Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Australian economy leads the world

Australia has the strongest economy in the developed world and it is expected to outperform all comers for at least the next two years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said this update is consistent with the reasons he has given for bringing the budget back to surplus, and criticised Tony Abbott for "talking down the economy".

The IMF - which issued its World Economic Outlook in Washington overnight - said it expected the Australian economy to expand by 3 per cent this year as fiscal tensions from Europe and the United States continue to ease.

The body stated that after a major setback last year with the Eurozone crisis, the global prospect of far more stable financial conditions was gradually improving.

The update said that it expects the Australian economy will outstrip growth over all other advanced economies over the next two years, noting we live in a region where exposure to troubled European banks was less than for other parts of the world.

But it also warned that Australia was exposed to risk if economic conditions in the Middle East caused another oil price spike.

The organisation revised up its global growth forecasts, with the global economy expected to grow by 3.5 per cent in 2012, up from 3.3 per cent in the January update.  A forecast of global growth of 4.1 per cent in 2013 has also been revised up from 3.9 per cent.

Global growth continues to be underpinned by solid growth in Asia, the report said.  China's economy was expected to grow 8.2 per cent in 2012 and 8.8 per cent in 2013, while India was expected to grow 6.9 per cent in 2012 and 7.3 per cent in 2013. These forecasts were broadly unchanged from the IMF's January update.

Mr Swan will attend a meeting of the G20 finance ministers in Washington this weekend, with appointments scheduled with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, the outgoing president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, and the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.

Mr Swan said the latest global outlook update was consistent with the reasons he had consistently given for bringing the budget back to surplus.  "The IMF also forecasts Australia's unemployment rate to remain low at 5.2 per cent in both 2012 and 2013," he said.

"With solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, strong public finances and a record pipeline of business investment, the Australian economy is the standout performer of the developed world."

Mr Swan said that the chance of the Reserve Bank cutting interest rates was greatly increased by a budget surplus.

"The IMF's confirmation of Australia's strong economic fundamentals - with solid growth and low unemployment - further underscores the importance of returning the budget to surplus, and giving the Reserve Bank maximum flexibility to cut interest rates if it considers that is necessary," he said.

The government has hit out at Opposition leader Tony Abbott for "getting it wrong" on the IMF growth forecasts.

During a morning doorstop, Mr Abbott said the IMF report showed the local economy was "underperforming", as they had downgraded the economic growth forecast.  "It forecasts 3 per cent for the current financial year and it looks like we are going to get 2 per cent," Mr Abbott said.  "This is an underperforming economy and it's underperforming because of the poor economic management of the current government."

But Mr Abbott's assertion was not correct, according to a spokesman for the Treasurer, who said the growth forecast of 3 per cent in 2012 had been the same since the start of the year.

Mr Swan tweeted from the tarmac before taking off for Washington that it was "crucial Tony Abbott stops talking down the Aussie economy – describing us as 'underperforming' despite big tick from IMF this morning".


Antagonism rising between the Greens and the Labor party under aggressive new Green leader

WAYNE Swan says other countries would think he was "nuts" if he listened to the Greens' call to delay the return to surplus next year.

But new Greens leader Christine Milne met Julia Gillard yesterday to warn her party would use its position of influence to force changes including boosts to the dole and extra spending on dental health.

"I made it clear to the prime minister that the Greens' view is that we should ease off on achieving a surplus this year," she said.

Senator Milne said her party's deal with Labor to back supply does not prevent it from trying to amend the Budget.

But Mr Swan, who is heading to a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington, said he would be ridiculed if he caved in to the demands.

"This isn't a matter of the Greens, this is the right thing by the country, by the economy, and by the people and that's what we will be doing," he said.

"I'm about to head off to a meeting of the G20 ... If I was to sit there and take the advice of the Greens or a lot of other people around the place in the commentariat world, they would say you are nuts if you're not coming back to surplus on that timetable."

The Treasurer said Australia had a healthier economy than most developed countries and his plan to return to surplus was the envy of other world leaders.

"I will be sitting there (at the G20) saying I'm coming from a developed economy which has a budget coming back to surplus, which has an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent, which has a pipeline of investment in resources of something like $455 billion," he said.

"I will look across to Tim Geithner of the US and their economy has only just got back to the same size it was prior to the global financial crisis. They've got an unemployment rate of 8 per cent plus.

"I will look across at the British. The British economy is 4 per cent smaller than it was prior to the global financial crisis with an unemployment rate of 8 per cent plus." He conceded the Government had failed to win support with the Australian public because of the carbon tax but predicted voters would turn back to Labor.

The Government yesterday received the green light from a review led by Reserve Bank of Australia board member Jillian Broadbent to set up its $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation from July 2013 to help fund green energy projects.


Australian government should re-examine the climate data

(The  article below has four very experienced and knowledgeable co-authors:  Bob Carter is a geologist specialising in paleontology and marine geology; David Evans is a computer modeller and was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office, 1999-2005; Stewart Franks is an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Newcastle; William Kininmonth headed Australia's National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, 1986-98)

TWO recent, widely publicised reports by the government's scientific advisory agencies on climate change have sought to raise alarm yet again about global warming.

With the world having warmed slightly during the late 20th century, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Climate Commission all advocate that this warming was caused mainly by industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, and that the continuation of emissions unchecked will cause dangerous warming of 3C-4C by 2100.

However, these and other climate agencies are now encountering a public that is increasingly aware of the lack of factual evidence for dangerous warming, and of the speculative nature of the arguments advanced in its favour.

For example, many people now understand that there is no direct evidence that 20th-century warming was caused mostly by carbon dioxide increase; that the late 20th-century warming has been followed by a 15-year temperature standstill in the face of continuing increases in carbon dioxide; and that the models that project alarming future warming are inadequate.

The dangerous warming hypothesis is embodied in the complex climate models that CSIRO and others use to predict the future climate.  But when the model predictions are tested against the latest high-quality data from our best instruments, they are seen to have comprehensively failed.

For example, the models predicted increasing global air temperatures (the measured rises have been much less than predicted), increasing ocean temperatures (there has been no change since 2003, when we started measuring it properly with Argo ocean-diving buoys) and the presence of a hot spot caused by humidity and cloud feedback at heights of 8km-12km in the tropical atmosphere (entirely absent).

The last item is especially important because it shows that the crucial amplification assumed by the modellers and which is responsible for two-thirds of the predicted warming (yes, only one-third is directly due to carbon dioxide) simply does not exist.

Finding that the estimated historic increase in carbon dioxide was not enough to cause dangerous warming on its own, the modellers guessed that atmospheric water vapour would amplify, by a factor of three, any initial carbon dioxide-forced warming.  That this assumed amplification is present in the models but not in reality explains why the models consistently overestimate recent warming.

What then should our government be making of all this?

Well, the government appears to take advice on global warming and climate change from a wide range of sources, which include the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Australian government agencies (CSIRO, BOM), state-based greenhouse or climate-change bodies, rent- seekers from many university climate-related research groups, business lobby groups and consultants and, finally, large environmental lobby organisations (Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, WWF). Phew.

The reality is, though, that all of these groups and organisations take their lead from, and support the views of, the IPCC (a political body that is unaccountable to Australian citizens).

Their starting assumption is therefore that human-caused global warming exists, that it is dangerous and that the way to avert the danger is to "decarbonise" the planet. The many agencies and groups giving advice are, in fact, just providing multiple conduits for the same repetitive, alarmist message, which derives ultimately from the same IPCC source.

Since the government's carbon tax legislative package passed the Senate last October, Australian press coverage of the global warming issue has been muted, doubtless partly signifying that there have been few government media releases that address the topic since the Senate decision.

That situation changed with a jolt during the week starting on March 12, when a wide variety of news media carried stories about CSIRO's Cape Grim air pollution monitoring station in Tasmania, followed later in the week by publicity for new reports on global warming by CSIRO/BOM and the Climate Commission.

In effect, the week revealed a co-ordinated and highly successful public relations campaign by three of the organisations involved in giving advice on climate change in Australia, with support and advance knowledge among some media editors and reporters. The aim was to rekindle the fast-fading fear of global warming alarm among the general public.

Very little scientific balance or analysis was provided during this week-long barrage of tired, speculative and highly controversial assertions about supposedly dangerous global warming.

Rather than being a new state of affairs, this assault in favour of warming alarmism by Australian climate agencies follows many similar propaganda blitzes during the past 10 years.

As experienced scientists, we have just completed a detailed assessment of the recent reports, which has been added to the list of earlier independent audits of IPCC and Australian reports at Quadrant Online (Google "global warming: an essential reference").

Our analysis of the "new" reports finds that they provide no evidence that dangerous global warming is occurring; nor that human carbon dioxide emissions will cause such warming in future; nor that recent Australian climate-related events lie outside normal climate variability; nor that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will have any discernible impact on future climate.

Therefore, Australian public policies regarding dangerous climate change, sea-level rise and other climatic hazards are based on inadequate scientific advice, which is shackled to the shortcomings of inadequate computer model projections.

The climate models are incompatible with the measured data. In recent decades the model predictions have significantly exceeded the measured temperature rise.  In science, data trumps theory. If data and theory disagree, as they do here, scientists go with the data and revise their hypothesis.

But in politics the opposite is true, for authority figures and political correctness reign supreme. In which context government climate scientists, Western governments and numerous influential lobby groups all strongly support the idea of dangerous global warming, despite the strong contrary evidence.

We conclude that an obvious and urgent need exists for the government to reassess its climate hazard policies. A good starting point would be to implement an unbiased review of the evidence.


Must not express conservative views about male/female differences

An LNP staffer has resigned after sending an email to a Queensland feminist about the superiority of men, telling her to "get a life" and calling her a "sourpuss" for writing an opinion piece about the need for more women in parliament.

Max Tomlinson, the then media adviser to Liberal National Party Senator Ian Macdonald, wrote to Dr Carole Ford after she penned a newspaper column criticising the lack of female representation in Queensland's parliament.

In his email, Mr Tomlinson tells Dr Ford "like most women, you probably don't possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess.  "It's not a personal criticism; it's a fact of biology.

"That was part of nature's grand design to enable men to be stronger, more fearless and more determined than their sisters. Sorry, Carole, fact not fiction."

This morning, Mr Tomlinson told that he had resigned from his job with Senator Macdonald because of the publication of what he described as a private email.  He said he had no further comment on the matter.

At the beginning of the email, Mr Tomlinson said while he usually ignored "sourpusses" like Dr Ford, he was compelled to write to her after reading her "pathetic" piece about the drop of women's representation in Queensland parliament from 49 per cent to 18 per cent.

Mr Tomlinson argued history had shown it was men who are naturally equipped to succeed above women.  "Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs?" he said.   "Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because nature equipped them with something called testosterone."

He goes on to write about his "wonderful wife" who suffered judgment from women such as Dr Ford because they chose to be homemakers.

"Women like my wife are the life-givers, the embodiment of sacrificial love [the purest form of love], the primary keepers of the flame of civilisation that separates us from the animal world, and yet the Sisterhood frowns on them for not joining the anti-male club that you so typify," he said.

"The anti-male world of conspiracy theories in which you and the Sisterhood inhabit is the complete antithesis of the world in which positive women thrive."

He signed off the email "I repeat: Get a Life. Kind Regards, Max".

Dr Ford said the email was insulting and she had found it overly aggressive for what she had considered was a fairly tame piece published by The Courier-Mail. 

"It's just extremely disappointing that any man in 2012 would think that way," she said.  "It surprised me that in this day and age people would get angry about a request for women to have better representation in parliament. It's astounding that people would be angry that we make that request."

Dr Ford said she had been married for 43 years and had three children and in her first lecture she talked about the work women did "both paid and unpaid" and was a supporter of stay-at-home mothers.


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