Monday, December 29, 2014

More unscientific science

It's Warmist "science" so we know what to expect -- and are not disappointed.  The author is jubilant that, in the second year of Australia's now-abolished carbon tax, emissions of CO2 dropped more than they did in the first year.  He is clearly unaware of one of the first principles of statistics:  Correlation is not causation.  And a correlation based on a sample of two (years) is in any case indistinguishable from random noise. 

To have have shown, with any plausibility at all, that the tax CAUSED the drop in emissions, he would at least have presented data about other influences on CO2 emissions and shown that those sources were static over the years concerned.  He does not even attempt that. 

Gareth Hutchens is an industrious writer who pops up frequently in Left-leaning publications but he is a twit.  He has the self-serving tram-track thinking that is typical of the Left

Gareth Hutchens

This week the Environment Minister Greg Hunt published data on the quiet, two days before Christmas, that showed the second year of operation of Australia's carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.

The carbon price began operation on July 1, 2012 and ended on July 1 this year after the government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.

The new data from Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, published this week, showed emissions produced during the second and final year.

And guess what? Carbon emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent in the second year, compared with a decline of 0.8 per cent in the first year.

Economists had predicted that that would happen. It takes a while for new markets to begin working properly.

The data showed the electricity (minus 4 per cent), agriculture (minus 2.6 per cent), industrial processes (minus 1.3 per cent) and transport sectors (minus 0.4 per cent) all experienced declines in emissions this year, and that those declines were partially offset by a rise in fugitive emissions (5.1 per cent) and emissions from stationary energy (0.9 per cent).

It is worth emphasising that a nationwide decline in emissions of 1.4 per cent is much bigger than 0.8 per cent.

I say that because Mr Hunt has spent a lot of time criticising the fact that carbon emissions declined by less than 1 per cent in the first year.

His office did so again this week when I asked them what their thoughts were on the latest data.

They chose not to comment on the fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price – the larger fall of 1.4 per cent.

"We have put in a place a policy which will start its first emissions reductions from March this year and we are confident that it will see Australia meet its 5 per cent reduction by 2020," a spokesman said.

"In its first year, the carbon tax was a $7.6 billion hit on the economy but reduced emissions by less than 1 per cent. There is a better way through the Emissions Reduction Fund."

Mr Hunt will have lots of time next year to challenge the cause of the bigger fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price.

But he will have to acknowledge that the decline has occurred.

And instead of patting himself on the back for getting rid of a mechanism that was reducing emissions by less than 1 per cent a year, he may even have to explain why he got rid of a scheme that was showing signs of achieving exactly what it was designed to achieve.


False rape accusation costs star his football career in Australia and overseas

Britain often locks false rape accusers up. Considering the damage they do, that should be done more widely

IT WAS the rape case that ended a promising rugby union career.

Solomona Silipa was a talented half whose Australian career included stints playing for Penrith and Parramatta in the NSW Shute Shield rugby competition.

The high point came when he had an opportunity to crack a spot with French rugby giant Toulon, whose alumni includes Sonny Bill Williams and English legend Jonny Wilkinson.

But that door closed when Silipa was charged with rape and had his passport confiscated as part of his bail conditions.

A woman, who cannot legally be named, claimed Silipa raped her inside her friend’s flat at Colyton, in western Sydney, after a drunken night out on February 22, 2013.

The case ran until ­December 3 this year and ended when the jury dismissed the woman’s account, taking just 23 minutes to find Silipa not guilty.

The woman and three of her friends had been to Penrith Leagues Club to see a Manpower show before they went to a nearby nightclub called Envy.

It was not in dispute that they met up with Silipa and his cousin Stephen that night. But there, the stories ­diverged.

The alleged victim claimed she fell asleep on a couch at the flat and woke to find Silipa forcibly having oral sex with her before he had non-consensual sex.

She then claimed a friend, who lived in the apartment with a boyfriend, came into the room and pulled Silipa off her after seeing the woman’s “shocked” face.

It was alleged that Silipa punched the female friend twice in the face.

But Silipa claimed the sex was consensual and that the pair had kissed earlier in the evening. Silipa’s lawyers, Julia Hickleton and Ben Jamieson, told the court the alleged victim’s friend concocted the story and lied to the police because a neighbour had called the friend’s boyfriend after seeing her kissing Stephen.

The boyfriend was driving back to the flat and the friend wanted Silipa and Stephen out, Ms Hickleton told the court. “(The boyfriend) was trying to ring his girlfriend and when he eventually got on to his girlfriend, he was very angry because he’s been told by his friend that he had seen his girlfriend kissing someone,” Ms Hickleton told the court.

Silipa and Stephen left the unit but went back after Stephen forgot his phone. The boyfriend arrived with friends and led a “vicious attack” on Silipa where he was hit in the head with a hoe, leaving a large gash, and stabbed in the body, the court heard.

The court heard medical experts found no injuries consistent with sexual assault on the alleged victim.

Solomona Silipa was found not guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of common assault.


New Zealand shows how Australian drug regulation  should be done

On 20th November 2014, Ministers for Health in Australia and New Zealand announced that work on a mutual therapeutic products regulator would cease. Although stalled on numerous occasions since negotiations commenced in 1999, this long-winded attempt at harmonising Australia's regulatory and registration authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with Medsafe, its New Zealand counterpart, was reaffirmed as recently as June 2011 with formation of an Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency (ANZTPA).

The arrangement had promised cheaper and more readily available medicines, and smaller regulatory burdens for pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. It had potential to reduce duplication through adoption of common dossiers for product registration (thereby accelerating registration processes) and to address inconsistencies in Australia's regulatory system to conform to best practice principles agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Ministers have now offered some benign remarks about continued cooperation "where there are mutual benefits". This must be interpreted in the context of conspicuous differences between Australian and New Zealand regulatory environments. New Zealand's relatively liberal attitude towards new technologies and deregulation of prescription medicines may ultimately have proved irreconcilable with the bureaucratic, insular and risk averse disposition of Australia's TGA as well as cumbersome arrangements administered through the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling that ultimately reserves poisons scheduling responsibility to States and Territories.

Other examples of possible obstacles include New Zealand's greater emphasis on industry self-regulation and freedom to directly advertise prescription medicines to consumers. Australia limits non-prescription advertising to an approved list of just 10 ingredients. Unscheduled, low risk 'therapeutic goods' to which Australia's pervasive advertising controls apply include such innocent items as medicated soaps and some toothpastes.

New Zealand's progressive approach to switching medicines with established safety profiles from prescription to non-prescription contrasts with Australia's caution towards innovation.

Between 2003 and 2013 New Zealand proved a world leader in non-prescription switches yielding consumer gains by offering improvements on existing non-prescription medicines or effective non-prescription therapies where none previously had existed. This has created greater scope for self-care and personal health accountability than in Australia.

Abandonment of ANZTIPA seems hard to reconcile with the Australian Government's declared agenda for deregulation and competitiveness and represents a symbolic blow to a long standing agenda for closer economic cooperation between Australia and New Zealand.

Even more bewildering (to New Zealand especially) was the announcement on 24 October, 2014 that the Australian Government would independently review the TGA's regulatory framework for medicines and medical devices. This seemed to cut across years of past negotiation devoted to Trans-Tasman harmonisation.

Indeed, the impending review's Discussion Paper canvasses precisely the issues that would have been the substance of lengthy negotiation with New Zealand. An underlying justification for the new review is examination of "how international risk assessments might be better utilised within the Australian system" so as to fulfil its "innovation and competitiveness agenda". This could involve TGA acceptance of prior European or United States certification of medicines and medical technologies.

As worthy and unexceptionable as such goals may be, it is incomprehensible why they could not have been pursued concurrently with Trans-Tasman harmonisation.


Study: Gifted children benefit from bypassing school for university

While his kindergarten classmates were learning to tie their shoelaces, Jacob Bradd was solving algebra problems. By third grade he was working his way through a university calculus textbook. And at 13, he blitzed HSC extension maths after only knuckling down to study a week from the exams.

It was this astonishing progression that propelled him to university this year, where he began full-time study at 14, the youngest student on campus at Wollongong and among the youngest nationwide.

For his parents, it was difficult to decide what to do with a child too intelligent for high school but too young for adult life.

"Our main reservations were related to his social life," his father, hydrogeologist Dr John Bradd, said. "So we actively make sure he keeps up with his friends from school on weekends and when he's not at uni."

Transitioning to university at a young age is increasingly being used in Australia to meet the needs of highly intelligent students, according to a paper by academics from the University of NSW to be published in the January 2015 issue of Roeper Review.

One of the co-authors, Jae Yup Jared Jung, has been researching the career decisions of gifted students and says very few regret being accelerated.  "In fact, many would have preferred to have accelerated further or started their acceleration earlier," he said.

Without skipping a few years of school, these students are not only understimulated but they are often at risk of becoming bored, disengaged and socially isolated.

Each year in NSW and Victoria, a handful of students sitting the HSC and VCE are significantly younger than their classmates.

Jessica Kong from Our Lady of Sion College in Melbourne's Box Hill sat the VCE at 13-years-old in 2011 and planned to study biomedicine at university.

The youngest student to sit the HSC this year was 11-year-old Jonah Soewandito from The Scots College, who will graduate in 2015 after completing his remaining subjects.

But, depending on where he wants to study, there is a chance he will be too young to enrol and left in academic limbo.

Dr Jung says about 35 of 40 universities in Australia have no minimum age requirement "as long as the student has finished his or her high school requirements".

But at Monash University, you must be 17 years of age to enrol unless you have both an ATAR of 95 and approval of the dean of the faculty. The minimum age for study at RMIT is 16 unless the dean provides written permission.

Many universities, including the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and the University of New England and in Victoria, Melbourne, Monash  and Deakin, universities, however, offer dual study programs, allowing students to undertake university study while finishing  secondary school.

Australian research has generally found accelerated students have positive experiences at university, both intellectually and socially.

Jacob Bradd says he prefers university learning to high school. "At university they get you to actually learn things yourself, instead of school where they tell you everything and get you to do it a certain way," he said.

The main concern about accelerating students is that they will suffer socially.  But Dr Jung and his colleagues have found intellectually advanced children tend to gravitate towards older friends.

That was certainly true for David Ferris, who sat HSC mathematics in 2006 at the age of 12 before graduating high school at 14. This year the 20-year-old finished his fifth year of a double degree in mathematics and electrical engineering at the University of Newcastle.

"During the orientation week I was mistaken for a starting student and I was like 'I've been here for five years now'." he said.

"When you're at school, a lot of people will consider you to be the young kid or the smart kid," he said. "When I got into university there are people who are younger and there are mature age students, so you've got a wide range of people who are all there just to learn and find out more things about the universe."

Ferris says one issue accelerated students might struggle with is "making life-long decisions about your future when you're substantially younger than everyone else".

"There are some people who, at the age of 14, still want to be firemen when they grow up," he said.

"[But] even if at the end of the day I had regretted it, I'd be regretting it at the age of 18."


No comments: