Labor improvement the Crikey readers’ tip. The early entrants in our Crikey “Pick the Newspoll” figures contest expect Labor to regain its substantial lead. In two-party preferred terms the consensus view is that Newspoll will next show Labor up from the 52% figure of last week to 56%. It is not too late to enter our little contest. Take a punt: enter your best guesses of the primary vote that the next Newspoll will show for the major parties and others along with your estimate of the two-party preferred position and the approval ratings for the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader.

We will reward the winner with a set of magnificent news season’s First Dog on the Moon tea towels with the winner being the person closest to correct across all categories. In the event of a tie, the first correct entry gets the goodies.

The scoring system is simple. If the Newspoll number is, say, 52 and you predict 52 you score 0; if 53 you get -1, for a 54 -2 etc. When we add up the scores for all the answers the person closest to zero wins.

You will find the entry form here. Good tipping.

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Primary votes :

  • Labor 46
  • Liberal 33
  • National 4
  • Green 10|
  • Other 7

Two party preferred :

  • Labor 56
  • Coalition 44

Approval Ratings :

  • Rudd as Prime Minister 62
  • Turnbull as Opposition Leader 32

Bring back those fluorocarbon sprays — the Antarctic ice needs them. It’s a complicated business, this global warming. If there are such people as regular readers of these snippets they will be aware of my fascination with measurements showing ice coverage in the Arctic declining at a frightening rate while down south in the Antarctic in recent years there has been a small but steady growth. The phenomenon is illustrated below in these graphs from the website of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado.

I have read many attempts at explaining the different course of ice at the two polls and now have come across an intriguing new one. Marco Tedesco of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, City College of New York, New York, New York, USA and Andrew J. Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA published their explanation in the September edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters and they have written a summary for the Real Climate website, which I will quote from here.

Their study demonstrates that low melt years during the 1979-2009 satellite record are related to the strength of the westerly winds that encircle Antarctica, known as the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM). When the SAM is in a positive phase — meaning that the belt of winds is stronger than average — it has a cooling effect on Antarctic surface temperatures. The SAM was especially strong in austral spring and summer 2008-2009, and subsequently the 2008-2009 snowmelt was lower than normal.

During the past 30-40 years, the SAM has gradually strengthened during austral summer, due mainly to human-caused stratospheric ozone depletion. In turn, the increasing SAM has weakened longer-term summer warming over Antarctica.

The two scientists argue:

The ozone hole is projected to recover significantly during the next 25-50 years due to the Montreal Protocol, which limits ozone-depleting substances used in industrial and household applications. As the ozone hole “heals”, the increasing summer SAM trends are projected to subside.

As this happens, it is likely that summer temperature increases over Antarctica will become stronger and more widespread because the warming effect from greenhouse gas increases will no longer be kept in check by the dynamic cooling impact of the SAM.

Therefore, the linkage between the SAM and snowmelt leads to our key conclusion: that enhanced snowmelt is likely in Antarctica as the SAM trends subside during the 21st century and summer temperatures become warmer. Our results agree with studies that have noted cooling and/or slower warming during the past three decades due to increasing SAM trends over the same period.

Additionally, our conclusions do not contradict findings showing strong regional warming on the Antarctic Peninsula and in West Antarctica for the past 50 years, and warming over the entire continent for the past century. Our record is limited to the satellite era only, during which ozone depletion has dominated Antarctic summer temperature trends, and as already noted above, the observed warming in the last 50-100 years has occurred mostly in winter and spring. This context is important.

Kevin talks up the G20, the US a G4 Perhaps the reason George W. Bush did not know what the G20 was when he spoke with our leader Kevin Rudd was that the United States is not really very interested in it. Certainly the diplomatic talk in recent days is that the US wants a grouping with Japan, China and the European Union to be the really influential economic decision making body.

The Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Daily News had a lengthy piece this week discussing the origin back in 2005 of the American plans for a Group of Four. In that year the US, China and Japan met together before a meeting of the G7 and nutted out an agreement, which saw an appreciation of the Yuan.

Key to the US interest is the harsh truth that it is China and Japan, which together largely finance the huge US budget deficit. The European Union was tossed in to make up a quartet, much to the annoyance of major European nations who think they should be in the big-time in their own right.

The Mainichi Daily story says that in the upcoming summit with President Barack Obama, the new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is expected to not only confirm that the two countries should strengthen their bilateral alliance but also consider how Japan can serve as a go-between between the United States and China.

A numby revolt Not under my backyard is what the residents of Barendrecht in the Netherlands are saying about carbon dioxide storage in the latest outbreak of numbyism. The good citizens of this town, which is a 15-minute train ride from Rotterdam, are objecting to a plan to use an old gas field under their properties to store carbon dioxide pumped from a nearby Shell oil refinery. The project would pump 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide starting from 2011 into two depleted gas fields two kilometres (more than a mile) under the town. The gasfields are considered by some a safer choice than current experiments under the the North Sea and the Sahara Desert where a water-bearing rock layer, or aquifer, is being used. The Dutch government — which has set a target of lowering CO2 emissions by 30%from 1990 levels by 2020 — has made available a subsidy of €30 million. It is providing the same amount for a second project in South-Limburg.

Shell will handle the storage and monitoring of CO2 at Barendrecht with OCAP, a joint venture of Linde Gas and VolkerWessels, responsible for transport and compression. The plan is that once the CO2 is in place, it will be permanently sealed with concrete plugs up to 100 metres in length. The city council in Barendrecht has voted against the plan and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment are expected to decide later this year if the project should go ahead.

A populist Dutchman. And while on matters Dutch I note that the party of the country’s right wing populist Geert Wilders is currently leading in the Netherlands opinion polls measuring support for the next general election to be held in 2011. Wilders, among other things, wants to ban the Koran, impose a tax on headscarves and calculate the cost of immigration.

Sweet revenge. If you are going down the political gurgler I supposed you can be forgiven for taking a few enemies with you and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appears to be doing just that.

The new evening giveaway version of the London Evening Standard was taking great pleasure in reporting overnight that the Labor government was about to take away the rights held by the Murdoch dominated BSkyB pay television network to show Test cricket. The decision that the Ashes must be made available on free-to-air TV follows the well-publicised decision of the Murdoch press empire to back the Conservative Party at the next election.

I subscribe to Crikey because I believe in a free, open and independent media where news and opinions can be published that I can both agree with and be challenged by.

As a Crikey subscriber I always feel more informed and able to think more critically about issues and current affairs – even when they don’t always reflect my own political viewpoint or lived experience.


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