Monday, December 28, 2015

British Greenies need instructions on how to open a door!

At least their bosses think they do

Civil servants have been given a safety guide that instructs them how to use doors after a shocking 14 members of staff  were hurt walking through them in five years.

A step-by-step memo was sent to 2,440 people at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, run by energy secretary Amber Rudd.

The vital instructions include 'open the door slowly' and if the door has a 'vision panel' look through to 'judge if there's someone on the other side'.

The guide was issued because of the number of accidents staff had experienced in recent years.

However,  it has left others raising their eyebrows, with criticism over it being a waste of time and resources.

Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This is patronising rubbish of the highest order and proof that there remains plenty of fat to trim at Whitehall departments.

'Families facing huge bills because of green taxes this department is responsible for will be appalled to see their money wasted like this.

'Perhaps it's those responsible for producing this 'advice' who should be shown how to use the door.'


Government’s Gold King whitewash

Double standards and pollution continue, while the feds exonerate themselves from blame

Paul Driessen

When a private citizen or company violates rules, misrepresents facts or pollutes a river, government penalties are swift and severe. It’s different when the government lies or screws up.

Two weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell testified before Congress on a toxic spill that federal and state agencies unleashed into western state rivers last August. Supervised by officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS), an Environmental Restoration (ER) company crew excavated tons of rock and debris that had blocked the portal (entrance or adit) to the Gold King Mine above Silverton, Colorado.

The crew kept digging until the remaining blockage burst open, spilling 3,000,000 gallons of acidic water laden with iron, lead, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals. The toxic flood contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, kayakers, fishermen, farmers and ranchers that the water they were drinking, paddling in, or using for crops and livestock was contaminated.

Ms. Jewell told Congress she was unaware of anyone being fired, fined or even demoted. In fact, federal investigations and reports didn’t hold anyone responsible for the disaster. (Maybe they even got bonuses.) Considering the spill’s severity, the gross incompetence of government officials, their advance knowledge of the dangers, and the way they downplayed and whitewashed their actions, this is intolerable.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy did say she was “absolutely, deeply sorry.” But then FEMA denied disaster relief to the Navajos, and EPA sent them emergency water tanks contaminated with oil!

As I explained in a detailed analysis, experts had warned that contaminated water had probably backed up hundreds of feet upward into the mine, creating the risk of a sudden, powerful toxic flashflood. EPA, DRMS and ER’s prior experience with nearby mines meant they personally knew the high risks in advance. In a June 2014 work plan for the planned cleanup, ER itself had warned: “Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine, which contain concentrated heavy metals.”

Yet they went ahead, with no emergency plans for dealing with a toxic spill. They didn’t even follow their own ill-conceived plan. As the contamination moved downstream, they claimed they had simply “miscalculated” how much water had backed up and insisted they had been “very careful.” Barely a week after the spill, Ms. McCarthy said the river is “restoring itself” to “pre-spill conditions” – something she would never say if a privately owned company had caused similar contamination.

On August 24, EPA issued a preliminary report that can only be called a Tom Sawyer whitewash, designed to absolve the perpetrators of any blame, liability, civil penalty or criminal prosecution.

It says the state and federal personnel at Gold King were “senior mining experts” and “experienced professionals” who have “extensive experience with the investigation and closure of mines.” But their names were all redacted from the summary, and their actions strongly suggest that they had little training or experience in reopening mines or dealing with possible water impoundments and toxic spills.

The EPA/DRMS determination that there was “no or low mine water pressurization” at Gold King was supposedly based on actual observations. However, the EPA review team said it “was not able to identify any calculations made on the possible volume of water that could be held behind the portal plug.”

In fact, the “professionals” simply claimed ongoing mine drainage showed that a pressure buildup was not likely. Wrong. It simply showed that the compacted overburden was able to hold back an enormous volume of water – until they destroyed its structural integrity. They also said a similar excavation at a nearby mine “did not result in a blowout.” But that’s irrelevant. Every mine is unique and must be treated as if a worst-case scenario could unfold. The other mine didn’t have serious water backup; Gold King did.

Perhaps the most blatant example of self-serving excuses is on page 7, which says in relevant part:

“Mine water pressurization data from behind the blockage potentially could have been obtained through a drill hole inserted further back into the [Gold King] Adit from above the mine tunnel. Such a technique was … not used at the [Gold King] Adit [because it] would have been very difficult and expensive … and require much more planning and multiple field seasons to accomplish. Although difficult and therefore expensive and technically challenging, this procedure may have been able to discover the pressurized conditions that turned out to cause the blowout.” [emphasis added]

In truth, the crew could easily have drilled a borehole lined with steel pipe from above the portal into an area behind the blockage, and then used simple instruments to determine the water pressure and extent of water backup, before beginning to dig. They had done this elsewhere and at could have done it at Gold King for less than $75,000, experienced miners told me. It was not “technically challenging.”

These “experienced professionals” guessed but did not test. They simply assumed there was limited water in the mine, and charged blindly ahead. And they did it after bullying their way onto the Gold King premises by threatening its owner with $35,000 per day in fines if he did not allow them on his property.

Their actions were grossly negligent. In fact, they are criminal offenses under the Clean Water Act and other laws that the government routinely uses to fine and jail private citizens and company employees, such as John Pozsgai, Bill Ellen, and employees of Freedom Industries and the Pacific & Arctic Railway. None of these “convicted felons” intended to cause those accidents, and all were “absolutely, deeply sorry” for what happened. Why should the state and federal culprits be treated any differently – get off scot free – after causing far worse environmental damage?

Before the blowout, the Gold King Mine was leaking 206 gallons of acidic, metals-laden but mostly clear water per minute in 2010, 140 gpm in 2011, 13 in August 2014 and 112 in September 2014, just before EPA first began working at the mine portal. On August 5, 2015, it flash-flooded more than 3,000,000 gallons of turmeric-orange, toxic-sludge-laden pollution.

The mine is now leaking 500-900 gallons per minute: 720,000 to 1,300,000 gallons per day – a huge increase in pollution into these important waterways. Until winter set in, most of it was finally being treated before entering Cement Creek, the Animas River and downstream waters.

So we must ask, what was the emergency that “forced” the EPA and DRMS to return to Gold King, demand immediate access to the site – and proceed in such a hasty, negligent manner? Unfortunately, this incident and the whitewashing that followed is too typical of government agencies that have become increasingly dictatorial, unaccountable, and dismissive of other interests, outside expertise, and people’s needs for jobs, minerals, energy and quality living standards.

Today, throughout the Rocky Mountain region, waters are still polluted by metals and minerals that are present in underground mines … along with the gold and silver that have long drawn prospectors, created jobs, and built state and local economies. Hopefully, effluents from all these abandoned mines will soon be minimized via practical, efficient, low-maintenance treatment systems, under legal regimes that do not assign unlimited liability to private sector entities that try to fix these problems.

That will greatly improve water quality in many streams – while suggestions presented in EPA’s otherwise shoddy internal review could do much to prevent a repeat of Gold King, if they are followed.

Meanwhile, Congress and state legislatures should further investigate the Gold King disaster, and compel witnesses to testify under oath. They should also improve relevant laws, ensure that agency personnel are truly qualified to do their tasks, and hold agency incompetents and miscreants accountable.

Via email

Two cheers for the Chevy Volt

Electric cars are nice to drive and the Volt should have range  enough for most commutes.  A useful second car for affluent families, perhaps?

MY TRIP FROM L.A. to San Francisco in a 2016 Chevrolet Volt was an outlier, as Malcolm Gladwell would say. The redesigned Volt is a city car, with 53 miles of all-electric-vehicle range before it has to fire up the range-extending 1.5-liter gas engine. That’s enough to cover Americans’ average daily commute (37 miles) with room to spare. And within those 53 miles, the Volt thrives as a light, quick presence, an electric hummingbird, with premium cabin innards and 0-30 mph acceleration (2.6 seconds) that will dispatch your coffee to the back seat.

Beyond those 53 miles, in range-extender mode, the hummingbird sounds a bit more like a wasp trapped in the windscreen. Particularly up the merciless grade known as the Grapevine on the I-5 toward the Tejon Pass, the Volt struggled with the physics of the affair, which sussed out to be 101 horsepower drawing a 3,543-pound car up a mountain (once the batteries are depleted the engine power is routed directly to the front wheels). At 80 mph the little engine was working hard and the noise-abatement measures weren’t.

Then I had a revelation, one that Volt designers must have had many years ago: You can’t make range-extender mode too pleasant, lest consumers just forget it’s a plug-in hybrid car and keep filling it with gas and never plugging in. That would be, in engineering parlance, stupid. So, I was in “punishment mode” the whole way to San Francisco, which I thought was pretty funny.

I know the Volt fires up the political bases. Rolled out in the days of GM’s government-financed restructuring, the tidy plug-in hybrid was loathed as Obama’s Popemobile, even though the Volt project was initiated during the Bush administration. And to people who declaim it as a worthless product of governments’ intervention in markets and industry, I say, yes, that’s correct, except for the worthless part.

Actually, the Volt is quite worthy and still a bit visionary. You don’t think plug-in hybrids with range-extenders will ever catch on? Just hold your breath, 1, 2, 3.

If I may write two terms on the blackboard: urbanization and low-emissions zones (LEVs). As to the first, 81% of Americans live in urban areas, and U.S. rural population is ticking down. So any rules that affect solely urban areas would still affect the vast majority of Americans. Globally, half the world’s population are city dwellers; the U.N. predicts by 2050 two out of three persons will live in urban areas.

At the recent Paris climate-change conference, a group representing the world’s largest cities, the C40, announced aggressive targets to cut carbon emissions. Dozens of European cities have low-emission or no-emission zones in place or in progress. Of particular gravity is the financial and cultural giant London, which was a leader in congestion taxes. London aims to cut emissions by 60% over 1995 levels in the next decade. That will require steep cuts in vehicle emissions. Pretty soon if the world’s elite want to wheel their Ferraris down to Kensington, they are going to need a plug.

Urban populations in the U.S. are reliably politically blue and can be counted on to advance a progressive agenda regarding carbon and vehicle emissions at the ballot box. For example: If auto makers want to sell their wares in California, the most populous state and largest car market, they have to play by rules set by Californians themselves, through the California Air Resources Board, among other agencies. Because of this , California clean-air rules have had a determinative effect on most of the automotive world.

Seattle, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Austin are among the U.S. cities pledging to move toward carbon neutrality. Further out are weather-makers like the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which will require auto makers to achieve 54.5 mpg fleet average by 2025. The EU has its own upward slope of standards.

A common refrain of EV doubters is that lower-cost efficiencies can still be found in the internal combustion engine. Actually, the 2016 Volt agrees. Replacing the first generation’s port-injected, iron-block 1.4 liter that drank premium unleaded, the new direct-injection, aluminum-block 1.5 liter is lighter and more powerful (101 hp vs. 84 hp) and quieter overall, unless you are flogging it across the Imperial Valley on dinosaur fumes.

The fresher engine, part of GM’s EcoTec family, accounts for the Volt’s higher combined fuel economy (106 mpg-e) and higher efficiency in range-extender mode (42 mpg combined). The tweaks to the powertrain hardware net a weight savings of more than 100 pounds.


Let’s all boo the global warming panto villains

It may be only now that the post-Christmas pantomime season opens, but one pantomime running throughout the year has been that staged by all those comic characters who try to persuade us that the world is faced with deadly “global warming” (“Oh no it isn’t,” shouts an ever louder chorus from the audience).

Much on show, for instance, has been our favourite “pantomime dame”, Prof Julia Slingo, the Chief Scientist for the Met Office, with her organisation’s latest bid to alarm us by giving cute little names such as “Storm Eva” to all these episodes of seasonal wind and rain, which may be hell for those flooded out, but are technically not “storms” at all.

It is she who presides over those wacky computer models that have raised so many laughs over the years, with such predictions as that “barbecue summer”, which inevitably led to weeks of rain. Last week one media outlet mischievously reminded us of Dame Julia’s claim in 2013 that the melting of Arctic ice was now “loading the dice” in favour of “colder, drier winters”, only for this to be followed by the three wettest winter months since records began in 1766.

Also much on stage has been “Buttons”, played by Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s environmental correspondent. Last week, undeterred by his failure to foresee the entirely predictable fiasco of the Paris climate summit, he invited Friends of the Earth to explain how “outrageous” it is that “the government can continue to hand out billions of pounds a year in subsidies to climate-wrecking fossil fuels”. Buttons somehow forgot to tell us that even the Department of Energy and Climate Change insists on the obvious fact that “the UK has no subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Finally bounding on to the stage again, greeted with customary boos, is our favourite pantomime villain Bob Ward, the chap paid by a billionaire climate fanatic to hurl derision at anyone daring to question the warmist faith. He now informs us that, thanks to “Britain’s commitment to the climate deal”, all use of gas for cooking, heating or making electricity “will be phased out, probably as soon as possible”.

"Scrapping gas has long been our own government’s policy, as the only way it can meet our insane commitments"

This would come as no surprise to readers of this column, since I have long been reporting on it, as in my Christmas article last year, headed “Forget your gas cooker – we’re headed for zero-carbon Britain”.

But the plan that within not many years, those 23 million UK households that rely on gas will have to scrap their cookers and central heating has nothing to do with that Paris “deal” (which committed no one to anything). Scrapping gas has long been our own government’s policy, as the only way it can meet our insane commitments under the Climate Change Act.

Another difference between me and Mr Ward is that while I argue that all this amounts to no less than a national suicide note, he believes it would be a jolly good thing.

Please hiss the poor boob off the stage.


The phantom menace

A red herring useful to the Left

This is the least important of the big stories because it’s not about something that’s actually happening. It’s about how a whole section of our top political and cultural leadership is pretending that something that isn’t happening is actually the most vital and pressing issue of the day. That is pretty important in its own right.

I’ll call this The Phantom Menace, which you can consider a tribute to the return of the Star Wars saga, or perhaps an unwelcome reminder of everybody’s least favorite prequel. (It’s a close call between the three, but Phantom Menace had the most Jar-Jar Binks, so it wins.)

I am talking, of course, about “climate change,” the lame euphemism for claims about catastrophic human-caused global warming.

The role of global warming in this year’s news is summed up in the recently concluded Paris Agreement: a gigantic international meeting held within a month of a massive terrorist attack on that city, for the purpose of diverting everyone’s attention away from the threat of terrorism.

As I wrote last week:

    "After last month’s massive terrorist attack brought the disastrous civil war in Syria and the renewed threat of radical Islam back to the forefront of everyone’s minds, world leaders met in Paris to forge an ambitious agreement — about global warming.

    You didn’t think they were going to do something big and important about terrorism, did you?

    No, they’re much more interested in what our own president clearly regards as the real issue of the day, “climate change.” And so the global warming conference ended with the Paris Agreement, which was hailed by both The Guardian and Slate as the “end of the fossil fuel era.”

I also noted that, for all that triumphalism about ending fossil fuels, the Paris Agreement is just a massive pretense in which “everything is legally binding, except the actual heart of the agreement.” But I noted that it serves a purpose.

    "Consider President Obama’s pronouncement that the agreement is “a testament to American leadership.” “We came together around a strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment.” For a president whose administration is known for the absence of American leadership and who is palpably not “meeting the moment,” you can see the incentive to pretend that he is by signing some phony-baloney agreement to solve a phony-baloney problem.

The intellectual basis for this evasion is summed up in the preposterous claim that global warming caused ISIS. After tracing the actual causes and origins of the Syrian civil war, I noted:

    "All of these facts are readily available to anyone who follows the news. And then there is the role in these attacks of a major world religion with about a billion followers that has been around for 1400 years — a primary cause that is a little hard to miss. Yet President Obama, [Bill] Nye, and many other water-carriers for the left offer us glib pronouncements about how this is all about water shortages in Syria. This is spectacular, willful ignorance dressed up as love for science."

This is the reason Obama doesn’t have much of a strategy for destroying ISIS and recently admitted that he was out of touch about how important the Paris attacks were because he didn’t watch enough cable news shows. I don’t even know where to start in describing how pathetic that is.

But the Left does have a plan to vilify and censor global warming skeptics, with New York’s attorney general launching an investigation to punish Exxon-Mobil for having briefly funded a few climate skeptics.

    "To be sure, this case will take forever to go through the courts…. But this is another case where the prosecution is the punishment. Just the prospect of being dragged through the courts and publicly maligned by prosecutors is deterrent enough.

    This prosecution is not really aimed at Exxon, which has pockets deep enough to fight if it chooses…. [T]he real target is everybody smaller than Exxon. The message is going out that they will face political reprisals, including embarrassing and expensive persecution in the courts, if they ever give a dollar to a climate skeptic….

    It seems Schneiderman has learned from the neo-authoritarians in Russia and China how to impose political control. There is no need for anything so crude as outright censorship. Anybody can say what they like, if they’re shouting on a street corner or writing in the pages of some obscure journal for intellectuals. But nobody can get any money to broadcast their views more widely because anyone with money faces ruin if they stand out against the powers that be."

And President Obama has a plan of attack for destroying our most plentiful sources of energy, under the guise of a transition to “clean power.” This “clean power,” as I explained, is based on absurd assumptions and is scientifically impossible.

    "So why create a national electricity scheme that is impossible to build? Perhaps because its purpose is not to build but to tear down. If you come up with a plan that claims it will reduce existing sources of energy in favor of new sources of energy — and those new sources turn out to be speculative at best, and physically impossible at worst — then it’s fair to conclude that the real essence of the plan is simply to reduce existing sources of energy."

So our leaders are dispirited and ineffective when it comes to deciding on a plan to destroy our actual enemies — but apply endless vigor and initiative to coming up with plans to dismantle our own civilization.

The delusion that global warming is the only really important issue of our era, eclipsing everything else, is embraced by elites in all areas of the culture. It benefits from the kind of universal dissemination characteristic of a new religion — which is reflected in the inroads it has made in converting leaders of the old religion.

Thus, for example, Christians are under unprecedented attack in the Middle East. Syrian Christians who speak the language of Christ, Aramaic, and whose churches were first established by the apostles themselves, have survived for 2000 years but are now fleeing the expansion of ISIS. Yet Pope Francis, who should be one of their most outspoken champions, has been devoting much more of his time as a partisan shill for global warming. I pointed out the totally one-sided presentation of the scientific claims about global warming in the Pope’s latest encyclical.

    "Francis is just repeating what he has heard from mainstream environmentalists and international green activists. The problem is that those are apparently the only people he is listening to….

    Pope Francis has sealed himself off in an ideological bubble that is harder and more impenetrable than the Popemobile. He refuses to recognize that there are alternative ideas outside the leftist orthodoxy on capitalism and the environment. The result is a sense that I’ve never quite gotten before from a papal encyclical: the sense of the pope as a narrow ideologue, captive to a relatively recent political fad.

    This is a real shame because the Vatican and the papacy are supposed to operate on a longer time scale, less affected by the political fads of the moment, or even of the century. After all, the Catholic Church is a 2,000-year-old institution with a timeless spiritual remit. It’s what usually makes the popes so interesting to contend with, even for an atheist who frequently disagrees with them."

But Francis has a whole history of merging leftist politics with religion in a kind of “reverse syncretism,” a trend I discussed after a Latin American socialist gave Francis a “Marxifix,” a bizarre mash-up of the crucifix and the hammer and sickle.

    "I am not a Catholic nor even a Christian, and I know many American Protestants who, shall we say, were never deeply invested in the moral authority of the pope. So what does it matter to us whether or not this pope is surrendering the Church to the left?

    Historically, it does matter, because in the 20th century the Church helped change the course of history, vastly for the better, by offering ideological and material resistance to Communism. It mattered that there was a large institution with deep historical roots that was independent from the socialist state and politically correct orthodoxy, driven a different set of values. And it’s discomforting to think what might happen if that’s no longer true."

The religion of global warming is being invoked as a reason to overturn every big institution in our society, from Wall Street to the Vatican. Yet this is just another false god, based on an illusion.

That’s why the biggest theme in my coverage of global warming this year was fighting to reassert a truly scientific outlook in the face of pseudo-scientific propaganda. I debunked the claim that 2014 was the “hottest year on record.” Expect a repeat for 2015, if they can fudge the numbers enough. And expect that the real data will indicate the same thing: that 2015 was about as warm as 2014, which was about as warm as 2010 and 2005. Climate stasis, a plateau in temperatures that has lasted nearly 20 years now, will be re-defined as a runaway increase, in a testament to the warmists’ dedication to post-facto rationalization.

    "There is an important difference between prediction before the fact and explanation after the fact. Prediction requires that you lay down a marker about what the data ought to be, to be consistent with your theory, before you actually know what it is. That’s something that’s very hard to get right. If your theory is going to be able to consistently predict data before it is gathered, it has got to be pretty darned good. Global warming theories have a wretched track record at making predictions.

    But explanations of data after the fact are a lot easier. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. It’s a lot easier to tweak your theory to make it a better fit to the data, or in this case, to tweak the way the data is measured and analyzed in order to make it better fit your theory. And then you proclaim how amazing it is that your theory “explains” the data."

Speaking of predictions, I catalogued seven big failed predictions from environmentalists, from global cooling to overpopulation. (On that one, to my great surprise, even the New York Times is starting to come around — after only 47 years.)

    "But by now you can get an idea for the major outlines of an environmental hysteria. The steps are: a) start with assumption that man is “ravaging the Earth,” b) latch onto an unproven scientific hypothesis that fits this preconception, c) extrapolate wildly from half-formed theories and short-term trends to predict a future apocalypse, d) pressure a bunch of people with “Ph.D.” after their names to endorse it so you can say it’s a consensus of experts, e) get the press to broadcast it with even less nuance and get a bunch of Hollywood celebrities who failed Freshman biology to adopt it as their pet cause, then finally f) quietly drop the whole thing when it doesn’t pan out — and move on with undiminished enthusiasm to the next environmental doomsday scenario."

I traced that pattern with five more recent debunked claims, including an astonishing and eye-opening report about “horizontal gene transfer.” Seriously, the article is worth reading if only for that one piece of genuine science.

Most fundamentally, I examined what it would really take to prove that catastrophic global warming is happening and that humans are causing it. No one ever lays out the steps it would take, because if they did, they would have to acknowledge how far they are from proving it.

That’s the same reason they’re elevating the imagined threat of global warming over real and immediate threats like terrorism: because they don’t want to grapple with the implications. Terrorism is a problem that calls for solutions the Left doesn’t want to pursue — whereas global warming calls for solutions they have been longing to implement for more than a century. It’s almost as if they called the problem into existence for precisely that reason.

Hence the monumental absurdity of events like the Paris climate summit. The more important other issues become — the more our political leaders are called upon to deal with problems whose solutions don’t fit their agenda — the more they have to double down on the failed predictions, overinflate the phantom threat, project it as the real root of every other problem, and then proclaim every minor, ineffectual attempt to address the problem as a historic achievement of bold leadership.

But behind this there is a palpable desperation. Global warming persistently remains near the bottom of voter’s priorities — while terrorism is back on the top of the list. It seems that the more they try to puff up their phantom menace, the more insubstantial is appears alongside all of our real problems.


December heatwave shatters record temperatures in south-eastern Australia

Global warming, right?  Not quite.  In S.E. Queensland where I live we had an unusually COOL December.  So whatever is going on is not even Australia-wide, let alone global

Sunday night was Sydney's warmest in three years but a cool change will bring rain over Monday and Tuesday, aiding fire risk reduction efforts in the Newcastle and Wodonga areas.

It might be hard to recall after the past few days of torrential rain, but December has been hot - the records don't lie.

The extreme heat prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a Special Climate Statement, confirming record temperatures across South Australia, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria, where the highest daily minimum temperature ever recorded was reached (31.9 degrees in Mildura).

"The most intense phase of the heatwave began on December 16 as high pressure became established in the Tasman Sea and directed hot, north-easterly winds over South Australia," the bureau said.
Children took to the Nepean River at Penrith as the mercury rose into the 40s on Sunday.

Children took to the Nepean River at Penrith as the mercury rose into the 40s on Sunday. Photo: James Alcock

"The heat spread over much of south-eastern Australia from 18 December as winds turned more northerly, reaching its most intense levels over the weekend of 19-20 December. A trough and cold front crossed the region on 20 December, bringing the heatwave to an end over the most-affected areas although hot conditions continued over parts of New South Wales on the 21st."

Sydneysiders have surely not forgotten the night of 20th, when they sweated through the hottest December night in 15 years, during which the mercury was still sitting at 29 degrees at 10pm in the city, before dropping briefly to a low of 22.6 degrees just after 3am.

An extended period of hot weather in South Australia concentrated on Adelaide, where temperatures reached 40 degrees on each of the four days from December 16 to 19.

"This was the first occasion that four consecutive days of 40 degrees or above had occurred in Adelaide in December," the bureau said.

"The highest temperatures of the heatwave occurred on 19 December. Hottest of all was the upper Spencer Gulf region, where Port Augusta reached 47.2 degrees, with 45.8 degrees at Whyalla and 45.6 degrees at Port Pirie."

Bureau senior climatologist Blair Trewin said the South Australian heatwave was particularly interesting as heatwaves usually occurred in late summer.

"Systems tend to be more stable and slow moving," he said. "It's unusual to get a heatwave in December. We've had that a few times in January and February but never December."

However, the fact a heatwave occurred early in summer did not suggest even hotter conditions for the coming January and February, Mr Trewin said.

"The seasonal climate outlook is leaning towards cooler conditions in much of Victoria and South Australia," he said. "We are experiencing a strong El Nino, but the main effect of that on temperatures in Southern Australia is actually in the second half of the year.

"El Nino effects on average temperatures disappear in Southern Australia from January onwards."

In Victoria, El Nino summers tend to bring more extremes at both ends of the scale, meaning more hot days but also more unusually cool temperatures as well.

The remarkable global heat experienced this year may not be the last of it, with forecasters already predicting next year will be hotter again - marking three years in a row of record annual warmth.

The prediction, by Britain's Met Office, came just days after almost 200 nations agreed in Paris to a new global agreement to tackle climate change.

Under the pact, to take effect from 2020, nations would review efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions every five years with the aim of keeping temperature increases to "well below 2 degrees" of pre-industrial levels.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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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