Thursday, December 08, 2016
'Remarkable year': What's behind the record low sea ice in Antarctica?
Above is the heading on an article by Peter Hannam appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Nov. 27. I dealt with it on Nov. 29th., using logic alone.
But Tony Heller has now attacked it using 20th century climate history, which is his specialty. He shows that the principal area of recent sea-ice loss is a polynya (big hole) in the ice of the Weddel sea. He then goes on to show that a very similar hole in the same place also occurred in 1976, when it was attributed to global cooling
So which is it? Does a polynya prove global warming or global cooling? Neither, of course. It is just one of the natural phenomena that we do not understand -- though a guess that it is due to an underwater volcano would probably not be far off. There is a lot of underwater vulcanism at both poles.
Tony also has fun with another claim in the Peter Hannam article that reported ice loss in the Northern hemisphere too. In commenting on that ice loss, Peter said: "With less ice to reflect the sun's radiation to space, more heat is absorbed by the oceans, added to the warming".
Tony's reply to that was crushing on two grounds: "If Peter actually knew anything about the earth, he would know that the sun doesn’t shine in the Arctic in November – and open water in the Arctic Ocean in November allows heat to escape to the much colder air."
Malcolm Turnbull rules out carbon price
The Coalition has vowed not to introduce an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector, as Malcolm Turnbull seeks to quell a backbench revolt over climate change policy and target Labor over its plans for a new price on carbon.
In a reminder of the policy fight that cost Mr Turnbull his job as Liberal leader in 2009, angry MPs yesterday warned of economic “suicide” if the government shifted ground on carbon pricing.
Following a cabinet meeting in Sydney, and in response to questions from The Australian, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg issued a statement ruling out any policy that would increase electricity prices, including an emissions intensity scheme. “The government will not be adopting new policies which increase the already high cost of electricity for Australian families,” he told The Australian.
“In particular, the government will not introduce an emissions intensity scheme, which is a form of trading scheme that operates within the electricity generation sector. It is the Labor Party which, by putting ideology ahead of common sense, promises both more expensive and less reliable energy.”
Tony Abbott, who took the Liberal leadership from Mr Turnbull seven years ago last week after the party split over climate policy and 11 frontbenchers resigned, told Sky News’s Bolt Report the “last thing” ministers wanted was to reopen questions “that were settled for our side back in 2009”.
“We’re against a carbon tax. We’re against an ETS. We’re against anything that’s a carbon tax by stealth. We are the party of lower power prices and should let Labor be the party that artificially increases prices under Green pressure,” Mr Abbott said.
Liberal senator Cory Bernardi warned it would be like “ ripping a scab off an old wound” to revisit a carbon price.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who chairs the backbench environment and energy committee, said he accepted the need for a review, but if there was any policy that increased the price of electricity, “a lot of us in the Coalition will not accept that”.
“We are nervous about it because we think electricity costs, energy costs are such an important factor for every single household, for every single business and we have to be so careful with these schemes,” Mr Kelly told ABC radio.
Former Howard government treasurer Peter Costello said people on both sides of politics would eventually realise renewable energy was not a cost-effective long-term solution and that there was a duty to ensure electricity prices remained low. “Australia has to look after its interests, of course,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program last night. “One of its interests is to look after the environment but the other is to make sure that electricity is priced at a level that people can get jobs.”
As the government sought to bring to an end the brawl over climate policy, Bill Shorten reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, and to a “modernisation plan” for the energy generation sector which includes an emissions intensity scheme.
“We’ve said, in the electricity industry, that we would support a modernisation plan,” he said. “But to do that you’ve got to look at all of Labor’s policy and that involved fundamentally a focus on renewable energy.”
Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler said the opposition remained committed to an emissions intensity scheme, a policy it had come to after “deep consultation” with the energy sector.
The Prime Minister insisted the climate change policy review was “business as usual” and had been promised by Mr Abbott at the 2010 and 2013 elections and by himself at this year’s election.
Mr Frydenberg said that since the Direct Action emissions reduction fund was announced in 2010, a review had been part of government policy. He said the Coalition’s energy policy had to deliver three things: secure reliable energy; energy that was “as affordable as possible”; and meet the Paris target of a 26 to 28 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 from a 2005 baseline.
Mr Frydenberg said that, when that target was announced in August last year by Mr Abbott, then environment minister Greg Hunt and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the government said it would review Australia’s emissions reductions policies “in detail in 2017-18 in close consultation with business and the community”.
“We are committed to tackling climate change without a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme that will hike up power bills,” the government said in a statement.
Mr Frydenberg said: “That statement of policy and of intent remains unchanged. Our current policies ... are working well.
“We have beaten our Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes and we are on track to beat our 2020 target by 78 million tonnes.
“Our 2030 emissions reduction target to which Australia committed in the Paris climate agreement was agreed to by the cabinet and the Coalition partyroom in August 2015 and was based on a continuation of existing policy.”
Backbench MPs criticised the government’s handling of the politics of the scheduled review, saying it had tarnished an otherwise positive end to the parliamentary year for the Coalition.
Nationals MP Andrew Broad, chair of the House of Representatives standing committee on environment and energy, said that while a review of policy was important, the politics were “awful”.
“Government should always look to how to do things better, so if a review gives us a better understanding so be it, but the politics of it are awful,” he said.
“People expect the government to know how to govern; they don’t like politics by review.”
Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz said the government should consider fast-tracking the 12-month review, warning the Coalition could suffer from the “everything on the table” approach that similarly derailed debate over tax reform early this year.
Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said that an emissions intensity scheme would inevitably lead to price rises, but warned there were very few options to achieve energy reliability and affordability while reducing emissions.
'Pauline Hanson would win in a canter': Radio host claims One Nation leader would swoop to power if an election was held today
A conservative radio host thinks Pauline Hanson would win 'in a canter' if an election were held in Australia right now.
The comments by 2GB's Chris Smith come as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's support slumps even further in the lastest opinion poll - to its lowest since he ousted Tony Abbott from the top job.
Smith made the claims on Tuesday morning after millionaire Dick Smith said he supported the One Nation leader's conservative immigration policies and committed to backing her party in the next election.
'If we held a poll today of who would be the nation’s preferred prime minister and we included Pauline Hanson in that poll... I’m telling you Pauline would win in a canter,' he said on Tuesday morning.
Dick Smith said the far-right party leader had already won over Donald Trump-esque supporters from traditionally conservative electorates, with the radio host agreeing her controversial policies may appeal to a large portion of the Australian population.
This comes as Malcolm Turnbull's rating as preferred prime minister drops two points to 41 per cent in the latest Newspoll - leaving him in the worst position he has been in since toppling Abbott as leader of the Liberal party in September 2015.
His standing has continued to fall since taking office - tumbling a total of 18 points over the course of this year.
Mr Turnull's margin over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who is favoured by 32 per cent as the preferred prime minister, has dropped from a 39-point lead in January to just nine points.
The Newspoll of 1629 voters, taken from Thursday to Sunday, shows the government's primary vote has gained one point to 39 per cent and Labor's primary vote fell two points to a two-month low of 36 per cent.
The Greens remain unchanged on 10 per cent while support for independents and other parties edged up from 14 to 15 per cent.
Australian high school students are two years behind the world's best performing countries - and have got worse at maths, science and reading
Australian high school students are two years behind their top international counterparts, a report shows.
Students aged 15 in Australia have not just slipped compared to their international peers, but have actually gotten worse at maths, science and reading, the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed.
When compared to teenagers in Singapore, local students were found to be about one-and-a-half years behind in science, one year behind in reading, and two-and-a-third years behind in maths.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham acknowledged Australia's performance was slipping in the three-yearly report, released on Tuesday night.
'Given the wealth of our nation and scale of our investment, we should expect to be a clear education leader, not risk becoming a laggard,' Senator Birmingham said.
'We must leave the politicking at the door and have a genuine conversation that is based on evidence about what we do from here.'
Australia is above the OECD average, but sits equal 10th in science, equal 12th in reading and equal 20th in maths out of 72 countries, according to analysis by the Australian Council for Educational Research, which reports on the study.
'The PISA results are showing that we are getting worse at preparing our students for the everyday challenges of adult life in the 21st century,' the council's Sue Thomson told AAP.
Dr Thomson says there is an issue with the teaching of maths and science in Australia. 'TIMSS has shown that and now PISA has shown it again,' she said.
'Other countries are getting better than we are and we're not even just standing still in this one, we're falling behind as well.'
More than half-a-million 15-year-olds complete the test worldwide, aimed at measuring how well they use their knowledge to meet real-life challenges, with more than 14,000 Australian students taking part.
The 2015 test, which focused on science, asked students about issues such as migratory bird patterns, running in hot weather and sustainable fish farming.
The PISA results come on the back of last week's Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showing Australian students still middle of the pack after 20 years of testing.
After sitting behind the likes of Kazakhstan and Slovenia in the TIMSS, Australia was outperformed by Finland in all three PISA areas, Vietnam in Science and Slovenia, again, in maths.
Singapore was the highest performer across the board.
'I don't think there is any good news stories out of it because all of the gaps that we measure have continued to have just stayed,' Dr Thomson said.
A more detailed national report will be released early next year.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here