief Commissioner of Police, a breach of section 69 of the Police Regulation Act.

Ten are scheduled to appear at internal police hearings over the next two days, which will determine what, if any, sanctions will be handed down. These determinations may be appealed.

Two other members have resigned rather than face the hearings this week. In March, Healesville Sergeant Tony Vangorp resigned and took his own life after being caught up in the investigation.

Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has previously described the racist, homophobic and pornographic emails as too "offensive'' and "shocking'' to ever be publicly released.

The police statement described the emails as "material of the most extreme nature''.


Note that I have a special blog on Queensland cops, there is so much misbehaviour among them.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Since when did Paramedics get the right to decide that a sick child wouldn't be seen in an emergency department? Something is seriously wrong with this story. They had an obligation to take him to the hospital regardless of crowding issues, and I can tell you now a sick child WOULD have been seen by someone. This sounds like an issue of poor judgement on the part of the paramedics which whatever pressures they are facing, remains simply poor judgement. If the hospital is overcrowded it still remains the hospitals responsibility to prioritize resources and deal with emerging situations as they arise. It's not up to the paramedics to assume the hospital won't cope and thus not take a sick kid there. I hope there's something I've missed here because if there isn't then I suspect some paramedics in Dubbo will be flipping burgers as their next career move.