Spirit of a Sydney summer

A random experiment.


Saturday observations

Climate change

Of course! Just wanted to note that The Australian strays into sense from time to time. Mike Steketee does so today: Sceptics derail climate action.

Global warming is a real problem, despite the ill-informed claims of the climate deniers

"IF in doubt vote no" may be the five most powerful words in politics. Those arguing against action on climate change certainly are entitled to think so.

They have shifted public opinion merely by raising a few instances where claims about the effects of global warming have been exaggerated or not sufficiently documented, and by catching a few scientists playing politics. Heaven forbid that anyone involved in a highly charged political debate should sex up their case through the selective use of material and exaggeration. Nevertheless, while that is stock in trade for politicians, it is not a good look for scientists. But some perspective is in order.

Two sentences in volume two of the four-volume 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claim that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035. This is not supported by the scientific evidence, including that in the rest of the IPCC report, which contains a 46-page chapter in volume one on glaciers, ice and snow. This covers scientific observations of melting and includes the comment that "reports on individual glaciers or limited glacier areas support the global picture of ongoing strong ice shrinkage in almost all regions", although some glaciers had advanced or thickened, probably because of increased precipitation. Another chapter includes a projection of the future decline of glaciers but makes no predictions about their disappearance.

Apart from this, the errors in the IPCC report are hard to find…

…A poll of 3146 earth scientists at the start of last year found 82 per cent agreed that human activity was a significant contributing factor to changing mean global temperatures. Of the 77 climatologists actively engaged in research, 75 agreed. For any government to ignore these views would not just be courageous, it would be irresponsible. Tackling climate change remains, in the words of Ross Garnaut, a diabolical problem. An international emissions trading system may be the best solution in theory, but such an internationally binding agreement may be unobtainable and the scheme the Rudd government wants to legislate is so compromised as to render it ineffective. There are plenty of other options. Even if they are more expensive, as premiums for risk insurance they are well worth paying.

Great stuff!

Peter Garrett

Jim Belshaw has nailed the issues on this one better than most commentators I have read. It’s not that the insulation rollout was a bad idea; it was in fact from several perspectives a very good one. The issue is in administration and practicality, and Jim has long seen a weakness of method in the Rudd government in that area. Bit of a problem: do we go for good ideas naively implemented (Rudd) or bad ideas implemented (probably) impeccably (Abbott)? I guess we can just hope Kevin and company have learned something, while secretly wishing Julia Gillard was PM?


Robbie Burns outside the Department of Environment, Canberra

O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, 
An' foolish notion… 

National English Curriculum

After taking the Oz party line in Letters, sounds at core of new curriculum on the 25th, Justine Ferrari today gives us a much better idea of what the yet to be released National English Curriculum actually contains: National English curriculum: what all children will learn. It does appear after all to be a 21st century curriculum, and from what I can see so far it looks good. But we all have to wait until Monday.