Geophysicist Mark Duffett writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: how the IPCC works” (yesterday, item 12). The IPCC may not have exaggerated the risk of rising sea levels , but others who should have known better certainly have, and invoked the IPCC in doing so.  In October last year, a federal parliamentary committee brought down a report on coastal risks arising from climate change.  This was the source of subsequent media reports such as this one, saying that 700,000(!) properties in Australia were at risk from sea level rise.

The source of that figure was a “fact sheet” on the Department of Climate Change’s website, accessed 27 July 2009.  No source was given for the quite fantastic forecasts of destruction contained therein (and reproduced on pages 36-37 of the parliamentary committee report).

On further inquiry it transpired that the property impact forecasts were from a report by Risk Frontiers prepared for the Insurance Council of Australia.  Certainly not peer-reviewed literature, and in fact not publicly available, but a similar article by the report’s authors can be seen here.

It turns out that to produce the estimate of 700,000 Australian properties at risk, a sea level rise of six metres by 2100 was assumed.  The IPCC 4th Assessment Report (2007) was cited as the source for this “plausible upper bound” on sea level rise over the next hundred years.

In fact, virtually all the peer-reviewed literature indicates that 6 metres by 2100 is wildly implausible.  The only question is whether the IPCC’s implication in the propagation of this gross exaggeration is justified.  In any case it is disturbing to see how such recklessly inflated estimates found their way into a parliamentary report.

The economy:

Paul Johanson writes: Re. “Ask the economists: Rudd’s productivity push” (yesterday, item 21). I have a very crude measure of the state of the economy. It’s simple: the number of shops which are empty and for lease, and the number of shops who are having closing down sales.

The last two recessions I’ve lived through, there were lots of these, even on the main streets. And now — it’s happening again. The areas I frequent (mostly Melbourne’s inner city) there are decidedly more empty shops than there was 18 months back.

Is there any interesting trends out there in the retail tenancies data?


Marcus L’Estrange, Australian Education Union and ALP member, writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Monday, item 11). So sad to see the AEU “taking a stand on ranking“.

After years of destroying any attempts to be able to compare schools and thus allow Governments to allocate remedial money they are now fighting the only comparison method we have left: The Naplan. The whole reason the AEU is taking this position is that they are horrified of Australians finding out the results of their support of Edubable over the last 30 years or so.

Edubable is the doctrine on education formulated by the Educational Left in the Universities and the Socialist Left in the ALP. Its key policy is encapsulated in the “equality of outcomes” nonsense which says in effect that everyone should get their VCE and by the way don’t worry too much if students cannot read or write to anywhere near the VCE level. All will be well in the AEU heaven.

Students can then attend remedial courses at universities and/or undertake Mickey Mouse “degrees” in order to keep the youth unemployment figures artificially low. Good working class parents and students, as distinct from the bogans, have no other choice but to rally behind Ms Gillard and her fighting off the AEU troglodytes.

Penal roots:

Bruce Baskerville writes: Re. Shirley Colless (yesterday, comments). Failing to see the elephant in the escargot isn’t necessarily a French thing. The response by the republicans who was offended by a media report linking Australia to its convict heritage revealed not only a scary lack of humour but a snobbish new version of the convict stain.

The French had their convict transportation system, so did the Spanish, the Russians, British India and many others. But only Australia has really tried to come terms with its convict ancestry – although clearly there are still some Australians addled with convict shame.

The future king (with his own fair share of convicts in the family tree) appears to be well at ease with ‘modern Australia’ and vice versa.

Peter Fray

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