Wednesday, February 17, 2010

IPCC’s latest great source: a newsletter that doesn’t even back its scare

By Andrew Bolt

The Air Vent discovers another supposedly impeccable, peer-reviewed source for the IPCC’s alarmist claims in its 2007 report. The claim in question:
Climate variability affects many segments of this growing economic sector [Tourism]. For example, wildfires in Colorado (2002) and British Columbia (2003) caused tens of millions of dollars in tourism losses by reducing visitation and destroying infrastructure (Associated Press, 2002; Butler, 2002; BC Stats, 2003).

The Air Vent:
That’s two newspaper articles and one tourism statistics newsletter. I can’t find the first two articles, one is an old AP story and the other was in a newspaper that folded last year.

That doesn’t sound very scientific. And, in fact, the one source able to be checked - and the only one dealing with the impact of fires in British Columbia - shows no evidence for the IPCC claim. Here is the relevant passage from BC Stats, 2003: Tourism Sector Monitor – November 2003, British Columbia Ministry of Management Services, Victoria, 11 pp. [Accessed 09.02.07 here]:
Tourism is a seasonal phenomenon. The wildfires unfortunately burned mostly during July, August and September, the three months of the year when most room revenues are typically generated. More precisely, establishments generated 38% of their annual room revenues in these three months between 1995 and 2001. Moreover, the forest fires were at their peak in August, also
the peak month for tourism. Despite this bad timing, the peak of the 2003 season does not appear to be lower than the peak of previous years.

The Air Vent rightly concludes:
Once again, I am not saying that their claim is wrong. I am only underlining that their sources don’t match their claims. This shows that the IPCC already had a point of view, and they simply wanted a source to back up their claims. They found this BC Stats, probably didn’t read it because they figured it must show that fires reduce tourism, and cited it as the source of their claim. The IPCC makes a conclusion, then looks for evidence that supports their claims, and cite it. Sometimes they even cite evidence that doesn’t support their claims. Since no one read it for 2 years, they almost got away with it. This isn’t how a reputable scientific organization works.


Scandinavian Temperatures 1900 - 2000, IPCC´s Scandinavia-gate

In recent years the Swedish scientist from Stockholm University, Karlén, has tried to create attention to the fact the Scandinavian temperatures when represented by IPCC cannot be recognized in the real data from the Scandinavian temperature stations:

IPCC shows temperatures around year 2000 should be approximately 0,7 K higher than the peak around 1930-50, whereas the actual data collected by Karlen shows that year 2000 temperatures equals the 1930-50 peak, perhaps even lower.

Was Karlen wrong? To evaluate this, lets check out the National meteorological institues of the respective Scandinavian countries: Only Denmark shows slightly higher temperatures around year 2000 than in year 1930-50. 0,1 – 0,3 K warmer? However, the Danish Area around 3% of the overall area. For the vast majority of the Scandinavian area shows year 2000 temperatures just like the 1930-40 peak, Sweden maybe a tiny fall, Norway a tiny increase. Denmark is also the area of Scandinavia with far highest population density, and thus Denmark is likely to show more City heat effects (UHI) than the rest of Scandinavia.

So, With good confidence, we can say that Karlens data from Nordklim matches the opinions of the highest authority on Scandinavian temperatures. The very significant temperature peak around 1930-40 has been reduced almost removed totally. And thus the decline in temperatures after 1940 has been hidden. “Why?” and “How?” IPCC did this is basically up to the IPCC to come forward and explain. Until this happends, their vision of Scandinavian temperatures are for their own use only.

How about Sea temperatures in the Scandinavian are? Could IPCC have based their view on SST? No, because the graphic from IPCC is specifically land temperatures. But lets take a look at temperatures from Scandinavian Islands that to some degree also represents Sea temperatures – and due to their lower populations are more free of any potential City heat (UHI). Here data fom SMHI:

Scandinavian Ocean temperatures indicated from Iceland, Jan Mayen and Faroe Islands actually shows a clear pattern of lower temperatures in year 2000 than in around 1930-40. So never mind how we look at it, no shred of evidence to support the IPCC hockey-stick like warming over Scandinavia. And in general we see: The further from population, the cooler temperature trends.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The Continuing Climate Meltdown

More embarrassments for the U.N. and 'settled' science

It has been a bad—make that dreadful—few weeks for what used to be called the "settled science" of global warming, and especially for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is supposed to be its gold standard.

First it turns out that the Himalayan glaciers are not going to melt anytime soon, notwithstanding dire U.N. predictions. Next came news that an IPCC claim that global warming could destroy 40% of the Amazon was based on a report by an environmental pressure group. Other IPCC sources of scholarly note have included a mountaineering magazine and a student paper.

Since the climategate email story broke in November, the standard defense is that while the scandal may have revealed some all-too-human behavior by a handful of leading climatologists, it made no difference to the underlying science. We think the science is still disputable. But there's no doubt that climategate has spurred at least some reporters to scrutinize the IPCC's headline-grabbing claims in a way they had rarely done previously.

Take the rain forest claim. In its 2007 report, the IPCC wrote that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state."

But as Jonathan Leake of London's Sunday Times reported last month, those claims were based on a report from the World Wildlife Fund, which in turn had fundamentally misrepresented a study in the journal Nature. The Nature study, Mr. Leake writes, "did not assess rainfall but in fact looked at the impact on the forest of human activity such as logging and burning."

The IPCC has relied on World Wildlife Fund studies regarding the "transformation of natural coastal areas," the "destruction of more mangroves," "glacial lake outbursts causing mudflows and avalanches," changes in the ecosystem of the "Mesoamerican reef," and so on. The Wildlife Fund is a green lobby that believes in global warming, and its "research" reflects its advocacy, not the scientific method.

The IPCC has also cited a study by British climatologist Nigel Arnell claiming that global warming could deplete water resources for as many as 4.5 billion people by the year 2085. But as our Anne Jolis reported in our European edition, the IPCC neglected to include Mr. Arnell's corollary finding, which is that global warming could also increase water resources for as many as six billion people.

The IPCC report made aggressive claims that "extreme weather-related events" had led to "rapidly rising costs." Never mind that the link between global warming and storms like Hurricane Katrina remains tenuous at best. More astonishing (or, maybe, not so astonishing) is that the IPCC again based its assertion on a single study that was not peer-reviewed. In fact, nobody can reliably establish a quantifiable connection between global warming and increased disaster-related costs. In Holland, there's even a minor uproar over the report's claim that 55% of the country is below sea level. It's 26%.

Meanwhile, one of the scientists at the center of the climategate fiasco has called into question other issues that the climate lobby has claimed are indisputable. Phil Jones, who stepped down as head of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit amid the climate email scandal, told the BBC that the world may well have been warmer during medieval times than it is now.

This raises doubts about how much our current warming is man-made as opposed to merely another of the natural climate shifts that have taken place over the centuries. Mr. Jones also told the BBC there has been no "statistically significant" warming over the past 15 years, though he considers this to be temporary.

All of this matters because the IPCC has been advertised as the last and definitive word on climate science. Its reports are the basis on which Al Gore, President Obama and others have claimed that climate ruin is inevitable unless the world reorganizes its economies with huge new taxes on carbon. Now we are discovering the U.N. reports are sloppy political documents intended to drive the climate lobby's regulatory agenda.

The lesson of climategate and now the IPCC's shoddy sourcing is that the claims of the global warming lobby need far more rigorous scrutiny.


Wind Energy's Ghosts

Can people not learn from even the recent past?

Wiwo...wiwo...wiwo. The sound floats on the winds of Ka Le, this southernmost tip of Hawaii's Big Island, where Polynesian colonists first landed some 1,500 years ago. Some say that Ka Le is haunted -- and it is. But it's haunted not by Hawaii's legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are "Na leo o Kamaoa"-- the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.

The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU's expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.

The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill appears to be politically dead since Republican Scott Brown's paradigm-shattering Massachusetts Senate victory. But alternative proposals being floated by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and others still promise billions of dollars to wind developers and commit the United States to generate as much as 20% of its electricity from so-called "renewable" sources.

The ghosts of Kamaoa are not alone in warning us. Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles -- but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California "big three" locations -- Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio -- considered among the world's best wind sites.

Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy.

Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.

California's wind farms -- then comprising about 80% of the world's wind generation capacity -- ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.

The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio. But California's Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law. Wind Power advocate Paul Gipe, who got his start as an early 1970s environmental activist at Indiana's Ball State University, describes a 1998 Tehachapi tour thusly:

"Our bus drove directly through the Tehachapi Gorge passing the abandoned Airtricity site with its derelict Storm Master and Wind-Matic turbines and the deserted Wind Source site with its defunct Aeroman machines. We also got a freeway-close glimpse of Zond's wind wall with its 400 Vestas V15 turbines, the former Arbutus site on rugged Pajuela Peak where only the Bonus turbines are still in service, and steep-sided Cameron Ridge topped with FloWind's few remaining Darrieus turbines before reaching SeaWest, our first stop.

"As we approached SeaWest from the desert town of Mojave, the old Micon 108s were spinning merrily, but the Mitsubishis with their higher start-up speed were just coming to life. SeaWest and Fluidyne had done a commendable job of cleaning the Mitsubishis of their infamous oil leaks for the tour's arrival."

Writing in the February, 1999 edition of New Energy, Gipe explains: "From 1981 through 1985 federal and state tax subsidies in California were so great that wealthy investors could recover up to 50 percent of a wind turbine's cost. The lure of quick riches resulted in a flood of development using new and mostly untested wind turbines. By the end of 1986, when projects already underway in 1985 were completed, developers had installed nearly 15,000 wind turbines. These machines represented 1,200 MW of capacity worth US$2.4 billion in 1986 dollars."

It took nearly a decade from the time the first flimsy wind turbines were installed before the performance of California wind projects could dispel the widespread belief among the public and investors that wind energy was just a tax scam. Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised. He asks: "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place? It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

After the collapse, wind promoters had a solution to their public image problem. Hide the derelict turbines. Gipe in 1993 wrote for the American Wind Energy Association: "Currently most of the older, less productive wind turbines are located within sight of major travel corridors such as I-580 and I-10. Many first generation turbines and some of the second generation designs are inoperative, and all turbines of these generations are more prone to mechanical failure than contemporary designs. Public opinion surveys have consistently found that inoperative wind turbines tarnish the public's perception of wind energy's efficacy."

Gipe then quotes a 1991 UC Davis study, which explains: "Our research and that of others show that turbines' non-operation and public fear of wind farm abandonment is still a critical issue, and it therefore behooves the wind industry to return to the 'big three' wind farm sites (Altamont, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi) and to ensure that these areas are operating as efficiently as possible, and all turbine arrays which do not contribute significantly and conspicuously to power production are either replaced or, if necessary, removed."

Altamont's turbines have since 2008 been tethered four months of every year in an effort to protect migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit. According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society, 75 to 110 Golden Eagles, 380 Burrowing Owls, 300 Red-tailed Hawks, and 333 American Kestrels (falcons) are killed by Altamont turbines annually. A July, 2008 study by the Alameda County Community Development Agency points to 10,000 annual bird deaths from Altamont Pass wind turbines. Audubon calls Altamont, "probably the worst site ever chosen for a wind energy project." In 2004 the group unsuccessfully challenged renewal applications for 18 of 20 Altamont wind farms.

From its beginnings as a slogan of the anti-nuclear movement, wind energy has always been tied to taxpayer support and government intervention. Wind farms got their first boost with the Carter-era Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) which encouraged states to enact their own tax incentives. PURPA also for the first time allowed non-utility energy producers to sell electricity to utilities -- the first step towards a bungled half-privatization of electricity supply which would come two decades hence.

In the 1985 book "Dynamos and Virgins" a San Francisco based PG&E utility heir tells the story of how he joined forces in the 1970s with lawyers from the Environmental Defense Fund. Together they worked for years to obstruct coal and nuclear power plants until utilities were forced to do business with wind energy suppliers. Protest and litigation remain among the foremost competitive tools used by the now multi-billion dollar "alternative" energy industry. Reviewing the book, Robert Reich, a Kennedy School of Government professor who would later become Clinton's Secretary of Labor, wrote: "The old paradigms of large-scale production, centralized management, and infinite resources are crumbling. We are on the verge of a new political economy."

The new paradigm created by the generation of 1968 is more political and less economy. Without government intervention, utilities normally avoid wind energy. Wind's erratic power feed destabilizes power grids and forces engineers to stand by, always ready to fire up traditional generators. Wind does not fit into an electric supply model made up of steady massive low cost "base load" coal or nuclear plants backed up by on-call natural gas powered "peaker" units which kick in during high demand. No coal or nuclear power plant has ever been replaced by wind energy.

Although carbon credit schemes often assign profitable carbon credits to wind farm operators based on a theoretical displacement of carbon emitted by coal or natural gas producers, in reality these plants must keep burning to be able to quickly add supply every time the wind drops off. The formulae do not take into account carbon emitted by idling coal and natural gas plants nor the excess carbon generated by constant fire-up and shut down cycles necessitated to balance fluctuating wind supplies.


The problem with calling the end of the world

There's a major problem with those who keep telling us that the world is going to end because we're about to run out of something. Doesn't matter all that much what it is, as we know, there's always someone telling us that we're doomed, doomed I tell you, because oil, gas, forests, air, fresh water, is about to run out and then we'll all be sorry. There was even a fashion in the 1890s for the idea that pasture land for the world's horses would run out: the doomsayers entirely ignorant of the horseless carriage and kerosene.

The current one is some combination of gas running out and we'll all be reliant upon foreigners and oil will run out anyway. Well, maybe and maybe not: "The International Energy Agency said in November the world may have an “acute glut” of gas in the next few years because production of so-called unconventional fuel, which includes shale gas, is set to rise 71 percent between 2007 and 2030.......Western Europe may have held 510 trillion cubic feet of shale gas as of 2007, JPMorgan said. That’s adequate to feed Germany for 175 years, based on BP Plc’s data."

That number is, remember, after only a few years of looking for the stuff. You can put this two different ways (you may even think of other ones). The first is that we human beings don't in fact consume resources so much as create them: we create them by developing technology that can take advantage of them.

The second is the gross error that the doomsayers always make: that technology is static. Which, of course, it isn't and hasn't been ever since the first hominid noted the lovely sharp edges you can get from bashing two pieces of flint together.

Advancing technology isn't going to solve everything of course: while it's solved the physical problem of how a middle aged man such as myself might offer and gain enjoyment from having attracted a young popsie it's most unlikely to aid in doing such attraction. But advancing technology is going to solve, as it has done, the problems that we're going to run out of things.



Three articles below

“Fuelling Future Famines”

This generation of pampered westerners is the first tribe in the history of the world that seems determined to destroy its ability to produce food.

The history of the human race has always been a battle for protein in the face of the continual challenge of natural climate change. Nothing has changed for this generation, except the wildfire spread of a destructive new religion that requires the sacrifice of food producers on a global warming altar.

Food creation needs solar energy, land, carbon dioxide and water. All four food resources are under threat.

Eons ago, long before ancient humans learned to use the magic warmth locked in coal, millions of woolly mammoths were snap frozen in the icy wastes of Siberia. They are still being dug out of the ice today.

In the last few weeks, in a mild repeat of this past climate disaster, massive snowstorms have killed millions of domestic animals in Mongolia and China. The capacity to produce and distribute food has been decimated across the top of the world from Northern Europe and Russia to North America. When orange groves in Florida are damaged and Texas gets six snowstorms in a few weeks it is obvious that nature is damaging the world food supply.

Solar energy produces all of our food. Those who follow the sun are already recording a dramatic change in sunspots, which tend to reflect solar energy. This seems to indicate that the current frigid conditions affecting the Northern Hemisphere may not be an isolated weather event but may be a harbinger of natural climate change.

Global warming has never been a problem for mankind. But global cooling is a killer.

Australia can feed itself and is a major food supplier to the world – beef, mutton, cereals, sugar, dairy products, pork, chicken, eggs, seafood, nuts, legumes, fruit, vegetables, beer and wine.

However green extremists, supported by foolish politicians, are gnawing at the foundations of Australia’s food chain. And the biggest threat today is Climate Change Policies.

Land is an essential ingredient to most food production. All over Australia, uncontrolled regrowth of eucalypt scrub is silently reclaiming our vast grazing lands, the source of the lowest cost beef and mutton in the world. Generations of graziers have created and maintain these grasslands against the ever present threat of capture by woody weeds. Now their hands are tied and their land is being stolen by global warming politics. The suffocating scrub will soon pass the tipping point, beyond which grasslands are destroyed and the land is no longer capable of food production.

Land sterilisation is also occurring via the stealth of Wild Rivers, World Heritage and other lock-away-land policies.

Even more food producing land is lost by policies that subsidise people to grow carbon forests in the stupid belief that this will somehow improve the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees, grasses, sub-soil critters, grazing animals and carnivores are all part of the same carbon cycle. If one life form gets to monopolise land and carbon resources, it is detrimental to other life.

Still more stupid are market destroying policies that use government mandates and subsidies to convert food producing land to growing ethanol for cars. This has already caused massive dislocations to markets for corn, sugar, soybeans and palm oils. Forcing people to convert food into motor fuel is not a sensible policy and always adds to food shortages.

Carbon dioxide is the breath of life for all food production. Imagine the stupidity of trying to capture this harmless will-o-the-wisp in order to bury it in carbon cemeteries. Luckily for our food capacity, this suicidal policy of carbon capture and burial is unlikely to succeed.

Finally, let’s look at water, the life blood of all food production. Australia probably has access to more water per head of population than most countries in the world. However, decades of government mis-management have made us more vulnerable to every drought. Many government policies have encouraged the waste of water resources.

There are huge unused water resources across the north from the Fitzroy River in the West to the Flinders River in Cape York. Most of this water is untapped and unused because of government anti-development and land sterilisation policies.

In the south, other silly government policies have supplied water for “free” to the cities. Anything free is wasted. Because of urban demand, food producers are now being denied water at any price, but there is no real price rationing in the cities.

When natural climate change in the Northern Hemisphere is combined with political climate change in our southern food baskets, the real crisis creeping up on the world is not global warming caused by industry, but global famine caused by politicians. As Genghis Khan said wisely “Only a foolish horse fights with his feed bag”.


Legal action over failed Greenie scheme

THE Federal Government faces legal action on multiple fronts over its bungled home insulation program as fresh details of repeated warnings of the dangers emerge. Lyndon Hull, the uncle of Rueben Barnes, who received an electric shock in a Rockhampton ceiling in November, revealed yesterday that the family was taking advice from a Melbourne lawyer. Melbourne barrister John Ribbands said: "The Government, in a headlong rush to establish its green credentials . . . threw billions of dollars into this half-arsed program without giving any real thought to the checks and balances needed to make sure it worked efficiently."

It comes as Wendy Sweeney, whose son Mitchell was buried at the weekend, also contemplates legal action, and a Queensland grandfather sues the federal Environment Department after he was nearly electrocuted. Colin Brierley, 63, from Windaroo, south of Brisbane, is suing after he ended up in an induced coma in October after entering his roof cavity days after foil insulation was installed. "The electric shock went in the knee and came out the top of the head," he said. "I'm having difficulty with my memory, mainly short-term and balance and I'm having a bit of trouble with that, if I lift anything reasonably heavy I get pains going through the chest."

The use of foil insulation has been suspended, and Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who is battling to keep his job, has ordered a safety check on 48,000 homes which could be potential death traps. Four young tradespeople have lost their lives working on the program.

On October 16 Master Electricians chief executive Malcolm Richards warned Mr Garrett about serious and deadly dangers associated with his $2.45 billion insulation scheme. The contents of the letter have now emerged. Sixteen weeks ago Mr Richards told the Minister "the potential for further fatalities cannot be dismissed". But Mr Garrett did not ban foil insulation until last week. Mr Richards also raised concerns about metal staples used on foil insulation, and insulation being installed directly over high temperature light fittings which could cause house fires.

Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union national secretary (construction), Lindsay Fraser, called for "an investigation in the unscrupulous employers who put untrained people into these roofs that have resulted in deaths".

Mr Garrett denied he had snubbed an emergency meeting with unions and industry representatives to discuss the dangers of foil insulation. He said he called the meeting which was about technical issues, not to make decisions.


The Prime Minister must dump dead ducks and tackle what really matters

There is something noble about the advocacy of lost causes. Provided it is recognised they are lost. The alternative is self-delusion. There is little chance Kevin Rudd can get his emissions trading scheme through the Senate. To do so would require Labor to obtain seven additional votes. There are five Green senators and two independents but, for various reasons, the Greens and independents have indicated their intention to defeat this legislation.

When the legislation was subjected to a Senate vote last December, two Liberal senators crossed the floor to vote with the Rudd government - the Victorian Judith Troeth (first elected in 1993) and the Queenslander Sue Boyce (appointed in 2007 to fill a casual vacancy). Even if both cross the floor when it is next considered by the Senate, the Rudd government would still be five votes short of a majority - unless five senators from the Greens or independents vote with them.

The lesson is clear. The ETS is a lost cause. In which case, Rudd would be well advised to cut Labor's losses now and junk the legislation. A post-ETS political environment would make it possible for the Prime Minister to reshuffle his ministry and move the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, and the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, into different positions.

Rudd is primarily responsible for his government's inability to explain its climate change policies. However, the formal dumping of the ETS could be used as a rationalisation to explain a reshuffle.

Wong was a star performer in the 2007 election campaign and rarely missed making the required political point. It's just that, in her climate-change role, Wong sounds like an automaton who is unwilling to answer questions. Garrett appears to have become a victim of the PS syndrome - he is so committed to Planet Saving, he has not focused on the administration of Labor's environment program.

There was always a case for Australia awaiting the outcome of the Copenhagen summit before deciding on climate-change legislation. This would have suited both sides of politics. But Rudd bet on a more-or-less successful outcome at Copenhagen and the opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, went along with him because he is a true-believing eco-catastrophist. Tony Abbott's defeat of Turnbull in the Liberal Party leadership ballot, and the subsequent disaster that was Copenhagen, have changed the political climate.

Few would expect Abbott to win the next election but the Coalition under his leadership is capable of gaining votes and seats. The challenge posed by the new Liberal Party leadership should encourage Labor to change its focus.

* It has become fashionable for commentators to assert that Rudd cannot communicate a simple message. As far as the ETS is concerned, this is harsh. It is not clear if anyone can explain emissions trading in readily understandable terms. Before the 2007 election, Rudd could get across an understandable line. His current problem seems to be engaging in indirect speech. On Meet the Press last Sunday, for example, the Prime Minister prefaced his answer on a dozen occasions with the term: "Can I say?" - or words to this effect. No such question is necessary. He needs to talk directly.

* Since the election, the research capacity of the Prime Minister's office has been downgraded. This should be revamped. Two weeks ago Rudd forgot a commitment he had made about no worker being worse off under the Fair Work legislation. On Q&A last week, he incorrectly said there were three (rather than two) independent senators. His office should be spending time briefing the Prime Minister rather than running lines calculated to embarrass the opposition.

* There is little point attacking Tony Abbott's social conservatism. In the states where the Coalition threatens Labor - NSW and Queensland - social conservatism is not a negative. Some of the inner-city luvvies who dislike Abbott may not admit it, but the next election will not be won, or lost, in Ultimo or Leichhardt.

The Age journalist Katharine Murphy does not present as a prude. Indeed she describes herself as a secular feminist. Last month, Murphy described Abbott's advice to his young daughters about pre-marital sex as "more or less what I would advise my kids". Many parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents would agree - and quite a few would live in marginal seats. One of Rudd's appealing features to many voters in 2007 turned on the fact he is a social conservative himself. Labor should not forget this.

Political change is never easy. The success of the governments led by Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard is that they were able to implement significant reforms. Hawke and Keating never enjoyed a Senate majority and Howard only had majority support in the upper house in the final years of his government. Rudd needs to get things done.

Rudd's priority was climate change. Yet there was never any sense in Australia going out in front of the world on this issue. So far only the European Union nations have adopted an ETS and their economies are significantly different from that of Australia, Canada or the United States. The sinking of the ETS would make it possible for Rudd to focus on health and the economy. He would be ill-advised to go an election with an ETS in Labor's policy speech.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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