Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COP15 Copenhagen — What the...

Poorer nations walk out yesterday because they are afraid that Kyoto will be abandoned, India tell Kevin Rudd he is the ayatollah for his drive to abandon Kyoto in favour of a new deal; an African representative says his actions are those of a climate change sceptic. The US is balking at prematurely cutting emissions. Protesters clash outside. Two separate deals are now mooted. No takers. Chairperson of the conference, Connie Hedegaard of Denmark, resigns. Many complained there was no progress. She is also fighting with her prime minster. With time running out and little progress, the best headline the official website can come up with is "COP15 among the largest summits in the world ever" — Great, imagine the carbon footprint being the only outcome. Confusion reigns. There are no agreements on size of emissions cuts; and their is no real money on the table to help smaller nations mitigate this. Nor is there a plan. The money that is on the table has not moved the Nigerian representative. The Tuvalu representative, Stephen Fry, publicly cried for his beloved sinking country yesterday. Today he stood up and said that the Titanic is sinking, and it's time to deploy the lifeboats, not reconvene more meetings. China has said they won't take any money for mitigation from the developed world - it should go to poorer nations. Good on them. Danish PM has taken over the Chair to try and get things on track, but maybe that was the plan from the start as the heads of states start arriving. No journalist seems to know. Compromise deal keeping elements of Kyoto is now said to be waiting in the wings.

That's after nine days.

And there are only three days to go...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monboit vs Plimer: We've had the debate, finally

Watching Lateline on ABC tonight was a treat. Host Tony Jones has immersed himself in both the science and politics of climate change, and it is great to see a mainstream journo so well across the on-again, off-again, much threatened debate between Guardian science journalist, George Monboit and retired geologist turned avid AGW denial megaphone, Ian Plimer, that he managed to get them both on his show to bash it out in public.

I am always wary of reducing a complex area like climate-science to a televised debate format, so I settled into the debate with some apprehension.

So how did it go? More to the point, who won?

Jones opened asking Monboit to explain why he recently pessimistically claimed that AGW deniers are 'winning' ("There is no point in denying it: we're losing. Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease..."), which he did by elucidating the profound irony that poll after poll shows that, as the scientific evidence hardens (e.g., the IPCC says that they are 90% confident that man is causing dangerous global warming), the public is more and more gripped by climate change doubt. He believes this is because people simply don't want to face "the writing that's now on the wall".

Jones made the interesting point that the very conference Monboit was joining the debate from, COP15 Copenhagen, shows that world leaders are out touch with their faltering public. Monboit agreed, and made the equally interesting point that this is because governments are taking their lead from their scientific advisors, so they know they have to do something.

Plimer parried this, claiming that it is because governments can't resist the idea of a tax, and went on to accuse their scientific advisors of being "dodgy", citing the recent University of East Anglia so called 'climategate' hack. Monboit agrees that he as been let down by what he says the emails show in terms of keeping certain papers out of the IPCC process. But he pointed out that this did not make the science a "hoax or a con". Not taking Plimer's bait, he made the fair point that Phil Jones' indiscretions (in private emails I might add) do not debunk the consistent message coming from tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientists.

Plimer argued that the two or three CRU scientists involved in using "mafia-style tactics"were the main people the IPCC relied upon. Further cracks in Plimer's credibility appeared, when he claimed this is the "biggest scientific fraud in history". What about the work of your intellectual antecedents Ian, the pro-smoking, 'no link to cancer' lobby?

The rest of the debate was devoted to Monboit successfully taking Plimer to task over inaccuracies in his Plimer's book, Heaven + Earth, and his subsequent evasiveness over his real "scientific fraud". He mentioned two specifically — Plimer's claim that the world has cooled since 1998 (page 383 of Plimer's book referring to the Charles F.Keller paper), and that volcanoes emit more co2 than mankind.

Once presented with the the facts, that the WMO claims the last decade to be the hottest on record yet, and the US Geological Survey claim Pilmer to be wrong by an order of magnitude of 130 times, Plimer ducked and weaved. When asked to detract or stand by his claims, Plimer squirmed and distracted, obfuscated and attacked. But he just would not answer the question. Oh, look, a unicorn!

After it was clear that Monboit was not going to let him off his left-hook, Plimer jumped out of the ring to run away, and Tony Jones pulled him right back into it by his scruff. It was like watching an exorcism; his charm gave way to smarm, and viewers witnessed a denier being expertly dissected.

When Plimer accused Monboit of being rude for interjecting (when trying to get a straight answer out of Plimer), Monboit returned by pointing out it was rude to wittingly lie on television, and bad manners to not answer the question.

Monboit kicked Plimer's arse between Heaven + Earth, hell and high water. Deniers will pick on Monboit's aggression, but that's because they cannot fall back on Plimer's arguments. I was left with the impression that Plimer is aware and unconcerned about the irony of the full title of his book, "Heaven + Earth: The Missing Science of Global Warming" — it's clear that it's his book that is missing the science.

In short, Plimer got pwned.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joyce hoist on his own petard

One of the most useful sayings that French, that fabulous language, has given us is 'hoist on his own petard' - to be blown up by your own bomb (pronounced 'bembh' for ze Pink Panther fans).

Petard also handily translates to 'fart' -- the same noise emanating from Malcolm Turnbull's opposition backbench whenever he tried to push the Coalition's promised bipartisan message on climate change action. One of the main culprits was the National's climate change denier-in-chief, Barnaby Joyce, and for his noisy efforts in the plot to install Tony Abbot as the new opposition leader in his recent climate denier coup, he has been promoted to the shadow cabinet.

You would think Barnaby would now conduct himself with polite restraint, but no. He wasted no time farting in the general direction of China, and America, only to be told by Abbot to now stop his public emissions.

Ironically, one of the best outcomes of promoting Barnaby to the front bench, is that he may finally prevented from airing his more off-tune, odorous odium.

UPDATE - it ain't gonna work out...

Phillip Coorey on the dillema facing the retail Liberal party:

Joyce rose with the full imprimatur of Minchin and Abbott but he drove a hard bargain. He wanted the key portfolio and demanded the shadow ministry be expanded by one so his entry did not result in a fellow National being punted. There are 14 Nationals in Parliament - nine MPs and five senators. Nationals make up 15 per cent of the Coalition caucus and 20 per cent of its shadow cabinet.

If the idea of promoting Joyce was to get him into the tent to curb his excesses, it failed miserably in week one.


There will be no reining in of Joyce. As he told the Herald on Tuesday: "It's not as though you have a personality transplant when you go into cabinet."

Being a practical peoples, I think Australians would just settle for a brain-transplant.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Andrew Bolt: liar, denier, and father

Andrew Bolt really is a piece of work, of the guilty, paranoid kind:

Today he is having a go at Clive Hamilton for trying to "trying to turn my children against me":

Leave my children alone, Hamilton

This is seriously creepy. Is Green extremist Clive Hamilton now trying to turn my children against me - and by warning them I’m a corrupt killer?

Hi there,

There’s something you need to know about your father.

Your dad’s job is to try to stop the government making laws to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution. He is paid a lot of money to do that by big companies who do not want to own up to the fact that their pollution is changing the world’s climate in very harmful ways.

Because of their pollution, lots of people, mostly poor people, are likely to die. They will die from floods, from diseases like dengue fever, and from starvation when their crops won’t grow anymore. The big companies are putting their profits before the lives of people.

And your dad is helping them.

There is something sick about a man who, having failed to convince the adults, feels his best option is to terrify their children

When you read all of Clive's piece, you realise that there is no mention of Andrew Bolt. But, Bolt is so convinced that Clive is specifically writing to his children, he dedicates his headline to the notion.

Wondering why he protests too much?

Maybe this can explain it--here is Andrew Bolt over a year ago:

ANOTHER week, and another student tells me of a teacher who’s turned preacher instead.

This student, a very honest boy, tells me he was asked on Tuesday to give a summary on global warming.

Naturally, he included one plain fact: the planet hadn’t warmed since 1998, according to satellite measurements.

Check with Britain’s Hadley Centre. Or with Dr Roy Spencer, US head of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

No, no, no, said the teacher, brought in by the school to give a few lessons on learning techniques. You mustn’t believe such a thing. That was just put out by that Andrew Bolt, and, ha!, he was in a room of his own.

“Really?” replied my son.

Putting aside the obvious deception of using atmospheric measurements to make claims about the entire planet, to me this is clear evidence that Bolt not only sees himself as an AGW denial propagandist, but he also propagandises same to his son.

That he takes such umbrage at Hamilton's piece, yet takes his foul future-eating work home with him, just shows me how rank a hypocrite he is. That he doesn't dispute "he is paid a lot of money to do that by big companies who do not want to own up to the fact that their pollution is changing the world’s climate in very harmful ways" is his loudest admission yet.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ex-CIA director wants oil to go the way of salt

Over 100 years ago world powers fought over salt. True - salt preserves meat. Then they invented refrigeration, and the salt wars stopped.

Is refrigeration one reason why Gandhi dodged the British bullet for his salt satyagraha (not to take anything from the fact that he was a brilliant strategist)? Just a thought.

Anyhoo, that's what we need to happen with oil, say James Woolsey, ex-CIA director from 1993 to 1995, and now a partner in clean-energy group, VantagePoint. So goes the history lesson.

Opposition now opposes Australian people's will

How's that for an election strategy when staring down the barrel of an anytime-now double-dissolution election?

With 66 per cent of Australians supporting the emissions trading scheme, according to the Herald's Nielsen poll on Monday, and only 25 per cent supporting it, the Liberal party elects a hard-right, stem-cell research stopping, God-bothering wacko, preferred by only 25 per cent of Aussie voters. Did I already say he is against stem-cell research?



I just don't get the Liberals. Did big Fossil Fuel quietly promise to feather-bed the retirements of the ETS rejectors? Or did they have a communal brain-fart of frustration as a result of not being in power after countless years of having it?

To prove he is monkish mad when it comes to science, after Tony Abbott won the leadership by one vote (43 to Malcolm Turnbull's 42) he immediately called for a secret ballot on the fate of the ETS (CPRS) bill. Secret, I guess, so the electorate won't know who to take it out on come election time. Here is the verdict on whether to back or defer Rudd’s great green tax: Defer - 55, Back - 29. But we all know 'what' defer means. It means 'ship the CPRS bill off to a committee out the back and then put the bullet into it'.

Which, all in all, sounds like a recipe for a double-dissolution election, now that the Liberals have handed Labor a weapon, fully loaded. The same Nielsen poll shows that 57 per cent of voters, also support the Government calling an early election if the scheme is blocked. Let's hope Rudd throws off his conservative insticts about living out your full-term, and takes the opportunity to drive the stake thought he heart of this reality-avoiding Liberal opposition.

Bring it on. I really want to see these words of Tony Abbott come back to haunt him: "man-made climate change is crap". Yep, he said it, only to back peddle today after becoming leader, and claim that he was being hyperbolic at the time. Hyperbolic or hyper colic?

Anyway, if you want to know why the Liberal who spoiled their vote in the party room by writing "no" did so, Punch has just happened upon the secret diary of the offender.