Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Change in Australia's plankton population, as climate changes, threatens human food chain

Amusing that 30 years was chosen below as the start of the period under examination.  Carefully choosing your starting and ending points for a sequence is one of the classic ways of lying with statistics.  Had they chosen to study the last 18 years -- when there has been NO global warming, the results might have been very different.  So it is entirely possible that the effects they have reported originated ENTIRELY in the late 20th century, when there was some slight warming.  Is that the case?  They do not say.  If it is the case, the alarm they are trying to generate is a hoax

Just by the by, there is a bit of a puzzle in the report below. Plankton are much more plentiful in temperate seas than tropical ones so what is meant by saying that plankton have "moved" into cooler (more Southerly) seas? Weren't they there already? Are they saying that tropical plankton are dying out? That could conceivably be but if so, why not say so? The idea of plankton "moving" seems very odd

If we leave aside silly talk about "moving", is their basic finding that plankton are becoming more abundant in cooler seas? If so, that CONTRADICTS global warming -- as warmer seas should have LESS plankton. What a mess of a report!

Australia's plankton population, a vital key in the human food chain, has moved 300 kilometres south in 30 years, new research has found.

Scientists attributed the shift to the warming oceans caused by climate change.

In some regions there was also a shift from cold-water to warm-water plankton species.

The Plankton 2015 report from the CSIRO is based on data from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which looks at why plankton is important to ocean health.

The report's lead author, Dr Anthony Richardson, said how much plankton there is, and where it is, determines how many fish, marine mammals and turtles are in the sea.

"The key findings are that plankton, which are really important to people, are changing and changing really in response to climate change," he said.

"Plankton are responsible for about half the oxygen we breathe, and are critical to the marine food web. "They can impact human life."

The report compiles information from plankton studies and data sets from across Australia giving a snapshot of the climate, the state of global fisheries and marine ecosystem health and biodiversity.


Former MP Craig Thomson ordered to pay $458,000 for breaching Fair Work Act

This scum was corruptly kept free from prosecution for the entire time of the Rudd/Gillard government -- because they depended on his vote in parliament

Former federal MP Craig Thomson has been ordered to pay $458,000 for breaching the Fair Work Act.

The judgment was handed down in the Federal Court this morning and relates to Thomson's improper use of union funds between 2003 and 2009.

Justice Christopher Jessup ordered Thomson, who was not in court, to pay the Health Services Union $231,234 compensation plus $146,937 in interest.

In addition, Thomson will also be required to pay a $80,000 fine to Fair Work.

Thomson spent tens of thousands of dollars on payments of hotels and the use of credit card for personal functions. He also spent the money on travel for him and his wife.

The money was also spent for his campaign to get elected as the federal member for Dobell, the court heard.

Justice Jessup said Thomson had improperly used the money and his position to gain personal advantage, to the detriment of the union.

Previously, the court has heard that Thomson had no capacity to pay any fines.

The Health Services Union said it was pleased with the judgement.

Fair Work Commission general manager Bernadette O'Neill said the decision sent a message about improper use of funds.

"I am particularly pleased that this decision recognises the impact of Mr Thomson's actions on the union's membership by the awarding of compensation to the HSU," she said in a statement.

"Today's decision sends a clear message to all officers of registered organisations that a failure to meet their obligations under the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act 2009 is a serious issue and will be treated accordingly."

Thomson was the National Secretary of the HSU from August 2002 to December 2007.

In December last year Thomson escaped a jail term after being found guilty of 13 charges of theft against the HSU but was fined $25,000.

He was acquitted of 51 charges, which were the majority of offences against him.


Australia-UK bond ‘under threat’ from Britain’s ‘discriminatory’ visa and migration policies: DFAT report

BRITAIN’S love affair with Australian workers is officially over with the “unique” bond between the two countries undermined by “discriminatory” immigration policies that next year will see thousands of workers forced to leave the UK.

That’s the damning conclusion of a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report into a new tranche of UK visa rules set to come into effect next year that the Australian Government has already warned would cause “structural damage” to formal relations between the two countries.

A summary of the report, obtained by News Corp Australia, pointed to widespread disenchantment among Australian directed or related businesses operating in the UK.

More than half of 100 businesses surveyed, staffed with between 10 and 10,000 staff, said visa rule changes would directly impact planned investment in the UK while two-thirds of respondents said it would “significantly impact their ability and willingness to recruit Australians”.

“The UK’s visa changes are making this country a less welcoming destination for Australians,” the Australian High Commission signed report states.

“This potentially harms the UK’s image and reputation in Australia, and might even in the long term undermine the unique Australia-UK bond.”

As previously reported, in 2011 the British Government closed certain skilled worker visas and capped other at just 20,000 positions for all nations from outside the European Union.

The move came after the EU’s open borders saw a dramatic rise of skilled or semi-skilled workers flood the UK, particularly from eastern European nations.

Next year UK worker restrictions are to be further tightened and extended to intra-company transfers, spouses right to work and see levies implemented.

There has been a 50 per cent drop in Australian migration between 1999 and 2011, to just 26,000 people with another 14 per cent drop in the past four years.

The Australian Government has formally protested the move in a rare strongly worded diplomatic missive from High Commissioner Alexander Downer to Whitehall and Westminster’s Migration Advisory Committee.

Mr Downer ordered a survey of business in the UK to be down to make his case.

The Australian racing industry in the UK responded claiming it was suffering “dramatic staff shortages” that could not be filled locally while another firm said employees were shifting their work to New York where visas were easier to obtain.

Unlike for other nationalities, if a UK firm hires an Australian, that person has to return to Australia to obtain a visa or to switch visas.

“The UK’s refusal to allow in-country switching deters employers and discriminates against Australians,” the survey concluded.

Ironically, the report’s findings concluded last week came as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales warned economic growth would slow as business investment stalled and costs in the construction sector expected to rise due predominantly to a skills shortage and an increase in pay growth beyond other major sectors.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who studied in Melbourne in his youth, said he would be taking the case up with Prime Minister David Cameron for Australia’s unique position in UK history to be recognised.

“The Mayor has long argued for a fair but firm visa system that attracts talented people from across the world to come to London to live and work,” a spokesman said.

“He believes that Commonwealth citizens should be given more freedom to contribute to London’s economy, culture and communities, particularly given the strong cultural connections between our countries. As a start, the Mayor has proposed an agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom that allows greater movement of skilled people between both countries in order to address skills shortages. This could be extended further to other Commonwealth countries, if successful.”


Education Ministers agree on reforms to improve the quality of teacher preparation

John Hattie is a smart guy and this all seems pretty sound -- in theory at least.  What is overlooked is the low quality (semi-chaos) of many of the schools and the resultant difficulty of attracting capable people to teach in them

Reforms agreed today at the Education Council will put in place rigorous quality assurance measures to ensure that teacher education programs are approved based on evidence about how well they prepare graduate teachers.

Professor John Hattie, AITSL Chair, said, “The reforms will help to ensure that graduate teachers are ‘classroom ready’ so they can have maximum impact on student learning. This is vital, since teacher expertise and quality teaching are the most important in-school influences on student learning.”

Early in 2015, the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) found that there is some excellent practice in initial teacher education in Australia, but the quality varies significantly between institutions. Accordingly, Ministers have resolved that all graduate teachers must be properly prepared to teach like the best.

Throughout 2015, AITSL worked constructively with teacher education providers, teacher regulatory authorities and key education stakeholders to address the concerns raised by TEMAG. The reformed system of accreditation of initial teacher education programs will be based on evidence, data, evaluation and improvement and will place a premium on demonstrating effective practice.

Key points:

    The selection of entrants to teacher education programs will be more rigorous and transparent, with all institutions considering candidates’ academic ability, as well as the non-academic characteristics that make them suitable for teaching.

    All initial teacher education students will have to pass a rigorous assessment that covers the breadth of teaching responsibilities to ensure that they are classroom ready by the time they graduate.

    A literacy and numeracy test for initial teacher education students will be implemented, to ensure that graduate teachers have appropriate personal literacy and numeracy skills.

    There will be a greater focus on building partnerships and communication between initial teacher education providers and schools for improved professional experience.

    All primary teaching students will complete a subject specialisation, ensuring that they have high level skills and knowledge in a particular subject area, as well as being prepared to teach across the primary curriculum.

Professor Hattie, continued, “Ultimately, the aim is to build a high-impact profession that people aspire to join. A profession that is as highly esteemed in Australia as it is in the leading countries of the world - and all in the great cause of advancing student learning.”

Press release

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