Sunday, October 05, 2014

Brainless sea-level report fails to take account of local factors

There is no uniform sea-level


In July 2014, Whitehead & Associates Environmental Consultants, in consultation with Coastal Environment and with funding from the NSW Government, produced a report for Eurobodalla Shire Council and Shoalhaven City Council titled “South Coast Regional Sea Level Rise Policy and Planning Framework, Exhibition Draft.” The conclusion of the following commentary and analysis is that this report does not provide reliable guidance to the complicated issues of measuring, forecasting, and responding to sea-level rise.

The image below presents the unmistakeable pattern of wide variations in rates of tectonic uplift (points above the red zero baseline) and subsidence (points below) in different locations around the world at particular times. In such circumstances, no effective coastal management plan can rest upon speculative computer projections regarding an idealised future global sea-level, such as those provided by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Coastal management must instead rest upon accurate knowledge of local geological, meteorological and oceanographical conditions, including, amongst other things, changes in local relative sea level.

For the central and southern New South Wales (NSW) coast of Australia, this requires basing management policies on the range of long-term rates of sea-level rise of 0.63-0.94 mm/yr that have been measured at the nearby Sydney (Fort Denison) tidal gauge.

The implied 6.3-9.4 cm of rise in the next hundred years is similar to the rise which occurred during the preceding hundred years. This did not require, nor receive, any policy formulation over and above the application of historic 20th century coastal planning regulations.


Truth overboard: Claims of asylum seeker abuse on Nauru were ‘fabricated’

A FORMER integrity commissioner has been asked to investigate allegations a service provider hired to care for asylum seeker children on Nauru fabricated stories of abuse.

Scott Morrison this morning announced Philip Moss would conduct an independent inquiry into the claims against Save the Children workers at the centre.

“Mr Moss will be asked to assess the accuracy of the allegations and determine exactly what the facts are in all of these cases,” he told reporters in Canberra.

An intelligence report provided to the federal government has revealed that staff from the Save The Children organisation based at Nauru had also been involved in “encouraging and coaching” self-harm to “achieve evacuations to Australia”.

The Minister said 10 employees of one of the country’s largest government-funded aid organisations had been removed from Nauru by the Department of Immigration, but he stressed that the action wasn’t in connection to claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or inappropriate behaviour.

“I’m drawing no conclusions about any of these matters but it is very important that we get these matters resolved,” he said.

“The matters that have been brought to my attention are concerning, certainly the allegations of sexual misconduct are abhorrent and I would be horrified to think that things of that nature have taken place.”

Mr Morrison said if people want to be “political activists … they don’t get to do it on the taxpayer’s dollar and working in a sensitive place like Nauru”.

So far no arrests have been made, but Mr Moss will share his findings with Nauruan authorities, the Minister said.

Mr Moss has been asked to deliver an interim report in the next seven weeks, with a final report due by the end of the year.

The Federal Police have also been called in to investigate the alleged misuse by staff of Save The Children of privileged information under section 70 of the Crimes Act.

The alleged fabrications include manufactured cases of sexual abuse against children by security staff.

The intelligence report follows claims by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that children had been sexually abused by guards at the centre.

But it appears to refute those claims, alleging some Save The Children staff had helped “manufacture” situations for political purposes.

Senator Hanson-Young said she was concerned “the Minister seems to be prejudging the investigation before it has even started”.

“This is a Minister who blames the victim, shoots the messenger and then drops it all to his favourite home town paper.  “That’s not how a Minister who is taking these allegations seriously should be acting.

When asked why she is so convinced the allegations haven’t been fabricated, Senator Hanson-Young said there needs to be an investigation.

But she claimed Mr Morrison is “spinning for his life”.  “If there’s one person who fabricates stories, let’s not forget it was Mr Morrison who went out and said that Reza Berati died because he left the detention centre at Manus Island, it wasn’t true.”

The report also cites examples of staff deliberately fabricating abuse, posting it on social media and even providing detainees with cameras to “document protest activity”.

“It is probable the refugee ­advocates and some service providers are assisting to manufacture situations where ‘evidence’ can be obtained to pursue a political and ideological agenda ... ,” the report says.

“It also assesses as probable that there is a degree of internal and external coaching and ­encouragement to achieve evacuations through self-harm action.”

Yesterday, the Labor opposition supported a Greens ­motion, with the backing of the Palmer United Party, for a ­release of all incident reports at Nauru for the past 12 months.

But assistant immigration minister Senator Michaela Cash said the government would not respond because the information, as revealed in the intelligence report, appeared to have been compromised.

It was first contracted to provide welfare, education and protection for children on Nauru in August last year.

Last night a Save the Children spokesman said: “The past week has been a very ­difficult time on Nauru, in particular as changes in asylum seeker policy have filtered through to the children and families affected. Save the Children and its staff work tirelessly to help ensure the best possible conditions for the vulnerable people in our care, and we are deeply concerned for their health and wellbeing.


The ABC turns a blind eye to Goulburn riot

THERE was a mini-riot involving Muslim prisoners at the maximum security Goulburn jail two weekends ago. It began with derogatory comments to a female prison officer, at least one beheading threat and the chanting of Islamic religious slogans.

It wasn’t a religious riot because it was sparked by the cancellation of a BBQ for indigenous prisoners, but it is not true to say that religion was not involved. You might never have heard about it if it were not for this newspaper’s longstanding, trusted contacts with prison officers.

What we reported was accurate, but an unholy alliance between Corrective Services NSW, headed by reformist German-born former social worker Peter Severin, and the ABC’s politically correct Media Watch program would have you believe it was a lie.

So, this is the unvarnished account of what happened on September 20, as recounted by unnamed sources on the ground, and verified by the Goulburn prison officers’ union leader Steve McMahon.

In Yard 6, an indigenous inmate, one of about a dozen indigenous Muslim converts in the jail, made “very derogatory comments” to a female prison officer. As a consequence, the monthly BBQ planned for that sunny Saturday was banned.

This provoked what Corrective Services calls a “significant disturbance” in Yard 6, where a number of the 32 indigenous inmates armed themselves with makeshift weapons and threatened staff, destroyed property, and had to be subdued by teargas.

The yards in Goulburn jail’s main centre are arranged like wheel spokes, with inmates segregated along cultural or racial lines, for harmony reasons, but able to communicate through fences.

Yard 6 is alongside Yard 7, which is the area where 26 inmates, predominately Pacific Islanders, are housed, among them several “associated with” the outlaw Rebels motorcycle gang. They provided the rioting indigenous inmates in Yard 6 with “canned foodstuffs” to throw at guards.

In Yard 13 are the Middle Eastern inmates, mainly of Lebanese extraction. It is an area behind Yards 6 and 7, separated from them by two fences and a narrow strip of ground, but still in easy earshot.

This is the unvarnished account of what happened on September 20, as recounted by unnamed sources on the ground
According to unnamed prison officers, again verified by McMahon, one or more of the Middle Eastern inmates encouraged the indigenous rioters in Yard 6 by yelling out Islamic religious slogans, believed to be Allahu Akbar, “God is great.”

While the religious fervour of the indigenous converts is said to “ebb and flow”, officers have long been concerned about the control exerted by a few radical Muslims in Yard 13, who “in the past were doing it by way of financial support”, says McMahon.

“(The Aborigines) seem to be converted as soldiers, and manipulated into action ... We believe that has been part of the motivation to convert them. They’re (seen as) expendable.”

It was important to report this story because it gives the public an understanding of the battle faced by prison officers in keeping an increasingly fractious inmate population under control. And it allowed prison officers, who work unarmed, to express their fears that the undercurrent of tension in Goulburn jail is in danger of blowing up.

“We’re very happy with the media coverage,” says McMahon. “It highlights to the public the sort of thing we face every day, the simmering tension that may have some cultural issues attached to it.

“If they want to make their incarceration a religious battle, which it clearly is not, it adds a whole new tangent to it because it gets into that over-the-top zealot-type behaviour.”

At the same time, Severin’s new broom is changing the no-nonsense approach employed by tough former prisons’ boss Ron Woodham. Many past and serving officers regard Severin as a “do-gooder” who is rarely seen in his jails.

Management of our jails is an important matter of public interest, especially as the inmate population has exploded in the past two years, and the pressure has been on to weaken bail conditions or release prisoners early, at the same time as expanding complaint mechanisms cause headaches for governors.

But if Media Watch had its way, you would remain in blissful ignorance.


Muslims need to stop playing the victim

RAIDS by Australia’s counterterrorism units continued yesterday in Melbourne and come just weeks after the raids across eastern Australia in ­response to an allegedly imminent terrorist attack in Sydney.

On Wednesday last week, Australia woke to news that a Victorian police officer had shot dead a youth during a horrific attack at a suburban Melbourne police station that left two policemen seriously wounded, one of whom nearly lost his life.

Predictably, there were calls from a few Islamic community leaders for an “open and independent” investigation into the police shooting.

It occurred to me that I have never heard the Catholic or Anglican archbishop make a similar call when one of their flock is gunned down attempting to murder a police officer.

Just as predictable was the stampede of senior police, politicians and other identities placating Islamic leaders after the shooting.

Of course, what would a terrorism-related incident be without some mention somewhere of the youth being “disenfranchised” from mainstream society?

These disenfranchised youth have access to free health, free education, subsidised medicines, public housing and transport. They are free to practise any religion they want, marry whom they want and, if they feel inclined, work for a fair wage and get to live in one of the safest nations on Earth. And did I mention that they also get free legal representation?

What a burden of rights, gifts and privileges these disenfranchised youth have. It must be this burden that makes so many of them want to leave and go to countries in the Middle East that are the complete ­opposite of ours.

The Islamic community needs to own up to the not so insignificant problems that they have, ask for help and stop playing the victims.

A final note on this current situation comes via Fairfield Local Court, which handed a man a two-year good behaviour bond for possessing a stun gun — an offence that can carry up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

The man, Ahmad Rahmany, was arrested and charged during Sydney’s counterterrorism raids. According to his lawyer, the charge had nothing to do with terrorism.

It must have been unfortunate for Ahmed Rahmany that the police who conducted the raids on his house were from a counterterrorism unit.

Mr Rahmany was quoted as saying the raid on his house was “horrific” and “unAustralian”.

Am I missing something?


The question of accountability

By Prof. Don Aitkin

A correspondent has informed me that the ACT Government has awarded Aspen Island Theatre Company $18,793, to assist with costs of the creative development of a new theatre work, ‘Kill Climate Deniers’. Since in some quarters I am thought to carry the marker of ‘climate denier’ (one of the stupidest epithets of our time) I was naturally alert, and alarmed as well. Perhaps the play is to be a comedy. Who knows. Maybe I’ll wear a disguise and go to see it.

But it raised for me once again the question of accountability. There is a lot of dire warning of ‘climate change’ about, and a lot of abuse of sceptics. In what sense are the Cassandras and abusers accountable for their actions? David Suzuki has asserted that politicians who don’t ‘take action’ on climate change should be jailed. Robert Kennedy Jnr has described such people as committing ‘treason’. The doom-laden utterances of Professor Flannery are familiar to all of a sceptical bent.

What if they’re wrong — quite wrong? If people have acted in particular ways because of what these people have said, and it all proves nugatory — and expensive — what then? Suppose, just suppose, that we are in for a long cooling spell. After all, the Antarctic ice sheet is now at the largest level ever witnessed (though that’s only thirty years or so). Do any of us have redress?

Anthony Watts’ website has run a thoughtful piece on accountability by Tim Ball, whose work I have mentioned before. Ball points out that engineers, in order to practice, must belong to a professional organisation, and that they are responsible for the quality of what they do and produce. So do lawyers and doctors. But not scientists, and especially not climateers.

Vaclav Klaus, the former President of the Czech Republic, and the only outspokenly sceptical national leader there has been in the past fifty years, wrote in his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles:

"Environmentalism is a political movement that originally began with the intent to protect the environment – a humble and perhaps even legitimate goal – but which has gradually transformed itself into an ideology that has almost nothing to do with nature.

This ideological stream has recently become a dominant alternative to those ideologies that are consistently and primarily oriented towards freedom. Environmentalism is a movement that intends to change the world radically regardless of the consequences (at the cost of human lives and severe restrictions on individual freedom). It intends to change humankind, human behavior, the structure of society, the system of values – simply everything."

The great assertion of the climateers is that humans have caused a problem that threatens the whole planetary eco-system. It is a belief for which the evidence is tenuous and ambiguous, but those who believe it do so passionately. Who decided that humans are the cause of the ‘problem’? Ball says that the climateers did, using scientific methods that are clearly wrong because the predictions are wrong. It is a classic circular argument.

"There are leading environmentalists in every country who practice political abuse of environmentalism, as Klaus defined it. These individuals and their organizations have done great social and economic damage with environmental misinformation and false claims, for a political agenda of total government control under the guise of saving the planet. They are effectively a green fifth-column, the enemy within. Sadly, their exploitation and misuse of environmentalism is putting the entire paradigm in jeopardy, as people stop believing anything they’re told."

Worse, many of these organisations bare defined as charities, and are thus exempt from income taxation. And the big ones seem to be very wealthy indeed. I know that I’ve said all this before. But this time I want to raise the question of redress. What if they are all completely wrong, both about warming, and about the human contribution to it? How can they be held to  account?

Dr Ball devotes much of his essay to the question of salmon fishing and farming in British Columbia, where once again the David Suzuki Foundation has been an aggressive foe of the industry, making (according to Ball) completely false statements about, for example, sea lice, climate, global warming and the rest. David Suzuki himself referred to farmed salmon as ‘poison’.

We seem to be in a repetitive cycle. A small minority makes a great fuss about something, and call on ‘science’ as its witness. Pressure grows in the media for the government to ‘do something’. Something is done, but there is little interest in the broad consequences. In the case of climate action in Australia, one outcome was the carbon tax, which cost most people a good deal of money, and had no effect whatever on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, let alone on global temperature.

Yes, the Abbott Government has now repealed the tax, and a smidgin of money is being returned to us by energy companies. But who is to be held accountable for the mess in the first place? There is no enquiry, as with pink batts. And the doomsayers keep preaching disaster.

It’s a hard one, because so much of the doom is about what will happen at the end of the century, when few of us will be around. Oliver Wendell Holmes, speaking about  the right of free speech, pointed out that no one had the right to call out ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre: there needed to be also a sense of responsibility to go with the right.

Most days it is clear to me that the climateers see the notion of personal responsibility as almost laughable. They are SURE, and we must BELIEVE. It is so like the evangelist Christian revivalists of my youth,  Canon Bryan Green, Billy Graham, and that ilk.


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