Thursday, November 08, 2012

Current Climate Changes Are Normal: It’s Time The Media Got the Story Correct

by Dr. Tim Ball

Challengers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) science of global warming and later climate change were rewarded with illogical, personal attacks, not answers. Most, especially the media, never investigated questions challengers asked or considered contradicting facts they presented. Challengers were always questioned about qualifications, funding or political affiliations. Questions never asked of members and supporters of the IPCC.

Challengers were called global warming skeptics even though they acknowledged warming but showed it was not due to CO2. They also pointed out that all scientists must be skeptics. They were called climate change deniers when they knew climate changes and educated anybody who would listen how much and how often. The media never even investigated why the IPCC changed from Global Warming to Climate Change.

Bloomberg Business News cover page headline about the storm Sandy that hit New York says, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” This is a candidate for one of the most ill-informed, misleading, headlines. Apparently they, like most of the media, are so blinded by political bias they neglect to check facts. They know the public, especially those with similar political persuasion, don’t understand that;

* the world hasn’t warmed since 1997;

* the storm, Sandy, that triggered the headline wasn’t unusual in the historic record;

* the intensity of the storm was amplified by cold arctic air brought in by the Jet Stream a factor that was ignored because warm is the default bias;

* and weather patterns are well within natural climate variability, which is far greater and more rapid than most understand.

Sandy occurred mostly New York State so its history is telling. Only 8000 years ago New York State emerged from under the massive ice sheet that covered two-thirds of North America just 18,000 years ago.  There were similar large ice sheets in Europe and Asia.

Water removed from the oceans to build the glaciers lowered sea level by 140 m. It has risen by that amount since and the rate of rise has leveled.

The graph shows how much temperature changes naturally with a range of 12°C and dramatic swings. These are greater when you understand that a 70 year smoothing average is applied. This equates to using a single temperature for the last 70 years. Which 70 years would the media choose as ‘better’ than today. Think of recent cold winters and consider whether it was better. The world was almost as warm as today for a fraction of the last half million years.

For most of the last 10,000 years the world was warmer than today: a period variously known as the Climatic Optimum, the Hypsithermal and now the Holocene Optimum. It is recorded in the Greenland ice core.

On average it was 3°C warmer than today for most of the 10,000 years. Further tangible evidence of warmth is the existence of a fossilized white spruce photographed and radiocarbon dated at 4949 before present (BP) by Professor Ritchie. (indicated on the ice core chart.).

It is important to note the existence of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the more recent Little Ice Age (LIA) on the right side of the graph. Through the work of Michael Mann and others at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia and given prominence in the 2001 IPCC Report the MWP was eliminated. Phil Jones, another CRU and IPCC author, determined the up turn in temperatures after the LIA was more and faster than any in the natural record and proof of human CO2 influence. Compare that claim with the remainder of the Greenland and Antarctic ice core records. Compare it with the fluctuations in the modern record from 1750.

None of those temperature records are driven by CO2. In each the temperature increases before the CO2 contradicting the fundamental assumption of the IPCC . The modern record shows a similar pattern with natural and human CO2 production. In the twentieth century temperature increased the most from 1900 to 1950 but human production of CO2 was lower. Production increased dramatically after WW II, but temperatures declined.

They increased from 1980 to 1998 and the IPCC exploited this as proof of global warming. They claimed the 1990s was the warmest decade ever and was the result of increasing CO2 from human activities. Then in 2000 the wheels fell off – CO2 continued to increase but temperatures stopped increasing. Instead of acknowledging their hypothesis was wrong because their predictions were wrong and the evidence didn’t match their claims the IPCC moved the goalposts from global warming to climate change. The biased media were easily duped, asked the wrong questions or no questions at all and attacked those who did. They didn’t consider the historic context or ask what caused the changes because they didn’t know that climate changes all the time and current changes are natural. Would somebody please tell them?

More HERE  (See the original for links, more graphics)

Climate skeptic called a pedophile -- despite sweeping exoneration in court

John O'Sullivan writes:

HuffPo duly obliged by running an attack piece by Brendan DeMelle on yours truly based on “evidence” submitted in a sworn affidavit from one of Mann’s loyal supporters. I was singled out for a vicious attack after the story that I literally wagered my house on Ball beating Mann went viral. HuffPo’s “evidence” was gleaned from an affidavit submitted by Andrew Skolnick, a disgraced [fired by the AMA] former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), to the B.C. Supreme Court.

But neither DeMelle or HuffPo did any proper due diligence on Skolnick. They were so impressed by his bogus affidavit claim to be a “Pulitzer Prize nominee” they simply swallowed whole his pack of lies. And why wouldn’t they – it was all in Skolnick’s sworn Canadian court affidavit for Mann’s team so it must be true right? Wrong.

Skolnick is no less a perjurer than Mann. The most sickening part of HuffPo’s attack piece was the (already officially discredited) lie that I unlawfully misrepresented my legal credentials in Canada, plus the inference I was a pedophile (disproved by a full official UK Govt. investigation). But even when the New York County Lawyers Association came out to denounce HuffPo’s misrepresentations with evidence in my defense, no retractions were made. But to anyone up on the law it is very obvious I would face criminal prosecution if I’d falsely represented myself as a licensed attorney.

But as we have seen so often with these pro-green radicals, their mission isn’t to gauge the veracity of the evidence, it’s simply to wound their target with lots of cheap shots and innuendo. Skolnick’s “pedophile” slur relies heavily on newspaper cuttings from 2004 from a time when I was working as a schoolteacher. I had been arrested, tried and then acquitted on six criminal counts involving a teenage girl in my care. Naturally, such a salacious story had initially filled the British national press and, up till the surprise verdict, I was certainly painted as a violent pedophile.

But as we have learned from media coverage about global warming, the truth is often very different from what is portrayed in the mainstream press. Yes, I was accused of some awful crimes. Yes, even being accused is very damaging not just to me, but to my family, especially my young son and daughter. But I wasn’t a quitter. I mounted my own defense and I set out to prove that the key physical “evidence” against me, a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation between the girl and me, had been faked. In a three-day ordeal by public trial I exposed the lies of the prosecutor and his witnesses. A verdict of “not guilty” was handed down on all charges within 30 minutes. All this is on court record.

Just as with the Mann lawsuits versus Ball and others, in my story we find eerie parallels of evidence abuse and fake claims made from authority. Unbeknown to me the girl had taped the conversation I had with her at the time of the alleged “attack.” In my case the court was urged to accept on police and Crown Prosecution authority that the transcript they provided of the girl’s secret tape recording was a reliable and true record. In it’s submissions, the only evidence the prosecutor wanted the court to examine was their carefully prepared transcript, not the secret tape recording itself. However, I fought for my rights until I was granted a full courtroom examination of the tape,too.

Given access to listen to the tape I prepared my own transcript and presented it to the court alongside the prosecutor’s version. Thereby everyone present in the court could verify for themselves the reliability of each transcript by comparison to the tape recording as it was played out repeatedly to a stunned court. Such is how the truth is uncovered. No evidence should be kept secret under lock and key and no authority can be assumed to be always faithful to the truth.

Against the odds I succeeded in forcing the Crown Prosecution Service to comply with the rules of evidence to ensure a full, fair and open examination of ALL the evidence. Widespread shock and outrage ensued when the prosecutor’s transcript was shown to be so riddled with omissions and bogus added dialog (damning words not heard on the tape) that such “mistakes” all somehow favored the prosecutor’s case and/or harmed my own. Angry voices at the back of the court could be heard that, in legal parlance, accused the prosecution of succumbing to noble cause corruption. In the fifteen minutes it took for the court to hear the tape recording the case against me had unraveled and the girl exposed as a liar.

Of course, the British tabloids, always keen to get their teeth into a salacious story had already done the damage to my reputation. The press has never had a good track record when it comes to putting right their mistakes. It seems the same goes for the HuffPo.

Upon my full acquittal a full internal police inquiry ensued and I prepared for a long legal battle to claim damages. Soon my case was used by civil rights activists as evidence for a change in English law so that schoolteachers accused of child sex offenses should have their identities kept anonymous, unless found guilty.

Moreover, medical evidence that could have proven the girl was mentally ill was never allowed to be presented at trial. No press stories ever appeared about my complete vindication or the exposure of the police and prosecution conspiracy. The case was virtually “sanitized” from the Internet. But a year later the matter was eventually settled out of court in my favor. The Secretary of State for Education completely exonerated me and contrary to Skolnick’s lies, I could resume teaching any time I wanted. But because of my change in financial circumstances I chose not to.

It is from such personal experience that private individuals become inspired to fight government corruption. This is how I first became immersed in the Climategate scandal. I wanted to be a champion for climate truth and, as they say, eventually “the truth will out!” Now, I sense another legal victory coming. When it happens I hope to see criminal prosecutions against those climatologists that knowingly engaged in the conspiracy to falsify data to bolster a concocted narrative. Fraudsters who peddled the lie of catastrophic man-made global warming should also pay for such “noble cause corruption.”

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Climate scientists’ “consensus” based on a myth

Doran/Zimmerman global warming poll a tragic example of research gone wrong

It’s a “fact” asserted by political leaders, media and activists worldwide. Important public policy and corporate decisions are based on it. Researchers and public opinion survey coordinators take it as a given. School children and college and university students are assured it is true.

It is the idea that scientists agree that we are causing climate catastrophe. It is perhaps best summed up by the following statement, one heard often over the past three years:

“97% of climate experts agree that humanity is causing dangerous global warming and other problematic climate change because of our greenhouse gas emissions.”

No poll of experts has actually shown this. There has never been a reputable worldwide survey of climate scientists that has even asked the question. In fact, it has never even been demonstrated that there is any “global scientific consensus about the climate crisis”, as Al Gore continually assures us that there is.

This is simply one more of the many urban legends that permeate the climate debate, myths that are costing societies across the world billions of dollars every year.

Two pieces of evidence are most often cited to support the 97%/consensus argument:

* A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) by Anderegg et al.

* A poll conducted in April 2008 by Professor Peter Doran and then-graduate student Margaret R. K. Zimmerman at University of Illinois at Chicago. The survey results were summarized in a paper published in January 2009 in the science journal EOS.

Contrary to popular belief, the Anderegg et al study did not poll any experts at all. Instead, the paper’s authors merely evaluated the publication record of scientists they chose to represent two sides in the global warming debate. This study has been roundly condemned as worse than useless by several authors and, because I was personally involved in assembling some of the lists of experts cited by the researchers and so understand the limitations of those lists, I will explain in a future FCPP blog posting why the Anderegg et al study is not a meaningful indicator of expert opinion about this topic.

The Doran/Zimmerman study, which did poll experts, has also been thoroughly debunked by many writers and so there is little point in repeating their criticisms in this blog posting. However, there are two problems with the study that have received little or no coverage to date. Both of these problems destroy the poll’s credibility as a reliable measure of the stance of climate scientists on the supposed climate crisis.

1). First, to be included in the final list of 77 climatologists (75 of whom, or 97%, answered yes to Doran and Zimmerman’s ambiguous question about the causes of climate change (see below)) scientists must have published at least 50% of their peer-reviewed publications in the last five years on the subject of climate change. This means that a climatologist who has published three papers in the past five years, two of which were on the subject of climate change, would have been included in the final 77. A scientist who published 40 papers in the past five years, 19 of which were in the field of climate change would not have made the cut. How this serious flaw in the survey methodology affected the results is impossible to determine without examining the raw polling data. More information is required from Doran and Zimmerman to determine the effect of this problem.

2). The second issue is far more serious and undoubtedly skewed the results in favour of the view that most experts in the field agree that human-caused climate change is a problem.

Zimmerman’s Master’s thesis, the foundation of the EOS paper, apparently did not appear on line until September 2011, two years and eight months after the EOS paper was published (how media and others could trumpet the results presented in the EOS paper without first examining the survey methodology and raw data is a topic for another blog posting).

Zimmerman’s thesis can now be downloaded here for $1.98. It is well worth reading, not only to note the apparent researcher bias revealed in the introduction and the obvious flaws in much of the survey methodology, but also as an interesting summary of the problems in the research on consensus among climate experts to that point.

Even more illuminating are the thesis appendices which include hundreds of comments from the scientists being polled. Therein, it is revealed that many of the very serious problems with the survey questions and methodology were pointed out repeatedly by the scientist respondents while the poll was being run.

Here is just one example of the many issues respondents had with the survey.

The two principle questions in the poll, the results of which monopolized media coverage, were:

Q1. “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

Q2. “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” The possible answers were, “Yes”, “No”, and “I’m not sure.”

In later queries,  survey respondents were given the opportunity to enter text in response to, for example, question 3c:

“What makes you unsure if human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing global mean temperatures?”

Not surprisingly, many experts took the opportunity to thoroughly dismantle the obvious problems in these questions.  For example, at least 34 scientists objected to the use of the word “significant” when applied in this context....

Imagine if, while a bridge was being constructed, 34 civil engineering experts all warned that the bridge would collapse unless there were major changes in its design. What sane chief engineer would not go back to the drawing board and make the changes necessary to avoid catastrophe?

Yet, I see no evidence that the very serious wording problems discussed by survey respondents above were properly addressed, let alone corrected, as a result of the feedback from the scientists being polled.

More HERE  (See the original for the many objections of survey respondents)

The political storm over climate change

The fallout from Hurricane Sandy confirms how hard it is to have a rational debate about climatic issues.

Superstorm Sandy was not the end of New York City as we know it (although it may be the end of the known Jersey Shore.) The city will recover, of course. Power will be restored. Path trains to New Jersey and the New York subway system, which sustained the worst damage in its 108-year history, will eventually be fully repaired, with difficulty. (The system is now partially restored.)

But it was an unprecedented storm that wreaked unprecedented damage (multi-billion dollar damage), although neither the storm nor the damage was un-predicted. Scientists have long warned that New York was at serious risk of the serious flooding wrought by the 13-foot storm surge that accompanied Sandy. Still the city was unprepared and will be unprepared again if hit by a similar storm in the next few years. Massive new infrastructure required to protect it from predictable future floods is not even in the planning stage.

Sea levels are rising; that’s a fact. Storms, and droughts, have increased in severity and weirdness in recent years; that’s a fact, too, but one open to interpretation. Maybe the freak storms we’ve been experiencing are mere blips. Maybe not. Maybe the convergence of extreme weather events with predictions of extreme weather events by believers in climate change is mere coincidence. Maybe not.

Might we conduct a serious, substantive, public discussion about the fact of rising seas and the possibilities of climate change? Probably not in the near future, if the past and present are prologue. Climate change has not been discussed much, if at all, in the 2012 presidential race, although both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have expressed belief that it’s occurring.

‘I believe the world is getting warmer’, Romney said, in June, 2011. ‘It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.’ But on the right, climate change is regarded as a left-wing conspiracy or fable. (Right-wing religious nuts periodically attribute severe storms to God’s wrath at our tolerance of gay people.) So Romney’s hesitancy to repeat his 2011 belief in 2012 is unsurprising. (And, anyone paying attention to him knows that the opinions Romney expresses today are rarely predictive of the opinions he’ll express tomorrow.)

Obama’s reasons for ignoring the climate change debate are less clear. Maybe it’s simply been overshadowed by the economy. Maybe it’s considered a dangerously controversial subject. But, interestingly, according to the Pew Forum, a strong majority believes that climate change is occurring:

‘Currently 67 per cent (of survey respondents) say there is solid evidence that the Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades, up four points since last year and 10 points since 2009. Similarly, an increasing proportion say that the rise in the Earth’s temperature has mostly been caused by human activity. Currently, 42 per cent say the warming is mostly caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, while 19 per cent say it is mostly caused by natural patterns in the Earth’s environment. Last year, 38 per cent mostly attributed global warming to human activity, and in 2010 34 per cent did so.’

What does the public know? Public opinion reacts to weather patterns, not data. How much opinion is influenced by politics and media coverage is unclear. But it is clear that the subject of climate change has been so thoroughly politicised that, outside the scientific community, it exists more as an ideological marker than a matter for informed debate. ‘Partisan affiliation is the best predictor of someone’s belief in climate change’, Brookings Institute fellow Barry Rabe recently remarked.

If you’re a right-wing Republican, you’re likely to scoff at climate change and the people who believe in it. If you’re a left-wing Democrat, you’re likely to warn of its imminent dangers, scoffing at the people who consider it fantasy or hoax. Like abortion rights, gay marriage or assisted dying, climate change is treated as a moral or ideological question. That is simply idiotic. Yes, people who consider climate change a pressing reality can make moral arguments for addressing it; but whether or not it is actually occurring is question of fact, not morality or ideology. If climate change is illusory, an ideological bias favouring it is irrelevant; so is an ideological bias against it, if climate change is real.


Fractured Fairy Tales

Greens hate natural gas and fracking, but costly, parasitic wind energy can't live without it.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have boosted shale gas production from zero a few years ago to 10% of all US energy supplies in 2012, observes energy analyst Daniel Yergin. Fracking has also increased US oil production 25% since 2008 - almost all on state and private lands, and in the face of more federal land and resource withdrawals, permitting delays and declining public land production.

In the process, the fracking revolution created 1.7 million jobs in oil fields, equipment manufacturing, legal and information technology services, and other sectors. It will generate over $60 billion this year in state and federal tax and royalty revenues, reduce America's oil import bill by $75 billion, and save us $100 billion in imported liquefied natural gas, concludes a new IMF Global Insight analysis.

A resurgent American petroleum industry could add "as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020, and increase the US gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent," says Citigroup's "Energy 2020" report. Fracking is bringing new jobs and revenues to states underlain by shale deposits, and could give our nation over a century of hydrocarbon energy that will keep prices low for fuel and petrochemical feed stocks.

That means more manufacturing and other jobs for millions of graduates and unemployed workers, and new prosperity for the "Rust Belt" and other areas. "Plunging natural gas prices have turned the US into one of the most profitable places in the world to make chemicals and fertilizer," says the Wall Street Journal. It's also "slashed costs for makers of energy-intensive products such as aluminum, steel and glass."

It could make North America energy independent and even a net exporter of natural gas. In fact, this amazing new technology could turn the United States into the world's #1 oil producer within just a few more years.

For people still concerned about "catastrophic manmade global warming" (despite 16 years of stable global temperatures), unconventional gas also provides a way to cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40% using clean-burning fuel that costs a third less than oil on a per BTU basis, notes Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg. The USA's CO2 emissions are now at their lowest levels in 20 years, because of natural gas, a sluggish economy, and the retirement of 100-200 coal-fired power plants due to an EPA regulatory onslaught that is based heavily on agenda-driven, slipshod and even fraudulent and illegal science.

Logic and common sense would engender unprecedented public, political and even environmentalist support for hydraulic fracturing and expanded oil and gas production. Indeed, that is Governor Romney's perspective and policy. Unfortunately, Team Obama remains largely opposed to domestic drilling, fixated on "renewable" energy, despite having already wasted some $97 billion on wind, solar and algae projects - and poised to unleash a boxcar of new EPA and BLM rules designed to usurp state control and restrict or hyper-regulate fracking on federal, state and private lands alike, win or lose on November 6.

Team Obama justifies its stance by citing public anxiety over fracking. It fails to mention that this anxiety has been nurtured and orchestrated by a host of environmental pressure groups whose existence, monetary sustenance and political power depend on a steady stream of new eco-hobgoblins. Their fractured fairy tales about this game-changing energy technology would be as funny as the Rocky and Bullwinkle tales, if the economic, employment, national security and environmental consequences weren't so serious.

Hydraulic fracturing devastates their mantra that we are running out of oil and gas. It annihilates their incessant assertions that hydrocarbons are the energy of the past, and renewables are the future. In reality, wind and solar cannot live with cheap natural gas (because they cannot possibly compete with it) and cannot live without it (because they only work 20% of the time and need gas as constant backup power).

Consequently, the anti-fracking factions have concocted a hodgepodge of eco-scares, each one more absurd and indefensible than the last.

Burning tap water. Yes, you can ignite methane at your kitchen faucet, if your well was drilled through gas-bearing rock formations and was not properly cemented and sealed to keep gas out. (Eternal Flame Falls in New York's Chestnut Ridge Park is one example of natural methane leakage.) But fracturing zones are thousands of feet below groundwater supplies; production wells use cement and steel casing that extends hundreds of feet below the surface; and sensitive instruments monitor downhole activity, to ensure that valuable gas does not escape into near-surface formations or the atmosphere.

Groundwater contamination. Fracking fluids are 99.5% water and sand. The other 0.5% is chemicals that fight bacterial growth, keep sand particles suspended in the liquid and improve production. The vast majority today are found in household items that Americans use safely every day - including cheese, beer, canned fish, dairy desserts, shampoo and cosmetic products. New fluids like those developed by FamilyJoule and Halliburton represent the new kinds of entirely nontoxic and biodegradable chemicals that almost all drillers are now using.

Steadily improving technologies, techniques and regulations minimize risks even further. For instance, heavy plastic liners are now commonplace under drilling rigs, storage tanks and containment pits. Along with modern drilling and well casing methods, they help make the likelihood of chemical or salt contamination of groundwater a minuscule fraction of what is posed by winter salting of icy roads.

Wastewater and water depletion. In addition to changing the composition of fracking fluids (and making that information readily available online), to address concerns about water use and wastewater disposal, drilling companies increasingly recycle the water they use. Devon and other companies have recycled hundreds of millions of gallons, and some 90% of water produced in the Marcellus shale region of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia is now reused. Moreover, the amount of water used in fracking is far less than what is required to grow corn and process it into ethanol.

Earthquakes. Fracturing rocks does cause cracking that can be measured with ultra-sensitive equipment. But these micro-seismic events measure around 0.8 on the Richter Scale, about what is caused by a car passing by. Even loaded dump trucks register only a 3 (the minimum that can be felt by humans), and property damage does not begin until level 5. Deep injection of water for geothermal energy development or enhanced oil recovery operations (or to dispose of petroleum, municipal or industrial wastewater) has caused detectable seismic activity; however, of more than 800,000 injection wells nationwide, only about 40 were actually felt at the surface. Rules and practices increasingly address these injection well issues.

Fracking regulations. State and local regulation and cooperation with industry, constant refinements and improvements in rules and practices, and accommodation to public concerns about water, drilling and fracking fluids, road congestion, community impacts and other issues have been ongoing for decades. That is part of the reason that 2.5 million instances of fracking worldwide (over 1 million in the USA) since 1949 have not caused any serious harm. That's a safety record any industry would envy.

Unfortunately, environmentalist fractured fairy tales cost us energy, jobs, revenue and prosperity - for no ecological benefit. The ultimate irony is Europe, where Big Green opposition to fracking and nuclear power is ushering in a coal-burning renaissance. Germany and other central EU countries will be building 10,600 megawatts of new coal-fired electrical power plants during the next four years!

Meanwhile, green power mandates have already pushed Germany's electricity prices to the second highest in Europe (32 cents per kWh, compared to an average of 10 cents in the USA) - and the average German household faces another big rate hike over the next year. Countless jobs are also at risk.

America has the world's largest reserves of oil, gas and coal. We need access to these deposits, under rational regulations that reflect reality, instead of eco fairy tales. We need people in the White House, Congress and government bureaucracies who can distinguish between fact and fiction, understand how to produce real energy, jobs and revenues, and don't have an agenda to "fundamentally transform" our nation.



Three current articles below

Extreme heat in 1896 (Yes. 1896, not 1986): Panic stricken people fled the outback on special trains as hundreds die

It is as if history is being erased. For all that we hear about recent record-breaking climate extremes, records that are equally extreme, and sometimes even more so, are ignored.

In January 1896 a savage blast “like a furnace” stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks. The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states. Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days (1)(2)(3). It stayed above 100 degrees F (38.8°C) for 24 days straight.

By Tuesday Jan 14, people were reported falling dead in the streets. Unable to sleep, people in Brewarrina walked the streets at night for hours, the thermometer recording 109F at midnight. Overnight, the temperature did not fall below 103°F. On Jan 18 in Wilcannia, five deaths were recorded in one day, the hospitals were overcrowded and reports said that “more deaths are hourly expected”. By January 24, in Bourke, many businesses had shut down (almost everything bar the hotels). Panic stricken Australians were fleeing to the hills in climate refugee trains.  As reported at the time, the government felt the situation was so serious that to save lives and ease the suffering of its citizens they added cheaper train services:

 “The Commissioner of Railways promised a deputation of members of Parliament to run a special train every Friday at holiday excursion rates for the next month to enable settlers resident in the Western part of the colony to reach the mountains to escape the great heat prevailing.”  (Source)

It got hotter and hotter and the crowded trains ran on more days of the week. The area of exodus was extended to allow not only refugees from western NSW to flee to the Blue Mountains but also people to escape via train from the Riverina to the Snowy Mountains. The stories are heartbreaking. “A child sent to the mountains to escape the city heat died at the moment the train arrived.” “Six infants have died at Goulburn since January 1 through the excessive heat.” Towns were losing their esteemed, lamenting the loss of the good reverend, or of their well known miners. Children were orphaned.

“A woman has been brought to the Bulli Hospital in a demented condition, suffering from sunstroke.  She was tramping the roads, with her husband, two days before, when she was prostrated by a sunstroke.  Her husband carried her through all the sweltering heat to Bulli, taking two days over the journey.” (Source).

In 1896 the heat was causing people to faint, become demented and was even blamed for driving people mad. “Several women fainted in the streets. A little girl, while walking along Surrey Hills, suddenly became demented through the heat.” In Bendigo “a young man named Edward Swift, hairdresser, was so overcome by the heat that he was unable to work, and in despair shot himself, in the breast. It is a hopeless case.” Longreach “police authorities at Longreach received information that a man who was insane was about fourteen miles out of the town.” “The bodies of people who die of sunstroke decompose very quickly”.  An axe wielding man in Bourke cut down three telegraph poles before he was “secured” by police. Presumably the real cause of the madness was something else, but the heat was the last straw. “Birregurra was stirred from its wanted sleepiness on Saturday evening last by the appearance in the streets of a mad man who caused no small consternation.”  It could be that nuttiness was equally common on other months, or other years. But at the time, people blamed the heat.

With this and people dropping dead in the streets from Perth through Adelaide to Sydney, the heat wave was described as being universal from west to east . It went north into Queensland and south through Victoria.…twice, by which time Australians considered themselves to be “Under Fire”.

Later in 1896, heat waves also occurred in India, Burma, Borneo, America. (It was bad in New York.  Listen here.) There was heat in England, Germany and Spain. 1896 was an example of extreme weather. [It was obviously the fault of the evil power stations, eh? Just 14 years earlier, Edison had built the first coal-fired electric generating station. If only people had understood just how dangerous it was.  - Jo]

More HERE (See the original for links)

Energy dreams tempered by realism

AUSTRALIA could source 85 per cent of its power from clean energy sources by 2050 according to modelling contained in the government's energy white paper.

But the transformation from coal dependency to a clean energy future would require more than $200 billion investment in new power plants, including $100 billion in renewable sources of powers and $50 billion to $60 billion in gas, it says. The paper also makes it clear that fossil fuels will continue to underpin Australia's energy security "for many years to come".

It says the striking advance of clean energy envisaged is "far from guaranteed" and that some of the technologies are not yet commercially available.

Releasing the paper on Thursday, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson will also demand NSW and Queensland t follow Victoria's lead and deregulate electricity prices to stop soaring power bills.

He will concede that electricity price rises over recent years have hurt households and businesses and are "simply not sustainable".

And he will challenge the states to sign up to energy market reforms that tackle the biggest cause of price rises — on top of the carbon price which, he says, adds only "marginally to costs".


Green/Left coalition continues in ACT despite near wipeout of Greens in recent election

ACT is Australia's version of DC

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury has been handed five portfolios in the new-look ACT government cabinet, announced this morning, while the Chief Minister has retained the Health portfolio.

Mr Rattenbury will take the reins at Territory and Municipal Services, Corrections, Housing, Ageing, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher unveiled her new-look cabinet, this morning, confirming that she will stay on as Minister for Health, and will also take the newly formed Regional Development and Higher Education portfolios.

Ms Gallagher pointed towards reform in ACT Health as her reason for retaining the portfolio.

"A massive reform agenda is underway across the health system and it will be a privilege to serve alongside all the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and administrators as we continue to build and improve a regional public health system,” Ms Gallagher said.

Simon Corbell has kept his position as Attorney-General, while Andrew Barr will stay on as Treasurer.

Ms Gallagher said the portfolios announced today deliver the right balance of skills, experience, interests and shared workload within a five member Cabinet.

“Finalising the Ministerial arrangements is an important first step in getting on with the agenda we took to the 2012 election along with the shared commitments in the Parliamentary Agreement with the ACT Greens,” Ms Gallagher said.

"I think I can speak on behalf of the ACT cabinet to say that we are all looking forward to serving the community in our new roles and the hard work of the next four years begins today.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues as we meet the challenges and opportunities head on and work to create a better and stronger Canberra."




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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