Blogging the 2010s — 96 — October 2012

I was so productive this month it has been hard to choose just two!  Note on the second one:  my friend Philip has since moved to another part of New York City.

My Asian Century

In 1962 I looked at a map and made a choice. The lesson of the map was bleeding obvious even then.

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In its own way World War II, during which I was born, spoke the same message: YOU ARE HERE! Get used to it!

So I chose to study Asian History at Sydney University in 1962 with two quite brilliant lecturers, Dr Ian Nish and Marjorie Jacobs. We galloped through China and Japan in two terms (Dr Nish) and India in one (Marjorie Jacobs) and never quite got to South East Asia though I had bought the textbook – D G E Hall in those days. I read it anyway. I wrote essays on Ram Mohun Roy and on the Sian Incident 西安事变. Turned out to be the one and only time I topped a subject at Sydney U!

Then at Cronulla High teaching History, among other things, from 1965 (student teacher) through 1966 to 1969, I always Asianised the curriculum – that is I took time out to make time lines showing, or devote a lesson to, what was happening in India, China, Japan, S-E Asia at the same time as, say, Elizabeth I. Indeed my first history job in 1965 was teaching Indonesian history to a Year 10 class – or 4th Year as we called it then.  And of course in the 1960s Cronulla High was a pioneer Indonesian teaching school – the place where I first heard an anklung orchestra – the school had one – or tasted nasi goreng.

Yes, the 1960s, folks.

And then at TIGS from 1971 to 1974 I taught mainly English, but also for a while I was History coordinator and in addition (under the Social Sciences Department) taught Asian Studies. Yes, Asian Studies, and there were even actual published text books and a syllabus and everything. Even before Gough Whitlam, if only just! in 1970 there was even a NSW  HSC subject called Asian Social Studies with 919 candidates. I remember having my class cooking (allegedly) Japanese food from recipes in an Asian Studies text book. We ate it and also fed it to the staff. First time I had ever used soy sauce or cooked bamboo shoots.

Wollongong High had a thriving Indonesian language group in the 1970s.

And so it goes.

Then of course we had the Keating era where the “Asian century” idea was first floated, though I am not sure the expression was used. We were reminded that we are part of Asia, and the map makes that quite incontrovertible, I would think. We sure as hell are not part of Europe. On the other hand, culturally and institutionally we draw on Britain plus, which also distinguishes us and is in my view something extraordinarily valuable we have to offer the region and something also to be cherished as part of what Australian has come to be. This has never struck me as a terribly difficult balancing act, though we did sadly get plunged into Pauline Hanson going totally batshit about being “swamped by Asians” for a while there and John Howard made sometimes worrying gestures in that direction, knowing where his votes were coming from but also by nature uncomfortable with the Keating era vision and with anything that happened before 1959. On the other hand in the Howard era we (and he) were busily engaged with Asian countries just as much as ever, simply because that is where we are and what is bound to happen. And of course we intervened in East Timor, something I for one supported.

And Sydney High, where I worked most of the time from 1985 to 2005, offered Mandarin as well as Ancient Greek. I even wrote a cross-cultural text, based on some class work at SBHS, called From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Longman 1995).

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Now here we are again. I haven’t read the White Paper yet, just skimmed. It is fascinating. It is also, as I said yesterday, pretty much what anyone leading Australia now would envisage, but as others have pointed out it is also less substantial than it could be. I guess it gives a bit of a vision which may even lead to outcomes.  I wouldn’t hold my breath about some of it though.

See also Ben Eltham, No Cash For The Asian Century, Richard Tsukamasa Green, Asian languages are essential because they are essential, Bill Mitchell, The Asian Century White Paper – spin over substance. Now that is a pretty diverse bunch with rather similar messages.

And there is the sad story of the decline of past promise, when it comes to Asian languages. I don’t think either Cronulla High or Wollongong High has Indonesian any more, and that is typical. See a report last year in the Herald.

Just 9 per cent of 72,391 [NSW] HSC students studied a language this year. Of the 34 offered, French was the most popular with 1471, followed by Japanese with 1376.

For all the rhetoric on the need to move closer to Asia, Indonesian was studied by only 232, Chinese by 1091 and Hindi, the language of a future powerhouse, by just 42…

Just checked: Cronulla High offers Japanese in the HSC; Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts (as it now is)  offers introductory Korean in Years 7 and 8; Heathcote High in The Shire (where my grandnephews and grandniece went in recent years) has Indonesian in Years 7 and 8 and a 15 year long linkage to schools in the Hitachi-Omiya district in Japan.

How different will things be in ten years time? Honestly, I wouldn’t hold my breath. See also Tim Lindsay Australia’s Asia literacy wipe-out.

Do also visit Dennis Wright and Maximos Russell Darnley – both extraordinary people who know much more than I do.

Meantime, enjoy the sight of an Illawarra Flame Tree in Figtree, just south of West Wollongong. They were taken yesterday.

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New York, New York

Coincidentally I have been reading about the seamier side of New York City just lately: Alphaville.

The cocky and often triumphant confrontations with bad guys make “Alphaville” a strangely entertaining read. But the book is also a reminder of how far into danger and degradation New York fell in the late 20th century. Today New York is the safest major city in America. Yet the homicide rate so far this year is 15% higher than last, and the numbers for rape and robbery are rising, too. The watchword for urban safety, as for so much else, is eternal vigilance. We never want to return to the bad old days—which aren’t all that old.

That at least has made me more aware of the geography of the city, so recent reports have thus meant more to me.  I have never been there. I do know a few people who are there now. Here are two.

  • Philip Costello, a friend, and flatmate a couple of times in the 80s and 90s. “To all those who may be concerned. No damage, leaks or flooding at my home, but am affected by the big power outage that is affecting a large part of Manhattan. Have fled to the Upper West side to a friends apartment till power is restored.”
  • Jeremy Heimans – former SBHS student and all-round amazing internet person – #11 of the Top 100 Creative people in Business 2012, I see. “Sadly, #sandy is just the new normal. We’re going to face this more often & with growing severity for the rest of our lives. #climatechange” – Jeremy on Twitter four hours ago.

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Not a million miles from where Philip normally lives these days:

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There could of course for some be a “better” explanation. Jeremy tweeted on 27 October: “At a gay wedding in Garrison, NY and guess what has just appeared in the sky? A rainbow.” See? Winking smile

But seriously… There actually is a tinfoil hatted preacher saying just that! When will they ever learn? No sane person will believe him, of course.

“God is systematically destroying America,” McTernan writes. “Just look at what has happened this year.”

Calling Sandy “the most powerful hurricane on record” that “could do catastrophic damage to the entire Northeast,” McTernan adds, “Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!”

Is it bad taste to mention that climate change may have played a clear part in the recent events? Normally I am very wary of linking specific events to climate change – the danger of that should be obvious. However, in this case I would ask you to consider:

1. The New Yorker 29 October 2012.

As with any particular “weather-related loss event,” it’s impossible to attribute Sandy to climate change. However, it is possible to say that the storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change. Just a few weeks before the Munich Re report appeared, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York, published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the apparent increase in extreme heat waves. Extreme summertime heat, which just a few decades ago affected much less than one per cent of the earth’s surface, “now typically covers about 10% of the land area,” the paper observed. “It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies”—i.e., heat waves—“such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.” It is worth noting that one of several forces fuelling Sandy is much-higher-than-average sea-surface temperatures along the East Coast.

2. The Munich Re report of 17 October 2012

Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. The view that weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in various regions due to global warming is in keeping with current scientific findings, as set out in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as in the special report on weather extremes and disasters (SREX). Up to now, however, the increasing losses caused by weather related natural catastrophes have been primarily driven by socio-economic factors, such as population growth, urban sprawl and increasing wealth.

Among many other risk insights the study now provides new evidence for the emerging impact of climate change. For thunderstorm-related losses the analysis reveals increasing volatility and a significant long-term upward trend in the normalized figures over the last 40 years. These figures have been adjusted to account for factors such as increasing values, population growth and inflation. A detailed analysis of the time series indicates that the observed changes closely match the pattern of change in meteorological conditions necessary for the formation of large thunderstorm cells. Thus it is quite probable that changing climate conditions are the drivers. The climatic changes detected are in line with the modelled changes due to human-made climate change.

The Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, Prof. Peter Höppe, commented: “In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades. Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence. If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.” Höppe continued that even without changing hazard conditions, increases in population, built-up areas and increasing values, particularly in hazard-prone regions, need to be on Munich Re’s risk radar. All stakeholders should collaborate and close ranks to support improved adaptation. In addition, climate change mitigation measures should be supported to limit global warming in the long term to a still manageable level. “As North America is particularly exposed to all kinds of weather risks, it especially would benefit from this”, added Höppe…

3. Paul McGeogh, Leviathan: how Sandy links to a warming planet.

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4. The Midweek Wonk: What We Know About Sandy and Climate.

October 29 lecture by GeoScientist Christian Shorey at the Colorado School of Mines, describing the most current knowns and unknowns about Sandy in the context of climate change. 15 minutes long, good summary for anyone that needs an instant cliffnotes primer.

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5. And for sheer lunacy: “An endlessly rich source of denialist paranoia and craziness, Infowars, now suggest that President Obama is using secret technology to direct Hurricane Sandy up the East Coast…”

6. NY Governor  Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

NEW YORK — A day after New York City experienced its worst storm surges in recorded history, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city may need to respond to climate change with steps like storm barriers. Such protections would be extremely costly, but climate change experts said Hurricane Sandy provided a first glimpse of the challenges all coastal areas will face as sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more frequent.

Cuomo said on Tuesday that he told President Barack Obama it seemed like “we have a 100-year flood every two years now.”

“These are extreme weather patterns. The frequency has been increasing,” he said.

Of protections like levees in Lower Manhattan, Cuomo said, “It is something we’re going to have to start thinking about … The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level.”

“I don’t know how practical it is to put gates on PATH tubes and subway tunnels,” Bloomberg said in a separate press conference. “What is clear is that the storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before. Whether that’s global warming or what, I don’t know, but we’ll have to address those issues.”

Although levees or other storm surge barriers might sound like fantasy to some, there are proposals on the table for introducing barriers across New York’s harbor or in the East River. Implementing them would cost at least billions of dollars — but infrastructure experts said the time to prepare for climate change is now, not after disasters.

Klaus Jacob, a climate expert at Columbia University, warned months ago that a major flood could result in $58 billion in economic damages from a large storm surge. An event on something like that scale appears to have come to pass….

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7.  Stephan Lewandowsky, Superstorm Sandy and the climate debate surge.

Please consider.

Our thoughts are with all in that vast area of the US North-East.

Later

Now we are seeing the extent of the damage: so terrible. Here are some posts I have encountered after writing this morning.

eureka8. 2012 SkS News Bulletin #1: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change: “This is a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the regular SkS weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week.”

9. Peter Sinclair, The World’s Biggest Metaphor just Came Ashore.

10. Christopher Mims, How global warming helped transform Sandy from a hurricane into a Frankenstorm. Mims “is a former editor at Seed, Scientific American, Technology Review, Grist and Smithsonian, and in those roles launched blogs, redesigns, video series and other half-forgotten but otherwise influential experiments in new media. As a freelancer with the news metabolism of a hummingbird, he spent a decade writing news and analysis for the aforementioned, as well as BBC, WiredNature and the like.”

And an amusing post on Facebook from Philip Costello:

It’s the middle of a hurricane and when I look out the window, what do I see? A man jogging up the middle of 7th avenue wearing only his shoes and underwear!

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11. Kevin Trenberth, Opinion: Super Storm SandyThe Scientist.

…In many ways, Sandy resulted from the chance alignment of several factors associated with the weather. A human influence was also present, however.  Storms typically reach out and grab available moisture from a region 3 to 5 times the rainfall radius of the storm itself, allowing it to make such prodigious amounts of rain. The sea surface temperatures just before the storm were some 5°F above the 30-year average, or “normal,” for this time of year over a 500 mile swath off the coastline from the Carolinas to Canada, and 1°F of this is very likely a direct result of global warming.  With every degree F rise in temperatures, the atmosphere can hold 4 percent more moisture. Thus, Sandy was able to pull in more moisture, fueling a stronger storm and magnifying the amount of rainfall by as much as 5 to 10 percent compared with conditions more than 40 years ago.  Heavy rainfall and widespread flooding are a consequence.  Climate change has also led to the continual rise in sea levels—currently at a rate of just over a foot per century—as a result of melting land ice (especially glaciers and Greenland) and the expanding warming ocean, providing a higher base level from which the storm surge operates.

These physical factors associated with human influences on climate likely contribute to more intense and possibly slightly bigger storms with heavier rainfalls.  But this is very hard to prove because of the naturally large variability among storms.  This variability also makes it impossible to prove there is no human influence.  Instead, it is important to recognize that we have a “new normal,” whereby the environment in which all storms form is simply different than it was just a few decades ago.  Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures, a warmer and moister atmosphere above the ocean, higher water levels around the globe, and perhaps more precipitation in storms…

…As human-induced effects through increases in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere continue, still warmer oceans and higher sea levels are guaranteed. As Mark Twain said in the late 19th century, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now humans are changing the weather, and nobody does anything about it! As we have seen this year, whether from drought, heat waves and wild fires, or super storms, there is a cost to not taking action to slow climate change, and we are experiencing this now.

12. Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating, Don’t forget the storm’s other victims.

eureka13. Skeptical Science, Hurricane Sandy and the Climate Connection.

Extreme Weather on Steroids

The bottom line is that while global warming did not cause Hurricane Sandy, it did contribute to the “Frankenstorm” at least by causing higher sea levels (and thus bigger storm surges and flooding) and warmer sea surface temperatures (and thus probably a stronger hurricane), and there are a few other human influences on the climate which may also have contributed to the damage caused by the storm.

14. Skeptical Science: debunking “Hurricane Sandy had nothing to do with global warming”.

Blogging the 2010s — 90 — September 2016

My 17th September as a blogger, and my sixth in Wollongong! 

1950s Sutherland: sheer nostalgia 60 years on

Do go to the source, Picture Sutherland Shire, for (currently) 465 images.

Yesterday I wrote: “We spent much of 1953-4 looking for Russian spies in the bush in West Sutherland, being excited further that they were building Australia’s first (and still only) nuclear reactor just across the Woronora at Lucas Heights.”

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And here is Sutherland Shire Council Chambers in 1954, the year of the Royal Visit:

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Note which flag flies highest. We were still “British Subjects” in those days.

At Federation in 1901, ‘British subject’ was the sole civic status noted in the Australian Constitution. The Australasian Federal Convention of 1897–98 was unable to agree on a definition of the term ‘citizen’ and wanted to preserve British nationality in Australia. An administrative concept of citizenship arose from the need to distinguish between British subjects who were permanent residents and those who were merely visitors. This was necessary for the Commonwealth to exercise its powers over immigration and deportation. Motivated by the nationalism of Arthur Calwell, the Minister for Immigration 1945–49, this administrative concept was formalised in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. In 1958 the Act was amended so that naturalisation could only be revoked if obtained by fraud. This prevented a naturalised person being stripped of citizenship and deported.

Throughout the 1960s, Australian citizens were still required to declare their nationality as British. The term ‘Australian nationality’ had no official recognition or meaning until the Act was amended in 1969 and renamed the Citizenship Act. This followed a growing sense of Australian nationalism and the declining importance for Australians of the British Empire. In 1973 the Act was renamed the Australian Citizenship Act. It was not until 1984 that Australian citizens ceased to be British subjects.

Next to Council Chambers was the Library. In 1954 I was a frequent borrower. The children’s books were in the room to the right of the front door.

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And local shops that I would often have been in. The car could even be our Standard Vanguard, if this photo was taken around 1953. We had graduated to a Vanguard Spacemaster by 1954.

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Not exactly crowded is Sutherland’s main street, is it? I suspect too by the light that this is summer.

South Australian superstorm and outage

Yesterday a superstorm led to a total power failure in the entire state of South Australia. Think about that:

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See SA power outage: how did it happen?  One element some have raised is the fact that South Australia relies more than other states at the moment on renewable energy.

Key points:

  • South Australia has the highest rate of renewable energy in Australia
  • The ‘one in a 50 year’ weather event ‘couldn’t have been prevented or foreseen’
  • SA to be an example for other states and territories when planning for significant weather events

So, maybe not.

Earlier this week, the Grattan Institute released a report detailing the pressure high uptake in renewables had put on the state’s wholesale power prices, and how it was being viewed as a test case for the rest of the nation.

But the report’s author, Tony Wood, said the blackout was as a result of a particularly violent storm and it was usual for a system to shut down to protect itself from further damage.

“My understanding, at least at the moment, is there’s no evidence to suggest these two issues are related,” Mr Wood said….

Mr Wood said the investigation into exactly what happened would help other states and territories plan for significant weather events hitting power infrastructure, even though South Australia’s network was quite different.

“South Australia itself is a more concentrated grid city network than say, for example, Queensland which is more strung out.

“You could imagine a situation in which a city in Queensland, such as Townsville and Cairns could have been affected by a similar freak storm, which took out all the power in that city, it doesn’t necessarily mean that would cascade through all the way down to Brisbane.

“These systems are designed with a lot of redundancy, a lot of protected systems. At the end of the day, the main issue is to ensure the safety of people and the safety of the system is protected by the system itself automatically shutting down.”

We haven’t heard the last of this though.

7884738-3x2-700x467Image of South Australian storm by Erik Brokken — on ABC News

Blogging the 2010s — 72 — July 2018

Yes, climate certainly did concern us during 2018, and through 2019 to the first quarter of 2020! In those latter months we went through the worst and longest bushfire season anyone can remember. See for example from February 2020 Sharing some great TV as bushfire season goes on but must be nearing end…. As for drought, much of NSW has emerged from that one, but much stays in drought.

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Now back to 2018.

Let’s get serious… about climate

It has been quite a long time since I last posted about climate change. Now I do, visually in the main, taking images from far and near. The moral? Expressed as well as can be here: We can’t hide from global warming’s consequences.

In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3 C, the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern United States and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6 C, the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East have also reached all-time record temperatures. In Northern Siberia, along the Arctic coast, the temperature was over 32 C on July 5, much hotter than ever recorded.

My friend Russell Darnley posted this on Facebook just now:

  1. If anyone is still doubting the reality of global warming. This image is from Rovaniemi, Finland, last Wednesday.
  2. One more fact to share about this photograph is that it was taken in a city which is located within the Arctic Circle!

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Then we have California:

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Less spectacularly and closer to home:

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Another friend, Julie McCrossin, posted this from her property near Wellington NSW.

It is desperately dry out here. The wild life obviously suffer too. We have many kangaroos on our land. There are hills behind our property & the roos come down looking for grass. One has moved into our yard & seems unwell.

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Closer to home:

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Photographer Sandpiper has posted this recent image from Marulan:

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Blogging the 2010s — 54 — June 2011

Reflecting on blogging.

I am not a party, an institution, a guru or an oracle: just one old guy in Wollongong–that’s all

Let’s get real about this blog and this whole blogging business. My opinions may not be worth a rat’s arse, or they may be just what you were thinking too. It doesn’t really matter, you know. Nice to see lately that Kevin from Louisiana thinks this way too. But here is who you are reading:

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Yes, Souths did well in Perth! Smile

And here is my office and all my team of researchers and support staff:

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And yes I do have a few ideas that guide me. Some of them just annoy other people. For example I firmly believe that God has never ever written a book for anyone in any language whatever amen. I do believe humans have employed a number of literary forms to write about God. South Sydney Uniting Church could cope with this view rather well, I found.  For example I firmly believe the best science affirms the reality of anthropogenic climate change and I think we are seeing a dismal failure of politics and politicians and short-sightedness from alleged conservatives on this issue. I believe this not because I want to but because the best evidence from the most dispassionate sources leads to this conclusion. At least I think so, along with our recently appointed Chief Scientist. And so it goes. Quite a few of these things I just won’t argue about any more on this blog. Why should I? I may point you from time to time to the arguments of others that I find persuasive. Then you can make up your own minds.

I’d much rather just share things like this:

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You can go to my photo blog if you rather agree with that and are sick and tired of arguments, pretentious or otherwise.

Last week I spat the dummy on a thread. I don’t regret it. But it did lead to a nasty thread developing here on a later post, a thread I have since censored. That is something I rarely do – as even Kevin from Louisiana will testify despite my memorably asking him to piss off not all that long ago.

Anyway all I want to remind you of is this: you’re just reading the passing thoughts of one old man in a room in Wollongong. He uses a variety of genres and does not always have a serious academic approach. Take it or leave it. See also ABOUT.

 

More on Lord Monckton. Is Alan Jones still a groupie?

Yawn!

Oh my God. I watched Q&A last night. All this seems to do these days is confirm my disrespect for our supposed leaders who again manifestly argued ferociously for positions they equally manifestly didn’t believe in. Adam Bandt may be an exception – but the Greens couldn’t run a chook raffle, let alone a country – that is when they are not making like some earnest nanny figure with a large bottle of castor oil. And then there was the small government and growth fetishist in pearls. A hopeless lot, though nice enough too in their way like cuddly Joe – who was needled into letting the cat out of the bag about where the “tax cuts” will come from: mass sackings. He said it. You heard it. Especially if you live in Canberra. Of course the cartoonist got the best line: “I really couldn’t make up shit like this and if I had the editor would send it back…”

51YDR3V0E7L._SL500_AA300_And I really couldn’t invent a Lord Monckton if I tried either. He does have his special skills (left)  as this friendly bio shows. It’s just that climate science isn’t one of them. “Christopher, known to his numerous nephews and nieces as “Mr.Knowledge”, spent four years solving real-life problems for Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street during her years as Prime Minister and now acts as trouble-shooter and corporate thinker to leading businesses. He is a well-known public speaker and has written speeches for many of Britain’s leading politicians (and a song performed by a Cabinet minister). Though not a lawyer, he wrote the legal brief that persuaded the Scottish judges to save the West Highland Sleeper train from the axe: it is now the only train in the world required by law to run “till a’ the seas gang dry”…”

Baroness Thatcher in her autobiography fails to mention the sterling service of Christopher and has the gall to attribute advice on climate policy to someone else altogether. Of course we do know that Thatcher was the first world leader to take anthropogenic climate change seriously – but then, whatever her sins may have been, she was one of the few world leaders who was actually a scientist.

There is an alternative universe out there where Monckton is taken seriously on climate change. I don’t know why, as by now he has been totalled by so many people who really do know what they are talking about. His errors and misrepresentations have been catalogued again and again, and still the suckers roll up to his slide shows.

OK, if you want the truth about this Walter Mitty of climate science start with the Monckton Bunkum series – now totalling around 1.5 hours and revealing 21 major problems (not quibbles) with Monckton’s spiel. The author is trained in science and journalism and worked in various media, but especially for New Scientist. “I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, 14 years as a science correspondent. My degree is in geology, but while working for a science magazine and several science programs I had to tackle a number of different fields, from quantum physics to microbiology.”

Then very conveniently see the following:

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See also The perpetual debunking of Christopher Monckton.

So my problem with Gerard Henderson today is that Gerard seems to think Monckton might actually be worth hearing. He isn’t. And in that light it’s neither here nor there that Monckton recently resorted to the childish Nazi smear in reference to Garnaut. It’s true that others have done such things in the past. The point is that it is a non-argument whoever uses it.

However, I can’t disagree with this:

Of course Garnaut says what he believes. However, so do most of his critics. Of course Monckton was irresponsible to link Garnaut with Hitler. But so were those who linked Howard with the Third Reich. Any cooling of the political debate will require contributions from all parties.

But the bottom line is Monckton is a highly unreliable commentator on climate science and we would be very foolish indeed to pay him any attention whatsoever, His puzzle books may be good though.

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UpdateLord Monckton: Bring out your Dead!

Blogging the 2010s — 53 — June 2010

Venison in Bondi

A very special Sunday Lunch today, in part in honour of Lord Malcolm who dined here with Sirdan a few years back.

Penny, B and I were treated to oysters (well they were), venison and a killer dessert. We had Zuppa Inglese.

icebergsIt was here that we had lunch:

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Mormon Prof Mauls Monckton

Whatever else you may say about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, support for left-wing plots is not something that comes to mind. It is interesting, then, that Barry Robert Bickmore, a professor in the department of geological sciences at Brigham Young University, gets stuck into the egregious Lord M.

Recently, Prof. John Abraham criticized Lord Christopher Monckton for citing scads of scientific papers to back up his opinions about climate change, but when Abraham actually looked into those papers, it often turned out they didn’t support Monckton’s conclusions, or they even contradicted those conclusions.  Prof. Abraham also criticized Monckton for improper citation of others’ work and data, often making it difficult to figure out where he was getting his information.

Given his rap sheet (including numerous infractions mentioned on this blog), I thought it would be fun to start examining Lord Monckton’s recent testimony before a committee of the U.S. Congress.  What if I were to scan through the document, randomly pick one of Monckton’s claims that I don’t know much about, and start investigating the literature he cites?  Would I find that he makes reasonable points, or that he has continued his nearly unblemished record of propagating scientific-sounding nonsense?  Tim Lambert has already shown that Monckton’s testimony was flamboyantly incompetent about three issues (solar brightening, ocean acidification, and Snowball Earth), so I picked another topic that has to do with variations in the radiation output of the Sun…

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The blog where this is posted is Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah.

I’ve recently been involved with other scientists and scholars in Utah trying to stop the spread of outright lies, half-truths, abuses of data, and distortions about climate change.  Much of this disinformation is coming from (or through) some Republican members of the Utah Legislature, and the other Republican (and some Democratic) members have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.  A few local media outlets, like Provo’s Daily Herald, have also been active participants.  Climate change is not just a global or national issue–it will also be played out at the state and local levels.  Therefore, I see a need for some watchdogging specific to our neck of the woods.  (In addition, I’m a Republican myself, and it galls me that my own party has locally fallen for a bunch of conspiracy theories and scientifically incompetent trash.  In my opinion, something has to be done to save the party from disaster in the long run.)

This blog is meant to 1) archive a record of the ongoing disinformation campaign in Utah, and 2) examine it in detail.  Democracy depends on accurate information being readily available to the public, and I see people who propagate such disinformation campaigns as enemies of Democracy.

Can anyone take Monckton seriously and keep a straight face any longer? See also Lord Monckton: 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, King of Fantasyland.

Performance poetry has its place

Benjamin Solah posted Performance Poetry: The embarrassing cousin of literature? on 15 June. He has recently discovered the phenomenon alive and well in Melbourne and has been participating.

In the past couple of months I’ve performed on the open mic at the Brunswick Hotel three times as part of Passionate Tongues Poetry and really enjoyed it. It’s become a regular thing and I can’t see myself stopping open mic poetry for a while at least and I’ve quickly incorporated it into my repertoire of writing.

But the thing is, there’s this niggling feeling that the medium is less respected, seen as the embarrassing cousin of other writing. And at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, two poets spoke disparagingly of the Australian poetry scene in general which got me thinking…

Well, I have certainly enjoyed performance poetry and have happy memories of Glebe’s Harold Park Hotel in the 1980s. Indeed, I took my Class of 86 there after the HSC and they enjoyed it too. But they had in Year 11 been introduced to this lively art, as one recalls:

Your classes in 1986 in preparation for our HSC 2 unit English were a real standout. There were many great memories, but in particular, “The Sh*t poem”, your readings in Welsh, and the way we all agreed that Dicken’s Great Expectations was how should I say, of poor quality.

Chris is wrong about the Welsh; it would have been Old or Middle English. But he’s right about “The Shit Poem” by Jas H. Duke.

I’m in the shit business
I work for the sewerage department
I analyse experiments
I draw graphs and flow charts
and conclusions
today I was sitting at my desk
trying to explain
the dissolved air flotation process
where streams of little bubbles are released
into a tank full of sewerage
to float the suspended solids up to the surface
to be skimmed off
but what I was really thinking about
was lunchtime
the canteen cook
caters to the ethnic multitudes
by putting on Italian eats most days
I was thinking of ravioli
with meat sauce
but I was writing things like
“The sludge produced by this process
is grey-brown in colour
and does not produce
offensive odours
provided anaerobic conditions
can be prevented”
the sludge is really composed of
my used ravioli
and the Boss’s used steak
and your used hamburger
and the vegetarian’s used brown rice
all mixed up together
and when it gets in this state
no one wants to know about it
except me
I don’t find shit offensive
most people do
they can’t wait to push the button
or pull the chain or something
and then they think the shit has vanished
into the centre of the earth
it hasn’t really
it just floats up somewhere else
However
it’s all biodegradable
I reckon most people think
that shit is the most deadly poison
on the face of the earth
they’d rather face ten tons of plutonium
than half a bucket of shit
even their own
no curse in the English Language
is complete
without “shit” included in it somewhere
lunchtime arrived
I ate my ravioli
I had a shit
it was brown in colour
I felt a lot better

That really broke down entrenched dislike of poetry, that did! From there we could move to “higher” things, but in my opinion that is one very fine poem, of its kind.