Monday, September 01, 2014

Australian weatherman’s records reveal warming fraud

AS a child, Ian Cole would watch his father Neville take meticulous readings from the Bureau of Meteorology thermometer at the old post office in the western NSW town of Bourke and send the results through by teleprinter.

The temperature was recorded every three hours, including at night when the mercury sometimes plunged to freezing, and the data was logged in handwritten journals that included special notes to help explain the results.

That all changed in 1996 when the Stevenson Screen, the official measuring equipment, was replaced with an automatic station and moved to an airport site.

The Stevenson Screen went to the dump and, but for fate, the handwritten notes could have gone there too. But without instruction, the records were kept and are now under lock and key, held as physical evidence of what the weather was really doing in the mid-20th century.

These Bourke records have ­assumed a new significance in light of concerns about how historic data is being treated at many sites around the country. The records are also important in an ongoing row that frustrates Mr Cole.

The Bourke cotton farmer may be managing director of the local radio station 2WEB but Mr Cole can only broadcast temperature records that date back to 2000 because the Bureau of Meteorology won’t supply historic records to service provider Weatherzone.

As a result “hottest day on record” doesn’t really mean what it seems. “We keep on being told about records that are not actually records and averages that are not quite right,” Mr Cole said.

Worse still there are concerns about what has happened to the precision of those handwritten records in the earlier years. Bourke now forms part of a network of weather stations used to make up the national record known as ACORN-SAT. The raw temperature records are “homogenised”, a method BOM says has been peer-reviewed as world’s best practice and is used by equivalent meteorological organisations across the world.

Independent research, the ­results of which have not been disputed by BOM, has shown that, after homogenisation, a 0.53C warming in the minimum temperature trend has been increased to a 1.64C warming trend. A 1.7C cooling trend in the maximum temperature series in the raw data for Bourke has been changed to a slight warming.

BOM has rejected any suggestion that it has tampered inappropriately with the numbers. It says the major adjustment to Bourke temperatures relate to “site moves in 1994, 1999 and 1938 as well as 1950s in homogeneities that were detected by neighbour comparison which, based on station photos before and after, may relate to changes in vegetation around the site”.

Queensland researcher Jennifer Marohasy, who has analysed the Bourke records, says BOM’s analysis is all very well but the largest adjustments, both to maximum temperature series, ­occurred in the period 1911 and 1915 with a stepdown of about 0.7C, followed by a step-up between 1951 and 1953 of about 0.45C. Of greater concern to Dr Marohasy is that historic high temperatures, such as the record 51.7C recorded on January 3, 1909, were removed from the record on the assumption it was a clerical error. In fact, all the data for Bourke for 40 years before 1910 has been discarded from the official record. If it were there, says Dr Marohasy, the record would show that temperatures were particularly hot during that period.

For Mr Cole it is a simple matter of trusting the care and attention of his father. “Why should you change manually created records?” Mr Cole said. “At the moment they (BOM) are saying we have a warming climate but if the old figures are used we have a cooling climate.”


The fuse has been lit in Sydney

LAST week a brief but bloody battle took place in the Middle East which went largely unreported in the Australian media.

It marked a significant and alarming development in the rise of the terrorist forces, now ­including a number of Australians jihadists, which are laying waste to Syria and Iraq.

While Sydney’s sadistic poster boy for terrorism, Khaled Sharouf, may have captured the headlines of late with his well publicised acts of depravity and brutality, the sheer scale of what is occurring and the inevitable repercussions it will have here at home, is something few Australians have grasped.

It is not just Syria and Iraq that are now involved. There is another country to the west of these two troubled States that has now become a target for the terrorist army formerly known as ISIL or ISIS that has declared its caliphate under the name of the Islamic State.

It is a country that represents the homeland for the largest Middle-Eastern ethnic population in Sydney. It is of course, Lebanon. On August 2 the Lebanese army engaged with Islamic State forces within their own borders near the town of Arsal — in a battle which lasted five days.

According to the Lebanese army’s General Jean Kahwagi the terrorist forces were well armed and captured and killed dozens of Lebanese soldiers.

Their aim was to take parts of southern Lebanon and declare the country under its new caliphate — in other words to annex part of Lebanon into its new illegal terrorist state which now covers northern parts of Syria and Iraq.

According to local newspaper As-Safir, General Kahwagi said the Lebanese army had “saved Lebanon from ­jihadists before they could declare their own state”.

“The army saved Lebanon from killer ‘sectarian strife-seekers’ by the Arsal battle,” General Kahwagi said.

“Had the army lost, they (jihadists) would have entered Akkar and from there they would have reached the sea and declared their own state,” General Kahwagi warned.

It is believed the Shia-based Hezbollah also joined the fighting, on the side of the Lebanese army, and captured Islamic State fighters, who are predominantly Sunni militants.

The Islamic State, according to Australian defence sources is an army that commands the equivalent of three brigades — around 12,000 troops.

When they captured Tikrit and Mosul in Iraq, they also captured the fleeing Iraqi army’s weaponry, which was all supplied by the US.

It has also seized hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Islamic State is a terrorist organisation of the likes the modern world has never seen. These are not jihadists hiding out in the hills.

It is an army operating under a rigid command structure armed with heavy weaponry and armoured vehicles.

It is also rallying people around the world to its cause through social media — Western Sydney is emerging as a fertile recruitment source.

The engagement of Lebanon in the conflict has obvious implications for the region but also for Australia, which has large Lebanese Muslim and Christian populations.

News of the battle in Lebanon — and the sectarian tone of Shia fighting Sunni on Lebanese soil — is currently rippling through Sydney’s Lebanese community.

“The confrontation has thrown kerosene on the already combustible community relations in Western Sydney,” one informed observer of the situation remarked.

Supporters of the Islamic State in Sydney, which is an ­illegal organisation under Australian counter terrorism laws, are known to be already trying to apply pressure to some Sydney Muslim businesses to have them declare their allegiance to the caliphate — with the clear aim of then extracting money from them.

Many are now living in fear.

The risk for Australia is that the harmony that has been the fabric of the Lebanese community, which consists of Shia and Sunni Muslim as well as Christians, could easily be shattered by what is occurring in the Middle East.

The patriotic Lebanese are outraged at the Islamic State laying claim to their homeland and authorities in Sydney are concerned at the speed with which historical relationships are being shattered.

To put it bluntly, they are worried about the sectarian conflict spilling over into the Sydney ethnic communities.

What the world is witnessing, and has appeared impotent in dealing with until the US belatedly approved air strikes this week, is a fundamental redrawing of the strategic and political situation in the Middle East.

While it may appear sectarian from afar, the motivating force is a rampant and shockingly violent anti-Western sentiment.

In a briefing last week, based on a global threat assessment provided to the National Security Committee, key Australian intelligence officials warned that the world — and Australia — will be dealing with the dangerous consequences of this for years and possibly decades to come.

Those dire consequences appear to have already started playing out here at home in Western Sydney.


Robin Hood is alive and well in Australia

Fairness is a matter of opinion, but one that should be informed by facts and analysis.

Opponents of the budget have done a great job of branding it as "unfair" through repetition of assertions rather than by appeal to facts and analysis. Here are a few relevant facts.

Australia's system of tax and social benefits is one of the strongest in the world in ameliorating the unequal distribution of market incomes through highly targeted social benefits and a strongly progressive personal income tax that concentrates the burden on a small slice of those at the top.

Even if all the 2014-15 budget measures are implemented, the Australian system of tax and social benefits will remain highly redistributive. The changes are so small relative to the inherited structure that they would hardly make a dent in the redistributive system.

Critics of budget measures appear to believe that social benefits both individually and in aggregate should only ever go one way (up) and that the desirability of more redistribution is a given.

The reality is that there are limits to redistribution and progressivity, and it is legitimate to question the design and affordability of social benefits.

Higher income groups are in fact contributing to the budget repair task. Quite apart from the temporary budget repair levy imposed by the present government, the Gillard and Rudd governments introduced many belt-tightening measures in budgets and mini-budgets, the bulk of which are affecting higher income earners - for example, the one-third increase in the Medicare levy that took effect just last month, means-testing of the private health insurance rebate, tightening of various other means tests, doubling of the superannuation contributions tax for high income earners, and so on.

None of these changes were 2014-15 budget measures, but they are all part of the mix of policy adjustments designed to take money away from people to reduce the budget deficit, and they are now costing many better-off households thousands of dollars a year. They are being overlooked in the furore over the current budget.

Robin Hood is alive and well in Australia and we don't need more of him


Racist employment practices at the ABC

ONCE upon a time, in a land far, far away, employees were hired on merit.

Now, in Australia, the national broadcaster is about to introduce something called a “cultural diversity tool” to ensure that employees in the ABC’s news and current affairs operations reflect the nation’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

Nothing in there about skill levels or competence.

The ABC has even hired a person named Phillipa McDermott, as head of indigenous employment and diversity.

No, this is not part of a script for Rob Sitch’s tragicomedy Utopia, this is politically correct employment practices 101, as embraced by the People’s Republic of Ultimo.

According to an interview with The Australian, McDermott thinks senior management needs to become more ethnically diverse and the ABC’s reporting should more fully reflect Australia’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

There was a time in that far, far away land when news stood on its own merits.

It was not filtered through a lens of diversity or culture.

Little wonder so many ABC viewers seem confused about the national identity when the ABC demonstrates that it has to mandate standards for diversity.

Let me predict that in a very short time, individuals applying for jobs at the Ultimo collective will be discovering long-forgotten kinship with remote Aboriginal tribes and associations with members of exotic ethnic groups in remote corners of the globe.

When a similarly politically correct framework of diversity employment was installed in Washington, DC, employers were required to present prospective employees with a list of ethnic groups and nationalities and ask applicants to indicate to which group they belonged.

Certain groups carried greater weight than others.

Thus, if an employer gave a Pacific Islander, for example, a job, it would enable that business to employ a few more Anglo-caucasians.

The human relations executive who demonstrated how this scheme operated nominated herself as a prime example of the sheer stupidity of the program.

“As a black woman,” she said, “I’m worth two points. So the company can employ two white males for every black woman they have on their books.” That’s why, she added, with a disdainful sneer, black women were known among those in HR as “twofers.”


Hunting to hounds lives on in Tasmania

In a small way

EVERY winter members of the Northern Hunt Club brave the cold to saddle up and continue a decades-long tradition.

While many Tasmanians are enjoying a Sunday morning sleep-in, hunt club members are heading off to properties across the north for a weekly ride through some of the state’s most picturesque countryside.

Northern Hunt Club master Ian Klye addressing the riders on Sunday at the traditional por

Northern Hunt Club master Ian Klye addressing the riders on Sunday at the traditional port stop. Source: News Corp Australia

Slippery and soggy conditions did little to dampen enthusiasm at the club’s final hunt of the season last weekend, with about 15 riders gathering at Sally Keen’s property Little Run, near Bracknell.

The club organises about 22 drag-hunting events each season, running from late March until the end of August.

Hounds on the hunt follow an aniseed trail laid down by riders who travel a few minutes in front of the main hunt field, along a predetermined course.

Each hunt is divided into several runs of about 1km in length and include a variety of optional obstacles such as jumps and water crossings.

Hunt Club master Ian Klye has been involved with hunting since he was a child and has been the club master for six years.

During the year, Mr Klye is responsible for looking after and training the club’s hounds.

There were 10 hounds used during last Sunday’s hunt.

Mr Klye said harnessing the hounds’ natural pack instincts was vital to ensure they worked well to track the aniseed trail.

“They naturally want to work together, so all we do is use that to our advantage so they stay together when we’re out in the field,” Mr Klye said.

The club has about 60 members, who range in age from juniors through to the club’s most senior participant, Sandra Atkins, who has been hunting with club for about 53 years.

A traditional port stop is held half way through each hunt, when a toast is made to thank the property owners.

Horses and riders cover between 10 and 13km on each hunt.


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