In The Gong–good news and bad news

Crown Street Mall yesterday experienced a visit from leafy Killara…

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Some of our students down here are, it seems, up against it. Consider this graphic from today’s Illawarra Mercury.

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Parts of the Illawarra are trailing badly behind the digital age, with more than a third of households in some suburbs still not connected to the internet.

The lag is creating a digital divide largely along postcode lines, according to latest Census data.

In Warrawong, more than 41 per cent of households are not connected to the internet, compared with 11.5 per cent in the 2508 postcode covering Coalcliff, Helensburgh, Otford, Stanwell Park and Stanwell Tops.

Barnardos community development worker Michelle Ridding believes the divide is creating a new "layer of disadvantage" among primary school-aged children…

In the Illawarra, broadband take-up is lowest in postcodes 2528 (Barrack Heights, Barrack Point, Lake Illawarra, Mount Warrigal, Warilla and Windang); 2506 (Berkeley) and 2505 (Kemblawarra, Port Kembla).

Australia-wide, 19.7 per cent of households have no internet, down from 35.4 per cent in 2006.

In the Illawarra, the average is 22.6 per cent, down from 39 per cent.

Some people in every Illawarra postcode – about 3.5 per cent – continue to use dial-up.

Work on the federal government’s National Broadband Network roll-out is expected to begin in Warrawong and surrounding suburbs within three years.

Kiama Downs and Minnamurra are already connected to the faster network and 44 per cent of eligible households have made use of it. Construction is under way in Wollongong, Dapto and elsewhere in the Illawarra, with Kiama next to be connected.

Meanwhile the local university has done rather well in a report into the quality of research taking place in Australian universities.

The Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2012 report takes into account more than 60,000 staff, $8.7 billion in external research funding and 413,000 publi-cations.

The report says that 90 per cent of the fields of research assessed at UOW delivered at or above world standard.

The assessment system confirmed UOW’s research excellence in areas including chemical sciences, geology, materials and interdisciplinary engineering, clinical sciences, tourism and human geography.

"These ERA outcomes recognise the research effort across all UOW faculties and areas of research strength," UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Judy Raper said yesterday.

"[These include] for example the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, the Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials and Materials and Manufacturing Engineering," Professor Raper said.

"This collective effort has contributed to an outstanding success."

The University of Wollongong received the highest national rating in the broad discipline area of chemical sciences…

Another report in The Mercury has rather more mixed news even if the headline asserts: Illawarra set for better year: report.

IRIS’s September Profile Illawarra reflects a range of economic activity; some good, some not so good.

It showed export trade activity at Port Kembla grew by 6.1 per cent in the year to June, imports fell 20.2 per cent, job advertisements dropped 10.3 per cent, the region’s coal production increased by 16.1 per cent, and there was a fall in the number of land, house and unit sales.

During the financial year 2011-12 there were 3468 house sales, 1502 unit sales and 481 land-only sales.

At the end of the year 187,800 people were employed, down 2.6 per cent.

Unemployment was up 0.1 percentage points to 6.7 per cent and youth unemployment fell to 14.3 per cent from 15.1 per cent.

Labour force figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed the national unemployment rate fell from 5.4 per cent to 5.2 per cent in November.

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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.

New York, New York

Coincidentally I have been reading about the seamier side of New York City just lately: Alphaville.

The cocky and often triumphant confrontations with bad guys make "Alphaville" a strangely entertaining read. But the book is also a reminder of how far into danger and degradation New York fell in the late 20th century. Today New York is the safest major city in America. Yet the homicide rate so far this year is 15% higher than last, and the numbers for rape and robbery are rising, too. The watchword for urban safety, as for so much else, is eternal vigilance. We never want to return to the bad old days—which aren’t all that old.

That at least has made me more aware of the geography of the city, so recent reports have thus meant more to me.  I have never been there. I do know a few people who are there now. Here are two.

  • Philip Costello, a friend, and flatmate a couple of times in the 80s and 90s. “To all those who may be concerned. No damage, leaks or flooding at my home, but am affected by the big power outage that is affecting a large part of Manhattan. Have fled to the Upper West side to a friends apartment till power is restored.”
  • Jeremy Heimans – former SBHS student and all-round amazing internet person – #11 of the Top 100 Creative people in Business 2012, I see. “Sadly, #sandy is just the new normal. We’re going to face this more often & with growing severity for the rest of our lives. #climatechange” – Jeremy on Twitter four hours ago.

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Not a million miles from where Philip normally lives these days:

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There could of course for some be a “better” explanation. Jeremy tweeted on 27 October: “At a gay wedding in Garrison, NY and guess what has just appeared in the sky? A rainbow.” See? Winking smile 

But seriously… There actually is a tinfoil hatted preacher saying just that! When will they ever learn? No sane person will believe him, of course.

"God is systematically destroying America," McTernan writes. "Just look at what has happened this year."

Calling Sandy "the most powerful hurricane on record" that "could do catastrophic damage to the entire Northeast," McTernan adds, "Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!"

Is it bad taste to mention that climate change may have played a clear part in the recent events? Normally I am very wary of linking specific events to climate change – the danger of that should be obvious. However, in this case I would ask you to consider:

1. The New Yorker 29 October 2012.

As with any particular “weather-related loss event,” it’s impossible to attribute Sandy to climate change. However, it is possible to say that the storm fits the general pattern in North America, and indeed around the world, toward more extreme weather, a pattern that, increasingly, can be attributed to climate change. Just a few weeks before the Munich Re report appeared, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York, published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the apparent increase in extreme heat waves. Extreme summertime heat, which just a few decades ago affected much less than one per cent of the earth’s surface, “now typically covers about 10% of the land area,” the paper observed. “It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies”—i.e., heat waves—“such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.” It is worth noting that one of several forces fuelling Sandy is much-higher-than-average sea-surface temperatures along the East Coast.

2. The Munich Re report of 17 October 2012

Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. The view that weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in various regions due to global warming is in keeping with current scientific findings, as set out in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as in the special report on weather extremes and disasters (SREX). Up to now, however, the increasing losses caused by weather related natural catastrophes have been primarily driven by socio-economic factors, such as population growth, urban sprawl and increasing wealth.

Among many other risk insights the study now provides new evidence for the emerging impact of climate change. For thunderstorm-related losses the analysis reveals increasing volatility and a significant long-term upward trend in the normalized figures over the last 40 years. These figures have been adjusted to account for factors such as increasing values, population growth and inflation. A detailed analysis of the time series indicates that the observed changes closely match the pattern of change in meteorological conditions necessary for the formation of large thunderstorm cells. Thus it is quite probable that changing climate conditions are the drivers. The climatic changes detected are in line with the modelled changes due to human-made climate change.

The Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, Prof. Peter Höppe, commented: "In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades. Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence. If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.” Höppe continued that even without changing hazard conditions, increases in population, built-up areas and increasing values, particularly in hazard-prone regions, need to be on Munich Re’s risk radar. All stakeholders should collaborate and close ranks to support improved adaptation. In addition, climate change mitigation measures should be supported to limit global warming in the long term to a still manageable level. “As North America is particularly exposed to all kinds of weather risks, it especially would benefit from this”, added Höppe…

3. Paul McGeogh, Leviathan: how Sandy links to a warming planet.

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4. The Midweek Wonk: What We Know About Sandy and Climate.

October 29 lecture by GeoScientist Christian Shorey at the Colorado School of Mines, describing the most current knowns and unknowns about Sandy in the context of climate change. 15 minutes long, good summary for anyone that needs an instant cliffnotes primer.

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5. And for sheer lunacy: “An endlessly rich source of denialist paranoia and craziness, Infowars, now suggest that President Obama is using secret technology to direct Hurricane Sandy up the East Coast…”

6. NY Governor  Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

NEW YORK — A day after New York City experienced its worst storm surges in recorded history, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city may need to respond to climate change with steps like storm barriers. Such protections would be extremely costly, but climate change experts said Hurricane Sandy provided a first glimpse of the challenges all coastal areas will face as sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more frequent.

Cuomo said on Tuesday that he told President Barack Obama it seemed like "we have a 100-year flood every two years now."

"These are extreme weather patterns. The frequency has been increasing,” he said.

Of protections like levees in Lower Manhattan, Cuomo said, "It is something we’re going to have to start thinking about … The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level."

"I don’t know how practical it is to put gates on PATH tubes and subway tunnels," Bloomberg said in a separate press conference. "What is clear is that the storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before. Whether that’s global warming or what, I don’t know, but we’ll have to address those issues."

Although levees or other storm surge barriers might sound like fantasy to some, there are proposals on the table for introducing barriers across New York’s harbor or in the East River. Implementing them would cost at least billions of dollars — but infrastructure experts said the time to prepare for climate change is now, not after disasters.

Klaus Jacob, a climate expert at Columbia University, warned months ago that a major flood could result in $58 billion in economic damages from a large storm surge. An event on something like that scale appears to have come to pass….

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7.  Stephan Lewandowsky, Superstorm Sandy and the climate debate surge.

Please consider.

Our thoughts are with all in that vast area of the US North-East.

Later

Now we are seeing the extent of the damage: so terrible. Here are some posts I have encountered after writing this morning.

eureka8. 2012 SkS News Bulletin #1: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change: “This is a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the regular SkS weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week.”

9. Peter Sinclair, The World’s Biggest Metaphor just Came Ashore.

10. Christopher Mims, How global warming helped transform Sandy from a hurricane into a Frankenstorm. Mims “is a former editor at Seed, Scientific American, Technology Review, Grist and Smithsonian, and in those roles launched blogs, redesigns, video series and other half-forgotten but otherwise influential experiments in new media. As a freelancer with the news metabolism of a hummingbird, he spent a decade writing news and analysis for the aforementioned, as well as BBC, Wired, Nature and the like.”

And an amusing post on Facebook from Philip Costello:

It’s the middle of a hurricane and when I look out the window, what do I see? A man jogging up the middle of 7th avenue wearing only his shoes and underwear!

1 November

11. Kevin Trenberth, Opinion: Super Storm Sandy, The Scientist.

…In many ways, Sandy resulted from the chance alignment of several factors associated with the weather. A human influence was also present, however.  Storms typically reach out and grab available moisture from a region 3 to 5 times the rainfall radius of the storm itself, allowing it to make such prodigious amounts of rain. The sea surface temperatures just before the storm were some 5°F above the 30-year average, or “normal,” for this time of year over a 500 mile swath off the coastline from the Carolinas to Canada, and 1°F of this is very likely a direct result of global warming.  With every degree F rise in temperatures, the atmosphere can hold 4 percent more moisture. Thus, Sandy was able to pull in more moisture, fueling a stronger storm and magnifying the amount of rainfall by as much as 5 to 10 percent compared with conditions more than 40 years ago.  Heavy rainfall and widespread flooding are a consequence.  Climate change has also led to the continual rise in sea levels—currently at a rate of just over a foot per century—as a result of melting land ice (especially glaciers and Greenland) and the expanding warming ocean, providing a higher base level from which the storm surge operates.

These physical factors associated with human influences on climate likely contribute to more intense and possibly slightly bigger storms with heavier rainfalls.  But this is very hard to prove because of the naturally large variability among storms.  This variability also makes it impossible to prove there is no human influence.  Instead, it is important to recognize that we have a “new normal,” whereby the environment in which all storms form is simply different than it was just a few decades ago.  Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures, a warmer and moister atmosphere above the ocean, higher water levels around the globe, and perhaps more precipitation in storms…

…As human-induced effects through increases in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere continue, still warmer oceans and higher sea levels are guaranteed. As Mark Twain said in the late 19th century, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now humans are changing the weather, and nobody does anything about it! As we have seen this year, whether from drought, heat waves and wild fires, or super storms, there is a cost to not taking action to slow climate change, and we are experiencing this now.

12. Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating, Don’t forget the storm’s other victims.

eureka13. Skeptical Science, Hurricane Sandy and the Climate Connection.

Extreme Weather on Steroids

The bottom line is that while global warming did not cause Hurricane Sandy, it did contribute to the "Frankenstorm" at least by causing higher sea levels (and thus bigger storm surges and flooding) and warmer sea surface temperatures (and thus probably a stronger hurricane), and there are a few other human influences on the climate which may also have contributed to the damage caused by the storm.

14. Skeptical Science: debunking “Hurricane Sandy had nothing to do with global warming”.

Sniffing out the swamp then looking up….

I have been holding my nose while exploring the sad sad travesty that we call an asylum seeker debate these days – the abuse, among other things, of the word SOLUTION for policies – whoever comes up with them – that are not actually solutions to anything, except maybe the spin cycle of the moment… But then we have been conditioned by the advertising industry and the language abuse common in business to see “solutions” of all kinds — on the sides of trucks that used just to be trucks and so on. Strangely though I actually find aspects of the recently released Expert Panel Report – which I am actually reading, unlike most of you – quite useful. On the other hand of course…

So away from the stench down here I was chuffed and suitably chastened by this image:

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Now I am sure you’ve seen this – Earth, Venus and Jupiter from the surface of Mars.Trouble is it is a fake. The following is genuine, if old – 2004.

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But both do serve to challenge our self-importance and expose our sad inadequacy when it comes to addressing the problems of or on our planet. Oh what a piece of work is man, in several senses!

This photo is not a fake, though I had to work on it a bit as it was an impossible shot from my window late afternoon yesterday, straight into the sun. I am rather fond of contre jour but this was ridiculous. I knew the Rainbow Lorikeet was there in the coral tree, but could see nothing but glare in the viewfinder.

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So this is how I passed my time from 10 am to 2 pm yesterday

Some of it was in a machine just like this – I know, I read the brand name.

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Hawkeye, eh! Just like in the Cricket telecasts?

And you can read all about what is involved here. I don’t have the results yet, but the doctor did say if they found anything very serious they would send me straight to hospital – and they didn’t.

Three years ago a Bloomberg item reported that such tests average $2,000 each. Thanks to our still comparatively enlightened approach to health care in Australia yesterday cost me ZERO, NADA, ZILCH! Count your blessings, Aussies, and be careful who you vote for – even if so far health policy has been rather bipartisan.

The facility where I was done was just down this street.

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Pretty place, Wollongong.

On The Royal Society, Britishness, the Jubilee and Bill Bryson

There have been plenty of Jubilee Moans. Here is one from Canada:

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Well, if you say so. I’m sorry, but this just leaves me cold. Furthermore, just as history by any stretch of the imagination that “60+ years” section is at the very least gross oversimplification and rampant self-righteousness. And, well, nonsense.

I am much more impressed with Brit Muslim Indigo Jo, with whom I don’t always agree but who is always worth a read.

For some people, it wasn’t fun, it was a miserable, cold, dirty, wet long weekend. There was a letter in today’s Guardian that noted that the Royal Box at the Jubilee concert contained several Tories (Cameron and his wife, John Major, John Patten and Seb Coe) but no representative of Labour, and thus the royal family have abandoned any pretence of political neutrality. I also do not buy the myth that the Queen is “above politics”; she is one of the country’s biggest landowners and a member of an extremely wealthy family at a time when we have a government principally composed of rich men who are redistributing wealth in favour of the rich.

Despite that, I’m not radically pro-republic or anti-monarchy; we do not have a particularly nationalist culture in this country (we do not have flags and pledges of allegiance in the classroom, for example), and the four-day jubilee is a rare moment of celebration of nationhood, even if it is focussed on the person of the Queen and a milestone in her reign rather than the nation. Republics often foster national myths, particularly about their foundation, such as whitewashing or otherwise re-writing the personal and political records of their founders (making them more pious or religious than they really were, for example) and altering the facts of why the old regime was overthrown in the first place (making it look like a rebellion against generic ‘tyranny’ rather than disliked taxes, for example). These myths are often used in the suppression of minority rights, as recently seen in the anti-Muslim laws passed in several European countries in the past decade, something the UK has remained free of.

I have become markedly more pro-British, and much more prepared to defend the British way of doing things, in the decade or so since 9/11, as this country is one of the few places in the developed world where racism and xenophobia have not become anything like as socially acceptable as in Europe or America, where they have entered into law and where the far-right has gone mainstream in some places. Perhaps the fact of having a monarchy has little to do with this, but it still makes me cautious about identifying republicanism with progress and demanding radical change for the sake of it, when there are better ways of bringing about progressive political change.

Which brings me to Bill Bryson and The Royal Society.

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Love that book, so I was drawn to – and eventually downloaded —

Royal Society Anniversary Lecture: An Even Shorter History of Nearly Everything

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Great Hall, Guildhall

Yes, a bit late in the day, but well worth catching up on. And the Britishness?

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The real knock-out, however, is in the last nine minutes or so of the speech. If this doesn’t inspire and excite you, and fill you with awe, then nothing much will!

That is smiley-happy005smiley-happy005[3]smiley-happy005[5]smiley-happy005[7]smiley-happy005[9]!

No, I didn’t

After yesterday’s post you may wonder if I watched it.

No.

But I did see the first fifteen minutes and I have visited the QandA site this morning to see that there at least I didn’t miss much.  I should add that my real reason for not watching was that I simply needed an early night!  I should also add that it was a lie when I wrote yesterday that “I would rather have root canal therapy or listen to Alan Jones all day than watch the insufferable child-debater in adult garb Nick Minchin”. Well, almost a lie.

Nick is a classic example of what happens in this debate when ideology – Green/Bolshevik Plottism in his case – not science is your starting point. You tend to stick with things no matter how idiotic they are or how thoroughly they have been discredited or how often…

Take Nick’s article this morning:

Professor Michael Ashley, in yesterday’s Herald, expressed the usual denunciation of sceptics like me: the experts are on the global warming side; I am a cynical former politician who doesn’t understand ”the science”; they have found ”the truth” about climate – debate over.

Oddly, what he doesn’t argue is exactly the science – and that is because reality has got in the way of the theory. Indeed, the absence of warming since 1998 – despite rising CO2 levels and contrary to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions – shakes the foundations of the alarmists’ cause, as the Green icon James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, recognised this week.

OK, Lovelock. Nick is selective, as ever. Check the reports yourself.

Asked if he was now a climate skeptic, Lovelock told msnbc.com: “It depends what you mean by a skeptic. I’m not a denier.”

He said human-caused carbon dioxide emissions were driving an increase in the global temperature, but added that the effect of the oceans was not well enough understood and could have a key role.

“It (the sea) could make all the difference between a hot age and an ice age,” he said.

He said he still thought that climate change was happening, but that its effects would be felt farther in the future than he previously thought.

“We will have global warming, but it’s been deferred a bit,” Lovelock said…

NOAA reports its data in monthly U.S. and global climate reports and annual State of the Climate reports

Its annual climate summary for 2011 said that the combined land and ocean surface temperature for the world was 0.92 degrees above the 20th century average of 57.0 degrees, making it the 35th consecutive year since 1976 that the yearly global temperature was above average.

“All 11 years of the 21st century so far (2001-2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century, 1998, was warmer than 2011,” it said.

In the interview, Lovelock said he would not take back a word of his seminal work “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth,” published in 1979.

But of “Revenge of Gaia,” published in 2006, he said he had gone too far in describing what the warming Earth would see over the next century.

“I would be a little more cautious — but then that would have spoilt the book,” he quipped.

Today, just coincidentally, we read:

Antarctica’s massive ice shelves are shrinking because they are being eaten away from below by warm water, a new study finds.

That suggests that future sea levels could rise faster than many scientists have been predicting.

The western chunk of Antarctica is losing 23 feet (seven metres) of its floating ice sheet each year. Until now, scientists weren’t exactly sure how it was happening and whether or how man-made global warming might be a factor. The answer, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is that climate change plays an indirect role — but one that has larger repercussions than if Antarctic ice were merely melting from warmer air.

Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said research using an ice-gazing NASA satellite showed that warmer air alone couldn’t explain what was happening to Antarctica. A more detailed examination found a chain of events that explained the shrinking ice shelves.

There is a wealth of material out there and what individuals like the extremely ancient Lovelock may think is beside the point really. What Nick calls “the hype of the Al Gores and Tim Flannerys” is also beside the point – whether or not one accepts that characterisation of either gentleman. It is the overall picture which has convinced every major scientific body in the world and the overwhelming majority of properly qualified climate scientists that there really is a crisis and that it is being largely driven by what we have done on this planet in the last century or two – one of those factors being anthropogenic climate change involving greenhouse gases, primarily CO2 from fossil fuel.

And really, Nick, not the “no warming since 1998” crapdoodle again! How often does this have to be rebutted????  Sheesh…