Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Triumph of Tony Abbott

According to the conventional wisdom of just a few years ago, Tony Abbott should never have become prime minister of Australia. The doyens of the press gallery had marked him as a right-wing throwback to a bygone era.

After all, Mr. Abbott is skeptical about alarmist claims of man-made global warming. He is a former Catholic seminarian who opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. His gaffes—he recently said a female parliamentary candidate had "sex appeal"—have provided fodder for left-leaning satirists. He is an Anglophile, a former Oxford boxing blue, and an unashamed constitutional monarchist who sides with America in the world.

Yet for all his evident shortcomings, Mr. Abbott led his center-right Liberal-National coalition to a resounding victory at the weekend, handing the Australian Labor Party one of its biggest defeats. How did this political outcast win power down under? And is he a role model for conservatives around the world?

To understand the momentousness of this weekend's election outcome, let's recall how the Liberals wandered in the political wilderness after Kevin Rudd took power in 2007. The consensus then was that he would consign conservatives to opposition for a generation, much as American pundits predicted Barack Obama's victory in 2008 would mark a liberal realignment of the U.S. political landscape.

In response, the Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull and other so-called moderates within the party jettisoned policies of the conservative era of Prime Minister John Howard from 1996 to 2007, believing the way forward was to ape the Rudd agenda. So they agreed to reverse pro-market labor laws that made it easier for business to hire and fire. Apologies and feel-good pronouncements were offered to indigenous Australians for past Western sins. They grew more relaxed about illegal immigration and people-smuggling rackets that had virtually ended under Mr. Howard.

And crucially, the opposition's leaders embraced the global warming agenda. As if to demonstrate the liberal Liberals' fitness for government, they endorsed Mr. Rudd's signature legislation, a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme. The result was that the governing Labor party held commanding double-digit leads over its conservative opponents.

But Labor's Indian summer came to an end, and what changed the political climate was climate change.

For two years, the global warming debate had been conducted in a heretic-hunting and illiberal environment. It was deemed blasphemy for anyone to dare question not only the climate science but the policy consensus to decarbonize the economy. Mr. Rudd even claimed that climate change was the "great moral challenge" of our time and even denounced critics of cap and trade as "deniers" and "conspiracy theorists." The hapless Liberals led by Mr. Turnbull—an Oz version of Mitt Romney—were in the deepest political valley.

Mr. Abbott, then widely written off as a remnant of the Howard era, decided to challenge the media-political zeitgeist. Cap and trade, he argued, merely amounted to economic pain for no environmental gain, especially for a nation that accounted for only 1.4% of greenhouse gas emissions. He contested the Liberal party leadership, winning by a single vote.

Like Margaret Thatcher's victory in the U.K. Conservative party leadership ballot and Ronald Reagan's nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in 1980, this delighted the left. They considered him too divisive and—gasp!—conservative to be electable. According to one distinguished intellectual, under Mr. Abbott's leadership the Liberals would become "a down-market protest party of angry old men and the outer suburbs."

Then along came the failed 2009 Copenhagen summit, which exposed the Rudd agenda as a sham. When the rest of the world refused to endorse the climate enthusiasts' fanciful notions for slashing carbon emissions, Mr. Rudd imploded. Mr. Abbott seized the moment and highlighted the higher energy costs created by Labor's emissions trading scheme.

Almost overnight, Mr. Rudd's stratospheric poll figures cratered. Facing a changing (political) climate, he ditched the emissions trading scheme, his government's keynote legislation.

Labor factional warlords panicked, knifed Mr. Rudd in an internal party coup and installed Julia Gillard as prime minister. Undeterred, Mr. Abbott continued his relentless attacks on other key issues of principle and policy.

He opposed Canberra's big-spending and interventionist agenda, which had turned a $20 billion surplus under the previous conservative government to skyrocketing debt and deficits; while he supported tough border protection, which had traditionally helped boost public confidence in large-scale and legal immigration. By refusing to buckle in his opposition to Labor's increasingly antibusiness agenda, he set the scene for his electoral success at the weekend.

To be sure, despite his vaunted commitment to reducing the size and scope of government, Mr. Abbott is hardly the second coming of Milton Friedman. His plan for an expensive paid paternal leave program, for instance, suggests a social-engineering streak. But the point here is that he is cut from an entirely different cloth than his opponents both inside and outside his own party.

One reason Mr. Abbott scored an emphatic victory is that he convinced voters that conservatives would not be profligate with tax dollars. It remains to be seen what Mr. Abbott does in office, but the formula worked at a time when the conventional wisdom said he was unelectable.

The upshot here is that Mr. Abbott did the very thing so many U.S. Republicans and British Tories have shied away from in recent years: He had the courage to broaden the appeal of a conservative agenda rather than copy the policies of his opponents. As a result, Australians enjoyed a real choice at the polls this weekend. Mr. Abbott's resounding victory shows that they relished this opportunity to chart a more free-market course.


Tony Abbott instructs bureaucrats to prepare to axe carbon tax

PRIME Minister-elect Tony Abbott has personally instructed his new departmental secretary to make preparations to axe the carbon tax and activate Operation Sovereign Borders to stop asylum boats.

Mr Abbott got down to business this morning after his landslide election victory, with a briefing with Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Ian Watt.

Meetings were scheduled with Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson and Finance Department head David Tune, while Mr Abbott was also due to hold talks with senior Coalition colleagues later in the day.

He told Dr Watt to prepare the ground for the Coalition to implement its agenda swiftly, and he was confident the public's "reasonable expectations" could be met.

"Obviously, a very early item of business is scrapping the carbon tax," he told Dr Watt at the commencement of their meeting.

"There's border security, there's economic security and the people expect, quite rightly, that the incoming government will build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.

"I deeply respect the professionalism in the Australian Public Service. You are experts at policy implementation and I'm confident that we will be able to successfully implement our agenda because that's what people expect of us."

As Labor enters a period of deep introspection over its future, Mr Abbott has also begun to field calls from world leaders, receiving a congratulatory call from UK Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this morning.

Voters last night delivered an emphatic verdict on six turbulent years of Labor rule, sending the party packing on the back of strong results in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.

Mr Abbott has a packed agenda for his first 100 days in office. On the top of his agenda is rescinding the carbon tax.

But senior Labor figures have warned they are unlikely to recognise his claimed mandate to axe the measure, and are likely to frustrate the measure if the Senate numbers allow it.

Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the economy was in for a confidence jolt, declaring an Abbott government would "reboot" the mining boom and "massively" boost jobs.

"We can do so much," he said.

"We can get Australia open for business, we will restore an appetite for risk and investment."

With more than ten million ballots counted, the Coalition has received more than 53 per cent of the primary vote, and looks like ending up with about 90 seats to Labor's 57.

Labor suffered its worst primary vote in 100 years, but Mr Rudd managed to hang on in Griffith and former treasurer Wayne Swan appears to have retained his seat of Lilley.

Greens MP Adam Bandt retained his seat of Melbourne, while the party also looks like gaining a Victorian senate seat, despite a slump in the party's national vote.


Green policies increase forest fire damage

Forest fires are raging throughout the western United States as they often do this time of year, and just as thunder follows lightning, we can expect to hear environmentalists and their political shills blame global warming for the tempest.

In fact, a quick Internet search of the terms “forest fires” and “climate change” provides a cascade of responses ranging from attacking California Representative Dana Rohrabacher for dismissing the concept that forest fires and global warming are related to detailed explanations of how the purportedly warming atmosphere is creating drought-like conditions.

An article on the National Wildlife Federation blog complains that the media is missing the big story on the Rim Fire in California which has burned a portion of Yosemite National Park writing, “Yet almost universally missing from the media coverage, as usual:  That climate change is making wildfires more frequent and intense.  As they have in past years, reporters won’t connect the dots in their main stories, treating the science that’s staring us in the face as a side story.”

The once respectable National Wildlife Federation’s reporting never once mentions that the climate has been stable for the past fifteen years and the so-called scientific consensus that the earth’s atmosphere is warming has collapsed.

But what is more irresponsible in this and hundreds of other reports is that the very environmental fundraisers who are sending out emails demanding money from the gullible based upon the need to stop global warming to save a cute feathery creature from horrific demise by fire are likely partially responsible for the fire damage being done.

By using the Endangered Species Act and through an anti-logging Forest Management doctrine, dead and dying timber has been left uncut and wilderness areas have been left road-free.

The effect is devastating.

The dried out dead and dying trees act as kindling that accelerates a fire’s growth and intensity, while the non-existent roads, eliminate both fire breaks and the ability to get equipment and personnel into areas to allow fires to be more easily contained.

There is no doubt that fires burn in both managed and unmanaged forests, the difference is that  in managed areas the timbering itself creates natural fire breaks, creates man-made access to the outbreak making it easier to fight, and the forestry practice itself is designed to protect the maximum number of trees from fire.

The disaster of a fire ravaging a forest becomes doubly acute for a company that owns the rights to cut timber.  For a timber company, a devastating forest fire is not only an environmental disaster, but also an economic one that destroys the product that they plan to harvest to provide the wood the world needs to build homes, furniture and other structures.

It is in the financial interest of these firms to take care and manage this renewable resource responsibly to ensure that when the inevitable fire occurs, the chances of it consuming hundreds of thousands of acres of forest lands are minimized.

The next time you hear or read of an “activist” bemoaning the critical habitat lost through a forest fire and urging action on global warming it would be wise to ask what role did anti-timber policies play in exacerbating the devastation?

When the next fundraising appeal arrives in your mail box with a furry critter surrounded by the charred remains of what used to be its home, question whether that organization has supported responsible timber management practices or has pursued a zero use policy that is directly responsible for the kind of high intensity fires we are now seeing out west.

Environmental fundraisers frequently depend upon people who respond emotionally to a heartbreaking picture without engaging in the critical thinking to discover whether the proposed solutions are viable or even helpful.

Remember that the environmental fundraiser makes money in the aftermath of a disaster, while those who make a living from the resource make money by preventing and limiting the disaster.

For me, I will trust someone who loses millions of dollars if a forest burns to engage in responsible practices to save that investment over someone who sees a forest fire as a means to raise money to lobby against global warming.

It is time to start listening to the timber companies when it comes to forestry management rather than the shrill voices of those whose no-cut ideas have had disastrous consequences.


Time to shed some light on phony federal ‘science’

Who owns taxpayer-funded science? From the way many scientists behave, it’s not the taxpayers.

Many scientific studies funded by federal agencies — through grants, contracts or cooperative agreements — hide the guts of the science. What the scientists keep secret is the raw data they obtain and the methods they use to interpret it, as if those were personal possessions. It’s an especially outrageous attitude when their work is used to justify the horrendous, burdensome regulations.

Independent scientist Rob Roy Ramey recounted an extreme example: “A researcher tracked endangered desert bighorn sheep with government GPS radio collars to record precise animal locations for wildlife rangers. He then reset the access codes so only he could download the data remotely, and refused to surrender the codes. California Fish and Game had to track down and net-gun the bighorns from a helicopter, to manually download the data, costing a fortune and endangering both animals and people.”

Agency “science” frequently isn’t about data collection at all. Instead, it’s a “literature search,” with researchers in a library selecting papers and reports written by others, merely summarizing results and giving opinions of the actual scientists. These agency researchers never even see the underlying data, much less collect it in the field. The agency then holds up those second-hand opinions as if they had rigorously tested them against the data. Using this unscrupulous tactic, they can cherry-pick the literature to make any case they want, for any regulation they want to impose.

With so many federal reports containing no data — only conclusions put forth by another scientist — there is no way to debate, debunk, or disprove the underlying facts. It’s almost impossible even to get court orders to track down and disclose the data, if Freedom of Information Act requests are denied, which they frequently are (legally or otherwise).

If there is no way to test a statement, hypothesis or theory, it is not science. It’s opinion or politics. If you hide the raw data, no one can test it, and it’s easy for agenda-driven “researchers” and regulators to implement laws that are based on junk science or even fraud.

Indeed, the only reason a scientist would want to hide his or her data and methods is to prevent others from discovering or demonstrating that they are false — or to surreptitiously seek personal profit from taxpayer-funded discoveries, which likewise are not the property of the discovering tax-paid scientist.

We shouldn’t base our regulations on untested and unscientific “science.” And yet American science is riddled with data secrecy. How can we know the nation isn’t paying for mathematical errors, unreliable methods, deliberate bias, peer-review collusion, outright fakery, or even criminal activity and fraud?

All these allegations against federal agencies have emerged repeatedly. They surfaced once again at an August 2, 2013, congressional hearing. House Natural Resources Committee under Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) has been investigating secretive and corrupted science. At his hearing — “Transparency and Sound Science Gone Extinct?” a panel of four witnesses honed in on the impacts of the Obama Administration’s closed-door mega-settlements on endangered species and people.

These secretive Big Green lawsuit settlements use the Endangered Species Act to force agencies to list hundreds of species and make related habitat decisions, not because the science supports the need, but because Big Green settlement deadlines require it. They underscore the nasty reality that the Endangered Species Act is not about protecting species; it’s about land-use control. Everything in the ESA hinges on “critical habitat,” land that a bureaucrat can declare is off limits for public and private users, supposedly to serve a species’ needs, but with devastating impacts on people, jobs and private property.

Panel witness Damien Schiff, principal attorney of the Pacific Legal Foundation, testified that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service itself “estimated that the annual economic impact of critical habitat designation for the California gnatcatcher [a bird] is over $100 million.” It’s undoubtedly much higher than that.

One of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s first publications was “Land Use Controls in the United States,” a 1977 handbook that taught activists how to separate land from use (and users and owners). The power to impose land-use controls anywhere is the real motive behind all current sue-and-settle back-room species-listing deadline deals between Big Green and President Obama’s bureaucrats.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe naturally defended his sue and settle deals. “Settlement agreements are often in the public’s best interest, because we have no effective legal defense to most deadline cases,” he claimed. That’s a flat-out lie.

Ashe has a powerful legal defense that he refuses to use: Demand that the science underlying the species listing be tested to determine whether it is flawed, corrupt, or fraudulent. He won’t use it for a good reason: recent revelations of false science by agency contractors — California’s Mad River Biologists. Failure to pass “truth” tests could totally invalidate the original listing and everything to do with it.

Why won’t he use that moral, ethical, and legal defense as an impartial arbiter? First, his agency authorized funding for most of the science. Second, most of the scientists are on his agency’s payroll. Third, politically, he can’t try to win because that would make the Obama Administration appear to oppose endangered species protection — or that it is stealing people’s property and supporting fraud.

Operating under this mindset, the FWS becomes a political tool that uses science as its sword and shield. It cannot be an impartial arbiter. In fact, far from being honest and impartial, the FWS is rife with malicious officials, as witness Kent McMullen, chairman of Washington state’s Franklin County Natural Resources Advisory Committee, testified. His written testimony filled nine pages with outrageous FWS dirty tricks and skullduggery in his county — and in this supposedly free, honest, accountable country.

For example, announcements of critical habitat designations for the White Bluffs Bladderpod plant were deliberately kept “under the radar” in Franklin County, so that they could become law, before anyone could object. Only after Hastings asked county officials about it did the impending decision come to light.

McMullen said, “An FWS employee that apologized in private to a farm family told them that they had been told to keep the issue quiet and to not inform landowners or locals.”

The star witness was independent scientist Ramey, a Ph.D. with 33 years of worldwide experience with threatened and endangered wildlife. Ramey hit key points hard: “The American people pay for data collection and research on threatened and endangered species through grants, contracts cooperative agreements, and administration of research permits. They pay the salaries of agency staff who collect data, and author, edit, and publish papers based upon those data.” For the most part, regulations are based on those data, and these officials willingly go along with the crooked system.

“It is essential that the American people have the right to full access to those data in a timely manner,” Ramey continued. “A requirement that data and methods be provided in sufficient detail to allow third party reproduction would raise the bar on the quality and reproducibility of the science used in ESA decisions and benefit species recovery. Failure to ensure this level of transparency will undermine the effectiveness of the very programs that the data were gathered for in the first place.”

Then Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chaired the hearing after Hastings had to leave, told the witnesses: “For all of you, this is a yes or no answer. I’m going to go down the line. ‘Would you agree that in this day and age of the Internet, it is both possible and preferable that actual data be used for ESA decisions that affect both species and people, and that the data should be available for everyone to see online on the Internet?’” Mr. Shiff? “Yes.” Mr. Ashe? “Yes.” Mr. McCollum? “Yes.” Dr. Ramey? “Yes.”

They were all on the record, including Director Ashe, whose feet are now available for holding to the fire. Federal decision-making must be based on the best data, not just the best data “available.” That is in the public interest. It’s time we stopped tolerating fraud, abuse and property theft by federal regulators.


Global Warming Tour Cut Off By--Wait for It-- Too Much Ice!

In an effort to highlight the impacts of global warming, four fun loving environmentalists decided to row the Northwest Passage in Canada, which used to be cut off by ice accumulation. Unfortunately, their trek was cut short by seasonally cold temperatures and – you guessed it – ice.

“After learning that ice choked much of the route ahead, the group decided to end their trip at Cambridge Bay, about halfway to Pond Inlet,” reported CBC.

Apparently there is just not enough global warming happening right now. (Maybe the group should have driven around town in a Hummer a few times before attempting their publicity stunt.)

According to a report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there has been a 60 percent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year. The finding indicates that there is clearly a shortage of global warming in this down economy. To put the figure into context, that’s roughly a million square miles of new ice in one year. In fact, the ice has even forced ships to reroute cargo as the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year long.

World scientists meeting at the IPCC, seem confounded by the fact that the world is set to see a 15 year downtrend in world temperatures. Some are calling this a “pause” of the anthropogenic global warming trend we’ve seen for the last decade. Other experts are saying temps could fall as low as they did in the 1960’s and 1970’s – when other experts were warning that the world was headed toward an Ice Age. The change in climate trends seems to be making the IPCC’s ability to sell global warming initiatives a bit more difficult.

Despite the fact that light trucks such as the F-150 and Toyota Tacoma continue to lead automotive sales, our climb on the global temperature gauge seems to be slowing. In the last 100 years we, as mankind, have only managed to increase the world temperature by .8 degrees Celsius. Try as we might, the Amazon rainforest is still around, and we have yet to see California erode into the Pacific Ocean. C’mon people. . . This is America. We can do better. I suggest we launch a full fledged campaign to help push California into the Pacific.

Of course, part of the problem could be that the idea of anthropogenic global warming is a flawed concept. My apologies to Al Gore for writing such sacrilege; but excuse me for not having a terrible amount of faith in a scientific community that has been astoundingly wrong over the past 50 years. Aside from the fact that alarmists such as Gore have yet to make a correct prediction on global climate trends, they have also numbed me to their cause through their propagandistic use of cute fuzzy animals like the Arctic’s dominant killing machine: The polar bear.

Nothing epitomizes the environmentalist cause like the picture of the polar bear stranded on a melting iceberg. However, the phrase “It’s to save the polar bears!” loses a little luster when you read that Polar Bears can swim up to 200 miles. . . If a polar bear gets stranded on a piece of ice (that floats around 1mph) further than 200 miles from land – well – that’s not climate change. That’s Darwinism.

The bad news is that despite the obvious confusion among the scientific community regarding the cause and effect of climate change, political believers of anthropogenic global warming will not relent their war on industrialization and affluence. The good news, however, is that despite the propaganda, egotism, and outright lies (AHEM* East Anglia*AHEM) among political believers in global warming, much of America seems to be growing skeptical. After all, what is Al Gore going to say: Global Warming is leading to more sea ice?

Another piece of good news: Because of this year’s record amount of arctic ice, those fuzzy little polar bears will have plenty more solid ice upon which they can slaughter baby seals. That should warm the hearts of those four Canadian environmentalists.


"Greenhouse" gases COOL the earth

While we have been told that 'greenhouse gases' are a cause of dangerous surface global warming, climate scientists have failed to tell us that they also absorbs radiation from the Sun in the upper atmosphere thereby protecting the Earth in a similar fashion to the protection given by ozone.For the case of absorption by CO2, the most prominent spectral line is at a wavelength of 4.3 microns.

Applying Planck's Law this gives us a spectral radiance of no more than 0.73 Watts per (steradian metre squared) per micron. This is for an Earth emitting at a temperature of 288 degrees Kelvin, dependent on the emissivity at the time. For the incoming Sun's spectral radiance at the Earth's orbit, the figure is 2.24 W/(sr m^2)/micron for a Sun temperature of 5780 degrees Kelvin.

These numbers mean that at least THREE TIMES as much heat is radiated back into space by CO2 in the upper atmosphere as is 'back-radiated' to the Earth's surface at this wavelength.

Clearly, absorption and re-radiation of the sunshine in the upper atmosphere at this wavelength cools the Earth and is going to cause additional cooling as the concentration of CO2 increases.

Recent alarm about the release of methane gas from areas of permafrost failed to recognise that the main absorption peak for methane is at a wavelength of about 3.3 microns.

At this wavelength the radiant flux from the Sun is of the order of 85 times greater than that from an Earth at 15 degrees Celsius. This must result in about 85 times as much infrared radiation from the Sun, at 3.3 microns wavelength, being sent back into space by the absorption and re-radiation from methane molecules in the upper atmosphere as could be re-radiated into the lower atmosphere for infrared radiation sourced from the warmed Earth.

Furthermore as the Sun's radiation is re-emitted into space before reaching the Earth's surface, that surface will be colder than the assumed 15 degrees Celsius and thus will release even less radiation at all wavelengths.Next in order of importance, with regard to global warming potential, is nitrous oxide. The absorption peak for this gas is at 4.5 microns at which point the incoming radiant flux from the Sun is about three times the emission from the Earth's surface.

Once again, an increase in the concentration of this gas may cause cooling of the Earth, not warming. While the IPCC claims confidence at levels of 95% or 98% in their attribution of global warming to 'greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere it appears as though they are only dealing with half of the story. There does not seem to be any recognition of the 'back-radiation' of the incoming Sun's radiant flux out into space by the so-called greenhouse gases.

It is little wonder that the forecasts from the climatologists' General Circulation Models have always been incorrect if they do not take account of this effect.

Add to that a lack of consideration of the variation in the emission from the Sun and the claimed confidence levels become unsustainable.An attempt to use the HITRAN site to determine the effect of doubling the concentration of CO2 for the IAO model for a tropical atmosphere from 333 ppm to 666 ppm, balancing the inward sunshine with the outgoing Earth radiation, gave a result that was insignificant relative to the possible errors in the assumptions involved. It certainly did not accord with the extravagant claims of warming made by the IPCC and their cohort. This approach may warrant a far more detailed investigation.

The origin of a failure to comprehend the problem may go back to the mantra of the Green movement of “shortwave in, long wave out”. This completely misrepresents the actual situation whereby the Sun’s spectrum is a continuum covering a large range of wavelengths and includes within it the range of emissions from the Earth.To conclude, the correlation of increasing Earth temperature with increasing CO2 concentration (between circa 1975-1998) was not a causal but a chance statistic.

Physical science would seem to indicate that a negative correlation should exist. Either 'back-radiation' of sunshine keeps the Earth cooler than it might otherwise be without greenhouse gases or there is no such back-radiation in which case there is no greenhouse heating effect.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


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