The daily health attack. The opportunity for the federal Coalition to attack Labor for being all talk and no action when it comes to improving public hospitals comes from the north today. The good burghers of Townsville are up in arms because north Queensland does not have its own PET scanner.

The Townsville Bulletin report this morning says 500 people are being flown to Brisbane each year from the Townsville region for a life-saving cancer scan. The paper then adds the argument that is ready-made for a political Opposition: the waiting list for a scan in Brisbane can take months — putting lives at risk from aggressive cancers that are not found in time. Kevin Rudd talks about ending the blame game while Townsville people die.

A complacent campaigner. German chancellor Angela Merkel took to a train for her campaigning this week but it was a far cry from one of those whistle-stop tours so beloved of 1950s American politicians. Ms Merkel’s was apparently a very leisurely affair with Radio Deutsche Welle describing it as a lethargic trundle. In a nostalgic touch, the glass-topped Rheingold Express was the same train used during Konrad Adenauer’s election as the first chancellor of the Federal Republic exactly 60 years previously. Ms Merkel will not be too concerned as being described as a little boring. The Crikey Election Indicator has her a 95% chance of being returned as chancellor.

Bad news and better news. Long-time readers of these snippets — if there are such people — will be aware of my fascination with sea ice concentration in the Arctic and the Antarctic. As one who finds all the calculations of the climate-change modellers far too complex to understand, I appreciate the simplicity of satellite pictures turned into little graphs with a straight line showing the trend.

I look, for example, at these pictures of the Arctic and grasp in an instant that something significant is going on when the area covered with ice is declining at more than 8% a decade. And while the latest reading has at least risen back to that frightening enough downward trend line, it is still the third biggest negative anomaly recorded by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

At least when I move to the other hemisphere, the picture is far happier. The map shows sea ice coverage roughly the same as during the base period of 1979 to 2000 and the graph of southern hemisphere anomalies shows an ever-so-tiny rise in coverage every decade but still a rise.

The best I can conclude is that as the world gets hotter, I am happier being in the southern hemisphere rather than the northern. As this NASA chart shows, those northern temperatures are rising considerably more than here down south.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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