Thursday, April 01, 2021

Another stupid prophecy about the reef

What the future temperature will be nobody knows. But the report below assumes a large rise. Even if that came to pass, it would not mean the end of the reef. Corals grow in wildly different temperatures -- from Iceland to the Persian gulf. So we might expect some turnover of species but that is all

It's boring to have to point this out again but Australian corals have the greatest diversity in the Torres Strait, where the temperature is always HIGH. Corals THRIVE in high temperatures. Some species may not but there are plenty that do

A damning new report has painted a grim picture of Australia’s future, with one of the nation’s most renowned natural wonders set to suffer.

Up to 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are expected to vanish, even at low levels of warming, and there are grave fears for one of Australia’s most famous natural wonders. The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is considered “very poor”, according to a new report by the Australian Academy of Science.

And climate change is a major driver.

At 1.5 degrees of warming, the world will lose between 70 and 90 per cent of coral reefs.

“Substantial losses in ocean productivity, ongoing ocean acidification, and the increasing deterioration of coastal systems such as mangroves and seagrasses are projected to occur if global warming exceeds 2C,” the harrowing report states.

Scientists said the target set by the Paris Climate Agreement of keeping global warming to 1.5C was “virtually impossible” as they painted a grim picture for Australia’s ecosystems.

It is more likely that global temperatures will soar by up to 3C. "Critical thresholds in many natural systems are likely to be exceeded as global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels continues,” the report said.

“These impacts will increase as global warming reaches 2C and beyond, with iconic ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park being severely affected.

“At 3C of global warming, many of Australia’s ecological systems would be unrecognisable.”

A leading figure within the European Union has even sounded the alarm on the Great Barrier Reef.

The EU’s commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, told Guardian Australia he feared for the natural wonder. “As long as we do not change our behaviours, things will not improve,” he said.

Global warming has already triggered mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef that have destroyed at least half of the world’s largest reef system. It has also contributed to droughts and bushfires.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who chairs the expert panel that developed the report, said a rapid transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions was required if the international community was to limit warming to well below 2C.

“Current international commitments to greenhouse gas emission reduction, if unchanged, would result in average global surface temperatures that are 3C above the pre-industrial period in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren,” he said.

“The evidence presented in this risk-assessment report, which is based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, indicates that this would have serious consequences for Australia and the world.”

But scientists said it was possible for Australia to meet its climate goals.

Australian Academy of Science president John Shine said the new report suggested while the planet was warning, science had its solutions.

“Australia is well positioned to meet the climate change challenge by combining our scientific knowledge with economic opportunities associated with moves to net zero greenhouse gas emissions,” Professor Shine said.

The report makes 10 recommendations, including scaling up the development and implementation of next-generation zero greenhouse gas technologies and exploring how food production and supply systems can prepare for climate change.


‘Deeply triggering’ board game on ‘white privilege’ part of new racism lessons

Children in Australia are being taught about “white privilege” with a board game that education bureaucrats admit “can be deeply triggering” for pupils and “create feelings of shame”.

A NSW Department of Education-run website called ‘Racism No Way’ has a collection of lesson plans to teach children about battling racism from Years 3-12.

The lessons have been blasted by a conservative think tank which says “children as young as four are now being indoctrinated with radical race theory”.

One of the lesson activities – which bureaucrats say may be upsetting to some students – is the study of a hip hop song by Illawarra rapper DOBBY called I Can’t Breathe.

The song talks about similarities between the deaths of Indigenous man David Dungay and African-American man George Floyd. “That’s bullsh*t! Write to your member tell ‘em what’s happening,” the lyrics read. “You gotta challenge the white settler narrative. “This sh*t’s as bad as it gets, cause some of these coppers really don’t know how to protect.”

Children are then asked to discuss the song in activities “created to examine empathy”.

“The activities may make you feel upset. If this is the case it may be necessary to speak to your class teacher or seek the help of a counsellor,” the student worksheet reads.

Another lesson activity involves a board game called “privilege for sale” which aims to give children an “understanding of privilege and oppression”. In it, the classroom is divided into small groups, who are then told to imagine living in a world where none of them have any privileges.

The teacher then hands out “money”, with each group being given different amounts ranging from $300 to $1400 in fake printed-out notes.

They are given a sheet that has a list of privileges on it, and they have to purchase these privileges from their teacher with fake money.

The students then discuss and decide which privileges they would like to buy. They are then asked to present to the rest of the class explaining how much money they were given and which privileges they chose to purchase and why.

The lesson plan explains: “For some people this is a new experience because they’ve never thought of privilege in this way, or in a list form like this.

“It can sometimes be a deeply triggering or frustrating activity because perhaps you don’t have access to a lot of these privileges and seeing all of the privileges in a list can be challenging.

“For others it can be deeply moving/emotional because they’ve never thought of all the privilege that they do have before. This can bring up feelings of guilt or even feelings of shame for taking things for granted.”

The lessons have been blasted as “indoctrination” by Bella d’Abrera, director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at conservative think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

“There is absolutely no place for Critical Race Theory or Unconscious Bias training in Australian schools,” she told “Impressionable children as young as four should not be indoctrinated with radical race theory.”

“The ‘privilege for sale activity’ is based on the idea of white privilege which is not only demonstrably false, but also extremely racist, because it is tells white children that they are bad people because of the colour of their skin.

“Children need to be taught the basics of literacy and numeracy by their teachers, not turned into mini social justice activists who will grow up hating Australia because they believe it’s racist.”

She has called on the NSW Education Minister to do “everything her power to protect children from this rubbish by making sure that it is not taught in schools”


Return of Chinese students to Australia benefits everyone

This week federal Education Minister Alan Tudge played down expectations on when international students might return to Australia. He should keep an open mind. With China’s support it is possible to develop a model to enable students to come back. This would be a welcome circuit-breaker when the Australia-China relationship is at a low point.

Nearly 65,000 Chinese international students are stuck overseas. Many have shown great commitment by continuing their studies online, but it is taking a toll. With no easing of border restrictions, new enrolments are in free fall and universities face job losses.

Australia and China can and should work together to enable Chinese students to return. This issue is not intrinsically contentious and it invests in the future of the relationship — in youth.

A model for bringing Chinese students back to Australia could include some combination of pre-departure vaccination, quarantine, testing, chartered flights and self-isolation in Australia.

If evidence of vaccine efficacy is sufficient, it could be enough for China to provide vaccinations so students could enter with proof of vaccination and negative test results. If additional safeguards are needed, students could complete pre-departure quarantine in China and/or a further period of self-isolation in Australia.

Getting Chinese students back to Australia is in the interests of both sides. We benefit from students returning, both in higher education and in the flow-on economic benefits from housing, food and services. Before COVID-19, higher education contributed $37.5bn to the economy.

China would benefit from a feel-good story focused on ordinary Chinese and people-to-people engagement. It would show China is willing to allow some thaw in the relationship, which may be important in dealing with the US. There are sticking points that need to be managed. China will need to go back on its advice to reconsider studying in Australia because of racist incidents. We can help China do this by announcing a program to combat racism and promote students’ safety.

On its side, Australia will need to show flexibility in its quarantine model. The Singapore quarantine hub plan shows the government is more open to new options. It just needs to apply the same thinking to getting students back.

There is the question of cost, which would be substantial. This would need to be shared among those that benefit: students, universities, state and territory governments, the federal government and the Chinese government. Details such as capacity, timing and priority groups can be hammered out in negotiations. There’s no need to get every jurisdiction on board; it is likely that some such as the ACT and South Australia would be early movers.

Importantly, direct Canberra-Beijing negotiations would not be needed, at least initially, thereby avoiding loss of face. From the Chinese side, discussions could be co-ordinated by the embassy in Canberra. In Australia, other actors could take the lead, including vice-chancellors, state and territory governments and accommodation providers. Once an acceptable model is worked up, this can then be endorsed by the commonwealth.

Working with China on returning students does not compromise Australia’s interests. It is a win-win proposition with most of the benefits falling on Australia’s side. With indications that China would be willing to work on bringing students back, our government would be self-destructive to pass up this opportunity.


Job vacancies continue to rise

Job vacancies in Australia increased by 14 per cent between November 2020 and February 2021, according to new seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said job vacancies were 27 per cent higher than 12 months earlier in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic.

“There were 289,000 job vacancies in February 2021, 61,000 more than a year earlier,” Mr Jarvis said.

“This reflected the pace of recovery in labour demand over the second half of 2020 and early 2021, and labour shortages in some industries.

“When we asked businesses experiencing labour shortages the reasons for this, more than usual noted difficulty in filling vacancies for lower paid jobs.

“This was most commonly reported to us by businesses in the Accommodation and food services industry. 31 per cent of businesses in that industry reported vacancies in February 2021, more than double last February (15 per cent).”

Private sector job vacancies increased by 14 per cent over the February quarter, and were 29 per cent above the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.

Public sector job vacancies rose by 11 per cent in February, an increase of 13 per cent on February 2020.

In original terms, all states and territories experienced quarterly increases in vacancies. For the first time during the pandemic, Victoria joined the rest of the states and territories with more vacancies than a year ago.

The largest percentage increases in job vacancies over the year were in the Accommodation and food services (88 per cent), Construction (60 per cent), and Other services industries (44 per cent).

The rise in job vacancies in February follows the release of the ABS’ Business Conditions and Sentiments for February, in which 13 per cent of employers reported staff shortages as a factor significantly impacting their business.

The ABS would like to thank businesses in Australia for their continued support in responding to our surveys during this difficult time.




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