On munching onions and climate science

Our former Prime Minister is or has been over in London addressing an unscientific think tank called the Global Warming Policy Foundation . You may read everything he had to say here. This bit hasn’t been highlighted in the media:

Just a few years ago, history was supposed to have ended in the triumph of the Western liberal order. Yet far from becoming universal, Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself. We still more or less accept that every human being is born with innate dignity; with rights, certainly, but we’re less sure about the corresponding duties.

We still accept the golden rule of human conduct: to treat others as we would have them treat us – or to use the Gospel formula to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” – but we’re running on empty.

In Britain and Australia, scarcely 50 per cent describe themselves as Christian, down from 90 per cent a generation back. For decades, we’ve been losing our religious faith but we’re fast losing our religious knowledge too. We’re less a post-Christian society than a non-Christian, or even an anti- Christian one. It hasn’t left us less susceptible to dogma, though, because we still need things to believe in and causes to fight for; it’s just that believers can now be found for almost anything and everything.

Climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom of the changing interests and values of the West. Still, only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia – that have forgotten the scriptures about man created “in the image and likeness of God” and charged with “subduing the earth and all its creatures” – could have made such a religion out of it.

Um, there is of course Pope Francis, whose views rather contrast with the onion-muncher:

Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, says that climate change is real and mainly “a result of human activity.”

The problem is urgent. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”  We must all change our day-to-day actions to live more sustainably.  “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility.”  On a larger scale, our leaders must be held to account. “Those who will have to suffer the consequences . . . will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”

Solving climate change means protecting the planet and vulnerable people, and we must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”  Faith can guide us. “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains – everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”  

The problems are big and urgent. But hope remains if we act in honesty and love.  “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home . . . Truly, much can be done!”

I fear that the good word on Mr Abbott lately is pretty much as Eleanor Robertson put it last year:

Not a jot of cosmic humility, religious or otherwise, is detectable in anything I have read or heard Abbott write or say. He doesn’t speak in these terms, even obliquely; I wonder if he fears death. It’s this, I think, that people find weirdest about him: how can you trust the judgement of a man so utterly immune to the animating psychic horrors of the human condition? As the woman from the focus group pointed out, everything he says is tainted, even his experience of something as quotidian as the weather. Abbott contains an absence, a conspicuous and upsetting lack, and as long as he hangs around Australian politics, he’s going to make us all stare straight into the void.

So far as his pronouncements on climate change in London go — and they are crashingly unoriginal — see in rebuttal the Eureka Prize winning site Skeptical Science and on the Sydney Morning Herald site Five charts that show Tony Abbott is the one who has lost sight of the science. This is one of them:

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Great actor plays great POTUS, while real one…

Among my library borrowings lately had been Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis magnificent in the title role and Sally Field no less excellent as Mary Todd Lincoln. Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner wrote the script, paring down an initial 500 pages to home in on the final four months of Lincoln’s life, focusing on his efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives.

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Naturally one wonders about the historical accuracy of the movie. It turns out that in many respects it is very accurate: see Fact-Checking ‘Lincoln’: Lincoln’s Mostly Realistic; His Advisers Aren’t.

Lincoln is not a perfect film, but it is an important film. Spielberg has positioned his work as something that should unite a divided nation in the aftermath of the 2012 election, but, paradoxically, his story points to a different conclusion. Sean Wilentz, one of those rare historians who moves seamlessly between the academy and the public sphere, noted that “Abraham Lincoln was, first and foremost, a politician.” Lincoln probably didn’t bribe congressmen to pass the 13th Amendment, but he instructed others to do so. He forged a deep connection with soldiers and their families, and won 78 percent of the soldier vote in 1864 because of it. He knew the power of his office, and used it.

See also David Denby in The New Yorker.

Steven Spielberg began by hiring the best playwright in the country. According to the press notes for the film, Tony Kushner, immersing himself in the politics and language of the period, delivered a five-hundred page script, which was unfilmable except as a TV mini-series. At some point, when Kushner was in his car, Spielberg called, and said something like, “The best part of your script is the eighty pages devoted to passing the Thirteenth Amendment. Let’s make the whole movie about that.”

I loved it. Meanwhile in the real world we have a much less believable script playing out. Here he is paying attention at the G7:

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And now we have him lining up with Syria and Nicaragua to hand a propaanda gift to China: China tells Donald Trump there is an ‘international responsibility’ to act over climate change. Not that Trump’s decision is really a surprise. See Every Insane Thing Donald Trump Has Said About Global Warming.

Tell you what though: Daniel Day-Lewis was a much more convincing POTUS!

Hard to ignore the weather…

The latest satellite map available:

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And a couple of days back:

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What’s happening now:

All south-east Queensland schools will be shut today and businesses asked to close by lunchtime as ex-Cyclone Debbie nears, bringing severe thunderstorms, torrential rain and flash flooding…

“We are looking at some totals in excess of 400mm about the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast hinterland and the Great Dividing Range,” BOM forecaster Matt Bass said….

Gale force winds are being forecast for the south-east corner today, up to 120kph in coastal and elevated areas, and more than 700 homes have lost power in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said shops should shut early today…

Live updates. Looks as if Sirdan in Gympie may be getting some of that rain — I just checked the BOM 256 km Gympie (Mt Kanigan) Radar Loop. And here for our part of the world (NSW) is the current weather warning. It is now raining in Wollongong, but not heavily.

Issued at 4:58 am Thursday, 30 March 2017.

HEAVY RAIN IN THE NORTHEAST DURING THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.
DAMAGING WINDS ALONG THE COASTAL FRINGE NORTH OF SYDNEY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.

SYNOPTIC SITUATION:
A low pressure system over central-eastern Queensland and a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea are dragging a humid tropical air mass over parts of NSW. Heavy rainfall over northeastern NSW is likely during Thursday and Friday as a cold front approaches from the southwest and interacts with this humid airmass.

HEAVY RAIN which may lead to FLASH FLOODING is expected over northern parts of the coast during Thursday and Friday. HEAVY RAIN which may lead to FLASH FLOODING is also possible over northern slopes and ranges on Thursday.

24 hour totals in excess of 100 mm are expected over the Northern Rivers district during Thursday, and it is likely that some locations will exceed more than 250 mm. 24 hour totals exceeding 100 mm during Thursday are also possible over parts of the northern ranges and slopes, and parts of the Mid North Coast.

Thunderstorms may develop with this system and could amplify rainfall.

Recently saw David Attenborough’s 2006 doco again

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Or do you prefer such as Andrew Bolt on the subject? Or anyone else who constantly mutters “warmist” or “alarmist”? David Attenborough is interesting as he began as a sceptic, this 2006 documentary being his clearest statement to that date of his current view. It is definitely worth watching the whole two hours still.

Attenborough had confessed to previously being sceptical about the belief that global warming is predominantly caused by humans. But now, he argued, the evidence of it was too overwhelming to ignore. He became sure of it when he saw graphs provided by climatologists that demonstrated the link between increasing temperatures and the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, with the growth in population and industrialisation:

I was absolutely convinced this was no part of a normal climatic oscillation which the Earth has been going through and that it was something else.

…This is our planet: planet Earth. It contains an astonishing variety of landscapes and climates. Since life began, around 4,000 million years ago, it has gone through extraordinary changes in its climate and in the species that live on it. But now it seems that our planet is being transformed — not by natural events, but by the actions of one species: mankind.

— David Attenborough’s opening narration

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All that is a prelude to commending Australia’s record-breaking summer heat linked directly to climate change and A look at the recent record high temperatures in Australia.

There were three distinct heat waves in southeast Australia during January and February, with the highest temperatures recorded from February 9th to the 12th. For much of the country, the heat peaked on the weekend of February 11th and 12th, when many places hit upwards of 113°F (45°C). The 2016-2017 heatwaves broke long-standing records in central New South Wales that were originally set back in January of 1939 …

The WWA team and colleagues from the University of New South Wales conducted a rapid attribution analysis to see how climate change factored into the exceptionally warm summer (December to February) of 2016-2017. The team also looked at the hottest three-day average February temperatures in Canberra and Sydney….

The team then looked at the maximum summer temperature for New South Wales… Based on climate model simulations (weather@home and CMIP5) and observational data analysis (ACORN-SAT), maximum summer temperatures like those seen during 2016-2017 are now at least 10 times more likely in the current climate than in the past, before global warming began. In the past, a summer as hot as 2016-2017 was a roughly 1 in 500-year event. Today, climate change has increased the odds to roughly 1 in 50 years – a 10-fold increase in frequency. Today, climate change has increased the odds to roughly 1 in 50 years – a 10-fold increase in frequency. In the future, a summer as hot as this past summer in New South Wales is likely to happen roughly once every five years. In addition, climate change has increased the intensity of an exceptionally hot summer like this by roughly 1ºC (1.8°F). In the future, the intensity increases by roughly 2°C (3.6°F)….

For Sydney, a coastal city, the effect of climate change on this heat wave is less clear. Observations show that climate change increased the chance of such a heat wave occurring, but the high year-to-year variability makes identifying a clear human influence more difficult.

The Future

The heat seen this past summer across parts of Australia is still rare in our current climate. However, if greenhouse gas emissions are not dramatically reduced, intense summer heat will become the norm in the future.

For Further Information Contact:

 

Well, the mad uncle is out of the attic now…

That quote from an Australian government minister refers to the latest self-promotion by former but currently disgruntled Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott has told Liberal defector Cory Bernardi he hasn’t given up hope of a return to leadership, but would not make a public tilt for Malcolm Turnbull’s job…

Mr Abbott’s supporters are describing the Turnbull government as ‘the Malcolm vanity project’, a reference the former PM alluded to in a speech…

A Liberal minister has told Sky News Mr Abbott has little support in the party room for any challenge.

‘Well, the mad uncle is out of the attic now. But Abbott’s got no support,’ the minister said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who was a strong supporter of Mr Abbott throughout his prime ministership, told Sky News he was saddened by his decision to provide ‘more and more destructive’ commentary.

‘He’s not helping our cause, he’s not helping our country, he’s not helping himself, much of what he says is either wrong or inconsistent with what he did,’ Senator Cormann said….

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See also Tony Abbott’s five-point plan for the ‘winnable’ next election will infuriate Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Abbott has penned a highly critical analysis of the Turnbull Government, highlighting voter “despair” and concerns “the Coalition has become Labor lite.”

In a stark manifesto, the leader of the Liberal Party’s Right said the next election was winnable and outlined his own plan that would take the Coalition to victory, from “scaled back immigration”, to scrapping the Human Rights Commission and ending the pandering to climate change theology.

Mr Abbott also acknowledged the disappointment in his own Government and said he could understand why support was surging for One Nation….

Suggesting policy changes, Mr Abbott declared: “The next election is winnable.”

Controversially, he suggested the Government “scrap” the Human Rights Commission and refuse to be an ATM for the states, to allow micro-economic reform in schools and hospitals.

“If we stop pandering to climate change theology and freeze the RET, we can take the pressure off power prices,” he said.

But see also Tony Abbott’s spray against Turnbull Government policies dismissed by senior ministers.

Tony Abbott has certainly guaranteed that I will never support him or his approach, but that is hardly surprising. Take his pandering to the denialists with “we stop pandering to climate change theology.” Goes down well with the house columnists at the Telegraph of course. But such phraseology is so quaint in 2017. I commend Skeptical Science again, explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation. And here is one for Catholic Tony:

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