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Weekend reflections

March 14th, 2015

It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please. Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

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  1. Apple
    March 14th, 2015 at 13:33 | #1

    Well, at least Tony has stopped the boats.

  2. jungney
    March 14th, 2015 at 16:34 | #2

    TC has an excellent article on, science and research based, on Aboriginal occupation of Australia googleable as ‘ Who we should recognise as First Australians in the constitution which traces the genealogy of right wing attempts to undermine Aboriginal culture by suggesting that others were here first, etc and so on, back to the 1930’s and thence to Quadrant and sundry other sources of darkness (Windschuttle). It provides evidence:

    The first Aboriginal full-genome study in 2011 showed an unbroken Aboriginal lineage over 2500 generations, or about 60-75,000 years, the longest continuous lineage outside Africa. It identified a number of genetic signatures that were unique to Australia.

    Which sure is some claim to authenticity.

    The article offers that:

    Stories of European exploration, settlement and the ANZAC spirit are important, but spanning only half of one per cent of human history on this continent, they are the tip of the iceberg.

    That’s good data: ‘half of one per cent of human history on this continent’.

    Simultaneous to this we see that Abbott has done a deal with Barnett to slide Federal responsibility for Aboriginal welfare across to the state with the most interest in ethnically cleansing Aboriginal people from potential mine sites. Of course, all in there best interests.

    The right wing commentariat is trying to frame this as a necessary discussion to be held in a sober and restrained atmosphere which ignores the atmosphere created by Toxic Tony in his utterances. I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    JQ: I hope you don’t see this as a contentious subject to mention. Aboriginal history has a significant economic component mostly to do with their exclusion from the labor market. I’m guessing that you know:

    In1968 the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruling on equal wages in the cattle industry came into force. And that when the case was being heard in 1966 the Commission accepted the employers’ evidence that ‘many of them expect[ed] to change over to white labour if Aborigines are to be paid at award rates’. This did happen and many Aboriginal stockmen faced unemployment for the first time.

    Just sayin’ that political economy needs to be inclusive.

  3. alfred venison
    March 14th, 2015 at 18:14 | #3

    people will stop coming around if eureka onion; its a repel factor. -a.v.

  4. Hermit
    March 14th, 2015 at 18:51 | #4

    Just listening to Dr Karl on the telly urging us to think about how to continue economic growth. I’ll leave that to others instead I’ll think about living with no economic growth.

  5. Apple
    March 14th, 2015 at 19:30 | #5

    A good article by Mark Lynas about how greenslime have only adopted (then misused) climate change as an issue because it fits in to their anti-capitalist agenda. On other science issues, like nuclear and gm, the greenslime use the exact same tactics as the chemtrails/anti-vax/organixc food crowd.

  6. Ikonoclast
    March 14th, 2015 at 19:34 | #6


    Dr. Karl accepts all the flawed premises of the IGR and all the flawed premises of neocon economics. This demonstrates that he is neither a demographer nor an economist. In addition, he apparently accepts the flawed premise of endless growth which means he is not a real scientist either. So what is he? I am not sure. Perhaps the kindest thing one can say he is a well-meaning fellow who popularises demographics, economics and science and gets it all entirely wrong.

    Sadly, Dr. Karl’s kind of egregious disinformation is unrealistic and leads us in a disastrous and unsustainable direction.

  7. Ikonoclast
    March 14th, 2015 at 19:43 | #7

    My guess is that Apple is another sock-puppet of someone we have seen before.

  8. Collin Street
    March 14th, 2015 at 20:01 | #8

    I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    Like I keep on saying: we see the way they carry on their internal disputes, when presumably they’re on their best — most objective fact-centred — behaviour.

    I can’t for the life of me see that they act any different in private than in public. Their terrible rhetoric and ham-fisted posturing are not an affectation or an pretense: it’s how they genuinely think the game is played.

  9. Apple
    March 14th, 2015 at 20:48 | #9

    Endless growth is not a problem as it can occur with less resource use. I’m surprised by how some come can’t grasp this obvious and readily observable fact.

  10. TerjeP
    March 14th, 2015 at 21:12 | #10

    I said this last week but I suspect it went under the radar so I’ll try my luck repeating it.

    I think Australia should be open to almost unlimited immigration. The only restrictions that I would like to see Australia have on immigration are as follows:-

    1. We should not let individuals into the country if they are a clear threat. eg convicted violent criminals, suspected terrorists.

    2. We should not let individuals into the country if they present a serious health threat to the general community.

    3. Immigrants should make an upfront contribution towards public infrastructure. By my calculation the correct figure is about $25k. We should waiver the fee for a given number of humanitarian cases each year. And for nationals from selected countries (eg New Zealand) where bilateral immigration agreements dictate.

    4. Citizenship should not be granted easily to immigrants. Specifically the waiting period between becoming resident and becoming a citizen should be much longer. Ten years or more.

    5. Except for immigrants coming under humanitarian programs welfare payments (eg pensions, unemployment benefits) should not be available until they become citizens.

    Interested to know what restrictions, if any, other people here think that Australia should place on immigration numbers. Especially keen to hear from those that favour completely open immigration.

  11. Ikonoclast
    March 14th, 2015 at 21:51 | #11

    I favour a balance for Australia. Immigrants plus genuine refugees & asylum seekers should approximately equal emigrants. In other words, our migration stance should be neutral. There is no need to rush to a large population. However, if our natural increase became negative I would increase immigration to prevent de-population and maintain stability.

    With limits to growth imminent and even Australia close to exceeding its sustainable ecological footprint, further rapid population growth will be counter-productive. The world is badly over-populated now (in overshoot) and the situation is ecologically unsustainable.

  12. paul walter
    March 14th, 2015 at 23:43 | #12

    That gells with a recent teev doco involving genetic markers, that places the move out of Africa of modern humans occuring after about 75,000 years ago, via the Ice age narrowed Red Sea.

    For me it will remain a question to be answered, as to whether the Lake Tobe mega volcano eruption about 75, 000 years ago created a nuclear winter that exacerbated the Ice Age to the extent that travel from Africa to the Arabian peninsular, then other parts of the world became possible.

    As for the rest, the focus on Abbott has shielded Barnett from the exposure he warrants. He is a true Tea Party Redstate gubernatorial type, imho.

  13. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2015 at 00:02 | #13

    Why am I funding other people’s lifestyle choices to drive big diesel vehicles long distances in the country? Why blow public dough on roads they’re only going to tear up and down on, burning their subsidised diesel and polluting the public air. If they can’t afford the diesel out in the country, they can always move to the city. But, you say, how will they run farms in the country if they are living in the city? Not my problem, says the PM.

    Oh…sorry, mixed up the words Aboriginal and agriculturalist, then got a big confused…thought the PM was onto something for a minute there.

  14. March 15th, 2015 at 02:25 | #14

    I am intending to reflect on the attributes a Prime Minister and State Premiers should have. Opinion polls might be framed in terms of prospective national leaders according to a set of criteria to which respondents could evaluate on a scale of 1 to 5. An open question can added to effect: What other qualities does the office holder, or candidate, have that will allow add to their performance? It would be interesting to see how Albo, Bill Shorten, Julie Bishop and Malcolm would evaluated. (If opinion polls do this already, I am not aware of it.)

    What are the essential skills and knowledge a PM should have? What particular qualities does Tony bring to the job? I find his attack on the President of the HRC and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, not to mention Aboriginal people, as utterly unacceptable.

  15. sunshine
    March 15th, 2015 at 05:08 | #15

    Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles and to be saved, need more choice in their lives . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

    Greens only ‘adopting’ a concern for the environment ? Do triangles only adopt 3 sidedness as a convenience ?

  16. Hermit
    March 15th, 2015 at 06:53 | #16

    @ Ikon in Tasmania they now have growth-by-fiat, even incorporating it into the name of their new super department
    In WW1 deserters and PTSD sufferers were shot for cowardice or lack of moral fibre. Perhaps in future non-growers will face the firing squad.

  17. jungney
    March 15th, 2015 at 08:55 | #17

    Dr Karl’s response to criticism is to say “I am not a Liberal Party stooge” which is a tough gig when the prima facie evidence is to the opposite. Apparently he had to do it for the unique reason of the money. Well, I’ll be.

    When science is under such extraordinary attack from the Coalition it is hardly a show of solidarity to take on the highly political task of selling what all serious commentators have described as the highly political hogwash of the IGR. But a contract is a contract, it seems, and the show had to go on. His clownish clothes during the presentation let the cat out of the bag as to what he is.

  18. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 09:02 | #18


    Eventually, Tasmania could have more inter-state migrants than it wants as people flee the near-impossible climate of mainland Australia.

    “In Sydney and Brisbane, the apparent temperature has increased by 1C since the 1950s, but the actual temperature has only increased by 0.5C. This means that what felt like 29C in the 1950s now feels like over 30C, on average. This is because the humidity has increased and it is slightly less windy on average in both locations. These muggier conditions make the weather feel hotter, as the body is unable to shed excess heat as effectively.” – The Conversation.

    “The largest changes will be in Australia’s southeast, where climate models suggest that for the millions of people in Melbourne and Sydney, future summers will feel like they are warming even faster than the real temperature suggests, because of an increase in humid days. Residents in these cities will therefore be at a higher risk of heat stress when a heatwave strikes.

    Human-induced climate change is happening and we are already starting to feel the effects. Coping with the infamous Australian summer is already difficult, but in the future it might become even more stressful for some.” – lifehacker, Stephanie Jacobs and Ailie Gallant.

  19. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 09:07 | #19


    I admit the thought of calling him a clown in my original post did cross my mind. But I thought “No, be nice.”

  20. jungney
    March 15th, 2015 at 09:25 | #20

    I am being nice 🙂 but collaborating with the Coalition is too much.

    As to climate change and the heat – I live in a hot and humid valley area where three major rivers come off Barrington Tops. For me, outdoor activity in peak heat summer is no longer possible so the day starts with a predawn rise, a long indoors break with fans blasting and the house closed, and a little evening gardening when the heat is off. We managed summer better this year than last running the ac on seven days only. But it is tough and unpleasant. Summer is now a season to be managed and endured for me.

  21. alfred venison
    March 15th, 2015 at 10:33 | #21

    dr karl has more science degrees than you guys. you guys should take your knuckles off the ground and put your hands in your pockets before you turn into liberal party idiots. -a.v.

  22. Apple
    March 15th, 2015 at 10:54 | #22

    The International Energy Agency notes that

    economic growth and energy related CO2 emission growth decoupled in 2014

    , for the first time.

    The IEA says:

    The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.

    This appears to support Professor John Quiggin’s thesis that with some measured policy tweaks we can get on top of climate change and that the miserabilist fantasies of the hairshirt brigades is nothing more than a distraction.

    In fact I would go further and say that the miserabilists are unwittingly giving ammunition to the anti-science right and us moderates should pack them off to Coventry.

  23. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 11:02 | #23

    @alfred venison

    I assume you are being ironic and just forgot your irony quotes. It is true that Dr. Karl has a “lot” or maybe “several” science degrees. “He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics, a Master of Biomedical Engineering, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, he has studied Computer Science as well as reading for a Master of Science (Qualifying) degree in Astrophysics.” – Wikipedia.

    Nevertheless, both the orthodox and heterodox economists all pretty much agree that the IGR is falsely framed at a number of levels and tells us nothing useful about future challenges due to demographic changes (or anything else). Dr. Karl’s understanding of public debt is also clearly flawed or else he is peddling the standard neocon line on public debt knowing it to be false.

    False premises equal false conclusions even when a person has 5 science degrees.

    “Dr Kruszelnicki said: “I agreed to do the campaign before I read the report.”

    He agreed to do it to support long-term policy making and because he gets paid “bugger all” by his employers, the ABC and the University of Sydney, he said.” – SMH.

    A bloke with 5 degrees needs to make better decisions and/or offer better rationalisations than that if he wants to retain any credibility at all. His credibility (if he had any before) is clearly shot now.

  24. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 11:23 | #24


    There are absolute denialists and relative denialists or lukewarmists. Lukewarmists are in fact the ones in effective collaboration with the denialists. Denialists are saying “It’s not happening.” Lukewarmists are saying “It’s happening a little bit but it doesn’t matter. A few tweaks will suffice.”

    “Annual carbon dioxide emissions showed a strong rise of 2.5% on 2013 levels, putting the total emitted this year on track for 40bn tonnes. That means the global ‘carbon budget’, calculated as the total governments can afford to emit without pushing temperatures higher than 2C above pre-industrial levels, is likely to be used up within just one generation, or in thirty years from now.” – Guardian (Data from the Global Carbon Project).

    “Emissions for 2014, according to the research, are set to rise to 40bn tonnes. That compares with emissions of 32bn tonnes in 2010, showing how fast the output is rising.” – Guardian (from the Global Carbon Project).

    The situation is clearly dire when measured and assessed scientifically. Lukewarmists deny this. Lukewarmists are denialists.

  25. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 11:27 | #25
  26. jungney
    March 15th, 2015 at 11:35 | #26

    @alfred venison
    Knuckle dragger? I’m going to sulk off to the backyard now to recite The Epic of Gilgamesh to Irwin’s cattle until I compose myself.

    In fact, against my will and through peculiar circumstances, many years ago I spent far too much time in the man’s company. It would be improper for me to recount my experiences. However, I can report with satisfaction that this episode confirms for me the truth of Sun Tzu’s comment that “if you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by”.

  27. Apple
    March 15th, 2015 at 12:25 | #27

    I think Quiggin and I both agree that GHG emissions do matter a lot, but they can be dealt with through modest policy changes that won’t have much of an impact on global economic growth.

    The Global Carbon Project figure for 2014 is at this stage a projection, we’ll need to wait and see if their final figure contradicts the IEA figures for energy related emissions.

    Chris Mooney, a science literate moderate leftist nails it:

    For anybody who cares about the planet, that’s very good news. After all, the previously tight link between economic growth and the use of more energy — leading to more emissions — has seemed an almost invariant fact of the modern industrial world. Indeed, observations like these have driven some on the environmental left to posit that economic growth itself is incompatible with environmental protections.

    According to the IEA, in the last 40 years, “there have been only three times in which emissions have stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, and all were associated with global economic weakness.” But the global economy was in good shape last year — and grew 3 percent.

    This is how progress in saving our planet is measured — as two lines on a graph that no longer follow one another.

    But it is interesting to see that folk like Ikonoclast so willingly point an accusatory finger at folk like John Quiggin and shout “collaborator!” The far left have always used this tactic and the consequence has always been destructive.

  28. Ivor
    March 15th, 2015 at 12:41 | #28


    What is your evidence for anyone shouting “collaborator”?

    Are you some undergraduate kid hanging around some uni bar?

  29. Ivor
    March 15th, 2015 at 12:54 | #29


    In a sense there should be endless growth as civilisation improves it’s technology.

    Growth can occur in quality as well as quantity. The earth may not be able to cope with growth in quantity, but this does not mean growth can occur in quality.

    For example moving from huge mantel valve radios (pre war) to today’s integrated circuits may well represent a drop in resource use per radio, but yet a growth in utility. This is reflected in price.

    Shortly after the war, many people had to use hire-purchase to afford a radio. Now kids can buy then at Dick Smith with their pocket money. And you get a lot more out of today’s radios than you did 50 years ago.

  30. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 13:14 | #30


    Yes, I have long accepted and even made the argument that qualitiative growth can continue after quantitative growth ends. However, quantitative growth must end and that does imply a very different economy. The capitalist economy and its control systems are extremely poorly adapted to making the necessary changes to a non-quantitative growth economy just as they are extremely poorly adapted to making the changes necessary to permit or retain a healthy biosphere. If we don’t retain a healthy biospehre there will be no or few people and certainly no modern civilization or economy.

    The capitalist economy is comitted to endless physical growth and over-consumption whilst depleting the earth’s natural capital. This committment is not just ideological it is structural and systemic. It is embodies in the logic of the capitalist system itself. Capital must replicate itself and grow. That is its sole reason for existing and sole mode of operation. Any capitalist company which avoided the promotion of over-consumption and unsustainable production (while natural capital remained available to exploit) would be out-competed and would fail. The firms which obey the laws of over-consumption and unsustainable production succeed and flourish and will continue to do so until they generate a complete collapse of the biosphere and thus of the system (capitalism) dependent on the biosphere.

    It’s just my opinion of course, but I hold that the collapse will have to seriously and unambiguously manifest itself before any kind of revolution is possible. Greece is probably the canary in the coal mine right now.

  31. sunshine
    March 15th, 2015 at 13:23 | #31

    Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles, and to be saved, need more choice in their lives ;- which is handy because we should stop wasting taxpayers money on them too . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

  32. Garry Claridge
    March 15th, 2015 at 13:25 | #32

    The terminology used for “growth” could be the hidden point of contention in many discussions. For me, “economic growth” usually means GDP expansion, whereas “economic development” could be the alternative meaning that other people are referring to by the word “growth”?

    Your “qualitative growth” versus “quantitative growth” is also a reasonable differentiation 🙂

  33. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2015 at 14:23 | #33

    Pyne’s clumsy blackmail attempt has hit a roadblock in the senate. While I have a lot of sympathy for the scientific and non-scientific staff who are directly affected by the refusal to release the 2015 block funding for major research facilities, I really hope the opposition senators do not buckle and cave in on this.

    Pyne should never have linked the bill and the research funding. He did, and the consequences are already being felt. He has simply followed the Morrison playbook, the research funding playing the role of the children in detention. Each time the LNP knuckleheads do these bizarre strategies, the collateral damage to real people, to real lives, is lost in the debate. When the LNP finally backflip, capitulate, or win their point, by that time a significant cost has been borne by people who have done nothing to deserve it. Pyne is simply doing the LNP way: scorged Earth wherever their foot falls next. Scientists and support staff have been sacked up and down the country already, thanks in large part to last year’s nasty budget; so, how will it play out with this year’s budget only a few weeks away?

  34. jungney
    March 15th, 2015 at 14:53 | #34

    There are numerous trenchant and correct rebuttals of Mark Lyna’s conversion on the road to Damascus. What intrigues me is his trajectory from ‘Earth First!’ crop destroyer to cocktail waiter for corporations which suggests to me a serious lack of intellectual integrity. In his January 2013 l3cture to the Oxford Farming Conference he said:

    … in 2008 I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don’t think I’d ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science…

    So, from the horses mouth, he is a lifelong practitioner of the double standard.

    Two articles stand out: a rebuttal titled ‘The Lynas School of Pseudo-scientific Environmentalism – Twenty-two Pieces of Junk Science from the Lynas Manifesto’ (Permaculture Institute) and one titled ‘Of Myths and Men: Mark Lynas and the intoxicating Power of Technocracy’ (Huffpost).

    As to his claim that the left has snuck under the skirts of environmentalism in order to advance an anti-capitalist project: the left, in particular Barry Commoner and Murray Bookchin, but there are others, has been advancing an ecologically informed critique of capitalism for rather a long time and making no bones about it. There is no sneaking in of ideological agendas, it’s right up front. So, I won’t accepts Lynus’s demand that political elements should vacate the field in favour of technocrats. I know too much about the failures of the state to do that.

    Most abjectly, however, he fails to mention that the entrenched funders of climate denialism are exactly the agents of a particular form of oligarchic and authoritarian capitalism whose stranglehold on media outlets and parliaments around the world is precisely what prevents serious discussion about what to do.

    Climate change is crap, right? Remember that? That’s the voice of the fossil fuel industry right there.

  35. Ivor
    March 15th, 2015 at 15:05 | #35

    @Garry Claridge

    presumably GDP expansion is a market measure. So if a business invests a million dollars and employs 1,000 for a profit of 200,000 producing food, does this mean that your growth is positive if the million dollars is moved where it employs only 20,000 workers producing luxuries, but profit is double?

    Possibly a capitalist would say growth is positive.
    So, I guess a Marxist would say growth is negative.

    Which does society want?

  36. Hermit
    March 15th, 2015 at 16:03 | #36

    Lukewarmism vs fact checking. The BBC reckons world emissions were 32 gigatonnes in both 2013 and 2014
    a 0% increase but last year world GDP went up 3%. Not sure where the Guardian’s 40 Gt came from. A couple of observations
    1) IPCC emissions horror scenarios like RCP 8.5 may be fanciful
    2) it’s too early to say if energy and GDP are henceforth ‘decoupled’
    What we could be seeing is belt tightening or trimming the fat. Let’s see if GDP still grows with -5%, -10%, -20% changes in energy use.

  37. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 16:36 | #37


    It depends what is included in the measure. The most comprehensive estimated measure in CO2(e) or CO2 equivalents as per the IPCC is;

    (1) CO2 from fossil fuel use and other sources; plus
    (2) CO2 from deforestation, decay and peat; plus
    (3) CH4 from agriculture, waste and energy; plus
    (4) N2O from agriculture and other sources; plus
    (5) F-gases.

    In 2004, the total from all the sources was estimated at 49.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    Oftentimes, you will see estimates which only cover estimated CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. These estimates give figures for example of;

    2013 : 36.1 GtCO2-eq/year.
    2014 : 37.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    I can’t quickly find a 2013 or 2014 estimate for CO2 equivalent emissions from ALL sources but presumably it is well over 50.0 GtCO2-eq/year and maybe even up to 60.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    It seems to me that this number still might not even include increasing methane releases from the tundra and seabed methane clathrates.

  38. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 16:43 | #38

    Postcript to above post:

    “Total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 with larger absolute increases between 2000 and 2010, despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 have reached 49 ± 4.5 GtCO2 eq/yr.” – IPCC Summary 2014.

  39. Hermit
    March 15th, 2015 at 17:34 | #39

    Ikon I’ll take your word for it at this point. Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process) but include fugitive release from coal or gas mining since humans were the direct cause, not the indirect cause. Now I call upon our federal environment dept to publish user friendly emissions series for Australia. Since 2000 is the agreed base year graphs should start there not 2004. For each series it should be clearly stated what is in and what is out.
    http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/ Confusing or what?

    Not that I’m saying Greg Hunt is a dissembler but I suspect he uses whatever series looks best for him. Since there are several to choose from the public is bamboozled. The greenhouse accounting people should have the cojones to tell politicians which is their preferred data set for trend purposes.

  40. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2015 at 17:50 | #40

    Taking that quote on-board, he demonstrates several things: i) very sloppy to non-existent standards for fact checking and verification of his sources for his articles he published in The Guardian; ii) no intrinsic interest in the field he was working in at the time; iii) The Guardian should have been more active at the editor level, refusing to publish articles which weren’t properly cross-checked on their assumptions/facts, and at the least should require journalists to provide, with every article, a bibliography of source articles, especially scientific ones, cited in the article. They don’t have to publish it, but it gives the editor(s) ammo if a journalist is fudging their output.

    All in all, both the journalist, by his own admission, and the newspaper’s own processes, are at fault. I suspect this is far from isolated, and this is more likely the current standard operating procedure for online and traditional news media. Scientific basis for so-called facts used in a news article should be cross-checked as a matter of course; it isn’t really that onerous, just a matter of using some online science databases, and making sure the cited article says what is claimed. Blanket claims in a news article should automatically require several high profile legitimate scientific and/or academic references to back them up, whether the references are just filed away or a published along with the news article.

  41. Ikonoclast
    March 15th, 2015 at 18:51 | #41


    “Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process)…”

    That’s a moot point and one could look at it either way. If all the standard CO2 equivalent emissions, as taken into account by the IPCC, lead to feedback methane emissions from the tundra and seabed, then mankind is still responsible for them, at least secondarily. Whichever way you look at it, these feedback methane releases will add to the effects on our climate. The final sum effect will be what counts for physical, biological and economic impacts.

  42. David C.
    March 15th, 2015 at 18:56 | #42

    While reading another blog this afternoon I came across this:

    Thomson suggests they do not understand the crippling effect of the infrastructure costs imposed by population growth. On this, he cites the work of US economist Lester Thurow and University of Queensland agricultural economist Jane N. O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan has argued that these costs, amounting to some A$200,000 of infrastructure per extra Australian, dwarf the supposed economic advantages.

    That’s a bit more than $25k.

  43. Debbieanne
    March 15th, 2015 at 21:52 | #43

    He has certainly lost me. (Not that I am a good judge, only high school level education). But really, how scientific is it to support a ‘report’ before reading it. Not only do we have this government treating us like mushrooms, they even have a scientist doing it. i am struggling to think of how this would be acceptable in any field of science and deserves as much pushback as the IGR is getting, at the very least.

  44. Collin Street
    March 15th, 2015 at 22:33 | #44

    > Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

    Then you’re going to have to start banning people or you’re going to see the level of debate collapse. Your choice which, but “reasonable debate, forms of politeness, open to all comers” is very much a “pick any two” situation.

  45. plaasmatron
    March 16th, 2015 at 00:43 | #45

    When you say “the man’s company” do you mean Dr Karl himself? I also spent many years down the corridor from him and had a good relationship. However, I am really dissapointed by the IGR stuff. I cringed to see him in the clip. He has certainly lost credibility, and never really was big enought to fit into the shoes of Sumner-Miller. Dr Karl is more of a trivia wiz than a science wiz. It is a pity that popular science is represented by either the white lab-coat wearing dork, or the clown. Neither is cool. Neither inspires smart kids. Steve Jobs is more of my kind of science presenter. Young kids these days deserve better. And now that Karl has sold out for the money to the worst mob in the land, well, … I guess he had to fund his habit somehow.

  46. Megan
    March 16th, 2015 at 01:11 | #46

    I see Turnbull wants to reduce, even further, media ownership diversity.

    Dorling has an “Exclusive” in The Age.

    The British Government has suppressed the release of secret documents relating to Rupert Murdoch’s dealings with a French-Australian conman and KGB operative four decades ago.

    Rupert Murdoch is a fascist. News Ltd is a fascist propaganda outfit.

  47. jungney
    March 16th, 2015 at 08:59 | #47

    Yes, I do but I am loathe to expand on the subject because a wounded narcissist is usually dangerous.

  48. Donald Oats
    March 16th, 2015 at 13:04 | #48

    Dr Karl has every right to earn an income, and if he chooses to do so in a manner which (probably) dents his reputation as a scientific straight shooter, taking easy cash from the goon squad, well that’s his call. Let’s face it, having a scientific background is poison in the current environment, as is being an independent scientific voice. Under the current dictatorship, scientific reputation counts for nought—except as propaganda, it’s only value to the goon squad. As a scientist, the options are to espouse scientific outcomes popular among the goons, keep your head down and hope to survive until better days arrive, or change careers, either by choice or by being sacked in one of the great purges. Dr Karl has chosen the path which keeps him employed.

    Actually, I’m rather sad to have heard of this, especially the agreeing to it without knowing the content beforehand. The funny thing is that the use of Dr Karl is unlikely to sway LNP voters, for they already distrust scientists and are going to vote LNP anyway; Dr Karl is also unlikely to sway LNP opponents, especially because it looks like a propaganda stunt and not an independent assessment of the IGR. So all up, Dr Karl gets the gig and the cash, while the LNP achieve very little for it, beyond the value of tarnishing yet another scientific voice (and to the LNP mindset, there is value in that, definitely).

    We have been incrementally dismantling our best public science in the stupidly persistent belief that only economically exploitable things matter, as if people undertake intellectual pursuits simply because of money—ha! Anyway, with the big universities now stuck with a market for students, there is less and less use for widespread research across all faculties; I fully expect the big traditional universities to restrict research to economically valuable areas, jettisoning research of public value, of intellectual value, but of no obvious immediate economic value. This is the biggest change to sweep through Australian universities since their inception, as far as I can see. The ALP must share in the blame for this happening, as it was their HECS system which started us down this path, coupled with the absurd “promotion” of the old CAEs as part of the unification of the tertiary sector (CAE = College of Advanced Education). It made little sense at the time, and still doesn’t, quite frankly. Research absorbs money; requiring all these institutions to act as research organisations simply stole from their quite competent teaching facilities, and didn’t give back. The CAEs were absorbed by the newer universities, especially the Institutes of Technology, in their go for growth phase. The whole sector is a shambles now, helpfully made worse under the LNP.

    And PR offices for university research? Don’t get me started…

  49. jungney
    March 16th, 2015 at 13:45 | #49

    Donald: it is an interesting juncture. There was a time when it was perfectly reasonable to be a scientist and vote for the Coalition. Not any more. How could any rationally trained person vote for a sitting government that is opposed to both rational thought and to furthering that ability among the population through, for example, science education. As you say, for this government the only purpose of science is to provide a gloss of legitimacy for propaganda.

    I haven’t yet seen an adequate account of from whence these dark forces, anti-Enlightenment forces, originate. Class analysis, sociology, political philosophy are inadequate to the task of accounting for their hatred of anything that contradicts their worldview, including facts. Moreover, they are ruthless in tearing up the rule book of convention. We’ll discover in time that they were far worse than we imagined.

  50. March 16th, 2015 at 15:38 | #50

    I did not mention focus groups, which are reactive after the fact. They do not promote good candidates for Prime Minister. However, swinging voters participating in these activities have strongly condemned Tony Abbott’s handling of the job.

    Similarly, there is implicit strong objections coming from the office of the Indonesian President with implications as to whether Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan will live or die.

    It seems to me that Tony Abbott is not learning from his mistakes to the point that seems clearer now that previously that is tenure in the position is just matter of time. (Monday Reflection)

  51. March 16th, 2015 at 16:07 | #52

    @Collin Street

    Collin, I don’t agree with you that our host will have to start banning people see the level of debate collapse. I suspect that of the options you gave he would chose reasonable debate, forms of politeness, and not open to people who cannot refrain from personal criticism. But I could be wrong about this. Also, my arriving at a different conclusion has no bearing upon you, your loved ones, your hated ones, or anyone you have ever met or may ever meet. And this goes for all alternate versions for any given value of “you” that may or may not exist in this or any other universii.

  52. Donald Oats
    March 16th, 2015 at 17:02 | #53

    The usual practice for dealing with delicate matters between nations is for the foreign minister and Australian diplomats to discuss the issues behind closed doors, confidentiality being vital. Once an accommodation has been reached, if at all possible, that’s the point where the PM should/could come in and provide a statement as to the resolution of the issue or otherwise.

    Not our PM: he went in all guns blazing, shot up the place, and once out of ammo, has the gauche audacity to tell the rest of us to keep schtum, in case we cause the deaths of these two of the Bali Nine. Man! It takes a true legend to hit 11 on the FW scale, and I’m holding back on my language here.

  53. Apple
    March 16th, 2015 at 17:16 | #54

    Jungney, I don’t know how you can write about “these dark forces, anti-Enlightenment forces” in respect of others with a straight face given the junk science links you provided earlier and labelled ” trenchant and correct rebuttals” of the Mark Lynas article I cited.

    Mark Lynas’s article is nothing more or less than an orthodox reflection of the consilience of the science on GMO.

    Most amusingly, you furnished a link to a permaculture website (ie a bourgeois hobby group) that spruiks an article by a little known emeritus geographer that in turn cites the junk science of Gilles Seralini, who works for CRIIGEN which is run by Dr Spiroux de Vendomois who is, among other things, a homeopath and a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Seralini himself is a science adviser and co-author of papers for the French homeopathic company, Sevene Pharma. Again, as you are undoubtedly well aware, nearly all of Seralini’s work appears in pay-for-play journals and the man is regarded as a joke by practically every important peak science body in France.

    Am I to take it that you endorse Chinese traditional medicine and homeopathy? Do you have similar feelings about alchemy, astrology and Icelandic fish-dancing?

    I feel sorry for pro-GM moderate left wing scientists and science reporters like Chris Mooney, Kevin Folta, Nate Johnson and David Gorski, all of whom face vicious personal abuse by the far left on a daily basis. But perhaps I feel most sorry for Mommy, PhD (Alison Bernstein), who occasionally faces rape threats from the anti-GM crowd, most of whom undoubtedly identify with the left.

    Clearly Lynas is absolutely correct; the far left has latched on to climate change as an issue in a classic case of entryism. In truth, they have absolutely no interest in the science nor do they have any respect for the institution of science.

    Respect for science seems to be most strong among Social Democrats and that very rare beast, the genuine Burkean conservative.

  54. plaasmatron
    March 16th, 2015 at 19:20 | #55

    @Donald Oats

    “I fully expect the big traditional universities to restrict research to economically valuable areas, jettisoning research of public value, of intellectual value, but of no obvious immediate economic value.”

    I disagree. Universities will continue to fund those areas which increase their international rankings. They are not in the least interested in economic value in the sense of the research supporting Australian industries or companies. They care only about what international (and soon to be national) students (and their parents) are will to fork out for a piece of paper with a nice watermark and a signature. That number depends on the rankings. So theoretical astrophysics or genetics are both equally likely to score a major publication, and will hence be maintained. In fact, climate science is also a high ranking field (many citations) and will therefore be maintained despite the stance of the federal government.

  55. TerjeP
    March 16th, 2015 at 19:33 | #56


    But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ?

    The limits I propose (other than 1 & 2) merely account for the fact that we have a form of socialism in operation already which needs to be accounted for. If all public infrastructure was privatised and shifted to an entirely user pays model the immigration fee would decline to zero. Likewise if we had no taxpayer funded welfare system then limiting access to taxpayer funded welfare becomes a non issue. Both the immigration fee and the welfare restriction are a pragmatic accommodation of the socialism we already have.

  56. J-D
    March 16th, 2015 at 19:35 | #57

    @Collin Street

    I think that choice has already been clearly made. You refer to the possibility of having to start banning people as if it’s something that hasn’t happened yet. But people have been banned from here already. My impression is that our host doesn’t relish it but doesn’t shy from it either. The discussion policy is as clear as could reasonably be expected that ‘reasonable debate’ and ‘forms of politeness’ are desired goals but that ‘open to all comers [no matter how they behave]’ is not.

  57. alfred venison
    March 16th, 2015 at 20:47 | #58

    keep in mind will you it wasn’t the damned liberal government’s budget; it was expected by most mainstream observers to be just another wrong-headed technocratic report like the ones that came before, not the crude party partisan bomb hockey turned it into.

    so what if he’s a media celebrity with an ego the size of a planet? what was relevant as far as i was concerned was that he could still reach the sunrise audience, e.g., ’cause god knows tim flannery can’t. and he could – whatever the topic of the day – be counted on, while with them, to talk up the position informed by *reason*!

    remember we’re well into new age barbarism – you all deplore rising magical thinking and mass irrationality.

    but congratulations on joining the mob and helping to finish off a functioning science communicator for the anti-science liberals, but don’t stop at dr karl there’s jessica watson and rachel perkins to get too. -a.v.

  58. J-D
    March 16th, 2015 at 21:01 | #59


    Australian university managements exhibit a keen interest in their standing in international ranking exercises — they do that now, even though it doesn’t allow them to charge higher fees. It’s plausible that they would continue to do so in an environment of deregulated fees, but that doesn’t mean it’s because of any connection between those rankings and capacity to charge higher fees. According to what John Quiggin has written here before, deregulation of fees in England didn’t result in the universities with the highest prestige putting up their fees a lot more than those with less prestige: they all went up by nearly the same amount, or that’s how I remember what I read.

    I suspect that higher results in international ranking exercises are attractive to Vice-Chancellors even in a regulated-fee environment because they feed their personal vanity and because they increase their leverage over their own salaries: personally I suspect vanity is the more important factor, but with the way the two effects are linked the distinction may not be of much importance.

  59. Donald Oats
    March 16th, 2015 at 21:42 | #60

    Christopher Pyne got the jump on me, de-linking the un-de-linkable $150m 2015 funding from the deregulation of fees, and he de-linked the 20% haircut, loading that into a separate bill to be debated/passed/rejected after the deregulation of fees bill. This makes some of what I said moot, impossible to call until the dust settles. If the deregulation passes, and the haircut (but on a moving basis dependent on fees charged by the universities), then it is surely possible to have some universities quite happy to charge exorbitant fees in order to narrow the client base to the wealthiest and best connected; after all, if you are looking for alumni with rewarding private philanthropy, they’ll come from the wealthiest families, by and large. It also builds prestige of that most peculiar variety, the million dollar watch. It is an advertisement for you, the fees operating as a shibboleth.

    Other universities may well operate on the cheap but many principle, ie mass education, with mass being the operative word. High volume, lower margin product.

    On the other hand, given our historic philanthropy ended around the time of creation of the oldest universities, perhaps it would be too much of a risky strategy to go for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Still, there are far more multi-millionaires in Australia now than there ever, so it’s a feasible strategy at least.

    Since the wealthiest tend to have access to some of the best secondary schooling in the country, it is also likely that they will produce an adequate number of good research academics down the line, and the high fees should allow some attractive loadings for poaching key academics from the cream of the international universities.

    In all this though, the squeeze has to be on research funds, and universities have no choice but to think through resource allocation issues in that space. Christopher Pyne is not offering public money, he is only offering money that students can muster up; having said that, with a full loans system to pay for uni fees, the government is subsidising the universities by bearing some financial risk on their behalf.

  60. plaasmatron
    March 16th, 2015 at 22:06 | #61

    @Donald Oats
    So AFAICT, the $150m funding should breeze through the senate, while deregulation will be heavily debated. So do any of the cross benchers plan on voting for deregulation now that the 20% haircut has been effectively cancelled? What are the numbers in the senate? I think PUP is going to be opposed, Lazarus and Lambie also, but one of them might be bought. How about Ricky? It still looks like it will go down unless Pyne gets some serious “soft corruption” happening (to paraphrase Paul Krugman).

  61. Megan
    March 16th, 2015 at 22:58 | #62

    There’s that word again, “consilience”.

    Coincidentally the last time I saw that was this comment by ‘Candy Pants’ on 7 March:

    I will continue eating intensive factory farmed animals and caged eggs as per usual until I see a strong and sustained consilience of the science telling me I shouldn’t, for whatever reason.

    Dropping a Seralini reference just about seals the deal as far as proving serial sock-puppetry.

  62. plaasmatron
    March 17th, 2015 at 05:19 | #63

    OMG! Word on the web is that Clarke and Dawes actually wrote this script and the Christopher “the Fixer” Pyne rehearsed and performed it.

    (3xw). youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

  63. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2015 at 07:19 | #64


    What’s the genealogy of Apple? It goes through Candy Pants all the way back to Mel doesn’t it?

    I made a point a while ago that the precautionary principle requires diametrically opposite actions on climate change and GMOs. That is to say, climate change dangers require us to act now whereas the possible dangers of GMOs require us to proceed with caution now. Climate change action is mandatory. GMO introduction is optional. The cases are very different.

    I also noted that corporate capital wants nothing done on climate change yet corporate capital wants the rapid introduction of GMOs. If that doesn’t induce caution and suspicion in people then they are not thinking at all about what is going on in late stage corporate capitalism.

    For the record, I regard homeopathy, chiropractics, herbology, crystal healing, aromatherapy and Chinese medicine as quackery.

  64. Megan
    March 17th, 2015 at 08:45 | #65


    I think that’s correct.

  65. Apple
    March 17th, 2015 at 12:53 | #66

    Those who routinely cite the precautionary principle always do so selectively. For example Ikon above deploys it in relation to GM, a tried and proven technology with a very limited risk profile yet throws caution ito the wind n his support for the overthrow of capitalism, a reckless move that has ended in blood and rubble every time it has been tried.

    The precautionary principle is easily deployed by ideological war horses, the ignorant and the fearful, nonetheless it is important and it should be applied prudently in public policy.

    As to the importance of GM, Qaim and Klupper with funding from the German government and EU (no friends of GM, need I say) recently completed the largest meta-analysis of GM crops so far conducted:

    The analysis covers 147 original studies that were carried out internationally over the last 20 years. On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

    If this meta-analysis is correct, GM technology is already assisting with climate change reduction as well as lifting poor farmers in developing countries out of poverty.

    Meanwhile half the UK Soil Association board resigned in a tiff over homeopathy a few months back while the US Organic Consumers Association in the US has appointed a national director who is a vocal anti-vaxer.

  66. jungney
    March 17th, 2015 at 13:19 | #67

    @alfred venison
    Alfred, the IGR was well overdue and word was already out that it was going to be little more than a prop for Hockey to wave around to justify whatever mess his next budget produces. In light of that the decision to promote it seems passing strange. But hey, I doubt that this will have any impact on breakfast teev viewers.

  67. David Irving (no relation)
    March 17th, 2015 at 13:37 | #68

    No-one’s interested, Mel.

  68. Apple
    March 17th, 2015 at 14:00 | #69

    Exactly. It is arguably a form of soft racism yet many on the left cheerfully acquiesce.

  69. Donald Oats
    March 17th, 2015 at 15:20 | #70

    Treasurer Joe Hockey is seeking substantial damages in his defamation case against Fairfax, on the basis of the injury to his reputation (and the need to protect it). Without getting into the alleged defamation itself, it does bring up the interesting question as to just what kind of a reputation a politician can expect to have; furthermore, the principles of defamation AFAIUI rely on notions of a reasonable person, unbiased, in determining if injury could have been caused. For a polarising politician, does that test remain relevant, or even reasonable?

    For example, a conservative LNP voter is unlikely to see the Fairfax article as damaging the reputation of Joe Hockey in their eyes, although they would be likely to agree it could be damaging in the eyes of other readers. In other words, the conservative LNP voter’s opinion of Joe Hockey is unlikely to be swayed by the Fairfax article. On the other hand, it is more difficult to get a read on what a leftwing voter (say ALP or Greens) would make of it, as they are naturally opposed to the LNP of which Joe Hockey is a senior member. One could argue that their opinion of Joe Hockey would change for the worse after reading the Fairfax headline and article; or, one could argue that their opinion is already fixed, and unlikely to shift on the basis of that one article, as it would merely confirm their existing belief/bias.

    The notion of defamation, when applied to career politicians, looks like very murky waters to me.

    Personally, I did not think that Joe was acting corruptly, and certainly wasn’t swayed to think that just because of yet another news headline, as I’m well and truly used to headlines not saying what the article says, for a whole lot of reasons. Perhaps though, I’m not a reasonable person 🙂

  70. J-D
    March 17th, 2015 at 16:06 | #71

    In a discussion arising in comments on the post about the TPP, Ikonoclast wrote:

    I imagine the US would have a Plan A and a Plan B with respect to getting their hands on Julian Assange.

    I respond here to avoid prolonging a derail there.

    I don’t know how many plans the US might have to get its hands on Julian Assange: as far as anything I know goes, it could be one, two, a dozen, or none at all. What I do know is that the Swedish request to the UK for his extradition doesn’t make sense as part of a plan for the US to get its hands on him, because it would make any plan like that harder, not easier.

    Since writing my earlier comments I have refreshed my memory of the court judgements in the extradition case. Near the end of the judgement at first instance Senior District Judge Howard Riddle refers to the suggestion that Assange might be extradited to the USA, and he says that Geoffrey Robertson (leading Assange’s legal team) was right not to pursue it: the only evidence on the point came from the testimony of Sven-Eric Alhem, a defence witness (that is, for Assange), who said it couldn’t happen.

    So, considering the question ‘Could the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden lead to his extradition to the USA?’, I’ve got two responses: one, from a Swedish legal commentator and former senior prosecutor testifying for Assange in court, which is ‘No’, and one from a commenter on a blog, which is ‘Yes’.

    Readers can decide for themselves who they consider a more reliable source on this point, Sven-Eric Alhem, formerly Chief District Prosecutor in Stockholm, formerly Director for the Regional Prosecution Authority in Sweden, and specifically selected by Julian Assange’s own legal team to testify in his defence on matters of Swedish law, or James.

  71. jungney
    March 17th, 2015 at 16:31 | #72

    I’ve refreshed my own reading on the issues around Assange. In summary, opinion seems to be that: i) Assange resists extradition to Sweden because the Swedish establishment, including the military spooks, in the recent past collaborated with ‘rendition’ of subjects who were tortured; he therefore fears for his welfare and life, quite reasonably if you look at the treatment of Bradley Manning, if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy for Sweden; ii) from my reading, there appears to be a sealed US grand jury indictment of Assange, one that provides the justification for seeking to extradite Assange from the UK to the US, whilever there is a prior extradition action, in this case Sweden’s, awaiting action.

    Apparently it is a matter of international civility and rules. Ha!

    Remember that Gillard, forgetting her national identity, on May 29, 2012 labelled Assange “a traitor”. A traitor to whom, this computer savant and teller of the truth? “Who does this colonial oick think he is?” cry those who have their snouts in the trough and up the dates of those in power.

    If you look again at what wikileaks has exposed you might understand the politics of the need to crush this upstart.

  72. Megan
    March 17th, 2015 at 17:28 | #73

    Sven-Eric Alhem, …, who said it [extradition from Sweden to the US] couldn’t happen.

    No he didn’t. He was nowhere near as definitive as that.

    According to the BBC report of his evidence from February 2011:

    And when asked whether Mr Assange could be at risk of being transferred to the US if extradited, he said: “My understanding is there is not a risk of being extradited to the US but there are exceptions, which I’m not aware of and can’t comment on.

    “I believe it’s impossible Mr Assange could be extradited to the US without a complete media storm.”

    That is completely different.

    The US assassinates people weekly without any legal process. Sweden could definitely extradite Assange to the US. They have refused to give a guarantee to his legal team that they won’t do such a thing. Sweden could also “lend” Assange to the US, on the condition that he be returned when the US has finished with him.

  73. J-D
    March 17th, 2015 at 17:34 | #74


    On your first point, I’m not saying that there’s no US plot to kidnap Assange (I’m not saying that there is, either); I’m saying that the Swedish extradition request is not part of a US plot to kidnap Assange, because it could only make such a plot harder and more complicated to carry out (it would be no harder to kidnap Assange from the UK than to kidnap him from Sweden).

    I’m not sure I’m following your second point correctly. What I said before was that the Swedish extradition request would not make a US extradition request easier, it would make it more complicated, and it looks as if your point may possibly agree with that, although I may have misunderstood your syntax.

    Again: no matter how many US plans there may be to lay hands on Assange, legally or illegally, the Swedish extradition request does not make sense as part of one of them, because in no way does it make it any easier than it was before to get Assange to the US.

  74. Collin Street
    March 17th, 2015 at 18:11 | #75

    (it would be no harder to kidnap Assange from the UK than to kidnap him from Sweden).

    But this is question-begging.

    [you need to pay more attention to the unknown-unknowns.

  75. J-D
    March 17th, 2015 at 18:19 | #76

    I observed that Julian Assange and his legal team have produced no evidence to support the conclusion that the Swedish extradition request is part of a plan to get Assange to the USA. James responded by asking me where they should have looked for that evidence. I don’t know, but my inability to find evidence for a conclusion is no kind of justification for adopting that conclusion. I can, however, suggest where to look for evidence the other way, that the Swedish extradition request is no part of any plan to get Assange to the USA, namely, in the testimony of Sven-Eric Alhem, selected by Assange’s own legal team as one of their expert witnesses.

    I have stated my reason for concluding that the Swedish extradition request is no part of a plan to get Assange to the USA: namely, that it makes no sense as part of any such plan, because it would make it more complicated and more difficult. Nevertheless, I would revise my view if evidence could be produced to support the conclusion that the Swedish extradition request is in fact part of a plan to get Assange to the USA. None has been.

    The perhaps overly abstract way I expressed another point seems to have led James to misunderstand it. James suggested earlier (if I have understood correctly) that the US would want to use Sweden as an intermediary in getting hold of Assange because a direct US request to the UK would be prevented from succeeding by the actions of the UK anti-war movement and/or George Galloway MP, or something similar. In my response I used the expression ‘political circumstances’ to refer to the kind of thing James was talking about there, but I guess James didn’t realise that’s what I had in mind. So I shall rephrase more explicitly. The UK anti-war movement didn’t prevent the UK government and courts from agreeing to the extradition of Assange to Sweden. The UK anti-war movement hasn’t prevented the UK authorities from continuing to ‘stake out’ the Ecuadorian embassy in a continued pursuit of Assange. There is no reason to think the UK war movement could stop the UK authorities from extraditing Assange to the US. The simplest and easiest way for the US to seek Assange’s extradition at any time would have been a direct extradition request to whichever country he actually was in at that time — Sweden when he actually was in Sweden, the UK when he actually was in the UK — and not to devise a plan involving a third country. There is no reason to think that extradition from the UK to the US is any harder than extradition from Sweden to the US, neither because of the UK anti-war movement nor for any other reason. When James, misunderstanding my perhaps poorly expressed point, suggests that Assange can’t rely on the UK courts to prevent his extradition, the suggestion tends to support that conclusion.

    Fran Barlow wrote

    The Swedes, pointedly, declined to give assurances on not extraditing to any country that could extradite to the US, and that’s really all one needs to know.

    It is a faulty pattern of reasoning to work from the premise that the Swedish authorities have not guaranteed that they will not extradite Assange to the US to the conclusion that the Swedish authorities are involved in a plan to have Assange extradited to the US.

    If that pattern of reasoning made sense, it would make the same sense to say ‘Sweden has not guaranteed that it will not extradite J-D to the US, which shows that Sweden is part of a plan to extradite J-D to the US’ or ‘Russia has not guaranteed that it will not extradite Fran Barlow to Syria, which shows that Russia is part of a plan to extradite Fran Barlow to Syria’ or ‘Ecuador has not guaranteed that it will not extradite James to the UK, which shows that Ecuador is part of a plan to extradite James to the UK’ or … well, that should be enough examples, I hope, to illustrate how that kind of reasoning makes no sense. The premise doesn’t even make the conclusion probable. The premise lends no support to the conclusion.

    The explanation for Sweden’s not giving a blanket guarantee against extraditing Assange to the US is not that Sweden is part of a plan to extradite Assange to the US; the explanation is that countries never give that kind of blanket guarantee. No country would ever give a blanket guarantee never to extradite a specific individual for the same sort of reason that no country would ever give a blanket guarantee never to arrest a specific individual. That’s a kind of guarantee it’s unreasonable to expect.

    It is reasonable for the UK to make it a condition that Sweden guarantee that if anybody is extradited to Sweden from the UK, the Swedish authorities will not use that as an opportunity to have that individual extradited to any third country without the consent of the UK. But Sweden has given exactly that guarantee.

  76. J-D
    March 17th, 2015 at 18:25 | #77


    Again: it would be no harder for the US to have Assange assassinated in the UK than to have him assassinated in Sweden; it would be no harder for the US to have Assange extradited from the UK than to have him extradited from Sweden; it would be no harder for the US to persuade the UK to ‘lend’ Assange than it would be to persuade Sweden to ‘lend’ him; no matter what form a US plan to get hold of Assange might take, it would be simpler and easier to get hold of him directly from one other country than to involve two other countries in the plan, and so the Swedish extradition request to the UK makes no sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of him.

    I would revise this view if direct evidence were produced that (however little sense it makes) the Swedish extradition request is in fact part of a US plan to get hold of Assange. But none has been.

  77. Donald Oats
    March 17th, 2015 at 18:26 | #78

    Metadata laws are bad for us. They are bad for journalists, and that is bad for us. Currently, people seem to think that commercial use of data and/or metadata is rife, therefore what’s the problem with also allowing the government access to a time vault of the stuff? Well, we should actually be pushing politicians to limit the access and use of metadata by all sources, especially commercial ones.

    It seems like a fine and dandy idea to wear a fitness or similar GPS-enabled heartrate monitor, sleep monitor, etc. When that data increases your private health insurance, it won’t be so fine and dandy.

    On a similar note, we passed a bill a while back which enacted powers for the secret squirrels to alter data on a device: if they have warrantless access to your metadata, *and* are permitted to secretly alter that metadata, then it is easy enough for a competent IT person to fake a gps trail, altering time and date information to accommodate it. Sounds paranoid, but the powers are there. Each bill has issues on its own, once they are all passed, they work together to provide extensive powers to access and alter your digital breadcrumbs, as well as your actual data, i.e. content on a digital device. In our post-9/11 world, spooks have not covered themselves with glory, indeed they exploit the laws to their fullest, and breach foreign laws routinely.

  78. Megan
    March 17th, 2015 at 18:40 | #79

    You see that you either misunderstood or misrepresented the “evidence of Sven-Erik Alhem” and that he didn’t say what you suggest he said?

  79. Fran Barlow
    March 17th, 2015 at 19:10 | #80


    Your analogies with my reasoning are faulty. That Sweden does not expressly guarantee not to extradite Assange either directly to the US or via an intermediary is not the basis of my assertion that they currently plan to do so. Perhaps they’d like to keep open the possibility of doing so using Assange as a bargaining chip in some other dirty deal. In that case, Assange’s reluctance to facilitate such a trade would be warranted.

    To say that no country gives ‘blanket guarantees’ not to extradite random folk to some place in order to ridicule the idea of giving a specific guarantee to someone with a clear interest in such a guarantee is an exercise in obfuscation and also wrong because many countries place general limitations on the jurisdictions to which they will extradite, or the crimes over which they will extradite.

    But back on the main point, the lists of guarantees would be enormous and pointless since most folk are not going to satisfy the tests for extradition that almost any civilised regime would impose. Assange, like Snowden and Manning was and is seen as an enemy of the US state — in an act of toadying, condemned here even by the PM of the ALP regime as a criminal for breaching US laws. If the interest of Sweden really were solely in Assange’s alleged breach of their sexual assault laws, they could have given him this guarantee. That they didn’t shows at best, bad faith, and calls into question the integrity of the charges against him that Sweden says are the substance of this dispute.

  80. jungney
    March 17th, 2015 at 19:13 | #81


    I’m saying that the Swedish extradition request is not part of a US plot to kidnap Assange, because it could only make such a plot harder and more complicated to carry out…

    There’s just too much information to review and debate. As to your statement above: no, the Swedish establishment, and aspirants, urged on by Yank spooks, went too early and too hard without an adequate case. I reckon any plane carrying Assange to Sweden would have been rerouted by the US just like the plane carrying Evo Morales was derouted by the US on suspicion that is was carrying Snowden:

    On July 1, 2013, president Evo Morales of Bolivia, who had been attending a conference of gas-exporting countries in Russia, appeared predisposed to offer asylum to Edward Snowden during an interview with RT.[1] The following day, the airplane carrying him back to Bolivia from Russia, took off from Vnukovo Airport, was rerouted to Austria when France, Spain and Italy[2] denied access to their airspace due to suspicions that Snowden was on board.[3] Snowden was in fact still in Sheremetyevo Airport, where he had been staying since arriving in Russia a week earlier

    Lawless imperialism is what we face.

  81. Megan
    March 17th, 2015 at 22:23 | #82

    Fred Burton of ‘Stratfor’ proposed, in an email about what to do to Assange:

    ”move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years”

    Nobody with any access to a smattering of the established facts could believe that the US has no ill intentions toward Assange.

  82. March 17th, 2015 at 22:40 | #83

    Art Laffer;

    “He is highly critical of modern economists, sympathising with the view that it “takes a PhD in economics not to be able to understand the obvious”. “

  83. sunshine
    March 18th, 2015 at 07:19 | #84

    I think GM could be useful but its development and deployment are monopolised by the same kinds of amoral trans -national mega companies that have gotten farming into trouble. Reliance on fertilisers and topsoil depletion are huge problems. First world colonial style plantation farming is imposed everywhere as soon as it can be. So far GM is only another tool in their kit bag. Population rises in lock step with food production until something goes wrong.

  84. Judy Karmichael
    March 18th, 2015 at 11:30 | #85

    Sunshine is right but we have even more to worry about. Monsanto’s GMO seeds are specially designed to grow in the high presence of aluminum. Aluminum is the chemical found in chemicaltrails.

    If this poisoning continues, organic farming may become impossible in the not so distant future.

    When aluminum pollutes soil and water it kills crops. It collects in people and causes diseases!


  85. Tim Macknay
    March 18th, 2015 at 12:17 | #86

    @Judy Karmichael
    There are enough real problems. Why invent imaginary ones?

    Aluminium toxicity in soil is a long-standing agricultural problem caused by excessive acidity in aluminium-bearing soils, which are found in many countries. Several countries are engaged in research into breeding acid-resistant crop varieties. However, most of this research involves conventional crop breeding, not GMO. I have no idea whether Monsanto is researching GMO acid-resistant crops, but none of the material on chemtrails I have perused provides any evidence that it is. But even if it was, it would have nothing to do with chemtrails, as there are sound agricultural reasons to develop acid-resistant crops, whether GMO or otherwise.

    It’s true that aluminium is toxic at certain doses (like many metals), however the main exposure to aluminium in humans comes from ingestion through the use of aluminium food containers, soft drink cans, coffee containers, skin-care products packaged in aluminium tubes , aluminium cups and bowls, ingestion or inhalation of dust from aluminium-bearing rocks and building materials, and in some cases, urban water supplies where aluminium compounds are used to clarify the water. Exposure to aluminium through foodstuffs themselves is minimal.

    There is no evidence that aluminium is being added to soil by aerial spraying, but even if it was, it would contribute an insignificant amount to our total environmental exposure to aluminium.

  86. Judy Karmichael
    March 18th, 2015 at 12:30 | #87


    Do you work for Monsanto? Monsanto pays people to comment on blogs. Be honest, are you being paid by the word?

  87. Ikonoclast
    March 18th, 2015 at 12:34 | #88

    Chemtrails is nonsense. The only “chemtrails” are the actual contrails of jets flying at high altitude.

    “What is a contrail made of? Mostly ice, since one of the primary exhaust emissions of a jet aircraft is water vapour, which freezes within a couple of seconds, and forms the visible part of the contrail. If the air is fairly humid, then the contrail can persist for quite a while, and even spread out, turning into a sheet of cloud.

    Jet engines also emit the usual things engines emit: carbon dioxide, smoke, and small amounts of unburnt hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and small amounts of other things. Aircraft emissions are regulated.

    Some people think that if a contrail stays in the sky for a long time, that this is very unusual, and that it means the government is spraying something in the air, either to change the weather, or to poison people. They call these persistent contrails “chemtrails”

    Of course, persistent contrails are nothing new, they have been around at least since the 1940’s – when planes were able to get to sufficient altitude.” – Contrail Science.

    A vast conspiracy and an extensive logistical exercise would be necessary to get jets fitted up and continually loaded with extra chemicals to spray in the air while flying. When vast conspiracies happen (like the TPP development) we do know about them. Details get leaked. It would be an enormous and expensive exercise to do chemtrails and the results would be indiscriminate to say the least. Jet airliners cruise at altitudes where the jetstreams flow at speeds of 100 kph to 200 kph. The stuff could blow anywhere. It would fall on conspirators and victims alike. I could go on but there are so many arguments against it I would just create a wall of text.

  88. Tim Macknay
    March 18th, 2015 at 12:52 | #89

    @Judy Karmichael
    Hi Judy. No, of course I don’t work for Monsanto, and nobody pays me to comment on a blog.
    It’s a little disappointing that you’d respond so predictably.

    If you thought about it, you’d realise that your insinuation is no more plausible than if I had insinuated you were being paid by one of Monsanto’s competitors (say, Bayer Cropscience AG, for example). But no matter, whatever gets you through the day. 🙂

  89. Megan
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:00 | #90

    @Tim Macknay

    Tim, you’ve been had.

    “Judy”/”Apple”/”Candy Pants”/”White Mouse”/”Paul Keating” is having a lend.

  90. Tim Macknay
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:07 | #91

    Judy is Mel?

  91. Judy Karmichael
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:15 | #92

    You people think I’m someone else and I’m making stuff up????????

    Retract your claim or I will sue you and the owner of this blog.

  92. Tim Macknay
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:30 | #93

    You certainly made up that last bit. 😉

  93. Judy Karmichael
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:42 | #94

    Conspiracies happen all the time.

    look at this you shillshttp://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31908431

  94. Tim Macknay
    March 18th, 2015 at 13:46 | #95

    Hmm. I believe the OP to this thread says absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters”. Bye, Judy.

  95. J-D
    March 18th, 2015 at 14:40 | #96

    No, I don’t see that. I relied on what the court judgement said about his evidence. It is, of course, possible that the court judgement misrepresented him, but then again it’s also possible that the BBC report misrepresented him.

  96. J-D
    March 18th, 2015 at 14:58 | #97

    @Fran Barlow

    It is correct to say that extradition proceedings should be subject to conditions and restrictions which provide some protection to people whose extradition is applied for (this protection not going as far, obviously, as blanket guarantees against extradition). It is also correct to say that extradition proceedings are subject to conditions and restrictions which provide some protection to people whose extradition is applied for (this protection not going as far, obviously, as blanket guarantees against extradition). Both UK law and Swedish law provide, as they should, significant protections to people whose extradition is applied for; neither UK law nor Swedish law provides protections that would guarantee that Assange could never be extradited to the US. If Assange were extradited from the UK to Sweden it would not make it easier for him to be extradited to the US; it would be no harder for the US to have him extradited from the UK than to have him extradited from Sweden. Extradition from the UK to Sweden would make more difficult and more complicated for the US to get hold of him, so it doesn’t make sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of him.

  97. Megan
    March 18th, 2015 at 15:34 | #98

    Here is what the judgment you refer to says about the evidence given by Sven-Erik Alhem:

    He was then asked about extradition from Sweden to the United States. He is not an expert on what happens but had brought a Guide and had considered the specialty principle. His reading was that normally there could not be a further surrender to a country outside the European Union but there are exceptions. It would be “completely impossible to extradite Mr Assange to the USA without a media storm”.

    He did not give the evidence you think he gave.

    In fact, it looks like the quote recorded by the BBC concurs with the Judge’s view of the evidence – Alhem clearly said that extradition of Assange to the US from Sweden was possible as an exception to the normal practice, on his reading of it.

    He most definitely did not say that extradition “could not happen”.

  98. J-D
    March 18th, 2015 at 16:01 | #99


    I wrote nothing about the intentions of the US towards Assange. I wrote that it would be no harder for the US to get hold of Assange from the UK than from Sweden and that the Swedish request to extradite Assange from the UK makes no sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of Assange (whether by extradition or by other means) because it would make any such plan more complicated and more difficult.

  99. J-D
    March 18th, 2015 at 16:07 | #100


    I did not reread the entire judgment; I skimmed through it and focussed on the judge’s conclusion at the end, in which I believe you will find the part where he says that Sven-Erik Alhem had said that extradition from Sweden to the US could not happen.

    You are correct to point out that earlier in the judgement Sven-Erik Alhem’s evidence is described at more length and differently.

    It’s never been my own view that extradition from Sweden to the US is impossible; rather the reverse. That doesn’t alter the essence of the main points I have made, which I won’t repeat again this time.

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