Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Humorous Australian columnist, Matt Price, sends up the Australian global warming advocates

You need to know Australian politics well to get most of the jokes below, however

After studying the scientific evidence and examining historical statistics, I'm siding with the sceptics. I concede there have been many extreme events in recent years and, yes, there is a degree of consensus among experts that the causes are anthropogenic. I'll admit it's beyond doubt that a potentially dangerous concentration of Green House emissions may yet cause seismic changes to our way of life. Nonetheless, the panic merchants, doomsayers, scaremongers and preachers of hate - all of them, naturally, of the Left - are getting way ahead of themselves. Much of what is happening right now can be explained as being within the natural variability of the cycle. So forget fence-sitting; it's my steadfast, unfashionable opinion that there is as yet no convincing, irrefutable evidence of political climate change occurring in Australia.

Yes, I hear you clamour, both ACNielsen and Newspoll have Labor well in front. But ask yourself whether these polls can be trusted. The first is commissioned by that well-known far-Left collective, Fairfax, and the other is funded by Uncle Rupert. As you've doubtless read, there has been enormous speculation about Our Fearless Leader performing a sharp U-turn on global political climate change. Most recently Uncle R [Murdoch] was seen lauding the qualities of renowned latte-sipper, feminist and leftist Hillary Clinton. At the risk of offending proprietorial sensibilities, perhaps the polls are being skewed to reflect these shifting sands (never let this column be dismissed as a corporate lapdog). Besides, opinion surveys have been periodically deceptive over the past 10 years. Fellow sceptics recall similar predictions of climate change when Cyclone Mark, the most extreme political affront since Hurricane Gough, wrought havoc across Australia through 2004. By election day, Mark had receded to a limp zephyr and national catastrophe was averted.

History tells us even Kim Beazley, a much less frightening phenomenon, has twice before appeared to be on the verge of melting John Howard's iceberg. Both times Labor's rising sea levels spectacularly ebbed before reaching critical mass. The Prime Minister, often dismissed as a dirty, redundant fossil fool, seems to draw from a bottomless reservoir of renewable energy. It's true the amount of gas emanating from the Green House is now reaching alarmingly high levels. Beazley has long been a high-level emitter, releasing endless speeches, interjections, points of order and censure motions into the precious atmosphere above the House of Representatives. Alarmists are beginning to warn of a perilous new phenomenon: the Red House [The Australian Senate has red leather seating] effect. This is notoriously difficult to measure since anyone foolhardy enough to venture into the Senate risks being permanently anaesthetised by noxious, unnatural gas-bagging.

The problem with political climate change zealots is their stubborn refusal to examine all the evidence. Their once-strident demands for Australia to rely on Crean [Simon Crean is a former leader of the Labor Party] technology ignored the fact that unpopular, inefficient Crean energy was never remotely viable and all but turned the nation into a one-party state. Sceptics remember that Labor is forever relying on non-existent silver bullets to solve its energy requirements.

During the 1990s, Carmen Lawrence was touted as a potential saviour but what appeared to be global warming towards the popular former premier rapidly cooled. Before long, Labor suffered a Carmen tax and voters turned Carmen-neutral.

Labor's propensity to create sudden carnage out of clear sky is routinely ignored by Chicken Littles of the political climate change movement. Party strategists are examining the viability of geosequestration, whereby a tunnel is dug deep into the earth's core and many of Labor's less efficient performers - that is, roughly half of caucus - are locked away in the dark where their dangerous emissions can do minimal harm.

The drive for greater efficiency has forced some political climate change fanatics to review once-redundant technologies. Craig Emerson, dispatched to the back bench during Labor's previous ice age under Cyclone Mark, is furiously releasing policies, many of which seem peculiarly Coalition-friendly. This has raised the prospect of an Emerson-trading scheme, which could see the right-wing Queensland MP switch places with Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and other dangerous leftists.

Events in the US, where George W.Bush has just been brutally de-energised, and the imminent retirement of British PM Tony Blair have climate change zealots gleefully predicting the global phenomenon must eventually sweep through Australia. This deceitfully ignores the science - the Howard iceberg has shown no visible sign of melting during the 21st century - and underplays the effect of the Kimbo Protocol.

Australia is so far the only country to have signed up to the Kimbo Agreement [Kim Beazley is leader of the Labor Party], whereby after a period of prolonged turbulence, caucus consented to Beazley returning to the leadership. Critics have long doubted the viability of this renewable energy source which, despite several revamps, never fails to emit copious quantities of Green House gas. Fearful a majority of Australians will refuse to ratify Kimbo in 2007, some caucus doomsayers are privately working on a new treaty, tentatively called the Kevin Protocol.

None of these inconvenient truths will make me popular with the unquestioning bigots and Howard haters who mindlessly eschew science for glib neo-pagan hysteria. Still, this is no time for bandwagon-jumping or fence-sitting; there remains ample time for Kimbo and his energy-thieving caucus to experience that familiar sinking feeling.


Australian Feds on the evils of fizzy drinks

No mention that milk is even more calorific

Health Minister Tony Abbott has flagged a government campaign to make Australians aware of the dangers of soft drink. "I think that soft drinks, other than as an occasional treat, can be very, very harmful," Mr Abbott said. But he stopped short of promising tighter regulation around the sale and advertising of soft drink. "I'm not saying it should be banned, but I do think that it should be something which people buy for the occasional treat, not as a regular part of their kid's diet," Mr Abbott said. "What the government ought to do is help get the message out there."

Speaking at a global forum on diabetes in indigenous people, Mr Abbott said consuming soft drink as part of a regular diet was dangerous and could lead to obesity in children. "It's distressing that soft drinks are overwhelmingly the biggest single sellers in our supermarkets right around Australia." Mr Abbott said that unless children matched their soft drink consumption with regular exercise, they were at risk of childhood obesity.

"The problem with soft drink is that it's basically water spoilt," he said. "A small can of Coke contains something like 160 calories, it's a good half hour's walking to burn up that kind of energy. "So, as a matter of course, kids that have a couple of cans of Coke a day, obviously they've got to get that much more exercise if they're going to avoid the problem of childhood obesity."

International Diabetes Federation president-elect Professor Martin Silink said governments globally needed to take a stronger stand on soft drinks. "While they provide calories, they provide very little nutritional value," he said. "There was recently a study, for instance, in NSW that indicated infants are being given soft drinks and biscuits - these are not infant foods." But Mr Silink said it was too simplistic to lay the blame on parents, adding there was a broader societal responsibility to ensure diabetes is screened for, particularly in indigenous people.

Diabetes Australia national president Peter Little said having a labelling system for soft drinks displaying calorie content would be effective. "It's probably reasonable to educate people to link that energy value to how much exercise you have to do," he said. "In my view those energy labels would become de facto warning labels. "That sort of labelling system would be really simple and I think that's an excellent idea."


Plans for new dam in NSW

The Greens may not be game to screech about this one, though the Nimbys almost certainly will

Plans are under way to build a $342 million dam in NSW's Hunter Valley region as the long-running drought tightens its grip on the state. Premier Morris Iemma is expected to announce details soon about the dam, which will supply residents and businesses in Newcastle and the Central Coast areas. The dam was given the go-ahead after Hunter Water bought up grazing land on the Upper Williams River, near Dungog, the Nine Network reported.

News of the project came as NSW residents were warned to prepare for further food price hikes as new figures showed the drought affecting almost the entire state. The State Government figures showed that 93.6 per cent of NSW was now drought declared, compared to 89.3 per cent last month. NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald labelled the latest figures disastrous, warning of steep increases in the cost of a range of foods including meat, vegetables, bread and milk.

With the four-year drought now one of the worst on record, there were no signs of conditions easing any time before mid-next year, he said. "There is no doubt that this drought over summer will come home to every family's dinner table in the Sydney basin," Mr Macdonald said. "Already, milk has been lifted by four cents a litre and I would anticipate that on the back of this drought we will see further increases. "Price rises are inevitable on the back of very low supply." Only 2.3 per cent of NSW is considered to be experiencing satisfactory conditions, with those areas confined to the far north coast.

Just 4.1 per cent of NSW is considered marginal, or on the brink of drought. Those areas are confined to the state's coastal regions including the mid-north coast, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Mr Macdonald said winter crop forecasts had been downgraded further and were expected to be 66 per cent less than in 2005. Meanwhile, dam capacity across the state stands about 26 per cent, compared to 54 per cent at the same time last year. "This is a terrible, disastrous situation for our farming community," Mr Macdonald said. "This drought is intensifying across the state."

About 100 millimetres of rainfall was needed across NSW to break the drought, but most areas west of the Great Dividing Range had only received five to 10 millimetres in October, he said. He defended the State Government's level of drought assistance, saying some programs would be supplemented "in the very near future". Mr Macdonald said the Government's $14 million boost to the drought assistance package last month along with an extension of the NSW Drought Hotline, would go some way to help struggling farming communities.


Tassie devil relocation plan gains tentative support

Plans to put tasmanian devils back on the mainland to control feral animals have received limited support. The Tasmanian Government is preparing to ship devils to interstate wildlife parks, to protect them from the deadly facial tumour disease.

Queensland's Professor Chris Johnson wants devils, dingoes and quolls used to control pests such as cats and foxes. One of the country's leading ecologists, professor David Lindenmayer, says devils lived in many parts of Australia before dingoes were introduced. "It's a reasonable idea to think about putting tasmanian devils back onto the mainland because they were here up until very recently," Professor Lindenmayer said. He says it is a good idea in principle but any moves to put devils back on the mainland must be well thought out. "It's got to have good science behind it, got to have good management behind it and it's got to be resourced appropriately," he said. "You can't just sail a ship across from Tasmania to the mainland and then dump these things out the door and expect it to be a success - [you've] got to think this thing through properly or it could go pear-shaped."

If the plan to reintroduce the species to the mainland is successful, tasmanian devils may simply become known as 'devils'. The Government is sending 24 devils to mainland wildlife parks before Christmas, as an insurance population against the spread of the cancer. It is hoped that one day disease-free offspring can be returned to Tasmania.


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