Friday, May 15, 2015
Is Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'In Danger'?
If I have the time I do sometimes read Australia's far-Left "New Matilda". I would like to start a blog that regularly demolished their articles -- perhaps to be called "Walzing New Matilda" -- but I have weightier matters to spend my time on. Anyway, the article below is up to its usual standard of presenting only half of the story. Balance is the Devil incarnate to Leftists.
Some scientists do say that the GBR has shrunk by 50% but the interesting question is why there has been any shrinkage at all. The Warmist below knows why, of course. It's because of global warming. Pesky that there has been no global warming for 18 years though. Can something that does not exist cause anything? They also seem to think that Richard Branson is a climate scientist. Enough said on that.
The key point, however, is that the reef does get heavily impacted by natural events such as the many cyclones that have hit North Queensland in recent years. Cyclones are very destructive of coral. HOWEVER, when we look at that storm destruction, we also find that corals grow back rapidly. While that happens, the GBR is in no "danger". Any changes are temporary. See here and here, for instance.
Warmists will say that the cyclones were caused by global warming but again I ask: Can something that does not exist cause anything?
Billionaire Richard Branson has urged the United Nations to list the World Heritage value of the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ after being approached by advocacy group 1Million Women.
While admitting the campaign may seem “counter intuitive”, Branson argues it is an effective way to “stop further irreversible damage” to the reef “and to protect it for generations to come”.
“Saying the Great Barrier Reef is ‘in danger’ could be just what it needs,” Branson wrote in a blog post yesterday.
The United Nations World Heritage Committee is set to make a decision on whether to change the listing of the reef at a meeting in Bonn, Germany, in June this year.
Like Branson, the UN has expressed concern that port developments and coal ships set to service Australia’s largest ever coal mine, which the federal government approved last year, will further damage the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef has already lost half of its coral cover in the last three decades, and it faces further threats from the Crown of Thorns Starfish and increased agriculture run-off.
In 2013, a federal government report noted that 24 out of 41 attributes which make up the ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ of the reef under the World Heritage Convention are deteriorating.
But the greatest threat to the reef, according to government scientists, is climate change. “The reef’s plight, like many others, is unbearably sad,” Branson said. “It is being totally overwhelmed by climate change impacts through a destructive combination of heat-driven coral bleaching, ocean acidification and tropical storms.”
Despite climate change being the greatest threat to the reef, a recent Australian Government plan designed to guide conservation efforts for the next 35 years and address UN concerns made next to no mention of the risk to the reef from rising emissions.
On Thursday, the United Nations warned that for the first time in millions of years the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earths atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million.
The Greens environment spokesperson, Larissa Waters, said on Wednesday that she doesn’t “think the government has done enough policy-wise to avert the threat of a world heritage in danger listing for the Great Barrier Reef”.
“Which is an absolute tragedy,” she said, “because we’re talking about one of the seven wonders of the world.”
“The foremost World Heritage Committee has for the past four years now said to Australia ‘slow down, you’re on this path of industrialisation, we’re worried about the future of the reef, your own scientists are worried about the future of your reef, what are you going to do about it?”
“And the government has consistently thumbed its nose at the key recommendations, and it’s made some changes around the edges.”
Waters said she hopes the reef is not listed as ‘in danger’, despite the fact it is “in serious jeopardy”.
Yesterday, The World Wildlife Fund has released a ‘to do’ list, lobbying the government to do more than is proposed in its ‘Reef 2050’ plan.
At least one federal MP is likely to be unimpressed with these recent developments.
George Christensen MP, whose electorate of Dawson takes in part of the Great Barrier Reef, is standing by the government’s “exemplary document”.
The outspoken backbencher recently voiced his outrage at “eco-traitors” who are committing the “treason” of advocating for an ‘in danger’ listing.
“These extreme greens act like Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings, flying overseas and whispering in the ears of the decision-makers and diplomats who have anything to do with UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee, poisoning their minds on the state of the reef,” Christensen said.
“They belong to groups such as Greenpeace, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, Get Up, and the Environmental Defenders Office.”
Pity centrists, beware nationalists and praise our friend David Cameron
The surprise re-election of David Cameron in Britain, with the Conservatives winning a majority in their own right for the first time since John Major in 1992, is the best news Tony Abbott has had for a long time. It offers him a template and a raft of lessons.
It also ensures the continued presence of a good friend in a key capital.
Cameron gets on well with Abbott and appreciates the effort the Abbott government makes on strategic issues and what might generally be described as global governance.
Cameron, unlike Barack Obama, also goes to some trouble to help, or at least not to hinder, his friends and allies. Cameron understands Australian policy on climate change better than Obama does and understands that Australia’s effort is perfectly respectable. More important, though constrained by tough politics at home, Cameron does have some sense of alliances and the values implicit in alliances.
So there was no way he was ever going to be as graceless, ill-mannered and destructive as Obama was at the G20 summit. But more than that, Cameron’s government shares a broad strategic outlook with Abbott’s and gives this some real political value.
Cameron’s victory helps Abbott in several other ways. In terms of morale, it is marvellous. Cameron was behind in the polls, often substantially behind, for much of his first term. His efforts to consolidate the British budget were as unpopular as Abbott’s. And while Cameron’s standing as Prime Minister grew the longer he was in the job, as with Abbott, he was, also like Abbott, never popular and was thoroughly demonised by the Left.
Cameron’s opponent, British Labour’s Ed Miliband, lacked credibility and appeal. His association with the Scottish National Party underlined the sense of threat British voters felt when confronted with the idea of a Miliband prime ministership. But this sense of threat came primarily from Miliband’s left-of-centre, pro-union, populist, big-spending economic policies. Any echoes there?
Right up to election eve, the Conservatives and Labour were neck and neck in the polls. Yet in the end the Conservatives scored 37 per cent and Labour 30 per cent, the Conservatives 331 seats and Labour 232. Even if you add the SNP’s 56 seats, which is a reasonable thing to do as on economic policy the SNP is to the left even of Labour, it still puts the combined Left tally a long way behind the Conservatives. When confronted with the stark choice of putting back into power an unreconstructed Labour Party which, far from learning the lessons of its last failure, had doubled down on the worst of its former policies, enough people switched votes to end Miliband’s career.
These figures substantially underestimate conservative support in Britain. The United Kingdom Independence Party won 13 per cent of the vote. UKIP favours controlled immigration, withdrawal from the EU and a strong defence. It is fair to put UKIP to the right of the Conservatives. So UKIP and the Conservatives together were directly supported by a majority of voters.
However, two elements of the election are very concerning. They represent trends in almost all Western democracies and they are very dangerous. The first is the annihilation of the centre. Western democracies have been systematically cleansing themselves of intelligent centrist parties acting as a vote alternative to the major blocs of Left and Right. They are being replaced by lunatic Green parties on the Left and equally nutty fringe groups on the Right. The British Liberal Democrats went from 57 seats to eight and lost more than two-thirds of their vote.
This is sadly similar to the decline at the last German election of the Free Democrats. They were a bit different from the Lib Dems. The Free Democrats were economically conservative and socially liberal. The Lib Dems were a fraction to the left of that but were born of the historically free trade Liberal Party and the breakaway right- wing Labour figures who formed the Social Democratic Party in Britain in the 1980s. They were governing responsibly types.
The German Free Democrats too were a very intelligent, pro-business, sensible middle party. At the last German election they fell below the threshold for parliamentary representation and the Christian Democrats’ Angela Merkel, despite securing a historically large vote, could not form a coherent centre-right coalition. She had no natural coalition partner. All the fringe groups were mad so she was forced into an incoherent grand coalition with the Social Democrats, massively reducing her ability to govern well.
In Australia we have replaced the often frustrating but perfectly sensible Australian Democrats with the truly nutty and extreme Greens. The Australian Democrats were themselves much given to populism but they began life as a centrist party and had legislative compromise written into their DNA. The Greens, on the other hand, are a party of nihilist extremism. They are against everything except wild flights of utopian fantasy and for anything that involves extra costs to business and massive government expenditure.
They have become so extreme and destructive that they would not support even petrol tax indexation, the very core of Greens policy, because to do so would be to give Abbott a small victory. This is populism of the most profoundly irresponsible kind. It is parties like this, never seeking majority support but pursuing only that 10 to 15 per cent of protest, anti-everything voters, which are flourishing all over Western electorates.
The final dynamic in the British election that really is worrying is the triumph of identity politics. Fifty-six out of 59 Scottish electorates voted for the SNP. This included otherwise conservative parts of Edinburgh and radical parts of Glasgow.
This was a negative vote of identity. The SNP’s economic policies are ridiculous, barely a standard deviation or two more sensible than the Greens. But they turned Scottishness into a grievance all its own. Every problem is the fault of the English and the answer to every problem is a nationalistic assertion of Scottishness. In its vulgarity and foolishness, this is a million miles from the honest, decent patriotism that leads citizens to love their country but intelligently debate its policies.
Similarly the rise of UKIP is all about English nationalism, in reaction against EU supranationalism, and the special deal, special status, special money for Scotland.
The sort of destructive identity politics sweeping much of the West is one of the reasons I remain dogmatically opposed to Western nations, certainly our nation, making any constitutional or civic distinction between classes of citizens. Labour under Tony Blair thought it had solved the problem of Scottish nationalist separatism by federalist devolution. Instead it has paved the way to the likely destruction of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Cameron’s win was good for Britain and incidentally good for Abbott. But the increasingly unmanageable elements of contemporary Western politics are nonetheless there for all to see.
Malaysia is turning away illegal immigrant boats too
The three Southeast Asian governments at the centre of the Rohingya boats crisis have ignored international appeals to find and save thousands of irregular migrants stranded at sea as Malaysia turns away 800 more boat people.
Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have not responded to Tuesday’s appeal by the UN refugee agency for a coordinated search and rescue campaign to find the dozens of boats, large and small, believed to be stranded in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Strait.
More than 1500 people have landed in Malaysia and Indonesia since last week, many without food and water for days, and NGOs engaged with the problem think 6,000 to 8,000 Rohingyas, from Myanmar and Bangladesh, and Bangladeshis are still out there.
They are unable to make landfall because Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are operating a declared or informal turn-back policy.
There are rising fears among humanitarian agencies that it is a matter of days before people start dying in large numbers.
The International Organisation for Migration is understood to be privately pressing the governments to act, as is the US Government State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said overnight the US was supporting the efforts of UNHCR and IOM and is “committed to working with governments in the region who are dealing with the brunt of this burden”.
There has been no response from Canberra however, although Australia is co-founder of the Bali Process for regional cooperation on people trafficking and associated crimes.
Asked about the Indonesian Navy’s turnback of a boat carrying more than 400 people on Monday, a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said only: “These are matters for the Indonesian government.”
Attorney-General George Brandis said Australia had committed $10.7 billion to urgent humanitarian assistance for people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including many Rohingya.
“This is a regional issue demanding a regional response,” Senator Brandis told parliament.
“The Foreign Minister has had talks with regional governments about the need to find a solution for managing the challenge of large-scale movement of people from Myanmar and the Foreign Minister raised the matter in Thailand last week.
“The Abbott government welcomes the Thai government’s plan to hold a regional officials meeting to address the situation. Australia will attend that officials’ level meeting.”
Senator Brandis said Australia had “not been approached directly for assistance” by Indonesia, Malaysia, the IOM or UNHCR.
“The Indonesian authorities and the Malaysian authorities are dealing with the search and rescue aspects of this tragedy but of course Australia is engaged with the issue, we are keeping the matter under review with an alert eye to further opportunities to be of assistance,” Senator Brandis said.
“Peace and security is essential for the country to achieve long-term stability and economic growth and Australia, through its aid program, is contributing to that.”
Human Rights Watch today issued its own appeal for the three governments to halt their pushbacks and being search and rescue coordination.
“The Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian navies should stop playing a three-way game of human ping pong, and instead should work together to rescue all those on these ill-fated boats,” said HRW’s Asia deputy director Phil Robertson.
“The world will judge these governments by how they treat these most vulnerable men, women, and children.”
However, Mr Robertson said there had been no government response from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta and not, as far as he knew, to the other international approaches.
Although Thailand has called an emergency international meeting on the crisis for May 29, Mr Robertson said it was well known that Thai authorities along the Andaman coast had been instructed to allow no boat landings.
Ominously, a Thai Government spokesman told Reuters last night: “Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have decided not to receive boat people, as far as I am aware”.
Major General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak refused, however, to respond to the UNHCR appeal for search and rescue cooperation.
Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar said about 500 people on board a boat found off the coast of northern Penang state were given provisions and then sent on their way.
Another boat carrying about 300 migrants was turned away near Langkawi Island overnight, according to two Malaysian officials who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorised to speak to the press.
Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar said Malaysia cannot afford to have immigrants flooding its shores.
“We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border,” Wan Junaidi Jaafar told Associated Press. “We have treated them humanely but they cannot be flooding our shores like this.”
Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry has denied the government is operating a turn-back program, although the military command’s spokesman told The Australian yesterday that the Navy will push back boats found in Indonesian waters “without permission”.
The contradiction was put to Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, who replied: “I haven’t received that information. I can only give you the information I have.”
Another Jeep lemon
And huge pressure needed to get any decency out of the company. Last year we read about Ashton Wood, who bought a $49,000 Jeep - and hated it so much he demolished it. Buy a Toyota! I have two Toyotas and neither has ever held me up for a minute
By JOHN ROLFE PUBLIC DEFENDER
“THIS is a masters dissertation on how not to handle a problem.”
That’s how former NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts sums up the treatment of John and Sandra Jordan, who, as the picture shows, bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit in July 2014 for $80,000 but almost immediately wished they hadn’t.
Now, following my intervention, Jeep will buy back the Jeep in a full refund.
MORE DRAMA: Tongue-in-cheek ‘sorry’ from man who destroyed own Jeep
Mr Roberts’ assessment came before that, but after he had tried to help the Jordans, who are friends of his family.
The day after buying the car, the Jordans reported a whirring sound. The dealership said it could be fixed at the 1000km service. But after the service it was still there. They took it back again in August. And October. It stayed at the dealership for testing into November then went back again in December. And January, where it’s been ever since. Work on the vehicle has ranged from replacing the windscreen to installing a new cylinder head.
Mr Roberts tried to intervene quite early. He rang Jeep’s then-CEO. He wasn’t trying to apply pressure. Even though his ministerial portfolio is now Resources and Energy, Mr Roberts still considers himself a consumer advocate, and told me that in ringing Jeep’s CEO he was just bringing the Jordans’ treatment to her attention. Put it in writing, he was told. So he did. He never heard back.
The Fair Trading department got involved in December, but was unable to resolve the matter.
I first spoke to Jeep on Monday night. By lunchtime Tuesday, executives called me back and said Jeep would buy the Jeep. That has since been confirmed with the Jordans.
“We are very grateful for all your help,” Mrs Jordan said yesterday. “Thanks to you we have an excellent result.”
A spokeswoman for Jeep’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler, said: “After a thorough internal investigation we have discovered that, due to a regrettable lack of communication between the dealership and our head office, this customer faced what we consider to be an unreasonable delay in having his vehicle query satisfied.
“Under normal circumstances this would not have been the case, as the vehicle in question required only minor mechanical work carried out under warranty. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority, and we recognise the delay was due to an internal issue. As a result we have offered to buyback this vehicle as a goodwill gesture.”
The ACCC’s product safety website lists five separate Grand Cherokee recalls on the 2014 model, including for “unintended acceleration”, “potential fire hazard” and “unintended electrical interference (which) can cause the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to become disabled and the ESC warning lamp to illuminate (which in) certain driving conditions could cause a crash without warning”.