Saturday, December 04, 2010

Proof of global cooling

The Warmists told us for years that warming would cause drought, so ....

Note that Australia is a continent so this is not trivial

AUSTRALIA has recorded its wettest spring in 111 years of records as the Weather Bureau warns of heavy rain on Saturday for much of Queensland's southeast. The nation recorded an average 163mm over spring, up on the previous record of 140mm set in 1975.

It comes as Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt raises concerns about the impacts of the wet on the reef.

Dr Reichelt said on Thursday that although cloud cover could help keep sea surface temperatures down and reduce bleaching, cyclones and flood run-off could cause damage. Environment Department staff and tourism operators would be involved in monitoring reef health. "Surveys will provide early warning of any problems such as coral bleaching and disease and damage from predators and storms," Dr Reichelt said.

Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Saunders said all states, except Tasmania, recorded heavy spring rain. "A moderate to strong La Nina weather pattern through the Pacific Ocean has delivered Australia's wettest spring in the 111 years of records we have available," he said.

"The wet spring follows a wet summer, autumn and winter. The nation has averaged 580mm so far this year, our third wettest January to November on record."

Mr Saunders said the La Nina showed little sign of weakening, so above average summer rain should continue along the east coast. "With catchments saturated following the spring downpours, there is a serious risk of further flooding," he said.


No sign of summer in Queensland as 2011 draws near

They're dying of cold in the Northern winter at the moment and even in the Southern summer it is unusually cool. No matter how the Warmists try to explain it away, the cooling is GLOBAL!

As the holidays approach and the New Year inches closer, it is the question on many Queenslanders' lips: where is summer? With the state seeing its wettest spring in 111 years and no sign of clear skies, the normally hot and humid weather characteristic of a Queensland Christmas is yet to set in.

Information from the Bureau of Meteorology showed that in 2009, the average temperature for November and the dying weeks of spring was 29.5 degrees, with a top of 34.8. However, November 2010 saw an average of only 26.6 degrees and a top of 29.5; over five degrees cooler than this time last year.

And with showers predicted for the whole of next week and temperatures to remain in the mid to high 20s, it seems December is shaping up to be just as overcast.

Bureau of Meteorology climate meteorologist Xiankun Meng said the higher than average rainfall was causing the lower temperatures. “The increased rainfall causes more cloud cover. This means the average temperatures are decreased,” he said.

Mr Meng said the increased activity in the eastern regions of the Pacific due to El Nino effect was causing more weather activity and the excessive rainfall to southeast Queensland.

He said the Bureau predicted that the southern half of the state would experience below average temperatures over the summer period and a cooler minimum. And although some hot days are possible after the New Year, there were no available long-term predictions.


A private education has its awards

Non-disruptive classrooms give teachers time to teach

ONE of Melbourne's bastions of male privilege - Scotch College - has educated more of Australia's most honoured and influential citizens than any other school in the nation.

An analysis of the 435 people who have received the nation's top Order of Australia honours since they were first awarded in 1975, shows they disproportionately attended a handful of elite Victorian secondary schools.

Scotch College alumni blitzed the field, with 19 former students receiving Australia's highest honour, including former governor-general Sir Zelman Cowen, historian Hugh Stretton, High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, indigenous eye health pioneer Professor Hugh Taylor and former Tasmanian premier Jim Bacon.

The only school that comes close is Geelong Grammar, with former students, including Prince Charles and Rupert Murdoch, receiving 17 honours.

Alumni from the two schools have received more than 8 per cent of all the knight, dame or Companion of the Order of Australia honours - more than all the schools in each of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory.

The analysis provides a fascinating insight into the transfer of social advantage through the school system, with independent schools dominating rankings in Victoria.

The only government school in Victoria to be ranked in the top 30 was the selective-entry Melbourne High School, whose alumni - including Nobel prizewinning neurophysiologist John Eccles and former Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane - received six honours. However, study author Rohan Reid said outside of Victoria the dominant schools were not always private, with former students from the selective state schools Sydney Boys' High and Fort Street High receiving the third and equal fourth highest number of awards.

Professor Jack Keating from the University of Melbourne said that unlike Melbourne, Sydney had about 20 selective-entry high schools. "Sydney Boys and Fort Street are long-established, so the economic and social elite will be more inclined to send their kids there," Professor Keating said.

"The selective-entry high schools have been favoured by a certain middle class on the Labor side of politics. A lot of the lawyers' class and the professional class comes through these schools, whereas in Melbourne, the law and medical classes tend to come through the private schools."

He said the study mirrored the findings of Melbourne University researchers Mark Peel and Janet McCalman, who analysed the educational backgrounds of the people listed in the 1988 Who's Who. Again, Scotch College outranked all other schools.

Professor David Penington, an Old Scotch Collegian who was made a companion of the Order of Australia in 1988 for his service to medicine and the community, believes the school's Scottish Presbyterian background meant it has always placed a strong emphasis on community contribution.

It's a sentiment shared by former premier and old Scotch boy Jeff Kennett, AC, who still recalls the words of former headmaster Richard Selby Smith. "He used to say to us that we had an obligation to the college when we left school - it wasn't all about money, it was actually about service. It was something that stuck in my mind as a young boy."

Mr Kennett believes Order of Australia honours should reward what people do outside their jobs.

"I think there are so many people who consistently give to the community, who don't get the recognition they deserve," he said. Author Shane Maloney infamously described Scotch College as a "machine for the transmission of inherited privilege" during a creative writing seminar at the school nine years ago.

Asked whether the analysis of Order of Australia honours reinforced his view that Scotch was a factory of privilege, Mr Maloney said: "You could draw that conclusion. Alternatively, the argument could be put that it simply reinforces the value parents get for their money."


Labor party needs to stand up to the Greens

They could even become a working-class party again! The teachers and other "intellectuals" will probably all vote Green anyway

FROM carbon pricing to social values, Gillard must stay true to her party.

THE Labor Party is facing a crisis of values. This is highlighted by the struggle on the Left of politics between Labor and the Greens, where Labor needs to prevail this term in the coming battle of ideas.

Forget any notion that the Victorian election terminates the Greens' push. That's nonsense.

The setback the Greens experienced last weekend in Victoria has nothing to do with Labor's strength and everything to do with the Liberal Party's preference decision against them.

While the Greens failed to win lower house seats, they polled 10.9 per cent of the vote compared with Labor's 36.3 per cent.

The threat posed by the Greens to the Labor Party remains as potent as ever while senator Bob Brown stays federal leader.

The Greens are more formidable than the Australian Democrats were and represent deep cultural and ideological currents in Australian and Western society.

The Coalition, in broad terms, knows where it stands.

It rejects Greens values centred on prioritising environmental action over the economy, higher taxes, more government controls, permissive borders, severing the US alliance, curtailing overseas military deployments, social progressivism in sexual and lifestyle choices, and an assertive secularism that breaks from the religious tradition still underpinning Western institutions.

The Labor Party, by contrast, looks confused and divided in its response to the values represented by the Greens.

Early impressions are that Labor sentiment is moving to the Left to protect its progressive wing, but this is not necessarily Julia Gillard's own judgment.

Former NSW Labor treasurer Michael Costa offered the critical insight in The Australian Literary Review, saying that "Labor will never be able to match the Greens in a rhetorical battle on so-called social justice".

He's right. The Greens will outbid Labor on climate change action and any item in the progressive social agenda.

The coming Labor-Green contest will be dominated by two dimensions: climate change focused on pricing carbon and social libertarianism focused on the Greens-driven agenda of euthanasia and gay marriage.

In 2009 the Greens won the climate-change debate against Labor. Gillard's success as prime minister will hinge upon her ability to reverse this result. The Greens carried the view that Kevin Rudd's scheme, with its aid for electricity generators and trade, exposed industry, while Labor's 5 per cent emission reduction target was a sellout. Rudd's scheme was trashed in the media and dismissed by much of the climate-change lobby as the prelude to being sunk by Tony Abbott.

The second round is now occurring and this week Climate Change Minister Greg Combet spelt out Labor's approach. He sees pricing carbon as a reform that will strengthen, not weaken, our economy. He doubts a binding global agreement will be achieved any time soon.

He argues the 5 per cent reduction target (by 2020 off 2000 levels) is more ambitious in per capita terms than Europe's and the conditions are not met for Australia to lift this target.

Combet's argument is that Australia should move to price carbon next year and the Greens must be held to account for their decision.

The test he poses for the Greens is whether they "prove themselves capable of playing a constructive hand to achieve fundamental environmental and economic reform". And Combet keeps reminding the media that the Greens' torpedoing of Rudd's scheme last year "received surprisingly little analysis".

Gillard closed the circle this week. She announced, bluntly, ruthlessly, that 2011 "is the year Australia decides on carbon pricing". Blind Freddie can decode this. Gillard is naming 2011 as the year the Greens become either constructive collaborators or wreckers.

If they fail to negotiate Combet's bill then war between Labor and the Greens is inevitable.

In any such conflict Gillard must win the values debate. She needs to hold the voting majority behind her policy because Gillard cannot repeat Rudd's blunder last April of walking away from his commitment.

Gillard, in effect, is doing what Paul Keating advised on the ABC's Lateline on Thursday, when he said "the big parties do the big changes".

That is, Labor must operate from strength and live with the consequences. It is big picture politics. Having taken her stand, Gillard cannot retreat because of the skeleton in her cupboard.

That skeleton is the advice she gave Rudd earlier this year to abandon his climate change policy. Gillard told senior cabinet colleagues she would not and could not support Rudd's scheme, that is, the emissions trading scheme, going into the 2010 election. She was unequivocal.

She insisted upon this with the force of her office as Deputy Prime Minister, leaving Rudd little option. So her current position is a "road to Damascus" conversion meaning yet another reversal would be fatal for her.

If the bill fails next year Gillard and Combet must protect their left flank by arguing that the Greens have been utterly irresponsible, and protect their right flank against Abbott by arguing that pricing carbon is a national necessity.

In short, Labor needs to brand itself as the party of responsible climate change action. If it cannot win this battle of ideas then Labor will sink between the opposing assaults of the Greens and Coalition.

The parallel contest next year will be the Green-driven social engineering agenda. It starts with euthanasia, where Brown vows to resume debate to restore the powers of territory parliaments to legislate for euthanasia. In effect, this reverses the 1996 bill moved by Liberal MP Kevin Andrews and carried in the lower house on a 88-35 conscience vote (most dissenters being Labor MPs).

Despite its mechanics, the ultimate intent is to secure the introduction of euthanasia into Australia. This would constitute one of the most important social reforms in our history and crosses the threshold to a legal regime that sanctions killing, with little confidence that safeguards exist to reassure the sick, vulnerable, indigenous and invalid.

While a test for the entire parliament, it becomes a special test of Labor values, given Labor is in office. The question is whether Labor, as a party, has a pro-euthanasia majority in support of the Greens' campaign for a core change in Australia's values.

After euthanasia, comes the gay marriage debate. The Greens, again, have put this on the agenda and Labor has fallen into a protracted and divisive internal debate with emotions high on both sides. It is the last thing Gillard would have wanted.

For Labor's pro-gay marriage camp there is only one issue: removing another discrimination against gays. NSW senator Doug Cameron said this week the current marriage law was "wrong" and "crazy". He said Australia was a "socially progressive" nation and there would be no downside for Labor in legislating gay marriage.

However, gay marriage is not recognised as a universal human right. It involves not merely removal of a legal discrimination but changes the foundations of the most vital social institution.

This truth cannot be evaded and Labor should confront it. The point is recognised by Gillard in her election-eve interview with this newspaper.

Explaining her rejection of gay marriage, Gillard said: "For this nation, with our heritage as a Christian country, with what's defined us and continues to define us, the Marriage Act has a special status in our culture and for our community. My position appreciates that."

Her remarks, as an atheist Labor PM, are unremarkable. It is, however, a measure of how far Labor's values have changed that much of the party is now hostile to Gillard's position. This originates in two factors, tactics and values.

There is support within caucus to embrace gay marriage as a tactic to pre-empt the Greens. And the public isn't mug enough to miss this. The idea that Labor is ready to change the meaning of marriage to save its vote in inner-city seats will only invite public cynicism.

What other principle is Labor prepared to trade like a sack of potatoes?

The more substantial point relates to values. Here is the authentic commitment to gay rights that says marriage must be re-defined. Again, this would constitute one of the most pivotal changes in Labor belief since the party's inception.

And it assumes as Cameron says, that Australia is now a socially progressive country.

Indeed, it seems almost politically incorrect to even question this mantra. However, it is questioned at length in the just released John Howard memoirs. Howard explains that social conservatism was at the heart of his success as PM. Proud of what he stood for, Howard believes the social conservatism he radiated on a wide front almost daily helped him to penetrate and hold the Labor base vote and win four elections.

Now, perhaps Howard is utterly deluded. Or perhaps Labor is fooling itself, as it has done so often over the past 20 years. Labor has a history of embracing progressive causes beloved by educated activists but at odds with its working-class base, which either opposes such causes or dislikes the priority they are accorded.

Next year will see Australian households hurting and under pressure. Labor needs to consider whether this is the moment to embark upon a radical shift in its social beliefs to fit into the so-called new paradigm and astute Greens agenda-setting.


1 comment:

Paul said...

We've had an unusual amount of rain in Cairns this Spring. Even the old hands are saying how unusual its been. We usually air condition a lot by early to mid-October, but not this year.