Coalition joins the climate change fight – but without an ETS?

The Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, is quoted by The Australian as giving a speech which attacks the Australian Government’s malcolm-turnbullunbalanced focus on an emissions trading scheme as a means of addressing man’s influence on the climate. Instead Mr Turnbull states that a Coalition Government would focus on replacing old technology with new.

“An ETS is not an end to itself,” Mr Turnbull will argue. “It’s only part of the solution – one tool in the climate policy tool box and, in fact, no solution at all without new energy sources and new low-emissions technology.”

“Our Green Carbon Initiative will ensure Australia is able to achieve greater reductions in carbon dioxide than those proposed by Mr Rudd, at relatively low cost and with enormous additional benefits to our own country’s environment.”

Hooray! At least part of the message is getting through to the politicians. Also, thank you to readers who have sent copies of my posts to politicians. Suddenly there is a risk-management focus on the climate change debate….

But Mr Turnbull will assert that action on climate change is not a matter of belief or non-belief in the science but a wise exercise in risk-management.

Clever political move Mr Turnbull. Most Australians ARE concerned with the environment. With our abundance of open space, Australians are probably more environmentally aware than other people.

However, Australians are not convinced that another socialist experiment is in anyone’s best interests. The US sub-prime mortgage market was one such experiment, and that triggered the current global economic crisis.

I posted on a risk management view of an ETS in Australia headed for economic strife, but still wants a an Emissions Trading Scheme?

Personally, I support moves to actually protect our environment and have lower human impact on the world we live in – regardless of whether man-made CO2 is causing global warming. (And I still have stuff to readnsay on that topic too!)

But why do they keep killing the whales? Questions from a six year old child

I have encouraged my son to ask questions. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with the questions he asks. Tonight he saw a news item on TV about Japanese whaling. He asked some very interesting questions. As the saying goes – from the mouths of babes.

pilot whale mother and baby


Child:  Look Mum, they’re killing a whale! Why are they doing that?

Mum: They say so that they can do research.

Child: What is research?

Mum: Research is studying something to learn about it.

Child: But why do they want to kill all of the whales in Antarctica?

Mum: They are not killing all of them, just some. The whales aren’t necessarily in Antarctica. The whales move north when it gets colder and have their babies in the warmer water. When the babies are stronger, they move back to Antarctica.

Child:  But that’s not fair! I don’t understand why they want to do that.

Mum:  Nor do I sweetheart.

Child: But why don’t the whales just swim away?

Mum: Because the ships are very fast. Also the whales don’t expect someone to shoot a harpoon at them.

Child: But I’ve never seen a real whale!

Mum: I’ll show you some one day. I like whales too.

Child: I know what they could do. They could catch them on a big hook, but they’d need a really strong line. Whales can breath air. So they could catch them like fish.

Mum: (Realising child has seen fishing shows where they always let the fish go gently.) And then let the whales go again?

Child: Yes, like fish.

Mum: That’s a good idea.

Child then proceeds to design and build a ship that catches whales, takes them inside to study them (because whales can breath air like people do), and then lowers them back into the sea in special boats to let them go again.

Don’t you wish the problems of the world could be solved that easily? Hmmm. Maybe they could.

These questions tugged at me because I have had the totally awesome experience of swimming with whales that happened to cross the path of the live aboard dive boat I was on. The dive boat tender dropped us as snorkellers in the path of the pod of whales and then retreated. Another swimmer and I were only metres apart and a baby whale swam right between us, checking us out and talking in whale song – under the watchful eye of his mother only about 10 metres away. The photo was taken by a friend – I didn’t have a waterproof camera on that trip.

I have read that only one or two tests that researchers want to do on whales can only be done on dead whales. In industry it is called destructive testing.

The “Move to Darwin” because of climate change original story

I was immediately drawn to the headlines such as “Move north to escape climate change” this morning. Being a born sceptic, I looked up Australian National University’s website to see what Dr Burrows said. This is what I found, headlined “New Ice Age maps point to climate change”:

Monday 19 January 2009

Image courtesy Dr Timothy Barrows/Elsevier
Image courtesy Dr Timothy Barrows/Elsevier


New climate maps of the Earth’s surface during the height of the last Ice Age support predictions that northern Australia will become wetter and southern Australia drier due to climate change.

An international consortium of scientists from 11 countries has produced the maps, which appear in this week’s issue of Nature Geoscience.

Dr Timothy Barrows of the Research School of Earth Sciences at The Australian National University was responsible for the Australian sector of the reconstruction.

“During the last Ice Age – around 20,000 years ago – sea surface temperature was as much as 10 degrees colder than present and icebergs would have been regular visitors to the southern coastline of Australia,” Dr Barrows said.

The temperature was estimated by measuring changes in abundance of tiny plankton fossils preserved on the sea floor, together with chemical analyses of the sediment itself.

“One of our major findings was that the continent’s mid latitudes (Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney) are very sensitive and experience the greatest climate change in and out of Ice Ages. This is where we should focus monitoring and look at past impacts of climate change.

“In contrast, the tropical areas (north of Brisbane) change very little, mostly less than 2 degrees.” 

The global warming at the end of the last Ice Age was the greatest in recent geological history. Temperatures warmed by as much as 6-10 degrees across Australia.

‘We expect that the same pattern of change will hold for future global warming, with the temperate latitudes changing the most and the tropics changing the least,” Dr Barrows said. “It should be wetter in the tropics and drier in the south as climate belts shift.”

“Recently we have found that right at the end of the last Ice Age, temperatures were actually warmer than they are now in the southwest Pacific Ocean. We still do not know the reason for this.

“The study highlights how important researching past climate change is to understanding patterns of modern climate change. It’s crucial that Australia commit more resources so we can continue this vital work.”

Filed under: Media Release, ANU College of Physical Sciences, Science


I particularly liked the comment: “The study highlights how important researching past climate change is to understanding patterns of modern climate change.”

AAP on The website report a bit more:

Recent debate has focussed on whether humans are now causing the world to warm by releasing lots of carbon dioxide.
Dr Burrows said this was not his area of expertise, but there was more research to be done on how much of the recent warming was caused by humans.
“I’m not a climate change denier but we need to be cautious about what does change our climate,” he said.
Dr Burrows said the climate should be cooling as the world headed for another ice age in 20,000 years time. So if temperatures were rising, that was alarming.
“If we put enough CO2 in the atmosphere we’ll prevent an ice age happening.”

How much is “enough”?

Do we really want an Ice Age anyway?

Evidence of species extinction due to Global Warming!

Scientists have recently discovered a tusk and some bones from what is believed to be a pigmy mammoth, descended

Reconstruction of the Channel Island Pygmy Mammoth, Mammuthus exilis, of Pleistocene California. (C) Stanton F. Fink.

Reconstruction of the Channel Island Pygmy Mammoth, Mammuthus exilis, of Pleistocene California. (C) Stanton F. Fink.

from full size mammoths – on Santa Cruz Island off southern California! It is believed mammoths roamed the group of islands which were once joined together into one large island. Evidence of rising sea levels!

As a prehistory buff I was very interested in the article by Associated Press titled Possible mammoth tusk found on SoCal island.  This island is in the mid 30’s latitudes. For those of us in the southern hemisphere, roughly the same distance from the equator as Sydney, Perth and Cape Town. In the northern hemisphere, the same latitude roughly as Casablanca, Jerusalem and Shanghai.

So, quite obviously, about 10,000 years ago most of the northern hemisphere was covered in snow and ice, probably all year round as these mammoths were on an island. Even more interestingly, it is believed pygmy mammoths were around the Mediteranean around 4,000 years ago. Al Gore et al are right – the Earth is warming, sea levels are rising!!!!

Channel Islands aerial view

Channel Islands aerial view

And have been on and off for millions of years. Man made CO2 did not cause the end of that ice age. Warmings and coolings are a part of the VERY long term climate cycles of this planet. Some things are more powerful than Man. Accept it.

Senator Joyce calls environmentalists Nazis

Senator Barnaby Joyce


Australia’s Senator Barnaby Joyce is making his stance on an emissions trading scheme very clear. AAP today quote the Senator calling global warming theory “eco-totalitarianism” and compares the shunning and hushing of  anyone refuting an emissions trading scheme to the totalitarianism of the Nazi era. The following is an extract from the item on


Environmentalism is like Nazism – Joyce

Article from: AAP January 14, 2009 08:23am

NATIONALS firebrand Barnaby Joyce has launched a fresh attack on emissions trading, drawing parallels between environmentalists and Nazis.

Senator Joyce warned of the rise of “eco-totalitarianism” and said he would not be “goosestepping” along with them.

The Federal Government plans to start emissions trading in 2010 to reduce carbon pollution and take up the fight against climate change.

“The idea that this scheme can go forward and no one’s allowed to question because there’s a new form of eco-totalitarianism that demands blind obedience, I think that is wrong,” the Nationals Senate leader said on ABC radio today.

“One has to fall into lockstep, goosestep and parade around the office ranting and raving that we are all as one?”

He has also written to farmers expressing his views. Refer my post Senator Barnaby Joyce on Climate Change and ETS. I am no fan of the concept either as you may have gathered from Emissions Trading Scheme Does not Make Ecocnomic Sense.

I consider myself an environmentalist, but I am against an emissions trading scheme. I am also against anyone trying to tell me what I should think. So I get where he is coming from.

 Most blogs I have read have a very genteel code of behaviour. If you don’t agree, you say so – politely. In the “in your face” world of politics, it is another matter. Behaviour in Parliament in Western societies would be considered obscenely rude in some other countries.

Also, some global warming alarmists are so absorbed by their beliefs that they will attack anyone who dares to differ. You have to sympathise with them a little – they really believe Al Gore et al and that the world will become inhabitable and life as we know it will cease because of CO2 emissions. If you think your life is threatened you do tend to get a bit tense.

In summary – global warming alarmists, please keep your insults and belittlements to yourself. No one likes being told what to think or that they are too stupid to understand. Open, frank but polite debate is needed with people from both sides of the argument respecting the other’s right to an opinion – even if they are wrong!

Now THIS is something new on the climate/ weather front!

Manly Harbour Storm October 2008

National Geographic’s website reports that a scientist claims to have found rain making bacteria. This is one of heaven knows how many factors that are not yet understood about climate, and therefore not built into computer climate models.

In Rainmaking bacteria ride clouds to “colonise” Earth, National Geographic describe microbiologist Brent Christner’s discovery.

Rainmaking bacteria that live in clouds may have evolved the ability to spur showers as a way to disperse themselves worldwide, a recent study found.

The research gives scientists a first glimpse into the link between biology and climate, and into how the tiny organisms globe-trot with the weather cycle.

 The microbes—called ice nucleators—are found in rain, snow, and hail throughout the world, according to previous work by Brent Christner, a microbiologist at Louisiana State University.

Christner had shown that, at a high enough concentration, these organisms may be efficient drivers for forming ice in clouds, the first step in forming snow and most rain.

But he hadn’t been able to pinpoint their source—until now.

In the recent study, Christner and colleagues found that the critters hail from snow, soils, and young plant seedlings in such such far-flung sources as Antarctica, Canada’s Yukon Territory, and the French Alps.

National Geographic report that this is a theory which may build upon earlier studies of “nucleators” – materials which trigger formation of ice crystals in clouds.

The theory—called bioprecipitation—was pioneered by David Sands, a plant pathologist at Montana State University, in the 1980s. But little information existed on how the rainmaking bacteria moved through the atmosphere until Christner and his colleagues began their work in 2005.

This also links into the urban legend that trees attract rain – it may well be fact!

The concept also ties into Sands’s ongoing study of the idea that drought cycles are connected to bacteria in clouds….

For instance, if people overgraze lands, “these bacteria are without a home … and can have serious consequences, possibly, for lack of rainfall,” Sands said.

Simply put, a lack of vegetation may lead to a lack of bacteria, which could limit clouds’ ability to shed rain.

Now this is really interesting! How do these bacteria work? How many are around at present? How many were around at different stages in the Earth’s climate history? Can our ice core and fossil experts identify these bacteria in their samples?

Could this help man to prevent or reverse dought? Does this affect weather or climate?

I hope to read more soon on this discovery.

Now THIS is evidence of environmental pollution – but by what?

Yesterday’s Courier Mail published a story Two headed fish larvae blamed on farm chemicals in the Noosa River

Brian Williams and Sophie Elsworth

January 12, 2009 11:00pm

CHEMICAL contamination from farm runoff has been blamed after millions of fish larvae in the Noosa River were found to have grown two heads.

 The disfigured larvae are thought to have been affected by one of two popular farm chemicals, either the insecticide endosulphan or the fungicide carbendazim.

Former NSW fisheries scientist and aquaculture veterinarian Matt Landos yesterday called on the Federal Government to ban the chemicals and urgently find replacements.

Dr Landos said about 90 per cent of larvae spawned at the Sunland Fish Hatchery from bass taken from the river were deformed and all died within 48 hours.

“It certainly looks like the fish have been exposed to something in the river,” Dr Landos said.

“I wouldn’t like to be having kids and living next to a place that uses these chemicals and I wouldn’t like to be drinking tank water where they are in use.”

Hatchery owner Gwen Gilson blames chemicals used by macadamia farmers near her Boreen Point business for the deformities.

“Some embryos split into two heads, some had two equal heads and a small tail and some had one big long head and a small tail coming out of the head,” she said.

Farmers nearby declined to comment.

Dr Landos said the chemicals were potentially human carcinogens and could have entered the river through any number of sources such as spraying or run-off even though there was no evidence of improper use.

Carbendazim had a history of causing embryonic defects and had been banned in the US, while endosulphan was banned in New Zealand.

“These chemicals mess up cell development,” he said. “There’s no other plausible explanation for what’s going on.”

Biosecurity Queensland chief Ron Glanville said an investigation into the claims started two years ago.

No evidence of chemicals used on an adjoining property were found in water, fish, fish eggs, chooks and horse samples.

“These things are notoriously hard to track down,” he said.

Dr Landos and Dr Glanville said there was no danger for people either swimming or eating fish from the Noosa River because if chemicals were in the water, levels would likely be exceedingly low.

The Federal Environment Department has been asked to investigate.


At least they didn’t blame this one on global warming!