Archive for June 6th, 2011

June 6, 2011

Info from Australian Financial Review

The “Australian Financial Review” is by far the least-worst newspaper in Australia. Here is the info I picked up from today’s edition.

Treasurer Wayne Swan is talking at the National Press Club on Tuesday 7th June. He will unveil new Treasury modelling that purports to show a carbon price will result in three times as much low-emissions (yeah, sort of) gas-fired electricity generation… by 2050. No, no rush, is there.

The climate change subcommittee of federal cabinet meeting weekly. To full cabinet in next couple of weeks for final negotiating position to got to Multi-Party Climate Change Committee.

A Department of Climate Change report has been released that nationally between 27 and 35 thousand kilometres of roads and rail are at risk from flooding and shoreline erosion. Queensland and Western Australia in the firing line.

Oh, and China admits environment “very grave”
Ian Johnson (NYT)
China’s three decades of rapid economic growth have left it with a “very grave” environmental situation even as it tries to move away from a strategy of development at all costs.

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June 6, 2011

Mathturbation and denialism

Lovely post at tamino (tag line “Science, Politics, Life, the Universe and Everything”) about the lengths denialists now have to go to.

In fact it’s astounding how much known physics has to be ignored. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that’s no longer a matter of opinion. Sulphate aerosols cool the planet, we’ve seen it happen (from both factory emissions and volcanic eruptions), and we can model it with impressive accuracy. Solar changes have had a modest impact, and no recent trend, because solar changes have been modest, with no recent trend. And yes, Virginia, feedbacks really exist, like water-vapor feedback which is every bit as undeniable as CO2, while a notable increase in water vapor content has been observed.

I suggest there are two motives for the proliferation of such “theories.” One is the obvious: those who have an ideological objection to holding business responsible for its actions, will bend over backwards to convince themselves global warming is not real, or it’s not caused by man, or it’s not dangerous.The other is the natural tendency for smart people to play with numbers and ideas, find interesting relationships, then persuade themselves they’ve happened on a key insight. This often requires ignoring the existing literature of climate science — otherwise you’d know how much is already known, and how little (or none) your new “pet” theory adds to understanding.

The emphasis in the second paragraph is added. Despite the comedy tags I’m adding to this post, I do think tamino is onto something…

June 6, 2011

Climate Commission bluffer’s guide

In case you were wondering “who are these guys?” and “what’s their remit?” I’ve done gone and ctrl c and ctrl v’ed a bunch of text from the official website, thrown in their mugshots and made this below… I’m hazy on the copyright implications, but since neither you nor I are trying to flog this for profit, should be ok, eh (fingers crossed).

PS The website has some good links to youtube videos of the Commissioners answering questions…

June 6, 2011

How not to report a rally…

The Murdoch press have a problem (well, many, but let’s stick to the climate one). I’m not talking about the irony that NewsCorp is keen – in other countries – to boast about its “zero carbon” credentials. I’m talking about its hysterical attacks on the Greens and its grotesquely slanted news “stories,” endless fact-free opinion pieces by the Andrew Bolts and David Penberthies of this world, and the publishing of every denialist letter (usually spouting stuff that has already been disproved a thousand times over) that gets sent in, while ignoring letters sent in that correct the published lies.

Reality does have a nasty habit of impinging, and a recent university-based research project shows that only 5.8% of the Australian population can be described as denialists (reported here). This despite the best efforts of Rupert’s minions. People aren’t as stupid as he wants them to be.

Yesterday, as readers will know, tens of thousands of Australians rallied for a carbon tax. What to do?? You can’t just do a straight news report… Fortunately there are some tried and trusted methods to use,and today’s Advertiser puts them on display.

It’s a useful lesson for anyone who wants to climb the greasy pole… On page 3 you run a story based on a poll of 500 people (not many, is it. I thought most polls needed to be a thou?)

[UPDATE: And you spin it as an “Advertiser poll”, when it was actually commissioned by the (Murdoch-owned) Daily Telegraph in Sydney! For more on this, and the dodginess of these polls, see Crikey’s “taxing credulity” post here.]

You ask some classic ‘hip-pocket’ questions and get the results you were hoping for. Do NOT frame the questions along the lines of “Do you believe that man-made climate change is happening?” “If other countries are taking action, should Australia” The results will come out differently, and will not be reportable, on page 3 or anywhere else.
[The other advantage of a poll like this is climate trolls who are too stupid to know the difference between a poll about the carbon tax and a poll about climate change causation can parade it as ‘proof’ that acceptance of man-made climate change is collapsing. (Either too stupid or completely lacking a basic respect for facts and science; I neither know nor care.)]

So, once you’ve got your page 3 anti-carbon tax story done, you can then bury the report of the local rally on, oh, I don’t know… page 19?

And you can write inaccurate gibberish like “Australia trails more than 30 European countries in pollution.” And you can call the rally “peaceful” – planting the idea in readers’ heads that other rallies have involved greenies smashing windows and bringing down Western Civilisation.

Simples. From the simple-minded, who have a responsibility to report on the reality, but are too busy serving the ideological whims of a gerontocrat. What a species.

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