Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Despite the fact that global temperature has been stable since 1998. Correlation does not prove causation but lack of correlation does DISprove causation

Global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions have had little impact with the rate of emissions more than doubling since the 1990s. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research scientist, Mike Raupach, said that from 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5 per cent per year. "In the 1990s it was less than one per cent per year." In 2005, 7.9 billion tonnes of carbon were emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This was near the high end of the fossil fuel use scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said Dr Raupach, who is also co-chair of the Global Carbon Project, an international scientific collaboration to study the carbon cycle. "On our current path, it will be difficult to reign in carbon emissions enough to stabilise the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 450 ppm," he said.

While China had the highest current growth rate in emissions, its emissions per person were still below the global average and its accumulated contribution since the start of the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago was only five per cent of the global total. By comparison, the US and Europe have each contributed more than 25 per cent of accumulated global emissions.

Paul Fraser, also from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said the findings were supported by measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the air, which grew by two parts per million in 2005. This was the fourth year in a row of above-average growth, Dr Fraser said. "To have four years in a row of above-average carbon dioxide growth is unprecedented." The two scientists presented their latest findings at a meeting at Tasmania's Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, which is run by CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Dr Fraser said the 30-year record of air collected at Cape Grim, showed growth rates of carbon dioxide were slightly more than one part per million in the early 1980s, but in recent years carbon dioxide levels has increased at almost twice this rate. "The trend over recent years suggests the growth rate is accelerating, signifying that fossil fuels are having an impact on greenhouse gas concentrations in a way we haven't seen in the past."


Australian students ignorant of Australian history

More than three-quarters of Australian teenagers do not know that Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet and the beginning of British settlement. A report commissioned by Federal, state and territory education ministers shows an overwhelming majority of schoolchildren are also ignorant of the reason for Anzac Day, or for the inclusion of the Union Jack on the Australian flag. About 77 per cent of Year 10 students and 93 per cent of Year 6 students across the nation cannot nominate the official responsibilities of the governor-general, and the great majority do not know the Queen is Australia's head of state.

The report, which is yet to be released but has been obtained by The Australian, reveals surprisingly high levels of ignorance about basic historical facts and Australia's system of government, and questions the effectiveness of the teaching of civics and citizenship. "The widespread ignorance of key information about national events and nationally representative symbols, which, it had generally been assumed, had been taught to death in Australian schools, was a surprise," the report says. "More targeted teaching is required if students are to learn about these things. Formal, consistent instruction has not been the experience of Australian students in civics and citizenship." The report says only high-performing students "demonstrated any precision in describing the symbolism of the Union Jack in the Australian flag".

Regarding the students' lack of understanding of the role of the governor-general, the report says: "One can only infer that students are not being taught about the role of the governor-general. "Many of the Year 10 students clearly did not have the knowledge outlined... as being designated for Year 6," the report says. "This was especially the case in relation to information about the constitutional structure of Australian democracy in Year 10."

The report was prepared for the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs by the Australian Council for Educational Research. It tested about 10,000 Year 10 students and 10,000 Year 6 students in every state and territory.

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said the ignorance of Australian students about their own country revealed in the report underlined the need for the Federal Government's push for Australian history to be taught as a compulsory, stand-alone subject in years 9 and 10. "It is disappointing that so few Australian students know the basic facts about our national events and icons such as Anzac Day and the Australian Flag," she said. "I am concerned that only a small minority of Year 10 students know the reason for the national public holiday on Australia Day. "Young Australians have the right to vote at 18 years of age and should have knowledge about our nation's history and traditions."

The Howard Government introduced a Discovering Democracy program in 1997, producing and placing curriculum materials on civics and citizenship in all primary and secondary schools in 1998. The program aimed to promote students' participation in democratic processes "by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, values and dispositions of active and informed citizenship". According to the Federal Education Department, "it entails knowledge and understanding of Australia's democratic heritage and traditions, its political and legal institutions and the shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion". In August, education ministers approved national Statements of Learning for Civics and Citizenship, setting out common knowledge all students should possess in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, ahead of national assessment tests from 2008.

The report says half of Year 6 students achieved a proficient standard in the test, while 39 per cent of Year 10 students reached the proficient standard. It says the level of ignorance will restrict students' involvement in democratic processes. "Ignorance of such fundamental information indicates a lack of knowledge of the history of our democratic tradition, and this ignorance will permeate and restrict the capacity of students to make sense of many other aspects of Australian democratic forms and processes," it says. "Without the basic understandings, they will be unable to engage in a meaningful way in many other levels of action or discourse."

The report identifies two main concepts with which students struggle the most: "iconic knowledge" of Australia's heritage and the idea of the common good. Students had difficulty grasping the idea of a common good or strategies that refer to how individuals can influence systems for the benefit of society. "It is unclear whether students do not have such a concept at all, don't believe in the common good or do not see how individuals can act for the common good," the report says.


This guy has now been elected to the Upper House of the Victorian parliament

A millionaire Victorian businessman who has vowed unswerving loyalty to a Middle Eastern dictator is almost certain to take a Labor seat in Victoria's Parliament.

Syrian-Australian trucking boss Khalil Eideh has been chosen by Labor to run for one of its safest Upper House seats in November. But the Sunday Herald Sun has seen two letters from Mr Eideh to the Syrian Government warning of Zionist threats, reporting to the terror-sponsor regime on Australians and pledging "absolute loyalty" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In an Arab newspaper in 2002, Mr Eideh wrote "Satan brigades are getting ready to enslave the Arab world", praising "Arab martyrs". While admitting to authorising the letters to Syria, Mr Eideh yesterday denied any extremist views and said he abhorred terrorism.

In an October, 2002 letter to President Assad -- a few months before the start of the war in Iraq -- the magnate highlighted threats of "Zionist and colonial attacks on the Arab nation". It concluded: "Loyalty, total loyalty to your wise and brave leadership, and we promise to remain faithful soldiers behind your victorious leadership."

In another letter, to the Syrian Government in June, 2001, Mr Eideh states: "The Syrian influence in Melbourne, Australia, is completely absent and doesn't play any role in the Australian political arena."

He also reported on members of the Syrian-Australian community, saying they attended a lunch hosted by friends of former senator Edward Obeid, who he said "harbour ill will towards the Syrian Arab republic".

ALP sources say Mr Eideh has Premier Steve Bracks's backing. Close friends include federal frontbencher Lindsay Tanner, senator Kim Carr and state MP Liz Beattie.


"Child Obesity" campaigns encourage child anorexia

Children as young as five are being diagnosed with anorexia as experts blame stress and a national obsession with obesity for a shocking rise in the number of NSW youth being treated for the illness. Pressures from family breakdowns, peers, school and the electronic media meant children were falling victim to the disease years earlier than they were last decade, adolescent health specialist Michael Kohn, from the Children's Hospital at Westmead, said. The typical age of onset is now between 12 and 14, compared to the average age of 16 as recently as five years ago.

Since 2001 there has been a 20 per cent rise in the number of children younger than 18 being admitted to the hospital with anorexia. About 45 new patients are admitted every year and a similar number of patients aged between 15 and 20 are treated in Westmead Hospital's psychiatric unit, which handles the majority of child eating disorder cases in NSW. Dr Kohn said the hospital was now treating children aged between 7 and 11. In children that young, anorexia is as common among boys as it is in girls although, after 12, females are at least 10 times more likely to develop the illness. "Young people are under increasing stress and stress comes from so many factors in their lives," Dr Kohn said. The physical impact of the disease is much greater on pre-pubescent children because the malnutrition coincides with the period of peak growth and development.

Television shows, cartoons, websites, games and toy figurines had promoted a "thin" ideal among children, Dr Kohn said. A focus on the obesity epidemic could also fuel eating disorders. Eating Disorders Foundation executive officer Greta Kretchmer said the focus on obesity and eating the right food had created a backlash. "When you have some people who have perfectionist tendencies, it leads to them trying to do it too well by cutting out all fats, all carbohydrates, all dairy," she said. The foundation has seen a quadrupling in the number of calls about eating disorders over the past five years, with many about children aged 8-13. The youngest was a five-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with anorexia. The child had been teased in preschool and was about to start kindergarten. "He got it into his mind that if he went to school he could not be fat because he would be teased worse, so he got terrified of becoming overweight," Ms Kretchmer said. "His poor mum was beside herself. How do you reason with a five-year-old?"

Sarah, 26, of West Pennant Hills, who did not want her surname published, overcame anorexia six years ago. She said wanting to be thin was only part of the problem. "It was other types of pressures, wanting to fit in to the world," Sarah said. Sarah now works as a psychologist and counsels other young people with eating disorders. "We are socialised to be very image-driven and you can see that more and more in younger and younger girls," she said. "Most of them now are wearing make-up before my generation would have been. I think it is pressure to do well at school and peer pressure, which comes from a social expectation that people will be slim and attractive."


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