and its wilful ignorance at that
Category Archives: Rogue’s Gallery
Many years ago, I was living and working in Tasmania on a number of research projects which saw me driving all over the State and getting to see the best that Tassie has to offer. I love the place.
Early on in my stint, I noticed as I drove up the Midland Highway, a number of old Eucalyptus trees standing alone in paddocks with sheets of tin wrapped around their bases looking a bit worse for wear. I mistakenly assumed the tin was placed on the trees to prevent cows from rubbing the bark off them. That was until I asked one particular farmer. He told me “the bloody possums are killing the trees.” I was reliably informed that this was a common thought amongst a number of farmers in the district. Apparently someone saw a few possums in a tree and then a month or two later the tree was looking sick. The possums hadn’t been seen there before and now the tree was sick. Logical? Yes. Correct? No.
The possibility that a few nectar slurping marsupials can kill a large gum tree through undetermined means does exist but the probability is close to zero. What is more likely is that these very old, remnant forest trees, now isolated and subject to a century or more of soil compaction, changed soil chemistry, nutrient deprivation and drought were simply pegging out. Any effect of possums likely negligible.
This sort of simple logic is what drives belief in “Wind Turbine Syndrome” or as I like to call it “NIMBY + fossil fuel funded misinformation syndrome”. I wasn’t going to do any more posts about this bullshit but sometimes the stupid burns so much I have to get it off my chest.
I have to thank Ketan for this retweet.
I couldn’t resist. After all the other weird and whacky symptoms and effects attributed to wind turbines I’ve read about I couldn’t resist one involving mustelids in Denmark. So I followed the link and before reading, did a quick scroll and was horrified to see this image…
I thought “OH MY GOD!” Wind turbines are causing babies to be infested with ferrets! On reading though I was relieved that this wasn’t happening. It was just the equally implausible idea that wind turbines were causing spontaneous abortions in minks on a mink farm in Denmark as well as causing the mustelids to attack and kill each other…allegedly.
I’m not going to bother explaining again that WTS has no basis in medical science and that infrasound is all around us (and produced by us) in levels greater than that caused by wind turbines. Feel free to search this blog for all that stuff. I’d like to look at a couple of other things…. like what could be the possible cause of the miscarriages and fighting in these rodents and the possible motivation for blaming wind turbines.
Something to note about this article is that it is very vague. It mentions veterinarians but does not provide any references to any official reports about the incident. The author does provide a link to a Danish blog that mentions the farmer and where his farm is and discusses his submission to a Danish parliamentary committee. The language in that article is very emotive and would appear to be written with a particular slant. It also doesn’t cite any official veterinarian reports, merely mentions “veterinarians”. The farmer himself, as reported, made claims that the politicians must all be deaf and in need of hearing aids and are “in the pocket” of the wind farm industry. On reading it I was given the impression of a crazy old farmer with NIMBY syndrome and an anti-green bent looking to blame someone for problems on his farm.
So, what could be the problem? Firstly, I’m not a mink expert, but just a little bit of reading the scientific literature reveals that minks are subject to a range of diseases and conditions including botulism, black leg, septicemia, encephalitis, rabies, deafness, dwarfism, distemper, liver flukes and other parasites. Some of these diseases result in a range of abnormal behaviours including cannibalism and tailbiting. Of most interest though, is the possibility that these minks contracted Aleutian Disease. This disease is well documented (paywall) as causing spontaneous abortions in minks. Maybe that’s it?
This paper discusses the disease in Denmark. The part that I find particularly interesting comes from the very first lines of the abstract.
In Denmark Aleutian mink disease (AMD) is a reportable disease with law enforced annual screening of all mink farms. Furthermore, all mink moved between farms have to be tested negative for AMD before moving. If more than 3 seropositive animals are found by counter current immune electrophoresis (CIEP), the farm is regarded as AMD infected according to the legislation.
That would be a real bummer for a mink farmer in Denmark with a dislike of politicians. How much easier to blame those awful wind turbines? Just saying.
So what about the Wind Turbine Syndrome blog? It has Nina Pierpont listed on its header. She is a medical doctor who is the architect of “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, which has no basis in medical science. As far as I can tell Pierpont has never published a medical or scientific paper on any subject.
The contact details for the blog are for someone from the World Council for Nature. While on the surface, many of their “concerns” seem noble, I find it odd that they claim to be all about protecting the natural environment but don’t see fit to mention climate change. It is the elephant in the room when it comes to ecology and the environment. They do however not like any forms of renewable energy. On the surface it is a very very strange ideological position to take. Perhaps they are one of these strange “God’s will” mobs? I don’t know.
But back to the article in question. It relies heavily on references from the Waubra Foundation. Sourcewatch has a comprehensive discussion about them and I urge you to read it all. I will sum it up though. They don’t live anywhere near Waubra, spread misinformation about wind power, actively lobby against it in Australia, are funded by fossil fuel interests and have very close associations with conservative politicians and a far right-wing fossil fuel funded “thinktank”. Can anyone say “vested interests”?
In conclusion, what we have here is……well….I’ll leave it to my readers to decide.
What do the four things in the title have in common? Another C word…..Campbell Newman. Let me explain in 5 steps….
1. A coal company (X) wants to do something dodgy that will damage the environment (surprise surprise)
2. Coal company X donates a large amount of money to the the conservatives (surprise surprise)
3. Conservatives employ coal company X person to assist in developing environmental policies
4. Coal company X person still paid by coal company X while working for conservatives.
5. Coal comapany X granted permission by conservatives to damage environment and bypass environmental legislation requirements.
Corruption: n Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery (Oxford, 2014)
from the Sydney Morning Herald
A mining company’s corporate affairs chief has been in charge of developing environmental policy for Queensland’s Liberal National Party government since 2012, the ABC reports.
James Mackay also worked full-time for the LNP during the 2012 election, while he was being paid $10,000 a month by the company, QCoal, the broadcaster says.
QCoal is embroiled in controversy over plans to divert Coral Creek in north Queensland to mine the coal underneath.
QCoal’s owner, billionaire Chris Wallin, is one of the LNP’s biggest donors, according to the ABC.
The diversion was approved by the State Government without requiring a new or amended environmental impact assessment, despite being classed as an assessment that carried “risk of serious harm”, the ABC says.
It says Mr Mackay has chaired the LNP’s state environment and heritage protection committee, which develops policy for discussion at the party’s annual conference, since joining the committee in 2012.
QCoal boss Mr Wallin gave $120,000 to the party in two donations just before the 2012 poll, the ABC says. One of those donations was for the “loan” of Mr Mackay to the LNP between January and March 2012.
A funding disclosure to the Australian Electoral Commission shows QCoal described the $30,750 donation to the LNP on March 23, 2012, as “an administrative staff member donated in kind”.
The diary for Energy and Water Minister Mark McArdle shows he met Mr Mackay on March 22 last year “to discuss QCoal”. The diary provided no other details.
QCoal won a water licence from the government to divert Coral Creek to extend the life of its Sonoma mine by six to eight months.
Now, I like to consider myself a smart guy. I mean, I’m a scientist with a publishing record. I’ve lectured at university. I’m pretty good at scrabble and I kick arse in Cluedo. Does this look really really really dodgy? It does to me. What do you think this is?
I’ll give you a hint. It looks, walks, smells and quacks like a duck. It’s a duck. So if the story above highlights something that looks, smells and sounds like corruption? It is corruption and it is way past time Queensland had its own Independent Commission Against Corruption so that dodgy dealings like those between Campbell Newman’s government and QCoal can be investigated and brought to the voting public’s attention. I suspect it would find a whole lot more than an overrated bottle of Grange.
For the full SMH story go here
by James Wight at Precarious Climate
Australian coal mining billionaire politician Clive Palmer announced on Tuesday that his party’s Senators will vote against the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the Abbott government’s proposed replacement for the carbon price it wants to repeal. Palmer wants the promised ERF funding to be redirected to pensions, and says he is even prepared to block budget bills if necessary.
Undeterred, the Government has pressed on, releasing the ERF White Paper on the eve of Anzac Day (in the tradition of the Green Paper released on the last day before Xmas). But with Palmer offside, ERF legislation will struggle to find any support from non-government Senators.
Labor and the Greens oppose the ERF as too weak. The Motoring Enthusiasts will vote with Palmer United. The Liberal Democrats, Family First, and Democratic Labor are unlikely to support any climate policy because they don’t believe the problem is real. And independent Nick Xenophon won’t support the ERF unamended. That makes up to 43 votes against the ERF, and only 38 votes are needed to block legislation. So it is very unlikely that Abbott will be unable to pass the legislation. This leaves Abbott with almost no climate policy (except the soon-to-be-neutered Renewable Energy Target, and some other bits and pieces that won’t achieve much).
Whether or not Abbott is able to implement the ERF probably won’t make much difference to emissions, because the ERF is a laughable scheme which will pay polluters to (in theory) voluntarily act to avoid emitting CO2 they otherwise would have emitted. I’ve written previously about 21 reasons why Abbott’s policy won’t work, including some issues which have received little attention – and almost all of what I said then remains essentially accurate.
Another thing which will make no difference is the “safeguard mechanism”, the penalty for polluters who exceed their baseline emissions levels under the ERF. Too many people are withholding judgment until the details are announced, when in fact we already know all we need to know. All ERF policy documents have made clear that both the fund itself and the supposed safeguard will allow emissions to increase wherever production increases (even if historical absolute baselines are used they will not apply to new companies or significant business expansion). In other words, the ERF is designed to cut emissions intensity (emissions per economic output), not absolute emissions. This is pointless as emissions intensity will fall automatically even if emissions rise; the problem is that those efficiency gains are being cancelled out by the exponential growth of the fossil fuel economy. The Government is budgeting zero revenue from the safeguard mechanism because they know it will never come into play.
What’s new in the White Paper?
- The policy objective, which used to be to meet Australia’s inadequate emissions target of 5% below 2000 by 2020, is now merely “to reduce emissions at lowest cost over the period to 2020, and make a contribution towards Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target”.
- The White Paper contains endless impenetrable text about how the Government will design emissions-reduction-verifying “methods” (through consultation with polluters), but there is still no reason to think these methods will have any validity. We do learn that methods will be reviewed by an “independent expert committee” called the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, which would be reassuring if the Abbott government didn’t have a history of appointing ideological allies to such panels.
- ERF funding is still capped for the first four years, and it sounds like beyond that funding will be decided in each budget. Again this is hardly reassuring, as every climate program’s funding seems to diminish over time.
- Polluters who fail to deliver emissions cuts contracted by the government must “make good” by purchasing offsets from other domestic companies. I cannot find any mention of earlier proposals to allow international offsets, though business groups continue to lobby for this.
- The 2015 review of the ERF will focus merely on operational elements.
A few journalists have made some half-hearted attempts to get more information out of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, but whenever he is asked a question about the ERF he just starts rabbiting on about how bad the carbon price was. Meanwhile, we’re hearing more and more from government members and advisors that climate change isn’t real after all. In the last fortnight, Attorney-General George Brandis, government backbencher George Christensen, and Abbott’s business advisor Maurice Newman have all challenged the science of climate change.
Perhaps they’re ramping up their attacks on science because they realize the ERF is losing credibility. Because there is one way in which it does matter whether the ERF goes ahead. If it proceeds, Abbott will be able to use it to support the talking point that his government has a policy on climate change, reassuring voters who are concerned about climate change but nervous about the alleged costs of a carbon price. But if the ERF founders, and Abbott succeeds in his overall agenda of climate deregulation, then he will have no significant policy to greenwash his government. And as the hot summers keep coming, there’ll be nothing to stop those concerned voters from becoming alarmed.
Read the original and check out all the other excellent articles at Precarious Climate here.
Greedy old fatcat, Gina Rinehart has been in the news in the last few days complaining about welfare recipients. Of all people, she should know exactly how hypocritical this is. This megalomaniacal, ignorant pig has had her snout in the trough of taxpayers since she inherited her abhorent father’s wealth, wealth that was built up with the aide of taxpayers money. It would be very hard to put a price tag on the amount of support her family’s empire has received (and is still receiving) but if it was a loan with interest she would probably have to declare bankruptcy if she was required to pay it back. Of course that hasn’t stopped her from sinking the boot into the most vulnerable by basically accusing them of having a handout mentality by saying that taxpayers’ money isn’t a “bottomless pit”. Well you greedy pig, you’re absolutley correct. It isn’t. How about instead of using your substantial taxpayer subsidised wealth to leverage support for laws that allow you to avoid paying tax, you actually do the right thing and refuse the substantial subsidies you recieve and pay your fucking taxes!
Anyway, someone much more polite than I, Kevin Price, had this to say to Gina.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Gina Rinehart and the reality of entitlement
I want to say this to Gina Rinehart and others who continue to ply this ‘tirade of entitlement’. First up, Ms Rinehart, my grandfather knew your father, quite well I believe, and although he did not particularly like the man, I’m told he held him in some regard as someone who had a vision and the balls to solicit substantial government assistance to realise it. I know this because the relationship between the two men was of entrepreneur and government minister responsible. They talked often.
I have been avoiding doing these because it really is a bit of a waste of time in that it doesn’t really educate anybody other than to reinforce our perception that a number of climate change deniers really do lack some critical thinking skills. That said, sometimes I feel compelled to do this… for reasons that I hope become obvious.
I tend to scroll through my WordPress reader a couple of times a day looking for important news on many issues including climate change, markets, politics and a few specialised blogs related to my two areas of scientific endeavour. I also have a couple of oddball denier blogs that I follow because they give me a good laugh at times. Yes, just as my favourite part of the circus is the clown act, I like to laugh at deniers too… the really silly ones of no consequence anyway. So I checked in on “Watching Those Who Watch the Deniers”. This site was set up allegedly to refute the hugely successful Watching the Deniers blog. They are both cracker blogs for completely opposite reasons.
Well it seems the author at the former site wants to be educated about global warming…or so she claims… but then sets up some conditions on the information she wants to receive. If it isn’t to her liking she plans to not publish the responses to her questions. Some of the conditions are pretty funny and designed to confirm her bias but that’s not what I plan to write about. I was having a good chuckle at what she was writing when I came across this absolute cracker.
If the oceans rose, people would move inland (they would not be refugees–sorry.)
There is no context for this comment so she wasn’t referring to any particular country or region. It was a blanket statement. Ok…..definition time. Refugees by UNHCR definitions are people outside of their own country unable to return to their country due to fear of persecution, conflict etc and it’s pretty clear on that point, so she is correct that people leaving their homes due to rising sea levels are not technically refugees, but I have to wonder if playing semantics with words for the sake of making some inane ideological point about people who are genuinely in serious need is morally acceptable? The fact is, there are plenty of people who are internally displaced in places like Pakistan and Bangladesh due to climate change induced extremes in seasonal flooding and random weather events who are effectively homeless. They have lost everything and don’t have the means to simply “move inland”. To ignore these people by hiding behind vocabulary semantics is immoral.
But let’s get to the main point of this idiotic statement, that people will simply move inland to avoid rising sea levels…if they rise. First, to question if the oceans are going to rise is to ignore the fact that they are rising currently and just through inertia in the system constrained by the laws of physics will continue to rise through thermal expansion and ice melt from projected temperature rises we have already locked in, based on our current levels of atmospheric CO2….and that’s if we were to stop increasing GHG tomorrow. So, oceans will continue to expand. That is undeniable. What are the projections?
Anywhere from half a metre to a metre by 2100 depending on various scenarios. So, let’s go to Tuvalu. There’s not much to say here other than the inhabitants of Tuvalu can’t simply move inland as the sea level rises. It is well established in the scientific literature that a sea level rise of 40cm by 2100 will make the atolls of Tuvalu “uninhabitable”. At least there won’t be an refugees as defined by the UNHCR.
And then there are the islands of the Maldives. The population of the Maldives currently live in the 11th highest density in the world and while a sea level rise of 1m won’t make the entire country uninhabitable, the ~300000 inhabitants will be forced to live in the 15% or so of land still inhabitable…..though I’m not sure what they will eat or do for a living? At least they won’t be refugees.
Finally, there’s Bangladesh. The 8th most populous nation and the 12th densest losing more than 10% of its habitable land….but at least they won’t be refugees, although if wars start being fought over food and water they could well become that….as defined by the UNHCR, but they could still travel inland I guess.
Many low-lying countries, particularly island nations, are at threat from rising sea levels associated with anthropogenic climate change. Many of these are 2nd and 3rd world countries, the least able to adapt technologically as they just cannot afford it. Many people from those countries will become climate refugees…not in the UNHCR mould, but just as desperate and just as homeless nonetheless. Hopefully, they will encounter people who care enough about them to take them in. That is the moral and humane thing to do. I’m not sure the people who play word games will.
Anyway, to read the whole silly blog entry, go here. Have a go at answering the questions too and let me know if you get published. The author wants to learn apparently.
Cleaning up my computer (I’m hopeless at storing files in an orderly fashion) I’ve decided to stick a few posters I’ve created in a post here to share before deleting them. I’m certainlyno graphic artist having only Paint and Powerpoint to make them. Naturally they are political and I’mquite pleased with them but I do need to make space….
I bang my head on the desk. Here is an excerpt from a speech given by Tony Abbott in Canberra last night…
“Man and the environment are meant for each other. The last thing we do – the last thing we should want – if we want to genuinely improve our environment is to want to ban men and women from enjoying it, is to ban men and women from making the most of it and that’s what you do. You intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us.”
Allow me to translate…
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
I think the key here is the final sentence, “You intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us.” The problem is, Tony Abbott is not an intelligent man. Relying on the Bible to inform you about decisions that should be soundly informed by science is not intelligent. Presumably, if Tony Abbott was intelligent, he would recognise the contradiction between what he says and what he does and he would certainly understand the inference in the first sentence of this excerpt. He basically states that man and the environment depend on each other for survival and he absolutely correct…but not in the way that he probably thinks.
While we exist, we do indeed need the environment for our survival, and while we exist, the environment needs us for its survival in that it needs us to look after it and not over-exploit it for resources or damage it. I am 100% confident that if humans disappeared tomorrow, the environment and every living thing in it would breathe a collective sigh of relief and just get on with living and under a lot less pressure. What Tony Abbott doesn’t seem to understand is that it we are more than capable of damaging the environment to the point that it can no longer sustain human life on it. As most of my readers are intelligent, there is no need for me to go beyond referring to the end-Permian extinction that resulted in no land animal bigger than about 10kg surviving and 90% of living things disappearing. Tony Abbott doesn’t get it. It is beyond his abilities and highlights the lies in his speech.
More and more I am convinced that Tony Abbott is cut from exactly the same cloth as a large number of the loony far right Republicans in the USA, the hypocritical Bible literalists, who use their faith to justify pretty much any decisions they make no matter how wrong or stupid.
So, what does Tony Abbott view as intelligently making “the most of the good things that God has given us”? In the case of Tasmanian forests where he wants to liberate the trees, it is less of this…
and more of this…
Less of these…
and more of these…
To read all of Tony Abbott’s speech, put on your headgear, keep a bucket handy and go here.
I promised myself I would ignore the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party (CSP) because quite frankly I found them to be so far on the right hand fringe of Australian politics, they have a tiny tiny following and so are really of no consequence and very little interest except in a kind of old school, circus freak show kind of way. No offence meant to any circus freaks by the way.
I used to write about the CSP a fair bit, mostly focussing on the dishonesty of a few of their hierarchy. Nothing too serious of course, just
making up grossly exaggerating professional credentials, misrepresenting blog comments and lying about stuff including their nonsense claim that they are a centrist party. Their position on climate change is out there with the wackiest of the wacky as evidenced by their devotion to the ever loopy Christopher Monckton and their endless spouting of just about every denier canard ever uttered. You will notice I’m not providing any links to anything I’ve written about them because it’s easy enough to find. Just search my blog for “CSP” and you’ll have plenty to read.
Anyway, I was sent an email today by a colleague pointing me to the AEC website and this announcement…
I was wondering why they changed their name? Not catchy? Perhaps they realised that it’s a bit too prescriptive? Maybe a name change will result in a better result at the next election? Maybe it’s all three. In the last election they saw their vote for the Senate positions drop from 0.2% in 2010 to 0.13% in 2013. They could do worse I guess. Anyway, given the timing it’s clear they have seen how easy it was for a couple of morons from other fringe parties to get elected by vote harvesting and they want to try to get their own moron elected in the rerun for the WA Senate spots next month. They even admit as much….not the moron part but the rest, in their own Press Release. Try and ignore the spelling and grammatical errors and poor setting out. Whoever wrote it was probably a bit excited. Link here.
Nice logo…very American looking and the Party name also has a very American feel about it. I’m almost inclined to think whomever came up with both has been spending a lot of time visiting The American GOP sites and watching Glen Beck or Sean Hannity videos on YouTube. They are always carrying on about attacks on their freedom and future prosperity. You could have gone all out and whacked “liberty” in there somewhere. The Freedom, Liberty and Prosperity Party (FLAP) Now, before anyone discounts FLAP and says that’s a bit silly, what was pointed out to me in the email, was this part…
Oh dear….. Anthony, you are either completely out of touch or a bloody genius! Even I, in my 40’s, know enough about youth culture to know there is an internet meme attached to the word FAP. Fap is…..ummmmm. Well according to the Urban Dictionary…
Yes yes I know that the Urban Dictionary isn’t a real dictionary but I can guarantee that if you go out into the street and ask a heap of people aged 15 to 25 what “FAP” is, most of them will give you the Urban Dictionary definition. It is of course a lot older than that and it originally was an adjective meaning drunk or befuddled. Either way, whomever came up with it, clearly didn’t think it through…. or did they? I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of apathetic politically naive young voters see FAP, have a chuckle and vote for them. No harm in that, FAP will need all the help they can get. Now that people are waking up to the wrecking ball Abbott, they are hardly likely to give their vote to a party that is even further to the right than him. The turmoil that he has created will see voters wanting stability in the Senate and these knucklehead fringe dwellers that try to vote harvest and do shady preference swaps won’t get a look in, especially if voters go and look at the policies. Speaking of which, I’m pleased to see that FAP are continuing with all their principles, including their conspiracy ideation about “Agenda 21″. Good stuff. That’s the sort of thing the loony right- wing Tea Party in the USA carry on with. Maybe I am sensing a theme here. American looking banner and American sounding name, American culture has permeated into our youth, our youth are fairly apathetic but will find FAP funny…hmmm. Genius! Anyway, speaking of American politics…
One of my favourite Youtubers is Derek with his channel Veritasium. He has a PhD in science communication and all of his videos exploit his expertise in this area. He likes to present a problem to random people and see how they solve it, usually demonstrating the weaknesses in human nature when it comes to laypeople understanding science. This next video is one of his good ones…
and that is the difference between scientists and climate change deniers. The latter tend to suffer from confirmation bias and lack the objectivity, intellect and courage to challenge their predetermined beliefs and also unlike the people in this video who eventually found the solution, refuse to accept any possibility that they are wrong.