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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 9 February 2007
Miranda Devine airbrushes bushfire arson motive at Goonoo, backs redneck attack on scientists, public servants
Mood:  down
Topic: election nsw 2007

Picture reference: "Instance of land clearing 100 km north west of Dubbo." in Sydney Morning Herald story "Cleared land to be farmed as regeneration plans go up in smoke" Date: April 3 2006 By Elicia Murray, including this quote

"VAST tracts of cleared land in north-western NSW are being prepared for farming, after the State Government failed in its attempt to have the area returned to its original bushland state.

Green groups and the Government have accused a Nyngan farmer of tearing down up to 2000 hectares of native bush on his property since 2002, in what they say is one of the state's worst cases of unauthorised land clearing."


In the age of global warming where every carbon store is a boon, there are agriculturalists who demand the right to continue to log and clear established woodlands. Anyone who watches An Inconvenient Truth and the awesome melting patterns of Greenland and West Antarctic would be planting them not the opposite.


When these redneck farmers and loggers lose the argument as they did at Goonoo Pilliga in North West NSW in early 2005 it seems they want to take it out on innocent public servants.


Climate change sceptic Miranda Devine had this malicious article Jan 28th 2007 p15 Sydney Sun Herald:




It’s a holy commandment of the volunteer bushfire figher community that politics should not interfere with the cooperative effort of the local community. Everyone in the country should pull together to deal with the common threat. But Miranda Devine stirs up potentially devastating division and conflict amongst locals in the Dubbo area leveraging contested land use decisions that farmers lost in 2005, just as the pro land clearing farmers at The Land did in 2005.


Her article reads in part

IT'S THE talk of Dubbo. Two weeks ago, as a bushfire was raging through the Goonoo Community Conservation Area, an angry showdown between Rural Fire Service volunteers and National Parks and Wildlife Service employees threatened to derail firefighting efforts.

The streets are abuzz with the story of how, at the height of the blaze, greenie NPWS workers drove their vehicles in front of a bulldozer driver trying to clear a firebreak in order to stop him damaging any more vegetation.

And over the next few days, furious firefighters said every time they cleared a firebreak, a NPWS crew was behind them, infuriatingly pushing vegetation back onto the track.

The fire was eventually extinguished last week, having ravaged 60,000 hectares of the national park and threatened adjoining farms. But the white-hot anger among local volunteer firefighters still burns.

"There's a lot of bad blood out here," local farmer and retired RFS fire control officer Kevin Brown says.

NPWS spokesman John Dengate says the story is simply a "misunderstanding" that has spread like Chinese whispers.

He says it was only one vehicle, containing two NPWS employees who had driven from Sydney, who "happened to park their car in front of" the bulldozer driver. "The idea that Parks [and Wildlife] would try to stop the firebreak is ridiculous."

Dengate concedes there were arguments about the width of firebreaks, with NPWS staffers trying to tell bulldozer drivers to make them narrower, "because it's faster and more effective". He confirms that one overzealous NPWS employee was stood down.

RFS incident controller Don Jenks, called in by Dengate to further clarify matters, says some firebreaks were so wide "you could land a 747 on them". But he agreed his crew were upset when NPWS staffers started "refurbishing" firebreaks before the flames had been extinguished.

As for the bulldozer incident, Jenks was initially furious, but later discovered only one NPWS car had stopped the driver because "they just wanted to talk to him".

Much of the disagreement stemmed from the fact that NPWS people thought a D8 bulldozer was too big, whereas the firefighters wanted a big dozer for wide tracks to ensure the fire wouldn't escape to neighbouring farms, as it had to devastating effect from nearby Goobang National Park in December, 2001.

It's no wonder there is bad blood between the NPWS and local farmers, most of whom are volunteer firefighters.”

But the redneck firefighters were not so keen to fight any fire in this conservation area back in May 2005. Back then according to The Land the farmer clearers were flirting with bushfire revenge for losing the farming land use decision intent on logging and clearing.


Picture: Street posters by The Wilderness Society taken by this writer in late 2006 on City Rd at Camperdown and Carrington Rd Waverley in Sydney in the approach to the March 2007 NSW election.

Back in 2005 this writer reported on a Sydney independent media website the following situation in rural land politics:


“Peter Austin and The Land, cracks up, exhorts fire bugs in the Pilliga?


The latest issue of The Land, published by JB Fairfax/Rural Press from memory, a stand alone news company, goes dangerously close to exhorting firebug revenge on the Carr government for its latest forest conservation decision. Some other assumptions in its coverage are also hysterical, misleading and ultimately a disservice to a rural readers.


Here is a link to a previous imc post on the mass media details of the decision for north west forests: http://www.sydney.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=54957


[refers to Goonoo Pilliga conservation decision covering some 348,000 ha which outraged the farmers who wanted to use the land. It was Bob Carr’s conservation decision swansong and a very good one despite his pro woodchipping broken promises in south east NSW.]


The front cover of the May 12th editon has a Bob Carr graphic in Pinocchio 'liar' mode on the allegation Carr changed his tune from an interview in 2003 extracted inside the paper for a more redneck final decision. But perhaps that was before the logging union national leadership betrayed federal Labor in Tasmania helping to return a dishonest Howard Government?


Also perhaps the editor and senior writers like Peter Austin understand how the ecologically minded felt in 1998/99 when it became clear that the east coast logging/conservation decisions made it clear Carr had no intention of keeping his 1995 election promise to end woodchipping of native forest by the year 2000. That promise is now 5 years broken.


Irresponsible firebug talk in The Land

In The Land's press tantrum they include dangerously irresponsible prose virtually exhorting firebug behaviour from supporters of the logging industry who know all too well about starting and organising 'controlled burns' after logging. Further it is well known that anti conservationists have started fires before such as the infamous Dunbogan koala colony despicably burnt by a corrupt apparently alcoholic NPWS officer in an attempt to ease approval of a white shoe canal estate real estate project just south of Port Macquarie in the 1980/early 90's.


These pro fire bug quotes in The Land include:


Quoting Opposition spokesperson Duncan Gay at page 7: "Years of careful forest management to keep fuel levels down has the potential to go up in smoke"


"NSW is faced with the prospect that 348,00 hectares of locked-up forest could turn into a destructive and unstoppable forest fire"


The Land continues"


"(Local brigade captian and NSW Farmers executive councillor, Rod Young, Purlewaugh, said his members would not be volunteering for future fire fighting duty inside any new reserved areas.)"


The Land editorialist then writes at p12


"Hundreds of thousands of hectares of woodlands ... will now be locked up to await the inevitable and frightening firestorms which will do far , far more damage in a few hours than a century of sawmilling."


Putting aside the inconsistency of quoting fire damage as a problem, and yet supporting firestick management so often praised by farmers and loggers based on the known recuperative ability of native bush, are these quotes above code for tacit support for firebug revenge? That could well be one interpretation.


Responsible fire management is indeed a definite aspect of proper management of the area to mimic natural and Aboriginal land management history over the last 100 and thousands of years.  But that doesn't equal an outdated hunter gatherer logging industry.


Ecological case for decision

The Land argues that the whole forest area is really just a human artefact anyway of only the last 100 years or so (p8, "Forest's roots not in the 'dreamtime'). That sounds a little weak and folksy but it is a fair question to ask again what is the public interest in this latest decison for the welfare and good government of all urban and rural and regional voters together.


Certainly looking to the past is no final answer for what is best to do now. As the UN has pointed out at:




humanity is using up the ecological space at a frightening rate threatening civilisation as we know it within only possibly fifty years. There is no point living in denial about this.


I asked David Butcher head of Greening Australia last week, a really quite conservative green group, what he thought and he said it was a pretty good decision and wondered about the detail of the newly invented  management tenure: multiple use Community Conservation Zone. I asked about the timing and he said it was due back in February 05 and years in the consideration.


Then there are the arguments of the ecologically minded Western Conservation Alliance emphasising the nature values and eco tourism values of the region (recognised with  $2.5 million govt fund for a new centre): Refer




with extensive posts there. You can be sure there will be a great array of threatened and endangered species. That's the reality of the high consumption world we live in now and forever more.



Water production issues

Look at the other indirectly related coverage in the same issue of The Land. The NSW Farmers Association's Mal Peters column dwells on the "nightmare" drought in NSW at page 13, and another story talks about a $30 million project to better manage the existing water in the Barren Box Wetland at page 27. This disruption of water supplies is very likely related to landscape scale vegetation clearance of some 1 million hectares in NSW alone of the last 10 years, and much more over the last 100 years. Vegetation, and especially mature forest, acts as a water sponge and reservoir with a constant clean trickle in times of low rainfall, but a dust bowl holds none.  It is very well known too that regrowth forest is a major net user of water. This implies conservation not regrowth conversion or ongoing clearfelling.


Prevention of salinsation threat

Then there is the imperative to protect the remnant native vegetation of the central and western division to avoid the devestating impacts of salinisation on the future of agriculture. Already over the last few years we have seen projections from scientists of ten million hectares or more of prime agricultural lands destroyed nationally by dry land salinity from rising water tables. This is the direct cause and effect of vegetation clearance. In this regard the high impacts in the WA wheat belt is the alarm bell to Qld, NSW and Victoria. Only a fool government and big agri business would ignore the creeping destruction of their best productive land, as well as disintegration of regional infrastructure in roads, bridges, building foundations including flooded cellars of country pubs from rising salty water. This in itself is a compelling case for managing the north west forest as a mature ecosystem to maximise a lowering of the water table over whole landscapes.


Real politik lead up to 2007
There is little doubt in this writers mind that the Carr govt are revisiting their successful nature conservation wedge strategy of the Lib/Nat Coalition in the 1994 lead up to 1995 election, in that case east coast native forest conservation. Further that this strategy applied to the sparsely populated central and western divisions will help moderate traditional urban Labor and Green anger from grotesque and corrupt developer agendas in the urban/Sydney environment.

In an indirect way ecologically minded people can thank the effective opposition under John Brogden for the re-emergence of this previous successful Carr strategy.

Whether it will be enough to win in 2007 is an interesting question that John Brogden should be addressing. He could afford to get a bit more green in the urban areas and promise not to undo what Carr has done regionally, get over the idea of no second dam (forget silly Costello on this point) in favour of water recycling and thus outflank Carr for the greater welfare and good government of NSW.

cpppcltrust.com/ecologyactionsydney "

[SAM editor: All this has happened with Iemma water and greenhouse tv advertising campaign, when before it was ‘saving trees and jobs’ with forest images, and Debnam instead of Brogden pushing water recycling.]





The clearer-farmers have been attacking everyone ever since 2005 via their media spin doctors. Parks Service firefighters via Miranda Devine’s story above. Michael Duffy story reported below. Scientists in this story back on 23rd October 2003.



THE LAND, EDITION NEWS : AGRIBUSINESS AND GENERAL  'Out of control...'   By Alan Dick   Thursday, 23 October 2003


NSW Farmers Association president, Mal Peters, has called on the NSW Government to suspend immediately the NSW Scientific Committee which determines which plant and animal species are declared endangered or


….. He said in the case of the most recent preliminary listing, the coolibah-blackbox woodlands of northern NSW, the listing seemed to have been made solely on the personal opinion of John Benson of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

  … Mr Peters said the Scientific Committee was far from independent, with many of its members from State government agencies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service which had a huge vested interest in seeing more listings.

  ….. But Mr Benson said on Tuesday his views on the coolibah-blackbox community of the northern plains had been based on a review of dozens of scientific papers and the committee had had access to the entire data base.

……He said also the 150,000ha land clearing figure had been chosen by journalists when he had suggested in 1994 land clearing in NSW between 1980 and 1995 had run between 100,000 to 200,000ha a year. In 1995 he had modified that to about 50,000ha for 1995 onwards, then with native grassland factored in had lifted it to 60,000ha. Mr Benson said also he had always supported stewardship payments for landholders …"I'm the person who helped them get the $120 million (for on-farm works to protect native vegetation)," he said.


Wildlife campaigner for the Humane Society International, Averil Bones, said the nomination process for threatened species was rigorous and demanded good peer-reviewed science. She said the society's nomination of the woodlands had cited the work of at least 20 scientists and several Government departments.




The question is worth asking how the fire at Goonoo conservation area got started. This writer is well aware of a rogue government staffer and alcoholic who was known in the 1980’s to light up Crowdy Head National Park near Laurieton/Dunbogan on the central coast, to burn the Dunbogan koala reserve being targeted for canal estates by a developer. Canal estates that were banned by Bob Carr, one of the first actions his government in 1995.


Not by coincidence in any respect, a marginal seat in proximity of Goonoo Pilliga is being contested at Dubbo held by Independent Dawn Fardell, and this is the real target of grubby Miranda Devine. Similarly veteran Alex Mitchell carries bitchy gossip in Naked Eye in the same Sunday Herald Fairfax paper on Feb 4 07 “Dubbo’s left fuming” over a total exaggerating of the local MP opening a renovated PCYC facility instead of the police minister. I mean WTF? That’s what local MP’s do, as is quite proper. With or without the government minister.


This is also the subtext to the outrageously biased article by Michael Duffy in favour of land clearers recently here Saturday 3rd February 2007:


Why Nyngan and Waverley are poles apart


airbrushing the highly contested problem of landclearing rates. Duffy treats unscientific unproven anecdote as fact by referencing a suspect Ch9 Sunday story by Ross Coulthard on the land clearing issue broadcast in August 2006. It just so happens and it is well known in the non government groups that Peter Wilkinson (pictured at right), a media consultant here




is a colleague and ex staffer at Ch9 to Ross Coulthard, and that Wilkinson has been paid a 6 figure sum to generate PR spin for NSW farmer interests on this land clearing issue (source pers comm. Reece Turner The Wilderness Society). For instance Wilkinson Media carry this paper:

Dec '05: Want to change a law? Or manage change?


With this opening line


 Wilkinson Media has outlined some key questions to consider for a successful campaign by industry to change laws. And remember – a partnership with Government is critical to managed and sustained change.”


Obviously Wilkinson, who also appears on the abc radio Trioli “spin doctors” segment occasionally, is behind the Sunday show story, and thus Duffy referencing in the flagship Sydney Morning Herald: A PR fix to undo a sound government measure to help combat amongst other things global warming and species extinctions.


Earlier this week this writer left a complaint to this effect with the editorial at the Sydney Morning Herald namely Duffy treating Wilkinson’s spin via Coulthard as fact when it is surely paid for opinion for NSW farmer clearers and resplendent with undeclared apparent conflict of interest as regards Coulthard, Sunday, their mate Wilkinson and the farmers money.


Postscript #1 9 Feb 2007


NSW Stateline leads with a strong story first programme back this season with Jock Laurie of the NSW Farmers Association that they want to engage in the carbon trading market in this new global warming, climate change reality. Quite a show, and possibly a balancer to this quite deliberately brutal story above. The detail will appear in due course here:



We have also notified Miranda Devine via her public email address with a note that this has gone to the NSW political community which is true.

Posted by editor at 8:40 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007 9:44 PM EADT
Thursday, 8 February 2007
Washington Post brackets PM Howard and coal global warming problem
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: globalWarming

PM Says Australia to Keep Exporting Coal


The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 7, 2007; 7:38 PM

CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia would not end its biggest single export, coal, as part of the government's strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister John Howard said Thursday.

Scientist and author Tim Flannery, who last month was chosen as Australian of the Year for his contribution to public understanding of the environment, said late Wednesday that Australia could no longer justify being the world's largest coal exporter given the dire consequences of global warming.

[SAM editor: notice image choice of the Post below and the extraordinary caption to the image following]

[Picture caption] Australian Prime Minister John Howard in his Sydney offices in this Jan. 12, 2005 file photo, comments on Egyptian-born Sydney man Mamdouh Habib who will soon be returned to Australia from Guantanamo Bay without charge despite the United States believing he had foreknowledge of the Sept. 11 al-Qaida attacks. Howard's commitment to tackle global warming came under attack Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007 over a gaffe in which he questioned whether greenhouse gas emissions are linked to global warming. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File) (Rick Rycroft - AP)

But Howard ruled out cutting coal exports, arguing that Australia's response to climate change must protect jobs in the coal industry.

"You can't do that," Howard told Sky television of the prospect of ending coal exports.

"That would be devastating to many communities throughout Australia; it would cost thousands of jobs _ we are the largest coal exporter in the world," Howard added.

He said his government was investing in the development of new technology that would make coal-fired power generation cleaner.

"We must respond to the challenge of climate change, but we have got to do it in a measured and practical way that doesn't unfairly disadvantage the economy of this country," he added.

Flannery said exporting coal could no longer be considered to be in Australia's national interest.

"The social license of coal to operate is rapidly being withdrawn globally, and no government can protect an industry from that sort of thing occurring," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

"We've seen it with asbestos; we'll see it with coal," he added.

The opposition center-left Labor Party this week began Parliament's first session of this election year by targeting the center-right government's refusal to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Labor backed its calls for Australia to ratify Kyoto and join a global carbon trading system with a landmark U.N. report last week that found with 90 percent certainty that human activity was to blame for catastrophic climate change.

Global warming is likely to be a major issue at elections due this year with most cities facing drinking water shortages because of the worst drought in a century which is dampening economic growth by slashing farm produce.

The government has proposed introducing nuclear power to reduce Australia's dependence on coal _ an option Labor rejects.

[Arcticle found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020701985.html ]


Also notice this report of winners in the "energy revolution":

Climate challenge will heat up the global economy, Barclays predicts: Climate change will boost the global economy and dominate financial markets over the next 25 years, a leading investment bank has predicted. In a new report, Barclays Capital challenges the conventional wisdom that global warming will have a devastating impact on economic growth. Independent

Posted by editor at 3:04 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 3:52 PM EADT
Australian of the Year, Professor Flannery calls for coal industry shut down
Mood:  on fire
Topic: globalWarming

The enormously powerful message of Professor Tim Flannery on ABC Lateline show last night 7th February 2007 is compulsory viewing for Australians concerned for their future:

Tony Jones speaks with Tim Flannery Tony Jones speaks with Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery, on the issue of climate change.

 He notes the UN IPCC report in all the news recently was based on 2005 science and limited by a consensus approach where "reasonably well-supported [science] also gets weeded out".

He calls for the 'social license of the coal mining industry' to be withdrawn.

He calls for 'geothermal hot rocks to power the national power grid out of the Cooper Basin in South Australia'. (We at SAM like this idea and agree with him as radical as it sounds.)

He calls for 'thermal solar power development' too, and notes the 'contentious nuclear power industry is not needed here, and problematic for controversy in itself'.

[For instance Crack in nuclear option with interesting use of our term water "guzzling" power plants, echoing other reports of water guzzling Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1839044.htm]

He repeats his diagnosis of 'ice melt causing dangerous sea rise within 5 to 15 years'.

He spoke in a very calm and courageous manner, facing a world threatening situation with the gravitas it deserves. He likened it to 1939 preface to World War 2. He spoke in a way fully understanding this is not the message Big Politics or even Big Media want to hear, and can't cope with really.

As such he said economic imperatives are necessarily secondary. There was much discussion too of China and India's current dependence on coal in massive dimensions and the need to move against coal there as much as here to protect our common future.

To echo this profound reality, the Opposition Environment Minister Peter Garrett referred in question time Federal Parliament earlier the same day as follows:

"PETER GARRETT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: Will the minister confirm that Sydney University research shows rising sea levels could lead to erosion, extending up to 70 metres inland from the promenade at Bondi Beach?"

at Climate change puts spotlight on Garrett, Turnbull The broader climate change argument is continuing to dominate the political debate in Canberra – not only between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, but also putting the spotlight and the pressure on two of the nation's best known but least experienced parliamentary frontbenchers."

Federal Industry Minister McFarlane was on abc World Today programme earlier in the day too rejecting extreme predictions of '30 feet sea rise' (in fact predictions of 12 metres sea rise which is more like 40 feet):

"Well, we need to look at the context of where we're at, at the moment and I know the Labor Party is jumping to quick fix solutions, but there is a long-term context to managing our greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prime Minister and I have both repeatedly said, and you can go back over the statements, that climate change is real and is happening, and we're not going to be verballed by Kevin Rudd on this.

The Prime Minister's made a clear statement in the House yesterday which clarifies his position and after the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on the weekend, I accept that human impact is altering the globe's temperatures, but not the extreme claims of sea level rises of 30 feet.

The IPCC report actually said at the bottom end, around about half a metre and, sorry, at the top end around about half a metre and the bottom end, half that. So, let's be realistic about some of the extreme claims."

in Macfarlane discusses carbon trading paper 7th February 2007 at http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2007/s1842303.htm

It's pretty obvious who is right and who is wrong. Who is protecting Establishment industry and financial/political interests and who is facing the best scientific advice on its merits without fear or favour.

It's not PM Howard and his government as currently constituted. This global warming diagnosis is an unprecedented threat to Australia's national interest, and its not going away as commentators note the polls moving into "landslide" territory against the Howard government.

Posted by editor at 8:30 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 9:20 AM EADT
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
'West must cut first' says China in greenhouse game of deadly chicken
Mood:  bright
Topic: globalWarming

Reportage lifted from http://www.carbonpositive.net/viewarticle.aspx?articleID=586 sourced to Financial Times, Reuters, and notice the Sydney Morning Herald approach to China following:

China stands firm on emission cuts

As emissions soar in fast-developing China, its government has emphasised that the West must commit first to cutting greenhouse gas output as those most responsible for global warming.

In the wake of the IPCC fourth assessment report released last week, the stance highlights the problems inherent in attempts to forge a new climate treaty among the world’s nations to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

Despite already being the world’s second largest emitter after the United States, and catching up fast, a Beijing official said that climate concerns would not be allowed to impede China’s rapid rate of economic development.

China adds new power generating capacity each year equal to the total capacity of the UK and Thailand together, much of it from fossil fuel sources such as coal.

The government has set targets to increase energy efficiency by 4 per cent a year, but the country must be given time and help by the West to switch to cleaner energy sources, said Jiang Yu, an official from the foreign ministry.

Beijing is quick to point to figures from the China Meteorological Administration showing per capita emissions at 0.65 tonnes per person in 2000, - roughly one-fifth of those in Western countries.

At a press briefing this week, Yu said: “Developed countries bear an unshirkable responsibility … climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per-capita emissions.”

Again officials refused to comment on whether they would consider reduction targets in a post-Kyoto accord.

The US and Australia reject Kyoto under their current governments, one of the main arguments being that any commitment they make to emissions reductions must be matched by the developing world. This has created a stalemate at the UNFCCC which has seen its timetable for a Kyoto successor fall behind schedule.

Financial Times, Reuters, 6/2/07

[bold added for directly attributed China govt official statements: SAM editor]

Monday, February 5, 2007

Hot air on climate change


200_beijingsmog.jpg Is it fair to expect China to cut carbon emissions, which per capita are a tiny fraction of Australia's?

Last November, Australia's Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell inadvertently upset Chinese delegates at the Climate Change Conference in Nairobi by stating what had been widely reported: that China was set to overtake the US as the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases. Senator Campbell, of course, denied that his comments had offended his Chinese counterparts, but it was telling that China's state-run media immediately ran stories ''correcting'' the perception that China should be held to greater account on the global warming issue.

The stories pointed out that China's per capita carbon emissions were way below those of any industrialised countries - and pointedly gave Australia as a comparison.

Posted by editor at 7:34 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:43 AM EADT
Chocolate pollies in choccy parliament melt in the global warming?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: globalWarming

Picture: The current chocolate display Rozelle confectioners Darling St Sydney taken 6th Feb 2007

Our job at SAM website is to push the hard questions,  push the alternative news that gets missed, and join the dots as best we can, without fear or favour. Hence the go hard on the '12 metre sea rise' threat from global warming in recent days based on views of superior scientists like Dr James Hansen a director at NASA, Professor Tim Flannery here, Dr Chris West UK Govt Director of Climate Impacts Programme.

The alarming sea rise issue seems to all turn on whether ocean rise of 2 mm per year has escalated to a higher rate of 3+ mm per year and whether this heralds exponential melting rates of Greenland and West Antarctic ice shelf. This small initial sea rise sounds trivial but it's not, like the fable of the grains of rice on the chess board. Or a slow roll of a huge boulder at the top of an entropic hill before momentum takes over. Exponential rates make tiny numbers turn to infinity fast. If Greenland and West Antarctic ice melt turns exponential we are in big big trouble within decade(s).

Hansen for instance is quoted as saying Feb 2nd 2007:

"Now IPCC could not estimate the ice sheet contribution because it is a nonlinear problem and they don't know how to do it. Ah, but I think they should warn people more strongly about that danger because I think it's the greatest danger that humanity faces in the global warming problem. " http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=07-P13-00005&segmentID=1

Mainstream politics is tuning in also to the glaring omission of the latest UN IPCC report, with help from lobbying by this writer. The above scientists are right to sound the alarm too which applies the Precautionary Principle regarding the whole world's future.

We were agog at the cosy reparte of ambitious deputy leader of the Liberal Party Peter Costello with Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd on ABC TV news last night, his ostensible rival. Costello must know sea rise is scary. He knows his own Treasury and Finance boffins were cut out of a boondoggle for the National Party irrigators in a $10B water package by PM Howard recently. Howard is in a policy panic over perceptions of water shortage caused by climate change and it shows.

As Rudd announced a states wide summit for Premiers and others on climate/water situation recently Howard goes the $10 billion sledgehammer with his own water summit this Thursday 8th of February 2007.

All this federal posturing complains NSW Opposition leader Debnam, with his own NSW election to fight, is complaining of no oxygen for his issues.

In the biplay Howard minister Turnbull has clipped the NSW Govt $50M plan


 to take water from the Kangaloon aquifer:

"Less than a day after becoming Federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull put a stop-work order on the NSW Government's $50 million aquifer in the Southern Highlands because of fears the work could pose a danger to a protected wading bird.": Sydney Daily Telegraph January 26th 2007, p6

So much for letting the States do necessary infrastructure for water, to quote the PM Howard criticism back at him.

As if in a tantrum, Premier Iemma has 6th of February pre emptively announced tender invitations to big construction companies who just happen to be donors, for the dreaded desal plant at Kurnell here:

Water wars: it's the sea or underground

"The NSW Opposition plans to tap the Botany aquifer to provide up to 5 per cent of Sydney's future water if elected in March, but the Iemma Government has committed itself to building a $1.9 billion desalination plant. "

If it doesn't go ahead the tenderers will get millions in compensation for all the preparatory work.

So Debnam is right to complain that Federal politics is crowding him out as various water dominoes fall around him in a chain reaction. Pollies are melting under the pressure of climate change implications like the chocolate monkeys if they were left in the glaring sun.

Purely by coincidence the inventor of chocolate Freddo Frogs which sell 98 million per year here in Australia died recently at 94 according to the local press:


That coud be a surreal metaphor for ice melting climate sceptic pollies like PM John Howard who is sounding more shrill by the day. In fact the whole of the two party duopoly of the ALP and Coalition in Parliament House might also melt (like this chocolate one below) under climate change leaving The Green Party in government. Time will tell:

Posted by editor at 8:46 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:56 AM EADT
Cardinal George Pell wades into nukes where angels fear to tread
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: nuke threats

Here is cleric George Pell on the strength of one PR sponsored visit to the new expensive Lucas Heights reactor such that he thinks he has a good handle on this big big white elephant: 

Nuclear over-reaction By Cardinal George Pell February 04, 2007 http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/opinion/story/0,22049,21164182-5001031,00.html

So much so he rushes into print without being briefed by the no case.  That's a high risk approach to public policy if ever I saw one. Or a biased approach.

One visit with the PR merchants gives the Cardinal about as much credibility on this issue as it does this writer on theological matters having once been an alter boy, 30 years ago at the local Catholic church in Warrnambool.

For instance Pell ignores waste problems: The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority http://www.nda.gov.uk in 2006 estimated 70 billion pound$ clean up cost for their old nuclear gear, admittedly a much bigger sector there:


As for medical uses, cyclotron technology (ANSTO spruikers for their new reactor even have one at Royal Prince Alfred hospital) can do that job:
or simply import medical isotopes like most other parts of the world do, instead of a billion dollar white elephant.
But the truth really is the Lucas Heights Reactor is for it's dual use potential, just like Iran's nuke development projects in "the national interest". Just like Indonesia wants reactors by 2015 (on an earthquake zone no less), Taiwan, Japan, South Korea also as North Korea scares the bejesus out of everyone, and China regularly menaces Taiwan democracy.
What is the Cardinal's view of Australian Weapons of Mass Destruction in a USA strategic defence network? Never happen? We already have their spy bases at Pine Gap and other places here, as per the radical lefty website http://www.anti-bases.org/ below.
Nor is it simply their objections: Paul Dibb the respected defence analyst and academic, and former 25 year veteran of domestic security agency ASIO, was quoted recently in The Australian that his research in 1976 'proved' Australia was on the Soviet Russia nuke weapon target priority list. That's what the US Alliance means, the rough and the smooth. But how many people actually know what their government has signed us up to, or plans to?

Postscript #1

As if to reinforce the real dual use purpose of nuclear power programmes, the Epoch Times (Australia) runs a biggish story "UK's atomic quest goes on" p5 31 Jan-6th Feb 07, noting the renewed debate over trident nuclear missiles on a new generation of submarines, and noting the UK nuclear arsenal is about 200 strong. Link to story asap, general link here http://en.epochtimes.com

Posted by editor at 8:12 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:56 AM EADT
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
Desal plant is democracy 4 sale: Rhiannon, Greens
Mood:  rushed
Topic: election nsw 2007
 [SAM editor: Premier Iemma appears desperate to pump prime 'economic activity' at any cost, no matter how cynical as below, and almost certainly ignores scientific predictions of serious sea level rise at the construction location, as for all of coastal Sydney. What a mess.]
MEDIA RELEASE 6 February 2007

Desal plant tender process corrupted by $1 million donations to NSW ALP

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon today revealed that NSW Labor has received over $1 million from the Iemma Government*s preferred builders of the proposed desalination plant.

"It's no surprise that these companies are the preferred tenderers for the desalination plant - the process is corrupted by political donations before it even starts," said Ms Rhiannon.
"John Holland, Sinclair Knight Merz, Multiplex and Theiss have been massive donors to the NSW ALP. Their combined donations for the last eight years have been over $1 million.

"We knew the Kurnell desalination plant was bad news for the environment and for the economy, now we know it is bad news for democracy. 

"We don't know what deals these companies did with Premier Morris Iemma and his ministers behind closed doors, but we believe they did not give more than $1 million in donations without a plan to boost their own

"The desalination plant was already on the nose. But the Premier's invite to top ALP donors to tender has just added to the stink.

"Theiss' donations alone went up four fold last year to $33,000. Veolia donated to the ALP last year for the first time.

"The Government will continue to make planning blunders so long as it does business with its big donors," Ms Rhiannon

For donation figures, see: 

For more information:  9230 3551; 0427 861 568
Postscript #1 7th Feb 2007

Posted by editor at 9:04 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007 6:49 AM EADT
Monday, 5 February 2007
NASA director agrees sea rise is the major threat
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: globalWarming


 Gorilla of Sea Level Rise   Air Date: Week of February 2, 2007

Glaciers like this in Greenland are melting and contributing to the rise in sea level. (Courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library)


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report on the state of scientific knowledge on climate change. But some say the scientists who wrote the report were overly conservative in their predictions, particularly those for sea level rise. NASA scientist James Hansen tells host Steve Curwood why melting ice sheets could lead to rising sea levels and global catastrophe.


CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts - this is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. The newest consensus statement of the thousands of scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there's little doubt that the earth will be a much hotter place by the end of the century.


The pronouncement is the result of five years of collaborative work assessing what lies ahead for our warming planet. But some of the world's leading climate experts say there is a glaring omission regarding another key impact of global warming, sea level rise.


The panel predicts a sea level rise of about a half a meter, or roughly 18 inches, over the next century. But NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen has just written an article in the Journal Science asserting, among other things, that this estimate may be far too low. Dr Hansen joins us now. Welcome to Living on Earth.


HANSEN: Glad to be here.



CURWOOD: And we should probably point out that you are expressing your own opinions here not those of NASA, correct?


HANSEN: Yes, that is right.


CURWOOD: So in your article in Science you looked at what past Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports predicted. What did you find?


HANSEN: Well, we looked at carbon dioxide how the rate of growth of carbon dioxide, the change of global temperature, and the change of sea level. And contrary to what critics have often said, IPCC has not overstated or overestimated those changes. The changes of carbon dioxide have been very accurate. Temperatures actually increased somewhat faster than projections. And sea level has increased notably faster than the prior estimates by IPCC.


CURWOOD: So with that in mind how should we view predictions from this latest IPCC assessment? What did the report leave out or underplay from your view?


HANSEN: Well I think that there is a natural reticence which may derive from the scientific method which says you should be skeptical. You should check all sides of a story and before you make a very strong conclusion. The difficulty here is that I think we have very limited time to get on a different path with our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions or we're going to end up with unstoppable problems in the future. And I would have preferred an even clearer statement about the dangers of future sea level rise if the ice sheets begin to disintegrate. And I think that a business as usual scenario will guarantee future disintegration of West Antarctica and parts of Greenland.


CURWOOD: So your concern about the chance of loss of large sheets of ice and the considerable impact that that could have on sea level rise is echoed by, um, Ohio State University scientist Lonnie Thompson and he says that those issues are gorillas in the room that the IPCC isn't paying as much attention to as he thinks it ought to.


HANSEN: Well that's a very good point because IPCC addresses a lot of things but there are a small number which deserve very great attention. And this, I think, is the number one item just because of the inertia of the system. If we get it started it will become very difficult to stop it, perhaps impossible to stop it.


CURWOOD: Well, how do scientists relay the risk there when there is frankly a lot of uncertainty about what might happen?


HANSEN: Well, you know we do have a lot of information available to us both from paleoclimate; the history of the earth and how ice sheets responded in the past and also the new data from satellites, and on surface measurements on the ice sheets which shows that there are processes beginning to happen there, exactly the processes that we're afraid will accelerate. The last time a large ice sheet melted sea level went up at a rate of five meters per century. That's one meter every 20 years. And that is a kind of sea level rise, a rate which the simple ice sheet models available now just cannot produce because they don't have the physics in them to give you the rapid collapse that happens in a very nonlinear system.


CURWOOD: Could you explain what you mean by a nonlinear event?


HANSEN: Well, it's one in which the response begins slowly but you reach a certain point and suddenly things collapse. So you get a very rapid change. And you can imagine that in the case of large ice sheets. There are several processes that contribute to more rapid loss of ice. As you have melt on the surface of the ice sheet it descends through holes and crevasses to the surface and lubricates the base so that the ice sheet begins to move faster. There's ice at the edge of the continent, both Greenland and especially West Antarctica, which holds back the ice streams but as the ocean warms and those ice shelves melt that's like taking the cork out of a bottle and stuff can come out much more rapidly. And even as the ice sheet begins to decrease in size the surface lowers to a lower altitude where it's warmer and so it melts faster. So you get these multiple positive feedbacks and then you get a sudden collapse and sea level goes up very rapidly. We're going to guarantee that that happens eventually. If we get warming I would argue of more than 1 degree Celsius additional above that of year 2000.


CURWOOD: Now the present IPCC physical assessment has a center point of about 3 degrees Centigrade increase in temperature.


HANSEN: Yeah so that's inconsistent with the numbers that they gave for sea level. Now IPCC could not estimate the ice sheet contribution because it is a nonlinear problem and they don't know how to do it. Ah, but I think they should warn people more strongly about that danger because I think it's the greatest danger that humanity faces in the global warming problem. [bold added, editor]


CURWOOD: Professor Hansen how do you see this report affecting policy? What do you expect to happen among policy makers now that this latest assessment is out?


HANSEN: Well, I think it will have a very positive effect. I think there's already movement among policy makers and there's a better understanding of the public. Things are moving in the right direction and I think this could give an added impetus to that. The thing that we need to guard against is ineffective incrementalism. What we need is strong actions not some weak actions that slow down the growth rate a bit. We've got to get on a path where emissions are actually decreasing.


CURWOOD: Dr. James Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Thank you so much sir.


HANSEN: It's great to be here.


SAM editor: The link to the recent IPCC report said to downplay ice melt ocean rise is here http://www.ipcc.ch/


Postscript #1


A contributor Stevie Bee refers us to this amazingly good feature article late 2006 in Mother Jones, a heavy weight alternative media source in the USA http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/11/13th_tipping_point.html


Posted by editor at 8:31 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:58 AM EADT
Sunday, 4 February 2007
Sea level rising 12 metres if Greenland and West Antarctic ice melt , and likely they will
Mood:  sharp
Topic: globalWarming

Yesterday SAM posted its scornful view of local ABC radio and tv news parroting of the ‘½ metre sea rise, don’t scare the political economy' mantra sourced to the already out of date IPCC report of February 2nd on climate change.


Ironically at the same time as these broadcasts the flagship radio national Science Show in its 32nd year of trusted broadcasting (below) confirms a 12 metre sea rise if the above suggested melting occurs. And Professor Tim Flannery in Australia agrees it will whether it be 2010, 2020, 2040 or 2050:


7:40: Tim Flannery 2nd Feb Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly


The Science Show has a couple of stories about hobbits on Flores, and parthogenetic reproduction in reptiles, but the rest is all rolled gold climate change horror story in gentle tones, which somehow makes it all worse. In particular one UK senior government scientist Chris West Director UK Climate Impacts Programme
states the worst case scenario is unknown but if Greenland and West Antarctic ice melts then its 6 or 7 metre ocean rise each.


This is the reality the big old parties and dinosaurs in big industry and media don't want voters to hear because they can't cope with it. Nor can anyone else really.


This inspires SAM to reproduce these full on images relating to storm surge which also features in the Science Show. The first is of the biggest hurricane yet in North America, cyclone Wilma in 2004, off the newswires at the time, and featured front page Sydney Morning Herald at the time, given storms are thought to become extreme:


The second is the huge surf we saw in Sydney from cyclone Wati 1000 km north east of Sydney, with ripples arriving some days later, taken by this writer (I paricularly like the helicopter above the surfers image):



The Science Show starts with an amusing grab from this




specifically the Republican ‘progressive’ character in this episode about corn generated ethanol:


"King Corn" first broadcast January 26th 2005, which shows corn based ethanol is only a marginal reduction in greenhouse impacts, and compares it with the recent State of the Union speech by George Bush promoting exactly that kind ethanol production.


(We at SAM did a review of the whole insightful series 1 to 5 at the local DVD shop and counting with Series 6 on the ABC Monday nights (now in its last 7th series) first post January 3rd 2007 (see date buttons top right) in a misspent Christmas New Year break.)




ABC Science show follows

Rising sea level in Britain


Listen Now - 03022007Download Audio - 03022007


Climate change is causing real problems in England's north-east coast. The ground is water-logged and the rising sea is causing the coast to crumble, taking roads and houses with it.

Naomi Fowler reports from Aldborough in Yorkshire.




Mike Ball Principal engineer the East Riding of Yorkshire UK


Chris West Director UK Climate Impacts Programme


Malcolm Tarling The Association of British Insurers


Professor James Curran Scottish Environment Protection Agency


Naomi Fowler http://www.naomifowler.org/


Presenter Robyn Williams, Producer David Fisher 


Pictures at right: Taken 27 March 2006 at Tamarama beach front, a popular Sydney area of the eastern suburbs. The first image reflects the aspirated salty sea droplets on the Anzac bridge next to the CBD still 15 km away at about 9.30 am. It was similar walking down the gully to the ocean side descending to just above ocean level - an ethereal misty veil over the view.


There were crowds lining the cliff tops to watch and one new age flighty young woman was dancing with exhiliration, or maybe drugs, at the display and no one actually seemed to be very surprised: Conditions of normality were suspended just as the air was filled with salty suspension. I went down onto the rocks with a very cautious eye on the surge as I did so to get some more dramatic images.


The last imge of the child seemed metaphorical given the risky future we all face, and was taken with the parent's permission.


Postscript #1 5th Feb 2007


A version of the above article was emailed to networks and senior politicians yesterday before going out on indy press delivery work (Sydney City Hub). Now it's hammer and tongs in federal politics with Opposition leader Rudd leading the tv news (which I taped) calling for a climate change summit, more detail here:


PM, Rudd in a race for the summit


Dueling summits indeed, Rudd's climate change, PM Howard's water summit. But the PM has raised the stake in the game of poker chips with a carbon trading scheme here today 5th Feb:


"Carbon tax to hit miners A CARBON tax of up to $25 a tonne is being considered by the West Australian Government in a move that would cost the resource-rich state's alumina industry more than $200million a year. "


And pro Establishment business The Australian is getting nervous over the creeping realisation that its anti ecological economic religious fervour has caused climate change beyond their political control unlike conventional power games of western society. Here they editorialise to proceed cautiously on economic adjustments, literally as the end game for western civilisation stares us in the face:

Editorial: Look before leaping in climate decisions

How pathetic they are under cover of moderation. Which reminds of the mid January 2007 Davos World Economic Forum duly reported on in the Australian Financial Review (Sat 27th Jan 2007): Apparently the consensus in the social chit chat of the western worlds "winners", the billionaires, world 'leaders', crooks, spivs and killers in suits, was that climate change is not an urgent issue at all and that 'market forces' will deal with it.

For 'market forces' we assume this means 'law of the jungle' with rich folks moving to enclaves of luxury, and little people say in Shanghai and most of Bangladesh, Sydney, and London, in short desperate grim lives fighting for scraps of liveable land to survive on, or an even quicker one way ticket to Davy Jones locker. So much for the monsters of Davos, and their fossil fool puppeteers like Exxon Mobil. Moral pygmies? You can say that again.

What has become apparent too in the last few months to this writer is that the USA under W Bush captured as he is by Big Oil (and with PM Howard in his pocket) is playing a horrendous version of global chicken with China and India over greenhouse emissions: In the illegal street racing world beyond the Kyoto protocol, these three charioteers threaten to crash head on, and destroy the world's ecology and all the world's people sadly locked in the boot.

Posted by editor at 8:47 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:59 AM EADT
Saturday, 3 February 2007
1/2 metre sea rise? Try 5+ metres and ignore Big Media deception
Mood:  irritated
Topic: globalWarming

This writer has published (on then viable Sydney Indy Media in late 2006, and) here on SAM, that all this minimalist talk about a small sea rise (as bad as that is for beach erosion and coastal flooding during storm surge) as per ABC radio news this morning, is a form of denial and saccharine deception to the mainstram political economy.

As if to underline the point a report with more scientific integrity by Deborah Smith, Science editor in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald entitled "Sea rises faster than gloomiest predictions" is tucked away on page 6 and is not available online on their text archive.

The International Panel of Climate Change has released it's latest report on 2nd February 2007 which is already out of date, as new research on rapid levels of ice melt at both North and Southern Poles comes in. Every scientist we have heard in the last 24 hours keeps hammering the point that the real rate and extent of ice melt is unknown, or rather is known to be much faster and worse than the IPCC report has been able to address. Their conservative 50 to 80 cm rise by 2100 is all just so much false minimalism.

The serious climate scientists know the IPCC process is the most conservative consensus model of reporting from the science community.

Professor Tim Flannery recently awarded Australian of the Year said on Radio National and PM show yesterday that the 3 million year old ice caps of the North and South Pole could well be gone in 5 to 15 years at the most recent rates of melting measured.  More conservative estimates are 2050.

This writer has read several estimates of 5 to 10 metre sea rise with the melting of the ice caps. Really. This is game over for large sections of coastal Sydney.

And it is sooner not later. And all the warnings have been correct so far. Many serious scientists, like this one here:

"UN blames humans for climate change

A United Nations climate report warns the world is heating faster than earlier predictions. It says ice caps are melting faster, seas will rise faster and the certainty has grown that human activity is the culprit. The report also spells out a series of grim scenarios in Australia. Leading Australian climate change consultant Dr Graeme Pearman discusses the dire assessment."

.....can see the stubborn determination of western civilisation to live like modern royalty in their lifestyles will mean the oppressive process of climate change will only get faster and worse.

Get the picture? Coastal cities are going to be hit with big sea rises and 1/2 a metre sea rise is a dangerous under reporting to avoid economic panic, and postpone financial and social upheaval around major restructure (that is inundation) of our coastal suburbs.

Posted by editor at 7:51 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:01 AM EADT

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