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Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

February 10th, 2009

I was travelling yesterday, so the Monday Message Board is a day late. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Dave
    February 10th, 2009 at 11:25 | #1

    This is Dave in Victoria with just a quick note to all the climate change denialists who post on this board.

    I have seen Victoria suffer weather and temperatures the like of which we have never seen before. I’ve seen rainfall collapse and this state turn slowly into a baking desert.

    I want to explain to you morons that this has gone beyond your little tinfoil-hat denialist theories as to why its not happening to be a real thing we are living now. I want you to explain to me that this weather is all normal, and part of normal cycles. Go on, do it.

    Nothing would give me more pleasure than to put all your denialist morons on your own planet, where you can pump out co2 and I can watch you burn. But until then, I am stuck on this planet, and every single time you come out with your pathetic denialist garbage, expect a strong reaction from the people actually living it.


  2. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 10th, 2009 at 13:23 | #2

    John, if I may reply to Dave by saying you have every wright to get stuck into the climate change skeptics but the tragedy in Victoria was more than just high temperatures for there seems to be a myriad of factors contributing to the disaster. Furthermore, what may seem abnormally high temperatures at this time of year was in fact normal during the 1970s especially in parts of NSW which lasted for weeks on end during February.

  3. smiths
    February 10th, 2009 at 14:14 | #3

    if i may ask michael whether more than 60% of Queensland was underwater during these hot temperatures in NSW in the 1970’s

  4. Marginal Notes
    February 10th, 2009 at 14:22 | #4

    Of course there will always be a multitude of factors involved in a disaster like this, but the incidence of very hot days (an indicator of climate change) is surely one of them. I did a quick fit to BOM time series data on the number of days over 40 degrees from 1957 to 2008 and found a 40% increase over this period (though the coeffiecient of variation is high). Seven of the 16 years with over 14 very hot days have occurred since 2001. It would be useful to have disaggregated data for Victoria.

  5. Chris Warren
    February 10th, 2009 at 14:38 | #5

    I wouldn’t call climate deniers “morons”.

    They are motivated by short-term economic interests and ignore the future interests of today’s younger people.

    Denial is the last refuge they have.

  6. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 10th, 2009 at 14:45 | #6

    John, if I may reply to smiths by saying when we travelled north during the late 1970s there were parts of NSW and central QLD which were bone dry. But having said that, there was also evidence of inland roads in NSW and QLD that where flood damaged.

  7. kevinlj
    February 10th, 2009 at 14:55 | #7

    Chris, no doubt there’s some truth to that. Yet a couple I know with young children both hold take the denialist position. They are very fond of their children so, presumably, not inclined to ignore the future of today’s younger people. They are bright, educated people and generally not given to contrariness and, apart from climate change, don’t have much to say about science or the environment.

    I am curious to know what motivates this particular thinking. Unfortunately, my wife insists I don’t spoil things by arguing with our friends. Maybe someone else can shed some light on this.

  8. Alanna
    February 10th, 2009 at 15:25 | #8

    Well said Dave # 1!!

  9. boconnor
    February 10th, 2009 at 15:27 | #9

    First up, the Victorian bushfires are a tragedy and my condolences go to all those affected.

    However, I have been wondering about the utility of so much money being donated to unaccountable charities. As I understand it they often have quite high admin costs relative to the monies they receive. We don’t know how much of the money they hold onto for their own purposes and how much is distributed (and to whom).

    I wonder wouldn’t it be better for the government to establish some sort of administered fund where people could donate. It would be accountable to the donators, and could publish info on the web indicating how the money was distributed and the admin costs of managing the money. More than likely a greater proportion of the money (compared with private charities) would go to those who need it most.

  10. David Irving (no relation)
    February 10th, 2009 at 15:36 | #10

    Michael, you may not have noticed this, but NSW and Central QLD are quite a lot closer to the equator than Melbourne. This would at least partly explain why they were hot and dry in the 1970s.

  11. robert
    February 10th, 2009 at 15:43 | #11

    Re boconnor’s remarks at #9, one wonders how much of the money from Bob Geldof’s 1985 “Live Aid” Ethiopian famine fundraising brouhaha actually reached any needy people – most of it probably ended up straight in the pockets of the disgustingly murderous regime which had caused the Ethiopian famine in the first place. Still, I daresay that Australian charities are more honest than that.

  12. Alanna
    February 10th, 2009 at 15:43 | #12

    7# Kevinlj

    “I am curious to know what motivates this particular thinking. Unfortunately, my wife insists I don’t spoil things by arguing with our friends. Maybe someone else can shed some light on this.”

    When we went to war in Iraq I was so horrified and disgusted and it was completely out of my understanding that Australia (yes I had always thought we were relatively peaceful like Canada or New Zealand and that we didnt go deliberately starting wars) needed in any way shape or form to involve itself in that exercise (and not for a minute could I link the attack on Iraq to Osama Bin Laden seeing as he seemed to be buried in the hills of Afghanistan somewhere and was a saud). I went off and started a peace group, I was so angry, but I was, like you, horrified at the number of people who I had previously thought were quite normal but who supported Australia getting involved in that war.

    A couple even said “we support going to war because we are conservative” – that was their only explanation. I think many people just accept what they read in newspapers – they dont see motivations and the fear card was played for all it was worth (thats why the media is so so dangerous, and I realised that in the push to war – there was no questioning and there was no debate – we should have had a referendum)

    Im like you. I dont really know what motivates this sort of thinking but I do know its not helped by the newspapers we have now.

  13. boconnor
    February 10th, 2009 at 16:08 | #13

    Robert at #11: I’m sure they are more honest. Its efficiency that gets me curious.

    Just checked some published data. Looked at the Red Cross Annual Report for 2007-08 (its good that they publish one). Total fundraising, excluding fundraising income of $20m relating to Special Purpose/Disaster Appeals and tied funds, was shown as $35.4m, with expenses of $17.4m, leaving $18.0m as net revenue.

  14. Marginal Notes
    February 10th, 2009 at 16:08 | #14

    Michael @ #6, the late 1970s and early 1980s were above trend in terms of the incidence of very hot days. Neverthless the trend is upwards. Statistics have to trump subjective impressions when it comes to climate change.

  15. observa
    February 10th, 2009 at 16:57 | #15

    There was a total of 134 road deaths in December 2008 which thankfully represents a 15.2 per cent decrease from the December 2007 figure. Furthermore there have been 1,463 road deaths in 2008 to the end of December which again thankfully has been an 8.7 per cent decrease from the same 12 month period in 2007.

    Where can I and my Govt send our heartfelt donations to assist the relatives of all these disater victims?

  16. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 10th, 2009 at 17:07 | #16

    John, if I may reply to Marginal Notes by saying that there is no doubt it is getting hotter but according to the Australian Government (Bureau of Meteorology) ‘In most inland areas the number of consecutive days above 40°C has not (yet) reached the levels set in 1939’.

  17. robert
    February 10th, 2009 at 18:08 | #17

    Thanks for the information at #13, boconnor. Very helpful to read these details.

    Alanna, regarding the couple who said to you “we support going to war because we are conservative”: there are quite a few conservatives in the States and England, especially, who have opposed the Iraq war. Among Americans I can think of Pat Buchanan, Ilana Mercer, Joseph Sobran, and the authors associated with Chronicles magazine in Illinois. Among Englishmen I can think of Sir Peregrine Worsthorne and Stuart Reid. Come to think of it, within Australia, I seem to recall the Liberal Party elder John Valder being pretty hostile towards the Iraq war:


    Jack Strocchi, frequent commentator on matters Quigginesque, wrote the following in 2005 (at another site): “I supported the war initially, and then turned against it once it was clear that the authors of the war had lied about the kind of reception the US forces would receive from a significant minority of the population.”

  18. smiths
    February 10th, 2009 at 18:56 | #18

    i supported the iraq war because the media told me too and deep down i am a racist
    i deny global warming because the media told me too and deep down i dont like people, life, earth or myself,
    i am a liar to myself and those around me,
    and i fit in perfectly within a culture of liars, cheats and scums…
    if anyone challenges me too seriously i use violence to shut them up,

    any questions

  19. Dave
    February 10th, 2009 at 20:31 | #19

    I am the original poster: lets put these temperatures in context – Melbourne’s previous high was 45.6, it reached 46.4 degrees on Saturday.
    Geelongs previous high was 44.8, it reached 47.4.
    These are incredible figures which shocked the weather bureau.
    Again, an open invitation to the denialists on this board to explain this as all being natural. Come on, bring it on.

  20. rog
    February 10th, 2009 at 21:03 | #20

    I can’t see how “denialists” are responsible for this heatwave or any other, data indicates that in many instances records held since 1939 were broken yet there has been no allegation that “denialists” were responsible for the 1939 heatwave.

  21. Dave
    February 10th, 2009 at 21:43 | #21

    rog, your comment makes no sense. I’m not saying denialists are responsible for this heatwave or the 1939 one, I’m asking them to explain to me what is causing these incredible temperatures – they say its natural, that it isn’t global warming – so what is it ?

  22. boconnor
    February 10th, 2009 at 21:56 | #22

    Observa at #15.

    Point taken about relative numbers. I think the difference is that there is a sense of responsibility and subsequent consequence with the drivers of cars that crash, compared with the bushfire victims who suffered the ravages of nature. In some real sense they are the victims of circumstance.

  23. John Armour
    February 10th, 2009 at 21:57 | #23

    Denialism I’m sure has its roots in a visceral hatred of anything left of centre and it’s generally recognised that the left pretty owns the environment.

    My denialist acquaintances are universally rabid right.

    One recently returned (sadly) from a trip to Antarctica where it was exposed to the views of a number of shipboard scientists who “you’ll be pleased to know, all said that AGW was a reality”.

    Made no difference.

    They’re happy to take their ideology to the grave, and the rest of us with them.

    BTW, wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if the CSIRO made their bushfire book “Grassfires: Fuel, Weather and Fire Behaviour.” a bit more affordable. It’s 40 bucks.

    Or at least published a free pamphlet exposing some of the more dangerous myths (like, you can boil in shallow ponds, or fires suck up all the oxygen)

  24. Kevin Cox
    February 10th, 2009 at 23:22 | #24


    We have evolved to make decisions instinctively and quickly. Fight or flee has to be a quick decision in the jungle. People seem to then spend an inordinate amount of time justifying decisions they have made. Predictably Irrational, and The Mind of the Market, both give accounts of experiments that show this.

    First impressions stick. Instant judgments plague one.

    Once we have an idea that sort of works then it becomes foolish to keep changing it for something new.

    Now add in our capacity to intellectually argue any case and make it plausible. Add in our propensity to ignore evidence that does not fit our beliefs.

    Go to a dinner party where two parties have made instant judgments that are opposite and expect a problem.

    The other alternative is to go to a party where people tend to listen more than they talk.

  25. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 08:42 | #25

    24#True Kevin but Ruperts damn media doesnt help. I really think there is still a lot of people out there who think “if its in the news it must be right.” The old bastard knows it and I reckon he smelt cheap oil for his bloody newspapers and hence we got the huge splash in the media that took us off to war. Its just descended into a rag that pushes Murdochs business interests first and foremost….he aint half the media man Packer was. It isnt in his blood to know how to do it well. Its divisive (left right left right right right etc) sensationalism and lies all the way.

  26. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 08:53 | #26


    here is a classic example in todays SMH page 7 (after all the condolence articles on the bushfire) titled “Hoarse men of the apocalypse reign in Canberra” by Annabel Crabb, the general direction of which is that Rudd is being gloomy by delivering condolence speeches and I quote

    ” For much of his speech, he contained himself to the monotonal recitation of emergency arrangements; assistance payments, distribution areas, subcommittees, and contact points. When social order breaks down everyone with a clipboard becomes a beacon.”

    Yeah they do Annabel and they can do without your sarcasm or the SMH’s snide editors, in their heavy workload.

  27. observa
    February 11th, 2009 at 08:53 | #27

    ‘In some real sense they are the victims of circumstance.’

    Not so sure an equivalent bad month on our roads is much different. Certainly none of the range of culpable or innocent fatalities takes to the road with that in mind. If you’re pissed to the eyeballs there may be a certain inevitability, but meeting an oncoming car on your side of the road with your family on board might make you and the police, rescue teams, ambulance officers, medicos, relatives and friends, etc all an equivalent victim of circumstance.

    As to culpability or innocence in bushfire, I’ve mentioned it’s quite feasible to build homes to safe haven standard. To the extent that people increasingly want to live among the trees, they need to bear that in mind, just like road rules and speed limits that are not some nuisance to be fined over occasionally, but rather just limited, sensible guidelines. We can’t possibly write a set of sensible guidelines for all eventualities as this near miss clearly illustrated with bushfire risk-

    ‘FEARLESS firefighters have stormed through fire to save 19 campers, including seven toddlers and babies.
    As the firefighters led them to a river and hosed them under fire blankets, their parents begged: “Are we going to make it out of this?”
    Andrew Collard, 30, and Brian Lawry, 46, who are Department of Sustainability and Environment workers, told of their extraordinary efforts to first storm through the fire in their truck and then save the eight families as flames engulfed them at a scenic park in Murrindindi at 3.30pm on Saturday.’

    Must admit I haven’t come across too many fireproof tents, caravans or campers in my travels, but I’m always open to new technologies. Fingers crossed we’ll have a good month on the roads after this latest shocker eh?

  28. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 09:03 | #28

    True – I know John Valder did his utmost to question our involvment in Iraq and John Valder is a very honourable man. I had the fortune to see him debate the subject (Iraq) with other politicians including Tony Abbot (that was misfortune) at North Sydney Council Chambers. The person sitting next to Tony Abbott noted that his speech was merely a hobbled together set of printouts from US rhetoric that he had printed out the night before and he read , no advance planning for the debate whatsoever – just U.S. hellfire and terrorism monologues downloaded from the net.

    After John Valder spoke he was given a standing ovation (and later the liberal party tried to discredit JV). It was a disgusting low for that party.

  29. smiths
    February 11th, 2009 at 09:17 | #29

    i doubt he needed to print it off the web, alanna,

    i think they were a bit more on message that that,

    like the PM and the canadian PM giving the same speech within 48 hours of each other,

    they didnt print that one off the web

  30. smiths
    February 11th, 2009 at 09:17 | #30

    sorry that should read the future canadian pm

  31. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 10:45 | #31

    Smiths#29 Abbott printed it off the web right down to the http addresses at the bottom of various pages – not even collated plagiaristically into one prepared speech (he had his stand which was pro war and he was sticking to it, only he just wasnt sure what the stand actually was (I think this was the case – Tony wasnt going to step outside Howards or Bush’s call was he ie “you are either with us or against us and ipso facto pro terrorism”), so he relied on Bush style rhetoric – most easily obtained from the net and probably Murdoch articles. That or pure “I cant be bothered with this debate; therefore I will print stuff from the net” and I might add it printed the date on it observed by the speaker sitting right next to him.

    Needless to say John Valder ran absolute rings around Tony Abbott in the debate to the extent it was almost embarrassing.

  32. jrbarch
    February 11th, 2009 at 11:15 | #32

    Shining through, despite the trauma and terror, pain, suffering, ashes and
    ruin of the Victorian bushfires is the great spirit and heart of ordinary people:
    individual acts of heroism and self-sacrifice; service rendered to others under
    extreme conditions in the face of total personal loss; the bravery and tenacity
    of people fighting fires and supporting; community support and the wider national,
    even international response. When people receiving flood relief in the North
    dedicate their payment to the fire relief in the South you know there is something
    much deeper at work than charity. Basically it is the selfless side of human
    nature, the very heart and soul of people, – feeling the need, at one with others –
    willing to sacrifice and serve in order to lift and preserve.
    Politicians, bankers and corporates please take note. These selfless people
    refuse and rise far above the mere animal, predatory nature that is the basis
    of us all – to assert their humanity, their heart, and the generosity that each
    heart holds. There is more to a human being than just a mind and a self centred

    I want this heroism and spirit of ordinary people to be contrasted with the
    mindless selfishness of the Republicans
    in the USA, who would hold a whole
    national and global economy to their own specious interests, and warn that the same forces are in formation here.

    Selflessness allows human beings to evolve, in every way – it is that simple!
    Selfishness is the absence of such a spirit, as darkness the absence of light.

  33. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 11:30 | #33

    I agree – the audacity of the liberals to now want to quibble over keeping the stimulus package separate from the bushfire initiatives. How paltry and pathetic and mean spirited are they ??? (and the same can be said for US republicans who dont to want to see money spent on schools and want tax breaks instead). Its the same mentality and its very ugly. Its an “Im alright jack and bugger everyone else” attitude. Both Obama and Rudd have their work cut out for them dealing with these ignorant selfish people.

  34. philip travers
    February 11th, 2009 at 11:45 | #34

    As a person who now accepts the globe is getting cooler,and that isn’t the wonderful incandescent in mid winter as heat source.I understand those who find the problems of Victorians seems to indicate something else.The attack on those who think its getting cooler,also comes along with the denial of sunspot activity and what that may mean.I haven’t looked up the latest on that activity.There seemed a complete loss of it last time my understandings went there.Since then some emphases about what has been the influence of the Indian Ocean based Australian weather cycles was coming out of one of the Sydney universities about the dry weather in Victoria,before the fires erupted.So maybe there is more to normal patterns of weather than the complete acceptance that the globe is generally heating.Both the Artic and Antartica seem to be influenced by below surface activity,not much debate seems to offered up by the above the surface climate change individuals still adhering to the IPCC.Very bleak snow lines in the U.S.A. and Britain in a historical sense,must also mean more than the told you so from the climate change temperature rising crew.Because they weren’t very accurate,and the only mystery still is how come Victorian Meteorologists got the conditions so right about fire potential!? It maybe, they are humbler,and didn’t sign onto the IPCC.As a person that lived in even hotter climes in Victoria than that now afflicted,and have spent twelve hour days picking grapes near Mildura, I think some people,are still not adjusting well to the harshness of this country when harsh.Modern life is losing its reflective capacity,those who readily call people climate change deniers are unwilling to even look behind the scenes to see if the IPCC has been a working scientist’s clear statement on any predictive matter.There is evidence it has not been,with even Australians dropping out of the formality.

  35. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 11:50 | #35

    Yet the conservatives are happy to take trillions (not mere billions) of our taxes to throw and THROW again at the banks while the banks wont even consider a borrower less than large scale (small business? Forget it). Then you have citigroup taking 45mill bailout money and buying a new twelve seater corporate jet for 50 mill. But spend money on a public school? – forget it, cant be done.

    Id like to build a space shuttle and put all these apes and their supporters in it and send them on a one way search for their lost planet.

  36. brett
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:46 | #36

    Dave, post #1. Your arrogance astounds me. We live in a free democracy where you may have your opinion, but in return you must respect the opinion of the climate change ‘denialists’.
    First it was ‘global warming’, and when people realised that the globe was not actually getting warmer it was changes to ‘climate change’, and then the term ‘denialist’ was coined to slander anybody who doesn’t agree with the likes or you.
    I am a climate change skeptic myself. I don’t believe that we have enough historical data to make any conclusions, and I know that there have been weather events on par with what we are experiencing now still in living memory. I am also skeptical about the results of the climate models, which are generated by software that is based on a theory of how climate operates. It worries me that the masses are deftly believing the results of a theory that is being tested owith a theory. To me that is bad science and needs to be looked at very critically.
    That is my opinion and I would appreciate it if you would respect it and not make slanderous comments and call me and others who share my opinions a moron.

  37. carbonsink
    February 11th, 2009 at 12:46 | #37

    Er, Alanna, I think you mean 45 Billion not 45 million for Citigroup.

    Some financial doomer p*rn for those so inclined…

    “On Thursday Sept 15, 2008 at roughly 11 AM The Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw down of money market accounts in the USA to the tune of $550 Billion dollars in a matter of an hour or two.

    Money was being removed electronically.

    The treasury tried to help with $150 Billion.

    But could not stem the tide.

    It was an electronic run on the banks

    The treasury intervened but had they not closed down the accounts they estimated that by 2 PM that afternoon. Within 3 hours. $5.5 Trillion would have been withdrawled and collapsed and within 24 hours the world economy.”


  38. Marginal Notes
    February 11th, 2009 at 13:08 | #38

    Phillip at #34, “the only mystery still is how come Victorian Meteorologists got the conditions so right about fire potential!? It maybe, they are humbler,and didn’t sign onto the IPCC.”

    If you respect our local meteorologists have a look at the Bureau of Meteorology website at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/ to see a considered scientific view. The introduction to the section on Climate Change states: “Australia and the globe are experiencing rapid climate change. Since the middle of the 20th century, Australian temperatures have, on average, risen by about 1°C with an increase in the frequency of heatwaves and a decrease in the numbers of frosts and cold days. Rainfall patterns have also changed – the northwest has seen an increase in rainfall over the last 50 years while much of eastern Australia and the far southwest have experienced a decline.”

    Again, this is about long-term trends in a range of measured variables, not particular events or experiences of hot days picking grapes near Mildura.

  39. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 13:37 | #39

    And Money market managers now want ordinary taxpayers to put in for the losses, they withdrew the money in order to avoid in Sept 2008, that Money market managers knew were coming??

    Is that it? (and I did mean bill not mill for the Citigroup bailout)

  40. Philip B
    February 11th, 2009 at 13:37 | #40

    I think Brett (#36) that if you look into the history of the term “climate change” you will find it was coined by the denialists to come up with something that sounded less threatening than “global warming”.

    I’m fed up to the back teeth with the denialists. I’m surprised that after last weekend they haven’t all crawled away to die of shame. We had the hottest day ever here in Melbourne on Saturday. If you do some simple statistical analysis you can work out pretty quickly that days like that should happen about once every seven hundred years. Then there’s the record number of above 40 degree days in January, the unending drought, etc, etc, etc…

    How much proof do they need?

  41. February 11th, 2009 at 13:38 | #41

    Interesting and communicative, but would participate in something more on this topic?

  42. carbonsink
    February 11th, 2009 at 13:50 | #42

    Alanna, Lehman collapsed at 1am on Sep 15th (which was actually a Monday, the quote above is wrong). The rest of the day was sheer, unadulterated panic. Seems there was massive run on the banks that we’re only now hearing about.

    The US authorities should do a Sweden nationalise the top 6 banks (who hold most of the toxic assets).

  43. smiths
    February 11th, 2009 at 14:49 | #43

    er yes carbonsink, except

    “We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we’d like to do our best to preserve that system”. Timothy F. Geithner

    He used to work for the private fed, and before that he worked for the BIS, the private bankers private bank

  44. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 16:15 | #44

    Carbonsink#42 Ahhhhh sooooooooo…the pea soup thickens….so quite a few of us are ahead of the rest of us in the markets arent they???? Uggggh what a damn fine mess!

  45. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 16:20 | #45

    Carbon#43 It seems the financial markets are about as efficient as a mouldy piece of swiss cheese and just as full of black holes (and other dark matter) and as transparent as a London fog and the only people who think its efficient are those who have been getting away with hornswaggling everyone else.

  46. smiths
    February 11th, 2009 at 16:54 | #46

    i think the whole story is utter rubbish alanna

    the mysterious money people suddenly start removing huge amounts of money from the us economy,
    the heroes: batman, the treasury and the fed work with sweat pouring off their brows to save the US economy and the whole worlds financial system…

    yeah right

    they knew what would happen when they lehman fail because they knew damn well how woven it was into the world economy,

    they knew what would happen when they banned short selling cause hoover did it in 1932 for the same reasons and wiped 65% off the share market,

    and they know what will happen every time they open their mouths to tell us how dire the situation is and how much of our money must be piled into the private banks to save the world

    it is a scam, pure and simple

  47. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 11th, 2009 at 17:01 | #47

    John, Labor should think twice about turning down Senator Fielding’s reasonable request of a piddling $4 Billion for the most disadvantaged in society to be included in the stimulus package.

  48. Alanna
    February 11th, 2009 at 17:53 | #48

    even worse then smiths…the readings of the financial manoeverings in 1929 crash were almost too much for me to bear and now this…

  49. Ian Gould
    February 11th, 2009 at 23:38 | #49

    “When we went to war in Iraq I was so horrified and disgusted and it was completely out of my understanding that Australia (yes I had always thought we were relatively peaceful like Canada or New Zealand and that we didnt go deliberately starting wars)” -Alana

    I don;t know about starting wars, but since the Boer War Australians have pretty much gone out of their way to fight in any war they can.

    Boer War
    World War I
    World War II
    Malaysian “emergency” and konfrontasi
    Gulf War I (no ground troops but naval and air support)
    Gulf War II

    I’m rather surprised we gave the Falklands a miss.

  50. Ian Gould
    February 11th, 2009 at 23:49 | #50

    “First it was ‘global warming’, and when people realised that the globe was not actually getting warmer it was changes to ‘climate change’…’

    anyone who says this in all seriousness exposes themselves as an ignoramus whoseopinion can be safely disregarded.

    The term “climate change” was used as far back as the UN Framework on climate Change in the late 1980’s.

    The attempt to replace the term “global warming” with “climate change” in all circumstances can be traced to a Bush administration staffer ca. 2001 in a memo talking about the need to emphasise uncertainty around the science and push the possible positives of a warmer climate.

    Not knowing this marks you as a mindless parrot squawking right wing propaganda.

  51. February 12th, 2009 at 01:57 | #51

    # Ian Gould Says: February 11th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    I don;t know about starting wars, but since the Boer War Australians have pretty much gone out of their way to fight in any war they can.

    Boer War
    World War I
    World War II
    Malaysian “emergency” and konfrontasi
    Gulf War I (no ground troops but naval and air support)
    Gulf War II

    We are present in wars on other peoples soil when it is in our national interest to do so. So far this strategy seems to have worked pretty well, going by the absence other people fighting wars on our soil.

    Many of AUS’s global-ranging military expeditions, detailed in Ian Gould’s shopping list, were deposits in the favour bank (or insurance premiums, if you like) made in the expectation of support from our hegemonic patron in the event of a real regional threat.

    Although quite a few of them were aimed at confronting and containing direct and imminent threats to AUS’s national interests (Nippon militarism throughout Asia-Pacific, Communist revolution in East Asia, Indonesian expansion in the Near North, Nazi aggression against everyone, everwhere…)

    In the case of Iraq-attack we participated in the Coalition of the Willing as payback for the US helping us curb rogue elements in the TNI in Timor. I pointed this out ad nauseum at the time (comment links rotted at Quiggin), it was later confirmed by Downer and, as Hugh White observed, was all of a piece with our alliance geo-politics. White begins by summarising the US’s assistance to AUS in the INTERFET expedition:

    The quality of America’s support to Australia during the East Timor crisis is a vexed question. The crux of it is whether the US let us down by not providing ‘boots on the ground’ in East Timor itself.

    We did ask for many other things — including a very important commitment to support us militarily if we had been drawn into a conflict with Indonesia — and the US was fully and immediately forthcoming.

    What does matter is that when we needed support from the US in 1999, the US provided exactly what we asked for. I thought at the time, and still think today, that it was a model of how the alliance should work.

    White states that AUS’s occasional forays in the ME in support of US military efforts there were a quid pro quo to build up our stock of alliance brownie points:

    The Iraq decision fits a pattern stretching back to the early 1980s, in which Australia has repeatedly used small deployments to support US operations in the Gulf as a demonstration of our alliance credentials.

    Iraq and Afghanistan are I think best understood as simply the latest in a long line of such deployments, which in general have proved to be very cost-effective forms of alliance-management; for very little effort we have garnered a reputation as a very reliable ally. That is what Howard wanted to do again.

    This is the common sense of Machiavellian regional power politics. Most ordinary Australians instinctively grasp this, which is why the US military alliance continues to enjoy strong popular support, even after being buggerised about by Republican misadventures. But most progressive Australians fail to see it, ignore it or deny the bleeding obvious until they are blue in the face. As you would expect.

  52. February 12th, 2009 at 03:01 | #52

    Has anyone in the Ozblogoshphere, or indeed the MSM, noticed that Europe’ dramatic lurch to the Right is now nearly a decade old? (It began, as these things usually do, in Austria).

    Now Israel has joined the mad rush, for similar underlying reasons. The Israeli Right, in contradiction to the Quiggin thesis on the futility of war, seems to be making a success of its recent military ventures.

    Left-liberals seem to have averted their maidenly gaze from the deplorable events unfolding in beloved Europe. Or perhaps being in the throes of a prolonged Obamagasm over the past couple of years has distracted their attention.

    I dont seem to suffer from such conclusion-jumping inhibitions. It fits perfectly with a much derided “Decline of the Wets” thesis that the present commenter has occasionally proposed.

    My unpardonable bad taste in mentioning this usually draws a lecture about the fallacy of drawing general conclusions from a series of exceptional special cases. Plus a bit of finger wagging from some Left-liberal worthy on the wickedness of encouraging or even noticing politically incorrect trends. I seem to recall Pr Q dishing this out to me on a couple of occasions.

    The Right-wing tendency in the USE bears little resemblance to the USA’s version thereof. Post-modern European right-wingery is isolationist rather than expansionist, fairly statist rather than free market capitalist and skeptical of Open Borders for people and goods.

    Perhaps the eccentric nature of the European right-wing animal has thrown the aim of the Anglosphere’s liberal commentators. They are not used to having such exotic wild beasts in their ideological cross-hairs. Especially coming from a region reputed to be be inhabited tamer species.

    But the Right-wing gorilla in the European living room has now grown so large and grumpy it has become impossible for even Left-liberals to ignore. Here is Newsweek tut-tutting about it earlier last year:

    Not since the 19th-century concert of nations, when reactionary conservatives like Metternich, Talleyrand and Wellington stamped hard on liberal and proto-labor politics that challenged kings and emperors, has Europe seen so many right-wing politicians ruling the roost.

    With Silvio Berlusconi regaining power in Italy, Europe’s right-wing parties can look out proudly on a continent they control. From north to south and east to west, Europe is painted blue. Social democrats hold ministers’ jobs in coalition governments in Germany and the Netherlands, but governments there are headed by the right. Just three of the European Union member states—Britain, Spain and Portugal—are governed exclusively by the left.

    The arrival of Gianni Alemanno, a post-fascist politician, as mayor of Rome and the good showing of Boris Johnson, the populist Tory Euro-skeptic, as mayor of London completes the triumphant march of the European right into the corridors of power.

    In Brussels, a successful attempt by the conservative president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to become president of the European Union at the expense of the left’s leading contender, Tony Blair, would further confirm the dominance of Europe’s conservatives as the continent’s political masters. (A decision is expected later this year.)

    As predicted, Barroso did win the President of the USE. (Blair was relegated to the fools errand of the USE’s ME peace envoy. Good luck with that.)

    The awkward silence about the USE’s right-ward lurch, which is now long and broad enough to be considered a secular trend rather than cyclical fluctuation, is not going to make matters better. And its not going to go away of its own accord.

    Ordinary Europeans, in the present historical moment, show little or no interest in further experiments with elitist cultural liberalism. The double whammy of the top-down slam of integration and sideways squeeze from immigration has stretched their political patience.

    I suggest that bloggers at least pay some attention to this trend. For a start it might shake some of their complacent liberal assumptions, which appear to have been set in specially re-inforced ideological concrete since about 1973.

    More importantly it might direct their attention to broader ideological trends emerging in the worlds most recently formed super-power.

  53. Ian Gould
    February 12th, 2009 at 05:16 | #53

    “The Israeli Right, in contradiction to the Quiggin thesis on the futility of war, seems to be making a success of its recent military ventures.”

    Kadima, which emerged as the largest party in the elections and was in power (more or less) during the recent war in Gaza isn;t on the right of Israeli politics either doemstically or on security matters.

  54. Alanna
    February 12th, 2009 at 06:53 | #54

    47# Michael

    I agree about Senator Fielding. I dont think he is asking a lot at all, and what he wants is helpful. What I didnt like to see last night was the poor man stating his case that he was losing his own sleep over the fiscal stimulus and half the parliament were asleep on their desks when he was trying to make his case. Good on him actually (he wasnt one of my favourites after VSU). 4 bill to the unemployed IS a piddling amount and a lot of these people will be the NEWLY unemployed recently shed from companies as a result of the GFC.

  55. carbonsink
    February 12th, 2009 at 06:58 | #55

    Ian Gould @ 53: Please read Setser on the latest Chinese trade figures.

  56. brett
    February 12th, 2009 at 07:54 | #56

    “Not knowing this marks you as a mindless parrot squawking right wing propaganda”

    Good on you Ian.
    I guess I’m just a mindless redneck parrot with a V8, a green lawn and better things to do than worry about unprovable predictions from the band-wagon of ‘scientints’.

    My point was that it is not OK to have a go at people because their opinions differ from yours. Didn’t your mum teach you any respect?

  57. Tony G
    February 12th, 2009 at 08:18 | #57

    Re Dave @ 1

    It is regrettable the occurrences in Victoria and Queensland and my sympathy lies with all those adversely impacted.

    A HISTORY of fatal bushfires in Australia;

    Feb 7, 2009 – Many people confirmed killed and fears of more fatalities in bushfires across rural Victoria.

    Dec 30, 2007 – Blaze kills three truckers on a highway near Coolgardie in WA.

    Jan 2006 – Three deaths and multi-million-dollar stock and property losses in 10 days of bushfires in Victoria.

    Jan 11, 2005 – Nine lives lost in South Australian Eyre Peninsula bushfires.

    Dec 2003 – Two women die as they try to outrun flames near Tenterden, 350km south-east of Perth.

    Jan 18, 2003 – Four people die and almost 500 homes are razed in a massive firestorm in Canberra.

    Dec 2002 – Two men die and more than 20 homes lost in bushfires that spread from rural NSW to ring Sydney.

    Dec 2, 1998 – Bushfire claims five firefighters at Linton in Victoria.

    Dec 2, 1997 – Two die in bushfires at Lithgow in NSW.

    Jan 21, 1997 – Three people die and 33 homes destroyed in bushfires that ravaged the Dandenong Ranges on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts.

    Jan 1994 – Four die, 200 properties lost, several hundred people injured as bushfires from rural NSW descend on Sydney.

    Feb 16, 1983 – Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia claim 76 people.

    Jan 8, 1969 – 23 people die in grassfires in Victoria across townships including Lara, Daylesford, Dulgana, Yea, Darraweit, Kangaroo Flat and Korongvale.

    Feb 7, 1967 – Bushfires kill 59 people in southern Tasmania.

    Jan 13, 1939 – Black Friday bushfires in Victoria kill 71 people and destroy several towns across 20,000 square kilometres of burnt land.

    “I’m asking them to explain to me what is causing these incredible temperatures – they say its natural, that it isn’t global warming – so what is it.”

    Dave stated the recent hot temperatures are a ‘Record’.Well Dave a record to what? Unfortunately, there are a few aeons of missing global climate data, so it would be moronic for anybody to find this “weather is all normal” or un-normal for that matter. If you want me to extrapolate to fill in the missing aeons of data, then I can create a chart or table to be as normal or un-normal as you like, depending whether you desire a denialist or AGW position.

    Not only is there aeons of missing historical data, 97% of the globe has never had a temperature reading, so any percieved rise in temperatures is an extrapolated myth.

    Anyway Dave, you might be a bit hot under the collar at the moment and that is regrettable, as I said above, my sympathy goes out to any victims of this disaster, but this disaster like the ones before it does not prove or disprove AGW, in fact it just confirms the thesis that when it comes to climate knowledge we are left in the dark..

  58. smiths
    February 12th, 2009 at 10:55 | #58

    it is so funny to see intelligent writers mangling their brains trying to make sense of obamas first actions,
    martin wolf in the FT goes through the two possible causes for financial problems,
    illiquidity or insolvency,

    convinced himself that the system is insolvent he struggles to understand ‘the new plan’,
    The new plan seems to make sense if and only if the principal problem is illiquidity.

    the obama administration appears to be making a blunder he concludes,

    well forgive me for repeating atheme,

    there is a third possibility martin…

    obama is working for the banks.

    there, the new plan makes sense now doesnt it

  59. February 12th, 2009 at 11:33 | #59

    # 53 Ian Gould Says: February 12th, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Kadima, which emerged as the largest party in the elections and was in power (more or less) during the recent war in Gaza isn;t on the right of Israeli politics either doemstically or on security matters.

    Ian Gould’s suggestion that Israel’s non-Right wing parties are doing relatively well these days has a naive, threadbare quality in the light of the revival of Sharon and Netanyahu’s political fortunes. It is an indication of how far politics has lurched to the Right in Israel that a party set up by Sharon (“the bulldozer”) is now considered the Great White Hope of Israeli Leftism.

    Kadima’s rise reflects the Israeli publics disaffection with Labor’s Old Left statism, cronyistic union-hack corruption and the failure of the Rabin-Barak Road Map to Peace. This is not exactly something for the Left to be crowing about.

    Even by the weak standard of nominal description the Kadima is commonly classified as Centre-Right. Wikipedia notes that:

    Kadima (Hebrew: ??????, lit. Forward) is a centre-right political party in Israel. It became the largest party in the Knesset after the 2006 elections, winning 29 of the 120 seats.

    Un-reconstructed behaviorist that I am, I prefer to designate agents by their actions rather than their adverts. By this standard the whole Israeli political class has lurched drastically to the Right since Arafat launched Intifada II, thereby interring Oslo and resurrecting the career of Sharon.

    And since then the Israeli Right has gone from strength to strength with the success of the Wall as a counter-terrorist measure and the systematic destruction of neighbouring terrorist havens in the West Bank, Lebanon and now Gaza. These Israeli militarist victories have translated into Israeli Right-wing political gains. The SMH reports this Right wing gain which everyone, with the apparent exception of Ian Gould, can see as plain as their face:

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, the leader of Israel’s centre-right Likud party, appears set to return to the prime minister’s office he last occupied in 1999 after elections gave Israel’s right-wing parties a clear parliamentary majority.

    After the counting of nearly all votes cast, the centrist Kadima party led by the Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, won 28 seats – the largest number of individual seats won by any party – compared with 27 seats won by Mr Netanyahu’s Likud.

    But overall the right-wing bloc looked like winning between 63 and 65 seats in the new parliament, compared with between 55 and 57 seats won by the left.

    The far-right Yisrael Beteinu party led by the Soviet-born Avigdor Lieberman emerged as the third-largest party with 15 seats, while support for the once dominant left-of-centre Labor Party, led by the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, collapsed, leaving it with just 13 seats.

    The interesting question is what is the underlying driving force behind this unsightly out-break of foaming-at-the-mouth Rightism. My interpretation is, as always, the failure of Left-liberalism to cope with the problem of maintaining civil integrity in the context of alien forms of cultural diversity and foreign-based martial adversity.

    At least when these two create bad chemistry in ones own back-yard, as they have in the Israeli case. Its obvious that Palestinians are un-reconciled with Israel’s cultural identity, never mind its political sovereignty. And various supra-national agencies (UN, USA and USE) have been as much a hindrance as a help in sorting things out. So the Israeli Right has taken matters into its own hands.

    Something similiar has been driving European politics to the Right, especially since Brussel’s has tried to shove integration down everyones throats post-Maastricht and immigration down everyones throats post-911 and 7/7.

    The interesting problem from the political science pov is why the Right is still so politically successful throughout the world, despite its ideological unpalatability, intellectual disabilities and institutional failures esp in financial matters.

    But at least Obama’s in the House and Kevin’s here to help. Something salvaged from the wreckage.

  60. Dave
    February 12th, 2009 at 22:38 | #60

    Hi Tony, so despite the fact that we are now getting temperatures the highest since our 150 years plus records started, and low rainfall, the lowest since our 150 years plus records started, you state this is not out of the ordinary because we can’t compare it against evidence from thousands of years ago.

    The turning of Victoria (what used to be called the ‘Garden State’) into a baking desert is just normal in your view.

    So thanks Tony. This is all just normal. This really proves my comment above about climate denialists. Oh, how I’d love to put you on your own planet where you can live in your own greenhouse……..

  61. Socrates
    February 13th, 2009 at 01:34 | #61

    Tony G 57

    That post is just nonsense. You have defined a standard of proof that no theory could pass (becasue you don’t have all the data from long before measurements started being taken). Then you list a bunch of anecdotal examples to “prove” your point. This is a chidish debating trick to impress the ignorant. Who do you think reads this blog? Thats the sort of stunt pulled by first year law sudents to prove who can be the biggest prat at the party. You’ve won the title.

    Dave 1 is correct – the Victorain heat wave and fires have been a landmark event that starkly proves climate change IS at work. It has moved from risk to reality. Weather forecasters have been so stunned they have already run the statistics. See the detailed analysis of the 2009 southern Australian heatwave at the BOM.

    Better yet read this quote from the summary:
    “Given that this was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear…

    It is clear to me that climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of “climate change increased the chances of an event” to “without climate change this event could not have occured”.

    Michael G 2 (this event is just “a return to the 1970s” is also false), as the BOM has proven.

    At this point the problem for CC skeptics is clearly psychological, not scientific. They simply can’t admit they are wrong, even though that conclusion is now inescapable.

  62. observa
    February 13th, 2009 at 06:01 | #62

    ‘Dave 1 is correct – the Victorain heat wave and fires have been a landmark event that starkly proves climate change IS at work.’

    Rubbish!I’ll let this lady explain it to you, in particular-

    “For climate scientists, having to continually rein in extraordinary claims that the latest extreme is all due to climate change is, at best, hugely frustrating and, at worst, enormously distracting. Overplaying natural variations in the weather as climate change is just as much a distortion of the science as underplaying them to claim that climate change has stopped or is not happening.”


  63. Philip B
    February 13th, 2009 at 06:39 | #63

    Good comment Socrates (61). I’ve been shocked by the ruthless way the denialist/skeptics/whatever have attempted to blame greenies for it. It’s been jaw-dropping. On one hand they attack anyone who makes the fairly obvious point that global warming was a factor for ‘crowing’. Yet in the next breath they are calling for greenies to be strung up on lamp-posts for opposing back-burning (with absolutely no proof that that’s the case). It’s so bizarre that I think your point about it being psychological is probably right.

  64. Socrates
    February 13th, 2009 at 08:31 | #64


    Thanks. Climate scientist Bary Brookes at the Brave New Climate blog has actually run some of the statistics for the Adelaide heatwave. (See the comments thread). Taking long run averages for Adelaide, the Jan/Feb 2009 heatwave was a 1 in 150,000 year event!. The odds of all the different records being broken in SA/Vic/Tas as occurred due to natural forcings alone (no underlying change) was concluded by one poster to be approx. 1 in 10 billion. I should clarify that the summary I quoted was from Brave New Climate not BOM, although there are many stark quoted in the BOM report to highlight the extraordinary nature of this event, in area of effect, intensity and duration.


    Vicky Pope makes a general point, but she was not referring in any way to the Australian event. She also pointed out that human induced climate change IS occurring as evidenced by changes in trend over the past 30 years. Hence it in no way refutes what Australian meterologists are now concluding.

  65. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 10:58 | #65

    Socrates said; @ 61

    “You have defined a standard of proof that no theory could pass (becasue you don’t have all the data from long before measurements started being taken).”

    That’s “nonsense”, it is the AGW proponents who do not have any ‘scientific’ data.

    Having a micron of climate data recorded out of an aeon and stating you know what is the normal climate for that aeon is fiction not science. Recording 1% of the earth’s surface area temperature for a micron of an aeon and stating you know which direction the temperature is headed is also fantasy not science.

    Science is about facts and ‘scientific’ facts are proven by making a prediction come true in a controlled experiment and then varying that experiment to further test the prediction.

    i.e. It is a ‘scientific’ fact the speed of light travels at a certain speed.

    experiment (1) measure the speed of light between point A and B = 299 792 458 m/s.

    experiment (2) measure the speed of light between point B and C = 299 792 458 m/s.

    ‘Scientific’ Fact, light travels at 299 792 458 m/s.

    ‘Scientific’ facts stay the same over time and theories change. A thousand years ago light travelled @ 299 792 458 m / s and it will in 1000 years time.

    In the 1970’s people were worried about a new iceage now they are worried about the opposite. In 30 years time they will be worried about iceages again.

    “the Victorain heat wave and fires have been a landmark event that starkly proves climate change IS at work”

    You do not have the ‘scientific’ data to back your theory.

    Where is the data and controlled experiments that prove it is getting warmer? Especially as the BOM considers there may have been quality issues with the climate statistics (calculated from historical records).

    Next you will be fantasising that a 0.008% change in the atmospheres composition has;

    (1) Actually happened and is; (no ‘scientific’ data that proves it)
    (2) Doing something and;(no ‘scientific’ data that proves it)
    (3) caused by man (proof of causation please suply)

    “the sort of stunt pulled by first year law sudents” considering I left school at 14 I will take that as a compliment. What I will call a “chidish debating trick” is attacking the messenger and not the message (although necessary if yoou do not have a counter argument). I do not need “a bunch of anecdotal examples to “prove” [my] point.” Hot weather and bushfires are a natural fact of life in Australia and the bush wouldn’t exist without it as that’s the only way the bush can reproduce.

  66. Socrates
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:05 | #66

    Tony G

    To illustrate my point about your nonsense standard of proof, show me the recordings of the speed of light before the modern era. Any recordings soon after the big bang? early earth history? So how edo we know the speed of light has always been the same? Its nonsense but thats my point – by your standard of proof nothing can be proven about climate. Hence your post is only useful if you wish to deny climate change theories.

  67. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:18 | #67

    “show me the recordings of the speed of light before the modern era.”

    X planet is y millions of light years away. This can be re-confirmed by triangulation at different points.

  68. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:21 | #68

    And coral bleaching and death of coral reefs Tony? What non explanation do you have for that? Just a Darwinian natural lifecycle (corals live and corals die)? Well perhaps we are not warming the planet, just warming ourselves off the planet so that in the long run the oil we have extracted over the past century and pumped into the atmosphere will ultimately be irrelevant. The planet will settle back into its long long long run equilibrium after our destructive populous human life form destroys its own future and turns into a memory in layer of bedrock.

  69. Dave
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:32 | #69

    Ok Tony, so, just confirming, you think the climate now in Victoria is normal – incredible record temperatures, collapse in rainfall, all part of the normal climate cycle, not caused by global warming.

    I’d love you to come down here and explain that to people’s faces – just love it.

  70. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:37 | #70

    “turns into a memory in layer of bedrock.”

    That will inevitably at some stage, as EVERYTHING is finite, but based on the resources at our disposal (baring a disaster like an asteroid hitting the earth) it should be a long way off.

  71. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 11:58 | #71

    “I’d love you to come down here and explain that to people’s faces – just love it.”

    I’d tell ’em not to shake their fist at some fictional climate change god in the sky, but to blame the people who say you can’t chop a tree down if it is further than 3 metres from your home. Blame the crazy section of our society who value the lives of trees over people. They are the ones who let the bush grow wildly into the biggest bonfire in living memory.

  72. Roger Jones
    February 13th, 2009 at 12:12 | #72

    Since 1997, SE Australia has been in a new climate regime. There has been a step change downwards in rainfall and upwards in max temperature. There are reasons to suggest that the previous big shift occurred in 1976 – certainly El Nino changed from that date.

    If the 1977 to 1996 period is compared with 1997 to 2007 over a 1×1 degree grid over Melbourne (data from BoM), annual av. temp went up by 0.4°C, min by 0.3°C and max temp by 0.6°C. Rainfall dropped by 160 mm over the same period (almost 20%). Max temp is anti-correlated with rainfall, so if this relationship has not changed, about half the increase in max temp can be explained by the drop in rainfall (less cloud – warmer daytime temps). The other half would be independent warming. In summer, the increase is about 0.9°C in max temp pre to post 97.

    Since 97, there have been three big fire events in SE Aust: in 02-03, 06-07 and 08-09. We got lucky in 97-98. The statistics of fires are as rough as guts because they are so episodic, but this is unsettling because never have we seen three such severe events so close together.

    Extreme fire weather statistics have not been developed for spatial climate data – they have been for a few individual stations. My guess is that if a spatial data set was created going back to 1976, the post 97 part would be statistically different – very different. It’s hard to analyse past dry periods (before 1957) because of data problems. We know they may have been as dry but were certainly not as hot (sustained heat, not single hot days). Days above 35°C and 40°C also appear to have jumped since 1997 and this needs more work to be certain, because of the high variability of extreme hot days from year to year.

    The step changes mentioned are statististically significant and involve a statistical test called the bivariate test.

  73. smiths
    February 13th, 2009 at 12:23 | #73

    this is what i dont get tony G,

    if i said to you that releasing cyanide into a river killed fish life, i dont think you’d argue,

    if i said that in the areas of china where the industry and pollution is heaviest there are increases in respiratory problems, i dont think you’d argue,

    so if we say that a hundred years of massive global industrial pollution has almost certainly affected the biosphere adversely…

    why is that such a leap?

  74. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 12:45 | #74

    Tony G

    And Hiroshima didnt cause cancer and neither did Chernobyl and nuclear reactors are not dangerous now or in the future, and digging uranium out of the ground and flogging it overseas wont add to the risk of global nuclear weapon use or failures, and markets will self correct so they dont need regulation, and wealth trickles down if you look after the rich and all the problems we have are the fault of those ungrateful unemployed who wont work hard enough, or the lazy single mothers who have babies just to get the baby bonus, or greenies who are hugging every tree?.

    Is that it Tony?.

    Well Im a D sqared denialist denialist.

  75. Socrates
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:06 | #75

    Tony G 67

    That is kind of funny. You do realise that we use our KNOWLEDGE of the speed of light to measure distances to stars, not our “knowledge” of the distance of the stars to determine the speed of light. I’m not aware that any survey crews have measured the distance to other stars yet. Plus you are assuming in making the distance (not sped) calculation that the sped of light remains constant, which is precisely my point. You are using a circular argument, and causally the wrong way around.

  76. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:07 | #76

    Oh and Tony#71 and elsewhere

    Our most famous export is an expat called Rupert Murdoch who left us to secure his own self interest in the US and has used us ever since as a cash cow for his oh so cheap US programming, which has now taken over our television and our newspapers to the extent there is very little real or honest debate on these issues and there is very little of our own Australian culture being invested in or shown on our TVS.

    As far as I am concerned he is one boomerang we dont need to come back. I dont want to see a state run by the extreme left but equally I dont want to see it run by the farcical far right such as those who run out the usual arguments (climate change denial, science denial, blaming things on the “greenies” and a whole lot of other blind thoughtless dogmatic objections).

    If it was even good enough for Thatcher to accept the need to do something about emissions, then its good enough for the farcical far right to contain their own unique brand of lunacy. Its also good enough for Rupert (dont come back) Murdoch to contain his and stop feeding us garbage on the television and rubbish inflammatory views in his newspapers.

    Some of us are getting a tad impatient with the the “noise” and “vested interest arguments” that delay and obstruct helpful initiatives and actions by our governments.

  77. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:19 | #77

    The fire problem is extreme. Potential useful remedies may include

    a) fire bunkers
    b) early warning systems
    c) systematic backburning and maintenance of fire trails
    d) strong disincentives for arsonists
    e) things like water pipes that dont melt in the heat
    f) Councils reviewing their tree clearing policies or pruning policies near buildings.
    g) Windows that reflect heat.
    h) Construction materials that resist fire.

    They do not include stringing greenies from lampposts Tony. The greens do a lot of good work pushing for useful environmental issues (more than the Coalition ever does, which is, as far as I can see absolutely NOTHING… but go ahead feel free to prove me wrong).

  78. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:26 | #78

    And what about a water system running along the ridges of roofs or walls that could be operated by generator or hand pump of some sort (in case of electricity failure which is highly likely in a fire) to wet the house. Really could these things be that difficult??

    There are simple helpful solutions out there.

  79. February 13th, 2009 at 13:29 | #79

    Socrates wrote “we use our KNOWLEDGE of the speed of light to measure distances to stars”.

    A little learning is a dangerous thing… Different methods are used for different stars. The one used for cepheid variables uses the speed of light, but many others do not.

  80. February 13th, 2009 at 13:35 | #80

    I should have written, the method used for cepheid variables implicitly uses the speed of light. It directly uses the period of variability and apparent brightness, but you have to use the speed of light in correcting the observed figures for Doppler shift.

  81. Socrates
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:54 | #81

    PM Lawrence

    Fair enough, but my point was simply that we don’t use the distance of stars, as a “known quantity” to determine what the speed of light is.

  82. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 13th, 2009 at 13:55 | #82

    John, if I may reply to Tony G by saying putting the blame on the greenies for the Victorian disaster is a bit far fetched. Besides the fire buggs, most would agree it was the ‘high winds’ that contributed to the collateral damage and I doubt very much could have been done to mitigate the losses other than evacuate entire towns. As for the record high seasonal temperatures being the result of climate change who bucking knows, maybe it is as you say normal for records are there to be broken.

  83. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 13th, 2009 at 14:12 | #83

    John, while Labor, Greens & Independents have a lot to crow over the $42 Billion stimulus package one must feel sorry for the Coalition whom seem to be on another planet.

  84. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 14:39 | #84


    The problem with evacuating whole towns is that it could lead to a worse death toll with so many on the road. When do you do it? How do you deal with evacuating eg half a million people, not just from a town but a region – at 10am authorities dont necessarily know which way the wind is going to blow and evacuation needs to be done early. Thats the problem with evacuation. Thats why I feel that the only reliable thing in fires like that is an ultimate escape bunker (that is if authorities cannot reasonably mass evacuate early enough and guarantee safety). That and anything else you can do to make houses fireproof during construction, including clearing around.

    One fellow mentioned his house stood because it had mud brick walls and sloping eaves so that embers rolled off the eaves. Really sensible but even he said despite fully fireproofing his house during construction, he later added a timber deck to the house, facing south and thats the way the fire and it wasnt until then that he thought “oh no – the deck!”. Imagine going to all that trouble to have a mere deck undo your best laid plans. Its the little unexpected things. He also noticed the plastic pipes melted where they came out of the ground and that stopped his emergency water supply, stopping his ability to put any more of the fires near his house out.

    I think some system that doesnt require electricity but is capable of keeping the house wet and the gutters full of water while you are safe in a bunker(and with pipe systems that wont melt) could be good?

    We need an architects and landscapers competition to come up with something affordable but capable of standing through walls of fire that high – but not just a bit of this here and a bit of that – the whole thing has to be integrated as a package and tested somehow.

    Its not safe on the roads, clearly either, even if you choose to evacuate voluntarily – I cant get out of my mind the horror of what some people went through.

  85. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 14:41 | #85

    Smiths @ 73

    “so if we say that a hundred years of massive global industrial pollution has almost certainly affected the biosphere adversely…

    why is that such a leap?”

    It is not, I accept that dumping toxins like heavy metals and other rubbish into the environment can be bad. I do not accept that humans or other animals exhaling carbon is cause for concern.

    Natural sources of carbon dioxide are more than 20 times greater than sources due to human activity. Fluctuations of 0.008% in the composition of the atmosphere purportedly due to anthropological activities is not likely to have any consequence.


    I did not mention the greens. I agree with some of your issues.

    The illusion of the left and right concept is perpetuated by the political elite ruling class. They perpetuate it so they can divide, conquer and rule the masses. If you want a pollitical concept to follow, it is not left nor right, but ‘over the top’ so as to reduce the elite political ruling class and kerb their hedonistic and excessive life styles.

    Socrates @ 75

    Circular argument?

    is it ?

    The premise isn’t even questionable.

    “we come to the conclusion that the speed of light is not only observed to be constant; in the light of well tested theories of physics, it does not even make any sense to say that it varies.”

  86. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 14:51 | #86

    And whats to say you couldnt rig up the actual hand pump in the fireproof bunker (where you go) that pumped water from your storage facility to the house to keep it wet? My grandfather used to hand pump bore water in the Entrance from down the end of the garden to his house. It was just a big wooden lever at one corner of his block.

  87. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 15:03 | #87

    “The illusion of the left and right concept is perpetuated by the political elite ruling class. They perpetuate it so they can divide, conquer and rule the masses. If you want a pollitical concept to follow, it is not left nor right, but ‘over the top’ so as to reduce the elite political ruling class and kerb their hedonistic and excessive life styles.”

    I am inclined to agree with first sentence (which explains exactly why Murdoch climbs into a penguin suit to stand on a podium at a dinner sometimes to say we need environmental initiatives or better infrastructure ie placate the masses by giving them a token) and then continues to print the divisive and utter tripe in his papers aka the Devines of the world. BECAUSE all he really cares about is the perpetuation of his own family wealth which means, cheap oil and no regulation, and cheap broadcasters for him to own as cheaply as possible (like the ABC) and tacky cheap programming he can stream to captured pay tv addicts. Then neither he nor any of his family have to fall down a social ladder so far that the poor things are forced to live in Balmain.

    And u know Murdoch ought to think about his grandkids and their grandkids more often instead of just the almighty dollar and ruling everyone else with lies. They arent all going to be like him.

    However, I dont understand what you are saying Tony in the third sentence re “over the top” political concept to follow?

  88. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 15:10 | #88

    If Murdoch had a heart (which I suspect he doesnt but he does have bloody deep pockets) – he would stick his ruling hand in that pocket right now for the money for an international competition to attract the best architects and thinkers to come up with a design for an affordable house you can survive in and stands through a fire like that.

  89. Alanna
    February 13th, 2009 at 15:14 | #89

    We have had to put up with Murdoch’s Mirandas and Piers and Hendersons and Ramsays and the usual suspects for years – least he could do after we had to wade through the unthinkable mindnumbing boredom of repetition that passes for his political and economic journalism.

  90. Tony G
    February 13th, 2009 at 15:54 | #90

    “over the top”

    The masses are squabbling in the trenches during the battle with the political elite ruling class. Hence, unite and go “over the top” and straight down the middle to take up the fight to kerb the political elite’s hedonistic excesses.

  91. Ben
    February 13th, 2009 at 18:31 | #91

    Tony G – once again you have demonstrated that you do not understand how science works.

    If you did you, would realise that you cannot “prove” anything with 100 percent certainty, you can only disprove something.

    Hint 1: read up on “scientific induction”.

    Let me give you an example, based on your use of the “fact” that speed of light is constant.

    NOBODY can prove that the speed of light is constant, across all time, at all locations in the Universe. Physicists just “assume” that it is for two good reasons:

    1) All evidence collected up to this point indicates that this is true; and
    2) It is the most parsimonious explanation i.e. Ockham’s Razor.

    Hint 2: look up the logical fallacy known as the “argument from personal incredulity”.

    I believe your statements about anthropogenic carbon emissions would fall under this category?

  92. Ian Gould
    February 13th, 2009 at 20:30 | #92

    The Chinese economy is apparently starting to accelerate again:


    “Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) — China’s economy is showing signs that a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package is taking effect.

    The world’s third-biggest economy may expand 6.6 percent in the second quarter after slowing to 6.3 percent in the three months to March 31, the weakest pace since 1999, according to the median estimates of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

    China is trying to reverse an economic slide that has already cost 20 million jobs, raising the risk of social unrest as exports plunge and the property market sags. Spending on roads railways and housing has increased prices for iron ore, put a floor under industrial output and helped to drive a record $237 billion of new loans in January.

    “China looks set to be the first major economy to recover from the current global meltdown,” said Lu Ting, an economist with Merrill Lynch & Co. in Hong Kong. “China is the only economy in the world to see significant growth in credit to corporate and household sectors after September 2008, when the financial crisis worsened to a near collapse.” ”

    Chinese demand for raw materials is pretty important to the Australian economy.

  93. Ian Gould
    February 13th, 2009 at 20:35 | #93

    Oh and the Baltic Dry Index has doubled since late January:


    The BDI is leading indicator and highly volatile, this rapid rise may indicate that the severe oversupply in the sea freight market in late 2008 has begun to reverse itself.

  94. Philip B
    February 13th, 2009 at 21:43 | #94

    Tony G, you are making yourself look ridiculous. What on Earth are you going on about? Speed of light? Seriously Tony, if you have nothing sensible to say, then shut up.

  95. observa
    February 13th, 2009 at 22:44 | #95

    ‘Vicky Pope makes a general point, but she was not referring in any way to the Australian event.’

    A general point is a general point and a Tim Flummery standing up in hot dry Victoria and claiming it proves global warming categorically is exactly the same as a Tim Bleah standing up in freezing, wet Britain claiming it disproves global warming, whether or not they are both 1 in 150,000 year events. True, we can all jump up and say ‘Tim is right!’, but which one will depend on the overall movement of global mean temperatures, to which each Tim’s observation is an infinitesimal contributor. That is Vicky’s sound, general scientific point and one we should all heed unless you have some other deep insight that escapes Vicky and I.

  96. Ben
    February 14th, 2009 at 12:48 | #96

    Philip B – as much as I disagree with Tony G, I will defend his right to express his own opinions. Telling him to “shut up” is not constructive in any way.

  97. Tony G
    February 14th, 2009 at 16:27 | #97

    The question is Ben, do you “understand how science works”?

    Ben, philosophy is not science, however it is understandable why Climate Change Pagans have the necessity to substitute philosophy for science.

    The word fact can be used several ways, but in general in science, “facts” refer to the observations. They are best when they are repeatable observations under controlled conditions, such as “It is a fact that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum.” This is the part of science which will be the same a century from now, unless more precise measurements show otherwise.

    Noted that you cannot prove any theory to be true. You might think up a thousand totally different tests to try to disprove the theory, and it might pass every one. Does that mean it is “true”? No, because the 1,001st test could prove it false. While scientific theories are never supposed to be considered to be absolute truth, some have passed so many tests that they are called “laws.” For example, we will learn Kepler’s laws, and Newton’s laws. A scientific law is like a theory that has been inducted into the “Science Hall of Fame.” But even then it might have to be modified. Einstein found some corrections even for Newton’s laws, but they are normally far too tiny to even be able to measure.

    If your theory makes no prediction like AGW, then it cannot be tested and hence it is not ‘scientific’. It still might be the correct explanation, it is just not scientific because the scientific method cannot be used to falsify it. There are many theories out there which cannot be tested, masquerading as scientific theories in order to have credibility, AGW is one of them. Be on the lookout for others.

    Philip B and other Climate Change Pagans; I can appreciate how you are perplexed by the science behind the speed of light and undoubtedly you have to ask questions like “What on Earth are you going on about?” in relation to ‘real’ scientific matters , but when you have blind faith in pagan ideologies like climate change, what else could be expected.

  98. Alanna
    February 14th, 2009 at 22:06 | #98

    Climate change pagans or denialist pagans Tony? Oh the strange twistings of your argument…..why do you bother? It seems such an unwinnable position to take.

  99. Donald Oats
    February 15th, 2009 at 01:26 | #99

    I disagree with Tony G that the AGW theory cannot be tested in the usual scientific manner. It probably is true at the the moment that we cannot perform a comprehensive test; but then, this is true of many things that we willingly accept as true.

    Perhaps this is a good place for me to explain what I mean by true in this context: true means to the level of accuracy it can be reliably measured, it has passed our tests so far. In other words, provisionally true, not logically true. I hope that makes sense.

    Anyhow, climate science, which is the study of climate systems wherever they may be found, provides a set of tools for measuring and interpreting our current climate system. It also uses the vast edifice of physical results underpinned by the basic physical laws, such as conservation of energy, thermodynamics, and so on.

    A greater part of climate science is founded on the mathematical expression of physical and chemical laws. The mathematics behind the laws is what provides non-trivial predictive capacity in climate science. It also provides a language for conducting deductive arguments concerning interaction of individual components of the climate system.

    Now a great deal has been made out of the nature of computer modelling of climate; it is often treated as though the models are based on statistics only, when in fact they are in most cases a fundamental attempt to solve the mathematical equations governing energy and mass transfers throughout the system. Even before the computer revolution scientists had a good understanding of the basic elements of climate systems. I can recommend reading A.S. Monin’s book “An Introduction to the Theory of Climate”, if one wants to see how this process of quantitative analysis works. This book is based on Russian lectures pre-dating mass-computing power, so much of the analysis relies on algebraic rather than numerical techniques.

    There are so many lines of observational evidence of the modern global warming episode being in large part, due to us, that to dismiss it is brave. As our measurement techniques and technologies improve, so does the quality of the measurements, reducing our level of uncertainty. These lines of evidence, coupled with observations of paleoclimate, give us a basis for making predictions. We may use the data to estimate parameters in the various mathematical models of aspects of the climate system, and then we may check the predictions against what actually happened (if predicting changes in paleoclimate, to validate the “predictions” some of the data must be held back, just like in statistical validation tests).

    It is worth pointing out that the mathematical models can be tested against planets other than Earth. Granted there aren’t many for which we know enough to perform an assessment, but there are a few. Several moons and Venus, Mercury, Mars all offer data for testing against.

    With so many mutually consistent lines of evidence, including results of mathematical solution of relevant equations, it is remotely possible, I suppose, for an alternative explanation of the global warming trend which matches all lines of evidence. Only remotely possible.

  100. Tony G
    February 15th, 2009 at 20:23 | #100

    Donald, that is a very informative post that succinctly clarifies the AGW theory, thank you.

    There are large parts of your post that we can agree on and as I stated above AGW “might be the correct explanation”, but from my world view, unlike yours I still have one foot firmly on the might ‘not’ side of the fence. You obviously know a lot more about the subject than I do, so I respect your opinion for that reason.

    You state; “There are so many lines of observational evidence of the modern global warming episode being in large part, due to us, that to dismiss it is brave.”

    My view, as stated @ 97 “in general in science, “facts” refer to the observations. They are best when they are repeatable observations under controlled conditions”.

    Disregarding the “so many mutually consistent lines of evidence” that you speak of, for the sake of simplicity and a starting point, lets look at the theory ‘that the globe is getting warmer’ irrespective of what is causing it. Both sides of the debate seem to agree that this is occurring, although the degree of warming might be in contention.

    If possible, ignoring “arguments concerning interaction of individual components of the climate system”, could you please outline the “measurement techniques and technologies” that are relied upon to give the ‘scientific’ observations that the atmosphere is in fact getting warmer, also, what are the benchmarks used for this assessment?.

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