Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Marxist paper says that barrier reef damage is being covered up by Murdoch newspaper

The main Murdoch paper in North Queensland, where the reef is, did cover the bleaching.  It was just the main Murdoch paper in the South, where the reef is not, that mostly ignored the alarms.

And the "Courier Mail" had good reason to ignore the Greenie shrieks.  Greenies have been crying "wolf" over bleaching almost incessantly for many years.  Another such cry is not much news. 

And the point is that corals always recover.  On Bikini atoll the corals re-grew even after sustaining a direct hit from a thermo-nuclear blast.  And even the chief reef alarmist said: I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover”

Coral bleaching is a complex event and it is only Warmists who are sure that global warming causes it. As NOAA says: "Coral bleaching is not well understood by scientists. Many different hypotheses exist as to the cause behind coral bleaching"

I grew up a short boat ride from the reef and as far back as I can remember (over 60 years) there have been alarms about damage to the reef, including bleaching. And that was long before global warming is supposed to have got going. 

Assuming that warmer water is the problem, however, note one thing:  Both the big 1998 die-back and the present die-back coincided with big El Nino events.  And Australia is right in the path of an El Nino event.  It's by far the most parsimonious hypothesis to say that the present problems of the reef are wholly an El Nino effect, and hence just another one of nature's cycles, nothing to do with global warming

But most of the people quoted below are well-known Warmists so they are too predictable to be heeded

The images went around the world. The snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef, from Cairns to Torres Strait, looked more like a pile of bones than coral. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Townsville, was surveying the reef by plane and helicopter. It was, he wrote on March 26, “the saddest trip of my life”.

From March 22, Hughes criss-crossed 520 individual reefs in four days, covering 3200 kilometres by air. Just four showed no evidence of bleaching. The further north Hughes travelled, over what were once the most pristine waters of the reef, unspoiled by the runoff that pollutes the south, the worse the bleaching became. Fringing reefs in Torres Strait, he said, were “completely white”.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science currently has 300 researchers swarming over the reef, complementing the aerial surveys. Reefs are scored on a scale of zero, which indicates no bleaching, to four, which means more than 60 per cent is bleached. Their observations have replicated Hughes’s. In the meantime, Hughes has continued southwards, trying to find a limit to the unfolding tragedy beneath him.

Like most scientists, Hughes prefers to talk in numbers. “I wouldn’t talk about the Barrier Reef dying or the killing of the reef or whatever. I think that’s overstating it,” he says. “I’ll say what number of reefs we’ve surveyed, how many are severely bleached and how many are not severely bleached – but then often the language gets changed, depending on the style of reporting by particular outlets.”

“It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside.”

To clarify, bleached coral is not dead coral. It’s just very unhealthy. Varying combinations of heat stress, bright sunlight and poor water quality cause coral to expel the algae, or zooxanthellae, on which it feeds, and which also gives it its brilliant colour. This exposes the limestone skeleton beneath. Different types of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others.

Hughes is clear, though: this is really, really serious. “There’s a window of opportunity to survey the corals when they’re severely bleached, because after a few weeks they start to die, and then the skeletons get covered in seaweed and you can’t see them from the air anymore,” he says. “We timed our northern surveys to coincide with the peak whiteness of the reefs, before there was significant mortality.”

North of Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is now reporting up to 50 per cent mortality rates. The full extent of the damage, Hughes says, will take months to unfold. “Different corals linger for longer before they die – and also, of course, some of them won’t die, they will recover. I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover.”

When Hughes returned from his first sojourn north, his phone rang off the hook. In the week before April 7, according to the media monitoring company Meltwater, the story was reported more than 1000 times in 70 countries. Video footage given to ABC TV’s 7.30 and later used by the World Wildlife Fund has been viewed more than four million times. “It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside,” Hughes says.

By any objective measure, the bleaching of the reef is a massive story. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the only Australian environmental feature to be granted such status. It’s home to about 215 species of birds, 30 types of whales or dolphins, half a dozen kinds of sea turtle, and 10 per cent of the entire world’s species of fish.

Any potential danger to the reef is economic and diplomatic as much as environmental. According to a Deloitte study commissioned by the Australian government in 2013, its value to the national economy is about $5.7 billion annually. It attracts two million international visitors each year. It employs close to 70,000 people on a full-time basis.

There have been some efforts to inform people about the devastation under way on the reef in the media. News Corp’s The Cairns Post – with a local readership whose livelihoods are directly threatened – has reported the issue, as has Fairfax’s Brisbane Times. But in Queensland’s only statewide newspaper you wouldn’t have read about Hughes’s findings or their ramifications. Since his surveys began, The Courier-Mail hasn’t interviewed him, nor sent one of its journalists into the field to verify either his or his colleagues’ observations.

“It basically shows they’re either in denial about the science,” says Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, “or they’re colluding in obscuring the science so the community don’t understand the threats being posed to the reef, both by climate change and by the associated acidification of the oceans, both of which put real pressure on corals.”

On March 25, the day Hughes completed his survey of the northern section of the reef, the newspaper ran a short piece on page three, lambasting Greenpeace for sharing an image of bleached coral taken in American Samoa that was incorrectly labelled as being from the Barrier Reef.

Last week, on April 7, The Courier-Mail ran on its front page a story titled “David Attenborough’s verdict: Still the most magical place on Earth”, accompanied by a picture of the famed naturalist and filmmaker standing atop some coral at low tide. Inside was a double-page spread headlined “It takes your breath away”, with the sub-head “Reports of reef’s death greatly exaggerated: Attenborough”.

Well, at least that was what the subeditor said. The lead quote came not from Attenborough, but from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after he was granted a preview of the first part of Attenborough’s TV series on the reef that aired last Sunday. “The key point that I had from seeing the first of the three parts is that clearly, the world’s Great Barrier Reef is still the world’s Great Barrier Reef,” Hunt said.

Had Hunt seen the third part, or had the reader progressed to the end of the article, they would have noted Attenborough’s conclusion: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the ocean temperature and in its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reefs will be gone within decades.”

The Courier-Mail’s relationship with environment organisations has been frosty since the departure of long-serving reporter Brian Williams. Williams says these issues have always waxed and waned. “Not long before I left The Courier-Mail I was doing stories on the prospect of this bleaching occurring, and I actually spoke to some friends in the conservation movement and suggested that the debate would swing back again.”

For now, though, the newspaper is running heavily in support of Adani’s massive Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, which had been given the go-ahead by the Queensland state government on April 3. “In the real world you need jobs,” began an editorial on the same day, which lambasted “hashtag activism” and defended the regulations it claimed would protect the reef.

“The science on the health of the reef is plain,” the paper said. “This great natural wonder loved by all Queenslanders faces a range of stresses – as it has during the entire past century – from agricultural runoff to the current coral bleaching.”

No mention was made of climate change. The science on that is plain, too: according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, bleaching is caused primarily by heat stress. The authority also notes that the reef has in fact been bleached only twice previously in the past century – and those events were in 1998 and 2002. This event is far worse. Hughes has said the reef is being “fried”. It’s perhaps more accurate to say it’s being slowly boiled. Water temperatures are up to 35 degrees around Lizard Island, and about 2 degrees above normal summer averages generally.

Climate scientists say that in addition to 2015 being the hottest year since records began in 1880, water temperatures around Australia are at all-time highs. They point to more frequent El NiƱo events, and more intense cyclones. It’s not just the Barrier Reef that is suffering, either: corals are being bleached across the southern hemisphere, from the central and eastern Pacific across to the Caribbean.

Scientists usually fare poorly in the media for their struggle to speak in lay terms. Now, the government’s own experts are being dismissed as activists.

John Cook, a climate communication fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says it’s a deliberate strategy. “It’s an attempt by people who oppose climate action to deliberately lump them together, and so when a scientist publishes empirical research about climate change, then they get labelled an activist.” Politicising science, he says, is a way of casting doubt on it.

“I remember having conversations with editors about how climate should be covered, and being told that it was a political story,” remembers Graham Readfearn, who launched his GreenBlog at The Courier-Mail in 2008, before resigning in 2010. “The politics are a distraction when the issue is quite literally staring you in the face, in the form of white coral.”

The newspaper’s website has since deleted all of Readfearn’s posts. Questions to The Courier-Mail’s editor, Lachlan Heywood, went unanswered.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland with a special interest in the communication of science issues, notes that the premiere of Attenborough’s series on Sunday night was watched by 10.6 million people in Britain alone. But in Queensland, there is an eerie silence. In politics and in the state’s most-read newspaper, no one wants to talk about what is happening in front of them.


Happy student campers told to queer their ideas

Government schools have promoted a gay school holiday camp that teaches young teenagers to "queer their ideas".  The Camp Out organisation is hosting the camp in Sydney this week for 13 to 17-year-olds who are gay, straight, intersex or simply "curious and questioning" their sexuality.

Camp Out — which describes itself as a "collective guided by queer politics" — sent registration packs to schools across NSW. It encourages children to "reach out to queer communities".  "Helping campers to queer their ideas about the future is a key goal," Camp Out says on its ­website.

"For us, one of Camp Out’s central missions is helping campers to imagine what their futures might look like outside of compulsory heterosexuality — to introduce them to ideas and people that ­better fit their own conceptions of their sexualities and gender identities.

"Camp Out aims to skill LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) in reaching out to queer communities, drawing support from those communities, and also in forming their own communities."

Marking its five-year anniversary on Facebook last month, Camp Out stated: "On this important day in our activist history, help us continue to build generations of queers who are proud, resilient, creative and fabulous!"

Camp activities yesterday included "queer sex ed, feminism and dancing workshops".

The Wollongong High School of Performing Arts, on the NSW south coast, promoted the five-day camp in a "roll call notice" for teachers to read to their classes last month.

The nearby Warrawong High School advertised the camp on a poster, and Camp Out’s Facebook page shows a photo of a regis­tration pack arriving at Chatham High School in Taree, on the NSW north coast.

The camp is staffed by volunteers older than 21 who have "working with children" checks.

"We use the term ‘camp crew’ intentionally to emphasise that we are not trying to take the place of a counsellor in any way," the Camp Out website states.

"While the health and safety of our campers — physical, mental and emotional — are our utmost responsibility, we do not profess to be counsellors or crisis support."

The camp is drug and alcohol- free and has an "ask to touch” ­policy which "means that any kind of sexual or non-consensual touch is not allowed at camp".

"A huge and very valid concern for parents is for the safety of their child attending Camp Out," its website says.

The independent Camp Out group is backed by Twenty10, a NSW and federal government funded counselling service for LGBTI children, teenagers and adults in NSW.

News of the "queer camp" follows an uproar over The Australian’s revelation yesterday that Victoria’s new family violence curriculum asks Year 8 students to study sexualised personal ads and write their own ads seeking the "perfect partner".

One of the ads, to be analysed by students as young as 12, includes a "lustful, sexually generous" person "seeking sexy freak out".

Victoria’s opposition spokesman on education, Nick Wakeling, yesterday said parents had a "right to be concerned".

He said Premier Daniel ­Andrews "must stop treating our schools as his opportunity to ­impose his social agenda" on children.

"Parents should never have to learn about what their 12-year-old child is being taught on the front page of the newspaper," he said.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said he understood parents’ concerns but they could not "stick their head in the sand".

"I understand those concerns and I know they are challenging ­issues," he said. "But we can’t as a society stick our heads in the sand and think our kids aren’t exposed to these issues.

"We trust the professional judgment of our teachers to choose the resources that are ­appropriate for their students."


Protect kids from Marxist sexualisation programs

There are few forms of predation that offend our common morality more than child sexual abuse. During the 1970s, pedophile groups capitalising on the sexual liberation movement sought to redefine their exploitation of youth as an expression of children’s sexual rights, self-determination and autonomy. Groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association claimed children were sexual beings and sought to repeal age of consent laws to liberate their sexuality. They were welcomed by fringe elements of the neo-Marxist minorities movement that advocated sexual libertarian ideology under Queer and “sex positive” politics.

Today, the discourse on children’s sexual rights and the belief they are sexual beings are invoked to justify school programs that sexualise youth at ever younger ages.

Daniel Andrews’ Labor left government in Victoria invokes neo-Marxist rhetoric to defend highly questionable school programs that encourage the sexualisation of children. The Safe Schools Coalition and Building Respectful Relationships programs were introduced using minority politics as the rationale. In each case, a state-designated minority group and political cause are aligned in a program of social change that uses youth as change agents. Program designers create an urgent health case for government funding without causal evidence to validate a linear relationship between program activities and core objectives.

The Safe Schools program was created for the state-designated minority group LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) for the cause of anti-bullying with the stated objective to improve health outcomes. The program encourages young people to become change agents for the cause of sexual ­diversity. When the program was criticised by conservative Senator Cory Bernardi, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused him of homophobia. After community outrage following revelations that program co-founder Roz Ward designed Safe Schools as part of a Marxist social change strategy, the liberal coalition withdrew commonwealth funding beyond 2017. Despite the Marxist objective of the Safe Schools program — or perhaps because of it ­­­— Daniel Andrews continues to defend it.

His education minister James Merlino vilified politicians concerned about the hard Left’s indoctrination of children, calling them “bigots”. It is uncertain what pejoratives Merlino, a heterosexual married man, has devised for the lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who oppose Queer politics and the Safe Schools program.

Unfortunately, the SSC debacle is not isolated. Last week, it transpired that the Andrews government had produced another school program that sexualises children. As with the SSC program, Building Respectful Relationships began with a state-designated minority group, women, aligned with the important cause of domestic violence prevention. The case for government funding was again framed as a health imperative, namely, the prevention of violence against women. And once again, the program was introduced in schools without causal evidence linking its exercises to the stated objective.

Like Safe Schools, the BRR program promotes a radical agenda divorced from its stated program objective. It promotes the sexualisation of children by inculcating techniques and beliefs centred on the premise that children are sexual. Instructors are encouraged to sexualise children, and children to sexualise themselves and their peers. They are asked to view highly sexualised personal ads and write their own, discuss transgenderism and anal sex. Program authors acknowledge that one exercise may cause “disassociation” in children.

Sexualising and inducing a dissociative state in children are methods of pedophilic predation. They are not methods of domestic violence prevention.

It is increasingly common to find the sexualisation of very young children promoted as part of sex education in schools. In 2009, the United Nations produced International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The first iteration met with controversy after conservatives revealed it sexualised prepubescent children by promoting masturbation. The offending sections were removed only after public outcry.

NGOs have joined the UN in a push for radical sexual programs aimed at youth under the auspices of sexual diversity and sexual health. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation claims that “the taboo on youth sexuality is one of the key forces driving the AIDS epidemic”. In fact, the premature sexualisation of youth, especially the exploitation of girls for prostitution and other harmful cultural practices, have been key drivers of HIV transmission in Southeast Asia and Africa for ­decades. Despite the fact, the IPPF asserts repeatedly that “young people are sexual beings” and criticises the Catholic Church for imposing barriers on young people, denying “pleasurable and positive aspects of sex”. Its solution is comprehensive sexuality education, which it describes as perhaps “the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children”.

The Netherlands government promotes comprehensive sexuality education in what some call the Dutch model. Under the Dutch CSE model, schoolchildren begin sexual programs at four years of age. Modules for young children include “what feels nice” and “does bare make you blush?” Lessons marketed under the “Spring Fever” package include “being naked”, a module that explores nudity, undressing and being in the bath.

It is unclear why any adult would solicit an account of how a child undresses or why the Dutch state would mandate such discussion in schools. CSE advocates defend their programs with studies that indicate efficacy, but mainly in comparison to abstinence programs. There is a more moderate middle path that provides children requisite knowledge in biology, safety from violence and mutual respect without encouraging their sexualisation in activities that resemble grooming.

The sexualisation of childhood by governments and NGOs should be a source of broad community concern. The state has no business interfering in childhood by conditioning children’s sexual responses. As a whole, parents remain the best arbiters of their children’s morality and guardians of their development. Australian children are ranked 14th in literacy and 19th in mathematics according to OECD reports. Governments should take remedial classes in teaching kids the basics of reading, writing and arithmetical instead of indulging messianic pretensions to parenting by proxy.


Must not mock Leftist journalists and their lockstep  thinking

There was a time when journalists and commentators hollered against the zeitgeist. This was a useful role. Sure, we need straight reporters giving us the unvarnished news but aside from that, when it comes to opinion, commentary and campaign journalism, a bit of dissent is required. Whatever convention is being adopted unquestioningly by authorities, whatever groupthink is extant in society, we need it to be challenged. Among the opinion writers, journalists and commentators we need a good quota of contrarians and sceptics.

Journalists filled this role when the zeitgeist was conservative. In the 1960s and 70s contrarianism came naturally as they challenged conservative social and political norms under conservative governments. Many Boomer journalists and their Millennial comrades hanker for those days — Iraq is their Vietnam, refugee advocacy their civil rights movement, and gay marriage their summer of love. Against conservative governments or ideas their dissent is there for all to see. But when the zeitgeist blows with a progressive issue, such as climate change, gay marriage, open-border migration, new entitlements or “moral” taxes, journalists now become warriors for groupthink. They beg to agree.

The journalistic mob turns on commentators who dare question the herd mentality. It is Pythonesque. We all know the scene. “You’ve got to think for yourselves, you’re all individuals,” Brian lectures the crowd. “Yes, we’re all individuals,” the gallery of journalists responds in unison. And from down the back Tim Blair, The Daily Telegraph columnist and blogger, delivers one of the shortest and most sweetly ironic lines of all time. “I’m not.”

Blair became the target of leftist journalists (again) last week. Through the journalists’ union, some of his colleagues tried to silence him. They demanded his employer (News Corp Australia, publisher of The Australian) distance itself from his views. So-called progressives publicly wished violence upon him.

On most days the Left claim News Corp journalists do their master’s bidding; now they demand this master asserts control over its writers’ opinions! Pythonesque. If not so funny, it would be scary. We live in the age of thought police, and the censors are journalists themselves. Blair’s crime was to mock a push on behalf of ABC employees for domestic violence leave. In his typically blunt satire, Blair pointed out the absurdity of this exercise in what we might call virtue-signalling or entitlement creep. Provocatively, he wondered why the union thought ABC staff needed this provision. “What kind of carnage-strewn bloodhouse are they operating over there?” he blogged. “Is that why ABC staff work so few hours — because they’re always recovering from the previous night’s beatings? Why are staffers not pressing charges instead of seeking leave?”

He could have noted ABC workers already have personal leave, sick leave, compassionate leave and parental leave, that separate leave categories for every social scourge are silly, and that one of the greatest problems with domestic violence is the unwillingness of victims to report attacks.

But this was not a thesis, it was a pithy, satirical blog. Blair made his point, perhaps too well.

Twitter, of course, reverted to its default mode of anti-conservative outrage. Leftist tweeps can be routinely offensive and profane — sometimes ABC actor Brendan Maclean even wondered on Twitter why Blair’s colleagues didn’t just “punch him in the back of the head” — but they are incandescent when a right-of-centre commentator mocks their sanctimony.

The daily quandary for the morally vain is how to trumpet their greater sensitivity on issues that concern all fair-minded people. The answer is always the same: pretend someone else doesn’t care and denounce them. Hence they smear others as racists, homophobes, misogynists or in Blair’s case, of being unsympathetic about domestic violence.

Perhaps the unions pushing for domestic violence leave are the ones demeaning the issue. And if public sector and journalists’ unions are justified in demanding this new entitlement at the ABC (and at News Corp Australia as it happens), perhaps it is a good thing that some journalists swim against the tide.

Whatever you think about the leave provision, perhaps debating its merits or explaining why it might be considered above ridicule would be a more intelligent and liberal-minded approach than trying to threaten, intimidate, “punch in the back of the head” or otherwise silence someone with whom you disagree.


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