Emissions trading and global warming:

Marshall Roberts writes: Re. “Emissions trading and global warming” (yesterday, comments). In response to the “there’s no use us doing anything about emissions until countries like China make a start” argument, I thought the below picture might be of interest, as I suspect the argument is a reflection of our tendency to run with uninformed stereotypes. My wife took the photo in August last year, in Xian, China. The dense profusion of radiator-like thingos on the roofs in the foreground, and in the background (especially on the right — squint through the smog) are solar units. This kind of scene was apparently far from unique. Can we match this level of uptake of alternative power sources? Perhaps our fantastic ranking as biggest per-capita emitter isn’t just because we have a relatively small population and a high standard of living based around active industry — I suspect we’re also not making choices in keeping with the opportunities our relative affluence affords. Sure, there’s plenty of smog in the photo, but they’re clearly trying to do something about it, and well ahead of us. Perhaps the Australian Greenhouse Office would be able to furnish Crikey with some comparative figures on renewables installations? Or not.

Mark Hardcastle writes: For Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) comparing current global temperature to the average of the observed temperature record is not only “meaningless”, but apparently it is equivalent to asserting that Earth’s 4.5 billion year average temperature “can be inferred from around 150 years of data.” An alternative to Calderwood’s interpretation is that the observed temperature record has relevance and provides important data from which information can be drawn. Unlike Calderwood (who now claims “global cooling”) many observers conclude that it is far from “meaningless” that the current decade has displaced the previous decade as the hottest in recorded history. Looking back to the pre-instrument record also provides meaningful data, but requires the substitution of proxy measurements. Using these proxies it has been found that the earth was a different and hotter world when atmospheric composition previously produced a greenhouse phase.

Nick Collins writes: Tamas Calderwood’s arguments are flawed on many levels. An average temperature increase can be observed since the Industrial Revolution, as shown by the below graph from the IPCC.

This coincides with the rise in CO2 emissions shown in the graph that Mr Calderwood linked to himself.

It seems to me that these two graphs are inextricably linked. No amount of arguments about the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history have any relevance to the here and now of global warming. If we were to take an average of the temperature over the Earth’s entire history than the hundreds of millions of years that the Earth spent as a ball of magma would skew the data somewhat. What is important is the temperature and carbon fluctuations of the (relatively) recent history of the Earth and these graphs make clear that not only is the CO2 level vastly higher than natural fluctuation accounts for, but temperatures rising coincide with this period of raised emissions.

Walt Hawtin (non-scientist) writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) has (selectively) saved the day again! He is right when he says that 150 years of meteorological data is an insufficient scientific sample from 4.5 billion years of Earth’s life. Apart from the fact that there is evidence to prove the Earth’s climate history. For example, how does he know the earth is 4.5 billions years old? The balance of scientific surmise indicates that this is the case. Any planetary heating or cooling in that 4.5 billion years at all? Yes, the balance of scientific opinion tells us that this happened quite regularly. But when the balance of the scientific community then tells us that the planet is heating too fast and there may be man-made reasons for it, the ever-argumentative Tamas says the majority of the same scientists he relies upon earlier are now mistaken.

Glen Fergus writes: Oh please Tamas Calderwood, we’re not talking about the last 420,000 years here. Is not the orange line in the inset to Robert Rohde’s fine graph horizontal, all the way from AD1000 to AD1750? That would be constant, would it not? If one wishes to assert falsehood from others, it may be best not to link to a source which falsifies your own argument.

Jeremy Mitchell, Editor of nowwearetalking.com.au, writes: Re: ABC’s Jon Faine treads a fine line with nowwearetalking“. Jane, to answer your question, yes you are a kill joy. More seriously, you have deviously and deliberately implied that Jon Faine can be bought. What has the world come to, when a well respected journalist is set upon for blogging in his own time, on leave, while on holidays with his son? Jane, your article suggested that Jon Faine can be influenced by a few technical devices, shame on you. The next thing you will be saying is that Crikey is influenced by the fact Telstra sometimes advertises on it. Let me be clear, there is no obligation on Jon to mention our products, promote our products or display our products. Any such suggestion is absurd and offensive. The aim, from our perspective is to demonstrate how telecommunications can help and enhance such a trip. It is also uncharted territory for Telstra because we don’t even know if he will get service in a couple of the countries he is going to , and, in true Jon Faine style, we know that he will provide us with a frank assessment of how they perform. It is very interesting that you also mention the video of Annabel Crabb on nowwearetalking. What you failed to say is that Margaret Simon also said the interview was “a straight job – quite interesting, and no explicit plugs for Telstra.” I call on people to view the interview and make up their own minds. To steal the words of a former Liberal Party President, your story was “mean and tricky”. Jon Faine is an independent journalist who has, and will continue to, tell Telstra what he really thinks. That’s why he is a perfect fit for nowwearetalking — he’s straight talking, tells it as it is, no holds barred — not to mention his trip sounds fun.

Jane Nethercote writes: I’m sorry you believed that was the implication of my article. Having listened to Jon Faine over a number of years, I do not believe that he can be bought. Neither do I believe Annabel Crabb can be influenced. I do however believe that Telstra could make the most of their appearances on Nowwearetalking to lend its PR some news credibility.

Morris Iemma:

John Goldbaum writes : Re. “Imploding, Iemma calls on Channel Nine News” (yesterday, item 3). Morris Iemma’s image is not the problem but his credibility is. He has had long enough, since taking over from Bob Carr, to restore good government to NSW but he has failed dismally. Neither his image as a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth, humble, apologetic, will-try-harder-in-the-future nice family guy, nor his alternate image as a big, ballsy, head-kicking, I’m-in-charge and I’m-going-nowhere, tough guy has improved his popularity because he’s been too slow to fix poor service delivery in public hospitals, public schools and public transport. The only friends his government still have are those people who want to prevent the Taliban from governing NSW but he’s even alienated that group with his police state overkill for APEC and WYD. Morris Iemma is yet an other dead parrot. The ALP only has one chance to retain government. It needs an Anna Bligh look-alike as premier. As Carmel (pity about her first name) Tebbutt is unavailable, that means John Watkins or Nathan Rees. Iemma’s government is too authoritarian and do-nothing conservative for NSW. By all means sell electricity assets but balance that with some more socially progressive policies. Let Iemma wear the flak for electricity privatisation and allow Watkins or Rees to take the credit for the service improvements we are hoping for in the next two years when they role out the long-awaited infrastructure spending.

NT intervention funding:

An NT insider writes: Re. “Local government makes more chaos for NT communities” (Monday, item 14). As Jenny Walker wrote, much of the NT intervention funding is not being spent in ways that would most help those who need it. Instead, it is funding a feeding frenzy by local shires. As an example, a recent remote community meeting in Katherine East heard that Roper Gulf Shire had received intervention funding for the following projects: $40,000 to irrigate and improve a football field; $50,000 to expand and fence the dump; $100,000 for children’s playground and gathering space; $10,000 to buy fencing equipment; $105,000 to fence community houses; and $48,900 for two fire fighting trailers. This was funding for only one of the 13 communities in the shire so that gives some idea of how the shires are benefiting from the intervention. You’d be hard pressed to identify any of these projects as an emergency response to children at risk, unless of course they were planning to round up the kids and fence them in…

Closing the “gender gap”:

Anna George writes: Re. “Closing the “gender gap” may undermine women” (yesterday, item 15). There is no doubt that this is a difficult issue but it is also too easy to promote the argument that women’s opportunities will be minimised if they receive significant amounts of maternity leave. Take a good look at the models used by, for example, the Nordic and other countries, some much poorer than Australia. Look at the examples that enabling both parents to take parental leave and the difference that makes to the raising of children. Why is it that a country like Australia with all its riches and economic opportunities cannot do better than it does now? Are we incapable of supporting the very people that are the next generation of workers? Are we so poor that we cannot afford the same amount of resources that European governments can assign to such programs?


Katherine Finch writes: Re. “Jetstar: they lied and they stole my money” (yesterday, item 16). Qantas did almost exactly the same thing to my husband and me in February travelling Brisbane to Melbourne. We arrived at the airport 10 mins before the 45-minute recommended arrival time to check in, checked ourselves in at the self-check in kiosks and got in the long line to drop our bags off. At no stage while we waited was there any announcement over the loudspeaker for travellers on our flight to leave the queue to drop bags off. When I approached the counter of my own volition 25 mins before departure to enquire whether we should be giving them our bags now or continue waiting, I was told extremely rudely by the so-called “Customer Service Manager” that he had announced people on our flight should leave the queue to drop bags a whole 6 minutes before we arrived and that I should “take responsibility for not being there on time”. When I pointed out that a) we had checked in before the recommended 45-minute margin, b) the queue was so long that we hadn’t even reached the front of the bag-drop queue yet and c) there had been no announcement made regarding our flight during our wait, he then proceeded to confiscate our tickets, throw us off the flight and tell us to go and purchase new tickets on another flight. I have never been treated so appallingly or unprofessionally by any customer service person. Thank goodness the woman who served us at the ticket sales counter was more pleasant and professional – she got us new seats on the original flight no questions asked and at no extra cost, and got us on the flight on time. The actions of Qantas’ customer service manager that day have guaranteed that I will never fly Qantas again. I am not wealthy and don’t get to travel much so the loss of my business may not mean a lot to them, but I will not hesitate to tell others of my experience: they’ve lost a loyal customer because of a complete prat.

Nathan of Brisbane writes: I can empathise with Peter Faris’ experience with Jetstar. A friend was flying from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast and arrived at Sydney airport an hour before the flight was due to depart. By the time the queue crawled to the front of the counter she had missed her check in and forfeited her ticket. Earlier this year my wife had to fly Brisbane to Sydney but depart from the international terminal. Check in is 60 minutes before departure. Again, she was in the queue, this time a few minutes before the 60 minute limit, and was told she couldn’t fly. We had to go to the domestic terminal and purchase another ticket in order for her to make it to her cousin’s wedding. We were given ridiculous excuses as to the reason there was no flexibility (making sure they have the right fuel load was just one), and the staff behind the counter admitted the wording was ambiguous and misleading, but still there was nothing she could do. There were at least seven people ahead of us in the same situation, so it turned out the check-in had actually closed early. We now have a family ban on flying Jetstar unless there is zero alternative. It means an extra hour wait every time I fly Newcastle to Brisbane, but it’s worth it every time. Thank you to Peter Faris QC for his comments, but the question is, what else can we do about it?

Bill Holmes writes: Come on Peter — on behalf of all Jetstar flyers take the case on pro bono for yourself! Jetstar needs to be held to account for misleading the public and you owe it to all of us to do just that.

Interest rates and inflation:

Ted O’Brien writes: Re. “Australia and New Zealand: economies at odds” (yesterday, item 24). For 25 years now the current conventional wisdom has been that raising interest rates reduces inflation. However this works only in the short run. In the long run raising interest rates increases inflation. How is this so? In the short run raising interest rates does reduce spending capacity. The other side of the coin is that raising interest rates inflates the exchange rate. This imposes a double cost on local industry which exports or competes with imports. Like everybody else local industry has to pay the cost of the extra interest. The second, compound cost, is the reduction in the price of competing imported goods and services and the lowering of the export price of exported goods. All of this depresses local production. This makes the local economy much more vulnerable to the whims and fluctuations of external economies. Add to this that many imported goods are subsidised and that without local competition those subsidies will become unavailable. Depressing local production in the long run increases inflation.

Marine rescue:

Simon Denneen writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published: “The MV Cape Don, which is being kicked off its berth by NSW Maritime.” It is interesting to note that in NSW, the responsibility for marine rescue lies with the NSW Police. In most cases, the police task the three volunteer marine rescue agencies in NSW do most of the work. Last year the volunteers did 70% of all marine rescues in NSW. In light of this it is equally interesting to note that the NSW government (through NSW Maritime Authority) provide just $1.23 million to be shared between all three organisations (the largest, the Coastal Patrol estimate it needs $6 million to operate per annum). Despite lobbying the government during the state election for a rise in funding, none has been forthcoming. One wonders what price the Iemma government places on life when WYD received some $87 million and even the NYE fireworks get $6 million yet volunteers who are struggling to fund even their fuel receive such a pittance. If they all folded — which is on the cards – there is no way the NSW Police could cope with the additional workload.

John Parkinson writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). I was reading yesterday’s “Tips and rumours” section and felt sorry for the poor .mac fanboy having trouble with access to .mac using evil IE. I would like to offer the following suggestion to him: From a non-work computer, go to www.portableapps.com and download portable Firefox. Plug in a USB drive and then install portable Firefox onto the USB drive. When back at the office, plug the USB drive in to the work computer and run Firefox from there. It will leave no trace of itself on the work computer, and will give him the ability to use Firefox from the office. I’ve found that the portable version of the latest Firefox is a bit slow when running from a USB drive, so I just copied the portable Firefox folder from the USB drive to the work computer and it works much faster.

Top Gear:

Darren Walters writes: Re. “Top Gear” (yesterday, comments). Glenn Dyer is going to hate us talking about Top Gear for three days in a row!, but I just re-watched my “downloaded” episode from Series 10 of Top Gear which obviously originated in the UK (running time of just over 59 minutes) and does indeed include the segment where the Stig throws the HSV Clubsport (a Vauxhall VRX8 in the UK) around the Top Gear test track. Was a very funny segment as he drove while listening to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell while Jeremy Clarkson commentated in an over-the-top ocker Aussie accent, cracking jokes about prawns and barbies. Lap time was a respectable 1:31.3, though as Clarkson added in only the way he can, that the Aussie V8 was still slower than pretty much everything from Europe.


Julian Zytnik writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 13). Today, an obvious one but a bad-‘un nonetheless: Richard Farmer states: “The by-election is seen as a serious test for Labour Prime Minister George Brown’ (my emphasis). I assume he means current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, not the deceased 1960s and 70s Labour politician George Brown (later Baron George-Brown). Mr Farmer loves writing about politics as if it were sport. But if he (or Crikey) did their proofreading, we could at least bet on the right horses!

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