The Oz strikes back

I’ve been pretty relentlessly critical of the coverage of climate change issues by The Australian, and unsurprisingly, they’ve struck back in their editorial column, which attacks my opinion piece in yesterday’s Fin (over the fold). It doesn’t appear to be online, but the line is that since Australia only contributes some small proportion of global emissions, it doesn’t matter what we do, and therefore we shouldn’t feel bad about the impending destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

Somewhat unusually for Oz editorials of this kind, I got mentioned by name, rather than being given a description obvious to those in the know but darkly obscure to readers in general. So, I’ll give them a serious reply. Of course, as stated in my article, what matters is that all developed countries should cut emissions. As in all international negotiations, our capacity to affect the outcome is limited but not zero. The only real capacity we have for influence is to make a clear demonstration that we will do our part (given our past laggardliness, the notion that we can “take the lead” is just silly) and it seems obvious that, in deciding whether or not to do this, we should focus on impacts of particular relevance to us, hoping that others will do likewise.

Over the next week, the Australian Parliament will make, or perhaps decide not to make, its most important decision in many years, on the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But for some of Australia’s most vulnerable environmental assets, such as the Great Barrier Reef, it may already be too late.

I recently joined a group of scientists from a range of disciplines to prepare a statement on the policies needed to save the Great Barrier Reef, as we know it, from destruction by climate change. The group was organised by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), a peak body for over 60 professional organizations, representing more than 60 000 Australian scientists.

The evidence the scientists presented was sobering. An effective global agreement to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at or below 450 parts per million would give a 50-50 chance of holding the long-term increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees C.

Even warming of 2 degrees C, combined with increasing acidity due to the absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean, will pose a major challenge. Regular bleaching events, of the kind seen in 1998 and 2002 will make it more and more difficult for reefs to recover.

If we can manage other stresses such as runoff from fertilizers and other nutrients, there is still a chance that the best-managed and most resilient reef ecosystems will survive. But, even with the best possible policies, there are no 100 per cent guarantees. Even if we stopped emissions of greenhouse gases tomorrow, the warming that is already locked in might overwhelm fragile reef ecosystems. The best we can do is to improve the odds of survival by acting fast to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In working with scientists on this statement, I was struck by the care with which every sentence was checked to ensure that it was consistent with well-supported, peer-reviewed scientific studies. FASTS also produced a paper with advice on how policymakers and members of the public could distinguish valid scientific work from pseudoscience.

The contrast with the attitude of the conspiracy theorists, charlatans and cranks commonly presented as the other side of a scientific ‘debate’ is striking. Unconstrained by any standards of scientific research or even of simple honesty, these self-described “sceptics” jump from one silly talking point to another, without any concern for accuracy or logical consistency.

The ‘experts’ presented on the ‘sceptical’ side of the debate are a motley crew including water diviners, science fiction novelists. astrologers and even a dotty British peer. Depressingly, but inevitably, they include a handful of former scientists who have chosen, for one reason or another, to abandon the tested, peer-reviewed research in favor of error-ridden polemics.

The absurdity of this material has not affected its rapturous reception among those in the Liberal Party accurately described by a more realistic colleague as ‘fruit loops’. Senate Leader Nick Minchin, the most senior member of this group, explained the work of thousands of scientists on climate change as an extreme left plot to ‘sort of deindustrialise the Western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the Left, and … they embraced environmentalism as their new religion.’

Loopy or not, the conspiracy theorists will have a major influence on Parliament’s decisions. At this point it seems likely that, in the absence of concessions that would render the already weakened CPRS utterly useless, the Liberals will take the easy option of deferring a vote.

The Rudd government will then be faced with a simple choice. They can capitulate to a divided and discredited opposition, a choice that will avoid short-term trouble but ensure long-term disaster. Alternatively, the government can take a stand on the basis of the mandate it received at the last election and go to a double dissolution. This is the appropriate option prescribed by the Constitution in to resolve irreconcilable differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

If the current Parliament cannot summon the political will and common sense to save the Great Barrier Reef and other ecosystems on which we all depend, it should be dissolved sent back to the Australian people. Unlike the politicians, most ordinary Australians care enough about the planet and its future to make the right decisions.

120 thoughts on “The Oz strikes back

  1. @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje from your own link “Men (37%) and non-capital city (36%) respondents are two largest and undoubtedly interrelated cohorts that believe concerns about global warming are exaggerated.”

    I always knew women were smarter than men!

  2. Pr Q says:

    At this point it seems likely that, in the absence of concessions that would render the already weakened CPRS utterly useless, the Liberals will take the easy option of deferring a vote.

    If the current Parliament cannot summon the political will and common sense to save the Great Barrier Reef and other ecosystems on which we all depend, it should be dissolved sent back to the Australian people…the government can take a stand on the basis of the mandate it received at the last election and go to a double dissolution.

    Unlike the politicians, most ordinary Australians care enough about the planet and its future to make the right decisions.

    Correct me if I am wrong but Pr Q seems to be arguing that the current ETS bill before the Senate is a dead letter, with or without LP support. I take it that Pr Q would advise the ALP to reject the LP’s suggested amendments, given the that the LP leadership are demanding “concessions that would render the already weakened CPRS utterly useless” as the price of such support. Even if accepting the amendments would result in the passage of the weakened bill through the Senate.

    So Pr Q is now making an unconditional call for a Double Dissolution election based on mandate. I am not sure that this is such a good idea politically, even from a green perspective.

    Although generic support for climate change action is still strong in AUS, support for specific action has been trending down recently, probably owing to alarm overload and the GFC. Over the past three years net support has fallen by net 32%*. Pollytics observes that this public skepticism is consistent with Newspoll findings:

    The results here support what we’ve seen in both Essential Research and Newspoll polling on this topic over the last 12 months or so – a growing level of generic scepticism towards global warming.

    Added to this is the real risk that a government calling a Double Dissolution election a year early could provoke a back-lash from an irritated electorate. There have been six Double Dissolution elections in AUS federal history, half of which have resulted in a government defeat. And usually with an anti-government swing.

    Undoubtedly this polling and history is what is giving the delusionists political confidence.

    On the other hand overall polling trends make an ALP victory in a Double Dissolution election almost certain. This would give give the Left a tremendous boost, giving the GREENS extra Senators and allowing the passage of all sorts of radical legislation. THis is why Kelly is most anxious to avoid such a scenario.

    A double dissolution is likely to cut the Coalition’s numbers from 37 to 34 senators or even fewer. It is likely to increase Labor’s Senate numbers from 32 to 34…The biggest winners from a double dissolution may be the Greens.

    The deeper point, however, is that a double dissolution based on present polls would probably establish a Left-Centre Senate majority lasting for some years, with vast policy consequences, a horror scenario for the Coalition.

    Kelly is horrified by the thought of GREENs holding the balance of power, which is why he counselled the LP to bite the bullet and pass the bill:

    The risk for the Liberal Party is that a hardline stand against emissions trading will consolidate a Labor-Green majority position in the country, with the Coalition entrenched as a minority.

    The Liberals should aim to divide Labor and the Greens; this is best achieved by supporting the carbon measures.

    Over the medium to long term the evidence for AGW will only pile up, and the political support for CPRS will rise in proportion, particularly amongst the current 14-25 year demographic.

    So the LP denialists who are flirting with a Double Dissolution election are playing a high-risk game with possible short-term gains set against probable long-term losses. The ALP are facing precisely the opposite calculus.

    That is more or less the scenario confronting the realists on the LP front-bench which is why they are urging compromise with the ALP. It just staggers me that the LP is willing to take a huge electoral risk on the strength of politicians who lack a strong reality-based world view.

    I am guessing that Rudd will prefer to avoid a Double Dissolution election because he is risk-averse. Particularly as so many state ALP’s are urging concessions to Big Coal. (Why does’t Pr Q pick on them for a change, they are just as bad as the delusionists?)

    I predict that Rudd will accept LP amendments, waverers in the LP back-bench will blink and that that Parliament will vote for some sort of watered down ETS. A watered down ETS will be enough to take to Copenhagen. It can be strengthened later on as evidence piles up and negotiations progress.

    * “if we dont act now it will be too late” down 15% minus “concerns are exaggerated” up 17% equals negative 32%

  3. I always knew women were smarter than men!

    I suppose men are also a small but noisy minority group.

  4. Pr Q says:

    the line is that since Australia only contributes some small proportion of global emissions, it doesn’t matter what we do, and therefore we shouldn’t feel bad about the impending destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Of course, as stated in my article, what matters is that all developed countries should cut emissions. As in all international negotiations, our capacity to affect the outcome is limited but not zero. The only real capacity we have for influence is to make a clear demonstration that we will do our part…and it seems obvious that, in deciding whether or not to do this, we should focus on impacts of particular relevance to us, hoping that others will do likewise.

    Pr Q’s arguments for a strong CPRS always seem to collapse into some kind of idealistic moral argument – “litterbug” or “do the right thing” etc. This does not meet the full force of the selfish “free rider” argument. Free riders are not interested in arguments about “setting a good example” or “doing our bit”.

    “Hoping that others will do likewise” seems like a pretty weak reed on which to base a negotiating strategy.

    A free rider can respond that a global agreement in Copenhagen will come with or without our effective participation, since it will only pass with the support of USA and PRC. Neither of these powers are making their support contingent on AUS support. So that whatever sacrifices we make will essentially be superfluous to the outcome and purely symbolic.

    Therefore the GBR will live or die independent of what AUS policy makers do. ON this logic, the correct decision is to do as little as possible, so long as this does not attract international sanction or internalised losses.

    I suggest a better argument to make is that here is a significant probability that a strong commitment to cut carbon emissions may actually make a material difference to global carbon concentrations and global warming. Even if AUS carbon cuts make only a one percent reduction in CO2 concentration it could be enough to bring the world (and therefore AUS) back from the brink of a warming tipping point. This is a realistic possibility, although I am not familiar enough with meteorological facts to put hard numbers on it.

    Alternatively Pr Q could spell out the likely sanctions for free-riders who fail to hop onto the Copenhagen bandwagon. Or he could point out the economic losses incurred by the ecologic laggards.

    Realism is always better than idealism if you want workable political solutions.

  5. Congratulations!

    One can only be honoured to be attacked by an editorial from one of Rupert’s Pox News Media companies. After all, isn’t their motto “All the news that’s fit to flush?” And Rupert expects Google to pay for the privilege of providing links to his empire? That’s Chutzpah!

  6. “I always knew women were smarter than men!”

    Well Alice, there is no way anyone can refute your claim as any discussion of the scientific evidence of innate evolutionary biological differences is not permitted on this forum.

    So congratulations, you win by default.

  7. Good summary from Jack, but I’d propose his projected fall in public support of 32%, is less to do with informed climate change scepticism, than a manifestation of a dawning realisation that costs may be involved; therefore jostling to see who is left holding the baby is the real feature of politics, post Stern.

  8. @Freelander
    The only reason he is trying to get google to pay is because he knows the customers wont pay if he goes online Freelander (because his news is basically mass produced tripe these days anyway).

  9. harold sun:

    I’m not using the litterbug’s defence. See #25.

    unless I’m alturistic, it’s not in my interests to cut back substantially

    You are using the litterbug’s defence. Unless the litterbug is altruistic, it’s not in his interest to stop littering.

  10. Monkey’s Uncle, can you elaborate on your comment re,
    “…discussion of…evidence of innate evolutionary biological difference is not permitted at this forum”, re Alice’s proposition that women were smarter than men?
    ALL women know that ALL women are smarter than ALL men and even shrinking violets like Alice will be never backwards in coming forward on the relaying of this information.
    Think syllogistically and remember, if a woman thinks it, it MUST be right!!

  11. If you look at the 2007 data for emissions from the burning of fossil fuels Australia and the countries emitting less than us are responsible for 33% of the worlds emission. The third highest emitter is Russia which emits only 5.6% of the total compared with us on 1.5%. We are not going to get emissions down unless we small emitters do our share.
    96% of the worlds emissions come from countries that have a lower per capita emission than us.

  12. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    I think it is wrong to use the information that was gained by criminal means, ie hacking into an IT system. If on the other hand the hacker was in fact an insider who chose to release the tarball, it is still criminal means, as the insider has released material without authorisation and formal consent from the appropriate internal parties. Anyway, once the various anon-servers and bit-streamers have it, there is no going back. Questions of ethics get submerged by the sound of so many servers farming out the data to all the “accident gawkers”, ie those who want a peek but who wouldn’t understand the difference between sunspots and sunburn.

    No doubt Glenn Beck will laugh himself to sleep at night, thinking of the multi-nefarious ways he may use the details… {8-O

  13. Donald Oats – so when Jeffrey Wigand divulged private information belonging to big tobacco you were arguing that he was a criminal that should go to jail. Yes or no?

  14. @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Application of the due process of the Law Terje, application of the due process of the Law. Which means that at each step of the way the police, DPP, Magistrate, Trial Judge, etc may consider the law as it stands, whether there was intent to commit a crime, etc. The DPP had the power to decide on giving Jeffrey immunity from prosecution, as a witness for the prosecution. Plenty of other options were and are available for the criminal justice system to either avoid prosection or to find not guilty, or to quash the case on technicality and so on. Therefore, I’ll put my neck out and say the law should apply. The law and ethics are two sets with thin intersection, unfortunately.

    Now I simply do not have at hand the details of how Russell Crowe Jeffrey Wigand obtained and released the information on big Tobacco but if he was indeed an insider – worked for one them – and knew that their testimony on the Hill was in direct contradiction to the research projects and product improvement goals that the corporations had used to develop and sell more addictive nicotine delivery systems, well the right thing to do is to release that information as a whistleblower; only a person in that situation is able to ultimately make the call – given potential and/or certain consequences to themselves – on whether to release or not.

    At this point a Hypothetical (thanks Geoffrey Robertson) might be handy: what if we discover that the motive of Rusty Jeffrey Wigand was not to correct a wrong – a wrong that significantly affects the public – but to get revenge for being turned down for promotion, and for a string of poor performance appraisals, from an ex-girlfriend who is his manager. That would put a slightly different complexion upon the release of confidential documents, even if it ultimately served a public function. After all, Jeffrey chose to work for the cancer stick factories, and remained even after seeing what they were doing to maximise profits.

    So Terje, to be annoying I’ll give a yes-and-no answer to your first question. Yes, I think the due process of the Law should apply to Bluey Wigand; no, I don’t think he should sit rotting in a gaol cell, quite the opposite. But life isn’t always fair in the land of the free.

    For the P.S. I think ASIO staff should operate within the parameters of the Act governing it. Where they transgress ASIO officers should indeed be subject to the Law. Again, the circumstances matter in determining the eventual outcome of the due process of the Law, so I obviously cannot provide a general statement about whether ASIO is ethical or unethical – in fact, no one can, since ASIO is an institution and institutions do not possess the capacity to behave; only ASIO staff can behave or misbehave, and so the question of whether ASIO is unethical or ethical is an ill-posed question.

    As to whether it should be closed down or not, no. No it shouldn’t be closed down if ASIO staff perform within the parameters of the Act.

    Good questions though, Terje.
    Must go, Insiders is on I think.

  15. @paul walter
    Paul…ABSOLUTELY! Of course women are smarter than men. They walk sooner, talk sooner, get better marks at school, get better marks at uni. In fact the only stupid thing many women still do is end up with man for a) partner b) boss c) bank manager d) motor vehicle repairer !

  16. Denialism hit a new low – Unable to seriously challenge the science of climate change the denialists are sneaking in to check for skidmarks in people’s dirty underwear. I suspect the private communications of denialists and their orgs would reveal plenty of evidence of colluding to decieve; they’ve got a track history of living in an ethical vacuum.

    Meanwhile, I suppose it’s progress that we’re getting the ETS and CPRS debate at all; that it’s a dud and a big chunk of our community continue to think the world’s biggest coal exporter is a minor player in this (sorry, I can’t help but harp on about that can I?) leaves me feeling pretty pessimistic. Rural papers are celebrating the concession to have agricultural emissions permanenty excluded as a victory for farmers but, then, lots of them still live in a denialist fantasy and can’t see that failure to deal with emission, wherever they come from is the death nell for much Australian agriculture.

  17. Donald – the function of a spy agency is to get people to betray their government. In other words to get people to break the law. Spy agencies are by definition criminal organisations. Should we tolerate criminal activity if it serves the greater good. Clearly our government which funds the likes of ASIO thinks so.

  18. @Ken
    Yes Ken – those that “are sneaking in to check others dirty underwear” It wouldnt surprise at all me if this hacking was a plot hatched by the dirty denialists funded by conservatives…it has all the hallmarks – illegally spying, rapid link and even more rapid spread in the media as fast as possible with the help of rotten media moguls and any loose floating sympathetic denialist bigmouths…in fact this little piece de resistance really takes the cake and is the grand “soap opera of denialism”…worthy of a Dallas intrigue..(come to think of it, it probably is a Dallas drawing room intrigue hatched by a few ivy leaguers and their elegantly besuited friends).

    But as I say the hallmarks are identifiable…..reminds me of other great conservative beat ups and others where they got caught red handed …lets see now, Im scratching my head …oh thats right – back in the US (?SSR) there was that fuss about Clintons finances, there was tricky Dicky’s watergate, and even downunder there was Windschuttle and his history smears gained by picking through footnotes for errors or typos, then…oh Grechies email scam. But really, although they try the same thing here, the US makes Oz look like a bunch of rank amateurs at this game.

    Why do republicans in the states and the conservatives in Oz think they can get away with this crap? Cheating and lying!

    Answer – because they have enough money to fund these scams and smears by people who dont want to pay higher taxes.. We dont really think there is going to be any honesty about who organised this little hack coming out in the media do we??

    Dirty underwear? I know who wears it.

  19. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Terje – you posted the link yourself. Do you dispute me? A poll shows its mostly men who are AGW denialists and more so men living regionally. That means not only are city women smarter than men but so are country women! So whats the problem?

    All I said was women are smarter than men.

  20. @Tim McCarthy

    On the blogosphere the “settled science of global warming” is not having a good weekend.

    In the biosphere, where humans live IRL, the settled science is having a great weekend as a record November heatwave and catastrophic bushfire threats manifest all over the country and as Melbourne has near record downpours. In the UK, flood mitigation designed in 2005 to replace mitigation aimed at mitigating a once in 100-year flood with one able to mitigate a once in 500 year flood has been swept away by a once in 1000 year flood. Go figure.

    These things, though not clearly attributable to the climate anomaly furnish rather better evidence of the force of the theory than the CRU hack speaks against it, especially since the hack says nothing against the integrity of the basic science.

  21. Tim McCarthy:

    On the blogosphere the “settled science of global warming” is not having a good weekend.

    So there’s a scientific argument going on? Sure.

  22. Fran – if sceptics can’t use the lack of warming since 2001 as evidence against AGW then surely you can’t use one off weather events as evidence for it. 🙂

  23. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    There is a difference between saying “See there’s another one” when the evidence is overwhelmingly in your favour, and saying “See that isn’t one” when that’s the best you can do for evidence for a now absurdly refuted position, that is, so called skepticism, or more accurately described denial.

  24. Tim McCarthy :On the blogosphere the “settled science of global warming” is not having a good weekend.

    In the virtual space of the blogosphere you can create your own reality. Pity is some of us also live in the real world where that choice is not available. Clearly, climate change deniers benefit online because ‘no one knows you’re a monkey’.

  25. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Fran – if sceptics can’t use the lack of warming since 2001 as evidence against AGW then surely you can’t use one off weather events as evidence for it

    I chose my words carefully, Terje. I merely weighed the relative pertinence of current weather events and the content of the emails in question to the respective claims for or against anthropogenesis and found weather more telling than snark.

    In any event, as weather events of the kind described are part of the scenario asociated with the current climate anomaly, while one can’t in real time associate any specific event with the prediction in real time, each of them contributes over time to the soundness of the claim. Also, the flood mitigation scenario in the UK reaches back to 1990, so it verges on the significant in its own right.

    Finally, there has been technical warming since 2001, so this objection proceeds from a spurious foundation.

  26. @Ken

    I was amused by this further evidence of the fanaticism and increasing desperation of denialists. Given that there is no obvious pay off their activity, even if you are skeptical about AGW what is in it for you to campaign so vigorously about it, there must be some less obvious pay off. I think their more than reluctance to accept the facts is that the reality shatters their delusional view that the market can solve all problems. I think, this is the same source of more than reluctance the same people have in accepting that the stimulus worked.

    I doubt that hacking is a core skill for many of them, yet they went to so much trouble for what is basically an ad hominem attack. As if uncovering anything on a server would boost their ‘scientific’ position. Well, at least they are keeping us all amused.

  27. @Fran Barlow
    “I chose my words carefully” …”the settled science is having a great weekend as a record November heatwave and catastrophic bushfire threats manifest all over the country…”

    Record heatwave this weekend, eh? All over the country you say?

    Saturday 21 November 2009:

    City Max Temp
    Sydney 31.5
    Melbourne 25.9
    Brisbane 30.7
    Adelaide 23.1
    Perth 21.6
    Hobart 14.7
    Darwin 33.5
    Canberra 29.8

  28. If global warming were true then every day would be warmer than the one before until it got so hot our heads exploded.
    Our heads have not exploded
    I rest my case.

  29. @Cynic

    Very selective and your own data. Very impressive. How about Saturday 42 C for Sydney and Friday 38 C for Melbourne? Various records broken and so on.

  30. “Those saying that our extinction is possible are wrong.”
    “We have been around for a long time and are still here.” “I rest my case.”

    Recently found in a time capsule left by the dinosaur civilisation.

    Have the denialists buried their time capsules yet?

  31. @Freelander

    I was simply fact-checking Fran’s assertions. She said “weekend”..”heatwave”…”all over the country.”

    And I found that this did not match up with the Bureau of Meteorology data for Saturday. They hadn’t yet published data for Sunday at time of writing, but I don’t expect that heatwave suddenly struck then either. It certainly didn’t where I live.

    So, according to the Bureau of Metereology (not me), the max in Sydney on Saturday was 31.5, not 42 as you state. And Melbourne’s max was indeed 38 on Friday, but Friday is not part of the weekend – so it does not count. And it was 25.9 on the Saturday.

  32. Hottest melbourne night ever recorded in November, 40+ degrees in Sydney, arctic ice vanishing. Murderous heatwaves and revolting bushfires all ‘normal’ weather according to the skeptics.

    But we’re missing the main point. The skeptics have won! Emissions wont be cut!

    So this is a great great opportunity for ‘credit where its due’. Many skeptics are conservatives, who believe in taking rich full credit for their actions.

    Well, in the years to come, the results will be in on AGW. And people will say ‘Hey will you look at this weather! Where are those skeptics, I want to give them some zany feedback about it!’. The rich full gratitude will be incredible!

  33. Alice, it is also true that many men are required for the important work of fixing women’s plumbing .
    This and much more, men take on with little expectation of even a skerrick of gratitude, let alone a feed later, for we know that in womanhood we will never have a truer ornament to our lives.

  34. @Fran Barlow
    You said “all over the country” right? So what “heatwave” records were broken all over the country this weekend?

    For instance, in Adelaide it was below 25C this weekend, the mean temp for the first 22 days of November is 33.3.

    And Melbourne? The mean temp for the first 22 days of November is 28.5, yet it was only 25.9 on Saturday.

    Perth: mean temp for the first 22 days of November is 26.1, but it was only 21.6 on Saturday.

    And I am being generous in comparing with the mean temperatures, to break records would require temps in excess of previous highs. Which city did that? Answer: none.

  35. Cynic, We’ve had thirteen days above the old century in Adelaide this November.
    Perth, with a similar climate; sometimes fractionally hotter, has had just one such day this November. The 43* day put us in recollection of the heatwave we had earlier this year, that led to the massive bushfires in neighbouring Victoria.
    The March heatwave of 2008, with a fortnight straight over the old farenheit century, makes for a neat trio, except that it merely emphasises the trend of the last decade here, and the intrusion prospectively, of high summmer into what used to be autumn and spring, if some educated folk are to be beleived.

  36. Cynic: earlier this year Murray Bridge set its record maximum temperature. And record number of above 40C days during Spring, before the Summer has commenced!
    Jan09: Max Temp of 46.6C, and, 11 days of 35.0 or above, 6 days of 40.0 or above, 3 days of 45.0 or above, and 1 heatwave of 6 days.
    Feb09: Max Temp of 46.0C, and 7 days of 35.0 or above, 2 days of 40.0 or above, 1 day of 45.0 or above.
    Mar09: Max Temp of 35.0C.
    Apr09: Max Temp of 37.0C, and 1 day of 35.0 or above.

    Oct09: Max Temp of 36.0C, and 1 day of 35.0 or above.
    Nov09: (First 22 days) Max Temp of 43.0C, and, 12 days of 35.0 or above, 8 days of 40.0 or above, and 1 heatwave of 9 days duration (>= 35.0), and 1 extreme heatwave of 6 days duration (>=40.0). The extreme heatwave occurred within the “usual” heatwave.

    Now Cynic, we can harp on about how weather is not climate, how one extreme event doesn’t mean AGW is happening, etc. What is more difficult to ignore though, are events that punch through the expected statistics of a world where AGW is taken to not be happening. CSIRO made predictions that these sorts of nasty years would become more frequent. Given that this year hasn’t been an el-Nino year to date – the expectations are that the summer will signify el-Nino however – and given the solar minimum (yep, solar min *not* solar max), how come lil’ ol’ Murray Bridge has punched through so many records?

    It is a fair question, for the following reason. If AGW is happening, then it is consistent to see more records broken as time goes on, and for the time between broken records to be smaller than would happen if AGW wasn’t occurring. Imagine a situation where daily temperature is uncorrelated from day to day, and no trends present. Then, if the daily temp follows a normal distribution with known mean temp and known variance, we can calculate the statistics of record breaking events. Each time the max temp is broken, the new record is obviously more extreme than the previous one. For a normal distribution, that means that it will be harder to now break that new record, implying it will on average take longer before that happens. Over the course of a hundred years or so it will be much more difficult to break the max temp record at the end of the 100 years than at the beginning.
    After statistical corrections for additional properties of temperature time series, we still expect to see the general trend of it becoming more difficult to break max temp records.
    However, we are seeing contrary behaviour, which is statistically significant for global temp records. I haven’t checked on Murray Bridge, but the temp data for this year signals an extreme year, that’s for sure.

  37. Cynic is the type of person you could put in warm water which you slowly bring to the boil and he wouldn’t notice. Nevertheless, he would be well done at the end of the process. He is being well done on these pages and he does appear to notice.

  38. @Donald Oats climate stats:

    As a finale, a typical Murray Bridge year has 22.3 days above or equal to 35.0C – the first 10.6 months of this year produced 33 such days. Normally there would be on average 4.6 days equal to or above 40.0C – the first 10.6 months of this year produced 16 such days. The BOM doesn’t even track the 45.0C and above – the first 10.6 months of this year produced 4 such days.

    Since the data was at hand, I also looked at the highest monthly temperatures and the corresponding dates:
    The hottest 8 months are in the last 5 years, and in the decade 2001–2010 we have those 8 months. The decade 1991–2000 has 1 hottest month. The decade 1981–1990 has 2 hottest months, and 1971–1980 has 1 hottest month, for the grand total of 12 months.

    The 8 hottest this decade were spread over 4 years: 09 has 1, 07 has 2, 05 has 3, and 04 has 1. For 1991–2000 there is only 93 with 1. For 1981–1990 there are 87 with 1, and 86 with 2. For 1971–1980 there is only 75 with 1.

    Whichever way it is sliced and diced, this is a record breaking year so far (in Murray Bridge). It is consistent with predictions by CSIRO for South Australia.

    Regards, Don.

    “Higher temperatures gives more plant growth.”; some Delusorati.
    “I’ve never ever seen all of the roses dried on the bush in one day before.”; Don’s mum, Nov 2009.

  39. If one day’s temperature is important, then let’s agree that tomorrow’s temperature is a leading indicator of future climate change. It’s easy for skeptics to pick a previous cold day and believers to pick a previous warm day… let’s pick a random future day and put weight in that outcome.

  40. To all of you who ran to Fran’s defence, I am not disputing that we have experienced some hot weather lately. I live in Adelaide, and I definitely noticed the heatwave! But you have completely, utterly and unforgiveably missed the whole point of my post.

    Fran claimed that this weekend there was a heatwave all over the country. Well, there wasn’t. She got it wrong. OK? Do any of you people have the courage to admit that she made a mistake? Does she?

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