Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rebuttals to climate skeptics

Every now and again some keen Warmist offers answers to climate skeptics.  I have commented on their arguments often over the years.  See here.  So I do not feel any pressure from the latest effort in that direction. 

The comments below are from a series of articles in under the general heading "Time Is Now". The arguments presented are all rather old hat and deceptive but one of their arguments amused me.  Under the heading STARVING TO DEATH! we find the comment from Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick reproduced below

But the comment is not right.  Lots of Greenies DO want to shut down the coal industry right away.  They are very vocal about it. Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick does give herself an interesting "out" there however.  She speaks of "no reasonable person".  So by that criterion a lot of her fellow Greenies are not reasonable persons.  I must say I agree

And what she says should happen is as far as I can see exactly what the conservative Morrison government is proposing! It looks like Australia's Morrison government ARE reasonable persons in her book!

So she is a rather odd Greenie whom many other Greenies would disown.  She certainly does little to dent climate skepticism

“Firstly, no reasonable person is proposing we shut down the coal industry tomorrow and see what happens,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said.

Reducing humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels is a big part of the long-term solution to combat the dire consequences of a changing climate.

But no one’s expecting people to sit in the dark by candlelight or to watch the economy collapse.

“Change is slow and that’s OK. But it needs to happen,” she said.

A transition to renewables would be gradual and managed to limit the social and economic impacts, and it would provide a wealth of new opportunity.

“It will be possible in the future to run off renewables,” she said.

“The technology now means it’s reliable, increasingly affordable and widely available. And the tech is getting better.”


Coronavirus: it’s fatalities that count, not the numbers infected

When the Japanese bombed Darwin­ in World War II, killing more than 240 people, the Curtin government kept the news quiet for as long as it could. How would panic in Sydney and Melbourne help the war effort?

Truth, they say, is the first casual­ty of war.

In the social-media age every new case of coronavirus, no matter how mild, is pored over with lurid fascination.

As the health and economic ­crisis precipitated by COVID-19 deepens, authorities need to tread a fine line between urging calm, remainin­g publicly optimistic and ensuring people comply with measures to contain the virus.

It might seem like it, but this isn’t the world’s first flu pandemic. In 2009 H1N1 — known as “swine flu” — infected 61 million people and killed about 590,000 globally, 80 per cent of whom were younger than 65.

In 1968, the H3N2 flu killed one million people, including 100,000 in the US, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

About a decade before that, the H2N2 flu pandemic killed 1.1 million people.

None of the previous pandemics caused a recession, let alone a near 30 per cent drop in global stock prices.

This is, however, the first flu ­epidemic where everyone has a digital megaphone.

There’s no reason why this corona­virus should be far more deadly than those previous flu pandemics, provided the death rate ends up lower than feared.

On Friday, there were more than 47,000 people who had contracted COVID-19 outside China, including 128 in Australia.

If the number of infections grows at 15 per cent a day, more than 3.4 million people, including more than 9300 in Australia, will have the virus by Easter. If it grows at 20 per cent, about the average so far, it’ll be 12.6 million and 34,800, respectively. That’s still far fewer than caught swine flu in 2009.

It’s the apparent death rate, espec­ially in Italy, which has struck fear in the community.

The World Health Organisation’s official death rate of just less than 4 per cent for COVID-19 has naturally drawn comparisons with the devastating Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, which killed between­ 50 million and 100 million people globally.

But 3.6 per cent must be an overestimate. Logic dictates many thousands more people have been infected with COVID-19 than the 125,000 official cases. The disease is highly contagious. International travel has only very recently been curtailed.

Most of all, the incentive for someone to volunteer him or herself for testing is very weak. Even in victims, such as Melbourne doctor­ Chris Higgins, in his 70s, who controversially kept working, symptoms can be very mild.

While it might not be in the interest­s of public health for an individu­al with cold or flu-like symptoms, discreet recuperation in ignorance seems a better option than seeking a test.

Quite aside from the hassle and costs of getting a test, a positive finding would cause significant disruption, including potentially forced quarantine or even loss of job.

Telling friends you have a cold, rather than coronavirus, goes down much better at social events.

The number of deaths from COVID-19, more than 4700 glob­ally as of Friday, is therefore a far more reliable and relevant statistic than the number of infections. And this death toll, while sure to surge, is a long way from the millions killed by virulent flu outbursts in the 1950s and 60s, when the economy was booming.

Finally, populations today are far healthier and more resilient than in the aftermath of World War I, before antibiotics existed to cauterise the secondary infections that flu can induce.

“Extrapolating from the mortality­ rates reported for the Spanish flu to 2004, 96 per cent of the projected 50 million to 80 million fatalities worldwide might occur in developing countries,” writes Walter Scheidel in his 2017 economic history of war and disease­, The Great Leveller.

Researchers are much more likely to find a vaccine quickly in 2020 than 1920 too. But what if develop­ed countries can’t control the virus, as China, where infection rates have tapered off, appears to have done?

Health experts have criticised the US and Australia for doing too little too late, failing to cancel large gatherings, close schools, and compel workers to stay at home. “The US response has just been appalling,” says economist Saul Eslake.

“If we can believe the Chinese data, at some point people will draw sharp contrasts between China’s response and how the US has dealt with it, in ways that won’t be helpful to those who believe in the superiority of US-style ­democracy.”

Democracies can’t so easily compel their citizens to quarantine; governments with an eye to re-election want to upset as few voters as possible.

Indeed, large private companies, perhaps fearful of potential lawsuits, have been far stricter in their quarantine and precautionary policies than state and federal governments.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel reckons up to 70 per cent of her country will contract the virus.

Even if the mooted death rate proves an overestimate, widespread contraction of the COVID-19 will cause major economic and social disruption.

How much is impossible to predict­. Economic forecasts, includin­g the effectiveness of the so-called stimulus, are based on what’s happened in the past.

We don’t know household and business spending and investment patterns in the grip of a deadly viral pandemic.

As toilet-paper hoarding illustrates, herd mentality can erupt in unexpected ways.

It remains to be seen whether house prices, which have a much bigger effect on household confid­ence than shares, slump in sympathy with shares.

Central banks, with official rates already practically zero everywhere, are rapidly running out of ammunition to keep proppin­g up asset prices.

The US government, heavily indebted and already borrowing about $US1 trillion ($1.56 trillion) a year, has little scope to introduce a major stimulus package.

If 70 per cent of the over-80s contracted the coronavirus, even with a 2 per cent death rate, almost 14,000 would perish in Australia alone — an extraordinary tragedy. Health workers, hospitals and aged-care homes would come under severe strain.

Severe pandemics, argues Scheidel, for all their horror, have tended to improve income inequalit­y by creating a shortage of workers, increasing wages, while reducing the value of assets, which mainly hurts the rich.

Whatever its ultimate spread, COVID-19, which attacks largely the elderly, appears poised to ­deliver all of the horror and loss of wealth, with no increase in wages.


University O-Week censors excel themselves

“Free speech crisis? What crisis?” Uttered in freaky unison, this frequen­t denial from university vice-chancellors has allowed them to resume normal programming.

That consists of VCs putting their heads in the sand rather than confronting those trying to nobble intellectual diversity on campus. It includes VCs sending long emails about how proud they are of their diversity programs, with no sense of the irony that diversity of opinion is not part of that program. And it means VCs devoting more energy to attracting foreign stud­ents than defending freedom of expression.

How much longer can univer­sity leaders ignore the accelerating rhythm to raids on free speech at Australian universities? Today, the most brazen opponents of free speech within universities are those who control student unions. Funded by other students’ money, the leaders of student unions use their union muscle to control what other students hear, read and learn. Not content with running social events, defending students’ rights or holding university management to account, a small group of students have assumed a new role as campus censor. And they imagine that if they provide a band and a BBQ, they can flex their polit­ical arm without reproach.

On Tuesday afternoon, the student association at Melbourne’s Monash University, which runs Orientation Week stalls, BBQs and other events aimed at offering students “a diverse introduction to Monash”, rejected an application from Generation Liberty to be part of the program’s activities.

Generation Liberty is a program run by the Institute of Public Affairs for young Australians, includi­ng university students, introduc­ing them to ideas, arguments, and perspectives that they may have missed at school or university. The program is a big hit; its growth, especially over the past 12 months, points to a real hunger for knowledge not addressed by schools and universities.

In an email, events officer Michel­e Fredregill from the Monash­ Student Association told fellow Monash student Luca Rossi, a Generation Liberty co-ordina­tor at the university: “We have carefully reviewed your booking request and discussed it internally. Regretfully we must decline your booking application on the basis of our terms and conditions. Generation Liberty’s positions on issues such as climate change do not align with MSA’s.”

This is what happens when zealotry is threatened by facts. There is nothing in the terms and conditions to justify denying Genera­tion Liberty’s application to be part of O-Week, which kicks off on Monday.

In any case, a student union, or any other body, cannot use “Ts & Cs” to contract out of obligations under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 2010 not to discriminate against a person on the basis of their political beliefs or activities.

More sinister is MSA’s reference to not aligning with “Generation Liberty’s positions on issues such as climate change”. Neither Generation Liberty nor the IPA has a “position” on climate change. The 77-year-old research organisation and its younger offshoot, known as Gen Lib, produce research­ based on facts: the rest is left up to who is reading, listening or watching IPA papers, podcasts or YouTube videos.

Rossi, 19, has hit back at this MSA censorship. “As a student at Monash, it is insulting for your ­student association, who supposedly represents you, to basically say you can’t be trusted with your own thoughts, we have to think for you.”

The Monash law/arts student features in a series of Gen Lib YouTube videos launched late last year called What I Wasn’t Told.

At last count, What I Wasn’t Told … About Climate Change had attracted just shy of 200,000 views. The video includes links for the curious to read the research that justifies every statement.

Rossi says had Gen Lib been given the chance to join O-Week, “we would have set up a stall, handed out some stickers and badges, and if some students want to have a chat with us, then we give them the idea of freedom. And that’s it.”

What exactly are the officeholders of the student union at Monash afraid of? That some ­inquisitive students might grab a vegan burger from the MSA BBQ, then wander over to the Gen Lib stall and pick up a free sticker ­carrying the Jordan Peterson quote “In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive”?

Or maybe they fear the badge carrying these words from Ricky Gervais: “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”

Another badge says: “Make ­Orwell Fiction Again.”

The only steadfast position taken by Gen Lib is a belief in open inquiry and students thinking for themselves. Clearly this belief in intellectual diversity does not align with the MSA.

Rossi, one of 16 Gen Lib campus co-ordinators at 15 Australian universities, is frustrated by the lack of transparency, too. “It’s shady,” he says, alluding to the decision by MSA president James McDonald to fob it off as an “operations issue” in answer to Rossi’s request for more details as to why the student union rejected Gen Lib’s application.

“It’s basically as little transpar­ency as possible: ‘You’re not allowed­ to be here because we don’t agree with your views. Now please go away’,” says Rossi.

Alas, passing the buck about incursio­ns into intellectual diversity happens at the highest levels about an issue that should be embedded in the DNA of every serious ­university.

When the student guild at the Queensland University of Technology refused Gen Lib’s applic­ation to be part of Market Week last month, vice-chancellor Margaret Sheil learned about it from the media and responded by ­saying QUT was committed to “a variety of contesting viewpoints”.

But when this asserted belief in contesting viewpoints has not filtere­d down to the student guild, it is clear that intellectual diversity is not embedded in QUT’s culture.

The dirty little secret is that stud­ent unions are baying campus censors, too. And it takes only a handful of students who control events such as Market Week at QUT and O-Week at Monash to undermine intellectual diversity for the rest of the student popul­ation. IPA research compiled last year revealed that 59 per cent of students believe they are sometimes prevented from voicing their opinions on controversial issues by other students.

For student unions, freedom of speech is a controversial issue.

It is a stark failure of logic and leadership when VCs try to dodge responsibility by saying stud­ent unions are “independent” from university administration. Student unions hold functions on campus, they are meant to represent other university students, and student unions are partly funded by ­compulsory student services and amenities fees paid by every stud­ent, except international ones.

Who then, if not university ­administrators, will hold these student censors to account?

It is not unreasonable for VCs, acting on behalf of all students, to require students within student unions or guilds to commit, in practice, to freedom of expression, open debate and intellectual diversity. That starts with O-Week ­activities.

Instead, there is a failure of accounta­bility right up and down the line. Just over a week ago, new Tasmanian Liberal senator Claire Chandler questioned professor Nick Saunders, chief commissioner of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, the body charged with holding universities to their part of the funding deal — universities receiv­e federal funding from taxpayers in return for delivering intellec­tual inquiry on campus. Saunders said the regulatory body has no authority to rein in censorship by student unions.

Chandler tells Inquirer: “One of the real policy questions that has to be answered here is: does a university’s obligation to promote free speech on campus extend to student unions … given that these unions are getting funding from universities, through services and amenities fees that are compulsory?”

Of course it should. More than that, it is time to restart the battle over compulsory fees that prop up these student censors. Whereas the Coalition government abolished­ compulsory student unionism in 2005, the Gillard governmen­t reintroduced them in 2010 in the form of the services and amenities fee. Ten years later, stud­ent unions are using these compulsory fees to fund their censorship­ of ideas and people on campus.

Chandler, who is passionate about universities fostering ­genuine intellectual freedom to sharpen young students’ minds, says that if the model code recommended by former High Court chief justice Robert French in his review of free speech at Australian universities doesn’t capture oblig­ations of student unions to free speech, then this “gap” needs to be addressed.

Fill the gap, by all means, but a code will not necessarily change a culture.

I saw a similar problem up close as a member of the ABC board for five years. There was, and remains, a deeply embedded culture among journalists, producers and higher levels of the tax-funded media behemo­th opposed to the intellectual diversity that is explicitly requir­ed under its charter.

Internal codes which purported to commit the ABC to their legislative charter made no difference up against that culture. Instead­, even egregious cases of bias by journalists were routinely met with management claims that editorial policies are too vague, dodging any finding of a breach of the policy. Management would suggest the ABC board redraft the policies, a useless “make work” exercise­, to remove areas of grey.

When another glaringly obvious episode arose of bias, often from the same journalist — recidiv­ists were not hard to find — the board would receive the same response. It’s all rather grey so we can’t do anything. In other words: go away, our ABC culture trumps a code and even a legislative charter mandating intellectual diversity.

The same scenario will unfold across Australian universities. Even the most beautifully crafted free-speech code will count for nothing until there is meaningful cultural change.

And that will not happen until the Morrison government moves to reduce funding to universities that do not implement cultural change.

Over to Education Minister Dan Tehan to walk the talk, remembering too that academic freedom was thrown under the bus when James Cook University decided­ to sack professor Peter Ridd on a bogus code of conduct claim. JCU has committed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend that action in courts, rather than defend intellectual ­diversity.

In the meantime, we are left to ponder the state of a higher educatio­n where codes, laws, regul­ators and the media are needed to remind VCs and student union­s about the core business of a ­university.


Passing the buck for out-of-control youth crime in Queensland

Do-gooder laws backfire

THE Palaszczuk Government has launched an extraordinary attack on the judiciary, blaming them, rather than its own laws, for out-of-control youth crime.

Announcing a $15 million "five-point plan" to deal with child criminals repeatedly flouting the law, Police Minister Mark Ryan gave a stinging rebuke to magistrates he said weren't keeping with the spirit of the new Youth Justice Act to maintain public safety and were letting too many "hardcore" offenders out on bail.

But Queensland Law Society president Luke Murphy said magistrates were simply following the laws. And the Opposition called for the same "catch-and-release" laws to be ripped up.

In his extraordinary broadside, Mr Ryan said the courts were not properly locking up child criminals, arguing the "intention" of the laws to protect public safety was clear. "The courts are not immune to criticism, and they should be called out when they get it wrong," he said.

"And quite frankly I think they have gotten it wrong in a number of instances recently. "They have to make decisions which fulfil the intention of the legislation and the intention of the legislation is clear — community safety comes first."

He gave an example of an 11-year-old boy who was only denied bail on his 11th offence. "Police have advised me they are aware of numerous examples where bail has been granted in circumstances that create concern for the community."

But Mr Ryan also admitted the Government was considering changing the laws again "if that intention is not clear to the courts".

"There is active consideration now about whether that intention is clear and what changes would need to be made to make that intention clear."

The Government's Youth Justice Act changes were clearly designed to ensure children must only be remanded to custody as a last resort. The Bill's explanatory notes said the legislation removed legislative barriers that were contributing to children being refused bail, breaching bail, or remaining in detention or on remand for extended periods.

And a statement issued by Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer at the time — entitled "New laws to help young people stay out of detention" — said police and judges would decide bail using their discretion to ensure community safety: "Whenever it is possible and safe to do so, we want young people out of detention, especially when they have not been convicted."

Mr Murphy  yesterday said Mr Ryan's attack was not justified and police had always had the power to appeal decisions if desired. "There is nothing to our knowledge that indicates any magistrate has incorrectly applied the Youth Justice Act since it was amended by the Palaszczuk Government last year," he said.

"Unless there is some dear indication that a magistrate has incorrectly applied the law, it is not appropriate to criticise them."

The Government yesterday confirmed its "five-point crackdown" on the 10 per cent of youth offenders who were committing half the crimes, as revealed in The Courier-Mail. It will see more police prosecutors put on to strengthen applications in which police oppose bail, and appeal decisions police disagree with.

On-Country rehabilitation will begin mid year in Townsville, Cairns and Mt Isa to help Indigenous offenders reconnect with society, school and employment and $2 million will be available to community organisations to devise local action plans.

A 24-7 Police Strike Team will include youth justice workers to case manage high-risk offenders into housing, school and employment.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said that the union would now lodge a submission with the Government on how it needed to strengthen the Youth Justice Act 'to ensure juvenile repeat offenders could be taken off the streets and kept off the streets".

The changes come after months of community anger over youth crime waves in Townsville, Cairns, the Gold Coast and Brisbane that have seen some children bailed multiple times, only to continue to reoffend

Deputy Leader Tim Mander said the only way to solve "Labor's crime crisis" was to change the government. "The youth justice laws need to be changed; breach of bail as an offence needs to be reintroduced and we need to scrap Labor's catch and release laws as well," he said.

Townsville cleaner Julie Bird will not let juvenile offenders rule her life after a vicious bag snatching incident. The 54-year-old, who works at Stoddand Shopping Centre, often sees the crimes in action but never thought she would become a victim.

The grandmother was reading a book outside her work when two juveniles ran towards her, snatched her handbag and ripped her off a seat in the process. Despite the terrifying incident, Ms Bird said that she was determined to not let the young thieves get to her. "You just have to move on and still go to work," she said.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 11/3/20

 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

As long as it is being called "teen" crime, and not what it really is: Black crime, then nothing of value will be achieved.

It really is as bad as they are saying up here.