Sunday, November 23, 2014

It had to happen:  A claim that current cold weather proves  global warming

Science dabbler Chris Mooney says that there’s growing evidence that global warming is driving crazy winters.  You can put up a "post hoc" explanation for almost anything but in the end a failed prediction indicates a wrong theory

It may be the timeliest - and most troubling - idea in climate science.

Back in 2012, two researchers with a particular interest in the Arctic, Rutgers' Jennifer Francis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Stephen Vavrus, published a paper called "Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes."

In it, they suggested that the fact that the Arctic is warming so rapidly is leading to an unexpected but profound effect on the weather where the vast majority of Americans live - a change that, if their theory is correct, may have something to do with the extreme winter weather the US has seen lately.

In their paper, Francis and Vavrus suggested that a rapidly warming Arctic should interfere with the jet stream, the river of air high above us that flows eastward around the northern hemisphere and brings with it our weather. Sometimes, the jet stream flows relatively directly from west to east; but other times, it takes long, wavy loops, as in the image above. And according to Francis and Vavrus, Arctic warming should make the jet stream more wavy and loopy on average – some have called it "drunk" - with dramatic weather consequences.

Here's the atmospheric physics behind the idea: Warm air expands, and naturally there is much more warm air at the equator than at the poles. Thus, the atmosphere is thicker at the equator, and the jet stream's motion is driven by the decline in atmospheric thickness as one moves in a poleward direction - in effect, its atmospheric river flows "downhill," in Francis's words. However, if the Arctic is warming faster than the mid-latitudes, then the difference in thickness as you move in a poleward direction should decrease. And this should slow the jet stream, leading to more loops and turns - and consequently, weather of all types getting stuck in place for longer. There's a nice video explanation of this by Francis.

According to Francis, the extreme US winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it's a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Artic continues to warm so fast."

To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea. "That had the downstream effect of basically taking the jet stream and giving it a whip, whipping a wave into it," says Francis. But she also suspects that the jet stream is more susceptible to these kinds of dramatic influences because it is weaker now. In general, her theory does not say global warming caused any particular weather event, only that it is shifting the overall pattern of jet stream behaviour, making certain kinds of persistent weather extremes more likely to occur.

Francis isn't the only one to suggest this. The widely read weather blogger Jeff Masters mused yesterday on whether the extreme snowfall in western New York this week might be due to "jet stream weirdness." "We've seen an unusual number of extreme jet stream patterns like this in the past fifteen years, which happens to coincide with the period of time we've been observing record loss of summertime Arctic sea ice and record retreat of springtime snow cover in the Arctic," noted Masters - although he refrained from fully embracing the theory, noting that it still has its detractors. Capital Weather Gang's Jason Samenow also just discussed the evidence behind Francis's idea, which he calls "controversial."

Francis argues, however, that the evidence in her favour is mounting - she cites no fewer than five scientific papers published in the last year or so that she considers supportive, and hints that more are coming. "We've got 5 papers that all look at that particular mechanism in different ways - different analysis, different data sets, observation and models - and they all come to the same conclusion and they all identify this mechanism independently," she says.

You can't call Francis's idea fully established. You can't say there's a "scientific consensus" on it. And you can't say that the august UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change embraces it. Not yet. But it's certainly a very serious idea and one of the most discussed theories in climate science. Call it a contender. And if it's right, well ... then we all know, already, what global warming feels like.  [COLD!]


Cold Breaks Records, Again!  A recap of 2014

During 2014, the U.S. has experienced an unusual amount of record breaking cold weather and weather related phenomena.  In large part due to the polar vortex, hundreds, if not thousands of cities and towns in the United States experienced multiple days of record setting temperatures — both record lows and record low high temperatures.

This continued into the summer.  In July record lows or record low high temperatures were set cities ranging from Atlanta to Baltimore, from Dallas to Pittsburgh, and in states from Minnesota to Alabama and Florida.

Record low temperatures continued into September when 246 record low high temperatures records were broken or tied between September 1 and September 10 alone. Some of the record breaking temperatures were as much as 16 degrees below the previous record low.

In addition to record cold, numerous cities and regions saw record snowfall, and lingering snow in early 2014.

Not to be outdone, late 2014 is already breaking temperature and snowfall records.  South Carolina, experienced its earliest snowfall on record , while other states are experiencing record amounts of early snowfall and/or low temperatures.  Some states and cities are 20 degrees below their normal temperatures for this time of year including Florida and Dallas, where I live. Denver has experienced record breaking low temperatures two days running with temperatures running 34 degrees below average and Maine has experienced its earliest double-digit snowfall.

Not to be outdone, the great lakes region, the Mid-West and the great Northwest, have all experienced either record lows, record low highs or record early snowfall or ice.  Most recently, Casper, Wyoming and Oklahoma are both more then 20 degrees below their average temperatures and while snowfall amounts accumulating in Idaho, Montana, Oregon,  Utah and Washington, are not extraordinary by mid-winter standards, for early fall they are impressive.

I’m sorry folks, but this is not how global warming is supposed to work!


White House #AskDrH Climate Social Media Campaign an #EpicFail

On Thursday afternoon (Nov. 13), the White House’s vaunted social media squad invited Americans to go on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, or Instagram and pose questions about climate change to the president’s science advisor using the hashtag #AskDrH. Said the White House blog:

"Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wants to answer any questions that you have about climate change — what it means, how bad it actually is, and what we can do to fight it."

Wait a minute! Holdren will answer “any questions that you have about climate change” … but only if they conform to the notion that human activity is causing a climate crisis, and restricting human activity by government direction can “fight it.” I think the White House misspelled “any.”

As it turned out, this was not going to be a “live” social media event anyway. At some point in the future, we’re told, someone at the White House is going to hand pick a few questions Holdren to answer “on camera” for YouTube. As of Sunday evening, Holdren has provided no answers. Maybe that’s because the White House social media experts are having a hard time sifting through the wreckage of their ill-conceived campaign and finding the very few that conform to Holdren’s alarmist point of view.

The #AskDrH hashtag was hijacked by folks who had real, pointed, and scientifically based questions for Holdren. They also had a bit of fun at Holdren’s expense. I haven’t counted them all — that’s impossible, because new questions keep coming in, even days later — but it’s safe to say that … um … at least 97 percent of questioners don’t believe in man-caused global warming, and want Holdren to explain some inconvenient truths.

If he’s serious about his mission as “Science Advisor” to the President of the United States, he should address some of the many very serious questions on the science. The Heartland Institute has a long-standing challenge to Dr. Holdren to debate a skeptic climate scientist, and we threw that in to the #AskDrH stream many times.

No answer, so far.

Twitchy on Thursday, just hours after the call for questions went out, reported on the #EpicFail of the White House’s latest effort to rally public support around the climate crisis meme. If they were surprised that the vast majority of questions would be actually challenges on the science — as well as Holdren’s long public record of wildly goofy and wrong predictions about the climate — the person in charge of social media at the White House should consider another line of work. Perhaps barista.


Repealing the Ban on DDT is Bigger Than Bed Bugs!

Carbamates and organophosphates will kill bed bugs where DDT will not but onerous EPA  regulations have forced them out of production

By Rich Kozlovich

On November 20, 2014 Samantha Craggs of CBC News posted an article titled, DDT repeal would do nothing to combat bedbugs, stating that experts say 'DDT is going to have zero effect. All it’s going to do is a lot of damage'.

She goes on to state that; “Local bed bug and environmental experts say DDT would do little to curb the infestation.   DDT or no DDT, there is no magic chemical that will rid Hamilton of its bed bug problem.”  And they’re right!  DDT will not do one thing to alleviate the bed bug problem in this city or any other city in Canada, U.S or any other place in the world where DDT was used for this purpose.  But that’s not the real issue here!  Which is what I intend to will explore.

Apparently this article was inspired by the thoughts of a new councillor-elect, Matthew Green, that appeared in an article titled, New councillor wants to look at repealing DDT ban to fight bed bugs, that “says he wants the province to take “a closer look” at repealing the 40-year ban on DDT, or other powerful chemicals on a limited basis if they'll help eradicate bed bugs in Hamilton”.  What triggered his concerns?  Well, I think we can reasonably assume there's nothing like a good epidemic to get things started.

This Canadian city is in the midst of a “bed bug epidemic since 2006, public health officials say, calls to the city have increased about 600 per cent. CityHousing Hamilton will spend $1 million this year alone battling the problem.”  If you read this article will notice there’s an opportunity for their reading public to vote on whether or not the ban on DDT should be lifted in some way asking “Should DDT ban be repealed to fight Hamilton bed bugs?”  In spite of the fact that I absolutely know DDT will not end their bed bug problem I voted yes to lift that ban along with 466 others.  Of that number 238 (50.96%) voted yes, 198 voted no (42.4%) and (31 6.64%) didn’t know.

The number that really strikes out at me is how many who didn’t know whether or not the ban should be lifted.  Remember - this is in Canada - where anti-pesticide activists have dominated the process with legislation and rank propaganda from the media, and yet over 6% “didn’t know”.  I think that’s an important statistic in viewing the public’s concerns about pesticides and the impact they make in the lives of western societies.  Between those who want ban lifted and those who don’t know that number comes to 57.6% of Canada’s population who aren't moved by the anti-pesticide claims of the environmental movement and their minions in the media and government, at least in a Canadian city that’s been so badly plagued.

The article goes on to quote local pest control operator Roger Burley, president of Aanteater Pest Control in Hamilton as saying “going back to old pesticides won’t fix it, particularly DDT”.  He further states that “Bed bugs are resistant to DDT and most other pesticides that used to treat it. “DDT is really dangerous, and it’s really not effective against bed bugs anyway,” he said. “I’d love to have a silver bullet that would wipe them right out, but it’s not DDT.”

The article continues to quote him saying “every chemical that used to kill bed bugs wouldn’t work anymore”, and claims that bed bugs are “immune” to a chemical classification known as organophosphates, which would include Dursban, Diazinon and others.  He continues being quoted saying “Every 10 years, we have to find something new to kill them”, and “they’ve mutated so much. The chemicals we use now are not even related to those chemicals, and we’re actually having some success.”

The only thing Burley said that was correct was that DDT won’t kill bed bugs and we’re having some success - after that he became lost in the green fever swamps.  Resistance isn’t mutation and they are not resistant to organophosphates, and there’s some argument as to whether or not they’ve developed some resistance to carbamates, which are both still used in countries other than the United States.  Those who have studied the efficacy of propoxur (commonly known as Baygon), a carbamate, claim it’s still effective.

In point of fact those two chemical classifications were what replaced DDT in the 1950’s when bed bugs became resistant to DDT. Organophosphates and carbamates were so effective we didn’t have bed bug problems again for almost 60 years.  The reality is this - carbamates and organophosphates were so effective against bed bugs we were protecting society from this plague without even being aware of it. An insect that plagued humanity all through human history until modern pesticide chemistry was introduced in the 1940’s with DDT.

Let’s do a little history here.  This plague DID NOT return until the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) and the loss of carbamates and organophosphates.  And they were NOT BANNED!

EPA created a whole new set of regulations based on risk “assumptions” and added testing after 15 years of use.  They managed to side step science in order to create de-facto bans through use of economics and unscientific demands, thereby avoiding all the messy legal problems they would encounter if they actually attempted to ban these chemicals. FQPA created such an economic hardship the primary registrants simply refused to meet and made a business decision to pull their registrations.

But environmentalists understand the real issue here, and it isn’t just about bed bugs.  It's all about lifting the ban on DDT that would be far reaching.  The article goes on to say, “a local environmentalist and chemical scientist say thinking about bringing back powerful and banned chemicals is a bad idea.”

There is the real issue in a nut shell.  If DDT’s ban is lifted then there will be serious efforts to do what this newly elected official wants to do when he uttered the most frightening words no green activist ever wants to hear: “I need to take a closer look at the science, but there are chemical solutions and I’d like to revisit that”.

The raw emotion created by Rachel Carson’s fallacious diatribe in her successful "science fiction" book Silent Spring against chemical pesticides is long past, and any honest scientific effort to revisit all these laws and regulations used since 1972 to eliminate these life saving products from the marketplace would devastate their movement.

Of course any article about DDT must include claims that it was banned “because of its impact on wildlife, particularly bird populations”, and that it’s “persistent and it bio-accumulates, and it does some not-so-nice things".  All are either fallacious or misleading.

Bird populations were never so high in North America until the extensive use of DDT, and that includes the Bald Eagle, which increased during the DDT years.  Carson’s claim about how the poor robin was going to disappear was not only wrong she was deliberately lying.   Carson was a science writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and absolutely had to know that in 1960 there were “12 times more robins, 21 times more cowbirds, 38 times more blackbirds, 131 times more grackles, etc. compared to 1941 numbers.  The claims about bird shell thinning was a lie based on studies that deliberately eliminated calcium from the test bird’s diets.  Carson had to know all of that and deliberately lied.

 The bio-accumulation argument was a bust.  “The theory is that if a fish eats a large number of crustaceans, the fish will have a higher concentration of DDT than any one crustacean, and the duck that eats many fish, and the hawk that eats many ducks, will have higher and higher concentrations of DDT. To ``prove'' this, propagandists analyzed the DDT levels in hawk brains (where they are highest) and duck fat, which has levels lower than hawk brain but higher than fish muscle. In fact, if one compares the level in muscle from crustacean, fish, duck, and hawk, there is no biomagnification at all. In fact, most of the DDT in fish comes through the gills; most DDT in food passes through the gut and is eliminated.”

As for the persistence argument: “Dr. Edwards can cite more than 140 articles demonstrating breakdown of DDT. In one experiment, a large amount of DDT was added to sea water in a glass container, which was closed and suspended in the ocean. After 38 days, 92% of the DDT and its metabolites was gone. The persistence myth was based partly on inaccurate measurements by gas-liquid chromatography. Many substances interfere with the analysis, including PCBs in fluorescent light ballasts or in the plastic tubing within the instrument. GLC, for example, ``showed'' five kinds of chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides in soil samples, even though none existed until 30 years after the samples were sealed.

Even if the bioaccumulation argument was valid we have to ask ourselves where was the predicted devastation? Who were devastated?  What animals were devastated?  Since we’re living longer and healthier lives than any time inhuman history we must ask where's the predicted devastation?  We know that DDT did not then, and does not now, cause cancer, nor do the other pesticides that took its place.

Scientists – if that’s what you choose to call them – have been going along with this propaganda for decades because it’s profitable, and as the years have gone by I have discovered these people are incapable of ramping up the moral fiber to be the rock in the current.

What must really concern the greenies is the fact these other council members aren’t taking a strong stand against the new guy’s desire to review the science on pesticide bans saying: “the notion “needs to be assessed by public health officials, who can separate politics from science and conclude the best practices accordingly.  Another member is “open to forwarding a motion to the province” saying “The province needs to understand the severity of this problem, and if we keep hammering away with what we should be doing and what we can try, they might have to take a look at that”.  Even one who is opposed says, “He's not a fan of the DDT option, but he admires Green's commitment to the issue".  He goes further stating “I welcome councillor-elect Green to this very important discussion table.”  "His advocacy is welcomed."

This is after decades of indoctrination by the activists, the media, academia and bureaucrats.   As for claims about DDT being linked to all sorts of afflictions.  "Linked to" is a weasel word for some professional’s opinion when in reality they don’t have a clue….but they make all the right noises.

As for my voting on that poll to restore DDT in spite of knowing it will have no direct positive impact on this city’s bed bug population – we need to understand the ban on DDT is foundational to the green movement.  If that’s overturned their foundation of sand will start to crumble and eventually everything they have promoted will be called into question.

That’s a day that’s long overdue!  The green movement's success has been humanities nightmare.  The socialist and green monsters of the 20th century have left human devastation in their wake.



5 Green-relevant current articles below -- two about  Obama

Good news: Leftist newspaper says the Australian government's climate change credentials have been battered

And see below that it includes some surprising claims, such as:  "The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years".  I have been following the barrier reef scares for around 60 years (long before global warming was invented) but that was a newie on me.

But I have traced the claim, and one amusing thing that we read there is:  "The exhaustive AIMS investigation reveals coral loss is uneven along the 2300km-long reef, with the far north still relatively healthy." So the WARMEST parts of the reef are doing best! How pesky can you get?

And what the research showed is NOT that the reef has shrunk by 50% but that the CORAL has shrunk by 50%.  The reef is of course an ancient and relatively permanent structure of dead coral skeletons.

 We also read:  "Storm damage accounted for 48 per cent of the coral loss in the past 27 years, crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for 42 per cent, and bleaching caused 10 per cent of the coral to die".  No mention of global warming! Though no doubt they would claim that the storms were caused by global warming.  Since severe weather events worldwide  have been FEWER in recent years that however would be a rubbish claim, having no regard to the actual statistics.

Warmists have also been known to link starfish plagues with warming but again we read: "The study says the causes of the plagues were still not fully known".

And I won't mention that the period covered by the research was 27 years, not 30.

And I won't mention that the source paper for the research is no longer where it was.  Has it been taken down due to inaccuracy?

I could go on but the lesson is clear: As soon as we get into the details of the research findings, the sweeping claims made of the research by Warmists are extensively falsified.  So the appeals to authority below are junk.  It is the facts that matter, not authorities, and the facts are very pesky indeed for Warmists.

My habit of going back to the detailed research findings behind Green/Left claims once again shows what crooks and crazies they are

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's apparent, if modest, conversion to the idea that climate change was an "important subject"  following talks with French president Francois Hollande on Wednesday was greeted with no small measure of cynicism.

This was, after all, a politician who had built a political career on climate scepticism, with his famous remark in 2010 that it was "absolute crap" to assert the science was settled.

It took only two days, but the doubters can claim vindication after revelations that the government sent a briefing note to Barack Obama to dissuade him that the Great Barrier Reef was under threat by climate change.

In an interview with Fairfax Media's Latika Bourke in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said the Reef was "not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is the nutrient runoffs agricultural land, the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years".

This is disingenuous, and factually wrong.

To be sure, the government believes the world is warming, and that human factors play a part.

But when it comes to acknowledging the urgency of the problem, how climate change will impact on the world, and what must be done to avert a catastrophic four-degree rise in global temperature, the Abbott government offers obfuscation and excuses.

So it was with the response to Obama's speech in Brisbane last week, when the US leader called on Australia's youth to rise up and demand more action to combat climate change, remarking that "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened".

The US leader's speech might have been undiplomatic and rude to his hosts - but his analysis of the impact of climate change on the Reef was spot on.

Just ask the federal government agencies charged with monitoring and protecting the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in its 2014: "Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come."

Averting further degradation of the Reef can "only be successful if climatic conditions are stabilised" reported the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), another government body.

The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years. Outbreaks of crown of thorn starfish which consume soft corals -  along with cyclones -  have contributed to about 90 per cent of that decline, says AIMS.

Coral bleaching is responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.

Coral bleaching is the direct result of rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. The acceleration of crown of thorn starfish infestations - which spawn in warmer months - is also driven, at least in part, by hotter weather.

And, warns the government's marine scientists, cyclone activity will only increase as the planet heats up.  

Bishop's personal political stocks have soared in recent months due to some forceful international diplomacy on the MH17 disaster and the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Her intervention on the Reef is unlikely to faze Obama, or harm relations. But some of the gloss has come of Bishop's credentials as a moderate alternative to Abbott.

And, the government's climate change credentials, once again, have been battered.


US President Barack Obama should look at his own environmental record before lecturing Australia

Those who live in glass houses ....

BARACK Obama won an Olympic gold medal for schmoozing in Brisbane last weekend.

Along the way, the US president exposed the opponents of coal seam gas in Queensland as utter hypocrites.

With China, the US is of course the worst polluter on the planet.

Yet the shale boom sweeping across America is unlocking oceans of underground gas, a cleaner energy gradually replacing coal in US power stations.

Obama knows gas is good. Gas drives his emissions reduction pact with China.

However, the Greenies who swooned over Obama for his environmental crusade are the same snarling, left-of-centre bigots backing sinister groups like Lock the Gate in attempting to sabotage the fledgling gas industry here.

In a week dominated by news about the $7 billion Adani coal deal the importance of gas to our state cannot be overstated.

Gas royalties will deliver rivers of gold to the Queensland treasury as it fights to restore the AAA credit rating trashed by the previous government.

A significant milestone looms. And it may change everything. In three weeks the first ever shipment of liquid natural gas sourced entirely from coal seam gas will be shipped to Asia by QGC. It's not just a Queensland first, it's a world first.

And, surprise, surprise, the gas drawn from beneath our cattle pastures may end up in China.  It will be traded on the open market in Asia so the destination remains unclear.

Following Obama's visit the irony that the Queensland gas is destined for China has not been lost on certain Queensland Cabinet ministers.

While the President discourteously attacked his host's environmental credentials, our gas will eventually assist cutting emissions globally.

Australia's gas exports are set to increase from about 20 billion cubic metres in 2012 to 114 billion cubic metres by 2040 as global demand is forecast to grow more than any other fuel source. So says the International Energy Agency.

And while many newspaper columnists were gushing about Obama's speech and his green advice to Tony Abbott, they neglected to report America's own disgusting record on carbon dioxide.

Why reporters ignored this part of the story is a bit of a mystery to me.  Suffice to say that the media craves celebrity and is often blinded by it. And Obama was certainly a celebrity whose light shone brightly that day.

At the risk of offending the Obama-love media, it has to be said our environmental record is cleaner than his.

So how dare Obama lecture us?

The US didn't sign the 1997 Kyoto agreement. Nevertheless it pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7 per cent. Instead they soared.

Now we learn that over two decades from 1990 to 2010, US emissions grew by 53 times the actual growth of emissions in Australia.

I'm glad Environment Minister Greg Hunt pointed this out. He also revealed China's sorry record.  In the same two decades China's emissions soared from 3.4 billion tonnes to 9.8 billion tonnes. This is the fastest growth in emissions in human history, Hunt said.

"The increase in Chinese emissions was 640 times, or 64,000 per cent, greater than any change in Australia. Over the same period, Chinese coal consumption increased at the greatest rate in human history."

Of course Australia's footprint is insignificant compared to the superpowers and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. In 1990, according to Hunt's office, Australia produced 580 million tonnes of carbon, the US 5.38 billion tonnes and China 3.356 billion tonnes.

By 2010, Australia's emissions had barely increased, to 590 million tonnes. The US, on the other hand, registered a substantial increase to 5.923 billion tonnes and China to a staggering 9.769 billion tonnes.

By 2020, if Australia meets its target, it will produce 555 million tonnes while the US will produce 5.144 billion tonnes and China a truly astonishing 12.4 billion tonnes.

Nevertheless Obama's deal with China, greeted with rapturous approval by the media, deserves closer scrutiny.

China will continue to build a coal-fired power station every 10 days until 2030.

I'm told another 28 nuclear power stations are also in the pipeline. Good. Now we are getting somewhere. The US emissions, too, are staggering and will continue to rise for years.

The other inconvenient truth is that Obama doesn't have congressional backing so is unable to add legal force to the targets proposed with China.

Former Labor state treasurer Keith DeLacy was not blinded by Obama's halo. In an opinion piece in The Australian he said Obama was a "lame duck" president.

DeLacy said Chinese President Xi Jinping admits CO2 emissions will increase until 2030, pact or no pact.  And renewables such as wind and power would produce just 3 per cent of output, said Xi.

Said DeLacy: "China is currently increasing emissions every year by the equivalent of Australia's total emissions, and Xi's statement means this will continue to be the case."

He added: "Lame duck US President Obama signalled the US would not take any leadership role on climate change action.  "While he suggested the US would reduce total emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025, everyone knew he could not deliver any legislative backing for measures to do this.

"However, he was confident the shale gas revolution and a spluttering US economy may be sufficient to reach this goal.

"When questioned on the depth of commitment the US had to this target, officials referred to past commitments."




MOST Queenslanders believe Tony Abbott was right to ignore international pressure and focus the G20 summit on the economy rather than on Climate change.

Just one-quarter of those surveyed in a new opinion poll said they thought the top priority for G20 nations should be reducing carbon emissions -compared to half who said the focus should on be economic growth and jobs creation.

Both Labor and LNP suppporters rated economic growth higher than action on carbon.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has meanwhile sent a briefing to the White House to allay ' US President Barack Obama's concerns about Australia not working to protect the future of the Great.Barrier Reef.

From p. 31 of the Brisbane "Courier Mail" 22 Nov., 2014

Obama ignored embassy's warnings on climate change speech

BARACK  Obama defied the -advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government's climate policies in Brisbane last weekend.

The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed.

When The Weekend Australian put this information to the US embassy, a spokesman said: "As is the case with all presidential speeches, President Obama's remarks at the University of Queensland in Brisbane were prepared by the White House."

It is normal practice when the US President makes an overseas visit that the ambassador in the country he is visiting is consulted about the contents of major speeches. It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for an embassy's advice to be ignored.

The Obama speech in Brisbane was added to the President's program at the last minute. During his extensive talks with Tony Abbott in Beijing at APEC, Mr Obama did not make any mention of a desire to make a speech, or of any of the contentious climate change content of the speech.

Only in Naypyidaw, in Myanmar, immediately prior to the leaders travelling to Brisbane for the G20 summit, did the US party demand that the President make a speech and that it be to an audience of young people. At the speech, the President did not -acknowledge the presence of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

Despite repeated Australian requests, White House officials refused to provide a text of the speech to their Australian hosts in advance, and did not provide a summary of what would be contained in the speech.

Mr Obama's repeated references to the climate change debate in Australia, his accusation that Australia was an inefficient user of energy and his repeated references to the Great Barrier Reef, which has figured heavily in the climate change debate, have led observers to conclude that the speech was a deliberate swipe at the Abbott government.

Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has accused Mr Obama of speaking in ignorance about the joint plans by the federal and Queensland governments to act to preserve the Great Barrier Reef. She sent a briefing on the reef to the White House after Mr Obama's speech was delivered.

Some days before the speech, at the World Parks Conference, Ms Bishop met US Secretary of the -Interior Sally Jewell and gave her the same briefing.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek yesterday accused Ms Bishop of "berating" the President and said Ms Bishop had created an "absurd" situation.

Sources in Washington said the Brisbane speech was a sign of deep divisions within the Obama administration over how to deal with Australia, and over Asian policy generally.

Senior US sources said Mr Obama had inadvertently overshadowed all the elements of his speech, which dealt with regional security and America's position in Asia. When the White House first proposed the speech, its subject was to be US leadership in Asia.

Mr Obama's speech was in marked contrast to the accomplished speeches, with their careful regional agendas, of China's President, Xi Jinping, and India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the Australian parliament. Senior Washington sources told The Weekend Australian of a malaise in Obama administration policy towards Asia and the lack of influence of Asia experts lower down in the US government.

Since the Abbott government was elected last September, there has been a group within the Obama administration that wants to take a tougher public line against Canberra on differences over climate change, in particular the decision to abolish the carbon tax.

Washington sources say the figure who ultimately adjudicated on this internal debate was Mr Obama, who recognised that Mr Abbott had been elected with a clear mandate to abolish the tax.

This has resulted, in part, in differing accounts of the first meeting between Mr Abbott as Prime Minister and Mr Obama in Washington in June.  After the meeting, Australian officials briefed to the effect that climate change was raised with Mr Abbott only briefly by Mr Obama and in a non-contentious way.  This version was confirmed by senior US officials who offered the same account of the meeting.

US officials added that the Obama administration was acutely aware that the US had no national carbon tax itself and that the administration had been unable to get congress to agree to an emissions trading scheme, which the Americans call a cap-and-trade scheme.

They said the US was keen merely to confirm that the Abbott government was carrying out the commitments it had made on climate change, in particular to reach the target of 5 per cent reductions on 2000 levels of emissions by 2020.

At the same time, another account of the meeting was circulating through Washington to the effect that Mr Obama had been much more insistent on the issue with Mr Abbott. In this account, Mr Obama had repeatedly referred to the Sydney Opera House sinking as a result of global warming.

At the time Washington sources said this was an erroneous account of the meeting, which reflected the great hostility over the carbon tax issue that some of Mr Obama's domestic advisers felt.

Several former senior US officials characterise the White House as introverted and not inclined to pay too much attention to officials, either in the State Department or the Pentagon, who deal with Asia full time. Others suggest senior figures in the White House, when they think of Asia, tend to focus only on China.

Mr Obama has previously had a warm personal relationship with Mr Abbott. The President has been a frequent telephone caller to Mr Abbott, almost always with a request for Australian support for a US policy or initiative, from troops for the Middle East, US trade initiatives in Asia, or important regional diplomatic matters, especially those involving security. On every occasion the US President has asked for help, the Australian Prime Minister has provided it.


NSW conservative government cracks down on protesters, fast-tracks mining

The "close" relationship between the state government and the mining industry has come under renewed scrutiny after Premier Mike Baird announced faster mining approvals and harsher fines for protesters who illegally enter mining sites.

The announcement, at a dinner for mining heavyweights on Thursday night, came just hours after it was revealed that corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald will face criminal charges over a mining deal.

Critics have accused the government of cutting "special deals" with the mining industry, and failing to follow advice by the corruption watchdog to safeguard the planning system.

Lock the Gate Alliance said protesters already face heavy penalties, citing farmer Ted Borowski, who was fined about $3000 for protesting against Santos' coal seam gas operation earlier this year.  By comparison, the company was fined $1500 for contaminating an aquifer with uranium.

The government says protesters do not have the right to act unlawfully, and industry and the community should not wait years for mining applications to be decided.

Mr Baird told a NSW Minerals Council event that his government will halve assessment times for so-called "state significant" proposals, such as mines and manufacturing plants. He said assessment times for mining projects had jumped from 500 to more than 1000 days in the past six years.

On Friday, Planning Minister Pru Goward said the government intends to slash 170 days from the average time it takes to assess major applications by introducing new timeframes and ensuring timely advice from government agencies.

New timeframes would also be applied to the Planning Assessment Commission, the independent body that decides some of the state's most controversial proposals.

The government has been under pressure to streamline the mining approvals process after its maligned planning reforms stalled in the upper house.

Fairfax Media has reported that 13 mining industry leaders met Mr Baird two weeks ago for a "crisis meeting" after Anglo American's application to extend the Drayton South coal mine project was rejected.

The industry has also called for stronger penalties for trespassers, following heated protests over projects such as Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine and Santos' coal seam gas venture in north-west NSW.

Mr Baird said it was "galling" that the mining industry was responsible for the safety of trespassers. The government will seek changes to workplace health and safety laws, and increase penalties for protesters who break into mining operations, damage equipment or disrupt work.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesman Phil Laird, whose organisation campaigns against coal and gas mining, said the announcement highlights the "close relationship and special treatment given to industry over the interests of communities".

He said the government had ignored advice by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to expand community appeal rights on planning decisions. A spokesman for Ms Goward said independent scrutiny of decisions already exists.

The NSW Minerals Council said the planning changes would "help attract investment and create jobs in our state".

Labor's environment spokesman Luke Foley welcomed the move towards faster approvals, but said it should not come at the expense of proper environmental, social and economic assessment.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham claimed the Liberal and National parties were "essentially just the political arm of the mining industry".



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1 comment:

Joseph said...

The claim that the greenhouse effect will cause an Ice Age has been around for years. It was particularly popular in the 1970s (when it looked like a new Ice Age was imminent).