Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Proprietor of far-left Australian webzine "New Matilda" echoes Trump

Chris Graham is proprietor of a far-left Australian webzine called "new Matilda" with rather shaky finances but he seems to be far more rational than most Leftists.  He defends coal below and hints that nuclear power may be the best of all.  Beat that!  He seems to be on the same page as Trump when it comes to the electricity supply so it's a wonder he can stand the embarrassment. 

His main concerns in fact seem to be Aboriginal welfare and Palestinians.  He publishes some pretty one-eyed stuff on those topics.  The Aboriginal stuff probably bores most of his readers.  The Australian Left mostly regards the Aboriginal problem as "too hard", which it is.  Compare the Canadian "first nations" problem or the native American problem.  But Palestinians are red meat to Leftists so that probably keeps Chris's ship afloat

Naomi Klein: Definitely of the left and a powerful advocate for the oppressed; at least when they have two legs and an upright stance. Her first book, No Logo, was a powerful polemic against the branding and bullshit of the modern corporate culture.

Klein is now getting heavily involved in climate change politics, writing one of her characteristically large books on the topic a few years back: This changes everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate.

Here’s a shorter taste of Klein in full flight. It’s an essay adapted from her 2016 Edward Said London Lecture. The essay’s central theme is how Said, a Palestinian born Professor of Literature, thought of environmentalism as a bourgeois playground and missed what Klein thinks is the powerful connection between environmental destruction and oppression.

I think she’s a bit rough on Said; he died in 2003, well before many non-scientists realised the deep gravity of climate destabilisation. The penny hadn’t dropped then with Tim Flannery, for example; or I think, Klein herself. It was 2004 before the penny started falling with me.

But even if Said had realised the seriousness of climate destabilisation, would he have agreed with Klein on the connection between oppression and trashing the climate? Perhaps Klein’s connection is simply the result of moving outside her area of expertise. Science changes everything.

Klein is used to identifying protagonists and telling their stories with events and anecdotes. Science is about numbers, evidence and carefully constructed arguments. Klein’s not comfortable with any of the three.

For example, Klein wants to assert that our fossil fuel problems are the result of our othering of miners and Indigenous peoples. Meaning that we treat them as less than human to justify their exploitation.

Did coal and oil mines displace Indigenous people? Certainly, but were they the biggest driving force or simply a minor footnote in a much more general process?

It’s easy enough to check. I’ll illustrate with some Australian numbers, but they illustrate general principles. We crop about 20 million hectares in Australia and graze another 70 million hectares of improved pasture. Cattle and sheep also graze another 330 million hectares of natural vegetation.

Keep in mind that the entire area of Australia is about 770 million hectares. We also have a couple of million hectares of plantation forests. And our mines? All up, not just coal, they occupy a few tens of thousands of hectares and much of that isn’t the prime area with surface disturbance. So… which activities have done most to dispossess Indigenous people? Mines of any description, or cropping or grazing?

The ratios are similar the world over. Mines are tiny, cropping is big and grazing is huge. Indigenous people have been dispossessed by the sheer weight of numbers of non-Indigenous people and the fact that the latter all eat; with the biggest dispossessors being those who indirectly appropriate the most land… meaning meat eaters… which probably includes both Klein and Said (as far as I can make out).

Now think about the other part of her claim. Coal mining is definitely a filthy business, but a damn site healthier than what it replaced… chopping and burning wood. And what did they use to light the lamps of Europe before oil?

They used whale oil.

Perhaps Klein would like us to return to men in little boats throwing sharp pointy things at whales, but I’d rather drill holes in the ground. And wood isn’t dead yet. Some 3 billion people still cook with solid fuels; mostly wood, but also cow dung or charcoal or even coal itself.

Wood smoke indoors shortens lives and kills children. The death toll from household air pollution is about 4.3 million people a year; and the suffering on top of that is immense. The upside of a coal industry, particularly when it became used to generate electricity, is that by replacing wood, a large number of people benefitted from the toil of a few.

The other great thing about coal mining is that it’s a big compact centralised industry; which means it’s easier to regulate. Think about the difference between a textile factory with a union and regulation compared to people working at home. Highly distributed industries are tough to regulate. Globally between 1990 and 2013, coal production trebled, but deaths from black lung dropped from 29,000 to 25,000.

Black lung is the common name for CWP (Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis). It’s the biggest killer of coal miners and is caused by breathing coal dust. But when you mine coal from big open cut holes while sitting in massive air-conditioned machines, the problem can be eliminated; and the pay is better than many other jobs. But it does take good unions and continued vigilance.

There were 6 cases of CWP in Queensland between May 2015 and February 2016 which prompted calls for action in the Medical Journal of Australia. Science changes everything.

Klein can point to coal mining abuses in various parts of the world, but ignores the benefits of coal over what went before. I don’t know of any studies on how many lives coal has saved in replacing wood, but there are studies on the numbers of premature deaths nuclear power has prevented in replacing coal… about 1.8 million. The number of lives coal has saved by replacing wood would be far greater.

Klein is so closely focused on oppression by big business that she missed the much bigger cause of Indigenous displacement and thus all the subsequent domino progression of problems. She misses that large industries can be regulated and improved and that in many countries that’s exactly what has happened.

Similarly, when she talks about health, she is so focused on laying out her argument that she doesn’t bother to check the facts. Consider:

“Turning all that coal into electricity required another layer of othering too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers.”

Where’s the proof? For females in the US, whites have a higher rate of cancer than blacks, with Latino’s significantly lower again and American and Alaskan native Indians lower still! For men, blacks have the highest cancer rates, with whites a little lower and again Latinos and American and Alaskan native Indians lower again.

There may be pockets around power plants where rates are a little different but where’s the data?

As for respiratory diseases, the biggest most serious of these is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and yes, rates of COPD are higher for non-whites. But what’s the problem, is it mining?

Here’s what a major 2013 US study says: “Because smoking is the dominant risk factor for COPD and contributed to about 80% of COPD deaths in 2000 to 2004 much of this disease is potentially preventable.”

With regard to cancer, Klein makes the same mistake made over many decades by the anti-nuclear movement. They seized on the fact that radiation can cause cancer and entirely ignored more recent findings that radiation is a much weaker cause of cancer than lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, red and processed meat, and being fat and inactive.

Climate science is a little different from some sciences in its emphasis on ranking causes. Plenty of science is focused on tiny details but the climate gurus have to look at a vast array of quite different problems and try to rank them.

Klein cites a paper by Hansen on sea level rise; but when she starts discussing climate science she begins with a faux pas.

“Fossil fuels aren’t the sole driver of climate change – there is industrial agriculture, and deforestation – but they are the biggest.”

Industrial agriculture is a very misleading description of a major part of the climate problem. A more accurate description would be simply “methane from sheep and cattle”.

The 1.4 billion cattle on the planet are unprecedented and have driven a considerable component of the deforestation as well as emitting large amounts of methane as they digest their feed. And what about the “industrial” adjective? Cattle in feedlots generate less methane than cattle eating grass. Industrial methods of animal production are horrid for the animals but far less bad for the climate.


Klein assumes that the cause of the dominance of fossil fuels in our energy supply is otherness, oppression and racism. But I’d rank ignorance very high up on the list of reasons. Klein’s shorter essay illustrates her ignorance about cancer and other health issues and this ignorance very clearly misinforms her narrative.

If you want to take part in charting a course to reduce climate destabilisation, then sympathy with the oppressed isn’t enough. Klein’s essay ignores nuclear power and the obvious role of the anti-nuclear movement in the dominance of fossil fuels.

We could have gotten rid of the fossil fuel industry decades ago, back when climate change was first recognised as a serious issue by the world’s climate scientists; the 1990s. But we didn’t.

The fossil fuel industries thrived because they had no competition and were far better than wood. They were safer, cleaner, and yes, even healthier. They thrive today because people like Klein look at nuclear power without bothering to compare its health and safety record with anything else. Not coal, not wood, not anything.

They just say “Oh gosh, this is scary, radiation can damage your genes and nuclear plants are … well … just plain big and built by big companies!”

As it happens food is also energy and it has an environmental impact and it also damages your genes; meaning that some foods and some diets can cause cancer. Foods can shred DNA … quite literally … causing single and double strand breaks; just like radiation; only they are far more potent.

But ignorance about the big causes of cancer meant that fear of the little causes proliferated in a knowledge vacuum, and any nuclear project was hit by demonstrations and legal challenges and a rolling barrage of increasingly bizarre safety requirements.

So the big energy companies said, “Gosh nuclear is hard, let’s just keep on with coal”. And everybody relaxed and got on with building bigger houses and writing bigger books and going on more holidays and generally having a real nice time. Even the coal miners.


Pauline Hanson asks why there is no march for Islamic women

PAULINE Hanson first spoke critically online about Australian women who went to anti-Trump marches. Now she’s asking why there isn’t a Women’s March for Islamic women.

The one nation leader posted this to Twitter today: “I want you to ask yourself- Where is the #WomensMarch to protest the suffering of women in countries under the rule of Islamic Extremists?”

It comes after she took aim at Australian women who took part in global marches against Donald Trump, accusing them of being overweight “clowns”.

The One Nation leader launched the online attack on her Facebook page after protesters took to the streets of several Australian cities, with an estimated 10,000 walking from Sydney’s Hyde Park to Martin Place on Saturday.

“It’s good that they were out and about and doing a bit of walking because it looked like a few of them needed to get a bit of sun and do a bit of exercise,” Hanson posted.

Hanson posted her comments alongside a video of protesters in Brisbane.  More than 400 Queenslanders gathered in stifling heat in Brisbane’s King George Square on Saturday to join the day of global action.

Hanson wrote: “Don’t these clowns have anything else better to do with their time other than to hold sad, anti-democracy protests?

“Why on earth would anyone want to walk around in this heat chanting about One Nation and the new President of the United States of America, Donald Trump?”

The Queensland senator may have been irked by the chants of some of the Brisbane marchers: “Donald Trump, go to hell. Take One Nation there as well.”

Women’s March protests were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra on Saturday.

The Australian events were part of a worldwide series of Women’s Marches a day after Trump’s inauguration as US president. More than a million people took part in marches across the US.

In her post Hanson also took issue with the US demonstrators in Washington who she claimed were “vandalising businesses and committing assaults”.


Gladys Berejiklian to become NSW Premier

GLADYS Berejiklian has been elected unopposed to become the leader of the NSW Liberal party and the state’s Premier.

The party’s deputy leader and treasurer was elected at a party room meeting in Sydney on Monday morning following the shock retirement of Mike Baird.

With no competitors for the role, no vote was held to appoint the 45th premier of NSW.

Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet will score her old job, as well as the deputy leadership of the Liberal party. Nationals leader John Barilaro will remain as Deputy Premier.

In her first public comments following the announcement, the new Premier pledged to fix the state’s problems.

“I’m someone who likes to act, I’m someone who likes to fix a problem and get things done,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian is likely to make significant changes to unpopular Baird government decisions.

Addressing media in Sydney, Ms Berejiklian was questioned about being complicit in unpopular decisions enforced under Mr Baird’s leaderships that she would now work to reverse.

The new Premier she said she would be honest with the electorate about her involvement in pushing those policies through. “I take full responsibility and I want to. We have been a great government,” she said.

“We have a lot that we owe to Mike Baird’s leadership. My job now is to continue that and that I want to make sure is that the billions of dollars we have in infrastructure, the strong position that we have is shared equally about NSW.”

Ms Berejiklian said she would “take on issues that I know are causing angst for people and deal with them in an appropriate way”.

The state’s new leader is tipped to begin with reconsidering forced council amalgamations under pressure from coalition partner the Nationals.

In an interview with Sydney radio station 2GB after her election Ms Berejiklian said though she wouldn’t “rule anything in or out today”, she planned to move on the council amalgamation issue as a priority. “I am looking forward to sitting down the Nationals leader and other colleagues on that issue,” she said.

The new Premier also said she was willing to “listen to the community” on this and other issues.

On the greyhound ban reversal, another of Mr Baird’s decisions that led to the outgoing Premier’s extraordinary fall in popularity, Ms Berejiklian said it would go through “as soon as practicable”.

Ms Berejiklian has said she wants to “go harder” with infrastructure, including upgrades to hospitals, schools and sports facilities.

The new Premier is also expected to make a significant cabinet reshuffle with Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard tipped to be moved out.

Ms Berejiklian said she wanted to give herself “about a week or so” before announcing her new cabinet to ensure she the best decisions in building a strong team.

At her first press conference as Premier, Ms Berejiklian outlined the two influences in her life she said had the greatest impact on her life, and will shape “the type of Premier I will be from today”.

The state’s new leader credited her immigrant family and the public education system. She spoke with admiration about her family and the teachers that taught her strength and the value of hard work.

“I have had the amazing opportunity to have the most outstanding human beings as my parents. I haven’t talked about this much previously but my father was a boy letter maker, a welder and one of the first jobs he did in Sydney was working on the Sydney Opera House, which is a great sense of pride for my family — boiler maker. My mum left school at 15 to support her family and became a nurse,” she said.

“There wasn’t a week that went by when my parents didn’t remind us of how lucky we were to have the opportunities we have here in New South Wales.  “In our household, there was no room for complaining or making excuses, you just got on with the job and did it.”

Ms Berejiklian, who began school in Sydney without speaking or understanding English, praised the state’s public education system and pledged to improve it.

“As my parents were new immigrants, I was born here in Sydney. When I started school I couldn’t speak English. I remember my mother said to me ‘Don’t worry if you don’t really understand what the teacher says, put up your hand and have a go’,” she said.

“Today, I took my mum’s advice but I want to pay tribute to the teachers who, during my life at school in the public education system, saw something in me and encouraged it. That is why you will have in me, the strongest supporter of Gonski. I know what a public education can do for somebody.”

Ms Berejiklian was also asked to comment new US President Donald Trump’s swearing in just days before her swearing-in as Premier.

“I have to confess there is one thing and Mr Trump and I have in common and that is the number 45 and it pretty much stops after that,” she said.


‘Dump CO2 target when America walks away from Paris agreement’

A growing number of government MPs, including some on Malcolm Turnbull’s front bench, say Australia should dump the Renewable Energy Target and its carbon emissions reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement if Donald Trump walks away from the deal.

Conservative MPs have told The Australian they believe there is no point in remaining committed to the Paris accord without the US locked into action on climate change, a phenomenon the new President has previously labelled a Chinese “hoax”.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and South Australian senator Cory Bernardi have both publicly argued for the scrapping of renewable energy targets, saying that would allow the government to campaign more forcefully against Labor on energy policy.

One conservative MP said the view was “getting a lot of traction very quickly”, while another said that opinion was already “widespread” within the Coalition partyroom.

The push comes as many MPs express frustration that the government has made little political mileage out of Labor’s policy to lift the renewable target to 50 per cent by 2030, believing it is a hot-button cost-of-living issue that should dominate the political debate in the lead-up to the next election.

The government has committed to reducing its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. “I think when Trump walks away from the Paris agreement that will be the perfect opportunity to follow,” one MP said.

“We would grandfather any ­existing investments that have been made under the current scheme, but for new investment, it has got to be economic, it has got to stand on its own two feet.”

But MPs said Mr Abbott’s opinion piece published in The Weekend Australian this month advocating a shift in policy was “not helpful”, saying it would make it more difficult to convince the Prime Minister of the merits of the political strategy.

Another said that regardless of the RET target, the government would seek to incentivise the building of new coal-fired power stations, in a move aimed at wedging Labor on job creation and cost-of-living pressures linked to the new investment.

“There was a lot of absolute dismay that we didn’t actually campaign on Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target, because it would impact household budgets and small business and we wouldn’t have had to run a scare campaign on that, it would have been an actual factual campaign,” one MP said.

“Let’s see what Donald Trump does, but it stands to reason that we should not be trying to lead the world on this and if other countries are not going to be playing their part, whether it is right, wrong or indifferent, if we try to sacrifice our economy and household budgets to make no environmental difference we would be doing not only ourselves a great disservice but also the environment.”

But that view is not shared by cabinet, which believes any change to the renewable target would create more policy uncertainty and discourage ­invest­ment. Several senior conservative MPs said there would be no change in position by the Turnbull government, and warned that doing so could create sovereign risk.

They also argued that it would not get through the Senate, and so there was no point advocating the position which could potentially act like a carbon tax given the impact on power prices without new investment.

Another conservative MP said that the RET should be maintained, but other policy levers used to incentivise the next generation of coal-fired power stations to generate more domest­ic electricity.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said last week that new “ultra-supercritical” coal-fired power stations could be used in Australia to generate electricity with a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

The parameters of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could also potentially be changed to allow for low emissions coal technology. Following Mr Abbott’s call to abolish future renewable targets, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the government had no plans to change the policy which was settled only 18 months ago, providing investor certainty.


Brisbane school double take: Two Olivia Chens roll up for first day

The Han Chinese are Australia's largest minority and show that being a minority need not make a group a problem.  Sunnybank and Sunnybank Hills are heavily Asian suburbs of Brisbane and are great places to eat

Two gorgeous girls

In a rare coincidence, two girls starting prep at a Brisbane primary school share the same name – and that's just the first similarity between the pair.

The two unrelated Olivia Chens, among 225 other students starting prep at Sunnybank Hills State School on Monday, were also born on the same day and in the same hospital.

A father of one of the girls, Wayne Chen, said the families only discovered the coincidence at the prep orientation day when they went to meet the teacher.

"The teacher said 'Olivia Chen is here already', we thought it was some kind of mistake," he said. "A lady just came up to have a look, and said, 'Actually, there are two Olivia Chens.' "

Kathy Zhang, the mother of the other Olivia, said the school had to check their addresses to confirm it was not a mistake. "They initially thought it was a duplicate, but when they checked it was a different [home] address," she said, adding she now had to include her daughter's middle initial on everything school-related to save extra confusion.

When asked what she was most looking forward to on her first day in class, Ms Zhang's daughter said "drawing".

Mr Chen said he was not so surprised his daughter shared her name with another girl. "Olivia is quite a popular name these days, and Chen is a common family name in the Chinese community," he said.

However, he said the odds of the girls being born at the same hospital on the same day – they both turned five on January 11 – are "like winning the lottery".

The Olivias are just two of thousands of children set to walk through the gates of Queensland's 1239 state schools on Monday, and they will be among 1300 students to go to school at Sunnybank Hills State School.

Ms Zhang said her Olivia was excited to start school with all the big kids. "She feels like she's a big girl now," Ms Zhang said. "She just wants to wear her uniform every day."

Mr Chen said his daughter felt the same.  "Once we bought her uniform she was very excited, she just wants to wear it all day," he said.

Sunnybank Hills State School principal Geoffrey Mill the school was looking forward to welcoming the two girls.  "They'll be obviously really excited about starting prep," he said.

"While they share this rather quirky coincidence, we'll make sure they have their individual identity as well."

Although the two girls share many things in common, Mr Mill said they were not going to be in the same class.  "We want to be able to give them their own sense of feeling – we don't want them having an identity crisis," he said.

"It's important that both children have their own identity, that they feel individual in their own way."


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

No comments: