Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Penny Sackett resigns

February 18, 2011

“A breath of fresh”, yes, but “courage” Senator Milne?

Penny Sackett, astronomer and climate change activist — aka Australia’s Chief Scientist — resigned yesterday after only half way through her five-year appointment, citing personal and professional reasons.

As we know, Professor Sackett, was a very outspoken proponent for the need to act on climate change, but like so many in this area, somewhat light on facts. Gilding the lilly, as one does with departures, gloden handshakes and at funerals, Julia Gillard said that she,

has offered objective, clear and constructive advice during her 2 1/2 years at the helm of this important office.

Kim Carr, who apparently doesn’t like her, talked of her “substantial contribution” to scientific debate.

The reward for the most fatuous comment comes from Senator Christine Milne. She applauded Professor Sackett for being a “breath of fresh air” and courageous.

Her courage in responding to and advocating about the climate challenge has been noted and appreciated by many Australians.

In such a prestigious post, with so many billions flowing from governments world wide and so many institutions pushing the climate change agenda, and of course not forgetting the trips overseas and the compliant media circus, it is hard to see where courage comes in.

ABC, please !! It is not unusual weather in Melbourne

February 5, 2011

It is just more of the same … really

Everyone, of course, is talking about this “really strange summer” in Melbourne. Warmists are just busting to believe that something odd is indeed happening, something to do with global warming. After all, how many weeks of holidays down on the coast have been spoiled by rain and exceptionally cold beach weather?

It all reminds me of my grandmother-in-law who announced one Good Friday morning that the gloomy black clouds hovering in the sky was a “sign” from God to remind us of Jesus’ crucifixion. She claimed that it always rained on Good Friday.

One can smile indulgently on an elderly woman’s naïve understanding of meteorology, but it is a lot harder to sympathize with the government’s leading global warming court jester, Ross Garnaut, with his self-satisfied grin, announcing “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.

Andrew Bolt has listed, yet again, a timely reminder, in case leading ABC journalists bleat out the “unusual weather = global warming” alarm. For any other warmists, please stare at the above photo, and ask yourselves, what is this telling me….

Gillard continues to waste our money

January 25, 2011

How to make electricity eight times more expensive

Alan Moran explains how the government is able to convert a $300m sow’s ear that would produce electricity for a cost that is eightfold its value into a silk purse by waving a magic wand four times. By doing this, it is happy to destabilise the commerciality of the electricity supply industry.

He explains that this squandering of taxpayer resources serves to illustrate just how inured we have all become to misused government spending. Looking at the ABC’s reporting of this waste, you would conclude, like most other ABC reports on renewable energy, that it was all good news and positive benefit.


UK Met Office scandal starts?

January 9, 2011

Very expensive dreams taken for reality at our expense

“The trouble is that we simply don’t know how much to trust the Met Office. How often does it get the weather right and wrong. And we don’t know how it compares with other, independent forecasters.”

Roger Harrabin, an environment analyst at the BBC

 

The scandal following the closing of Heathrow Airport and the consistent failure of the British Met Office to get anywhere near predicting the present catastrophically cold winter in the UK is just starting to heat up.

If the politicians think trouble is ahead, they back the winners, not only has the Met Office predictions of mild winter been wrong three winters in the row, they have been SEEN to be wrong, there was plenty of mainstream press coverage before the harsh winters that other forecaster were predicting a severe winter. Following the last years mild winter prediction by the Met Office, there was even BBC coverage debating whether their very expensive super computer had a ‘warm bias’ which was wildly reported in the mainstream media in the UK

Read this searing account, published in Watts Up With That?

It should be a delight to follow the developments.

ABC Ockham’s Razor propaganda

January 8, 2011

A confusion about science and democracy, again

The ABC Science Department is continuing in its role as the propaganda arm for climate change orthodoxy. In a transparently self-serving  Ockham’s Razor this morning,  Julian Cribb is pleading for more communication from scientists to the general public, to better convince them of the soundness of catastrophic global warming science.

Cribb seems to utterly confuse the role of democracy and the role of science. Like many environmentalists and warminists, he has an alarmingly totalitarian view of the role of science in our society.

As the debate around climate change is now demonstrating, we cannot rely upon democratically elected governments to take the right decisions, from a scientific point of view.

While a substantial part, or even a very vocal part of society doubts, denies or rejects the scientific consensus, politicians will usually seek political safety in inaction.

Unfortunately for science, politics is governed by the rules of political logic, not those of scientific logic.

And the rules of political logic are that if you want to change the mind of a politician, then you must first change the minds of their voters.

This clearly is the sort of approach that fits well with the ABC and Ockham’s Razor presenter Robyn Williams, who commissions and introduces this sort of authoritarian thinking. Williams himself has been responsible for broadcasting ill-judged and misinformed interpretations of climate science by, for instance, absurdly claiming that sea levels could rise by 100 metres this century.

But the biggest irony in Cribb’s presentation, is that he perceives a failure of communication by scientists as a cause of the failure of the public to be convinced on global warming. He claims at the outset:

The need for open science has never been more pressing.

This simply defies common sense. At no time in recent memory has the orthodox view on climate science been more open. Indeed, it is daily heavily promoted, propagandized and disseminated in films, documentaries, electronic and print media, in the very selection of items for news services, through schools, by government scientists and political parties.

However, against this overwhelming evidence, Cribb  manages to select just one scientist — one that has been discredited for some of the most exaggerated claims in the climate science firmament — as an example of how climate scientists are being gagged.

In western society it is not unusual for scientists to be actually gagged – as in the appalling suppression of climate science under the US Bush Administration in the case of NASA’s Dr Jim Hansen…

Cribb also ignores the role of Climategate in discrediting the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, the IPCC and others. Shouldn’t he also factor in the catastrophic failure of the British Met Office  — currently fighting a scandal concerning its total incompetence in predicting the current cold winter in Europe — our own CSIRO, or the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for failing to provide forecasts — before it became obvious — of our damaging floods, or to manage to get even simple seasonal weather forecasts remotely accurate. He believes our scientists [presumably the warminists],

employed on the public payroll [are] being ordered to keep their mouths shut about some important discovery, insight or expert opinion …

I wonder if he has bothered to read The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge, a retired Australian atmospheric physicist, where he sets out just which mouths are being ordered shut.

Julian Cribb urges,

… that science become more open and more democratic in its approach.

Science, and more especially climate science, has nothing to do with democracy. This notion, with its implication for scientific activism, has been the ruin of climate science over the last two decades and shows that Julian Cribb and the ABC Science Department understand little about the meaning of ‘disinterested’ science.

Faine and economic ignorance of the Left

December 9, 2010

Water tanks would cost nearly 200 times more…

Jon Faine, spruiking Green policies on the ABC yet again this week, promotes the mandating of rain tanks for Melburnians. This desire of his underlines the economic and mathematical illiteracy of the Left. They can’t do sums, and have no idea of real costs to real people, most of whom can simply not afford the luxuries they indulge in themselves.

From my reckoning [figures from official government websites]:

The average total cost of a 5,000 litre tank is around $3,137.

For a Melbourne population of 4,644,950, there are 1,667,687 households. Therefore, the total price for mandating rain tanks would be approximately $5 billion and they would store a potential 8,330 ML of water.

The dam that Labor has refused to build, the Mitchell Dam, would have had a capacity of 500,000 ML. That is, one dam, costing around $1.5 billion — that is a third of the cost of rain tanks and equivalent to just three years of operation of the $5 billion desal plant — would have stored 62 times more water. This is, dollar for dollar, nearly 200 times more water for the money spent. Or to put it another way, Faine’s planned mandated water tanks, if they were to do what this one dam could do for $1.5 billion, would cost individuals the equivalent of $180 billion.

In addition, the proposed mandated rain water tanks would, in a drought, last an average household — at 155 litres per person — only two or three weeks.   The one extra dam would supply water to Melbourne, at the same rate — for around two years.

Maybe households in Fitzroy can afford this nonsense but it would either hurt the poor, or if subsidized, overwhelm the taxpayer. Either way, it is crazy economics and utterly stupid as a way of waterproofing a city like Melbourne. But do the fanatical greens care at all ?

I Love A Sunburnt Country

December 2, 2010

A gentle reminder from Dorothea Mackellar

A big thanks to Dorothea Mackellar for this rigorous historical documentation of climate change, written before any real increases in industrial atmospheric carbon di-oxide, and before our modern, scientific understanding of the Indian Ocean Dipole or the El Nino Southern Oscillation.

It is time that our Prime Minister, the Chief Scientist, ABC presenters — including Tony Jones, Robyn “100 metres” Williams and Jon Faine — and all those other soppy green environmentalists with weak or wishful memories, reread this wonderful poem. I should remind them that the poem was written in 1906, just in case they think it was written about our recent, inexplicable ‘extreme’ weather events caused, according to these fools, by global warming.

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded Lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens,
Is running in your veins;
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies -
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me.

The tragic ring-barked forests
Stark white beneath the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
An orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the crimson soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart around us
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold;
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown Country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Chief Scientist Sackett obfuscates

December 1, 2010

A true bureaucratic

It is difficult to imagine how Penny Sackett earned her title as Chief Scientist for Australia. Last night she was interviewed on Lateline where Tony Jones predictably failed to get any interesting information out of her. Jones gave a half hearted attempt to question what I call the “Dorethea Mackellar” factor, whether or not the drought and now the flooding rains is not a natural cycle rather than a consequence of global warming.

TONY JONES: Do you believe then there is a connection between the extremes or the extreme events in the Southern Oscillation Index and overarching global warming, is there any proof of that?

PENNY SACKETT: The – what we do know is that we can expect an increase in the severity and the frequency of extreme events. What we cannot say is that any particular single event is related to global warming. It’s rather statistically the number and the severity of them.

Jones tried again:

TONY JONES: But do you have a report or scientific advice for those farmers in the Murray-Darling who are essentially being told they may have to pack up their farms and stop being farmers because of climate change and restrictions to water in the future, even though they’re looking at large volumes of water now?

PENNY SACKETT: I think that holistically Australia will have to ask questions about what sort of food it can grow, where it can grow and how it can increase productivity.

He asked and repeated the question in various forms at least five times.

On nuclear energy, Ms Sackett was just as unforthcoming. This was the fourth question Jones asked her on that topic. Her fourth answer of course was basically the same as the previous three.

TONY JONES: But if the Government asked for your advice as a chief scientist on whether nuclear power’s a viable option for Australia and whether it would be beneficial, what would you say?

PENNY SACKETT: I’d say that we would need to study it. We would need to get a series of experts in who would not only look at nuclear energy, but a whole suite of energy options and provide a report back. But I certainly wouldn’t be answering the question without looking carefully at the evidence.

On emission reductions, Ms Sackett was decisive.

TONY JONES: The Australian Government is currently promising a five per cent emissions reduction target. Do you regard that as a serious target that will achieve anything?

PENNY SACKETT: I regard any action that begins to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as serious – any reduction.

And so the dreary interview finally came to its end. This woman presumably gets paid a lot of money. Tax payers may ask what for?

And what about Tony Jones? With his token “hard” questions, he displayed absolutely no impatience, or insistence, that Sackett answer his questions. He, after all, is also on the global warming gravy trail.

Agora – a film review

November 25, 2010

A promising film spoilt by political correctness

The promises made about this limited release film Agora by director Alejandro Amenabar, showing in Australia at the moment, were intriguing. The subject, Alexandria in the forth century AD at the time of the destruction of the famous library — the “Axial Age”, or, in the words of Karl Jaspers, ‘the most deep cut dividing line in history’ — seemed pretty promising and ambitious. Central to this film is one of feminism’s archetypal historical heroines, Hypatia, a philosopher and mathematician, grappling with the movement of the orbs of the heavenly bodies.

The film, one imagined, was to deal with the complex sets of interactions between the Judaic tradition, the propagation of the Christian message of St Paul, the Roman world and its Law, the decline and virtual disappearance of Hellenism with the gradual withdrawal from Aristotelian thinking, and the eclipse of the Hellenistic values that accompanied the fall of Rome and the subsequent plunge into the ‘dark ages’. It was what the enthusiastic ABC film review Margaret Pomerantz hailed as, “a rare film about something”.

The portrayal of Alexandria was physically fascinating, with a wonderfully convincing mixture of the Roman and the Egyptian, and the collision of their cultural values. There were delightful insights into the liturgy, vestments and character of the early Pauline church. Nevertheless, there was something disconcertingly uninvolving and unconvincing about the texture and narrative. For instance, it contrasted poorly with the splendidly visceral portrayal of the city of Rome in the film Gladiator, and had a strangely total absence of dramatic tension in the plot development.

A predictable dread about the film, as promoted in its advertising, was the inevitable potential for political correctness. The ingredients were all there. There was the fashionable, anti-Christian sentiment that painted Bishop Cyril of Alexandria as an irresistibly self styled Taliban leader, and the inevitable temptation to portray Hypatia as an unyielding and archetypally smug feminista with a rampant and satisfying dose of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. So it came to pass. What could, with generosity, be considered to be a cunning allegorical warning against present day Islamic terrorism in Europe and America, wasn’t really the film’s intention, or the director’s.  The film safely fell on the side of reactionary Christian bashing, including a pointed quote from St Paul about the importance of silencing women. No attempt was made to suggest that these views would have had their origin in the prevalent Jewish Synagogue Regulations of the time. The film’s treatment seems to suggest that these 2000 year old Christian values are more reprehensible that those of current Islamic sharia values that the West is feebly yielding to today. This lack of clarity thus manages to portray a fatuous anachronism. The implications are nasty.

Most disappointing is that the ‘ideas’ part of the film end up being trite. The endless ruminations and discussions by Hypatia, played, incidentally, utterly unconvincingly and blandly by Rachel Weisz, about the movements of the planets, with ‘learned’ references to Aristarchus, sounded more like a polite and earnest discussion of a ‘dangerous idea’ on Jennifer Burns’ First Tuesday Book Club. Aristarchus, along with other remarkable figures like Eratosthenes, Hypparchus and Posidonius had nailed the actual physical dimensions and movements of our solar system accurately hundreds of years before.

We should have been forewarned. The Pomerstratton team gave the film four and four and a half stars respectively, so politically correct, safe and predictable it inevitably was. For all its admirable qualities and the attempts to deal with one of the most truly fascinating periods in history, it ended up, as one reviewer put it, as “an overlong school trip to the planetarium, followed by a Romans-in-togas play in the gym”. But worse, it failed to see itself, judging by the reviews and commentary, as a powerful allegory concerning the threat of Islamic fundamentalism on our own doorstep today. A truly wasted opportunity.

The ABC does it again

September 16, 2010

Not a conspiracy, just wishful thinking and laziness

A few days ago there was an excellent analysis by Marc Hendrickx, a consulting geologist, of some of the problems that many have been raising about ABC bias in relation to climate change in The Australian. A more detailed version can be seen at his excellent and very valuable ABC News Watch site.

Hendrickx has had a close look at the ABC Online’s “A journey through climate history”, which purports to show “key events in the climatic history of the planet”. The problem is, according to Hendrickx, and unsurprisingly for us sceptics, is that it is riddled with mistakes.

Thirteen basic scientific errors were identified in the presentation, along with numerous mistakes that suggested a review of the content was warranted. ABC made seven corrections to the presentation. A subsequent Independent Complaints Review Panel report found against claims of bias on a number of the timeline pages. An independent review of the content was never undertaken and now 30 additional errors have been raised with the ABC, the most telling of these probably being the confusion between the chemical symbols for cobalt (Co) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

Again I ask, when will the ABC treat the important topic of climate change impartially and with a modicum of objectivity. A recent post of mine showed the slipperiness of Robyn Williams with his unrepentant record of bias on the global warming industry. Jo Nova has a similar plea about Williams’ abdication of responsibility as a science journalist.

Robyn Williams is a good man who would be horrified to know that he is not defending the planet, but standing up for corrupt scientists, plundering bureaucrats, and profit-taking bankers. I make no suggestions that he is profiting from spreading such poor reasoning, or that he is corrupt. He is simply working from devastatingly mistaken assumptions: He assumes the modelers are right; he assumes the peer review system is working; he assumes that science will work properly if only one side of a theory is fully funded, and he assumes that UN bureaucrats will publish recommendations that don’t support an increase in their own power and status.

In short, he assumes people will be honest despite massive temptations of all kinds to do otherwise.

I assume people will be people.

Look at the evidence, Robyn. Please.


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