Thursday, January 26, 2017
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has a comment on the tough job facing the new health minister
Changing climate has stalled Australian wheat yields (?)
As Warmist articles go, the study below shows unusual statistical sophistication. But the connection to Warmism is tokenistic. The article would read much the same without reference to Warmism. And it is refreshing that the model they use has had extensive validation. Most unusual! Warmist models normally have no predictive skill whatever.
In the end, however, they find that weather has reduced potential crop yields, not mainly via warming but mainly by reduced rainfall: "lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline"
And that is a problem. Warmer seas should usually produce MORE rainfall. How come the alleged warming was accompanied by LESS rainfall? The authors do not know, or, if they do, they are not saying. So the statistics are in fact incompatible with anthropogenic global warming. A warmer globe should have produced more rainfall. But there was LESS rainfall.
All one can reasonably say in the circumstances is that there were poorly-understood local factors at work, not global ones. From any point of view, what they have to account for is the reduced rainfall and they have not done that
Australia’s wheat yields more than trebled during the first 90 years of the 20th century but have stalled since 1990. In research published today in Global Change Biology, we show that rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, in line with global climate change, are responsible for the shortfall.
This is a major concern for wheat farmers, the Australian economy and global food security as the climate continues to change. The wheat industry is typically worth more than A$5 billion per year – Australia’s most valuable crop. Globally, food production needs to increase by at least 60% by 2050, and Australia is one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters.
There is some good news, though. So far, despite poorer conditions for growing wheat, farmers have managed to improve farming practices and at least stabilise yields. The question is how long they can continue to do so.
While wheat yields have been largely the same over the 26 years from 1990 to 2015, potential yields have declined by 27% since 1990, from 4.4 tonnes per hectare to 3.2 tonnes per hectare.
Potential yields are the limit on what a wheat field can produce. This is determined by weather, soil type, the genetic potential of the best adapted wheat varieties and sustainable best practice. Farmers’ actual yields are further restricted by economic considerations, attitude to risk, knowledge and other socio-economic factors.
While yield potential has declined overall, the trend has not been evenly distributed. While some areas have not suffered any decline, others have declined by up to 100kg per hectare each year.
The distribution of the annual change in wheat yield potential from 1990 to 2015. Each dot represents one of the 50 weather stations used in the study. David Gobbett, Zvi Hochman and Heidi Horan, Author provided
We found this decline in yield potential by investigating 50 high-quality weather stations located throughout Australia’s wheat-growing areas.
Analysis of the weather data revealed that, on average, the amount of rain falling on growing crops declined by 2.8mm per season, or 28% over 26 years, while maximum daily temperatures increased by an average of 1.05℃.
To calculate the impact of these climate trends on potential wheat yields we applied a crop simulation model, APSIM, which has been thoroughly validated against field experiments in Australia, to the 50 weather stations.
Climate variability or climate change?
There is strong evidence globally that increasing greenhouse gases are causing rises in temperature. Recent studies have also attributed observed rainfall trends in our study region to anthropogenic climate change.
Statistically, the chance of observing the decline in yield potential over 50 weather stations and 26 years through random variability is less than one in 100 billion.
We can also separate the individual impacts of rainfall decline, temperature rise and more CO₂ in the atmosphere (all else being equal, rising atmospheric CO₂ means more plant growth).
First, we statistically removed the rising temperature trends from the daily temperature records and re-ran the simulations. This showed that lower rainfall accounted for 83% of the decline in yield potential, while temperature rise alone was responsible for 17% of the decline.
Next we re-ran our simulations with climate records, keeping CO₂ at 1990 levels. The CO₂ enrichment effect, whereby crop growth benefits from higher atmospheric CO₂ levels, prevented a further 4% decline relative to 1990 yields.
So the rising CO₂ levels provided a small benefit compared to the combined impact of rainfall and temperature trends.
'An act of betrayal against Australia': Fremantle divided over cancellation of Australia Day festivities
As the country counts down to Australia Day, a council in Western Australia is defending its decision to go it alone.
The port city of Fremantle will effectively become a litmus test for the #changethedate movement when the local council holds its "culturally inclusive" alternative celebration two days after Australia Day. "What we're doing is coming up with something that is actually more Australian," Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt told 7.30.
It has been a highly controversial move, criticised by the Federal Government and Fremantle's business community.
Faced with losing out on one of the biggest trading days of the year, businesses have clubbed together to raise the $50,000 needed to salvage the traditional fireworks display on the 26th.
Visitors and residents now have a choice: the fireworks, which are part of a four-day fiesta called "Australia Week", or the council's alternative event "One Day in Freo" on the 28th.
On top of all that, far right groups Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front are planning to converge on Fremantle on Australia Day to protest against what they called "an act of betrayal against Australia".
Despite the backlash, Dr Pettitt maintained the council was showing leadership on an important national issue.
"Aboriginal support for this decision has been, it would be fair to say, to be honest with you, overwhelming," he said. "One Day in Freo is going to be a big family community concert. We really hope it's a celebration of what brings us together."
Noongar man Robert Eggington, executive officer of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, said he was one of a group of about 20 Aboriginal elders and heads of families who had endorsed the council's decision at a meeting last year.
He said Aboriginal people find nothing to celebrate about the day, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet. "Australia Day being celebrated on the 26th of January means the celebration of history, and in that history Aboriginal people have suffered so greatly," he said.
Noongar man Robert Eggington says he has never celebrated Australia Day. Mr Eggington will take part in a smoking ceremony at Western Australia's oldest public building, The Round House, ahead of the council's event on the 28th.
"I think white Australia will benefit from the decision that Fremantle Council has made, once it's able to rise above the fear," he said. "I think we're creating a potential unity for the future by speaking out."
Noongar elder and ambassador for the Australia Day WA Council, Robert Isaacs, disagreed. The former West Australian of the Year said his fellow Indigenous Australians were causing divisions by opposing Australia Day. "We're one nation of people and we've just got to try and not forget that we need to go forward and don't look back," he said.
Dr Isaacs said hundreds of Aboriginal families attended Perth's Skyworks each year after a "survival concert" in the city centre, and he was scathing about the City of Fremantle's alternative celebration.
"I'm hoping people stand up very strongly and serve a strong message to the council that when it comes to their next election, they vote them out and get Australia Day back to where it belongs, January 26th."
Federal Liberal MP Ben Morton felt so strongly about the issue that he took out a full-page advertisement in a local Fremantle newspaper urging residents to support the national celebration.
The member for Tangney was instrumental in forcing the council to reinstate its citizenship ceremonies on January 26, which it had also planned to move to the 28th until the Commonwealth pulled rank.
"But they're wanting to create a national debate. And I just think the council here has got a little bit too far ahead of itself in that regard. "Perhaps rather than getting involved in national political debates, Fremantle council should stick to its knitting."
But Dr Pettitt pointed out that on top of January 26 causing discomfort for Aboriginal people, it had little relevance to WA. "As a West Australian, I've always found Australia Day to be odd. It is New South Wales' day. In terms of the relevance to Western Australia, it's a pretty long bow to draw," he said.
Destructive political correctness about Aborigines
The meat industry’s spirited attempt to persuade Australians to unite around a plate of lamb has come unstuck. Meat and Livestock Australia’s annual Australia Day campaign has ditched Sam Kekovich’s familiar rants against the long-haired tofu-munchers and the anti-Australianism that has infected our national day.
Instead, they’ve gone for diversity and inclusion. Never mind terra nullius; surely we all agree that there’s nowhere better for a barbecue.
The keepers of indigenous rage are furious. Nakkiah Lui demands “a more accurate portrayal” of history that includes state-enforced genocide, segregation, oppression, that sort of thing. Luke Pearson on SBS’s taxpayer-funded platform says accuracy would be improved by feeding Aboriginals meat laced with strychnine.
Welcome to the dismal world of identity politics, where history is not a quest to discover shared truths but a loaded weapon to avenge ancestral wrongs.
Stan Grant blundered into this fatalistic territory 15 months ago when he was invited to speak to the motion “racism is killing the Australian dream” at a debate televised by the BBC.
Racism was “the very foundation of the dream”, Grant said. “When British people looked at us, they saw something subhuman … we were ﬂy-blown, Stone Age savages.” Grant discovered the last quote in a satirical essay by Charles Dickens, The Noble Savage. Dickens, like Meat and Livestock Australia, made the mistake of using irony, a rhetorical device lost on today’s readers.
Grant was warming to the theme. “Every time we are lured into the light, we are mugged by the darkness of this country’s history,” he said.
The speech was widely viewed on the internet and praised by lovers of historical misery porn. The Sydney Morning Herald compared him to Martin Luther King.
Yet it was a speech that puzzled many of us who attended the event, including a businesswoman from India, who struggled to recognise her adopted country in Grant’s dismal description. She knew Australia as a land of opportunity and redemption, an experience common to most migrants since 1788, and possibly before.
Grant has developed his own misgivings about the speech, or at least its reception on the activist fringe. “That so many have sought to break my words into pieces and deploy only those that best suit them speaks of the age of the politics of identity,” he writes in a self-reflective contribution to Quarterly Essay.
He fears he may have perpetuated “a lazy narrative” of a people paralysed by history, unwittingly obscuring the true story of individual triumph against adversity.
The essay will make uncomfortable reading for the merchants of intergenerational victimhood; the notion that ancestral trauma is a debilitating inherited condition. Present damage caused by historical wrongs became a fashionable cause in Canadian indigenous politics in the 1990s, and Kevin Rudd’s acclaimed apology to indigenous Australians unwittingly encouraged its importation to Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Tom Calma called for the healing of “cumulative trauma” in a 2008 report, Beyond the Apology.
Indigenous Australians “have experienced trauma as a result of colonisation, dispossession and dislocation, as well as the trauma of ongoing racism, family violence and other events”, wrote Calma, citing as his authority a little-known emeritus professor by the name of Judy Atkinson.
The past cannot be changed, and memories of the past are disputed. Some may indignantly believe that Australia’s racist past has been censored. Others feel equally aggrieved that our colonial settlers have been defamed and that their gifts to us — the rule of law, stable institutions and the spirit of progress — are too frequently ignored. At any rate, having decided that indigenous Australians are prisoners of history, human rights activists have little idea how they might be released. A heartfelt public apology clearly isn’t enough.
What’s needed, wrote Calma, are “inclusive and holistic healing approaches’’, counselling, group therapy, yarning circles and healing circles, residential programs, retreats and — naturally — monetary compensation.
In his eagerness to correct an abstract historical injustice, Calma ignores a practical lesson of history; throwing money at a problem generally makes it worse.
Besides, those who define Aboriginals as victims of historical injustice have no interest in resolving the matter. Grievance is the fuel that powers identity politics and the cause that keeps the indigenous elite employed.
Hence the constant inflation of their demands. Rudd’s apology, the one John Howard wisely declined to deliver, was never going to be the end of the matter. Nor will constitutional recognition, in the unlikely event that a referendum ever gets off the ground.
Now they want a treaty — between whom hardly matters, nor what the treaty should say — so long as it affirms the victimhood of the permanently oppressed and shames their oppressors.
Grant, who spent some of last year touring the country as a member of the federally funded Referendum Council, admits to feeling “suffocated” by the “stiﬂing and demoralising” world of indigenous affairs. “It is too easy to become consumed to the point that one loses all perspective,” he writes. It is hard to move beyond grief when you are locked in a cycle of “sorry business … a monotonous drumbeat of funeral marches”.
“Remembrance doesn’t necessarily stop the past repeating; sometimes it may even impede reconciliation and true justice. It is right to remember, but is it also right to forget?”
Grant hopes his essay will destroy the belief that indigenous Australians are helpless victims and challenge the attitude that success is not “black”. Indeed, his journey from an itinerant, working class, regional background to a respected international career in journalism shows that redemption for all Australians lies within our own grasp. “What emerges is, in many respects, a typical economic migration story,” he writes. “Migrants look to what they have built, not what they have left behind.”
If anything is killing the Australian dream it’s not racism but the identity politics that leads to what US writer David Reiff describes in his latest book as “the overvaluing of collective memory and the undervaluing of history”.
Far from ensuring justice, says Reiff, it is “a formula for unending grievance and vendetta”.
Australia Day Address orator Michelle Simmons horrified at 'feminised' physics curriculum
The inherent problems of "affirmative action" rear their heads yet again. If women really are equal, why do they need special accomodations? They are not lacking opportunity. They are a majority on most university campuses
Professor Michelle Simmons, a professor of quantum physics at the University of NSW, has expressed her horror at the "feminised" nature of the HSC physics curriculum.
Delivering the 2017 Australia Day address on Tuesday, Professor Simmons said it was a "disaster" to try to make physics more appealing to girls by substituting rigorous mathematical problem-solving with qualitative responses.
During her Australia Day Address, Professor Michelle Simmons, a world expert in quantum physics and computing challenged Australians "to be known as people who do the hard things".
"There is a big cost in this type of thinking," she said to an audience that included Premier Gladys Berejiklian. "When we reduce the quality of education that anyone receives we reduce the expectations we have of them," she said.
A spokesman for the NSW Education Standards Authority (formerly BOSTES) said the new HSC science curriculum will commence in 2018. He said: "The new courses address the exact concerns expressed by Professor Simmons. "The physics and chemistry courses will have a greater focus on mathematical applications."
He also said there will be a reduction in the sociology-based content and an emphasis on practical investigations.
Professor Simmons' Australia Day speech focused on the need for Australians to attempt the difficult things in life. "It is better to do the things that have the greatest reward; things that are hard, not easy," she said.
"If we want people to be the best they can be we must set the bar high and tell them we expect them to jump over it," she said. "My strong belief is that we need to be teaching all students – girls and boys – to have high expectations of themselves."
Professor Simmons has certainly set the bar high for herself. She wants to realise her dream to build a working quantum computer, here, in Australia.
For her Cambridge was "too hierarchical and esoteric". The American culture, she said, restricts early-career researchers. When she arrived, people asked her "Why on Earth did you come?"
But for Professor Simmons the choice was easy. "Australia offers a culture of academic freedom, openness to ideas and an amazing willingness to pursue ambitious goals," she said.
Professor Simmons is so proud of the one-way ticket to Australia she bought 18 years ago that she had it framed and sent to her brother for his 50th birthday.
From what she said was a "pretty rough" part of south-east London, she moved to Australia in 1999 after studying at Cambridge. Her big brother Gary went to the United States.
In her Australia Day Address on Tuesday, she said she often jokes with him that she got the better deal. "Only I'm not joking," she told an audience, including NSW Governor David Hurley and Premier Berejiklian. "It's the truth. I genuinely believe it is better here."
Ms Berejiklian introduced Professor Simmons in what was her first official function as Premier.
Professor Simmons said: "On occasions like this, we tend to emphasise the beauty of our natural environment, our great lifestyle and the easygoing character of our people. "This is a mistake ... it encourages us to shy away from difficult challenges. It will stop us from being as ambitious as we might be," she said.
Professor Simmons leads a storied team of dedicated scientists trying to do what many think impossible: build a new type of computer – a quantum computer – based on individual phosphorous atoms in silicon.
She said said: "Quantum physics is hard. Technology at the forefront of human endeavour is hard. But that's what makes it worthwhile."
Building a quantum computer is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Professor Simmons calls it the "space race of the computing era". There are three dedicated centres of excellence in Australia working on quantum technology, with a strong presence across Sydney's universities.
"Australia, for some reason, is disproportionately strong in quantum science. And, with billions of dollars of investment coming into this field from across the world, our challenge is to see if we can translate our international lead into high-technology industries," she said.
A working quantum computer would make currently impossible computing tasks possible. "Instead of performing calculations one after the other like a conventional computer, quantum computers work in parallel, looking at all possible outcomes at the same time," she said. This would allow us "to solve problems in minutes that could otherwise take many thousands of years".
Australia, she said, is a great place to discover things. "I am grateful for that Australian spirit to give things a go and our enduring sense of possibility."
Professor Simmons said: "I want Australians above all to be known as people who do the hard things."
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