Keeping your cool on rising sea levels:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Girt by sea, to underwater: See Australia post-warming” (Friday, item 6). The National Geographic produced an Earth lift out Chart from the October 2007 issue showing CO2, temperature and sea level going back 400,000 years. I would assume that this information is reliable coming from the venerable NGS. The caption stated that “Historically temperature rose first, then CO2 increased, accelerating temperature rise. Sea levels followed in turn.” On closer examination the chart shows peak temperatures 3 to 4 degrees Celsius higher than present at roughly 330,000, 230,000 and 120,000 years ago.

Our current interglacial spikes up and down 0-2 degrees higher than present for the last 15,000 years. Sea levels however, started rising about 7,000 years before the -330,000 year peak temperature started rising. Similarly the sea started rising about 4,000 years before the -120,000 year peak temp started rising, and about 2,000 years before the thaw started in our current interglacial 20,000 years ago.

Out of the four warming peaks, only the -230,000 year peak temperature started rising at roughly the same time as sea levels started rising. In three out of the four warmings, the sea levels did not “follow in turn” but preceded the temperature rise. Furthermore in the -285,000 to -300,000 year portion of the chart, the sea level is steadily rising while temperature is generally falling. Other parts of the chart show similar de-coupling. In all the warmings, CO2 lagged the temperature rise and the peaks never exceeded 300ppm. It is now 380ppm.

Furthermore, and most relevant to the sea level predictions of Dr Glikson; the last interglacial peak temperature 120,000 years ago was 3-4 degrees higher than current temperature and produced a sea-level rise of approx 4 metres above our current levels. In the other two warmings the sea levels never reached the current level. Dr Glikson is claiming that 3 degrees rise in temperature will produce sea level rise of 25m +/-12m; vastly different from 4 metres.

The NGS chart shows that the mechanism of temperature rising first and warming the oceans is not the starter of sea level rise. In three out of four warmings the sea levels started rising first (and in the fourth at about the same time); then temperatures rose and then CO2 increased. If CO2 had driven temperature rise in the past, with feedback loops all pointing it upward, then what arrested the rise and started the cooling cycle?

The chart is spiked with peaks and troughs — not the slow predictable changes suggested by 11,000 to 100,000 year orbit, tilt and wobble cycles of the Earth. And what does all this NGS data prove? Well it shows that the historic natural cycles of past warmings don’t sit well with the current CO2 induced warming theory. Something much more complex is going on here. AGW theory is uncharted waters and Dr Glikson should tread carefully with shock horror predictions using the historical record.

Australian banks:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “Eslake: Why Australian Banks are standing strong” (yesterday, item 2). Saul Eslake makes a diligent case for Australian banking — prudent lending practices coupled with higher than average interest rates — an allegedly prescient concoction delivering less than a 1% default rate — so far — because house prices will obviously continue to slide for some time yet, coupled with rising unemployment. Okay, so where were the Big Banks and their financial seers when John Howard was spruiking his nutty mantra of how well off we all were due to the dramatic increases in our real estate values? Where was Peter Costello, Kevin Rudd, or anyone for that matter, during that crazy goose-stepping ascension of the stairway to heaven? It was pretty bloody obvious to many (without letters after their names) that the whole mad march was going to be halted at some point. Those genuinely prudent home owners who resisted borrowing against their equity — the ordinary, unencumbered inhabitants of Main Street — they are the real heroes in the whole sub-prime debacle — not the politicians, and certainly not the bankers who have somehow managed to spin their draconian interest rates into a fiscal blessing! Fair suck of the prawn.

Glenn Rogers writes: I’d like to see something about bank guarantees for depositors in Australia. I believe there are none, so will the RBA stand behind the banks when it really hits the fan here? Which it will, or should we all line up to get our money out and into the Perth Mint or government bonds. This issue effects millions of Australians and we, (well me anyway), want answers BEFORE the first run on a bank here. I haven’t seen anyone give a straight answer to this including Rudd who was asked point blank on the ABC last week.

The environment and the economy:

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Apocalypse later: meeting in the middle with Garnaut” (1 October, item 6). Obama understands how federal spending can finance rational energy conversion investments to create new jobs in the downturn – it’s a pity that Australian political leaders don’t yet get it. This weekend video clip is worth a watch — especially in the last half, when Obama advocates job creation through energy conversion, e.g., using federal government money to reopen closed-down steel mills in Pennsylvania to make wind turbines for power generation. Where is any comparable economic vision here?

At COAG last week, Rudd and all the premiers missed the point comprehensively, e.g., Anna Bligh proudly announced that she will use the federal infrastructure fund to build more roads and ports so that Queensland can export more coal! And our conventional economic wisdom claims Australia is unable as a country to afford a 450 ppm CO2-e target for 2020. It seems too hard for our present leadership elites to think about the economic crisis and the environmental crisis in the same brain-space at the same time, as creating new opportunities for a green energy conversion-led sustainable economic growth path…

We need an Obama and a new John Maynard Keynes to teach them that this actually can be done.

Stay at home mums:

Willem Schultink writes: Re. “Do stay at home mum’s deserve special treatment?” (Friday, item 4). Bernard Keane reckons that stay at home mums don’t contribute to the economy and so should not get any maternity payments. Actually, stay at home mums are raising the next generation and doing it to the very best of their ability. The contribution they make to the economy is enormous. Getting mums back into the workforce is a really short sighted “solution” to the problem. In Australia we kill about 90,000 babies, who could join the workforce when they grow up, every year. If instead of killing them we nurtured them and raised them there would be enough workers to round. That’s a good long term solution and a really good return on investment, if you want to take a mercenary angle.

And it is fair to those Australians who never get a chance to contribute in the workforce because they are killed before they are born. Whether you look at it from a moral, a mercenary, or a fair go perspective, killing human beings through abortion is one of the dumbest things a society can do. And we do it! So encourage the mums to stay at home to raise the next generation. And let all of the next generation stick around so that they can be raised and make their contribution to our society.

Peter Faris:

Troy Rich writes: Re. “Faris: Boat people put Rudd to the test” (Friday, item 17). Is Peter Faris on a leaky boat himself? He writes “Europe is experiencing flood [sic] of boat immigration from Africa … Australia is even easier because the boat trip is shorter and therefore safer”. Huh? The sea distance from Moroccan to Spanish/European territory is 0km at the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco and to Spain itself is just 15km. From Tunisia to Italian territory is 70km (see the map here). The latter case was brilliantly featured in the Smage last month. The shortest crossing to mainland Australia from Indonesia is over 200km. If he makes such absurd statements about basic factual points, to what extent can we trust any of his other analysis and opinions based on clearly less tangible information and unverifiable sources?

John Peak writes: Yep, I do think it’s worth questioning why 50 immigration officials are being sent to Christmas Island to process 14 boat people. Especially when all they had to do was ask Peter Faris, who apparently knows all about the when, where and how of the group, and their ineligibility for refugee status. It’s not as though a QC’s advice would be expensive, we seem to get a lot of it for free. Incidentally, this “queue” business — the reason so many people are in refugee camps is because that’s as far as they got before they were stopped. They didn’t join a queue, they joined perhaps years of dismal uncertainty that any of them would bypass if they had the chance. Those of us who never had to wait in somebody’s line to achieve dignity and security in our lives can only, and not easily, imagine.

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). I haven’t chuckled over Crikey so much in a long time. First we had Malcolm Turnbull and his Jewish roots, then Peter Faris deciding to brave public ridicule by once again signing off as “Peter Faris QC”, and finally Harold Thornton (Friday, comments) suggesting that Faris articles ought to carry titles such as “Am I, Peter Faris QC, the Final Proof of Intelligent Design?” With regard to the “Peter Faris QC” re-branding, despite being a scholar of the classics (Latin only) in my school days I’m a bit rusty now — so I looked up QC on one of those Latin acronym websites. I got only one suggestion — “Quomodo Cogis comas tuas sic videri?” — How do you get your hair to do that? Others have suggested that QC denotes a Queen’s Counsel, which is ridiculous — not even Faris would be so bold.

When the free market fails:

Sean Hosking writes: Re. “Wall Street Crash: journalism’s first draft of history” (2 October, item 18). In citing an opinion piece by, of all people, the excitable Thomas Friedman as a good example of “the journalism of ideas” Eric Beecher goes a long way to undermine his argument. Friedman is one of the worlds foremost free market triumphalist’s — renowned for his hyperbolic market populism. Previous drubbings in relation to his hysterical bolstering of the “new information economy” — which led among other things to the dot.com bubble of the late 1990s had little effect in taking the free market gleam out of his eye and there’s little evidence that the current dogs breakfast has had any effect either — allowing for the possibility that in line with his recent views he may now in effect be a communist.

That small qualification aside, the fact that he is expecting the same government institutions that he has had a part in running down, to spring up in politburo fashion and tidy the mess that he and his band of zealous free market ideologues have inflicted on the world is outrageous. There’s no real “ideas” here from Friedman, no sober reflection on the contributing factors or possible long term solutions, no rueful condemnation of the financial spivs and charlatans and the anti government fervor for deregulation that he played a part in bolstering. Instead, its just more tedious government bashing again. Now that the proverbial crap has hit the fan, Friedman is demanding the corporate welfare solutions of the command economy. The guy either has no memory or shame.

V8 supercars:

Sara Wall writes: “V8 promoters overtake NSW’s L-plate Premier” (2 October, item 12). Alex Mitchell — if you are going to continue to write about the V8’s at Olympic Park, could you please get your facts straight. On Thursday you referred to the “Bathurst 2000” race — it is the Bathurst 1000 as it refers to the length of the race, 1000 kilometres. Please stop calling it a ‘rally race’ as you have been all week. The “annual Easter car extravaganza” has long been held in October. And you may not think it’s as big as Melbourne Cup, but it is broadcast in dozens of countries and is watched (and loved) by millions. I for one am glad the V8 will be in Sydney. Eastern Creek is a bad track for motor racing and Bathurst, although fantastic, is too far out of Sydney for a lot of people to go to. I can guarantee that come December next year I will be in the grandstand with my 65 year old mother who loves it even more that I do.

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Peter Fray

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