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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On Indigenous Australians…

Tonight I will be watching Warwick Thornton’s new film We Don’t Need A Map on SBS. Promises to be controversial and interesting.

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In the past week there has been a major story on Indigenous history in Australia: Aboriginal archaeological discovery in Kakadu rewrites the history of Australia.

 Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, a team of archaeologists has established – 18,000 years longer than had been proved previously and at least 5000 years longer than had been speculated by the most optimistic researchers.

The world-first finding, which follows years of archaeological digging in an ancient camp-site beneath a sandstone rock shelter within the Jabiluka mining lease in Kakadu, Northern Territory, drastically alters the known history of the trek out of Africa by modern humans, according to the leader of the international team of archaeologists, associate professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland.

A follow-up in The Sydney Morning Herald intrigued me. The following image gives the idea, but you must visit If Aboriginal culture were 24 hours old, white people have been in Australia five minutes to get the full effect.

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I was reminded of my 2013 post Consider….

2. Where I now sit there were people living, breathing and walking about 20,000 years ago and more. According to a family tradition I had ancestors among them.

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3. All of which makes it very difficult to treat the following with the awe and wonder it may have attracted in the past, or indeed in my own past. How do you reconcile the fact that in light of the above the grand cosmic narrative of the Abrahamic religions looks decidedly less impressive?

4004 B.C.
Creation of Adam and Eve – [Very few accept this “date” as having any connection whatever with anything that really happened in the history of this planet. — NW]


2348 B.C.
Noah’s Flood – [never happened — NW]


1996 to 1690 B.C.
The Biblical Patriarchs lived during this time – from Abraham to Jacob – [totally myth and legend, reflecting certain rather mundane developments in the movements of people and cultures, but having no resemblance to actual history. — NW]


1491 B.C.
The Exodus


1451 B.C.
Joshua leads the children of Israel into the Promised Land


1410 – 1050 B.C.
Time of Israel’s Judges


1050 – 930
First Kings of Israel – King Saul, King David and King Solomon


960 B.C.
Building of the first temple in Jerusalem


930 B.C.
Division of the Kingdom of Israel


930 – 723
The period of the Kings of Israel from Jeroboam I to Hoshea


930 – 586 B.C.
The period of the Kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah


840 – 400 B.C.
Period of the Minor Prophets


723 B.C.
The fall of Israel


586 B.C.
Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple


515 B.C.
Temple at Jerusalem Rebuilt


63 B.C.
The Romans occupy Palestine


37 B.C.
Herod the Great is appointed ruler of Judea by Rome


Jesus was born either before 4 BC (when Herod the Great died) or in 6 AD (when the historical Census of Quirinius was undertaken).

If you want to see idiots at work tying themselves in knots trying to justify the above timeline as “history” — most of it is not, some from around the last six entries is — look at (without laughing if possible) the egregious Ken Ham:

We can say in summary that:

All people of the world today have their ancestry in a man called Noah, and further back to Adam, whether they be the Australian Aborigines, the American Indians, or the Eskimos.

The differing cultures separated by different languages have only arisen since the time of the Tower of Babel. The physical differences between the races (e.g. skin colour, eye shape) are only minor.

In the mythology and legends from cultures around the world, you would expect to find their ancestry in Noah reflected in their stories about a world flood, or how man was created, etc.

The above account is totally different to that told normally through the media or school textbooks….

Compare Bill Nye, Ken Ham, and Aborigines (2014) from Conservative News and Views.

The “open letter” to Bill Nye comes from the Secular Coalition of Australia (SECOA). In its platform or “10-point plan,” this group calls for a frontal assault on religious liberty in Australia. (The headlines of the “ten points” look harmless enough. Slight shadings of the meanings of worlds show the real goal. How, for instance, does SECOA judge the “harm” that “religious practices” do? Would an “anti-discrimination law” force a church to hire, say, a homosexual minister?) SECOA published its “open letter” on February 2…

…those who assert that aborigines have lived in Australia for 40,000 to 65,000 years, have no continuous historical records to prove it. The “Australian History” site does not even try to prove that; they merely assert it. The Wikipedia article shows what anthropologists rely on: dating methods that assume an old earth. They include radiometric dating (chiefly carbon-14 dating) and thermoluminescence. No one has yet asked Bill Nye what he really thinks about this. But carbon-14 dating is not supposed to be reliable beyond 10,000 years. Or so the critics of Andrew Snelling said, when he published his report about radiometric dating in conflict. How, the critics asked, dared Snelling cite a radiocarbon date of 37,000 years as a good example of the craft? Yet such is the evidence in favor of an aboriginal presence on Australia lasting for 40,000 years at least. Where are the annals to show how long the aborigines really have lived in Australia? No one disputes they “got there first.” The dispute is how many thousands of years passed before the first “transports” arrived. The aborigines themselves do not know. Scientists think they know. But their evidence assumes an old earth. No one claims to have family or village or other annals showing a continuous cultural presence for 40,000 years or longer. No one, in short, claims to have the Australian aboriginal equivalent of the Assyrian Eponym Canon or of Egyptian, Babylonian, Hebrew, or other king lists. (As an aside, SECOA fails to mention that 75 percent of Australian aborigines today adhere to Christianity.) …

There is another view too, a minority one, that Aboriginal Australians have always been in Australia. Some Aboriginal people affirm that, as in these comments on a 2013 post Homo sapien sapiens originated in Australia, not ‘out-of-Africa’ – DNA evidence.

That is what the elders have been saying all along…..delighted I can say I am related to the original Australians…

As aboriginal people have told me for years, that we all come from here is in there stories, it now comes to pass with science backing this up. Their stories go right back to creation and beyond. Perhaps now we may start listening to a people that have wisdom that dates back to the very dawn of time…..perhaps not and will continue their extinction through our jails, our placement of them at the bottom of our class bases system and continue to kill them through starvation or keep the stolen generation alive as it is today through D.O.C.S.

Yet another view comes from professional Odd Bod Senator David Leyonhjelm. This one is examined and refuted at FactCheck: might there have been people in Australia prior to Aboriginal people?

As previously discussed on The Conversation, there is a strong research case for the biological continuity between pre-European and modern Aboriginal populations of Australia.

It is true that there has been, historically, a small number of claims that there were people in Australia before Australian Aborigines, but these claims have all been refuted and are no longer widely debated. The overwhelming weight of evidence supports the idea that Aboriginal people were the first Australians.

The disagreements that can be found in the literature are normal in the accumulation of knowledge but do not undermine the strength of the modern consensus that the first people to live in Australia were ancestors of the Aboriginal people who lived here when Europeans first arrived and colonised.

Although there is a small amount of truth in the Senator’s claims about what is in the literature, the claims do not stack up against modern knowledge of the evidence.

Finally, I refer you to recent genomic studies: World-first genome study reveals rich history of Aboriginal Australians. Jim Belshaw’s New England History blog has some related material.

Related: 22 myths you might believe about Aboriginal Australia.

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:

 

Hot Sunday

This morning in The Gong it is a comfortable 18C, and yesterday was not too bad. But statewide and indeed in just about all Eastern Australia we had this.

Meteorologists were predicting NSW would set a state-wide record for February warmth during the current heatwave but few would have tipped the mark would be broken two days in a row.

The blast of summer heat has placed south-eastern Australia on the map as the hottest place on the planet.

Residents of Richmond saw the mercury climb to 47 degrees on Saturday, placing the town on the north-west fringe of Sydney within less than a degree of the title of global hot spot – Ivanhoe Airport recorded a maximum of 47.6 degrees.

Before Friday, NSW had never had a February day above 42 degrees, based on averaged maximums in the state, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

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And over 80 bushfires mainly in the northern half of the state.

Most of the small community of Uarbry has been wiped out by a bushfire burning near Dunedoo, residents say, as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) continues to battle blazes across the state.

Residents told the ABC nine of the dozen or so homes in the community were destroyed when the Sir Ivan fire bore down on them yesterday.

Paul Devonian was supplying bulk water to fire crews on the ground and said the conditions were the worst he had seen in 25 years of fighting fires.

“You couldn’t walk forward, it’d near blow you backwards, the wind,” he said…

The mercury in Walgett, near the Queensland boarder, reached 47.9 degrees Celsius yesterday while Taree (45.7C), Port Macquarie (46.5C) and Kempsie (46.4) also set new benchmarks.

Firefighters were not helped by firebugs, authorities said.

A man, 40, was charged after allegedly lighting a bushfire at Mangrove Creek, on the Central Coast today. He was refused bail…

And in Queensland: Queensland heatwave brings record temperatures and odd sea creatures. But in Western Australia: Perth weather: Record rainfall as over 100mm falls in 24 hours.

On Saturday Jim Belshaw noted:

While I generally accept the arguments about climate change, including the role human related emissions are playing in the process, my experience with previous heatwaves and the response to them makes me very cautious about attributing particular climatic events to climate change. It has lead to some very silly policy responses, especially in NSW. What we can certainly say is that this type of heat forces behavioral responses including cancellation of sporting events, a rush to buy fans and air-conditioners and to get some place cool. In turn, this has placed some pressure on the electricity supply system.

I live in a house without air-conditioning or, indeed, any fans. I’m also working from home at the moment, so the heat is especially trying. For that reason, my only practical response lies in managing the house to create breezeways and minimise sun impacts.

Climate change was not the main thrust of Jim’s post, but I do commend to you this from the Scientific AmericanYes, Some Extreme Weather Can Be Blamed on Climate Change.

..how do scientists know that global warming influenced a specific event? Until recently, they couldn’t answer this question, but the field of “attribution science” has made immense progress in the last five years. Researchers can now tell people how climate change impacts them, and not 50 or 100 years from now—today.

Scientific American spoke with Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, about how attribution science works and why it’s a critical part of helping communities prepare for and adapt to climate change…

ARE SCIENTISTS MORE CONFIDENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE’S CONTRIBUTION TO CERTAIN TYPES OF EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS VERSUS OTHERS?

There are events where we expect to see an increase, like heat waves and extreme rainfall. In particular, the signal is already quite large with heat waves. Other events are much more complicated. With droughts, for example, the feedback with the land surface plays a huge role, and the atmospheric circulation plays a much more important role. There are also events like hurricanes, where you need very high-resolution models to be able to say something about it—that’s a situation where the technology is just not there yet.

Just saw this on New Scientist:

Homo sapiens now rivals the great forces of nature. Humanity is a prime driver of change of the Earth system. Industrialised societies alter the planet on a scale equivalent to an asteroid impact. This is how the Anthropocene – the proposed new geological period in which human activity profoundly shapes the environment – is often described in soundbites.

But is it possible to formalise such statements mathematically? I think so, and believe doing this creates an unequivocal statement of the risks industrialised societies are taking at a time when action is vital.

Following the maxim of keeping everything as simple as possible, but not simpler, Will Steffen from the Australian National University and I drew up an Anthropocene equation by homing in on the rate of change of Earth’s life support system: the atmosphere, oceans, forests and wetlands, waterways and ice sheets and fabulous diversity of life…

 

What was I up to in February 2012?

Hard to believe yesterday’s post replayed items from TEN years ago! Today I offer a selection from Monthly Archives: February 2012.

If I hadn’t seen the video I wouldn’t have believed they could be so stupid…

Mining executives, that is.  Or should that be so contemptuous of us and the truth?

This week mining billionaire Gina Rinehart became the largest shareholder in Fairfax, having already bought a stake in Channel Ten. But this new video reveals this move is bigger than one woman’s ambition — it’s part of a coordinated and very deliberate strategy, with climate skeptic ‘Lord’ Monkton seen here advising a room full of mining executives on how the industry must gain control of Australia’s media. – GetUp.

Monckton!

Skull Murphy: a Monckton fan

See also my post How to pick a climate site that’s not worth reading.

1. It thinks global warming is all about Al Gore.

2. It thinks every scientific organisation in the world from the Royal Society down is in a massive conspiracy to destroy capitalism.

3. It takes Lord Monckton seriously.

4. It touts some pipsqueak or other simply because they cherry-pick “proofs” climate change is not happening.

5. It thinks all the measurements from NASA or elsewhere are somehow rigged.

6. It sees climate science as a racket whose sole aim is garnering research grants.

7. Checking the site’s fine print shows it is a front for powerful energy interests or right-wing US think tanks.

8. It believes the “Oregon Petition” is genuine.

9. It displays the most egregious ignorance of the well-established physics behind climate theory.

10. It has no idea about the concept of “certainty” and the scientific method.

Monckton? OMG! See also Monckton: this has to be a joke…

No, the ones who would be stupid would be us punters – if we were to believe one self-interested word this mining mob comes up with. Now we have seen how desperate they are. Scientific objectivity? Concern about the environment? Concern about the well-being of the country and the planet? Pigs arse!

Compare So What’s A Teacher to Do?

Imagine you’re a middle-school science teacher, and you get to the section of the course where you’re to talk about climate change. You mention the “C” words, and two students walk out of the class.

Or you mention global warming and a hand shoots up.

“Mrs. Brown! My dad says global warming is a hoax!”

Or you come to school one morning and the principal wants to see you because a parent of one of your students has accused you of political bias because you taught what scientists agree about: that the Earth is getting warmer, and human actions have had an important role in this warming.

Or you pick up the newspaper and see that your state legislature is considering a bill that declares that accepted sciences like global warming (and evolution, of course) are “controversial issues” that require “alternatives” to be taught.

Incidents like these have happened in one or more states, and they are likely to continue to happen. Teachers are encountering pushback from many directions as they try to teach global warming and other climate science topics.

The importance of climate change education is, to the RealClimate community, a no-brainer. Numerous professional science organizations, from the American Chemical Society to the American Geophysical Union to the Geological Society of America have stressed the imperative of climate science being an integral part of science education.

So What’s a Teacher to Do?

Long a defender of the teaching of evolution, the National Center for Science Education has recently launched an initiative to support and defend the teaching of climate change science…

Quite a month for anniversaries

Coming up is the anniversary of the fall of Singapore in 1942. I don’t recall that but it certainly affected some people I have known very directly and all of my generation in one way or another. Of course less well known is the fact that I was conceived in 1942.

Then there is 1952 and the current Diamond Jubilee of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. That one I remember very clearly for reasons I gave last month. By a very indirect route that brings me to my grandfather, Roy Christison.

That’s him seated on the right of that photo with my brother Ian leaning against him.

You see of the many things Grandpa Christison talked about with me during the 1950s – and oh how significant I now know those conversations to have been in my life and thought! – one topic was the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which he, to my astonishment, remembered – along with much else of pre-Federation New South Wales. And another thing that peppered conversations with Grandpa Christison was Charles Dickens. Grandpa Christison’s world-view owed more to Charles Dickens than it did to the Bible – about which he had somewhat agnostic views. He used to say that if you saw someone praying you needed to watch out for the knife behind his back, for example. But Dickens – no friend either of evangelicals and God-botherers – was a pure source of ethics as well as delight. My mother recalled family readings of Dickens, as no doubt many people of my grandfather’s time and tribe would.

And of course it is now the Dickens Bicentennial.

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There are quite a few connections between Australia and Dickens, which explains his having an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.  As an article in the Sydney Morning Herald explains:

FOR someone who never visited the place, Charles Dickens wrote, obsessed, lobbied and published an awful lot about Australia.

Though plans to make a lecture tour and write a book, The Uncommercial Traveller Upside Down, fell through, Dickens encouraged two of his sons, Alfred and Edward, to go to Australia. And, of course, many of his most memorable baddies, including Abel Magwitch (Great Expectations), John Edmunds (Pickwick Papers) and Wackford Squeers (Nicholas Nickleby) were transported down under…

At first, Dickens saw Australia only as a place of transportation, says a Queensland scholar, Marion Diamond,on her website Historians are Past Caring.

”But by the 1840s, free emigration to the Australian colonies was becoming important. This sparked his interest.” Encouraged further by the discovery of gold, he supported a number of emigration schemes, in life and in fiction. Indeed, at the end of David Copperfield he ”sends an absolute torrent of redundant characters to NSW: the Micawbers, Mr Peggotty and Little Em’ly, and Mrs Gummidge. Just to round things off nicely, he then has Mr Peggotty return, 10 years later, to tell David just how successful they have all been. Mr Micawber has become a magistrate!  Mrs Gummidge received an offer of marriage. Martha has married a farm labourer, and they now live happily on their own land, 400 miles from the nearest settlement.”

Like Magwitch and Micawber, the Dickens boys prospered in the new land of opportunity. At least, at first.

Alfred bought a station near Forbes, NSW, and later moved to Victoria, where he and his brother set up a stock and station agency, called EBL Dickens and Partners. He died on a visit to the US.

Edward managed a property in Wilcannia, and for five years represented the town in state Parliament. He later worked as a rabbit inspector and lands department officer for the NSW government. He died in poverty in Moree.

In Australia as in England, the public devoured Dickens’s prolific outpourings in books, stage plays and magazines, such as Household Words and All the Year Round.

As the author’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography notes, so widely published was his material that it ”helped impose Dickens’s own view of Australia on Australian life and society”.

Marie Bashir, the NSW Governor, is one of many prominent admirers of the author, who died in 1870. She recently recalled how as a ”little book worm” growing up in Narrandera in southern NSW, she visited his statue in the park, and later munched her way avidly through his complete works.

”I can still hear my mother saying, ‘Come to bed, Marie. It’s past midnight. Put that book down’.”

Next entry I will recall another anniversary of a literary nature, and confess more about my new addiction to eBooks!

Damn Fine Gentlemen and visitors from Beijing

Yesterday at The Five Islands Brewery.

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The ladies were part of a bus tour. They are from Beijing. Seems word is getting out about what a good venue we have down here in The Gong.

Yesterday: the Christening Party at Five Islands Brewery

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M’s Wollongong visit

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M in Mylan studying the menu.