Thursday, August 19, 2010

One Of Our Hemispheres Is Missing!

The earth’s southern hemisphere is now in the winter season, and it is proving to be a severe one. There have been many deaths of people, animals, fish, and crops. But you haven’t heard about that from the northern hemisphere media.

As far as the media is concerned, there is no southern hemisphere. All the media coverage is about fires in Russia, Arctic ice melting, glaciers calving icebergs, heat waves on the U. S. east coast, and other “weather” occurrences up north. So let me bring you up to date on the highlights from down south.

June 17, 2010, “500 African penguins freeze to death in South Africa”.“Nearly 500 rare African Penguins have died in the past 24 hours as a result of extremely cold weather in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.” Here

July 19, 2010, “South Africa, Freezing Cold destroys several 100 (sic) Solar Thermal Systems”. Here

August 5, 2010, “Snow in Brazil, below zero Celsius in the River Plate and tropical fish frozen”. Here.

August 6, 2010, “Chilly in Chile: South America Hit by Cold Snap”. Here, Here, and Here

Temperatures in eastern Bolivia fell to 0° Celsius. Fish in rivers that normally flow at 20° C froze to death in water temperatures down to 6° C. Millions of fish, turtles, reptiles, and birds have died, the river waters are undrinkable, and the government closed them to fishing for at least a year. Normally these winter cold snaps last for a few days at a time. This “Surazos” (a cold wind from Argentina) lasted for 8 days.

The total death toll among people and animals across Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil is rising. A meter of snow across Patagonia and along the Andes is hampering communications. Many people have died across southern South America, and the livestock toll is in the millions. True numbers won’t be known until the snow melts.

Citrus and avocado crops in Chile have been damaged by frosts, and fruit exports may be reduced by 40%.

August 9, 2010, “Australians shiver through the coldest winter morning in 30 years.”

“Sydney was blanketed in frost on Wednesday as the city shivered through the coldest June morning in nearly 30 years, with temperatures at just 4C (39F).” Here

Meanwhile, the Southern Ocean ice cover is 1.3 million square kilometers above the mean value (1979 to 2008, since measurements began), and growing. This balances out the Arctic ice cover, giving us a global ice cover of almost 20 million square kilometers. See WUWT Ice Page Here.

These reports are from local sources. The mainstream media rule seems to be “If it doesn’t support our agenda, don’t report it.” For their practical purposes, the globe stops at the equator. Not only do they shut out scientific dissent, but also the cold hard facts from half the globe.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

America’s New Coal Boom -- in spite of the Greenies

Utilities across the USA are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come. An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

The construction wave stretches from Arizona to Illinois and South Carolina to Washington, and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.

The expansion, the industry's largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.

"Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide," said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. "That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that's pretty bad public policy."

Federal officials have long struggled to balance coal's hidden costs against its more conspicuous role in providing half the nation's electricity.

Hoping for a technological solution, the Obama administration devoted $3.4 billion in stimulus spending to foster "clean-coal" plants that can capture and store greenhouse gases. Yet new investments in traditional coal plants total at least 10 times that amount — more than $35 billion.

Utilities say they are clinging to coal because its abundance makes it cheaper than natural gas or nuclear power and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Still, the price of coal plants is rising and consumers in some areas served by the new facilities will see their electricity bill rise by up to 30 percent.

Industry representatives say those increases would be even steeper if utilities switched to more expensive fuels or were forced to adopt emission-reduction measures.

Approval of the plants has come from state and federal agencies that do not factor in emissions of carbon dioxide, considered the leading culprit behind global warming. Scientists and environmentalists have tried to stop the coal rush with some success, turning back dozens of plants through lawsuits and other legal challenges.

As a result, current construction is far more modest than projected a few years ago when 151 new plants were forecast by federal regulators. But analysts say the projects that prevailed are more than enough to ensure coal's continued dominance in the power industry for years to come.

Sixteen large plants have fired up since 2008 and 16 more are under construction, according to records examined by the AP. Combined, they will produce an estimated 17,900 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power up to 15.6 million homes — roughly the number of homes in California and Arizona combined.


U.S. Elections: Republican Candidates Knock Global Warming

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

GOP climate skeptics have held powerful positions on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the chairmanship of the House Energy and Senate Environment panels. But they’ve typically been among the minority. Now, they could form a key voting bloc, adding insult to injury for climate advocates who failed to pass an energy bill this year.

Environmental groups fear that adding more voices to the skeptic camp could further polarize the debate and make it more difficult at all levels of government to pass legislation curbing carbon dioxide emissions, especially if coupled with the defeat of standard-bearers such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Ron Johnson, running against Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D), is the latest in a line of Republicans to take a shot at the validity of global warming. “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."

Johnson told the newspaper that the climate change theory was “lunacy” and blamed changes in the Earth’s temperature to “sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time."

Similar remarks have been heard from GOP candidates in all parts of the country even as mainstream climate scientists defend their work from a steady line of attack.

Four independent reviews have concluded that the so-called “Climategate” e-mails stolen last fall from a United Kingdom research unit showed nothing more than a frank discussion (sic) among scientists working through large and complicated sets of data. And while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has admitted it erred in its 2007 report by citing a report concluding Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. organization said the mistake didn’t undermine its larger body of work.

Former Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, running for his old seat in southern New Mexico, told POLITICO that climate scientists should be questioned more thoroughly because of the stolen e-mails. “I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap,” Pearce said in Artesia, N.M. “They’re the ones who say in the e-mails we’ve got to worry about this, keep these voices quiet. If they don’t believe it, why should the rest of be penalized in our standard of living for something that can’t be validated?”

Sharron Angle, the GOP opponent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, said on her website in June that she thought legislation to curb greenhouse gases “is based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax.”


Australian conservative leader still doubts planet is getting hotter

TONY ABBOTT has restated his sceptical views on climate change, and suggested the world may be getting cooler, as the Australian Academy of Science released a new report warning of the future impact of global warming.

The Opposition Leader said he accepted "that climate change is real", but he did not back away from his view, based in part on the work of the Australian climate sceptic Ian Plimer, that the world is getting colder.

Asked by the ABC's Four Corners if he still disputed that humans are responsible for climate change, Mr Abbott said: "Sure, but that's not really relevant at the moment. We have agreed to get a 5 per cent emissions reduction target."

He suggested he harboured doubts about the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body charged with collating global warming research.

"I certainly think that there is a credible scientific counterpoint but, in the end, I'm not going to win an argument over the science, I'll leave that to the scientists," he told Four Corners. "I have pointed out in the past that there was that high year a few years ago, and … if you believe the various measuring organisations, [the temperature] hasn't increased, but again the point is not the science, the point is how should government respond and we have a credible response that will achieve a 5 per cent reduction by 2020 and the government doesn't."

Mr Abbott was referring to global temperatures in 1998, which coincided with a heat-inducing El Nino cycle, and by some measures was slightly hotter than 2005.

Neither the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, nor Mr Abbott, could say when Australia's greenhouse gas emissions needed to peak if the country was to achieve its minimum agreed emissions cut of 5 per cent by 2020.

The Coalition has pledged to meet the commitment principally by paying farmers to absorb more carbon dioxide into the soil, though it insists that its payments do not constitute a "carbon price".

The Labor Party will also attempt to soak up more carbon in the soil, but says its preferred mechanism for cutting emissions is still an emissions trading scheme, which it will consider introducing in 2013.

The renewed argument over the science of climate change comes as a study of 300 federal, state and local government political leaders, by the University of Queensland, suggests sharp differences in beliefs and understanding around global warming between the Coalition and Labor parties.

Coalition MPs were less likely to believe climate change is happening, and showed less trust in scientists, although the results reflected only those who decided to take part in the survey. Forty-one federal MPs, 101 state MPs and 69 local government representatives took part.

The results showed 38 per cent of Coalition politicians believed the world was getting warmer because of human-induced carbon emissions, compared with 57 per cent of non-aligned politicians, 89 per cent of Labor politicians and 98 per cent of Greens.

"This difference is unlikely to have occurred by chance," said Dr Kelly Fielding, of the university's Institute for Social Science. "What it shows is that a much higher proportion of Liberal-National politicians are uncertain in their views, whereas on average the Labor politicians are more likely to agree with the statements made by scientists."



Four current articles below:

Australia's Green party is far-Leftist

The big parties' panicked abandonment of climate change has effortlessly transformed the Greens. They are now two days from winning more power than they've ever dreamed of.

The Greens are almost certain to win the balance of power in the Senate for the first time. This will make them the arbiter of any legislative disagreement between Labor and Liberal and put them in a prize negotiating position.

And the betting markets make the Greens favourite to win their first seat in the House of Representatives on Saturday, giving them power to propose laws.

This is the Greens' big chance to go from fringe to mainstream. So what is Brown's vision? The Greens have policies on a great deal more than climate change.

Their tax policy, for instance, prefers less tax from the GST and more from income taxes. Specifically, it commits the party to raising the top income tax rate from 45 per cent to 50 per cent. And it demands company tax rise from 30 per cent to 33 per cent.

Would Brown actively pursue these proposals, or are they dead letters, like Labor's long-ignored platform to socialise industry?

Brown not only vigorously advanced the case for "a much more equitable tax system" yesterday, he also pledged a cap on executive salaries of $5 million. And he promised to force a future Labor government to extract an extra $2 billion in mining taxes to pay for education.

The Greens, in other words, are unabashedly advocating a greater redistribution of income. As opposition parties sniff power, they usually soften radical policies and become more centrist. Not the Greens.

Brown said he would "look at the imbalance in our trade agreements". He attacked the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and signalled hostility to the agreements Australia is negotiating with Japan and China.

The Greens support Labor's broadband network, but want to go further. Where Labor will build the network, then privatise it within five years, the Greens will seek to keep it in state ownership permanently.

Taken together, the Greens are bringing alive the old Labor commitment to redistributive socialism. And yesterday Brown said it was actually redistribution of wealth - not climate science - that was the reason he helped block the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme.

He helped defeat Australia's only realistic attempt at an ETS, he said, because Rudd's proposed compensation for carbon emitters, "the biggest polluters," was too much.

The Greens are often accused of being a watermelon party - green on the outside but a socialist red in the middle. Not true. The party's leader showed yesterday that it's actually more like a tomato, red not just on the outside but all the way to the centre.


Felled by an invidious green plot

"The conscience-less dishonesty of the green movement"

This is the chilling story of how green activists targeted and finally brought down John Gay, the visionary former chairman of the Tasmanian timber company Gunns, damaged the company and helped wreck the state economy.

It contains a clear warning for the rest of Australia of what lies in wait as emboldened environmental activists move on to new bogus campaigns against their next targets: the "wild rivers" of Cape York at the expense of indigenous enterprise, the fishing industry, farming or, catastrophically, the coal industry.

In Gay's downfall is everything you need to know about the conscience-less dishonesty of the green movement, and how its war on progress is camouflaged as concern for nature.

"I'm not bitter with the company," says Gay, who resigned in May. "I had to leave Gunns because the institutional investors were targeted by the greens and kept pressuring me to resign, and I just wasn't prepared to put my wife and two kids through any more [of the] thuggery in the green movement. They've damaged Tasmania and did their best to damage my credibility."

The third-generation Tasmanian sawmiller left school at 15 to work with his father, before building his own sawmill and being headhunted at 28 by Gunns, a family-owned timber milling and hardware store business in Launceston then turning over about $10 million a year. He became the managing director, transforming Gunns into a top 50 company with a market capitalisation of $900 million by 2003, when it was one of the best-performing companies on the stock exchange.

Gay bought the company back from the multinational Rio Tinto, becoming a hero of the working people of Tasmania.

But the international green movement and the Australian Wilderness Society fought a relentless campaign to bring the company to its knees and destroy Gay. They let loose violent feral protesters who chained themselves to trees and sabotaged logging equipment; protesters with placards picketed the ANZ Bank, which had undertaken to finance Gay's proposal for a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, but pulled out at the last minute.

And they had environmentalists in suits successfully traduce Gay to cowardly institutional investors who earlier this year dumped Gunn's shares, halving the value of the company in a week.

Greenies in suits also went to Japan, destroying Gunn's markets for its woodchips, threatening - in an oh-so-reasonable way - companies which used pulp sourced from Tasmania's forests to make paper. Afraid their brands would be trashed, Gunns' Japanese customers dropped Tasmania like a hot potato.

Then there was the personal vilification. Gay describes it as "torture" for his wife, Erica, and adult son and daughter, with his home under assault two or three nights a week for years - from smoke bombs under the house, stink bombs at the front door, dead possums in the yard, people rattling the gates late at night and screaming abuse from the street. His wife was spat at in the supermarket and the Tasmanian media sat on the fence as a good man's reputation was destroyed. "My wife and kids were tormented … I had to put in a security system so my wife could feel safe," he says.

Today Gay will say nothing bad about Gunns. But he must view with dismay what has happened since he left, with its wineries and hardware stores sold off at rock-bottom prices, and its capitulation to the green movement.

Like any quasi-religious force, the environmentalists needed an arcadia to save and a demon to fight. The cute island state and the "rapacious logger" fitted the bill. Gay was a godsend to them. An unreconstructed working man, who never completed high school and believed in honest work and fair play, he saw the world as rational and straightforward, rather than an insane place of spin, mirage and hidden agendas.

His friend of 45 years, and a former director of Gunns and former Liberal premier of Tasmania, Robin Gray, says: "John is a very, very decent bloke, very generous, but he's been painted as a dreadful uncaring person. "People who should know better were influenced … by green activists … who went to the chief executive of the ANZ Bank, which had given commitments to fund the pulp mill … The movement against him finally cost him his job."

The former premier Paul Lennon says the Tasmanian economy is "under extreme stress, the timber industry is on its knees". "Unemployment in Tasmania is 6.3 per cent. When I was in politics two years ago, it was 4 per cent. And we were one of the fastest-growing places in the country, but Tasmania is small and vulnerable to big shocks. We need projects like the pulp mill to underpin the economy."

Lennon blames the then environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for "sitting on his hands" over approval for the pulp mill before the 2007 election, under the onslaught of a campaign in his eastern suburbs Sydney seat of Wentworth by the businessman Geoffrey Cousins, who appeared out of nowhere to wage a virulent campaign against the mill. The delay, Lennon says, stopped the pulp mill in its tracks. Gunns is now in closed-door negotiations with the Wilderness Society over whether it will be allowed to continue with the mill.

"Who is actually going to believe that environmental management is going to be better in Indonesia or Malaysia," Lennon says. The campaign "exposes the real agenda of Greens". "The Greens believe in shrinking the economy. We've found in Tasmania [that] they always find a way to oppose projects - they always try to slow down growth."

One Tasmanian political insider says Gay's failure was that he was "out of touch with the way to operate a modern business". "He's a lovely bloke but he didn't have the skills or the layers of bureaucracy, or the PR people you need to manage the campaign for the pulp mill.

"He just thought a pulp mill was a good idea for Tasmania. It would create jobs, and he was going to build the best, most environmentally friendly one in the world. He couldn't understand why people were putting obstacles in his path."

Gay thought truth would win out. Now he lies in bed at night and worries about the logging contractors he couldn't save, who borrowed money to buy equipment and have lost their livelihood.

Gay refused to kowtow to irrational green bullying, and his demise stands as an object lesson.

What the green movement has done to Tasmania's timber industry, it will do to the rest of the country. Those purported 13 per cent of people planning to vote for the Greens on Saturday had better understand exactly what they are voting for. It's not about saving trees. It's about "moving backwards" to the dark ages.


Push to silence the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney after his criticism of Greenies

If a leading churchman cannot offer an interpretation of his own church's doctrine, we are back in Tudor times

The recent stoush [metaphorical punchup] between Cardinal George Pell and the Australian Greens prompts the question “Where is the Australian Tax Office when you need them?” According to Derek Mortimer, principal of DF Mortimer & Associates, a boutique law firm working exclusively for Not for Profit organisations, if the ATO cannot effectively monitor and regulate charities, it fails them.

Currently the ATO serves as a de facto regulator of charities. Through its tax ruling system, churches and other charities are prohibited by the ATO from engaging in party political activities like encouraging the public to vote against a particular party. There is a good reason for this prohibition. Charities need to keep their independence. The values and policies of political parties and charities can align sometimes, but not always.

Charities that take political sides can find their values compromised. In my opinion, this has happened to Cardinal Pell and the church he represents. In apparent defiance of the ATO’s own tax rulings Cardinal Pell is reported as saying the Greens are “anti-Christian”. But as the Greens have pointed out, at least some of their values and policies align squarely with Christians.

There appears to be no immediate, public effort by the ATO to restrain Cardinal Pell from making party political statements. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the ATO to do so. Yet the ATO has been travelling through the court system against a self described “activist” organisation called “Aid/Watch Incorporated”. The ATO says this organisation has a political purpose and cannot be charitable. The High Court heard the case in June and judgment will be handed down later this year. The independence of the ATO becomes compromised where it acts against one charitable organisation but does not appear to act against another.

Nor does the ATO have a formal complaints process for the public to complain about a charity’s apparent breach of tax rulings.

In Britain a member of the public can lodge a complaint about a charity engaging in party political activities with the independent charity regulator, the Charity Commission. The Commission may send the charity a warning letter (in the nature of a gentle reminder of obligations) and can also commence a more formal regulatory case report and in worse cases, revoke charity registration and consequent fiscal privileges . The Commission has been publicly active in the lead up to the recent British general elections, to investigate and rule on complaints about charities engaging in party political activities.

In January this year the Productivity Commission restated what the Australian charity sector has for many years been calling for; some form of charity regulator independent from the ATO. The ATO provides many useful services to charities, but if the ATO cannot effectively monitor and regulate charities, it fails them.


Despite the Greenies, large houses make sense

If the Greenies dropped their objection to "sprawl", their insistence on "dumb growth" and their opposition to land use changes, it might be different

ONE of the current social themes is that the consumer is to blame for wanting a big home. The new social order - excuse me if I get on my hobby horse for a second or two - wants us to buy something smaller and magically make our housing problems disappear.

Sadly, too few of those who clog up the blogosphere with urban commentary understand the economics of new housing or the decision-making process of a rational buyer.

Recent statistics published by CommSec show that Australia has the largest homes in the world, with the average floor area of a new dwelling (including townhouses but excluding apartments) topping 214sq m, up from 150sq m just 25 years ago.

The average floor area of new free-standing houses also set a record at 245sq m. Our homes are much larger than those in Europe and even many American cities.

Why has this occurred? It is simply economics. The actual land component of a new house-and-land package is very high and fixed. The land usually costs two-thirds of the total purchase price. This is particularly the case for basic or entry level new housing.

For example, the land component of a basic $375,000 house-and-land package in Queensland could cost as much as $250,000. In contrast, a 150sq m three-bedroom base level house on that land would cost about $135,000 or about $2500/sq m as a total price (including the price of the land).

Now a larger 250sq m four-bedroom house with a study might cost $175,000, making the total package cost $425,000. The buyer gets 100sq m of extra house for just $50,000 more. The total end price per square metre has now dropped to $1700, or 30 per cent less.

Here is the real rub. Assuming that the buyer can afford to pay the extra deposit and fund a $425,000 house-and-land package, all it costs - assuming a 10 per cent deposit and using today's rates - is an extra $10 a day in mortgage payments.

The new home buyer can now own a home that is two-thirds larger for just $70 a week. To upsize the house, as outlined in the example above, would cost the buyer an extra $3640 a year.

Given the high cost of land in and around our capital cities, the trend towards larger new homes makes economic sense. Consumers are just acting in their own interests and are making rational decisions to choose a larger and more valuable home for what is a small additional out-of-pocket expense.

Unless there are real economies in the land content, for example a plentiful supply of subdivided land to keep land prices keen, building a small house on a more traditional-sized suburban block of land is often not the best value for money.



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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