Mostly Australian…

First something that includes but goes beyond our patch: the annual summary State of the Climate Global Analysis 2012 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Climatic Data Center (USA) is now available.

Global Highlights

  • The year 2012 was the 10th warmest year since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This marks the 36th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above average. Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001–2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2012.
  • Separately, the 2012 global average land surface temperature was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 8.5°C (47.3°F) and ranked as the seventh warmest year on record.
  • La Niña, which is defined by cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that affect weather patterns around the globe, was present during the first three months of 2012. The weak-to-moderate La Niña dissipated in the spring and was replaced by ENSO-neutral conditions for the remainder of the year. When compared to previous La Niña years, the 2012 global surface temperature was the warmest observed during such a year; 2011 was the previous warmest La Niña year on record.
  • The 2012 global average ocean temperature was 0.45°C (0.81°F) above the 20thcentury average of 16.1°C (60.9°F) and ranked as the 10th warmest year on record. It was also the warmest year on record among all La Niña years. The three warmest annual ocean surface temperatures occurred in 2003, 1998, and 2010—all warm phase El Niño years.
  • Following the two wettest years on record (2010 and 2011), 2012 saw near average precipitation on balance across the globe. However, as ia typical, precipitation varied greatly from region to region.

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Bring that right back home, perhaps…  You recall earlier this month Flying Fox Dreaming–or nightmare?  Here is a follow-up from today’s Illawarra Mercury:

The region’s budding flying fox population was not immune to Friday’s scorching weather, as dozens of bats died in the heat.

WIRES volunteers spent hours on Saturday disposing of nearly 50 dead grey-haired flying foxes after they died in the hot weather.

The colony, numbering tens of thousands, had taken up a summer spot in a patch of bushland just north of the Figtree freeway exit…

WIRES Chairman Sam Joukador said volunteers had removed a wheelbarrow full of the dead bats and expected to find more on the other side of the freeway exit.

"The heat just brought a lot of them down … they can’t handle the hot weather," he said.

"During the last heatwave, we had the same problem but this time, the weather was a lot more intense … if it had lasted more than one day, we would have lost about 90 per cent of the colony.

"We found a lot of them in the creek; they’d drowned while they were trying to get some water, they can’t just take off and fly from a creek like that, they need to be up high.

"Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do … it’s just nature taking its course."…

On ABC News 24 yesterday afternoon was a pleasant surprise.

When Sydney-based Scott Bevan arrives in Newcastle to visit family and friends, he releases an audible sigh. ‘‘It’s that exhalation of pure comfort … aaaaah … I’m home now and I’m fine,’’ he says, laughing. Until 1993, when the intrepid journalist left town to pursue career opportunities, home was here in the Hunter (he returned in 2001 for a year with wife Jo to write) and even now, when asked where he is from, Bevan replies with great affection and pride, ‘‘Newcastle’’. ‘‘Some nearest and dearest correct me and say, ‘Well, that’s not true any more’, but yes it is. I am from Newcastle in my heart and soul.’’

That passion for his birthplace and a love of history motivated Bevan, who now works for ABC News 24, to embark in February 2011 on an ambitious and meaningful adventure, picking up where he had left off a decade earlier. ‘‘Back in 2001, I wrote a series for the Newcastle Herald about a canoe trip I did with Jo down the Hunter River, starting just below Glenbawn Dam,’’ he recalls. ‘‘Then I went overseas for work [Bevan became the ABC’s Moscow correspondent] but often while I was away I was reminded of the river and I felt strongly about revisiting it with the view to writing a book so I could reach a wider audience. When we came back to Australia, I talked to ABC Books and they were interested.’’

It still took a little while for Bevan’s resolve to turn into action. ‘‘When I got back from Russia and told my dear mate [film director] Bruce Beresford about my plan, he said, ‘Gee, I hope you don’t die’. I told him it was safe and he said, ‘No, I don’t mean that. I hope you don’t die of boredom’. [Laughs] And then I launched into a defence of the area and why it’s so wonderful. I knew I had to get going.’’

After visiting by foot the three streamlets in the Barrington Tops that form the beginning of the Hunter River, Bevan explores the Packers’ 27,000-hectare estate Ellerston before starting his paddling from the White family’s famous Belltrees property.

Had much changed in the decade since his last journey? ‘‘The main thing that struck me was how many areas along the river were unkempt, [with] weeds having taken over. In certain parts it may be because more and more land is no longer primarily used for agriculture, but is tied up with the mining industry.

‘‘That’s not to say mines don’t consider that stuff, but if you’re on the land, day in and day out, and it’s part of who you are and what you are, then you’re going to be more mindful of that aspect. There were parts that were like paddling through South-East Asia because of the profusion of bamboo and weeds.’’

Mining had also increased its reach. ‘‘In 2001, I remember being surprised by how close in places mining does come to the river, so this time, I was more prepared for the shock, but it is cheek by jowl and the mining industry is right there beside the river.

‘‘In places, it is an extraordinary presence when you paddle around a bend and see a range of overburden towering over the river. I felt a sense of loss; you couldn’t just do the Huck Finn thing and paddle down the river and wander up to the farmhouse and speak to the local farmer and say, ‘G’day, can I camp on your land?’ There are stretches now where that isn’t possible.’’

The effect of being a decade older also hit the 47-year-old hard. ‘‘It was a reaffirmation that I’m ageing,’’ laughs the father of five-year-old twin boys. ‘‘You wouldn’t think there would be much difference in 10 years, but there is. My muscles were testament to that every morning I woke up in a tent aching. I wasn’t prepared for feeling so old!’’

Bevan is an evocative and skilful writer with a journalist’s eye for detail. He captures the subtle characteristics of the people and landscape that enriched his adventure. Colourful historical detail is threaded through his account, as is personal reflection. ‘‘You paddle a river and it forces you to look around,’’ Bevan says. ‘‘It also allowed me to meditate on those two questions I set out to answer with the book – who am I and where am I from?’’

from the Newcastle Herald. See also HarperCollins on the book.

Very evocative for me as it showed many places my mother had lived in and often spoke about. See More tales from my mother 4 — Dunolly NSW — and conclusions.

Finally, here’s a thought if you are wondering what to watch on Australia Day: why not be as Australian as you possibly can get? Watch NITV.  Somewhere in there is some footage of 1988. Perhaps I may even see myself!  I will certainly see places, things and people I saw then or have seen since.

Last night NITV showed an excellent movie, Radiance. See my 2007 post One of our stories well told: Radiance (1998). Stephen Page on Talking Heads.

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Perspective

Loved this counterweight to short-termism on the economic front.

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Read the story linked to that graph by all means, but I get enough of a charge out of just looking at the fact that the biggest spenders in recent years were the Howard governments.

Meanwhile, I am of two minds about The Greens still. Today Bob Brown’s exercise in self-canonisation epitomised all that annoys me about him and so many like him.

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History is full of this. Gandhi and Mandela went to jail. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Jesus Christ turned up at the businessmen’s tables and look what happened to him. Anti-slavery campaigner John Brown’s ”body lies mouldering in the grave” and suffragette Emily Davidson was killed when she ran in front of the horses at the 1913 Epsom Derby…

So it was that Christine Milne, David Bellamy and I and nearly 1500 others were jailed in Tasmania 30 years ago for getting in the way of premier Robin Gray’s legal bulldozers….

Sadly David Bellamy is now a notorious climate change skeptic, but still and all I do side with Bob’s causes pretty much. Trouble is his article today has that Jesus/Gandhi/Bob thing going that rather makes me puke than cheer. Or am I just an evil bastard. But Bob seems to have been writing on autopilot today and the tone does stick in my craw. It could be called smug. Or puritanical. By some.

He’d have been better off referring is to Bill McKibben 2012/2013 rather than James Hansen 1988 – much as I admire James Hansen.

Robert F Kennedy Jr:           The CEO of Chevron gave an interview this week in which he said that there is really no future in solar, wind and that we should stop subsidizing these industries and that the subsidies going to the industries were grotesque.  At the same day, the National Energy Agency released the numbers for the global subsidies to the oil industry which were $582 billion compared to around $80 million dollars to the renewables industry and this does not include, by the way, the externalities, not the direct subsidies.  The war in Iraq.  The BP oil spill.

Bill McKibben:                 That’s the tax that you throw into the atmosphere for free.  That’s the biggest subsidy of all that we just turn over the atmosphere to them for free.  Your listeners will be pleased to know, I’m sure, that and I’m sure they are fretting about this that in the course of the fiscal cliff negotiations the massive tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry were preserved intact .  No worries, no tears need be shed for Shell, BP, Exxon at all.  They did just fine as always.

Robert:           Chevron announced a $24 billion profit.  That’s not revenues, but that’s pure profit for this year.  The use of the most profitable industry in the history of humankind of commerce and they are still getting these giant subsidies from governments because of the political clout that they’re able to exercise.  How do we demonize them?

Bill:                 That’s why we’re working very hard on this divestment campaign which is spreading beyond campuses elsewhere.  The first city last week in the country, Seattle, to announce that it was divesting its city funds from fossil fuel industries and increasingly religious denominations are doing the same.  The Congregationists and the Unitarians are leading the charge here.  This is all very good news.  It has to be taken on in a big way and we need more than our small forces at 350.org fighting.  We’re doing everything that we can, but this is the movement of our time and unless we get people fully engaged.  People willing to go to jail.  People willing to spend their lives on it, I’d say our odds are slim.

Robert:           It’s hard working with these pension funds because the oil industry is undeniably profitable for its investors and unlike South Africa which was rather easy to divest in back in the ‘70s, these are the hottest stocks in the world and if you go to somebody who’s managing the pension funds for firefighters or for teachers and they have a fiscal responsibility to the members to make sure that that fund grows enough to pay for their retirement, it’s hard for them to get out of those oil stocks.

Bill:                 Of course the fiduciary responsibility of those guys is to make sure that there will be a way for people to retire and there’s something deeply ironic about investing in stocks in companies whose business plan guarantees that the planet’s going to tank.  It’s at least as ironic as trying to pay for people’s education by investing in companies that pretty much guarantee there won’t be a planet for them to carry out that education on.  None of this is easy.  If it was easy, I suppose we would have done it.  It’s hard.  It’ll be a hard job.  The only thing harder and it’ll be much harder is trying to inhabit successfully and profitably the world that we’ll create if we don’t get to work really soon.

Note also Miners lobbied O’Farrell to pull the plug on legal centre (typical) but also Keep dreaming, boys…..

What can one say of such day-dreaming which, if implemented, would mean every superannuation member in Australia that indirectly owns shares in BHP or other coal-digging companies is suddenly personally liable for climate change? There is a kind of charming naivety and optimism about such legalistic-bureaucratic ‘solutions’ to climate externalities. If only we can punish those nasty shareholders (i.e. most Australians over the age of 30) and finally have proper investments in renewables, all will be well!

But will we really self-destruct the capitalist system by taking away the limited liability construct that has underlain its financing for 400 years? And would full-liability entities (like governments) really do anything different from companies when it came to energy investments in the absence of some world climate police who made them comply with whatever some all-measuring central world committee decided was palatable? Don’t bet on it…

So what you are really looking at is yet another variation of the big world-bureaucracy solution to the climate-change problem, complete with transfer of national sovereignty to whomever decides on how high the externalities are and who is to blame for them, complete with the overthrow of the capitalist system. Keep dreaming, boys, but know this: allowing yourself to live in lala-land by pretending the world political system is yours to dictate does not help the planet’s ecosystem one iota.

On yesterday in The Gong and climate change

Fortunately I have air conditioning. Unfortunately I am a pensioner. But comfort won over the future power bill. In The Gong:

The heat is still on for the Illawarra, with more hot weather predicted for the region, bringing the risk of further bushfires.

Temperatures in the region climbed quickly on Tuesday, doubling between 5am and lunchtime and reaching the forecast 43 degrees.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Albion Park recorded the highest temperature, hitting 43.1 degrees at 1.44pm.

Kiama (42 degrees), Nowra (42.4) and Bellambi (40.1) also broke 40 degrees.

Winds were strong for most of the day, with gusts over 60km/h recorded in several areas.

Bureau meteorologist Jane Golding said the state was in between the La Nina and El Nino weather patterns, meaning more hot weather could be expected in coming months…

Yes, it has been hot before yesterday, and yes, there have been bushfire seasons and conditions before 2013. Just to consider one state, see Victoria. See also my post The bushfire and the Australian imagination.

John Longstaff, “Gippsland, Sunday Night” 1898

But I do believe it is highly likely there is something different right now, and it is captured in two maps.  The first is the most recent world picture from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA.

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“The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for November 2012 was 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (60.4°F). This is the fifth warmest November since records began in 1880. Including this November, the 10 warmest Novembers have occurred in the past 12 years.”

The second rather telling map is in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

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To explain:

AUSTRALIA’S ”dome of heat” is becoming so intense, temperatures are off the charts – literally.

When the weather bureau’s model started churning out predictions for next Sunday and Monday of more than 50 degrees, chart producers quietly extended the scale beyond the level previously used.

For now, those days show regions of South Australia with deep purple – indicating 50-52 degrees. As yet, the new maximum scale of 52-54 degrees – to be coloured pink – does not feature.

This IS new.  On Monday Australia experienced its hottest ever day –  measured by the mean of all temperature maxima for that day – since records began, and yesterday, though I have not seen the figure published yet, seems set to make that record short-lived.

Ben Cubby in a very factual article in today’s Herald explains it all rather well.

According to a peer-reviewed study by the Australian-based Global Carbon Project, global average temperatures are on a trajectory to rise a further four to six degrees by the end of this century, with that rise felt most strongly over land areas. It would be enough to tip Tuesday’s 40-plus temperatures over much of mainland Australia close to 50 degrees in some parts.

"Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilisation,” said Liz Hanna, convener of the human health division at the Australian National University’s climate change Adaption Network.

”We are well past the time of niceties, of avoiding the dire nature of what is unfolding, and politely trying not to scare the public,” Dr Hanna said. ”The unparalleled setting of new heat extremes is forcing the continual upwards trending of warming predictions for the future, and the time scale is contracting.”

Around the world, this year could be the hottest ever recorded by modern instrumentation, according to a recent study by Britain’s Met Office.

It said that, based on the rising background warming trend, this year would be 0.43 to 0.71 degrees hotter globally than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, with a ”best fit” of 0.57 degrees warmer. If that turns out to be accurate, this year would surpass the previous record, held jointly by 2005 and 2010.

The Met Office findings are considered telling in the climate science community, because this year is set to be a relatively ”neutral” year, without a strong El Nino warming cycle to push up temperatures.

The current Australian heatwave, while exceptional, is a continuation of the record-breaking temperatures seen across much of Australia since September, according to the special climate statement issued by the bureau on Tuesday. The last four months of last year were the hottest on record, albeit by just 0.01 of a degree.

”This event is ongoing with further significant records likely to be set,” the statement said.

The weather bureau’s Dr Jones said the background warming was now clearly felt.

”Our oceans are hotter, the tropics are hotter, so any attempt to disentangle climate change from what we see in terms of weather doesn’t make much sense – everything is hotter,” he said. ”There is no alternative world which doesn’t have the fingerprint of warming.”

I really cannot for the life of me see why any of this could possibly be controversial any longer. What may or may not be done about it is, of course, another matter. But, if one is to judge from Loon Pond – and I really can’t be bothered with the likes of Devine on this issue any longer, it appears some still manage to cling to the belief that there is nothing much going on except in the  mind of “alarmists”. I have so often trawled through these waters that again I really can’t be  bothered, but if you insist start at this post.  Every major scientific organisation on the planet and the vast majority of really distinguished scientists have long admitted the reality of both global warming and anthropogenic (or human-affected) climate change.  And guess what: Al Gore really doesn’t figure in that, except as a publicist.

So yes, one summer doesn’t make a global warming, as one day doesn’t make a summer. But if you are inclined to the ostrich position on climate change, I wouldn’t take much comfort from that. The evidence against ostrichism is getting more and more persuasive as our BOM finds itself forced to add colours to its temperature maps!

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From my street last night around 7pm. Temp around 40C.

Oh, in case you wondered: I am not a rusted-on Green. Indeed I related very much to Matthew Da Silva’s post Greens’ deep red heart leaves me politically homeless just now.

Update

See Australia’s heatwave forecast in one animated map.

Hot post

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On the way back from the Yum Yum Cafe this morning I realised it was rather hot, but nothing compared to other parts of the country, even Tasmania!

At least 85 properties have been destroyed as bushfires rage out of control in Tasmania and towns in the state’s south-east have been cut off.

Hundreds of residents have been forced to take shelter on beaches and in boats on the water overnight as fire crews worked through the night to control the blazes.

On the Tasman Peninsular, a massive sea rescue operation has moved more than 1,000 people trapped by fire to safety, 50 kilometres away to Hobart.

Rescue volunteers in boats plucked people trapped by the fires off beaches overnight, with more sea rescues planned today.

In the south east, fire-ravaged town of Dunalley more than 70 homes have been destroyed and there are reports a man may have died in the blaze…

See also Fire risk high as southern states swelter.

Extremely hot, dry and windy conditions have put southern states on the most extreme fire alert for several years.

Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius are forecast across a wide area, as a heatwave continues to grip the region.

Crews are battling fires in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales

The Bureau of Meteorology says record average temperatures look set to be broken in the next few days, with temperatures to soar across much of central and south-eastern Australia.

Hobart today recorded its highest temperature in 120 years of record keeping.

The record maximum of 41.3 degrees was reached this afternoon and exceeds the pervious record of 40.8 which was set on January 4, 1976.

Countrywide, the average temperature on Wednesday was 39.21 degrees, just below the record of 40.7 set in December of 1972.

The hottest place so far has been Eucla, on the Western Australian border, where it reached 48.1 degrees yesterday afternoon, its hottest day on record and 22 degrees above the summer average.

Reading the Oz in the Yum Yum Cafe I couldn’t help, no doubt somewhat unfairly, thinking – given the appalling one-sidedness of the Oz on climate change – this is all rather ironic.

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See also Bureau warns heatwave here to stay.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the heatwave that’s sweeping the nation will last well into next week, as people with heart disease are put on high alert.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning the scorching heat bearing down across many states will continue ‘unabated’ well into next week.

The very high temperatures already felt in Western Australia are moving eastwards across the country, driven by an extremely hot air mass.

The mercury is forecast to peak on Friday at 40C-plus in Alice Springs, Adelaide, Renmark, Melbourne, Mildura, Echuca, Albury, Broken Hill and Wagga Wagga.

The bureau says the extreme heat events can have an impact on people’s health, a warning echoed by the National Heart Foundation.

It is advising those with heart disease to take it very easy during the next few days, with studies showing an increase in heart attacks and death from extreme heat.

Those with heart conditions should think about how they will manage not just this week but for the weeks to come.

The foundation says people most at risk are those with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, and the elderly, children, people on certain medications and those engaged in strenuous outdoor activity.

Meanwhile, as the Bureau of Meteorology warns of the increased risk of bushfires and grassfires, a serious blaze is burning out of control on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula…

And Heatwave heralds hot, dry summer.

LONG-STANDING temperature records may be broken in coming days as a massive heatwave sizzles much of the country.

A huge swath of central and south-eastern Australia is poised to swelter on Friday with temperatures expected to peak at 41 degrees in Melbourne, 42 degrees in Adelaide and even 38 degrees in Hobart.

”We probably will get close to some of the really significant Australia-wide records,” said Aaron Coutts-Smith, New South Wales climate services manager at the Bureau of Meteorology. ”The majority of Australia is suffering from extreme high temperatures.”…

In which Paul Sheehan has been taking happy pills…

Maybe. Or is it just me? But I actually found myself enjoying a thing or two he has written lately.

Today, for example: The camera is capturing the modern narrative.  Not at all bad, and I do think Loon Pond is too mocking in this one. And then, a recent piece Loon Pond refers to sarcastically as a contradiction of today’s: We cannot slow down and it is at our peril.

The transfer of wealth upwards over the past quarter-century is well documented as a byproduct of global capitalism.

Then there is climate change, an encompassing process of accelerating change and disruption. The ideology of manic economic growth, driven by the false wisdom that technology can conquer problems caused by technology, is clearly having a global impact on the environment caused by the reality that 7 billion people now live on the planet and the average person is consuming far more than ever before in history. That this must significantly affect not just the environment but the global climate invokes the most basic and self-evident commonsense.

The world’s scientific community has presented a compelling case that the acceleration of global consumption is in turn accelerating the much deeper natural pattern of climate change.

If you feel like life around you is speeding up, especially the cycle of invention to obsolescence, it’s not you, it’s everyone and everything.

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But then Loon Pond, along with just about everyone including, I would think, Ms Macklin herself, is onto one of the great attacks of foot-in-mouth compounded by a very dubious attempt to airbrush the evidence.

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Unfortunate, to say the least.

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Climate change or not? Well one day proves nought, but all I can say I am glad my part of the world – The Gong – is apparently going to avoid this corker on Friday.

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AUSTRALIA’S notoriously variable climate is on full display, with parts of the nation about to experience one of the largest heatwaves in territorial extent in decades after coming off a sharp shift in 2012 from wetter to drier-than-average conditions.

A major swath of central Australia stretching from Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy and Birdsville can expect maximum temperatures of 45 degrees or hotter for at least a week.

Towns to the south and east, such as Mildura and Hay, can expect to broil with 40-degree maximum temperatures for just as long.

The heat will be focused on internal regions.

”We have a major heat event under way,” Karl Braganza, manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, said. ”There are not many instances in the historical record where you get a heat event covering such a large area of the continent.”…

Well, cheers then… Stay cool.

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And yes, I am still playing with the new photo software. My attempts at turning myself into a koala have not been too successful yet, but keep watching!

There are things that matter and things I really don’t care two hoots about…

For example:

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Click that for the latest report from NOAA.

Read in today’s Sydney Morning Herald Where even the earth is melting.

THE world is on the cusp of a "tipping point" into dangerous climate change, according to new data gathered by scientists measuring methane leaking from the Arctic permafrost and a report presented to the United Nations on Tuesday.

"The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales," says the report, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. "Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started."

While countries the size of Australia tally up their greenhouse emissions in hundreds of millions of tonnes, the Arctic’s stores are measured in tens of billions…

Geologist Dr Iain Stewart in Earth: The Power of the Planet (2007– )

And so many other things today, reaching a grand climax in THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD!!!! Yes, it’s JULIA, THE VAMPIRE FROM SLATER AND GORDON! JULIA THE GETAWAY CAR DRIVER! JULIA OF BONNIE AND CLYDE FAME!  Or as I said, risking being labelled sexist perhaps, on Facebook last night and yesterday afternoon, especially having watched Julia Bishop’s confected outrage during her press conference:

This "Get Julia" session of Parliament is perhaps the lowest point Australian politics has reached in my lifetime — even counting the Dismissal, which at least was about very serious matters. Right now I couldn’t care less if Julia turns out to have been a vampire 20 years ago. I just want to see her government governing, albeit in many areas not very well — refugee policy for one– and the Opposition looking like a credible alternative and not a pack of slavering bitches — no gender implied…

Congrats Julie Bishop on yr press conference. Succeeded in firming up a vote for Labor with me. Well done! What a heap of ordure this now is…

Julie Bishop: why should I care? I really don’t any more. Try policy debate instead of this crap and let the government govern. I really do not care what Julia may or may not have done 20 years ago according to the gossip and hearsay you are retailing no matter that it’s in a stat dec, which you know as well as I proves nothing except that the declarer asserts he/she thinks whatever it is is true — maybe…

Pissed off because the overblown rhetoric pre carbon tax is now proven piffle? Is that it?

If you can be bothered, here is the latest little gem:

BRUCE Wilson, Julia Gillard’s former boyfriend, said he ”perhaps” asked an AWU employee to deposit $5000 in her bank account, but could not recall it. The PM said she could not remember receiving such a sum.

Mr Wilson, appearing on the ABC, was emphatic that no money from the union slush fund set up by him and fellow official Ralph Blewitt was spent on Ms Gillard’s house. He said that after there were technical problems getting the fund registered, he had asked Ms Gillard to help. ”It was a simple matter that needed to be done, she did it, end of story.”

Mr Wilson said he had not benefited financially from the fund but said Mr Blewitt had taken money out. He had been ”packaging it up and burying it in his backyard” – and some of it rotted away. Mr Wilson felt sorry that Ms Gillard ”has to go through all this because it’s just not warranted”.

MICHELLE GRATTAN

See also Lenore Taylor’s Bishop bluster loses wind in an obvious absence of evidence.

However, some real light on this and related matters does come from these three posts and their comment threads. The three bloggers together represent years of experience in the law, business, and the Australian Public Service and are all far more qualified than I am.

Finally, not a story of cosmic significance perhaps but a nice local one nonetheless — about Yours and Owls and my ex-student Stewart Holt (not “Stuart”) — Illawarra Mercury today.

Charges against the owners of Wollongong cafe-bar Yours and Owls have been dismissed following a graffiti incident at the venue earlier this year.

Two of the venue’s three owners – Balunn Jones and Ben Tillman – stood accused of malicious damage after a graffiti message appeared on the business’s Kembla Street facade in March.

Last month the charges were withdrawn and dismissed.

Mr Jones credited solicitor Stuart Holt – a regular customer who offered his services pro bono – with seeing through the case.

The venue is now hosting a new street art project on its inside walls, but Mr Jones said the trio planned to soon sell the business.

"Hopefully it goes to someone who’s got a similar point of view to us and it doesn’t just fade away. It would be nice if it happened."

Mr Jones said the trio was selling "for a variety of reasons", but did not elaborate.

The men – friends from the Illawarra’s northern suburbs – opened Yours and Owls in 2010.

Sharings

Highly local

The Blue Mile: “Let’s go on a journey investigating the history of the Blue Mile area! The Blue Mile is located along the shore line in Wollongong from Flagstaff Hill to North Beach.”

Local but international

Nick Southall, based in Wollongong, is a thoughtful Marxist. I am an agnostic on this as on many matters. I do commend Global Revolt and the Struggle for Democracy, however.

…the struggles for democracy will be very long. In fact they will take the rest of our days. For, if we want rich and rewarding lives, authentic and loving relationships, decent work and living conditions, sustainable development and environmental protection, these are things we need to create and recreate every day. It is when we stop looking to those who hold power over us for solutions, and start to create those solutions ourselves, that democracy is understood not just as a goal to be struggled for, but as the immanent ability of people to self-organise and govern themselves. However, it remains unclear if recent collaborative struggles can maintain their multiplicity of organisational forms and extend participatory democracy. Questions now facing those in revolt are; can the spaces, times and experimental practices of real democracy be widened and extended? Are new subjectivities, capable of genuine democratic relations, creating the practices, processes, infrastructures or institutions that can sustain and expand a long-term global revolution?

A Muslim on the seal of the confession

Waleed Aly in today’s Herald.

Suppose a paedophile’s desire for forgiveness and absolution is so strong that they are prepared to take the risk and confess anyway. Then what? Canon law prohibits a priest from revealing a confession even under the threat of his own death. Should we expect him to buckle under the threat of a prison sentence? Here it’s essential to understand that any priest who violates the confessional seal faces excommunication.

That might mean nothing to you. You might even see this as the threat that underpins a dangerous fairytale. But you are not the one hearing the confession. What matters is what this means to priests and, in Catholic terms, excommunication is as serious as it gets – far more serious than any prison sentence. This leaves us searching for a very strange creature indeed: someone devoted enough to enter the priesthood, but not devoted enough to care about eternal damnation. And we need lots of them. We’re betting on a team of rogue priests. That doesn’t sound like a plan to me.

You can’t legislate away people’s religious convictions, however much you might want to. And you can’t ignore them simply because you hold them in contempt. What matters here is the stuff outside the confessional box: the lame responses to abuse that seem calculated to protect paedophile priests rather than their victims; the legal manoeuvring to avoid paying compensation; the failure of police to follow through on investigations. These are the things we should be pursuing relentlessly. This should be the focus of our desire for justice. Let’s not dilute that by getting lost on some doctrinal excursion it’s clear we don’t understand.

He should be a Cardinal! Better than the one that is there now in Sydney anyway. I saw the whole Pell press conference on ABC News 24 and was mightily unimpressed.

Richard Ackland on Hardie’s, hypocrisy and Bernie Banton

See Morality question as dust will never settle.

It seemed like exquisite insensitivity for the NSW Court of Appeal to reduce the penalties originally imposed on directors of James Hardie Industries on the day the second episode of Devil’s Dust went to air on ABC TV.

This was a major and engrossing piece of documentary drama, based on the book by ABC journalist Matt Peacock with the delicate title, Killer Company.

We saw the story about how, at first, James Hardie attempted to hide the dangers posed by the mining and manufacture of asbestos then, when its liabilities were dramatically mounting, to spin-off its asbestos subsidiaries into the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation, taking the remainder of the company offshore.

The story was told through the eyes of former Hardie employee Bernie Banton, his wife Karen, the dogged Peacock and Hardie’s PR man.

In the TV drama, the spin doctor is called Adam Bourke, although in real life we know it was Greg Baxter, who later went to work as the corporate affairs person for Rupert Murdoch’s Australian operations.

The identity and character were changed in order to import a dramatic device of having Bourke’s wife struck down with mesothelioma – the result of home improvements in the early days of their marriage.

The idea was to create a sort of tacit, last-minute bonding between the protagonists – although there was drama enough without this flourish.

At the core of the TV and real-life dramas was Hardie’s attempt, in effect, to thwart claimants receiving a fair level of compensation for their asbestos-related diseases…

See my previous post.

Taking Australia’s Temperature

This was a quirky, good-humoured  attempt to reduce the shrillness of the alleged “debate” on global warming by throwing up actual facts about what has really, really happened objectively considered in Australia over the past century. Only an ass could deny what we we were shown, surely. Sadly, rusted on Moncktonites won’t have been watching, or if they did watch are no doubt torturously finding “evidence” to neutralise what we clearly saw.

Dr Karl Braganza
Temperatures around Australia have risen by about a degree. Um, less chills, more fevers. And some regional variation in that as well. So some regions are heating up more than others.
NARRATION
Essentially, what the records show is that global warming isn’t something that’s coming – it’s here in our backyards already. It’s pointless now to ask, ‘Is this climate change or natural variability?’ What we see is one acting on top of the other.
Dr Karl Braganza
So, every parcel of air, every ocean current, every weather system is now about a degree warmer. And when you go through and do the physics, that’s actually a hell of a lot of energy added to the climate system in general.
Dr Jonica Newby
You know, of all the things I learned on this investigation, it was that comment from Karl that really struck me. It was like, ‘Aha! I finally get it.’ There’s one degree of extra heat across the whole planet. That’s just a lot of new energy in our weather system. What happens when you add another degree? And another?
NARRATION
So what WILL happen in the future? Well, I’m obviously going to have to spend some money on a retaining wall. And, like the rest of us, I’ll try to do my bit. But I’ll continue to toast my sunset, pray to my snow gods and get as much joy as I always have out of the parts of Australia I love. I do think I should do so with eyes wide open, though, and not pretend there’s no change to see.

Well, let’s hope so.

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In a similar vein from The Netherlands see Climate Dialogue: Exploring different views on climate change.